Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Plantation Field May HTs

 Rolling into Plantation on a beautiful morning.

Klein and I competed at the recognized HTs at Plantation last Saturday.  The day started out beautiful.  Actually I'd say 90% of our day there was beautiful.

We got there early in the day so I could make sure to walk xc twice.  Our dressage ride wasn't until 1:36 so we had most of the day to hang out.  Klein hung out on the trailer in the shade with a nice breeze and a hay bag full of alf.  She snacked and napped until it was time to get ready for dressage.

She actually warmed up better than ever for dressage.  Last time she had an ok warm up but this time I had her full concentration.  I did go to the warm up a little earlier this time too.  The rings were set up in a completely different area of the facility that day too.  The ring were right by the main road in, which was funny to me because I thought of the dressage show I went to a few weeks ago when they told me to wait to drive by the ring because someone was riding their test.  Here was a recognized event with three rings running next to the main road with all kinds of show traffic coming and going as well as a constant flow of cyclists.

Klein was unimpressed with the activity.  She really didn't need much warm up.  Most of our time was spent just meandering at the walk on a loose rein.  She warmed up so nicely what else could I ask from her??  She gave me some of the most balanced down transitions she ever has.  I think we've recently come to a new understanding in our down transitions, a higher level of balance.  When we took a lesson with Grand Prix dressage rider/trainer Eugene Abello he told me to think of a half halt as a "might halt" because that's basically what it is.  That popped into my head because of how balance and controlled Klein was to my half halts in warm up that day.  We flowed.  It was awesome.  I suspected a good test was coming.

We had a great test.  The only two negatives I knew for sure had happened were she wavered just a bit in our free walk and for the first canter to trot transition I didn't prepare her soon enough and she came to the trot at M instead of between B and M, and that is completely my fault.  We ended up with a 30.40.  Not our best, but definitely not our worst.  I remember in our early days when we would get 40's or a 41 and think a 38 was the greatest thing ever.  Klein would pretty much have to jump out of the ring for us to get a 40 now.  I'm not saying it's not possible for her to have a bad day and get a 40, but these days it would HAVE to be a bad day for that to happen.  Just crazy to think how far we are from where we started.

By the time dressage was done the sky was getting cloudy and I was crossing my fingers that storms would hold off just a couple more hours.

We went to warm up for stadium and unfortunately, it was pretty clear that the storms were headed right for us.  I tried not to let it bother me and we just warmed up like usual and hoped we could go early.  We only had a few more horses in front of us and I was heading for a warm up oxer when we were SLAMMED with the leading edge of the first storm. A 50mph wind hit us and blew over every single jump in the warm up and no less than half of the stadium course.  It was BAD.  That wind brought a 20 degree temperature drop and a cold rain.  Horses were freaking out and riders were jumping off of them and trying to calm them down.

Notice the jumps on the ground.  The last one standing in this pic blew over right after I took this.

Klein wasn't bothered so I just kept her moving despite being freezing myself in the cold rain and wind.  Of course I had a t-shirt on under my vest.  A few minutes later we were told to get off the hill NOW and get back to our trailers because lightning was in the area.  Some people were saying they were going to call it a day and there was talk of the event actually being canceled for the remainder of the day.  Then an announcement was made for us to just wait at our trailers and they would reassess everything in 10 mins.  I left Klein's tack on and put her on the trailer to keep her out of the rain.

10 mins later, an announcement was made that the line had broke up and to get back on and get up to the stadium ring.  Luckily I had a long sleeve shirt in my trailer and had just enough time to change into that.  We headed back up to the ring in the rain.

We went around the warm up for a few minutes and jumped another warm up fence to get back in the mindset then in we went.

I was SO cold.  I was shivering going into the ring.  The thought crossed my mind to just call it a day.  Yes, we just competed in a cold, pouring rain two weeks ago and ended up winning our division, but the wind with the rain made it extra cold that day.  I'm that person that is always cold and my fuse is short when I'm cold.  I start to not care about a whole lot when I get that cold.  Nothing is worth being freezing to me, no matter how much I paid for it or how far I traveled.  But somehow I convinced myself to just pretend we were in Florida and just go.

I let Klein down to the second fence.  I felt like I was riding in the fetal position because I was so cold and I just didn't sit up and make a decision and she stopped.  We circled and she went over, then the rest of the course was fine.  That's my fault for being weak and only caring about 80% instead of 100%.  So because of that, we picked up time because of circling.  Plantation stadium defeated us again, because of my own weakness.

Huge void in stadium between 5 and 6.  It was like this last time too.  Anyone that has been to Plantation, do you guys think this is kind of strange?  Why is there so much weird space in their stadium courses?  This is the first place I've ever seen such a thing.

