Monday, April 20, 2009

Twin Rivers Horse Trials

This past weekend was Dually and my first real outing of the year at Twin Rivers in the JYOP. It felt a little weird to be just starting out now, as the spring season in California is actually on its way to winding down (Twin being the major spring three day for the area). The courses definitely reflected this, with the Prelim horse trials course being long (3300m!) and full of questions. It would be a good test for the Intermediate Dually and I hope to do in a few weeks, though I did worry about his fitness a little bit as we've only done done two gallops this spring!

Dressage day found me and Dually up at a pretty uncivilized hour to get ready for our 8:15 time, but I think he ended up looking pretty smart (though, in my hasty preparations this past week, I was unable to clip his beard or his ears - I could only imagine the looks I would have gotten from Suzi for showing up to a show in such a manner!!) and we got out to the warmup with a good amount of time before our ride. I experimented with more warmup time this weekend and I think it was quite helpful, as I got to do more suppling and gentle work before having to ask him to become more collected. In his test, he was on his best behavior in the trot work, scoring all 7s and 8s. He got a little tense in the walk and then when I went to ask him to canter from walk he exploded and tried to buck me off! Fortunately he didn't try to exit the arena in this little escapade and even landed on the correct lead so we were able to carry on fairly smoothly, but the canter work as a whole did definitely suffer a bit. A 37 left us equal 5th in a very closely placed division.

For cross country we also got to go bright and early on Saturday, which was a blessing as it ended up being blazingly hot later in the day. I got to wear long sleeves when I went, though, so no complaints! Dually was very fresh and perky in the warmup, and went out on course guns a-blazin'. He was absolutely incredible through the first section, firing off the ground with great scope and requiring very little riding other than steering - fun for me!! I think I've gotten a lot better about being quiet when I can be and letting the dude find his own rhythm at the beginning of the course, as he has gotten the tendency to become quite strong when I try to manage him right from the gate. We did have some "first run of the season" moments later on in the course, where I was a little off the mark on judging his rideability and the quality of his canter coming into some combinations, resulting in us being a bit underpowered. All in all though it was so much fun and I was really happy with the way Dually felt. We came in quite slow, but I couldn't have been happier with the dude's performance.

Sunday promised even hotter temperatures than Saturday, so I was pleased once again to get to go in the morning. I was worried that Dually would be tired, as he definitely had been blowing hard at the end of his go yesterday, but he was actually quite a handful in the warmup, with his spring allergies driving him insane and making him a little difficult to steer! Bec Braitling was really kind to help me in warmup, even though she's never really seen me ride before, and her comments were very helpful in getting Dually settled and jumping on task during our extremely brief warmup: I had misjudged my timing and only had seven horses before I went when I arrived! Dually went in and was an absolute star from start to finish. I could tell that his allergies were still bothering him, as he was head tossing and acting up between fences, but to each jump itself he was 100% focused and jumped his little sneakers off. It was one of our best show jumping rounds to date, and I couldn't be more proud of the guy. That round moved us up two spots to finish the weekend in 7th. Yay Dually!

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