Monday, June 27, 2011

First derby of the year

So we did the first event derby of the year on Sunday. And I am SO pleased to say it went really, REALLY well. We moved up to Intro to Beginner Novice for the first time.

Our jump clinic on Friday went great. We schooled everything we were going to jump in the derby, and I was really surprised -- the jumps were just logs on the ground, whereas we'd been schooling much higher. But this is the first derby of the year, so it was pitched pretty low. My friend's daughter took a really spectacular fall from a really rotten pony, but everyone came out okay. (The pony almost didn't ...)

Saturday was dressage practice on my own. At MT's recommendation, I longed Rev in side reins before I got on -- not to work the squirrellies out, but to get her stretching through her neck without as much of a fight as we had on Thursday. And I chatted with TW, a superb resource in her own right, about some of the issues we've been having. Her advice was to keep the outside rein steady-steady-steady, so Rev can find it and trust it. She suggested some exercises to get me familiar with the kind of steadiness and contact I need to have, too. So I lunged, and then I worked on taking TW'sadvice. And I'll be damned if it didn't work beautifully!! Rev was steady, rhythmic, and in my hand. We didn't have the outline MT can get, but it was a dang sight better than we'd been doing. So I was really delighted with our practice.

The rest of Saturday I spent in the shade, watching the visiting instructor teach while I cleaned my tack. Unfortunately, I watched my friend get pitched from her mare and break her arm. Poor girl!! Got all my stuff together and was ready to go by bedtime Saturday.

So our dressage on Sunday ... moment of truth! We had a good warmup, overall -- she was relaxed and in my hand as I got the outside rein connected. Our right lead canter wasn't really coming together, but I hadn't managed my time well enough and didn't have time to really address it. We circled the arena, NOT spooking at the signs, woo!, bell rings, and in we go. I could tell from the entry we were going to have a good test. Our first center line was straight and accurate, and our first short diagonal (USEF Beginner Novice A is a weird test) was nice and neat, and our corner was good. First trot circle was nice; good geometry and size ... and then a BEAUTIFUL left lead canter depart! Woot! Another good circle, through the corner after A ... and she broke gait! ACK! So I got it right the heck back and did a trot transition where we were supposed to, but my brain was all rattled. So our walk transition, medium walk, and free walk weren't wonderful, but ... I know what happened there. Right trot circle went well, then our right lead canter depart and circle were, as I expected, rocky. Bleh. Not bad, but rocky. She was resistant in the circle, and she kind of clattered into the trot. And then time for our last center line and halt. I sat UP, squared my seatbones, legs, and rein contact, made that last 10m half circle to go up center line -- she was so balanced! And I squeezed and sat up, and she halted quickly, squarely, politely, and on the bit.

That last center line and halt? Earned us a NINE. NINE!! The left lead canter depart earned an 8! And our entry and diagonal a 7! I was SO pleased with Rev; she did everything I asked her to, good and bad. Everything that went wrong was pilot error, not horse disobedience. GOOD GIRL!!!

We ended up with a 39.5, which was enough to put us in a tie for fourth (fifth when collectives were considered), and the first five scores were within a point of each other. Yay us!

Jumping went so well as to almost not merit discussion -- almost an anticlimax. We did have one bobble, though, which was entirely my fault. At the second to last fence (!!), I didn't have my leg on strong enough, and I was too forward, so she looked at the brush and ran out right. Alas. Pilot error completely. So we came around and re-presented, and I had my leg on TIGHT and was sitting UP, and she jumped the second time. Yep, I knew what I'd done wrong, and I fixed it that second time. Good girl!!

So in the end, we earned us a pretty pink ribbon!! For our first time out at this level, I think it was a pretty dang awesome day for us. We'll do even better next time!

And there might actually be pictures soon. A friend's dad kindly took some of me, and he'll send the ones he got as soon as he can.

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