Sunday, July 1, 2012

Upward momentum continues

It's over a hundred degrees here in NC, and has been for the last 3 days.  Seems like appropriate weather to give an update from the cool air conditioning!

First things first - P is an Intermediate pony!

Secondly - I got myself a big ole fancy truck and trailer!
sexy truck

Trailer, also sexy

Both of those things happened within about a week of each other - so as you can imagine, my mind was going 100 miles an hour for a while, hence the lack of updates.

I'd decided Waredaca would be P and I's first attempt at Intermediate because our first plan of April's River Glen was erased when we had to kick our XC skills up a level (see previous post).  We had some good lessons with Ben and Melissa leading up to the week, so I was feeling pretty confident.  Flash was going along also, and he did not have the most ideal lead up, shutting down a bit due to what I now know was sore feet the week before at Foxtrack, but once I figured that out, did a bit of soaking and schooling, and figured he'd be good to go.

Maiden voyage
Friday morning left me still getting the new truck and trailer situated (hello early morning run to Tractor Supply for new chains).  Finally, my friend Kate, myself, our three boys, and Pete all hit the road. We were going to try and avoid DC traffic by taking a 2 lane highway through Virginia, which would have been a brilliant plan, had it not been pouring sideways rain, causing a wreck ahead of us... our plan to avoid the traffic, left us in a HUGE traffic jam.  Did I mention the new BIGASS truck is a manual?  Nothing like pulling a 5 horse trailer with a 350 stick shift in stop/go traffic and pouring rain.  I just starting praying that the boys didn't drift left, cause I wasn't sure I was going to have any muscle left at all.

Once we arrived to the show grounds and got the boys settled, we had just enough time to run through my course, looking for my jumps by the light of our cell phones. Not exactly how I would have preferred to walk P's first Intermediate, but oh well!

No stirrup! 
good pony
The next day brought clear skies and a lovely day.  I was a little conservative in my dressage warm-up, seeing as I had all three phases within about 2 hours.  I was more concerned with having enough horse for that last long hill of the XC course! P was a little 'blah' in the sandbox, scoring a mediocre score.  Once I put him in the stall, we discovered he had to pee 'like a racehorse!'.  Maybe that's why he wouldn't sit on his hind end!  I was excited about the SJ course.  This would be his 3rd time over an intermediate course, and he's just a blast to take around the colored poles.  There were a fair bit of rails before me, but I know P like the back of my hand so I wasn't that worried.  I didn't count on 2 things though.  First was the fact that I'd been saying 'whoa' to him while working on our simple changes for dressage, so as I approached fence 3 and said 'whoa' (meaning easy buddy, let's shorten), P took that as WHOA and nearly stopped dead! A quick kick and cluck and we were back on track, but not before pulling the rail.  I also didn't count on my super brave even horse pecking to the right because of a puddle after fence 7, so hard that my dumb carbon stirrup popped up under my leg, causing me to jump through the triple combo and the following fence with only one stirrup.  I KNEW there was a reason I'd done so much riding without stirrup work in Pony Club.

This is the jump P trotted.... 
On straight to XC.  Kate and I walked over in silence.  I think she knew I might cry or puke if we tried to say much.  Once we left the start box, I felt P fall into rhythm and I took a moment to soak in the fact that we were on our first intermediate course.  The first two jumps were shared with Preliminary, so after fence three I let out a little whoop to celebrate my first "red numbered" jump in competition.  That celebration was short lived as I didn't make the line to fence 5 (remember kids, walking your course in the dark isn't a good idea), and I had to circle.  P continued on, becoming more bold, and more awesome all the way around. We even slid a little bit between a massive table/trekhener bending line and he proceeded to TROT the Trekhener.  Have I mentioned how much I'm in love with this horse?
A element

B element

C element

Corner out of the first water
 The last water jump was a big jump in, to a slight bend to the skinny on the way out.  I was a little concerned with the jump in, and not at all worried about the jump out.  P usually is so careful into water that making skinnies on the out is never a problem... I usually have all the time in the world.  Well, apparently somewhere on course, P put on his cocky britches, and he jumping into that water like his tail was on fire (for him anyway :)  and I just couldn't find my line to the skinny.  One more circle and he was like "Oh, if you would have told me that we had to jump it, I would have".  

At this point, I was pretty much on cloud nine.  We galloped up the last hill, and at the peak, where he usually gets to take a big breath and cruise, we had another table and then a gallop down the hill.  All the sudden, I realized that I Could. Not. Get. his head up.  He was galloping full on, but was laboring.  Apparently he forgot to breath.  We had once combination left and a simple last jump.  I was so pleased with him that I didn't want to risk hurting him, and all the possibilities of what could be wrong were going through my head.  I aimed him at element A of the combo, his ears pricked and he jumped it with ease.  I turned towards B (a corner), and I saw nothing.  No stride to kick to, no stride to hold to, nothing.  So, what does any good professional rider do?  I grabbed mane and told my awesome horse that if he needed to stop, I was totally ok with that.  He said "hold on mom, we only have two jumps left till I'm an intermediate pony!"  So I held on and he figured things out.  I finished and proceeded to call/text everyone in my contact list. I am so in love with that big bay horse!

Flash and his Aunt Kate share a peppermint. .
It's really unfortunate he doesn't have much scope....
growing up! 
Unfortunately for Flash, he was the bridesmaid of the trip.  He didn't think so though and wanted to prove that there was a reason why he was on the trailer too...  He went out and did a respectable dressage test to be in the lead by 4 points!  He had his best SJ to date - smooth and only a few celebratory romps. He was very good XC.... starting to get straighter and more attentive.  I allowed him to go slow down the bank and through the water, but otherwise he was in a good clip of a canter.  Unfortunately, when we looked at scores, they had the whole division except one person, as having double digit time penalties! I don't wear a watch at the lower levels, so I couldn't protest, but I'm 99.9% positive we should not have had penalties, but oh well.  The time dropped him to 2nd, which I can definitely live with!

Both boys are now qualified for the AEC's which I'm thinking about making the trek to, even though it will empty my bank account. Road trip, road trip, road trip!

Rainbow over the trailer on the way home.

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