Photos by C-Horse Student, Shartra SylivantAs posted on useventing.com...
Southern Pines Horse Trials
After having last weekend off, I once again found myself traveling down the very familiar US Hwy #1 to the Southern Pines Horse Trials (I). There's just something about competing at Southern Pines that makes you think the people running the event really know what they are doing. The stalls are wonderful, the footing is awesome, the facility is beautiful and they are constantly evolving with cool new tracks and improvements.
For me, this is my "hometown" event. I use hometown loosely here, as really it's nearly 2 hours away from Raleigh, but close enough that I had a gaggle of friends/clients there for support. I'm not going to lie... it was a bit nerve racking knowing that I had someone I knew at nearly every section of cross-country. I mean, if I make a mistake in front of a jump judge, they'll just write my number on a piece of paper and that'll be the end of it. Now, to biff it in front of people who know my name and probably is carrying a camera for photographic evidence!? That's a whole 'nother story!
The plan on Saturday was to get there nice and early, go for a quick ride, get everything settled in, make Diddy pretty, walk the course, and then head to the warm-up ring at 1:30. In the past, I've never really had time to get P out for a pre-showing ride, but it worked well with my previous horse (the Big Ted) -- it would help him settle a bit so we didn't spend half of warm-up working off the stall buggers -- figured it would work well for P too.
You know, I think horses are way smarter then we give them credit for.
The day was sailing right along, each element falling into place. P and I got in a really good dressage school in the morning (just a bit 'on the muscle' but he was listening), had some lovely alone time before the groups of friends showed up, got everything ready... things were looking up! Then I got on to go warm-up for some sandbox playing, and Diddy was pretty darned sure we'd already done dressage, and that his dressage time is limited to once a day -- time to go jump!
We struggled a bit through the test, a momentary canter down centerline, a brief romp in the lengthened canter, me saluting with the whip in my hand... we got through it, and after watching video of it last night, I realized it wasn't all that bad. We ended up with a 37.3, putting us if 15th place -- 2nd place was sitting on a 30.9, so the way I say it, we were less then 2 rails from second!
Time crunch was the name of the game, as I only had a little over an hour between dressage and cross-country, however, I guess I'm not used to having helpers, because we got Diddy back to the stall, tack changed, studs done, my clothes changed and had time to spare! Cross country warm up was a bit crazy, so P and spent some time walking around, enjoying the scenery of the Horse Park. Once we started moving, I soon realized that my horse is wickedly strong, and he acted as if he somehow just found that out. He was jumping great, but was taking a bit of muscle to get back into my idea of a pace after each fence. Feeling like I should have maybe put something a bit stronger in his mouth then a rubber mullen mouth snaffle (!), we headed to the start box...
And I guess the Ark wasn't a fluke!
After walking the course, I was pretty stoked to have a go at it... it seemed to be really forward riding, rewarding to the open step. P sailed around it without a problem, and gave me some really good feelings. He's ceased the over-jumping style that he used to carry around courses, leaving us sailing through the air for an eternity. He took nearly every fence out of stride (minus the small things, which I think he wasn't quite sure what to do with), however, I figured we'd be way slow on time considering how much I was having to fight with him before the fences. My worries were unfounded as we finished just 6 seconds over, moving us up to 13th place.
Back to the barn for some ice, dinner (for the horse), wine (for me and company) and a lovely night out with clients in downtown Southern Pines (and by night out, I mean we were in bed by 9pm).
Sunday's show jumping was run in reverse order of standings, so everything had to sort of guess their ride times. P was jumping great in warm-up, but was just a tad bit full of himself (yet again, seeing a trend here?). I changed his bit to a metal snaffle (hey, it's an upgrade from rubber!), and I liked the little bit of extra control it gave me (he did not). He went in the ring and was a rockstar (minus one lead conversation we had before the last fence). I was a bit disappointed in myself, feeling like I could have rode better and not picked so much between the lines, but I guess I'll have to fix that this weekend at the jumper show.
Thinking that there was no way that we would make the jump from 13th up to the ribbons, even with the scores being quite tight, I took the boy back to the stall, pulled my boots off (exposing some very sexy black and grey horizontal striped knee socks) and headed back to the ring to watch the end of my division. Much to my surprise, P and I jumped up to 9th place with our double clear, meaning I had to have my picture taken with my ball cap, striped socks, and pretty grey ribbon (although I'm totally pulling a Plushenko, and referring to it as Platinum).
Diddy came home to a scheduled visit with the vet to get some maintenance out of the way, so he gets a couple of days off. We'll travel to the Virginia Horse Center this weekend for some goes at the Thoroughbred Celebration Show's jumper classes, before the final countdown to the 3-Day!
However, we may need a rally call to get some more entries in the 3-Day at Fence, as it appears there are only 6 entries at the moment... you know you want to do it! :)
Until next time... Ciao, ciao!