Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Not The Results That Matter...

I would wager it is pretty safe to say that it isn't the actual results of an event that matter most. What matters most is that you come away from it happy, with things to work on for the next one and you did better then the last time out. What matters more then that sometimes is that you continue to build upon your relationship with your horse and grow more comfortable with each other and build on that confidence in your partnership. What is even sometimes more important then that...is having the people who mean the most to you there to share in your experience...even if they don't have the slightest clue as to what is going on. That is what it was like for me on Sunday at Canterdown. It was Chester's 2nd ever event and I went into it looking to finish on our dressage score - simply because after our last experience at Lane's End, I KNEW he could do it. And, he did finish on his dressage score, but more about that later.
On Sunday - I had one of the best surprises I think I have ever had. Not only did my brother, sister in law and niece and nephew show up, but so did my Mom & Rick...which was a TOTAL SURPRISE for me. I remember warming up before xc and I happened to look towards where all the spectators were watching and I see Layla (my niece) pointing and waving in my direction...along side my mom and Rick and brother and sister in law...what an AMAZING surprise!!! It was great!!! It really means a lot to me that they were there...to watch me do what I love and to see how much enjoyment I get out of it. Although Layla was a little scared of Big Bad Chester, she did say that he was very pretty. I also told her that they both had the same hair colour and her eyes just about popped out of her head. After xc, she sported my number and gave a big 'thumbs up'. That is her and my mom after our xc ride!
Me, Lovely Layla & Mom

My mother's photography skills can best be summed up in her words "Fast Horse, slow camera", although she did manage to get a couple good pictures of us.

Here we are waiting in the start box for the start of xc. I think we were both pretty calm here. We were about 30 seconds out and I remember taking a deep breath and going to myself - we WILL go clear and we WILL make the time...and we did. It took me about 3 jumps to really get him moving forward. (I will post a video later this evening so you can see the extra uhh - 'encouragement' that was needed over the first couple of fences. He is tiptoeing on the line of being super confident and until we can get him going forward out of the star box, we will stay at Entry - but I fully expect us to move up a level for October - but for sure next season. The last thing I want to do, is go out there if he is not 100% confident and move up a level. It will do nothing but set us back - so, we will go xc schooling a couple times, build his confidence (and MINE TOO!!) and see what happens over the next couple of weeks. Once I can get him confident in himself, he just LOVES it and eats up the course. He went around the course with his ears forward and alert the entire time. By the end of it, he was moving really well and just hit the last 4 or 5 jumps all in stride and took off for the next one. What a feeling....
His stadium was pretty good. A couple sticky jumps because he was looking at stuff he had no business looking at, but we were clear and it flowed. I was pretty happy about the round and again, I got a huge thumbs up from Layla - so, as long as she was happy, I couldn't care about anything else.
Dressage - I am somewhat annoyed with myself...because in typical fashion, I was a little tense going into the ring, he felt it and said 'AWESOME LET'S CANTER', when we had no business cantering. I also have to work on ME as a rider....that will get us better marks. I got mostly 6s and 7s, NO 5s!!! YAY ME. So now we work on getting MORE 7s and a couple 8s.
So, for his second event EVER, he finished on his dressage score of 57 to finish in 5th place out of about 14 horses. Amazing. We were 0.75 marks out of 4th place and I sort of kicked myself a little bit about that because I KNEW I lost us at least 3 marks in our test, but I can not be disappointed in our performance. At all. I still have a hard time believing that a month ago, this horse had never even evented before in his life. He was cool as a cucumber the entire time we were there and he actually helped to calm ME down. Last night, I went to visit him and he gave me this look as if to say 'see what we can do'...he is a very talented boy...and knows it. It was weird, but I think going through his injury and the past couple of events together has really brought us closer and more in tune with each other.
So now, we work on his confidence on xc, getting a better jump out of him (especially working on his front end) for stadium and becoming more forward and ahead of my leg (shocking!!) for our dressage. If I can make myself ride him better (and keep my nerves in check) then I know we can get a low 50s in our next dressage test....but that part is completely up to me...

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