Klein wasn't terribly forward in the xc warm up.  Our xc time was about 10 mins after our stadium round.  We headed over to jump the xc warm up fences and it was SLIPPERY.  Awesome.  I had walked the course and was so ready to ride her like I stole her and that idea went right out the window when we slid into the warm up fence.  I VERY seriously considered withdrawing again, wondering if I was about to make a very dumb decision for us because there was a lot of down hill gallop on that course that day.

I decided to just go ahead and if I felt it was too slick, or if Klein was backing off at all, that we would retire on course.  I've never considered actually doing that before that day.

We got in the start box and off we went, and she had a little slip even before the first fence.  That cemented my decision even further, if she was just straight up slipping around we were going to retire.  She is my teammate, she is not a piece of sports equipment.  This is my hobby, this is not what my income depends on.  It is not worth it if I felt we had a serious chance of face planting.  I decided to just slow down going down hill.

Our course was going better than I thought it would until we got to 15.  It was the world's friendliest roll top of all things but where they had it, the footing went up, down, and it was on a left slant down hill.  I just couldn't see the distance.  I feel pretty dumb because Novice fences are by no means big, how could I not see a distance to a freaking Novice fence?  I don't know.  I think part of it was me worrying about her on the wet footing.  Because I didn't commit, she didn't either and we had a stop on xc.  That hasn't happened for quite a while.  But again, due to my own incompetence, and there was no one to blame but myself.  Thankfully Klein needs me to ride, and stuff like this only gives me a riding lesson, it was just unfortunately at the cost of a recognized ht.  So, quite and expensive riding lesson.

I apologized to her and we circled and she went right over, because I was there for her.  Soooo, because of that we picked up some time.  We didn't have time to spare that day because of slowing down on the downhill parts of the course.

Oh well, we completed it.  We ended up being 11th.  It was a frustrating day, but lessons were learned.  I am really, really, REALLY hoping we have some nice weather for our next recognized which is coming up soon. 

Here's the course walk, notice how bright and sunny it was when I walked it:

 Long downhill gallop.  Good fun when it's dry.

 It was all down hill after this fence to #3.

 Straight downhill after this to #4 too.

 And, straight down hill into the woods after this one too.



 Just another view between 13a and b.  It was down and straight up to b.

 This pic was too close to show the up and down footing getting to this.  But, see?  Easiest roll top ever.  Of all things to have an issue at...

Into the water.

 And out over this.

Yeah, not so sunny and happy anymore.

Here is a helmet cam clip of 13a and b. 

Klein did awesome.  She was still ready to all out attack if I would have let her, and given her that ride.  When we got back to the trailer, I had already given her a granola bar and was getting her wraps ready when I heard her soft, low nicker.  It melts my heart.  She does this EVERY SINGLE TIME after xc at a HT.  She doesn't do it schooling, only after we compete.  It's like she is saying "I did good didn't I?  I was good, right??  We killed it, didn't we??"  I jumped out of my tack room and went over and told her she was the best horse in the world again and hugged her and gave her some more pats on the neck and kisses on the nose.

I made a pit stop on the way home at a local liquor store to get myself some wine and Klein a tall can of Guinness.

We had a frustrating day, but if you ever needed to put what you think is a crappy day in perspective, well, Saturday was the day. 

I had looked at my phone before stadium and noticed some FB posts about the loss Philippa Humphreys.  I did not see what happened to her because I had to start tacking Klein up at that point.  After I got Klein taken care of and loaded up to go home, when I got in my truck I checked my phone again and was stunned to see Philippa had been lost at Jersey Fresh only a couple hours before.  We were only about an hour and half away from Jersey Fresh.  My heart broke for her family and friends.  My frustrations with the day immediately vanished.  I drove home thinking about her family the entire way and being incredibly thankful that I was driving my truck and trailer home myself with Klein safely in my trailer.  Who cares what happened with our day??  The only thing that matters is both of us were safely on our way home to The Other Half (he had to work that day so we went alone), Wes, Mochi, and Manny.  When I pulled into our drive way The Other Half was outside waiting and came and gave me a big hug when I got out of my truck.

On my way home, there was a HUGE full rainbow in the direction of the Horse Park of New Jersey.  I got goosebumps and couldn't help but wonder if that was Philippa waving good bye.  I took a picture of it.  I sent it to EN and they posted it today.  It still gives me goosebumps to look at it.


  1. Glad you had a safe ride in that crazy weather!

  2. That's too bad about the weather. We have one show in October that it is literally bad weather every single time. It will be sunny and 70 the day before, and the day after, but on that particular day the weather will just be miserable. Last year I was so cold and so wet I thought I would never be warm ever again. This year they actually decided not to do that show!