Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Sienna's first HT

Ever heard the phrase "chasing windmills"? Well Nicole and I took it literally as we drove through the wind-farm on the way to Checkmate. hahaha we were particularly amused by the one windmill who was clearly having a bad day as the other 50 or so were spinning merrily and it was sitting still. You could almost see the pout on its face. And then the poor old-style wooden windmill that had lost all but one of it's fans... So sad. Needless to say it wasn't moving too quickly either.

Driving up we started in perfect blue sky and headed towards the dark ominous clouds. Not so good. But we could see blue sky in the distance so we targeted that... Fortunately every time we hit dark clouds it was time to turn, and always towards the blue. Eventually we got there and were very pleased to see that while not warm, it was at least sunny where we ended up! hahaha given past Checkmate experiences, we knew enough to be grateful for this (put it this way, even though the weather was perfect when we left, there was full rain gear in the Beast).

So we get Sienna all tacked up and I realized I've forgotten to braid her forelock. Let's just say I was *not* with it on Sat. Not feeling well, should probably not have been there, and this manifested itself in many ways -- to start w/, forgetting to braid my horse's forelock! Sheesh. Only been showing for *how* many years now??? But Sienna wasn't likely to stand still for it, so I deemed it not important (PE people...) and got on and went to dressage warmup. Where my pony promptly turned into an old school-master. Seriously. Was starting to wonder if I'd brought the wrong horse! hahaha She was quiet as could be -- couldn't care less about the other horses in the ring. Round and soft, albeit not particularly forward. Since she was being really quiet, and despite my dismissal of PE I was feeling very bad about the unbraided forelock, I asked Nicole to braid it for me. Now I figured it'd just be braided and down and was hoping that since her hair is so fine it'd hold. But no, I'd forgotten that Nicole is the most amazing groom EVER! hahaha and having foreseen this opportunity and brought elastics w/ her. I am very glad that one of us had a brain that day. So while it was a bit of a challenge for her to braid the horse who was interested in everything BUT putting her head down, she got it done and turned my pony into something civilized. Can't help but compare that to the reaction we would've had if I'd ever tried to braid Zel's forelock in the w/u her first year! hahaha omg yeah right. We wouldn't've even tried, there was just no way. Anyways -- I was not riding well so our dressage was pretty abysmal, but pony was good about the judges, dressage ring, letters, etc. There were other horses hanging out there so she wasn't alone (yeah!) and while the test was rather horrendous, she did pick up her right lead on the first try (which was the only stated goal of the test, although really I would've liked to have put in a dressage test that was a little less interpretive :) so I was happy about that.

Now I had planned to walk XC between dressage and stadium, but dressage was running fairly late so by the time we got Sienna back to the trailer I only had about half an hour before I was supposed to do stadium. So quick change of plan -- will walk between stad and xc. No problem. hahaha except that there's only a little over an hour between those two times as well. So before going to stad I compiled all my xc gear in one place so it'd be a quick change and then away we went...

I have to admit, stadium was one of the least friendly PE courses I've ever seen. It was maxed (which is all of 2'6" and for Sienna certainly not a big deal -- she was easily a foot above the biggest one so non-issue... But I couldn't help thinking if I'd had kids on ponies there for a first outing it would've been excessive), and more so it had several quite tricky lines. The attrition rate in PT was sort of interesting -- saw @ least 3 come off. PE and E made it through ok and it rode well for T. It was fair for T though so they *should* be able to handle it :) But needing to jump both 2 and 4 on angles and quite the twisty line between the last three fences just seemed a little excessive for the greenie levels to me. That being said, my pony's a superstar. Particularly since her rider didn't start riding till about fence 4. Fortunately that was right when she got tired of saving me, so I convinced her over the next two and after that we were actually working as a team. Next time though we'll aim for that at fence 1! Sheesh.

Now of course having had such tight timing between stad and xc guaranteed not only would stad be running late, but xc was running early. Sheesh. So Nicole kindly took my pony back to the trailer to give her a drink and gather my XC gear, and I took off in the opposite direction to XC (which now starts on the other side of the driveway) to walk the course. And as much as the stad was particularly un-PE-friendly, xc was one of the nicest PE courses I've ever seen. It was reasonably long, all the fences were small enough to walk over, got to go through the woods and up and down the hills, and into several different fields. The jumps were also a really good distance apart so she had lots of time to consider life before the next one :) So I finished walking the course and saw Nicole waiting w/ Sienna back at the w/u -- not only was she there w/ all the required gear, but she'd also unbraided my pony! hahaha I'd just figured we were going braided -- but no, I had a superstar curly pony waiting for me :) So hop on, jump 2 of the w/u fences (more for form sake than anything) and head out on course.

Calm depart from the start box, pick up a canter, Si's going well, then breaks to trot hesitating "uh Laur, there's a log up there. . . " "Yes I know pony, jump over it." "oh, OK!" Bravely tackles the log canters for a few strides, looks through the trees, breaks to trot "uh Laur, there's a brush fence up there!" "Yes pony, I know, but you don't have to jump that one. Look you can go down the hill and jump the little log." "OMGOMGOMG There are PEOPLE sitting there! In the grass! See them? They're going to jump out and EAT us!!!! What are they doing?!?!? This isn't right!!! They should NOT be watching us! I'm going to stare at them and run sideways till we're a safe distance away!" "Ok Si, but you see that log. . . " "NO I can't look at the log, there are PEOPLE! They require all my attention!" "I *really* think it'd be a good idea to look at the log. . . " "What log is so important it requires my attention? There are people here - see the people? Oh *that* log. . ." as she turns towards it just in time to hop over it. At which point the scary people were promptly forgotten so we could canter away from the log. Because of course, it makes a great safety barrier -- nothing *else* would be capable of stepping over (or around) the 2' log to get to her, so the people can be dismissed and we can go for a little run... Through the forrest, which thanks to tons of hacking is a complete non issue to her and over another random log. Then the fun run down the hill which was just way too much for my hunter pony who felt the need to walk! hahaha I convinced her she could handle a downhill trot at least and so she managed to keep that all the way to the bottom. Jumped a couple more fences sideways while shying at random other things (have to look both ways before you cross the street! Even if there's a fence on the other side :) And then we turned around so GPS pony was now pointing towards home, and suddenly all logs and issues were speed-bumps more than anything! She wasn't too sure about the coups but did go over both on the first try, jumped the "ditch" which was NOT a flagged obstacle, or even an obstacle at all really, she just felt that her toes should touch the dirt where a jump *used* to be. hahaha the canter through the woods was, as always, a really nice ride and we came out to the field where, having figured out this game, Sienna picked up the obstacle in front of her (that'd be the training coffin :) took about two strides focused on it and then "omg what's that?!?! I like this game Laur but I can't do THAT!" "That's ok Si, you don't have to do that, look yours is over there..." and I turn her up the hill to the nice friendly PE fence. "oh ok, I can do that!" and gamely canters over it -- her best fence of the day! After that just a nice run home to the funky skinny log and through the finish line. Past the vet check w/ no more than a glance and we were done.

Not half bad for a first HT! Not to mention first time ever being ridden in a field alone. hahaha no hacking where she lives and we always school XC with others... But she was great. N I was thrilled :)

Miss Sienna was pretty tired the next day though :) Checked on her three times and all three times she was dozing.

Pics next weekend!


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