I can’t say that I went into this weekend thinking that we would complete the show. The move up from Preliminary to Intermediate has been the most dramatic move up so far within the levels from Beginner Novice-Intermediate. I was competitive in the dressage, and I feel very confident that with some work, our Intermediate test will fall in the mid to low 30’s. Our show jumping has improved dramatically over the last few months, and even though we had a few rails, I was thrilled with how he jumped and the canter that we maintained throughout the course. He jumped the triple combination better than ever, which I feel is directly related to the change to the rubber snaffle. Gus jumped big and scopey, but he needed to hold his back legs up for just a fraction of a second longer to not roll the rails. I left show jumping with a smile on my face, knowing that we fit right in with this group of horses and riders.
The cross country course was gigantic. I’m not lying when I tell you that I couldn’t sleep or eat the entire time I was down in Kentucky. The course was designed by David O’Connor and most of it was used for the Young Riders Two** competition. It was frightening and bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. I walked it several times, and I knew I was going to have some trouble with a few of the combinations. Gus jumped really well for his first time on a course of this size. We made it to fence #13 when we were eliminated at the coffin corner. I knew his left drift would be a problem there. Had we made it to fence #16 we would have completed the course. He jumped the big galloping fences like a superstar. The technical elements need some work.
We almost completed our first Intermediate. 3 of the 9 riders in my division were eliminated. Only 2 riders of the 9 had no jumping penalties on the course. 3 of the horses in my division were advanced horses. The winner of my division just won the 3***at Bromont. I felt pretty good about the ride considering neither Gus nor myself have ever done this level. It’s going to take us a few tries (and some major left corner schoolings) to get through an Intermediate xc clean.
Elissa was happy with our weekend, and she told me that she feels that the Intermediate path is the right one for us. We are going to run the Preliminary course at Jumpstart in September and then do a 1* at the Virginia Horse Park in November. The move back up to Intermediate will probably take place this winter in Florida.
To sum up……
I rode through my fears all weekend long (nearly puking the entire time). I did not fall off. Gus was sound after xc. I learned more about my horse and myself in those 4 minutes of xc than I’ve learned in the last 3 years. We are 80% ready to succeed at this level. I am really proud of myself and my horse for getting as far as we have over these last 6 years together. God is good, and I am thankful that both of us returned home uninjured.