Yesterday, William and I, along with the TTE crew headed to the Ottawa Horse Trials, hosted by "Eventing at the Park". We were entered in the Pre-Entry Open division. I have a lot of great pics from the day thanks to Jessica coming and helping us out.
We started the day by walking the courses while the horses waited on the trailer. After course walks I unloaded William and took him for a stroll around the venue. This place is an equestrian park and although not huge, there is a lot to look at for greenies! Here is the course; definitely not an easy course for Pre-entry, but most certainly looked fun! I wasn't too worried. I figured William was going to give everything a big look but if I rode him well he would pop over them all.
Soon it was time for dressage, our favorite part of the day (can you sense the sarcasm). Unsure of how William would be when I mounted, I gave myself lots of time to get on and get to warm up. He was quite a bit better about leaving the parking lot than he was at the last event. That doesn't mean he didn't try some of his usual tricks though. I came about this close to coming off.... I gave him a big boot and we were on with it.
|ready for lift off|
|my face says it all|
Much to my surprise, once we got to the warm up ring William was an absolute delight to ride. He was soft, supple, actually taking the contact and not being too fussy in the bridle. I was excited to wear my new navy blue jacket and velvet CO I bought off of some riders on Facebook (thank you English Tack Trader ;). I have always loved the look of blue and chestnuts, and I am really happy with how the overall outlook turned out.
Once in the ring, William did the best test he has ever done with me. I was so happy at the end, it was as if he knew he had to do it, went in, did it, and at the end was like - are you happy now? Ya, I was.
|could not love this photo more|
|I believe this is what they refer to as "engagement" lol|
We aren't prefect but we tried pretty hard. We ended up second place after dressage with a 58 (39 in US) which I was thrilled with (The judge scribed "attractive horse" on our test :)) We were less than a penalty behind the leader. For me, this meant added pressure for the jumping phases, which I hate. I am doing much better about not getting stressed in stadium. I am sure Penny really helped me with that last year and I was only a bit nervous going into the ring yesterday. William on the other hand seems to have suddenly figured out what goes in the ring and was very very excited. We cantered up the first fence and when he saw it he locked on and from then on it was all - weeeeeeeeeee - around the course.
Because of this we had a rail mid course. Too forward and close to base, the fences too small to cause any sort of concern to move the legs out of the way. I could have fought him to bring him back more but I am not about to get into a game of face pulling at a show. We can work on this at home, I am just happy he was so game on about being the ring jumping courses.
|fence 1 - weeee|
|my reins kept getting caught...annoying|
|the jump was back there William...|
|more fence needed...|
|I was giggling at him....so fun|
After stadium I had just enough time to take him back, sponge him off, and then get ready for cross. It was very hot and humid...I was a complete sweaty mess all day. William was having many sponge baths to ensure he stayed comfortable. With no warm up really needed...we set off for the long walk to the cross country course.
Shortly after that we were on course! William was braver out of the gate this time but still quite looky. I knew I would have to ride him to the best of my ability if I wanted to go clean. I gave him a strong positive ride to the first three fences and he went right over. The 4th fence was a stone wall and I knew he would gawk at it - they always gawk at stone walls when they are green! He went left and right and I gave him a good growl and then he just flew right up and over! The rest of the course rode extremely well. I will say I definitely worked on the clear round we came home with, but William certainly had his big boy horse shoes on yesterday.
I was so proud of my little Willy. We were clean inside the time to hold onto our second place. After cross he had a nice bath, poultice wrap, and much on a haynet while we waited for Pam to go with Winston. The rest of TTE did amazing. Alayne was 1st and 3rd in the Open Entry with Paige and Zoe, and Pam ended up 2nd with Winston in a very competitive Sr Pre Training Division.
|Alayne and Zoe|
|Pam and Winston|
It was a truly success day. Walking back from cross country with William I couldn't help but let the feeling of happiness over come me. After three really long years with this horse, there seems to be a light coming out of the tunnel. He is by no means easy, and I doubt if he ever will be the type of horse you can just get on and have a go with. I am starting to figure him out though, and through all this time I have learned what works and what doesn't. I am always learning with him, which is a good thing but can be frustrating when it doesn't go right. I am so glad I never gave up on this horse. This horse has something in him that is truly special. If we can find the keys to unlock it, there is no telling what he could do.