|check one off the bucket list|
Back in June a friend was heading to Little Bromont Horse Trials in Quebec, home of the International Bromont CCI*** they host the weekend before. I have always wanted to go but the cards never really lined up. It's about a 4 hr drive and a little expensive, plus the courses are max and it's early in the year. However this year, I thought it was the perfect chance to go. Share a trailer ride, and Penny and I could go out eventing for the first time in almost 2 years. I could show Pre-Training to test out how my leg was feeling doing a higher level and also let her get her feet back into the game.
If you ever have a chance to go to Bromont, even just to watch I highly recommend. The scenery alone is absolutely stunning. There were two barns full of permanent stabling, about 5 massive sand rings, plus the large rings where dressage and stadium are held under the famous Bromont sign. If you aren't aware, Bromont was the host location for the 1969 Montreal Olympic Games. Something about competing under the sign where Olympic medals were won and lost. Surreal at times.
The land is mountainous and green green valleys everywhere. Breathtaking views. There was a lot of parking and about 15 hoses on a giant wash rack. Everything was really convenient and Penny settled right in. I don't show over night too often but if I am going to, Bromont is definitely the place to do it. We arrived Friday night and I took Penny for a school once we were all unloaded. To my surprise she was super chill, relaxed and listening. She hadn't been back into work all that long so I wasn't expecting magic, but she was certainly being a good girl. Bri came to groom and help out, and her and I walked the xc course in the dark after my ride. Something I have made a habit of at over night events. It can be pretty fun when you are over tired and hopped up on Sugar.
Saturday morning we started early and I braided and took Penny for another school. She was really good and I was happy and half thought we might be able to put in a decent dressage test. Unfortunately, her bit rubbed her mouth pretty bad so by the time I got on to warm up for dressage she was sore and I had to remove her flash. She was also getting excited by all the horses and realizing she wasn't there just to hack around. The more I warmed up the more excited she got and I knew we were in for it in the ring.
By the time it was my time she was jiggy jogging over to the ring. I will say she tried very hard to keep it together but I think she was really really pumped to be competing. She had some really good moments in our test, like her downward transitions which are usually shit were almost perfect. Her trot work was good, but then she rushed her upward transitions and was a bit exuberant throughout the test. The score was absolute crap, but to be honest I think the judge was scoring about 20pp higher than most judges based on tests I saw and how people usually score. Nonetheless I wasn't too worried about it. We weren't coming to win just to dust off some cobwebs.
|Bri taking Penny out to stretch her legs|
|Going for a hack Friday night|
|there were some really nice moments|
|who did it best?lol|
After dressage we walked the cross country again and I was glad I dropped down a level. The courses were definitely on the strong side of things and for not eventing above Pre-Entry last year and only at the end of the year, I didn't want to be puking in the start box from being scared to death lol Not that I really have anything to worry about on Penny.
The stadium course was beautiful. We had to wait a crazy long time in the warm up as they were running a bit behind. There were horses everywhere and it was 30+ degrees and humid as hell. Penny was not herself at all. She was trotting sideways, cantering on the spot and throwing her head up and down. I undid her flash on her jumping bridle as loose as I could. I couldn't figure out if she was sore on her lips, elsewhere, stressed, or just really excited. But I know Penny, and I thought about it....and I had a feeling she was just really excited.
