Monday, May 30, 2011

Popping Champagne at Fair Hill!

I'll get straight to the big news - woo hoo!!! to my fabulous student Kerry York and her super brave horse, Atticus, who finished their first Novice event - on their dressage score!! The first time around at a new level is usually "the toughest thing you (and your horse) have ever done" - and wow, to move up a level and finish cleanly on your dressage score - well, that's sort of like a dream come true! And Kerry and Atticus looked like old Novice pros making Fair Hill look like walk in the park! Kerry made a green mistake at the up-steps (yep! 2 steps up with one-stride between at Novice!!), Atticus still wants to walk into the water, and Kerry has earned a lesson on proper use of the bat (poor Atticus almost shot past a skinny when she tapped him on the shoulder and scared the crap out of him!) - but I officially declare them successful Novice eventers! And so, we popped open the champagne to celebrate (and indulged ourselves with mango too!).

When Kerry and I got the course maps, I couldn't believe it when I saw a 6:25 optimum time for Novice! But, it sure didn't take very long for us to walk the course, and I commented to Kerry that maybe they were a bit generous in wheeling the distance. As it was her first event at this level, we agreed that she should ride the speed that felt right and not worry about the time - but we reviewed the rules for minimum time, willful delay, etc. etc. Turned out, it's a good thing we did that little rule review! As I was getting Kerry ready for show jumping, Jennie Brannigan was introducing her very cute and beefy horse to everyone as, pretty much, the slowest horse ever, who never wants to go above Novice cuz moving quick is just too much work! And then as we headed over to XC, I noticed Jennie (on that very same turtle of a horse), trotting and circling on the last loop of the course. Uh oh! If the turtle was in danger of time faults - Kerry better watch out! And sure enough, Kerry cruised around the course (looking a perfect speed), and she also had to trot the entire last loop of the course to come in at 5:35 I watched quite a few of the Novice rides, and everyone looked to have a lovely Novice pace - I didn't see a single scary fast Novice ride (like at so many of the starter events!), but when I looked at the posted times, it seemed like almost everyone came in between 5:00-5:45. Interesting.

The Golightly Get-up

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - what's up with Katchi? He's getting on a program. Since our MCTA, clean but totally icky jumping - I've been reassessing lots of things. Starting with me. Katchi and I need a new program that works for us - for the things I can do well and can't do well - and same for Katchi. So, Part I is a new stack of books: Riding with Your Right Brain (THANK YOU so much to my blog follower who suggest this book to me - it's awesome!); Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence; and Denny's new book, How Good Riders Get Good. Katchi doesn't make things easy, but he doesn't make them impossible. I can fix this show jumping thing. So, Part II begins on Wednesday. I love riding in jumping clinics, because I think it's so valuable to have lots of different kinds of questions thrown at you from lots of different instructor styles - and that's generally served us well, but it's not good enough any more. Katchi and I need a program - we need an individual program to consistently and systematically address our (my!) weaknesses. So, on Wednesday morning, we'll be starting "oxer" training with Boyd. I've got a Katchi helicopter photo saved in my phone, ready to show Boyd - I plan to say something along the lines of "dropping rails is not the problem."

Disappointingly, today was another potential Prelim move up day that we've missed. But, I have to admit that when I saw the show jumping course, I was actually quite happy to not be competing (that DAMN green rolltop was f*%$ing fence #1 again - if you recall, in August, that green rolltop earned Katchi 2 refusals and 51 time penalties in show jumping!!!). But, show jumping concerns aside, I walked the Prelim XC course and asked myself, at every jump, as honestly as possible, "am I ready for this one today?" And I've decided the USEA needs to introduce a new move-up division. Forget the N/T and T/P mixed-levels. I would like Prelim-1. In this division, each rider will be allowed to select 1 fence on either show jumping or XC for which they are given a "buy." You must choose your fence before you start on course (you cannot get a stop and then declare the fence a "buy"). In Prelim-1 at Fair Hill today, I will happily jump all XC fences and take my -1 at #5. The Tra-F*$%ing-kahner. Kerry said someone could live under there. I think an entire family could live in that ditch. shit.

Everything else looked quite do-able - the water had an almost 180 degree turn between the A and B elements, which I really would have enjoyed being able to watch ride. I wonder if anyone chose to avoid the water after A, coming around on dry land and coming into the water straight at the B and C?? A little longer and awkward from the first, but turning on dry land sure is easier than turning in water - and with that Intermediate fence in the way, it seemed awful like a blind turn. Wouldn't I laugh to see everyone navigate it just fine without the horses even blinking an eye - horses are so clever!

And - oh look - this one's familiar! I got a good look at it's dirt when I let Katchi stumble up the bank in April. Same combination as the April Training course - but with a small log placed on the step - despite the ridiculousness of our jumping effort in April, I still feel that I can check Prelim #13 A&B off as sorted (pretty muchly anyhow).

To end this Memorial Day weekend post, I'd like to thank Eventing Nation for their public service announcement reminding all riders to warn people before exposing their pasty white legs! However, I have to announce that I have taken the severity of rider tan line faux pas to a whole new level. California beach babe tan arms - check. Lovely porcelain white hands (compulsive glove wearer!) - check. And, my legs - well, can you say Oreo? Big mistake to spend your first summer day exposing those pasty white rider legs - while wearing shorts and Dubarry boots. I've never looked more ridiculous. No photos attached.

1 comment:

  1. According to the research, most melanoma's are caused from sunburns and most often located between the knee's and the ankles. Oh yes, the Duberry boots covered most of that. Now that you know who I am------sunscreen to arrive at your door soon!