I better tell my side of the Fair Hill story quick, because if anyone looks at the scores - well, pretty much all you can do is laugh! And I know everyone will be asking, "how the hell did you manage that?!". Let me tell ya - it wasn't in the plan!
I went to Fair Hill full of ambition for 3 solid phases and a top place finish - if not the top place.
Phase 1: Dressage - sorted. We led our class with almost a rail in hand. I really tried to put Katchi together in the warm-up just as we've been doing in my lessons with Silva Martin, and he felt pretty darn fantastic. We have yet to break into the 20's in a Training test, so that's definitely a future goal, but I was really pleased to have such a good start to the day.
Phase 2: Show Jumping - have you ever met anyone who racked up 63 penalties in show jumping and still completed the course?!?! MEET ME!!!! My show jumping points were 2x my dressage score! Even if you knock down every rail on a 12 jump course - that's only 48 points!! So, how did I do it??? We had an "incident." The funny thing is - our round wasn't actually half bad, except... The first jump on course was an oxer with white rails and a dark green carpeted roll-top underneath. Back at the trailers, rumor had it that the show jumping course was pretty much total carnage. I heard Karen O'Connor very nearly fell off at the first fence. Bruce Davidson Sr came crashing through the last line on Cruise Lion. Charlie Plumb had an equally disastrous demise. Great. But I didn't actually feel that concerned about the course. Silly me.
Coming round the corner and straightening to the first fence - the stupid green roll top - Katchi sucked back a little and started to think left. I corrected him straight and figured we'd just get a sticky hop over it and be on our way - and then he ducked hard left! Using all my Lucinda Green skills, I stopped him from running past, gave him a good wack, and walked him back across the front of the nasty little roll top. He walked past it saying "that thing... it cannot be trusted!". But I thought I'd made my point, so we started to canter around to come at it again. Just as we got straight - a good 4 strides away or so, Katchi said, "oh hell no - that thing is evil and you hit me up there." Stop and spin. At this point it hits me - I spent 5 hours in the car on Friday to walk my XC course, which I was dying to ride, and I wasn't even going to see it! We went from leading the dressage with almost rail in hand to only have one stop 'in hand' to even carry on!!! I stopped Katchi and I explained this to him - it was time to get his head together and jump the jump (luckily, as my groom Kerry verified, I did not add any colorful language - like F*bombs - to this conversation that everyone on the side of the arena could hear!). Well, apparently the conversation worked, because Katchi went back to the first jump and jumped it almost like a hunter. Ass. The rest of the course went pretty well - we pulled one rail, but over all the quality of our jumps were pretty okay. I almost missed fence #8, and Katchi was a real trooper in jumping it from about as steep an angle as physically possible (I was well aware that if I circled, that would have been our strikes your out, so I didn't care if all the rails came down, we just had to get through those standards! Actually, he jumped it about perfect, and saved my butt!) If we could have just had a "do-over" at the first fence, I'd be on cloud nine right now!!! But instead we left the arena with 12 jump penalties and 51 time penalties - 51!!!! sheesh.
Phase 3: Cross Country - Katchi's becoming a machine! This was a perfect course for us because there were a lot of good questions, but it was very fair and very ridable. Katchi took a good look at the drop into the water, but other than that he was bold and fabulous! I came home with 15.6 time penalties, which is frustrating because I really thought we were moving along out there. But this is the longest and fastest course we've done - 470 mpm for 5:32 minutes. My pace is definitely something I need to sort out before a move-up to Prelim - 520 is a long ways off 470! Which also means my fitness has got to be a heck of a lot better - I was just about outta air by the time we came through the finish flags - and I'm getting so sick of that feeling!
Below are a couple of pictures from the XC course - we had steps down at fence 13, and fence 17 was a super fun little bank up, over a mound, and a little skinny at the base. Katchi and I thought that one was good fun!! :)