Here there be dragons...

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

Did that actually just happen?

So today was the kind of show that makes for good blog posts *g*

Let's start with it's been raining incessantly for the last several days.  Weather forecast for today seemed to change every few minutes, varying between severe thunder storms and exceptionally hot and sunny.  So I came with clothing for everything from 10deg and soaking wet to 40deg and sunny.  And I wore almost all of them.  Sheesh.

But we did get lucky -- no rain.  And while the temp started out cool and the world was very wet from the earlier week, we at least didn't get soaked.  By the end of the day the hot and humid had won out to a degree that made me glad I'd chosen to leave Sasha at home.

So I get to the barn and the first thing I find out is Nina's thrown a shoe.  Great start.  Okay, nbd.  We have lots of time and there should be a farrier on site.  Got everybody loaded reasonably well and off to Glenarden we went.

When we got to the show, cars went left and trailers right.  Did you hear about the rain?  Right -- the cars were doing a slow motion version of bumper-cars.  Brena and Victoria came closest to exchanging paint, but eventually we all slid into various spots without hitting anybody.  We decided getting out could be a challenge left for later.

As we hiked to the trailer, it quickly became evident that parking area was having similar problems. Our trailer was stuck in the mud and they were hooking the tractor up to pull it.  It was freed and parked fairly quickly and the tractor stuck around to free the next several trailers to all get stuck.  A promising beginning *g*

Although, I have to give them credit -- the guys worked all morning to flatten the mud and haul in buckets of sand etc to give traction.  By mid-day it seemed there might actually be a safe way out.

Farrier isn't on site yet, but I deem Nina okay to do dressage with one shoe.   Well Nina clearly felt that was completely unacceptable and on the walk over to warm-up, removed the other one.  Sheesh.  hahaha but at least now she was even!

Victoria and Nina as well as Emily and Charlie were scheduled to be in Rings 1 and 2 at the same time.  Pretty handy as far as warm-up goes.  And they were in the ring within a few moments of each other.   Charlie...  Well -- suffice to say Charlie's talents lie elsewhere.  He *can* put in a reasonable test, but you have to be a master negotiator to get it.  And that's to get 'reasonable'.  Good is a stretch of the imagination.  And Emily is in her second year of showing.  hahaha but what she did do, very well, was accurate.  And from that pov, it was one of their best tests yet.

It was interesting to watch two of my students going at the same time, on opposite horses.  Because  while Charlie's skills show themselves on XC, Nina is exceptionally talented in dressage, albeit somewhat lazy about the whole scenario.  With a little accuracy and pace, they'll be at the top of the pack.  But today despite their best warmup yet -- very impressive! - their circles were a little bit interpretive and their pace slightly less than ambitious.  And sadly, artistic merit is rarely rewarded in dressage.  It was, however, progress from the last test, so all good.  Victoria kept her cool and focused on more than simply staying in the ring :)   And as a result, the scores went up *g*  It's only the second HT ever for both of them.

So as they headed back I had a minute or two to relax and chat with people until Brena and Bella made their way to the warmup.  They had lots of time to relax and warmup and Bella was being an absolute star.  It was Brena's first HT, but despite a whole wackload of butterflies doing acrobatics in her stomach, she put in a fabulous dressage warmup.  Bella was going beautifully and Brena was riding well.  Then it was her turn to go in the ring.  And amazingly -- they kept it together!  Woohoo!   Let me tell you, that legitimately *is* amazing.  If you've never done competed in dressage or eventing before, riding the test to the same quality as the warm-up is HARD.  Between rider nerves "I have to do it perfectly NOW" and the horse stressing from the change in environment and being alone, often riding ability and quality plummet as you enter at A.  And far far more so when it's your first "real" competition.  So I was pretty thoroughly impressed that they held it together, and then even more impressed that the test was good.  Accurate and nice rhythm and even connected at points.  Pretty happy at that one.

While Brena was riding, Victoria was off making friends with the farrier.  Who, it turns out, apprenticed under her regular farrier.  So that's all good -- same style for a horse with tricky feet is a good thing.  Nina made it back to the trailer with some fake hoof and two firmly affixed shoes.  Sweet.  All three horses were comfortable after having been untacked, watered and bathed and were quite enjoying munching on the grass, so we left them with their various grooms (HUGE thanks to Barb, Margaret, Sarah and Selena!) while we went to walk XC.

The course is basically a big serpentine all in one field.  It left me wishing I'd brought my big camera lens -- I could've shot 3/4 of the fences standing in the warm-up ring.  Last year it was laid out quite differently so it didn't even occur to me.  Ah well, live and learn.  Regardless, the course was very inviting and appropriate for the level.  There was the odd tricky jump which we discussed and a couple places that were slightly flooded that I warned them to watch out for.  Falling off because your horse quits at an unexpected water obstacle just isn't any fun at all!

On the way back we walked stadium, which was being held indoors.  Unusual in eventing, but a good choice for today given their footing options outside.  That course looked significantly easier than I'd expected -- the challenge would be the draw of the open door half-way down the long side, and being the only horse inside while all the other friends in the whole wide world were outside.  Being indoors, it was a tight, turny course -- but expecting tight and twisty even outside, the girls had been practising for that this week.  So no worries.

