Monday, March 7, 2011

Rehearsing for Badminton 2030

Every time I have to compete in the rain, I try to imagine myself, drenched, in top hat and tails with the Badminton House in the distance. Every year, someone gets drenched in pouring rain during Badminton dressage. So I figure every show where I get wet is one more opportunity to practice in case I ever find myself wet at Badminton! I think I've had enough rehearsals now that I might even be ahead of the 2030 timeline - I might be ready for Badminton rain by 2028!!

William Fox-Pitt and Sea Cookie - getting drenched in dressage warm-up - Badminton 2010 (photo from

I had another chance to rehearse for Badminton yesterday.

I am sticking to the plan I made last year after a rough start to the horse trial season - only dressage shows, combined tests, and cross country schooling until our annual Lucinda Green boot camp mid-April. So, Katchi and I (along with students Kerry & Atticus) headed off to the River Bend Pony Club Combined Test at Frying Pan Park yesterday - as a side note I think Katchi has something about giving me a little humility check before this show each year. Last year, he gave me a black eye (and I'm pretty convinced he fractured my cheek bone) the day before the show - and went on to win his division. This year, two days before, he just about dumped me on account of a very frightening bird 40 feet away - I somehow managed to get myself back into the saddle but not without taking all my PT progress and throwing it straight out the window. Ass.

But Katchi remains undefeated at RBPC combined test, bringing home the blue ribbon again this year! I couldn't have been more proud of my boy! He closed his eyes and charged through the rain straight to a 21.8 dressage score - WOW WOW! He got a 9 for both his center lines! I'm pretty sure I've never ever gotten a 9 on anything before! Okay, I get it, schooling combined test - scores generous. But this judge was not afraid to score in the high 50's either, so it wasn't like everyone was getting low 20's! At the end of my test, she even got out of the "judge's car" to stand in the rain and tell me how lovely it was! That's just gotta put a smile on your face!

But, we weren't there for dresssage. We were there for show jumping. Despite the rain, emerging lakes in the warm-up, very small warm-up area with too many horses (and seriously, coaches, can you teach your kids to learn how to judge where horses are going in the warm-up and where they should go to get out of other's way when they're just walking or STANDING!) - anyhow, warm-up was quick and incomplete. So, I decided to look at our round as just part of a jumping lesson - you've gotta jump an oxer and canter a related distance line at some point in your lesson - just so happened mine were on a judged course.

So, see for yourself - are we getting better?! Here's a clip from the middle of the course (we spent a lot of time going around the ring for the first and last jumps, so I cut those out).

I'm pretty sure the rail he knocked hadn't been dropped after prelim - it looked huge! But, that's okay, it was sort of an unlucky rub anyhow. And my boy jumped great! Still lots to keep working on, but no one laughed at the end of this round! :)

As the rain got heavier and heavier, it was time for Kerry & Atticus to make their rehearsal for Badminton 2040 (Kerry is new to eventing, so I've got a few more years of rehearsal on her!). It's funny how as we get better, we get more frustrated. While I was there for SJ, Kerry was there for Dressage (or so we thought!). Kerry had an enormously improved dressage test from her last go in November - but now that she's actually able to survive in the ring, she doesn't want to just survive - she wants to execute with perfection! It's a wonderful thing! And with a score in the low 30's, she's definitely on the right track!

Now completely drenched, Kerry was off to show jumping - her easy phase. Which went fabulously, until the purple cow print roll top (second to last fence!). Atticus said, "oh hell no!" and then he said it again "you didn't hear me the first time, crazy lady!" But one good smack from her bat (probably his first ever!) and Atticus got over his fear of purple cows. It was a disappointing result on the scoreboard, but that's why we take baby horses to these things - it's all about mileage and at the end of the day, Atticus learned a good lesson and Kerry too. And she still came home with a 2nd place ribbon for dressage and 3rd for the combined test - it definitely could have been worse!!

It's gymnastics with Jimmy at Baywood Farms on Wednesday - so watch for videos from that later this week! If you're planning to audit - we're starting at 8AM. Hope to see you there!

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