On Sunday I took Justin over to Morven Park to compete in their Fall Horse Trials. Due to loss of confidence in recent weeks, I opted to take him Novice with the goal of having a successful and quiet run.
As I went to get him out of the pasture in the dark that morning the sweet little pony was laying down sleeping, and refused to get up. Like, at all. Note to self, make sure to allot at minimum 15 minutes to waking the pony up. Once he agreed to go along with my requests, it was bathing, braiding and off to Morven we went!
He felt great on the flat. Since I started to get his back figured out, he has been way more willing to “give” in his lower back and at the base of his neck, so in warm up my goal was to keep the relaxation, and see if I could loosen him up even a bit more. I was pleased with our test. He was super rideable, and I really liked his consistency in the bride the whole time. We scored a 36 – I was hoping for a lower 30’s score, but still respectable.
My theory is that in eventing tests with not so many technical movements, it’s harder for us to sneak out higher points. We can nail some lateral movements, and things like that, but Justin isn’t the fanciest mover naturally, so I think we end up with pretty secure middle of the road scores. These are always good and consistent, but we lack a little bit of brilliance then. I should note that I didn’t check my score until the very end of the day. It’s a personal rule of mine at one-days. I don’t want to know how I’m doing until it’s all over!
In classic Fall Morven fashion, it had rained off and on all weekend leaving the arenas and cross-country a muddy mess. This reassured me that I had made the right decision regarding my entry. It wasn’t so much that the footing was slick on cross-country, but in watching the Training divisions you could tell it just got mucky, like in the last four strides suddenly the horses were moving in slow motion.
The footing was actually surprisingly nice for the Novice divisions. They followed their own track, so it weren’t disturbed from other rounds throughout the weekend. Granted, I did use some pretty sizable studs, but I was pleasantly surprised on cross-country. The show jumping was still pretty sloppy though, and I definitely felt Justin back off a bit in the muck. This kind of worked to my benefit because it made me ride forward to the fences (something I’m constantly working on).
Our warm up was short and sweet – and our show jump was great! My jump trainer was there coaching me, and she just told me I needed more canter than I might expect to combat the muddy footing, and that did just the trick. I was really pleased with the round, and we added no points here. I did miss a bit at one oxer – it came from a 7-stride bending line off a vertical, and it was the in to a two stride. My line just got a bit wonky, so we had a slight flyer, but I was happy with how quickly we reacted in the line and the out was lovely.
Justin is historically a star in the dressage and show jumping phases, so the real goal this weekend was a quiet, confident cross-country. He has the tendency to plant his front feet and try to turn back to the group/warm up/stabling, so I stayed ready to be defensive at any moment. Fortunately I didn’t need to be and he was awesome! He went right along and did every single thing I asked. There were a couple spots where our tracks looped back toward “home,” and this is where I thought he might show his naughty side, but not this time!
Many of you had kind comments about my weekend plans, so thank you if you did! That’s one of my favorite things about having this blog, all my blog friends are so supportive. So this is a reminder that y’all are awesome!! You were all right, of course, and this fun run was exactly what we needed. It was a really fun and laid back day that left us feeling more confident than ever! He even earned a pretty purple ribbon.
Unfortunately I have NO media from this event besides those two phone snaps, but you can enjoy this video of Justin being an idiot right after I turned him out. Clearly he was very underwhelmed with the whole day.