Posted by: shannonc | October 6, 2010

Retired

As in, tired all over again.

Event report:  Groton House Farm Fall Classic – Beginner Novice – October 3, 2010

The event was not what I had hoped, but I did learn from it.  I think :)

The pony put in a nice dressage test.  At times, he felt underpowered, and as a result wiggly and a tiny bit heavy, but I was still very happy with a lot of the work.  He did get unstuck from behind my leg, it just took a lot of pushing.  If we’d been able to create the trot we had after cantering from the first moment we stepped in the ring, that would have been great.  I think he may have been a little tentative on the grass with his shoes – it was his first time going on grass since he got them, and his first time going without bell boots too.  I’ve been religious about keeping the bell boots on since we shod him not only for the first time, but also in eggbars, so I literally took them off on the way down to the ring.  He didn’t feel at all like he was slipping, more like he was being very, very careful.  He felt the same in the warmup, and I probably should have carried my whip with me into the ring.

On the up side, the canter continues to feel like it’s becoming pretty fancy.  Also, we are starting to develop some lateral suppleness.  This is the first test since the connection got consistent that we didn’t get the comment “needs more bend.” 

Watching the test back, it looks like the main thing I could have done to make it better would have been to ask more.  I’m not too surprised.  It’s good info, though.

Overall, dressage is the area I can really see improvement over the course of the season.  He’s really come a long way there, and I can’t believe I learned to sit up in my jump saddle :)

Stadium was fairly positive as well.  We continue to be a little bit out of sync with me being slightly behind, but he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.  We had some nice fences, and he shocked me by putting 2 strides in the 36-foot combination.  He seems to have had it all figured out on the way in:

We had two fences that I let him get flat to, and we got the deep distance.  Then one very lousy jump.  It was fence 7, an oxer off a hairpin turn.  He was feeling quite good coming off the in and out, and jumped fence 6 on the short side like this:

He landed very forward and on the left lead.  I rode the turn wide in an effort to make more space for him, but didn’t get him back enough.  He swapped in front, locked onto the oxer, and we got in badly as he fixed the cross canter and tried to rebalance and leave the ground all at once.  He tapped the front rail pretty hard with his fronts, but managed to get himself to the other side in not too much of a heap.  My contribution, after failing to set him up well, was to try and stay out of his way.  He did seem to end the course happily. 

We walked right down to the xc box and he was with my plan to get more canter than we needed going up to fence 1, but I could tell as soon as he locked on that he was going to backpedal.  He went over, but it felt like a crawl.  Likewise sticky to 2, and stopped at 3.  They were all pretty close together, with the best chance to get going before 1. 

Made a biiiiig circle to try and get him forward on the reapproach to 3 and he popped over, but we had a repeat performance at 4.  I decided we would reapproach – I was pretty sure he would go – and retire at 5, the little ditch, because he’s never stopped at a ditch, and jumped this one last year like a pro, so I figured that would be the most positive ending I could fashion.

He went over 4 on reapproach as I thought he would, and then, not at all as I thought, spotted the ditch from our trot and tried to spin.

He’s never tried to spin on me, on the way to anything.

Got him over, then pulled up and retired him.  I am already petrified that he will decide he doesn’t like the job – I didn’t want to try and stuff him around another 12 fences.

I don’t think he was hurting, in fact I’m pretty sure he wasn’t, but I think he was afraid he would.  I should have worked harder to create an opportunity for him to school xc after he got his shoes – I don’t think I did enough homework to make him feel confident.  I decided not to try to do it in crappy weather or lousy footing, so it didn’t happen.  Instead I believed that once he learned his feet wouldn’t hurt jumping, period, the sentiment would carry between phases.  Apparently, not so much.

So now I hope that I didn’t make things any worse.

It’s been a somewhat miserable few days since the event.  We have been through a lot this season, and it’s certainly overflowed with teaching moments, but it has most emphatically not gone according to plan.  We’ve managed to end the season worse than we started it, although we did have some very nice moments in between.  So, onward. 

I’ve decided to abandon my hope of ending with a good event, and concentrate on homework.  There is still time to turn the xc around before the ground freezes, and go into winter feeling positive, even if we don’t prove it at a competition.  So that’s what we’ll do, even if we have to go back to sticks on the ground to get there.

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