Monday, April 11, 2016

Blenheim III - The start of the 2'9"

I will fully admit that I am deep in the midst of a Horseshow Hangover.  I know you are all familiar, but the couple days after a big show always leave me a bit down.  Some of it is dealing with the reentry into reality, some of it is that all the planning and anticipation of the show is over, and some of it is for sure exhaustion.

I am trying to put on my rose colored glasses, since I know at the time I was super (dee-duper) thrilled with how my last weekend at The Oaks went. 

When I last left you, I schooled two 2'6" rounds in the big field and had the time of my life.  I also had two refusals - but more importantly I felt like I had a very eager, very rideable horse that I was feeling pretty confident on.

So, we boldly entered the 2'9" Eq and Hunters and waited for Friday to come.

Friday started with two rounds of Eq over fences followed by my flat class.

I was bummed to be back in the sand (though a much larger nicer ring), but really (really) excited about trying to replicate the feeling I had in the big field. 

I had a slight panic attack when I saw the courses.  The 2'6" Eq the previous week was a straight Hunter course.  No bending lines, no rollbacks. No lines set tighter than a 5 stride.

The 2'9" was a different beast.  Multiple rollbacks, a TWO STRIDE and unrelated distances.

wtf.  good thing I'd schooled exactly none of those things with Windsor yet.  It's possible I got a raised eyebrow from my Trainer, but off to warmup we went and then straight into the ring.

I am lacking video from these two rounds, which from a personal pride standpoint - doesn't make me sad.  But from a archival perspective - I'm wishing we had it.

I have totally blacked out the start of the course, and can only remember the last half, which was a jump into the judge's line, rollback to oxer out the diagonal, then a looooooooonnnng gallop up to a two stride, and a six stride home.

The rollback when surprisingly easy, but it was our second one, and I felt Windsor's brain pick up on the more interesting track and immediately switch gears.  We were bold out of the rollback and while I reestablished a good pace, I could tell that as we approached the two stride, Winds was convinced we were in the jump off.  We went in big, out tight and then jacked around the (thankfully big) corner while I tried to desperately turn off the "jump-off" switch.  The 6 came up fast and we barely popped the last stride in but it was there - so while we lacked some rhythm and polish, we didn't have any catastrophic mistakes. 

What I did notice while I waited to rotate back in for my second round was that all the back cracking fun time in/after the two stride had done something to my back. 

The longer I sat the tighter everything got.  And by the time I went back in I was pretty sure I was maybe going to die. 

Turns out I didn't.  And Windsor was decidedly less impressed with everything the second time around, so we fixed most of our mistakes, smoothed out our corners and snagged a 6th (out of 16).

Then there was more waiting (and more back spasming) while the last few rounds went before the Eq on the flat.  Winds was (again) a total champ in the flat class.  We got cut off, and run into and galloped up on and everything you hope never happens in a flat class - all without flicking an ear.  This dude was made to be ridden in traffic. 

I think we would have done ok, but the whole rigor-mortis thing made for a pretty atrocious picture and a horrific sitting trot.

So, for maybe the first time ever I got totally aced out of a ribbon for Eq on the flat.  Somewhat sad, but totally understandable. 

Again, I wish I had the really charming photographic evidence for you - I would totally share,  but I don't.

After that Windsy had a nice long break before we tacked back up for two Hunter rounds back in the field. 

The rain rolled in, and it always cracks me up how many people scratch in California when that happens.  Horses were hanging out in the tents, riders looked ready for an artic expedition and my division dwindled from 45 to about 30. 

Hiding from the "storm"
At our local shows, you aren't allowed to ride in the 2'6" (or 2'9" or 2'-whatever) if you are showing in a rated division.  They run extra "open" classes that you can use as a warm up, but you can't start with a division below you. 

At first, I was surprised to see a total lack of warm-up classes on the schedule, but then I realized you are allowed to cross enter down here, so all the 3' (and some 3'6") entries drop down to 2'9" as their warm up to get in the ring and see the fences.

This fact was somewhat disappointing for me.  Since most of the top ribbons were snagged by horses going on to compete in bigger and better things - but I got over it. (mostly).

Our first round back in the field was decent.  We fixed some of our mistakes from the 2'6" rounds on Thursday.  I stayed more forward, we didn't have any stops (lol), and I'm starting to be able to read my lines better.  Still some quiet distances and a tendency to brace to shorten rather than lifting - but progress is progress.

Also, the 2'9" looked WEENIE with the longer poles and giant field.  Felt like the course was set for Long Stirrup - which is a very comfortable feeling.  I was most proud of moving up to the outside line at the end of the course, rather than siting back and adding in.  That's a huge mental victory for me. (go team).

The coaching between rounds was basically to balance up and back, not down. And work on reestablishing my canter a bit better, then not changing it after the corner... 

The second round topped my personal favorites of the show thus far.  I fixed ALL of my jumps and read my lines way better.  Sadly, I sorta blew two lead changes.  Like really, really blew them... so clearly I wasn't going to get used on the card, but I just felt so good about the ride, which was awesome. 

Here's the video.  Note the great jumps.  Ignore the lack of changes (whoops!)

I knew I was off the card, and with a flat scheduled for 6pm... I politely inquired if maybe we should just scratch that and the Windsor take his poor braids out... but that didn't fly.

Capable of rolling while tied... noted
Probably a good decision because I'm still learning how to best show him off, but still - I had been looking forward to a post-show-day cocktail, and for some reason felt like I had to wait.

The hack was a good experience.  In trying not to push his trot too much, I underpowered him a bit, but his frame was better... so all in all a good data point.  Also, during our canter, the loudspeaker popped right as we went by sending the horse next to us into a tail spin.  Winds flinched, flicked an ear, and kept cantering on a loose rein.  (OMG I LOVE HIM).

We managed an 8th in a pretty small class (only 15 or so opted to hack) and called it a day.

I'm learning so much every time we go into the ring, I really can't explain how happy I am we made this trip.

Stay tuned for the final wrap up and (even more) video....


  1. I'm sure the learning speed bumps if you will can be a bit disheartening, but it's all going to come together for ya'll sooner rather than later!

  2. I am also a fan of "let's have a cocktail and skip the flat"

  3. Though you missed the lead changes (small details lol), I still think you and Windsor are looking great! You guys are already starting to find your stride as a partnership - no pun intended - and you can only improve going forward. There weren't any major disasters and you both made it around the course, so that's something to be proud of! I cannot wait to watch you and Windsor continue to strengthen as a pair and you'll be raking in those blues in no time :) Congratulations on a great first show!

  4. It's not allowed to have a cocktail *before* your flat class? I mean, as long as it's after 5 pm and all...

    1. Wait, who said it had to be after 5? I mean, it's 5 o'clock somewhere...

  5. Wow I love Windsor more and more every time I read a post. He is such a good boy. And what kind of evil trainer doesn't let you have a cocktail before your flat class?!? You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.... :D

  6. What a good boy. I'm glad you are having so much fun.

  7. That horse show hangover can be a doozy, all in all sounds like absolutely great 2 weeks at getting your show feet wet again and learning more about your horse in a show atmosphere!

  8. Bummer about the back spasms (ouch!) but congrats on the move up and learning so much from it!!

  9. <3 So happy you two are together! Windsy is EXACTLY what you need. Can't wait for the next wrap up!

  10. I'm super impressed that he can roll while tied, and then look at you like you're the crazy one. It sounds like even though there's a learning curve, it is always trending in the right direction!

  11. Still fantastic! Unfortunate about hurting your back


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