The moment I had been waiting for. The moment I have spent obsessing about for the last 4 years. The moment I spent hours and countless minutes devising a plan for it to come...finally arrived. Now, it may not be a big deal to some of you, but it has been an important goal for me. The step forward, the step in the right direction to pursue my long term riding goals that is. I finally have a Training level event horse again.
To some people, Training is not a huge deal. It actually isn't to me either, but finding another horse that could take me back to this level has taken what feels like FOREVERRRR. This is what happens when you are young and stupid, and don't have a lot of money to spend on a horse. You are clueless as to what you want in life and you can't even get your head on straight to get your life in order. I once had an amazing event horse who took me around my first Prelim clean at the age of 16. When he retired I spent year after year trying to find a suitable event horse to replace him with a limited budget and didn't get very far. I had horses that won at Pre Training but the Training was just too much for them, or they just weren't careful enough for my liking. (Westie and I at Stevens Creek in 99).
I had an Appaloosa who did go Training and could jump the moon but I foolishly thought he would never be good enough for Prelim and let him go by the way side. If I had known then what I know now, I would have spent many years at Training just hanging onto the experience and learning. I was young and not dedicated. The constant struggle to replace my super horse Westie became depressing and I pretty much gave up on showing. It wasn't until years later when I had Archie three years in, was moving home, had a good job and a line of focus in my head, that I wanted to start eventing again. We all know the struggle I had with Archie to get him to be an upper level eventer and this time I was not getting discouraged and giving up. I kept positive and Penny came into my life at just the right time. She restored my faith and has given me another glimpse of hope that some day I will be jumping those green numbers once again. We might even get to jump some of those reds too if we're lucky.
Penny and I entered Stevens Creek Horse Trials for September 29th. I had done their Training level almost 10 years earlier with Westie at the Championships and finished third. It was the first time they were holding an event in 7 years and I was really excited and nervous about our upgrade. I had no idea what the course looked like now, but I did know Penny was bored and not challenged at Pre Training, and that is the clear sign to me that it is time to move up. I didn't feel as nervous as I thought I might. Our dressage is improving and our stadium is getting better too. I have been lessoning weekly with Rick and my riding is getting better. Still lots of work to be done but I feel a lot more confident.
I walked the cross country and didn't have too many worries. The scariest fence to me was the bank up - one stride - bank down - over a ditch on the landing side, 5 strides to a somewhat skinny arrowhead. I wasn't sure how she would react to the ditch or the skinny but I had a plan and that was to ride like hell and hold on.
|ditch on landing side of bank|
I was happy with our dressage test, some little bobbles here and there but a nice overall flow for the first time running through. I actually thought it was the best test we had done this year. The judge thought otherwise and commented to me that my horse looked unbalanced in the canter and scored me harshly because of that. Nothing to get upset about though, it's not a dressage competition and we can make it up in the jumping portions if we are lucky! I have all winter to work on her dressage.
The stadium course was cute and rode well. The ring was quite heavy footed and on the line coming from 2 to 3 we got an awful distance in and Penny ran out to the right of the second oxer. She was going to jump and we both sort of thought - ahh no better re group. I re approached and she popped right over. I kicked her more forward and we had a flawless remainder of a round without touching a single rail. I was thrilled. Stadium is by far the most stressful phase for me and I was really happy with how Penny went.
Cross country started out with an interesting bang when Penny spooked at the row of first fences and I couldn't get her anywhere near her first fence, and we cantered right by. I mean really...we just sailed right by. I had my left rein pulling so hard but Penny was off in her own world getting away from those scary jumps! I stopped her and gave her a good smack behind my leg. Regrouped and approached with a good strong leg. No way was I going to have any more issues on this course! Penny sailed around the rest of the course like a breeze. She gave the bank a good look but went straight up and over. She aced the coffin and flew into the water without hesitation. We made home with just the one silly mistake and clear inside the time. We survived our first Training level event together - wah hoo!
The course proved to be a challenging one and half the division was eliminated. We ended up in 4th place and took home a cute yellow ribbon and a nice big gift basket! What an awesome end to a perfect day. Alayne and Cayden were out in full force once again to finish an amazing third in the senior Prelim. Go team! Go TTE!
|Alayne and Cayd|