|JK, pro ride in the derby - not me.|
The upside of me not riding on Friday was that Winds was that much more schooled, and that much more relaxed about my division.
I added a Low round (for my warm up, not his) and looked forward to two rounds over fences for my division.
The weekend was a really good learning one, so let's just dive into that, shall we?
(also I will be posting a bevy of videos, ignore at will).
So for the Low - it was REALLY obvious that Winds was still in Derby mode. He looks uber chill on the video, but he was quite a bit more... forward thinking... than I'm used to and I didn't adjust to it as effectively as I could have.
Good thing about Derby mode is that his balance stays super up and back without much effort, bad things about Derby mode include a much more open step and slightly weaker brakes when I'm trying to fit one more step in.
Moving up to a bigger distance was cake (see the last line), but we were tight getting out every time and even when I could read the distance it was hard for me to ask Windsy to wait.
Only major bummer was a missed change in our closing circle - from right to left - our nemesis. I know I'm tipping in, even though my entire body feels like I'm stepping out and trying to lighten the front end. ARGH. very frustrating.
I got assertive and cleaned up my act for the first round of the division, and it totally worked out. To date this was one of my bet rounds on Winds at a show. My main complaint is that in "being more assertive" I got a tad tight with my hands and started opening up too early on my fences (hard to break that old XC habit). BUT we moved up nicely in each line, and never got tight out. I rode the crap out of the single oxer and landed our left lead twice - thereby eliminating that pesky change issue...
We won this one, and I felt like we deserved it.
But theeeeen I got a little cocky.
Or, maybe cocky is the wrong word, I just thought if I sat there, the same thing would happen again.
I came out of the ring really frustrated and feeling like I didn't deserve to ride. It was a bummer of a way to end the day. And in fact it was such a disappointing trip that I avoided the back gate and seeing/hearing about how the class pinned for like four hours.
Then I watched the video and realized it wasn't actually that tragic (well, most of it anyway) and got over myself.
In point of fact, there were only two major bobbles. One, I swam into the outside line and thought maybe we were going to crash. On video it just looks like I justcouldn't pick a distance.
Then, I checked him hard into the judge's line and Winds pulled a rail to let me know that's a no-no. He played a little, but we got out just fine and the round was done.
9 horses rode the round. Ribbons to 8th, and uh.... obviously we we're 9th. Whoopsie, sorry Windsor.
Sunday I came back with a clear head (full heart, can't lose?) ready to not ride like a nitwit.
But then warm up was a struggle and I was just killing myself on my leads. Winds was a bit sulky in the turns and despite my attempt at positive thinking I was getting frustrated.
It's one thing to have a hard, tricky horse (Prair) that most people have a hard time riding (Prair) not warm up perfectly - But when your horse is scoring 90's with the Pro and winning big classes, it's harder to place the blame anywhere other than your uneven hands and slouchy twisted hips.
Finally my trainer told me to just twist my hips hard to the outside when I was rebalancing in the corner or asking for a change - and the clouds parted and angels sang.
I have been trying (aggressively) to control Winds' butt with my outside leg, which often results in my heel getting comedically far back on his side (move over move over move OVER), without actually being that effective.
When I turn my hips/shoulders out, and drive my outside seat bone back and down, the inside hind magically goes where I want it to. All without weighting the forehand.
I made a snide comment about why she didn't just tell me to do this sooner, but really I was grinning from ear to ear and couldn't stop playing with my new trick.
The first round for the day (Round 3) rode really well. Much like the Derby, the course designer managed to get as creative as one can in the Hunters and I enjoyed having some interesting tracks and single fences to ride.
You'll notice me engage that outside seat bone in every corner as I straighten onto my track.
And you'll notice that it's brilliantly easy to step up and onto a nice distance. And you'll also notice that our terrible-no-good-very-bad left changes are prompt and balanced.
I did get a tad tight into the outside line, but everything else rode smoothly and felt like a bit of redemption from where we left things on Saturday.
Our final round for the division (first for the Classic) was awesome. I don't have a lot to say, because it felt like everything clicked. Nice rhythm, nice balance, no crazy distances... We certainly had our best ride through a two-stride to date - and other than opening up and cutting off his jump a bit - it was great. We were given an 84 and took first place in the round.
And that's where I should have stopped. That whole "quit while you're ahead" thing is so hard to do. But I knew I had that top score going back in for the second Classic Round and that was probably the wrong fact to be thinking about.
I also noticed was that this might be the first time (ever) that I felt tired during a round. I've never been on course and thought "hmm, maybe I'll turn early and save myself a couple strides.. we might get done faster" but that was definitely running through my mind with about 3 fences left to go.
I think I might have to up my cardio game, or commit to three lessons a week as opposed to the cushy two I've been enjoying. Anyway, it's not the best excuse, but I do think it contributed to me perching a bit more and losing my nice light-seat connection.
Realistically the only major issue was a totally botched change where I got Winds so bottled up we nearly halted in the process. But the entire round just wasn't as flowing as the first two of the day. I am proud of my last two singles as I don't get a lot of opportunity to ride tracks like that in the show ring.
We scored a 68 (oops) and that slid us into 5th for the classic, which was higher up in the pack than I thought we would end up, but certainly didn't win any Voltaire swag like we did the first week. (who needs an extra girth anyway... sob).
We came back for the hack about an hour later, and I felt like I got a pretty stellar ride out of him. I was able to keep a slightly bigger trot (and canter) even with a decently full ring with 10 horses. I was disappointed to place 6th (behind two pretty lame horses?) - but that's the Hunters and realistically I know this judge prefers the traditional, long, TB type over a tighter, bouncy little warmblood. I thought we'd be 3rd-ish as there were definitely a couple lovely movers who I mentally pinned 1st and 2nd.
I actually have footage because The Boy was feeling magnanimous and temporarily lifted his ban on filming flat classes. I feel like I haven't posted a clip of Winds' gaits in a while, so it's going up for posterity.
Ultimately, a 2nd and 1st from our last two rounds were enough to snag Champion since the pinnings were very all over the place for almost everyone.
|Winds is restocking the ribbon wall like a boss.|