Friday, June 3, 2016

Flora Lea Spring HT - Far From Our Best Day

Klein and I competed at Flora Lea last Sunday.  Our day didn't go as planned from the start.  What was that article that was just going around recently?  It was something about if you're going to have problems, don't just pick one phase.

I wouldn't say dressage was a problem.  Klein felt pretty good that morning and I was surprised and disappointed to earn a 37.60.  We haven't gotten a score that high in years.  The last time we scored over a 35 was...2011.  But, she also tried to trot during our free walk.  That's never happened before either and I think I gave her just a little too much leg by accident and I got what I asked for.  Sorry girl.  She was also a little haunches in down the centerline on our final turn but I still don't feel she was a 37.60.  I think that bobble in the free walk killed it for us though.  Well, at least it's not a real problem.  That was just an unfortunate thing that happened that day.

She was feeling good for stadium and I really liked the course.  We had two stops...two.  That's very unusual for us as well.  She's been great at home.  Schooling unbelievably well at home.  She's becoming ridiculously adjustable and will wait for me, if I ask, to tell her the exact spot I want her to take off from.  So I was completely confused on what happened, until it hit me like a ton of bricks Wednesday night after our ride.

Klein baby having a good time out on the xc!  Look at those ears!  The positives greatly outweigh the negatives from that day.

We're going to side track for a minute.  Wednesday night I put an oxer and a vertical on the center line of my ring and we serpentined through them and made a super twisty and tight little course.  Klein nailed everything.  EVERY-THING.  Foot perfect.  You know how landing on our left lead is somewhat elusive?  We got it.  She got it every time, except for once.  THAT has never happened, but it clicked.  We nailed every distance.  I saw our distance on the ground before every single jump last night.  I could have pointed to the exact spot she would take off.  I also asked her to wait a couple times and put just one more in and she nailed it all, every. single. time.

So how can we be schooling like this and then have TWO stops on Sunday?  Well, because I'm only a mere mortal.  Here we are, the best we've ever been in our communication.  What does every single instructor immediately notice about us?  "She looks to you for guidance.  I can tell you guys have a strong bond."  What did Jennie Brannigan say about us?  "I like her!  She MAKES you ride her!  She depends on you."  And what did I do in stadium last Sunday?

I got lost in the sauce.  I just go out there having a good 'ol time and take in the scenery, unintentionally.  My focus drifts.  How do I know?  I didn't count to every single fence like I do at home.  At home, or even schooling at other places, I count to everything.  Why does that go out the window?  I don't know, but it is stopping after Wednesday night's light bulb went off.  It's not nerves, I'm not nervous to jump a Novice course.  If I can go early for any phase, 98% of the time I do.  I'm like sure, yeah, whatevs, no problem, let's go.  I really do just get kind of zen.  That has to stop.  I need to save that for when we're back at the trailer.

Just out taking a stroll.  I even remember hearing someone's name I knew being announced that they were starting their dressage test while I was riding stadium.  That also shows you my focus wasn't 100% where it should have been.

How am I going to practice one way and play another?  I'm so thankful Klein doesn't just dump me and go home when I do dumb stuff like this.  She's expecting me to ride like I do 99% of the time, and I left her hanging.  Some horses can jump the entire course on autopilot when the rider's mind is out to lunch, and while Klein does solve a great deal of problems on her own, and when she's got a crappy spot and I tell her to go for it any way, she GOES.  But she's by no means a packer, or a robot.

I have two options, I could be disappointed about last weekend, which I was until Wednesday night, or I can be thankful for the best teacher of my life.  Klein is going to make a good rider out of me yet.  I would honestly rather have a horse that makes me learn to ride better than one that's a made robot.  Klein AND Mochi have been amazing teachers to me.  Mochs may be out of the game right now, but she taught me a TON last year and significantly improved my dressage riding.

Back to Sunday...xc looked like it was going to be fun.  It was a very nicely done course.  The footing was great and I planned to ride her like I stole her (well, as much as you can on Novice).  The only thing that caught my eye was the last fence.  It was a type of table we've never jumped before.  In my head I just planned to treat it like any other table and make sure I had her forward to it.

Here's the whole course:

The b element was removed for Novice, the half coffin was Training.

My second favorite jump on xc that day.  That table always just rides great.

This one was my favorite fence of the day and we got to it perfectly.

