Here there be dragons...

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Caledon HT

So today Hailey did her first *ever* horse trial! Woohoo! She took Bella to Caledon and Holly took her horse Roxy, to Roxy's first HT. Both girls put in excellent dressage tests! I was pretty happy with that :)

Show jumping was *tough* for PE -- including an in and out to a four stride. Technically legal, but almost unheard of in that level. There was also one fence that was highly technical just due to where it was placed. But tis ok, challenging courses are just there to eliminate the competition :)

Both girls warmed up really well. Hailey was on first. Now some of you may remember the interpretive dressage circles from last week? Well in dressage this time Hailey followed the traditional (albeit boring) pattern, but chose instead to move the interpretive circle to show jumping. *sigh* hahaha the pony was a superstar and went exactly where she was told -- which unfortunately included a minor detour as H remembered while *passing* jump three that she should technically be going *over* it. Fortunately she DID remember and corrected her minor error calmly and continued around the rest of the course beautifully.

Holly put in a super strong ride on Roxy. Rox was a little overwhelmed by the course but she trusted her rider and together they got around. Fortunately Holly kept her interpretive style within the penalty-free zone by putting a remarkable 4 strides in the 2, but otherwise riding an excellent course :)

Then time for the *real* reason we event: cross country! Woohoo! We walked the course together, then sensing the girls were just a touch lost, sent them around to walk it again by themselves. They came back looking a little more confident although there was definitely some pre-run review:

So then it was time to go. Got Hailey in the start box. "3. 2. 1. Have a great ride!" And I got to watch till she went over the first fence and then she was off on her own while I went to w/u Holly.

I gotta tell ya - it's WAY more nerve-wracking to send your students off on xc then to do it yourself *g* I *love* going into the start box. Feeling the adrenaline racing through your veins; terror warring with excitement while trying to relay "calm and confident" to your horse. And then as you clear the first fence and settle into a rhythm, your focus narrows to only what's important to navigate each obstacle - even the one (and there's *always* one) that you were not to sure of at the beginning. You can feel every muscle move, your body moves instinctively to guide and react to your horse -- to give them confidence when they're unsure, and steady them when they're a little TOO excited. And when they join in the game -- jump into a field and scan for their next jump and you feel them pick up on it and take you to it... Well there's nothing like it. But watching your students go? Man then you get all the scary emotions with a LOOONNNGGGG gap before you see them cross the finish line and get the positive ones :)

Fortunately for me the timing was such that I was busy with Holly till Hailey came back -- so I saw Holly off over her first fence and then could talk with Hailey about her ride. The look on her face was one I've seen before -- the adrenaline and excitement are flowing and she had a ton of fun, but something was not quite right. hmmmm ok "how was it?" -- it's part of my job to ask *g* Well apparently the pony was a little nappy at the start of the course, not too sure she wanted to leave home and friends... But Hailey got her over her difficulties and then she jumped clear the rest of the course. It took me a while to convince her that she actually did *well* and that part of riding is to improve the horse, which clearly she did. And then the smile took over and she was good to go and left to take care of her pony while I waited for Holly's return. And waited. And waited. You see, we had discussed the fact that her horse was not as fit as I'd like her to be, so Holly was trotting all but a few strides before each jump. It was a long wait (esp as I wasn't near anybody with a radio so I couldn't hear how she was doing), but when she finished the horse was in excellent condition and the rider had a huge grin on her face. She was clear for the second time of the day.

So in the end, two girls competed, and two girls brought home ribbons. Not half bad. Congrats to Holly on her well earned SECOND place finish!!! Woohoo. And to Hailey on bringing home 7th at her first ever horse trial. Well done ladies!


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