I finally have the hindsight to write a decent post about last weekend - and it's only Wednesday! It sure was a fun roller-coaster with some real good bits and some....bits that need work. :)
Dressage, stressage, how can I crack thee? Annie and I arrived at Equestrian Park around dawn on Saturday. We had an 8:56am draw for the dressage and I needed to plait. I've never had much success in plaiting the night before - I always need to redo half the bastard things and that seems a pointless waste of time. So, I just do the job lot on the morning of - it only take 45mins to an hour, so it's not too onerous.
Plaiting done, and Annie looking very pretty, we head off with half an hour before our test. I thought that would be plenty of time, but in hindsight, I think this popular thing of going for a quick ride first, then back to the float to finish getting ready, then back out for a proper warm up before doing the test could be the way to go. She was actually lovely in the warm up. The first time Annie had been amongst so many horses trotting and cantering around with me and she handled it like a boss.
So, I thought (stupidly and naively), we might pull off a passable test that may land us mid-field. Ha! No. As soon as we started to head down from the judge's car to A, Annie got her tension on and started channeling her giraffe self. Things only got worse. There was an error of course, some head-throwing and stuffing around and rising frustration and disappointment until the final halt. And, you guessed it, we were coming last after dressage. Again.
Having had a few days to deconstruct and analyse the test, I think a couple of things are at play. One, I'm really a competitive person. I don't really event for 'fun' - I want to win, deep down. I go to events to improve and work my way up to win. That's my aim, if I'm truly honest. And Annie is a potential winner - very frustrating. So, I put the pressure on in a big way, both on myself and, by proxy, on Annie. Stupid, pointless pressure and I need to work on that.
Secondly, Annie is very inexperienced, and may have some associations with the dressage arena that produce tension. I don't know, but I do know that she and I have only done a test twice now. That should be a big reason to just go for a calm, unhassled test, not the win.
So, while we were coming last, when I looked at my test and my score, things weren't that bad. We got two 7s, for example, and we can do better, and will do better!
Showjumping was a bit rushed as I just went back to the float, changed saddles and rode her down to the course thinking there'd be a few people down there warming up. There were five horses there. And I hadn't walked the course. Ahh.....ok? So, I learned the course and warmed Annie up in about 7 minutes and you wouldn't believe it but we pulled off a clear round. Good girl Annie!
The first jump was classic Nadia mistake - take off before the horse, forcing her onto her forehand and chipping in a stride at the last minute. Very messy. I told myself off silently and sat up for the remaining 8 jumps and, lo and behold, they all came on a good(ish) stride, forward and pretty confident. Lesson learned. Again.
I managed to give Annie a hose and put her away with enough time to walk the course and grab a little lunch before heading off to start judging an EvA95 class for the afternoon. By now it was heating up and I was starting to drip with sweat. It had rained buckets in the days leading up to the event so the ground felt like it was sweating too. Urgh.
The cross country was a great little course. Very straightforward (as it should be at this level) with no surprises but enough interesting jumps to keep us both thinking. Should be fun, I thought!
Off to my Prelim class to do a bit of quality judging. :) It was a good field, some really sweet tests and hopefully people got something out of my comments. I've become very philosophical about my comments. For most riders, I'm sure they honestly don't give a shit what I write - they just want the marks. And I am also sure I penalise things that other judges might not, and vice versa. That's the most frustrating thing about judging as both rider and judge! So, I try not to get too prescriptive and focus on just one thing that might get them higher marks. Who knows how that goes down, no one ever tells me!
By the time we were finished, Annie and I were well ready to go home and have a big sleep! Massive day on the Saturday for both of us.
Sunday dawned much like Saturday - hot and, for Canberra, steamy!!
We had a great cross country run. Very forward but controlled, no fighting and zero stops or even hesitation really. I have been working on my fitness and my weight (the 5:2 diet is going great!), so I was really happy when I got to the end of the course without feeling like I was going to pass out, able to remember to unclip my vest before I got off(!) and walk Annie back to the float. She still had a bit in the tank too, so I was happy with that. I need to start doing some hill work with her but with no hills at our place it will take some organisation.
After our super jumping rounds, we'd managed to move up to 13th from 26th. A great predicter of the future and a credit to our new partnership. I've decided to keep her at Intro for Berrima just to get us to the point where it feels easy, rather than just good. Then, fingers crossed, move up to Prelim for Camden. Woohoo!