Rocking Horse Horse Trials…….

The show this weekend does not look good on paper.  My dressage test went well, and I was pleased with how well we did.  Gus was tense at the beginning and wonderful by the end of the test.

Stadium jumping at Rocking Horse is always challenging due to the size of the arena.  There were 16 Intermediate fences with 3 combinations in an arena slightly wider than mine.  Gus jumped the first half of the course very well, but I got slightly lost on the way to fence 8 (thinking it was deeper in the middle of the arena) getting Gus a tight spot.  He got a bit frazzled by the rail he hit, and we had only a few strides to get prepared for the one stride combination to the liverpool.  We had 3 rails at the end of the course.  Most people had at least one rail, and I left the arena knowing that if I would have had more time to walk my stadium course, the rails would have not happened.

The xc course was big and technical.  I felt very prepared to ride the course, but knew that there were a few combinations  I was worried about.  Gus warmed up well, and he jumped fences 1- 6 just how I planned.  Fence 7abc was the one that kept me awake the night before.  It was a bank up with a ditch in front of it, to a one stride across the top, to a roll top that sat on the top of a big drop bank, to a sharp left turn to a huge brush at 7c.  I was worried about it because it was very reminiscent of the fence we had trouble with at Virginia.  I did what we hoped was “the fix” for the problem, and Gus jumped up and down it really bravely.  The turn to 7c was a little scrappy, but we made it.  I was thrilled.  8 and 9 were perfect.  The gallop from 9-10abc was a long one, and I made sure to get Gus organized before the coffin.  Elissa said that the gallop in was too weak for this type fence, causing Gus to run out at 10c.  The next time through, he was frazzled and ran out at c again (after having to retake a and b).  The third time was a charm, and we finally made our way on to the rest of the course.  11 and 12 were fantastic.  The big tables at 13a-b with 2 strides between them rode beautifully, and 14 was the smallest jump on the course.  The trakhener at 15 was good, and the turning question from 16a-b went just as I had hoped.  17-20 were also great.  The water complex was 21a-c.  He jumped into the first table well, got the one stride, and jumped into the water over the second table……and that’s when it happened.  Gus hesitated in the air over the jump into the water (I think it was because saw the blue dye they colored the water with) and clipped it with his back legs.  The jolt from hitting the fence caused me to get jostled in my tack, my helmet falling over my eyes for a second.  I only had a few strides to get back together before the left turn to the huge corner at 21c.  If I had had 2 more strides to organize myself we would have made it.  We were eliminated at that fence due to the 2 run outs at the c element of the coffin.  All that remained of the course was a big table at 22.  Gus would have soared over it.

I cannot begin to tell you how depressing and how exciting it was to have jumped around 29 of the 31 elements on that xc course.  A stronger gallop into the coffin would have probably prevented the elimination.  Getting knocked around at the water was just an unfortunate moment, as Elissa called it.  She had no doubts that if I could have had 2 more strides to reorganize, we would have made it.

4 out of the 8 of us in my division were eliminated yesterday on the course.  3 ambulances and 1 medivac helicopter took people away from the show.  The EHV-1 virus kept half of the people entered from coming to the show to begin with.  It was a wild weekend.

Something that I keep reminding myself is that Intermediate is a dramatic jump from Preliminary.  It is by far the biggest transition that Gus and I have had to face.  The fact that neither of us have ever competed at the level before, makes the learning curve that much steeper.  I am one tiny step from being competitive at this level.  I felt comfortable with all of the questions asked of us, and liked it that the Preliminary fences actually looked small yesterday!

David Stackhouse came to measure me and Gus for our new dressage saddle, and it will make a huge difference in how well I am able to do the harder dressage movements.  I should be able to pick it up at Rolex.

Elissa thinks that it would be a good idea for Gus to stay in Florida for another month to train with her.  Because Cooper is no longer training for Rolex due to his career ending tendon injury, she has time to work with Gus.  She thinks that she will be able to teach him a few things that will make my job easier.  She has never actually been on him before, and it will be good to have her get to know him better.  She knows that he is a difficult horse and said that he would have been the perfect “next horse”, that it would have been much easier to have ridden something that had already done Intermediate.  I would totally agree.

So Gus will be staying in Florida at Murphy’s barn.  Elissa will compete him Preliminary at The Fork in April.  We will continue on with our plans to do the one star in Virginia, and maybe do a show in between.

Murphy is packed, and Gus’s stuff has been completely reorganized.  I still need to finish packing a few things in my apartment, but that won’t take long.  I need to pick up yet another health certificate from Dr. Specht, talk to Elissa about Gus, and pay Kerryann for Gus’s board.

I should be headed home tomorrow morning very early.  Murphy and I are going to be lonely without Gus, but I am going to have plenty of riding to do when I get home!

I can’t wait to see my kids and Jeff, to be home again, to have a washer and dryer, to have a COUCH, and to take a break from this crazy horse world for just a few days.

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