Monday, April 5, 2010

Endurance Day

The funny thing about Saturday afternoons/evenings in the three-day barns is the collective sigh of relief that's completely audible throughout the entire structure. Especially on a day like today where everyone finished safely, the weather was cool and the overwhelming majority of competitors came across the finish line with smiles and pats.

But I'll get to today in a moment.

Yesterday, Prophet put his game face on. And to tell you the truth... I was just so surprised that I couldn't even blog about it.

Yes, over his star, snip and scarred nostril (a rather rugged face, really), he slipped on some sort of "competition" mask. He let the crew of us make him beautiful for the jogs -- a process about which he usually objects completely -- trotted up like a star, and got the nod from the officials. He then went out and simply preformed in the sandbox. And by preformed, I mean he blew a trot transition ("Leg means canter, right?"), and never really was able to show off that lengthened trot we've worked so hard to perfect ("Again, with the canter? Ok then!"... UGH). But he really let me ride him throughout the rest of the movements and scrapped his way into a first place position. See why I couldn't really blog about it?

So, pretty much I've never been in the lead after dressage, like, ever. Talk about pressure!

Today, my boy was a rock star, but for those of you who get bored with my writing -- we are no longer in the lead, but instead a respectable 4th.

For those of you still with me -- Roads and tracks were awesome -- save for my horse being a bit forward at times. Steeplechase was a blast, simple as that. I'm pretty sure my next house/barn is going to have a steeplechase track installed just so I can go for a breeze every now and again. Pony finished A, B and C bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, much to my relief. He cooled down appropriately in the 10-minute-box and felt great heading to the D start box.

We rocked around XC and the hills definitely took a bit of the edge off the pony... too bad the major hill was AFTER a very enthusiast jump off a down bank early in the course, which led to a minor discussion about who was in charge of our directional controls. He hit most things right out of stride (save for a left out stride coming out of the water where I *may* have entertained the crowd with a colorful explicative, followed by a "thank you for almost - but not actually - killing us" pat on the neck). He finished a bit tired, but still chugging right along. I was smiling, he was sound... all was right in the world.

BUT there's this thing with three-days where numbers are important -- something about time, and stopwatches, and keeping up with them for the entire 45-ish minutes you're out there. I am a bit what some might refer to as "watch challenged". I've embraced it, and learned from it, so when I accidentally stopped my phase C timer just a minute in I was able to do some math and estimate where I was. Not willing to bank completely on my math (where I initially figured I should hit Gate 3 at a time that was before my Phase A start) I also figured I'd be fine if I just kept trotting -- so that's what I did.

Apparently I am also a bit challenged in the brain-to-hand-to-paper department, as I wrote 5:42 instead of 5:24 on my arm for my XC optimum. No wonder I was thinking I was so far up on time at the half mark! So, the time penalties on D are responsible for my demise (or just the fall from 1st to 4th).

BUT, my pony finished the endurance phase of his first full-format with gas in the tank and a sparkle in his eye -- and I do believe he had some serious 'swagger' as he jigged back to the barn, quite pleased with himself. He can't read the scoreboard, so I'm just not telling him about my mistake -- he was definitely my champ today!

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