He did it! We did it! We finished our first Preliminary at the Virginia Horse Trials this weekend.
I’ll start with the beginning. My mom flew into town on Wednesday, and on Thursday we packed up the trailer and made the three hour drive to Lexington, Va. We got Justin settled, and I took him for a quick hack around the Horse Center.
We did our dressage on Friday, and really stepped our game up! My dressage trainer, Allison Spivey, has been working really hard to make us competent and presentable in the sandbox lately, and I came out of my test feeling like I had made some real improvements. It was a great feeling for our dressage score to reflect that hard work. We got a 34.3 – a FOUR point improvement from Morningside last weekend (38.19). Plus, I remembered my dressage test. Another miracle indeed.
On Thursday I walked the first 8 jumps of my cross-country course, and came back with a fresh face of terror.
Say hello to this monster. The course map named it a “picnic table” – fitting seeing as though a four generation family could eat comfortably at it! I walked up to this and was filled with wonder – like I wonder why I signed up for Prelim?
Jumps 5 and 6 were in a separate field. 5 was a small rolltop – then a rollback turn to a right handed corner. The corner was very friendly, but lets be real this is prelim and everything looks huge! Plus we have that right handed drift…
The water was 7 ABC – looked fine. 8 ABC was the coffin – and the in was frangible! I am jumping things that require MIM clips! This was when I called it, ran back to the barn with my tail between my legs to find my trainer. Thankfully, she talked some sense into me, and when we walked the course on Friday I was feeling much more confident.
In the warm up on Saturday, Justin was feeling great. He was very forward and eager. Ashley and I conveniently were ready to go at the same time, so we headed to the start box together, and Justin got to watch Dash start – and have someone to follow.
After our awful last cross-country school, I wasn’t sure what kind of creature I would have especially since the first two jumps run parallel, and then away from the warm up. Just begging Justin to be a little naughty, but he wasn’t! He was so game (almost) the entire go!
So, we did have two stops, technically. But they weren’t jump related.. I realize that sounds ridiculous, so here we go:
We’ve made it through some combinations that asked a lot of the pony, and we’re heading to this bohemith:
There is basically nothing but field between us and this fence, and Justin decided to conveniently do his thing where he plants and tries to run back to the warm up. We were somewhere like 10 strides away from this thing, it was totally Justin’s personal naughtiness, not aversion to this jump, but they called it a 20, so whatevs. We did a slight circle and he hopped over with no problem.
He kept trucking along like the badass he is, until I got him too close to the A element of our bank complex (A coop – four strides – bank up- to a chevron). He knocked his knee quite hard, nearly sending me flying, and came off landing as a deranged creature. (Just wait until I get those pictures from Brant Gamma!) He’s such a nice and careful jumper – he’s never really touched any cross-country, so that really made him feel manic, plus I was almost falling off, so since I already heard them call in my last stop I decided to circle and represent to the bank up. That really helped him feel confident again, and I’m glad I decided to circle. We were nearing the end of the course, and with one stop in hand already – one more plus time penalties was worth it to ensure he had a confident move up!
Sunday morning, Justin definitely felt a bit tired and tight, but jumped like the pro he is – leaving all the colorful sticks up. We almost didn’t start our course, as slight rearing and general tomfoolery began surely inches before we went through the timers… but Justin couldn’t be all good in one weekend – how boring would that be. Once we made it over that hurdle he was brilliant, and we had one of the few double clear show jumping rounds of the weekend.
We made all the distances between the fences! He was forward, uphill and overall just perfect.
I couldn’t have been happier with Justin. Some may see the two blips on cross-country and not be thrilled, but the goal was to finish on a number, and that’s what we did! We completed the weekend and left feeling even more confident. I couldn’t ask for anything better from the move up! Now we’re onto the next one X