|All the pretty ribbons!|
Let me preface this entry with this: Yes, it's just cross-rails. On the other hand, it's my first show with Apollo ever. And before I bought him, life was challenging and confidence-damaging over fences. So I've been building confidence, crawling before I walk, walking before I run, and doing cross-rails for my first derby back in the real world. :) We've been jumping real-live jumps in lessons and in the clinic before the derby, so we definitely CAN do more. Still ... still.
So. On with the entry! As mentioned, there was a clinic with MT for the two days before the derby itself. I decided to do both days of the clinic, Friday and Saturday, as well as a lesson on Wednesday. Unfortunately, there was some chaos regarding my car on that Wednesday, so I didn't make that lesson. But fortunately, I was able to sneak in a lesson that Thursday with a bunch of friends who'd come in from east of here. Lots of jumping fun. We did some small grid work, trot pole work, and general position work. Nothing big, just working on the rider position and getting the horse to come forward through the jumps. There's video of it, but ... it's only on Facebook, and it's brief, and it's not our best pass over the jump, so you can just imagine. See if you can get there from this: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151690071621449 If you can't, well ... imagine.
We went out into the grass field to jump the derby lines on Saturday. I was dead shocked to discover that Apollo was ... his normal self. Okay, maybe I shouldn't have been shocked, or even concerned in the first place -- Apollo has proved himself over and over to be trustworthy. :) Still, sometimes you need to just do something to really learn it. Anyway, if anything, Apollo was a little short and willing to hang back when he wasn't certain, rather than wanting to spook or spin or run. Good boy. I practiced getting him moving forward positively and getting my leg on, seat down in front of fences -- and keeping my cool. That was the hardest part at first, but it got way, way easier as time went on. Much fun was had by me and Apollo.
So our dressage (no pictures, bummer) was at a perfectly civilized hour, 9:30 or so in the morning. I wasn't super-thrilled with how he warmed up, but I wasn't unhappy with it either. I just would have wanted more forward and more round. 20 minutes is the magic number when it comes to warmup: when I ride, it's like I can tell exactly when the 20 minute timer goes off because he starts to really work with me at that point. Before the 20 minute mark, I can get him moving, warm up, ask for his attention, but ... he doesn't stretch or really WORK until after 20 minutes. So we went into the arena with only a little "omg what is that table with people on it are there lions? are you sure?" at the judges' table, moving forward and calm but not really round. On the bit, but ... we can do better.
Even without his being round, I was quite pleased with our dressage test - sadly, no pictures. He was smoothly forward, pleasant and attentive, and happy to work with me. I discover that I really dislike having the free walk on a short diagonal; it doesn't give me as much time to really develop that overstep and stretch. And indeed, our walk work was the lowest-scoring on the test, with the comment that we need more stretch and overstep and general ... better-ness. Totally fair. Other than that, we got lots of helpful comments and I felt like we came out of the arena with lots to be proud of. This, of course, was borne out by our score: 28.75. :) And TD, who was doing the judging, isn't a generous judge, just fair. *beam*
|Trotting along in the warmup. Love this trot. Happy horse.|
I really, truly intended to wait around a good long while before I tacked Apollo up for the jumping phase. I knew I didn't need to do much in the way of warmup for jumping, since the fences were small, we'd worked earlier in the day, and I tend to psych myself out if we just stand there and wait.
|Standing around waiting, whispering sweet nothings in Apollo's ear|
|Standing around waiting.|
Of course, we all know what paves the road to hell. ;) I ended up being about half an hour too early and stood around and waited. Apollo was a trooper, though, and he was patient and didn't get worked up.
The first fence was a slight bending line from the start gate; no problem. I rode him positively forward so he'd be less concerned about Lions and about leaving the rest of the horses in the warmup arena, and no problem. Fence two was a tiny downhill fence with a right turn relatively quickly afterward to cross into the second field, over the sand track and past a bunch of people.
I was looking for my fence and riding fairly well:
|Shoulders are a bit too far forward, butt not quite|
back enough, but heels down, leg on, chin and
eyes up, looking for my next fence. I'm satisfied.
I knew Apollo would be a bit concerned about the people and crossing the sand track, so I actually slowed him to a walk so he could go !oo! at it all. (!! is ears as forward as they go, but not quite quivering - you know how it goes) And off we went. We rode the lines I'd planned when I walked the course and when we practiced in the clinic. I had a chance to ride my plan for "what if he wants to spook or duck?", too -- he was a little concerned about one, so I sat down, squeezed firmly, and straightened his shoulders up, and there we went.
The rest of the course went exactly as planned, me talking to him most of the way around: Good boy, good boy, remember to pick up your feet here, I won't abandon you at the fence, we're in this together, we're going to finish! We're going to jump this last jump and we will finish!!
|Last fence! I haven't seen a finish line in ... a while!|
And finish we did. :) We cantered off --
|Making sure we got across the finish line, for sure|
and I petted him and petted him and told him how wonderful he is, how much I adore him. 'Cause I do.
|What a good good boy you are, Apollo!|
|OMG I love you I love you I love you I love you!|