Monday, July 11, 2011

Not all stops are created equal

A XC stop is a stop is a stop. Not so.

There are cheeky little baby horse stops that earn you 20.

There are stops and punts that earn you 20.

And there are, apparently, stops 4 or 5 strides out that earn your horse a good wack on the ass, a public announcement of your stop (don't you HATE when you're on course and you actually hear the announcer declare your stop to the world, "and unfortunately for Cherie Chauvin and Katchi Kapshi..."), that then don't appear on the scoreboard at all.

That about sums up XC at the Maryland Horse Trial.

Before I go any further - let me make a public service announcement to please fill out your event evaluation forms if you were at Loch Moy this weekend! CLICK HERE! For the good of all of us, be sure to let them know what you thought about the new show jumping ring! Can you guess my opinion??

I was at Loch Moy on Saturday to help Kerry & Atticus and Sunday to run Katchi Training level. Kerry's day started off with 2 fantastic phases - sitting in 4th going into XC. At his last event, Atticus took a bit of an exception to the water jump - which we hoped was a fluke and result of unique circumstance. But, this weekend, with 2 water jumps, Loch Moy proved an issue. I think it's so interesting how sometimes green horses will just sort of do things the first few times, and then as they start thinking about them, they start thinking, "hum, maybe I should think about this a bit!" Atticus has reached that phase. He hasn't quite mastered the "look AND jump" concept at the water - but I predict he'll be there real soon. In the meantime, he picked up a cheeky little stop and a more cheeky little stop (which Kerry very successfully punted him out of, but not before the official stop ruling) - I really don't think that Atticus even knows he stopped, I think he just thinks he was very careful, which isn't all bad.

Loch Moy was to be Katchi's big show jumping debut! I couldn't believe my good fortune when I asked Phillip on Saturday if he was really coming out on Sunday to ride just one horse. I mentioned that I was to ride SJ an hour after his XC, and if he happened to still be around and not doing anything, I sure would be grateful if he could warm me up. I was fully prepared for "oh, sorry, I've gotta get back to the horses at home" - but he said MAYBE!!! I nearly passed out on the spot! As I headed out of dressage on Sunday, I ran into him again and he announced he'd meet me at SJ warm up in a few hours - I nearly screamed with delight! Actually, I think I did scream! Katchi and I had by far the best jumping warm up we've ever had. Phillip really emphasized small turns, keeping the canter in tight turns immediately after the fence, and staying very quiet in my hands and upper body. It was perfect. And then Phillip even came up to watch my round. Can you believe my luck?!!? I felt so good going into that ring, with Phillip giving me final words of advice - we trotted in, and Katchi changed right under me. I haven't felt him go that absent in well over a year. He didn't know where to look; he was totally overwhelmed. And holy cats that footing was deep. When I came out of the ring, I wanted to just cry out - oh that deep footing, oh those tight turns, oh that stupid wall sitting on the edge of the fence, oh oh oh! I half expected Phillip to just drive away - to disavow all affiliation. But, he didn't abandon me. He said, "okay, so... he really doesn't want to touch the fences, but..." Shoot me now, please. I managed to keep all whining inside and listened carefully to every word. The worst thing you can do is have a round like that and just let it happen without doing anything - especially when PDutty is watching you. Phillip said I should have nailed Katchi after the very first jump with the bat right behind my leg. But, but, but, I wanted to scream out! Doesn't matter. Get the job done. I've never ridden a horse that can feel so forward yet be so far behind my leg - I'm only just starting to realize the full meaning of that. We have a lesson scheduled with Phillip on Wednesday. I'll be wearing my safety vest.

XC - Katchi was pretty awesome! Oh, yea, but wait, what about that stop that wasn't a stop??? Those Trakehners suck. The path to the Trakehner was a challenge, coming down a very steep mountain out of the woods, and then turning while galloping back up another mountain meeting the Trakehner just at the top. I gave Katchi a wack at the bottom of the mountain to be sure he was fully in go mode - he said, "woo hoo! Gallop up the hill. Check!" Half way up the hill, when I put my eyes on the Trakehner and tried to tell Katchi to turn, he was not in turn mode - he was in gallop straight up the hill mode. He sort of started turning, but was was still looking off straight up the hill and back to the start box. I think we lost impulsion, and I was still fighting for the turn, I smacked him real hard to get his attention forward, when he suddenly saw BIG EVIL NASTY TRAKEHNER - and that was it - he shot off to the right, back where he wanted to go all along. I had to sit him down and spin him around to the left - big ol' wack on the ass, a circle around, and we slithered over the trakehner on the second approach. Leaving the scene of the crime, I heard the announcer declare our misfortune. Lovely. But, Katchi was really stellar the entire rest of the course! And it was so fun that in several places around the course, I heard folks yell out my name and whoop and holler! Love you guys!!! :)

Katchi jumping the terrible trakehner way back in 2009.

Well, it is what it is, and a stop it is. Or so I thought. I had the great fortune of being parked right next to an old pal, Erin, from Phillip's 2009 camp. I was a bit slow getting packed up as we were chatting and laughing and talking about fall events and... so, by the time I got down to the scoreboard, scores were final, ribbons were out - but wait, there's a 0 next to Katchi's name under XC jump faults?!?! How can that be??? I know in my heart, he stopped. But, maybe just maybe, the judge gave me the benefit of the doubt that he stopped because he wouldn't turn - which isn't untrue. I am so grateful that 4.4 time penalties (I didn't look at my watch at all after our "stop") dropped me to 10th place, because I would feel SO guilty if they had finished me in the ribbons. What a crazy weekend of wacky stops and not-stops!!

COOLEST TRICK OF A PRO LEARNED AT LOCH MOY: While I was [harassing] talking to Phillip on Saturday about helping me on Sunday, he was trying to get suited up for XC. He asked me to put his pinny string through the loop. What loop? Where? I was looking on his air vest. He showed me the loop, and I went nuts - that's the coolest thing ever! When Phillip Dutton puts on his pinny, he uses a trick he learned from snow skiers. The strings on the back side of the pinny are tied into loops, so the strings from the front are laced through the loops, and drawn back to the front, so you make one tie right at your belly button. You'll never have to struggle to find your pinny ties on your sides again (while pony club children attack you to reclaim your pinny at the finish line)! Lesson #835 from Phillip Dutton.

My faithful groom, mom, in her hat that all the horses wanted to eat!

1 comment: