So a few weeks ago, we entered a combined test as our second competition as eventers, with a nice little cross country school afterward. We again entered the Tadpole division, thinking we weren’t going to be ready for Beginner Novice Yet. Actually, it was Tadpole-PLUS. I thought that might give a little tiny step up while still operating in our (my) comfort zone.
Well I was wrong. We got there, and the jumps were not maxed out at all. There were CROSSRAILS! I am pretty sure Ollie took one look and said, “EFF YOU, MOM. I AM GOING TO SLEEP THROUGH THIS.”
So we warmed up for dressage, and Olls was being an amazing guy and totally calm and chill. Unlike me. I was a raving lunatic on the inside, bargaining with the devil to promise my soul to him if I just survived the day. Luckily that little angel on my shoulder squelched the deal before I could sign the papers, telling me to shut the eff up and man up.
So dressage was a major improvement over our first test. We got a real canter circle, and Ollie did not try to scoot right on out of the ring at the canter. Circles were mostly circular instead of loaves of bread or eggs. Also managed to get a 7 on the free walk. Ollie really has no excuse to get any lower than that, as his default state is head-hanging molasses and has a naturally lovely walk when I don’t screw it up. Seriously, he should beat every horse on this movement.
The judge was a bit harsher than the one at Poplar, so I got a 41.5 – only two points higher than last time, but a MAJORLY improved test overall. Sixth place in my division was a 48.5, so I am going with “We killed it.” Sadly no photos, as there was a little electronic device malfunction.
Stadium was super straight-forward and nearly hunter-like in design. We managed to canter the entire thing besides one little spot where I couldn’t get a lead change in time and said screw it, and we also made decent turns. We were up to our ears in progress. And Ollie’s not a short dude.
And at the end, we were rewarded with a 2nd place. And I didn’t have to shove any children out of the way, either- adult division, yay!
Up next was XC schooling. After my successful day, I felt pretty confident going out there, but Ollie had a little pep to his step. For half a second, I tried to freak out a bit.
Me: “Ollie feels a bit worked up under me.”
Nicky: “WENDY. That is NOT worked up. Have you seen Adam (one of her awesome competition horses)?? Ollie would not even register on that scale.”
Me: “OK, YOU’RE RIGHT. FINE.”
So I had to decide right there to man up and shut up. We could do this. And we did!
We trotted into the first jump, and then went and did it again. Did it a second time, and made a turn to the second jump, trotting in again. I was pleased with myself.
Nicky: “That wasn’t cantering! I told you to canter into the second.”
Yeah, when I was in my zone of fear and concentration, I apparently tuned out the world. So I was made to do it again, cantering into the second jump this time. I was apprehensive about the cantering, given how Ollie had taken off with me at Poplar during schooling. But that day? He was his normal chill, huntery self. Cantered right over everything like a goddamn champ. But, it was quite apparent that he was bored with some of the smaller XC jumps. He clearly did not put in any effort or concentration.
It came time to do the water complex. It was my first-ever canter through water, and it was EXHILARATING.
A few of the more advanced riders started doing the bank and logs into the water. Nicky asked if I wanted to do the bank.
Me: “Ummm….not particularly!”
So they moved on. Sarah, who was kind enough to be taking all these photos (THANKS, BITCH!), started giving me immediate stink eye. Like drilling-a-hole-in-me stink eye.
Sarah: “WENDY. DO THE BANK.”
Sarah: “DO IT. You guys can do it!”
Sarah: “GODDAMN DO THE BANK WENDY. YOU ARE GOING TO BE MAD AT YOURSELF LATER IF YOU DON’T.”
ME: “OK FINE!”
*** conversation is approximate.
She was right. So I did it. The first jump in was bad. Ollie hesitated, like he didn’t know if he was supposed to go in or not. I finally got him to step in, but it was in such slow motion and awkward that I ended up hugging his neck pretty much. The group’s general consensus was that the jump was so ugly, even its mama wouldn’t have loved it right that second. So I did it again. And on the third time, I actually had a semblance of normalcy (What? Like it’s atypical for me to look or be normal? Shut your face.)
Then came ditch time. I was a bit nervous and held him back and was in his face a bit too much, but Ollie basically had no opinion about the whole deal.
So by the end, my balls had some added mass. A lot of firsts for us, and it was SO MUCH FUN. This was the first time that XC had felt more fun than shit-my-pants terrifying. Now it’s more on the level of “slight-urination-in-the-pants-but-I-can-cut-it-off” mild worry. Progress indeed.
After reviewing these photos, it became apparent that Ollie is indeed bored at this level…and I need to start training for Beginner Novice ASAP. I might lose some of that new ball fluff that I recently added, but I imagine it’s going to be temporary once I get some experience at BN.
So at my next lesson? The jumps go up. Let the fun begin!