The regular Eq courses earlier in the show were boring. No rollbacks, no end fences. Just a couple of bending lines to really test our steering abilities...(boooorrrriinnnnng). Therefore my hopes for some super thrilling courses for our 2'6" finals and medal class were.... low.
So I was thrilled when I went to check out the courses and saw some good rollbacks, bending lines and funky end fences. You know it's a good Eq course when it's not entirely clear if you're supposed to turn left or right after a fence in order to get to the next one (ambiguity is fun!).
Hands down, my two best rides of the week were the Eq Finals round, and the Medal Finals round. Since I've lost any ability to memorize courses more complicated than line-diagonal-line-diagonal... I resort to taking pictures on my phone and staring at them like a confused squirrel for a few hours....
There was one last Hunter round on Sunday, so I added into it as a bit of a warm up before the Eq rounds and thank god I did. The mare was.... obstinate. Mind you, there were children playing catch, or tag or something with a giant plastic bag at the far end of the stands and that just about sent Prairie into orbit, but that wasn't our only issue. She got stuck cross-cantering a couple times, we lurched over a few jumps and all-in-all looked like maybe we needed to politely excuse ourselves and go find a rock to hide under or a track to gallop around about a million times.
Instead we had two rounds to quietly collect ourselves and get ready for this:
Okay, yeah... so still only 2'6" but at least we had some turns to ride!! My plan was to turn right inside the gate, cross the diagonal, grab my canter and turn inside fence 7 to jump 1. Nice tidy little turn then lots of time to set up for the pretty tight turn to #2, slice it a bit for a tidy approach to 3, add some leg at the end of the ring to the outside line... then there was a debate as to whether one should hairpin back to 6, or go around the island/jumps.. I went outside so that I knew I'd be set up for the rollback to the weird end fence (this turn killed a few people), then an easy bending line home and done.
It was a good plan. And we mostly executed! I hit all my spots that I wanted to hit and with the exception of a small spook coming up to the line and a MASSIVE chip to fence 6. I thought I had killed my chances with that chip, but it was 100% my fault over collecting and pick-pick-picking the mare the entire way to the jump. All in all, I was really proud of Prair.
I ended up being pleasantly surprised at our ride and was quite thrilled that I wasn't ripping the mare's face off in every turn. (progress!!)
When I watched the video I was a bit sad that the course still looks slow and boring, and not nearly as tight or technical as it felt when I was attempting to ride it (lol).
Here's the video:
My last ride of the day was the 2'6" Medal class. This course was all super twisty and fun looking and we actually got to walk it beforehand. I was (sadly) walking when they announced the win for the Eq Finals which meant I didn't get a pretty picture with my cooler and the pumpkin-island-thing. But the walk was worth it, there were some questionable turns that looked ok on the course map, but a wee bit sketchy in the actual arena when we saw where the jumps were actually placed...
The first two fences were nice, long singles that I like to ride and let us establish a rhythm. I did turn inside the end fence for my first jump again which I didn't see anyone else do. The rollback from 3 to 4 was a little funky to make smooth, but not horrid. What I didn't like was that the 3-4-5 combo left no room to let the mare get away from me. Lots of time to reorganize between 5 and 6.. but then the turn to 7 was tight, and no one really knew how to get from 7 to 8. I opted to go around the two unused fences in the ring but try to get it as tight and handy as possible.
You will note that even though it's a Medal class, there are no trot fences or halts noted on the course.
Sadly for me, someone went in and wrote those in right before the class (trot 7, halt after 8). I rode the course as I had seen it posted, so we got dropped to last place, and if it hadn't been time to go home I probably would have pitched a fit with the steward that no announcement was made and the course was posted without the additional components for a majority of the day....
As it was, Prair gave me a really nice trip and I didn't really even want a re-ride at that point I just wanted wine and my cooler so I let it go.
Again, the course looks so sloooooow
, but I supposed that's better than the alternative! In the future when I feel like I've got the mare locked and loaded I need to get comfortable adding some leg and getting a bit more pace established so we don't look like we're trantering around...
I'm pretty thrilled with the ride though.
I'm not really sure why The Boy chose to stand directly
in front of the island while he videoed, but he did. Prairie felt so
handy in this course I felt like I had her 100% of the time. You'll get a really good view of the pumpkin decorations, but every once in a while you can actually see our course.
After the fact it made lots of sense that #7 was a trot fence, but I think we navigated it brilliantly at the canter...
Wish I hadn't blown the course, but I'm really (really really) proud of the ride we put in anyway.