What a long week! Since last saturday, I have moved into Synergy, my dorm for 2009-10 (thanks to the hippy co-op nature of Syn, the meeting where we chose rooms took 6.5 hours alone... apparently this was incredibly fast), started back up on the Stanford Equestrian Team, had a full week of classes, and went to a horse show! To make things even more complicated, I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to go to the event until wednesday evening, as I had to change divisions to avoid some scheduling conflicts with school and then had to wait for someone else to scratch to get a spot! Throw in a mystery cold that made me unable to keep any solid food down and 110ºF temperatures, and it was a perfect recipe for a "stress-free" showing experience!
Fortunately though everything worked out and Ringo and I arrived in paso Robles on Friday morning without a hitch, and even got in a nice hack around before our test at 2:20 that afternoon. Getting to know Ringo on the flat has been a fairly humbling experience, to say the least: he knows so much and is so well-schooled on the flat, and I have quickly realized that I'm not! I've been having some really good lessons with Rachel Williamson of late and I wish I could have been able to reproduce some of the good work we've been getting there, but the current rigidity of my seat when I try to sit his big stepping trot makes it quite hard to produce relaxed and supple movements! Given that, I think our test was an improvement over Shepherd, though it ironically ended up garnering the exact same score. I was at least quite pleased with my 7 on rider, an improvement from last time and a mark that I always take seriously. I also thought that in general the test was a lot more controlled (though possibly at the expense of some suppleness) and that the canter work was vastly improved.
Saturday was cross country day, and by the time Ringo and I went it was well into the mid 100s! I have never been so hot on course, and don't think that I would like to be again! Ringo was absolutely amazing: sane and calm in the warmup, and then towed me around in fine running form and jumped everything out of stride. I had planned to take him out nice and easy, as they had reduced the running speed to 470 mm due to the heat, but Ringo had other ideas and went out like he was in the CIC***, not the OP, and we ended up with one of the fastest Prelim times of the day... whoops! He finished well within himself though and never put a foot wrong, so I couldn't fault him for his exuberance.
Show Jumping on sunday was a bit of a different matter, as he started out quite calm but then, upon seeing the lower level horses galloping xc next to the warm up, lost his head a bit and then was quite a handful! I unfortunately got a bit rattled by his antics and so our warmup was rather far from ideal. I was proud of myself for mostly pulling it together when I went into the arena, where we jumped the first 7 fences in absolutely terrific form. I then messed up the turn quite badly to an oxer at the end of the arena, with somewhat dramatic results, namely an explosion of rails!! Poor Ringo, he's so careful and hates to hit anything, and I basically turned him into a black and white wrecking ball! We then had a short turn to the triple, which, given the nature of the previous obstacle, was difficult to get in really positively to, but we managed it and Ringo was quite clever to jump out clear and in striding. We then finished up well, so just the one (major!) error on the sheet to leave us in 9th out of 26 at the end of the show.
It was difficult not to leave the show with a sour taste in my mouth after such a disappointing display of riding on Sunday, but I know that I still have a lot to be thankful for and proud of. Ringo was pretty much perfect; I couldn't have asked for more. I, too, have come so far in my technical riding skills in the past year, as was obvious on cross country day (and for a few jumps in the show jumping!). Now I just need to wrangle in those last 6 inches between my ears and get them to play along as well . . .
I'm absolutely exhausted, but it's no rest for the wicked, with school in full swing (ugh!). On the more fun side, though, Ringo and I are jumping in 5-Bar competition at the Red Barn Festival (Stanford's annual fundraiser for the Red Barn and the Equestrian Team) next weekend. Hopefully it will be a good chance to have some fun and show off Ringo's amazing jumping skills!