Hubby and I had a disgustingly early 3:30 wake up call and we stumbled into the barn just after 4. I gave Bobby his grain and forced myself up the hill to grab a pony out of the paddock to longe her for one of the girls that was going to a hunter show with the barn that morning. Fortunately, she was a very good girl and didn't make a fuss about getting led about in the dark before getting worked in the indoor at such an early hour, but I was sleepily doubting my decision to be a nice person by volunteering for this job. I put her away, hayed the barn to keep them quiet, and then wrapped Mr Magee and took him out to get loaded. He was totes confused and distracted and was so busy looking around him that he forgot to pick his feet up when walking into the trailer and fell into it. Yep. Giving us a glance into how the rest of the day was going to go.
Despite giving myself just over an hour before my ride time, I still somehow managed to feel rushed and like I was moving way too slowly. Getting myself ready, tacking up Bobby, picking the hay out of his braids, and finding my stock tie somehow seemed to eat up my entire hour and I quickly threw Bobby on the longe with his side reins out in the parking area.
I trotted him to the left for all of three minutes before having to call it quits and get on. He was surprisingly more cooperative than he was last weekend, but still just too tense and too braced to really put in the work he's capable of at home.
|keeping the bell boots on as long as possible!|
|one last canter before getting called over.|
Our test was...alright. It looks and felt smooth, flowing, and obedient, but I was riding my lady balls off to keep him focused. He kept trying to sneak glances down into the warm up ring that we were overlooking. Thankfully, we were the second pair in our division to go and there were only tree Training riders so no one was jumping yet. There were no mistakes, but there was no fanciness either and we scored 7s pretty much the entire way down to tie for 6th with a 32.6. There was less than 8 points separating our entire division after dressage.
Bobby warmed up fabulously for stadium. He was hitting his distances, he was moving forward without getting strung out, and he wasn't at all fazed by the considerably more crowded warm up or all the horses jumping around him.
|such a good pony.|
|calm pony pants.|
We headed over to the ring just as the first rider was starting his round. There was one rider that wanted to get going so she went before us. Bobby curled his head to his chest despite being on a loose rein when she went in and started gnawing on his bit. He doesn't like to wait around for the jumping. The course had some crazy turns in it, but overall looked very doable, and despite the massive amounts of rain we got Saturday the footing was great.
First jump? Fine. Landed on the correct lead, circled around to the right, and:
Ok. A chip. Nothing we haven't run into before. A bending line across the diagnol, I gave him a little more leg and three was...passable. Sharp left turn to an oxer on the short side right in front of the judge's booth and Bobby bunny hopped over it. Another sharp turn to a two stride and Bobby was so busy gawping at the judge that by the time I yanked his head straight again, he was like, "Whoa! Where'd that come from?!" and ran out. Circled him, he skittered sideways at the judge again, and ran out again. I gave him a whack behind my leg that he kicked out at, I turned him on a tiny circle and trotted him over it.
|the offending fence with the offending judge behind us.|
By that point we were both frazzled and Bobby just got faster and longer and more spastic. We somehow made it over 5b and 6 before crashing through 7. I ended up sitting on Bobby's neck and we were obviously eliminated. I came out of the ring mad, but also really confused. What was his deal? Why the drama over a course that he really should have been able to cruise around? Our course last weekend felt great and the turns were a lot crazier. Hubby was watching with our trailer neighbor's wife and he relayed that she said it looked like Bobby just wasn't seeing the fences until he was on top of them. That very well may have been the case; he was so distracted by the large crowd and horses milling around the arena--something that we didn't have last weekend where we were the last pair to go of the show and had the place to ourselves--that he wasn't focusing on his job.
I went over to the TD and asked if we could still try to go around cross country. She gave me a brief but well deserved lecture about my disastrous stadium round, but agreed to let me go as long as I pulled up at the first sign that he was going to pull the same shit that he did in the ring. I readily agreed as I had no desire to get myself hurt and cross country fences don't come down when you jump into them.
The course was soaked when we walked it. Absolutely saturated. Listen for the suction/swimming noises on the helmet cam and you can get some idea of how wet it was. It was also massive.
The first two fences went okay, although Bobby felt obligated to take as many zig-zags as he could to fence 1 before straightening out. The third jump was a giant drop.
Thank God for my cross country schooling where I felt like I had dominated banks because I would probably have walked up to it and gotten a stop otherwise. As it was, I still made him trot it and he launched off of it Superman style. We trotted through the swamp on landing and went mud bogging through the woods. At fence 10, I began to lose control.
Fence 10 was actually his best effort on course. He had a big, forward canter going to it, took it in stride and carried on strongly. Too strongly. Fence 11 was the N version of the dreaded "farm stand" that I fell at last year and I was just as freaked out by it as I was then. I wanted to get him focused on it so he could see that it was steps and not just a solid upright like it looks, but he blew me off and sailed over it from a mile out. Same with 12. And 13. And 14. After 14, I ripped his face off with all my strength. After the "palisade" (the ramp thing), look for his head to go shooting up in the air. That would be me sitting him on his ass. He was completely ignoring me and just steam rolling through my attempts at braking.
That was going to get us hurt for the "roller coaster" of 16 A and B.
|up a steep, short hill to this hanging log where you can't see the landing|
|land downhill, down this short, steep hill into|
a ditch and across the road
|to another hanging log.|
I fought with him to get him to trot the fence as I didn't want to go mach speed down a hill that he couldn't even tell was there, but he was insistent on cantering. Fortunately, I was hauling on his mouth enough that when he got to the jump and saw the landing, he had enough sense to stop instead of catapulting over it. We stopped there. We'd already earned our E, no need to finish the last two jumps.
The helmet cam:
Where do we go from here? Ughhhhhhhh, I don't even know. It's still hard for me to wrap my mind around our stadium round. I just can't believe it went so awfully. I know that Bucks has a ton of atmosphere and Bobby does not do well with that. We have never had three good phases there. But that much of a mess? Really, Bobby? Now I have to decide if I want to spend $165 on an entry there for next month, or if I need to find another Sunday one day event in the same time frame--because that's super easy.
As far as a training plan for the next three weeks until GVRDC.... no clue. Absolutely no idea. I need to figure out brakes, focus, softness and suppleness, compacting his massive body, and on and on.
I scheduled a massage for him Friday and he probably won't really get worked until then.