The weekend after our last event, Penny and I headed to Grandview Horse Trials. Grandview is an absolutely stunning facility, but I haven't been back there in years. It is usually a packed event with crazy parking, so I tend to avoid it with my high strung horses just because of the busyness. That being said, Penny was being quite chill lately, and their courses are really nice, plus only having a few events left in the year, I wanted to get Penny out again before the season was over.
We headed up there early Sunday morning, I had a nice ride time of 1pm, which made the early morning not so painful before our 3 hour drive up. Bri came with me to groom and help out and keep me company. We arrived and parked with no issue. Penny unloaded and was happy to stand quietly and eat at the trailer while I went and walked the course. The course was really nice, some big fences but really inviting, a couple of combinations to make note of - but nothing we couldn't handle. I still felt nervous about the course, the size of the fences, and how she might ride to some of them, but I just reminded myself of the course we tackled the weekend before and it helped ease my nerves.
I tacked up for dressage after my course walk and headed to the dressage warm up. The night before we were absolutely pelted with rain, and the warm up rings were quite wet and sloppy. They were also really crowded, and these two factors seem to effect Penny. She would not relax or settle. I warmed her up for quite a while, but I just couldn't get her in front of the leg at all. I knew this was going to be bad news for our test. When our time came I went to our ring and started going around the outside. Our ring was beside the woods where there is a creek beside it. It just added to her tension and what happened next was basically an abomination of a dressage test.
We went down the center line jiggy jogging with our head straight in the air. It did not improve from there, once our canter came she picked up the wrong lead, trantered, wrong lead, trantered, right lead, bolted, and then whizzed around with her head straight in the air. The test continued in that fasion until we got to our lengthen trots, when she finally settled, was in front of my leg albeit strong. She did two beautiful lengthens and then pulled me down the center line where THANK GOD - we were done. That was by far the worst test I have ever ridden in my life. I could do nothing but laugh as I saluted the judge. I thanked her as I left the ring and she smiled and laughed and said "you'll need that later". It was nice to have a judge who could laugh along with me instead of shunning me with a look of disgust that some can do when you have an awful test.
|Photo: Linda Shantz (unedited, but had to share because shes soooo proud of herself)|
|Photo: Linda Shantz The judges and I having a chuckle over our test|
It was pretty disappointing at first, especially after our amazing ride the weekend before. I know we are capable of so much more, but we haven't mastered the tension yet. That's something I will need to figure out how we can improve over the winter. I'm not really sure where her nerves come from when it comes to the dressage ring, but I definitely want to do some investigating to figure it out. Once I got back to the trailer I felt a bit better. I knew we could have some fun jumping and although we were dead last after dressage and no where near competitive, we can both benefit from the experience of tackling a few more courses.
The stadium course looked really fun. It flowed well and had distances that were on the long side which suits Penny. There was a big puddle on the landing side of one jump that was causing a lot of stops, but I wasn't too worried about that with Miss Pen. There were two combinations, one a very long one stride and a long two stride. She warmed up really well. Super quiet, on the aids, jumping straight and square. We went into the ring and had a great round. I figured since the one stride was a on a long one stride I could just let Penny cruise through it, but I was wrong and she didn't have enough room and we had the second part of it down. It was completely my fault, I should have packaged her up much more, but I thought the extra 1/2 stride would give us enough room. Lesson learned. We finished with the one rail but I was thrilled with how she was once again really rideable.
We moved up three places after stadium so that was alright. I had a nice little visit with my old horse Parker in between stadium and cross country, and that was really nice. I still miss that horse often and seeing him out eventing and happy just makes me happy. He gave me a big hug and a cuddle before I tacked up for cross country. Heading out to the warm up I was feeling pretty nervous, but I went over the course in my head, reminded myself Penny will take care of me, and that we can just take it jump by jump.
We jumped a few fences in the warm up, she felt good and listening. Then we were off. The course rode so nicely, and Penny was just cruising over everything. I brought her back and collected for the combinations to make sure we had no errors. She came right back for me, listening intently the whole way around. She was pretty much foot perfect and made it feel easy. We cruised home clean inside the time, and our only real bobble on course was the massive flyer we took at the last fence. I saw the distance and the added distance and went for the flyer. I know Penny can jump from long ones but really I should have tried to collect her a bit more a few strides back to even our stride out and get a better distance. That is just another thing learned from the experience and something to work on in the future.
|Photos 1-7: Bailini|
We ended up 14th of 17, but our scores weren't really that far off the higher placings. Considering the horrible score we started with, I can't complain about our finish. We clearly still have a lot of work to do in the dressage ring, but to be honest I would rather have a horse that will jump day in and day out than a horse that can win the dressage and doesn't always jump around. That is if I had to choose lol Penny's willingness over fences really impressed me, and she just gives you the absolute best feeling out there jumping. We will keep chipping away at things all winter and come out next year ready to tackle an entire season, and learn what we can along the way.