Full Gallop and the final countdown

For those of you waiting with bated breath to see how we did at our event yesterday, let’s cut straight to the chase – we were 5th!

It was a crazy day for us with 7 horses competing, so I had my work cut out for me in the morning grooming for everyone else – luckily I had a late dressage time and very late jump times.  Our other horses all did really well, and we ended up coming home with a few other ribbons too.  So when the time came I put on my borrowed jacket, shirt, stock tie, hairnet (so civilised!) and saddle and off we went to warm up.  The Rock was feeling great and performed beautifully, so off we headed to the ring.  We had a fairly nice test, despite breaking gait in the walk (typical) and cantering into the trot transition, and goal #1 was achieved: Don’t lose your way in the dressage test.

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So then we had a 2 hour wait before the jumping phases, and I camped out at another trailer while the rest of the horses were taken home and everyone came back to watch me.  Our jumping warm up wasn’t great to start with a bit of rushing at the jumps, and it took a while to get the right approach and jump but eventually we were ready to go.  We got a good canter to the first jump so I sat and waited, and the Rock sped off into the course.  She was on fire and the distances just flew up to meet us.  Although I knew it was a bit too fast, I opted to let her out on the approach to the fence, rather than pull too much on the face and risk a rail.  It paid off and we raced around clean, with 20 seconds to spare on the clock.

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We went straight over to cross country and did one practice jump before heading to the start box.  Predictably, the Rock was wriggling all over with excitement and couldn’t wait to get in the box, but to her credit, stood relatively still while I started my watch (yes, I wore a watch for Beginner Novice, because our biggest problem was sure to be going too fast).  We were counted down and off she roared to the first jump.  Just like the show jumping phase, as soon as I was out of two-point and back in the saddle, she raced off to the fence and soared over.  I hauled her back for a wide turn to the second which came up much smoother, and started slowing again to the third.  Looking down, I noticed my reins had become twisted, so I flipped them over and accidentally swiped the Rock across the neck.  She considered this very unjust and didn’t hesitate to let me know by letting out a buck or two. I swear, if she had a voice, she would have been yelling at me to calm down and just let her do her job.  It left me shaking my head and laughing all the way over jump four.  We rolled around the middle section of the course, making huge sweeping turns as I came down to the gap in the tree-line – the wrong gap! I managed to slow the Rock enough to make a good turn to the bank and we continued on without any more navigational mishaps!  Through the water I managed to slow down enough for a strategic trot, since we were way too fast, before tackling the last section of the course.  We got four strides in between the ditch and the house, which had walked a forward five, just to give an indication of our speed.  After the rails on the top of the bank I managed to slow to a nice collected canter which put us just ten seconds off the optimum time.  I was ecstatic passing through the finish line – goal #2 achieved: don’t fall off, and finish the event!  Special thanks go to everyone that came to support me at the end of a long day, to my talented Rolex-bound friend Rachel McDonough for warming me up for dressage, to my cheer squad/photographers/videographers, and to my awesome coach Momo for all her hard work in preparing the Rock and I for this event.

Despite some harsh judging, we finished on our dressage score of 43.2, and here’s a few pictures of how much fun I had doing it! (Stay tuned for video!)

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In other news, today marks exactly one year since I left home, and exactly fifteen days until I leave to go home.  I am completely torn – I don’t want to leave, but I can’t wait to go home.  I’m preparing for a complete shock to the system, but also trying not to think about it and just enjoy the time I have left.  I can’t wait to see my family, but I can’t bear to leave behind my Canadian family.  As always, I will just have to go with the flow and see what the future brings.

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