Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fair Hill and Ari sees the light

It's been almost three weeks since Fair Hill but it seems like yesterday. The days are flying by and summer is almost over. We finally have temperatures below 100 so it feels like fall. The heat is the one thing that I do notice takes a toll on Toga - no surprise but once again I feel like I get a little behind the rest of the eventing world when I try to give him a break. Remember the old days when Seneca was the end of the spring season and it didn't start back up until Difficult Run? No more - there are shows all summer regardless of heat and hard ground. We have to pick and choose and hope that the organizers take the weather and footing into account. We risk losing a LOT of money by deciding not to run somewhere when we get there and find out the conditions are less than adequate. At any rate, it is hard to take a break any more at any time. So we've been out once a month this summer and it's been brutal. Fair Hill was no exception - it was HOT but at least it wasn't AS hot as it had been the days before. Thank goodness for aerators to make our cross country tracks ride-able.

After my brain spaz at Stuart, I was determined not to do anything stupid at this show. I rode my dressage test over and over in my head and practiced at home (by myself that being my first mistake) on every horse I ride. Toga seemed pretty relaxed and forward and I was happy with warmup. As I rode the beginning of the test there was a bell ring that was very frantic. Not the little "start your test" ring, but a HEY STOP kind of ring. Forgetting that my signal was a whistle, I stopped and looked confusingly at the judge. It wasn't her, it was the judge at the next ring over. She waved me on and was kind enough not to give me an error there. But not to disappoint - I rode my canter loop from the long side to quarter line, not quarter line to quarter line. Rode it exactly as I'd memorized it so when the judge blew the whistle I was pretty confused again. She told me what I'd done and off I went once more. As I came to the same move in the other direction, my brain said to do what she'd said this way as well, but for some reason I rode past it again. This time I knew the whistle was coming so I just fixed it and finally finished the test. All that and I still got a fair score but started out 13th.

Toga was super in warm up for stadium. I was there alone, so had no one to set fences for me. This is often a problem for me since I go to most of my events by myself. I try to follow behind someone that warms up starting over smaller jumps, but so many people just go jump big right from the start. It was hard that day to get behind anyone starting small, but finally the jumps went down and I got to pop over a few. Very few. But Toga was feeling really soft and was jumping great. He got a little impatient waiting for his turn, but once we got in the ring he put in one of his best rounds this year. It was steady and he was so easy to ride. Double clear there put us in 8th.

The cross country was a great gallop. Not as many combinations as we've seen but enough to keep T on his toes. He cruised around, taking a bit more control than he usually does, but probably because there was so much time to run. We made it in one second under the time, to be one of only two Intermediate rides that made the time. We finished second, our first time in primary colors at this level. So in spite of yet another stupid mistake, we redeemed ourselves a bit from Stuart. Next time at Loudon we will school, though, as a reminder to Toga that he has to listen to me. It's been hard to train on the hard ground but we got in a good gallop yesterday.

In the meantime, the light bulb went on for Ari, my baby. He's four now, and really should be doing more, but he's kind of at the bottom of the list because of how busy I've been at the farm. One day out hacking he decided jumping is fun. We were at a log in the way, and at first I thought I would turn around rather than fight with him about it. But all of a sudden he took a deep breath and just stepped over it. From then on, every time he saw a log he went to it. And jumped! For real jumping too. So just to see if what I was feeling was a real epiphany, I followed Addie and her pony over some jumps in the ring, and he did everything. This is the baby that wouldn't go near a pole on the ground last winter.... now he just lopes around whatever you point him at. Sometimes there is a big look first, but he'll do it. What fun :)

Loudon is this weekend and I'm hoping we get cross country done before the hurricane gets here... ten days from that we are headed south to the AECs. This was a last minute add, but I'm excited to get the practice at a big show before Fair Hill, and I really think we can be competitive. Wonder what my next dumb mistake will be...hope I get it out of the way before I get to Georgia...