I have finally taken a breath to recover from the weekend. As my last post noted, the start to the event was really, really tough. Only when I got home and had a glass of wine on the couch, did it hit me just how intense the extended weekend was.
Parts were great and parts were really not great, but let me start at the beginning. Once we got to Inavale, I snuck away on Thursday and had half a day with my sister and her family in Eugene, which was awesome. Laura and I ate lunch on the bleachers and watched the kids play soccer, then went back to her home and repaired the chicken coop fence. After dinner with the whole family, I went back to Philomath to meet up with our large gang of Polestarters. I thought, at that point, that I was refreshed and ready for anything. Boy, was I wrong! I think that the biggest thing I learned from the weekend was just how difficult it can be to both be a rider and an instructor. Last year, I had 3-4 riders with me at events, which was easy. This year, it is more like 6. And I was unprepared for the crushing To-Do list on Friday where both BN and N rode dressage and XC. It was a large day, to say the least. And that was if everything went right….
But when something goes wrong, suddenly the mood deflates. Most all of our dressage tests were above average, some being stellar, like Lori’s on Max Factor. So when we started XC, spirits were high. But then when Max switcherooed his winning ways at jump 5 and deposited Lori on the ground, we all felt her agony. Unfortunately, Lori did break her ankle in that naughty mishap. And Max won himself a ride with me at Rebecca. He seems to have a pattern of misbehaving at events, and while he has been perfect for 10 months at home, he needs a come-to-jesus moment at an event, which is the only place he has ever shown any misbehavior. Some horses have strong reactions to competition stress, and he appears to be one of them. I am very very hopeful that I can help him see that this is much easier than he is making it out to be. Cheers to Lori, who is sitting at home with her lovely Where’s Waldo colored cast!
On a more happy note – I am thrilled with Cochlear at his first Novice. He ended up in 5th after moving up a lot of places with clear jumping rounds. Lear had a very lovely dressage test – excellent marching rhythym and very accurate, no fatal flaws. But he cant compete, at this time in his education, with the floaty movement of most other horses. One day this will change as he becomes strong and able to really hold himself up above his natural downhill inclination. Mark my words: Lear is going to be a star. He has an uncanny ability to understand what is in front of him, suss it up, and jump brilliantly. His natural instincts are better than most any other horse Ive ever sat on. He amazes me.
Annika was riding her first preliminary at Inavale, and she learned ALOT!. She had a great dressage test where Ringo was actually round and working with her. She was not rewarded with a super score, but it was a big improvement on the test at Aspen where he was his stiff self and we were very happy with that improvement. What she and I both learned is that Ringo has some serious SPRINGS when he is impressed at a show. I lead her out of the start box and watched the two of them gallop away from me to fence #1. Perfect take off spot and his heels nearly touch the trees… and Annikas little rear end flies into the air. I thought, “hmmmm, that cant be good?!”. His extreme kick finally caught up with her at fence 14, where she was unable to stay with the force on a downhill landing. I wont pretend that she was laughing when I got to her, she was disappointed but no wounds or broken bones. She is in the rare situation of having too much jump and horse at shows, and now needs to learn how to stick it. Ive assigned massive amounts of Badminton and Burghley DVDs and hero-worship of Mary King to her. I can think of no other rider who has greater stickability than Mary King!
Short briefs: Congrats again to Mary and Lancer for yet another wonderful weekend with a 6th place finish. Shauna and Silky successfully made the transition to Novice with panache and Im excited for their future together.