Which, may seem like a close cousin to "OMG I love my horse." But it's not. I loved Pia - but she tried to murder me a lot. I hated a lot of those rides - even though I "loved my horse."
I got closer with Prair, because - well, Prair. But really, even at our most relaxed, it always felt like our success was tenuous at best, and I was always ready for all the proverbial shoes to drop.
I guess I could say that I thought I had already loved every round on Windsy. But that's probably like saying I thought I loved my high school boyfriend. True statement at the time, but possibly worth some revision in hindsight...
But back to Windsy.
I warmed up on Thursday for my first round, with the option to have a Low round before my division started. Our warmup was lovely. Not brilliant, but not argumentative. I found my pace and the jumps were coming up fairly easily.
As we walked down to the back gate I just had this feeling that the Low round was going to be a waste of jumps. So, we scratched it, and I headed in for my first round at 2'9" cold.
I was a little nervous about the first fence. It wasn't your normal Hunter-quarterline-single, which was enough to have me over thinking it. But Winds lifted his balance and showed me the slightly forward spot out of stride.
Then he came back to me, we stayed out of the bit of muck at the end of the ring and I tried hard to keep our step through the turn. We did. And stepped right up to the rolltop into the judges line.
Then it was single oxer time. Again, winds sat back, I kept him straight, and BAM, jump.
Up the outside line, and home in the two stride. (we swapped into the two stride, but I so didn't care). At every fence I literally thought "oh, there it is, let's go get it" and added some gas pedal.
Winds jumped open and round and super duper soft. The lines were set long, which was also great since I'm used to choking him back - it was so fluid and fun to land and continue and jump out with some push instead of pull...
When we landed after the two stride, my smile was HUGE. I have never, ever, ever had that much fun on course. (well, maybe on XC with the old wonder pony, but I was 12, that doesn't count).
Winds was forward, I stayed soft, everything was small adjustments and just flowed.
Thank god I scratched the warm up, because if I had wasted that round on a Low, I probably would have tensed up and butchered the second round when it counted....
The next day was the Derby, so all I had to do was stretch Winds' legs in the morning. But Saturday we were back at it.
I was a bit tentative getting on - mostly just nervous that I would feel some crippling soreness or stiffness that I would be able to attribute to the bigger jumps in the Derby - but nothing. Winds felt loose and lovely.
He was a bit slow at the canter so I picked up a crop (I prefer a shoulder tap and rubber ball spurs over a sharper spur..) and he was perfect.
As we walked into the ring I realized both the crop, and spurs were probably unnecessary.
He was looking at EVERYTHING. Flowers. Grass. Jumps. Fence posts! OMG. I had a brief PTSD flashback of Prairie's eyeballs popping out of her head and certain death - but I shoved those thoughts aside and tried to believe that Winds would be good.
|Turns out he was perfect|
Then I cut off the end of the ring (to stay out of mud) and had to be somewhat thoughtful about my track into a bending line on the outside. Winds was light, and straight and we stepped right up to it. Loved that line, and it was set long so we got to continue nicely and move up to the out.
Didn't love my ride into the diagonal, I lost the hind end and ended up adding in. Knowing the lines were long, I gunned Winds on the landing and he popped off his lead but we got up there ok. In hindsight I think I could have been less panicked about making it up the line and not lost my lead by finessing it a bit more, but lesson learned.
Then it was a single oxer set on the outside. I had built up this fence as my boogie fence because without a real arena fence, lots of horses were bulging, never getting straight and then really messing up the distance. Winds was still pretty keen at this point which made my track easier and straight wasn't an issue - so we made it through ok. (I also realized I had been holding my breath and finally started breathing again on the landing, WHOOPS).
Finally, a smooth seven stride home and we were done (with a new favorite round in the books).
Even with the swap, somehow we won the class, which was reinforced by a win on the flat (maybe the first time that's happened?). It was a good Saturday.
Sunday we came out for one final round, and I decided to let Winds keep his hair down, so it was a bit of a casual day ;)
I was reminded by a barnmate that Windsor is almost always a bit more charged and looky the day after a Derby, but quickly returns to his casually bored self after a round or two.
I think Winds was for sure bored, but also tired, and potentially a bit sore from jumping significantly more than he had been at home. He didn't feel stiff per se, just lacked the lifted energy that was so magical for my first two rounds.
This round felt rough by comparison. I didn't feel that fluid connection and it sort of felt like I was grinding the gears in the corner. My adjustments felt clunky and jarring, and while Winds didn't seem to mind, I never got a great rhythm that I could groove into
The video looks less awkward than it felt (thankfully), but still not our finest. Mostly what I see now is that I didn't trust my canter, so I was fussing in the corner, then pushing him just past the distance even when it was right there. Most of the time it was fine, but I forced him over his shoulder a bit.
This was fine.
this was a little tight.
All in all, not a bad ride at all, just not quite as magic as the others, but I am proud that I still mostly made good decisions and stayed with him, instead of totally panicking and getting in a fight.
It was a fabulous show, I adore getting to gallop around the big grass field and we definitely came away with a confidence building outing!
Oh, and a championship, and a cooler. That's always nice too. I love this horse show and wish we got to be here more often.
Now it's a few weeks at home getting to know the new kid and gearing up for Thunderbird!