Like really, REALLY excited. So we headed down to the showjump ring, and then it was our turn. I went in and walked around the fences and turned to face the judge. I gave my salute, and then we were off. Literally, she blasted into a canter, and just tried to take total control of our course. So yeah, she was just really really happy to be out there jumping ALL THE THINGS. She blasted through the first line and we had to have a reminder of who was in charge. We had to have a few reminders. Then again when she did the long two stride in ONE stride. UGH PENNY. You can't even notice when she is doing it because she has an 18 ft stride I shit you not. But like, officials don't like it when you leave out strides. LOL
We had two rails, I don't even know which ones. The course happened so fast, it felt like I was riding a gun being shot off around every turn. But omg, I love jumping this horse. I love riding this horse. I love competing this horse. She is amazing. She is special. She needs to learn to wait. LOL
|but I'm perfect|
|straightness is real (Miss Pen not me lol)|
|almost look like a decent citizen Miss Pen|
|My new fav pic of Penny|
|jumping into the 2 (1) stride|
I felt relieved after knowing she was totally fine, just a little too hot to trot. That I can live with. I remember reading in Mark Todds Biography, that when he decided to bring Charisma back into work for the second Olympics he had an event like this. Charisma just rattled in the dressage, blasted all over the showjumping and ran away with him on the cross country. Everyone thought the horse had lost his touch but Mark knew the horse just needed to get out and do something. That is the exact feeling I had on Penny that weekend.
We had an hour or so, and then it was time to head to the start box. I was a bit unsure of what I had underneath me. I was bit concerned about the heat, it was 35 degrees plus humidity and Penny wasn't as fit as she usually is. I did use a Flair strip for the first time to help her breathing. I was nervous. We didn't even have a xc school yet this year. I was just going out putting all my trust in her, and in true Penny form, she did not let me down.
She gunned out of the start box just looking for fences. She was so bold. Too bold. She had no brakes. We headed to fence 5 or 6 and it was a 4 stride combination. I knew what she was going to do. I angled the first part, swung wide left and back around careful not to cross my tracks and yelled at the jump judge what I was doing. She popped over it fine and we had a discussion over the brakes. Then we came down to the water and she flew right in. There was a giant carved duck on the other side beside our fence and Penny was spooking at it hard. I was kicking her with my left leg and just thinking - if we get a run out because of that damn carved duck I will not be happy! I got her to her fence and she just popped over it. Great, now I have to find somewhere to school with giant decoys. Oy vay.
After this fence I had a serious talk with her and brought her back to trot. Hellloooo Penny. I know I'm not as strong as I once was but man, she was really pulling and running away. She has never ever done that on XC. We trotted about ten stride before we hit our next fence. After that, she was back to herself. She only tried to run at one Prelim fence and I managed to turn her off it. She was listening and we were galloping together and taking things out of stride. Ahhhh...that is much more fun for us both! The last 7 fences felt fucking amazing if I do say so. There was a brush on a hill, down a sunken road type thing up another hill to another brush and we angled them and jumped them out of stride, it honestly felt like the best jumps I have ever had in my life. It sure was nice to be back out on this mare.
|we look in control at least|
|second to last|
|that view tho|
|soaring over the third to last fence|
I was worried about Penny and the heat and I should have been worried about myself. I was DEAD after xc, but Penny recovered really quick. Way quicker than she ever has. I think the Flair strip really did some good for her so I will be using those again in the future. With all those nice wash stalls I was able to just walk her back to the barn with her tack off and hose her down, scrape her, hose her down, scrape repeat. The facility was superb for this. Then it was time to poultice, wrap and pack up!
Checking my scores, I saw they marked me down for a stop. I knew right away it was over the combination where I took a wide turn. I argued with the TD and the officials who said the jump judge "saw me circle" and that it was "definitely a run out". Well LUCKY FOR ME I had my GoPro on! I said I have footage to prove otherwise. They said "Go get it". So I did. And they had to wait while I was all sweaty and stinky for my phone to load my video. Go pro is not user friendly y'all. They were very patient thankfully. I put the video on and VOILA! "Oh, no shes right, that is not a refusal". YAYYY victory.
It didn't change our placing. We had some time faults on XC due to our trotting and having a lesson in brakes, but I didn't want that on Pennys record. She didn't deserve that 20. She would have jumped a ring of fire that day had it of been out there. We finished somewhere at the bottom of 25 or so riders. I think maybe 17th? But I didn't care. I just had the ride of my life on the mare of a lifetime. We have lots of time to polish that rust and get competitive again, and that's what we are focusing on now. We will be back out, and ready to tackle more courses soon. I will for certain, be wearing my GoPro.