Had quite a long break before xc, during which my oh-so-excitable horses slept and the people relaxed and socialized.  Always good :)

Then it was off to XC -- I LOVE running XC first, but it's fairly rare these days so none of my students have ever done it.  That was all sorts of fun.   Whip those butterflies into formation and 3, 2, 1...  Have a great ride!   hahaha and they did indeed.

Nina was off first -- XC is new to both her and her rider, so it's a bit of a learning curve.  Their first four fences were *amazing*!  By far their best yet -- even done mostly in the canter!  Woohoo!  At fence five, turning directly away from home, they had a serious hesitation but Victoria's determination got them over.   Six -- which was absolutely terrifying -- and it's closely related seven Nina gave a very close look at but jumped on the first try.  Sadly she was not the least bit interested in fence eight.  They cleared it on the third try *phew*  But enough that they got to keep going!   Flew over nine and ten, reestablishing their earlier course brilliance.  And then at eleven, for no apparent reason, Nina felt the need for a closer look.  Unfortunate as that put them at the end of their permissible stops.  But Victoria got her over, and while eliminated, had still accomplished her goals.   They had stayed together, under control, and gotten over everything!   AND without a single temper-tantrum!  Woohoo!!!   The rest will come :)
Victoria and Nina on XC
Brena and Bella were next -- and they were bang on.  The smile on Brena's face at the first fence stuck all the way around the course.  She stayed out of Bella's way, let her do her job, and enjoyed the ride.  It was absolutely beautiful to watch -- I was so impressed.   And when they finished the course, she had that "I'm hooked forever" look on her face that anybody who's insane enough to participate in this sport will recognize.  It's the reason we all do it.  And so after telling her how impressed I was, it was pretty heartbreaking to have to tell her she'd been eliminated.  Seriously?  After a *perfect* run?  They hadn't had a single stop!  But unfortunately Brena was so very focused on her course that she forgot one minor fence.  Didn't go anywhere near it -- there was absolutely no thought of a runout.  Just simply forgot about it.  It sucks, but it's a rite of passage for eventing and at least she got it done early!  hahaha first show, not half bad :)   AND another rider in her division missed the same fence in the same way, so she wasn't even alone in it.   As she took Bella back to untack, I went and begged permission for her to continue with show jumping, which was granted :)  Woohoo!  Thanks to the powers that be at Glenarden for that -- made for a very positive experience!
Brena and Bella on XC
Last of my girls up on XC was Emily riding Charlie.  Cross is Charlie's favourite phase by far and while he walks into the start box calmly, he knows about countdowns and starts vibrating as the starter begins counting.  hahaha but Em was all for it and they were off!  Charlie, however, settles nicely somewhere between training and prelim speed.  Which is lovely except that Em's currently competing at pre-entry!  Oops.  However, she balances out his speed with trotting when he gets too strong and in the end it balances out.  Emily gets the determination award as about ten strides out of fence six, Charlie saw the monsters that lived in it.  And he promptly demonstrated that he *can* in-fact, do dressage.  They did a beautiful serpentine and as they approached the jump he collected more and more until his hind legs were way under his body and he was almost piaffing.  Seriously impressive.   Sadly inappropriately timed when they're supposed to be fearlessly flying over obstacles.  hahaha but Em kept on with good ol pony-club style determination, held her line, and convinced him to jump it.  On the first try.  And then there was no more discussion -- the rest of the course was absolutely beautiful.   I was pretty impressed.
Emily and Charlie on XC
Then another break and on to stadium.  All three girls were permitted to continue, which was awesome.  Victoria again went first and they put in a brilliant round.  Nina had one shy at the open door, but Victoria put it to good use and directed her over the next jump on course before she knew what had happened *g*  I was really happy with that round. By far their best yet!
Victoria and Nina in stadium
Next in was Brena riding Bella and their round was excellent.  Under control, straight lines, very accurate.  Brena's riding overall really impressed me today.  Awesome job!
Brena and Bella in stadium
Emily and Charlie finished out our group -- Charlie was slightly spun; I think he was hoping for more XC.  But Em channelled it well and jumped him around clear -- all her hard work is starting to pay off as she's beginning to ride him significantly better.  So cool to watch!
Emily and Charlie in stadium
Now it's not often that I allow my self to play the "if only" game...  If only I hadn't had that stop.  If only I'd been three seconds faster.  Etc etc etc.  Because really, it's over and I didn't, so it's irrelevant.  But in the case of a TE, it's really hard not to do that and so I took a look at Brena's scores.  And if she had jumped that fence (and there's no reason to think Bella would've had any concern about doing so) they would've finished in second!  hahaha not half bad for a first try!

And even more impressively, she who didn't have to play the "if only" game, Emily and Charlie were in sixth after dressage and jumped their way up to fourth!  Which is unfortunate since she very much wanted that pink ribbon >;-P  hahaha but otherwise, woohoo!  And, when added to their double-clear round at Caledon, qualifies them for championships!  Yeah Emily!

So despite some unusual finishes, overall the day was a huge success.  And thanks to the sun being out all day, we even managed to get out of the various parking situations with no drama :)  Huge thanks to Amy for driving the ponies!

Looking forward to the next one!


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