Thursday, June 21, 2012

What better to do on the hottest day of the year so far than to think about the COOLest event I've ever been to.  If you ever want to feel like you are riding at the Olympics, ride at Bromont.  It was an Olympic venue years ago, and the sign with the rings is still up on the hill - the first thing you see as you drive up to the event that makes you feel like you are really somewhere special.

It was a bit confusing leading up to Bromont, having never competed outside the U.S. before.  I sent all my forms in to the secretary, but didn't hear back for WEEKS.  My check was cashed (promising, yet unnerving) right away but not a word about whether or not I had everything in order.  Finally I heard back from Janette - who was wonderful from then on to help me with everything I needed to know, including that I had to fill out a (7 page) form with the USEF for permission to compete outside my country.  I had no idea....So I got all that done and again waited for some sort of list which finally came out just a couple weeks before we left.

Toga, on the other hand, was ready way before I was.  I always worry that he's not fit enough, especially when it's hot and humid.  I didn't want to count on it being cooler up there like I did at Stuart last year, and have it be brutal.  He was fit and I thought our schooling was going really well, with improvements in the flatwork and my show jumping.

The drive up was long but uneventful.  I had my friends Dana and Lisa with me so that was helpful over the 13 hours it took to get there, with rest stops, fuel stops, the border, and once each way to close my eyes for a few minutes.  At my first vet check, the FEI vet seemed overly concerned with Toga's hear murmur - which I've known about for years and have had it checked out for what he does.  But I had to scramble to get the report for the vet to look at and was more than a bit panicked that I wouldn't get to run at all.  It all worked out thanks to quick help from Dr. Lewis' office, Dr. Keane's office, and New Bolton Center.  Not a word about it from another vet after that.  Not even in the vet box after XC...

I don't want to bore you with the details, but overall, it was the most impressive course I've ever ridden, as well as the most beautiful.  What a gorgeous setting and the jumps themselves were works of art.  Bromont should spring for some new stadium jumps to keep up with the beautiful of cross country :)  I made a couple big mistakes in dressage that sent me toward the bottom again to start, but the ride XC made up for it.  I rode totally off my line in a combination and got 20 for my first "run out" ever (we didn't run out just never got pointed at the jump..rider error...) but fixed it quickly and easily.  The rest he just skipped around, this time taking much better distances to the bigger jumps instead of leaving out strides.  It felt like the whole trip was much easier for him than I would have expected.  And the 8min 15sec course reinforces my love for the long cross country.  So much more time to get a pace going and think about what's coming up and  how to ride the plan.  For me, it's a much smoother ride.  Compared to the previous ride at Fair Hill, it was night and day.  He ran easily and smoothly at Bromont, and listened to everything I asked of him.  What a pleasure.  And it was a HARD course!!

Toga recuperated really quickly from the ride and was feeling great for the jog and stadium in the morning.  I tried to be less nervous about show jumping (tried...) and I felt a lot better about it than I usually do.  I pushed where I should have waited a couple times and got two rails,   but we got our leads and he was pretty ride-able. 

It was a great experience, loads of fun, we had great weather, and had a blast camping in my trailer.  Spike was a hit and the perfect horse show dog.  Can't wait to do it again next year.  Now we look forward to where our first Advanced horse trials might be after the CIC** at Stuart in a few weeks.  Need to practice that stupid test....