So Zin and I made our move up to Novice this past weekend at The Spring Woodside event. I’ve never competed at the novice level and neither has Zinnie, so it was new for both of us! And, spoiler alert, we got eliminated. Getting eliminated this weekend was honestly my biggest fear, I desperately wanted to finish this event. But I guess if you’re going to get eliminated a technical elimination is the “best” one to get. I completely spaced out during our stadium round and missed fence 6, but more on that later. Anyway, even though we finished on a letter, I’m still so proud of Zin and thought she was a rockstar the entire weekend! Zin doesn’t know we got eliminated, and her mind she thinks she kicked ass.
This event was our first full three day of the season. It was kind of nice to only have one phase a day and have time to really focus on the task at hand – that being said, I went off course in dressage AND stadium, so maybe I had too much time to think ha ha ha.
We left bright and early Thursday morning (my alarm was set for 430AM!) and got to the horse park by 830AM. Even though Woodside is fairly close and only a 1.5 hour haul, the parking scene there can get VERY chaotic VERY quickly. As someone who has massive anxiety when it comes to backing up a horse trailer, the early wake up call was very much worth it to avoid parking drama. Zin settled in nicely and we had a beautiful warm up ride. She was relaxed, soft and supple, and my trainer only coached us for about 15 minutes before calling it a day. As I’ve mentioned before, I am learning that with dressage less is definitely more with this horse. We have lots to work on at home, but at events just keeping her soft in her mouth and back, relaxed and enjoying her job is the goal.
We had dressage on Friday a little after 330, and once again Zin surprised me with how soft and supple and relaxed she was in warm up. I was wondering where my fire breathing dragon horse went, but was definitely happy with the way she was going. Despite my horrific braiding job (I really need to learn how to braid with yarn!) Zin gave me a perfect test. She was so relaxed and soft and the judge even said her poll was too low – yay! I know, I know, it sounds crazy to be happy about that – but the main goal for her is to be relaxed. And if that means her she’s a little too low for now, that’s okay. The idea is is that after she is soft and relaxed, we can gradually sit her on her butt and bring her poll up. But cranking her into a frame right now won’t do anybody any favors.
Stadium was the next day and I, to put it lightly, was so freaking nervous. We had been had issues jumping that had only recently been resolved (see: Zin v. LiverPool ) so I didn’t know how she was going to be. The course looked big, but also looked to be an inviting ride (no crazy hard turns). Zin ROCKED it in warm up. We were nailing our distances, she was forward and in front of my leg and just being awesome. My trainer put up this MASSIVE oxer (okay, okay I’m sure it wasn’t that big but it definitely looked Rolex height to me 😉 ) and Zin took me right to it and sailed over it. She didn’t touch a single rail and was jumping like a machine.
Despite having an awesome warm up, I was still nervous going into the ring. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me – I always feel sickeningly worried before going into the ring. I’m trying to work on different techniques to improve this….if I find something that works I’ll report back, haha. Naturally the first fence was an oxer (not my favorite way to start the course) and Zin sucked back a little bit but then jumped it nicely. We had a nice long bending line to fence 2, a decently sized vertical. I was a bit worried about fence 3 since it had some filler and I told myself if I could get over fence 3 everything would be okay.
We sailed over fence 3 and I definitely started enjoying myself. Zin was such a good girl and jumping everything out of a nice forward stride. We had a 2 stride line, and made a right hand turn to go over fences 7 and 8, about 6 strides apart. Zin nailed fence 7, we were having a nice forward canter to fence 8, things were great with only 2 fences left and then ….. we heard the buzzer. BEEP BEEP BEEP is NOT something you want to hear in the middle of your round. I was incredibly confused at first, but then the announcer told me I had missed fence 6. It was a 5 stride bending line after the 2 stride, and it was just far away enough that I had completely sailed past it. Ugh.
We trotted out of the ring and I gave Zinnie a nice pat – for all she knew, she jumped around great. And she did jump around great! It was a stupid mental error on my part, and unfortunately resulted in an elimination. It’s been 5 days since then and I’m still upset with myself. I’m frustrated I wasn’t more focused on the course and I was too busy worrying about having a rail or a stop and didn’t put enough trust in my horse. So yes, we ended our weekend on a letter …. but you know, it’s OK. It’s not the end of the world. It wasn’t a training error, Zin wasn’t bad – it was 100% on me. I will definitely be walking courses more than once from now on! On the bright side, the TD was kind enough to still let us run cross country the next day! Which means our next blog post will be all about our first novice XC Run ……. dun dun dun ….. 😀
Oh! And here is the link to our stadium video if anybody is interested. You can definitely see my confusion when the buzzer was rung, followed by massive disappointment. But for the first 8 fences, I’m really happy with how Zin and myself jumped around our first novice course. Woodside May 2018: Stadium Round