Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Step Up

The Loudon Pony Club Horse Trials was another step up for Peter Pan and I after our crash in May.Having spoken to the course designer,receiving assurance it was a "soft course" I thought it the most sensible next step in our progression back up the ladder.

It was exciting to be back at Morvan Park and in Virginia in general as I consider that to be the land of the big boys.It was well worth the ten hour drive from Aiken.

Virginia has been blessed with rain and the ground was excellent for this time of year. The staff at the event made it even better with the rotovator.

Sadly Harry was not able to play as he has had a nasty wound on his leg that I can't get closed up and I didn't want to risk anything. So he is out until it is fully mended.He is such a lovely horse. No chances will be taken with any of the horses.

Peter warmed up for dressage like a champ. He was focused and relaxed.I was on him about 5 minutes too long and a huge black bomber fly started to find me right before I went in of course. But I managed to dodge him. I swear those wretched things have a timer on their radar and know exactly when to come ruin your ride!I wonder if it was the same one that attacked Harry at River Glen.

Barbie and I walked the show Jumping the night before dressage as well as the XC. WE thought,"Oh this is very doable."We even thought it was soft for Intermediate.Well,DUH, of course it was because it was set for Preliminary.When I walked it again the next day,at the correct height and width,back came the butterflies.It is SO easy to make the smallest of errors in Show Jumping,especially on sloped ground.It was like the old days jumping on grass as opposed to a prepared surface with perfect distances and perfect footing.

Peter sailed around. I managed to ride forward and aggressively,the way it needed to be done but all of the balancing work we have been doing really paid off and he came back to me like a champ.We had a clear round. I cried.Then Barbie came up to me and told me we were in the lead!I couldn't believe it!It was such an honor for Peter. I was very proud of him. He is only a baby boy and was so businesslike that day!

I walked the cross country course 3 times. Upon our first walk,my heart sank and I thought. Oh boy this is more than I am ready for. I haven't felt that way in a long time.I did not feel it was a soft course by any means. Tremaine had done a good job.But there were 2 fences that really got to me. One was 9A,B. An angled palisade question on a down hill slope with the camber of the ground sloping away towards the angle. They were big and the were VERY vertical in my opinion.

I had a plan at this event and on my journey back up the ladder. I was to go slowly round this course, complete the questions and not be a hotshot.No worries there. Tremaine had ensured I stick to that plan with his clever design.This particular question stopped me dead in my tracks and made me want to go home.Pippa Funnel jumped into my head right away and said,,,,"never go to an event unprepared or unsure of anything.Make sure you practice what you know will be on the course so you will leave no stones unturned!"This was too big a stone for me. NO WAY was I going to attempt this angle at this point in my journey. I was NOT READY for that.So I opted for a long S turn type serpentine through the question.I felt much better after making that decision.There will be another day for those wretched angles!

The other fence I thought was difficult(though there were many hard combinations) was a very big bullfinch into the dark followed 4 strides by a skinny table to the water ,then a bank up ,one stride to an arrowhead.This was a blind bullfinch,meaning the horses could not see through it. It was stuffed thick with cedar about 5 feet high.Peter has seen bullfinches before but this one was especially difficult because of where it was placed and the ensuing combination.It was the cumulative effect of the multiple jumps I was concerned with.I thought it a serious question.

We had a very nice trakehner to another arrowhead,a corner to a big flower stand off a three stride turn and an angled coffin with skinneys in and out and two big chairs in a wood as the penultimate fence.

I stuck to the plan and went slowly,dropping down to sixth place but couldn't have been happier with the day.Peter answered the questions and was there for me,really helping me get my mojo back.As usual he pulled up from the course rolling his eyes back saying ,"is that all?" "Yes Dear ,that's all for now!"

Next stop,The American Eventing Championships.Between now and then I will practice angles everyday.I will sleep on the angle.I will continue to practice trying hard not to be nervous. Self doubt is a killer.

How lucky I was to find Peter in that field that day.He has come so far.He has brought me back to what used to be a normal way of life for me.No doubt one needs to see these jumps on a regular basis.

I can't wait until Harry gets back on his feet and I sure miss Pickles.Hopefully another horse will come along hopefully at the upper level to help me keep my eye in. We'll see. Stay tuned!