Wednesday, December 21, 2022

POP December Schooling Show

Ben and I had our second outing at training level at the POP show at the horse park last weekend. It was a mixed bag. To start, we completed a second training level event on a number, and a reasonable one at that. But things felt a little funky in all three phases.

Dressage: another go at Training Test A. He was not as soft and supple as he could have been. We also cantered again after our trot transition at X on the diagonal. I didn't give him sugar cubes and he put his tongue out for a bit. We still got 7s on those movements though, so at least this judge didn't hate it as much as the one at the November Rocking Horse. He also slipped behind partway through, fairly dramatically. And we need to work on our free walk and stretchy trot circles. They both start nicely, but then we can't maintain that degree of stretch for very long and he pops up and stiffens. Lots to work on, we'll do this test again in January at the next Rocking Horse HT. 

Stadium: He warmed up really well, but the actual course itself kinda sucked and we had two rails. Unlike Rocking Horse where I was sort of off in La La Land not asking him to go forward, I was ASKING this time and not getting much. So much so that I wacked him in the middle of the two stride. GO DUDE! 

Cross Country: Going into this weekend I was nervous about cramming all three phases into one day along with course walks. I was pretty sure that I remembered courses better after sleeping on them. But when I was looking at the course map posted online on Saturday I was just building the whole thing up in my head, imagining it to be more and more challenging each time I looked at it, so I eventually stopped. 

Once I got there Sunday late morning, I walked the course with JT. I walked it again with Amanda (who takes much better course walk pictures than I do) after dressage, just pointing and making sure I knew where I was going. And it was fine in spite of a few 180 degree turns crammed into the course. 

This was the B of the first combo - up and down a hill to this roll top. 

Then there was a 180 degree turn back to a few more jumps. The next challenge was 

MIM rail down into a bowl

Back up out of the bowl. This skinny was on the other side of the hill up - you couldn't see it until you were at the top of the hill 

Another couple of straight forward jumps and then this combo: 

Coop and then right hand turn, 5 strides, to a corner

Then a fairly spooky coffin. No terrain question like at Rocking Horse, but it was set in the tree line and the ditch tends to surprise the horses. 

Directions were to line up C and then after we were over A to just keep kicking through those flags 

The next big question was the water, roll top a few strides before the water and then a log a few strides after the water. 

Then a chevron that he had SCREAMED over when JT took him out because she had gotten after him for being a dope through the water. Then it was a left hand 180 to the next combo which was a challenge too - a corner without a ground line, left hand turn up a bank, right hand turn 5 strides to a skinny. 

Then just one more to the end. It was a pretty short course, optimum time of 4:47. After stadium we WENT FORWARD in the cross country warmup and then went out on course. Overall he was very good. Rideable, attentive, never doubting that we were going over the jumps. But he wasn't as game in between fences as he was at Rocking Horse and he was drifting left at the base of fences. When I got him on a lease in February we had his hocks done because his owner requested it. In August my vet checked him and we agreed he was fine. But I think now he needs them done again, so that is happening on Friday. I'm hoping it will also help with the slipping. 

We finished with a few time penalties on XC, rightly so. But also with a few time penalties in stadium. Nearly every pair from entry on up had time penalties; I'm pretty sure they wheeled it incorrectly. It also led to them being pretty far behind on stadium and then consequently cross country. It was fine though because I was aware of it and able to not be on too early. 

I did drive home through Ocala in pitch darkness though and google decided to send me on a super fun route with the trailer - two left hand turns across four lane divided highways with no traffic lights. At one point after sitting for about 5 minutes, I had to tell Ben to hang on and gun it much more than I wanted to in order to get across a gap in traffic. Less than ideal for sure, last time I trust google blindly when it tells me that a route will save 7 minutes and I don't bother to cancel it out.

So not our best outing, but another deposit in the confidence bank. I did swallow hard a few times walking XC but never felt any hesitation or concern out there on Ben. And the course asked some very challenging questions for the level. It was their schooling show championship, which maybe led to them amping it up a bit? The fences are even looking a bit less intimidating from the ground, I walked right next to all of them and didn't scream internally. Cross country is definitely coming together more so than stadium at this moment. 

A good friend came with her parents and took some photos - her dad is a pro photographer and has taken beautiful shots of my critters over the years. If my satellite internet weren't being a terrible pain at the moment I would dig up one of the shots of my dog he took that I have framed. They were stationed at the water jump on XC, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he got. 

Plus she brought this amazing set up for a picnic between dressage and jumping! 

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