*sigh* seriously?  How did I get owned by this?  Again, counting, well, lack there of.  Seeing the finish flags and being on cruise control.  Idiot move.

Riding it the second time how it should have been ridden the first.

We were out there cruising.  Great on time, everything was easy.  Here comes the last fence.  I was telling Klein we were almost home and didn't count down to this dumb thing, and got a 20.  What a stupid 20.  We did our circle and popped right over it.  She still finished right on the dot on optimum time too, even with the trouble at the last fence.  We would have had plenty of time to spare if we hadn't had trouble.  At one point I actually thought we needed to calm it down a little because we were making REALLY good time.

A couple clips from xc:

Sunday overall was a uh, learning experience, but one I clearly needed.  Another big thanks to The Other Half for telling me to stop dwelling and get my ass over the xc warm-up jumps, which Klein jumped perfectly.  Klein and I are a team, but The Other Half is just as much my teammate on these days.  There's been a couple shows where I get caught off guard by something not going as planned and he tells me to man up, make a decision, and get my ass out there.  He's always right.

Big thanks to Flora Lea for putting on a beautiful, very well organized event as well. 

Thankfully after we got home and I got Klein all taken care of this was waiting for me in the fridge:

If you're a wine drinker, make this.  I made it the night before so that the fruit could soak in the alcohol.

All in all, I took a $200 riding lesson last Sunday.  But, it opened my eyes to a habit that I wasn't fully aware of.  I'm really looking forward to our next outing in a few weeks. 

 I owe this mare so much.  I can never thank her enough for everything she has taught me not only about riding but about life too.


  1. I get really distracted during shows, lessons, clinics, you name it. It is something I need to work on too. If that is what you guys look like on a bad day though... :) Still looking great is what I am trying to say.

    1. Well, thanks for that! I even remember specifically hearing a friend's name being announced that she was int the dressage ring and thinking in the middle of my stadium course, "Oh! Good! I hope she has a good ride!" Ha! It could have been worse, I know.

  2. Bummer it was such a tough outing, but glad it turned out in the end. Area 2 is no joke. When I moved here, a friend to had competed extensively in Area 2 for years said "It's like the eventing Olympics, isn't it?". She was right! Everything is to height and width, and beautifully decorated and designed, you're competing against the absolute best riders and horses in the country at every level in Area 2, and the terrain is challenging. I am sure you guys will iron it all out!

    1. Flora Lea isn't a hard course though. It wasn't maxed out and we've schooled the whole Training xc there with no problems. It was 110% me not being focused. We ran the recognized Plantation double clear in April, we've scored a 30.4 and 33.6 at the two previous recognized events this year, not terrible scores. There's also harder terrain in Area 9 believe it or not. One place in them middle of NM ran us up the side of a mountain and back down for the entire xc course. I really think this is just about me not mentally paying attention.

  3. OMG thanks for the sangria recipe!!

    i was playing show photographer for flora lea and i totally remember seeing you! bc i was like "wow shes rather spry for a drafty!" i was in the far field with the uber log and the water jump.

    thats frustrating about the dressage. i dunno how much you compete at flora lea but ive always found ive scored higher there than anywhere else. its kinda demoralizing, especially when the division has like 30 people in it.

    1. You're welcome! I hope you like it!

      I actually heard from some volunteers that other people were saying the same about dressage that day. Someone had said "Well we have a better judge lined up for next weekend" which I assume they were talking about the unrecognized at HPNJ the next weekend. But overall, I mean, I could have rode better. I don't try to blame outside sources, I'm the only one telling Klein what to do.

      You guys did an AWESOME job with the pictures! Seriously, the pictures from this show were the most I think I've ever ordered from one show. Thank you for doing such a great job! See you soon :D

    2. P.S. Please come say hi next time!!

    3. i def will! and melanie is seriously the best horseshow photographer ever I wish every show hired her because she's genius. this is the first time ive done it and it was REALLY cool to see a picture *I* took on someones blog!

  4. Way to make lemonade lady :D

    I really admire the way you examine what responsibility you bear, rather than reflexively blame your horse. I've been reading your blog for a long time. You work so hard, always put your horses first and deserve the success you are having.

    1. Thank you! The Other Half likes to make fun of me sometimes and will say stuff like "OMG if you came in missing an arm after a ride the first thing out of your mouth would be, IT WAS MY FAULT!!! It wasn't her fault!!"

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