Monday, February 8, 2010

Thermal!

Well, I've officially survived the first big show of the year!!

I spent this past week out in the Mojave Desert with Bec and Gina to practice some show jumping at HITS Thermal. It was awesome! We had a very long drive down on Tuesday, which included some epic "I love America" moments, including some folks in Riverside dressed as the Statue of Liberty and selling... something?
(Ah America, how I love thee...)

We also managed to blow a tire in Summerland (at least it was pretty on the ocean while we were changing the tire) and get incredibly stuck in a tiny parking lot in SoCal. Thanks to Bec's excellent piloting, however, we made it out safely and even got a standing ovation from some nearby Liffy Lube attendants who had been observing our predicament with great enjoyment.
(Bec getting congratulated by some friendly Jiffy Lube employees after her masterful parking lot save)

The trip was made even longer by the side trip we took to Riverside to pick up a rental RV to stay in for the week.
(Waiting around in Riverside for Gina to pick up the Cruise America)

It was definitely worth the wait, though, as the RV ended up being super cute and convenient. We pulled into Thermal late on Tuesday night and spent what seemed like forever getting unpacked, but went to bed feeling good in that there would be no more to do in the morning.

I got up on Wednesday to one major realization: Thermal is gorgeous!! It had been hard to tell in the dark, but by daylight Thermal revealed itself to be a play park for the rich and fabulous: over the top barn set-ups, golf carts and six figure horses everywhere, dozens (literally) of rings outfitted with top of the line eurofelt footing, palm-lined drives, Mercedes and Bentleys parked barnside, and everything bathed in sunlight and set against a backdrop of painfully beautiful snow-dusted mountains. It was unreal. We definitely weren't at your average three day event!

(Beautiful horses, beautiful footing, beautiful setting... couldn't ask for much more!)

(Just one of the many gorgeous barn set-ups)

We spent most of Wednesday getting checked in a settled. I took Ringo for a hack around and flat in the morning and was really pleasantly surprised at how well in stride he took the five ring circus-like atmosphere. Things were going well, so I entered a level 3 (1.10m) class on Wednesday afternoon. Gina suggested I try a new bit for the class, so I pulled out Dually's old copper waterford and decided to give it a go. Even though I managed to show up to the warmup with no front boots and no number, we eventually got everything sorted and actually had a much better round than I was expecting! Since my confidence coming into the week was pretty low, the jumps, though only 3'6", were looking pretty darn big. Ringo was an absolute superstar though and I was really pleased with how the new bit worked out. We had one silly rail that was all my fault but other than that he jumped pretty effortlessly. It was so much fun.


(Pumped for our first class at Thermal... Black and White looks really into it, clearly)

(Did I mention Thermal is gorgeous?)

Thursday we really got down to showing, with Bec and Gina both having a full morning of jumping. I tried to help out as best as I could, though I proved a less than speedy jump setter at moments (those fancy cups were just too much for me! haha).

(Bec on Hank, the biggest ribbon winner of the weekend - two blues for clear rounds in the Level 1s!)

I showed Ringo in another 1.10m class in the afternoon. I had been experimenting with sitting a little bit deeper in the saddle, and on Thursday I overdid it a bit and ended up getting the dude pretty far behind my leg and off the aids. It definitely wasn't one of our prettiest rounds but I still came out of it feeling like it was a worthwhile exercise because I had something very concrete to improve on for the next day. Also, on an intellectual level, it was satisfying to realize that I had not only made a change (something I often feel like I struggle with), I had in fact been able to make one so drastic as to hit the other end of the spectrum of results!

(Ringo and his bud, Archie)

(The bosses)

Friday I went out with a plan and was super pleased when I was actually able to execute it! I found a nice balance in terms of sitting yet still staying light and Ringo responded beautifully, jumping enthusiastically without being for a moment out of control. I messed up a little at the end of the round but Ringo saved my bacon and then some and we ended up clear and pretty fast! Excellent! It was a speed class so there was no jump off, but our first round time was good enough for 7th place in a field of 20 or so. What a good boy!!!

(Bec holding Ringo while I walked my course on Friday... obviously I was paying really close attention as I had enough time to stop and take this photo haha)

Saturday was the same routine, another morning 1.10m class. I was a little more nervous because the day before had gone so well and I'm pretty darn good at sabotaging myself when I start getting things right, so I was double thrilled when we had another awesome round, even better than the day before! This class had a jump off, which we were clean in as well - I even had some fun trying to put the gas on a little bit and trying some tougher inside turns. Ringo was such a superstar! We put in a pretty good round and ended up 6th in a larger class than the day before - what a good boy =).

(The black and white after another awesome round!!)

The week only had two downsides: first, I tweaked my shoulder on Friday and it is still bothering me today. It was hurting so badly after Saturday that I decided to scratch from my Sunday class and focus on packing up and trying to get home before midnight (success!). Second, I didn't get any pictures of me riding! The professional photographer didn't shoot my class once - bummer.

The trip home was supremely uneventful, save the beyond gorgeous sunset on 101 along the beach and the Chinese Fire Drill Gina and I pulled off to change seats at a stop light in Ventura. I drove the big rig the last 3 hours home and was very, very happy to pull into Rancho del Rio safe and sound.
(So lovely)

Tomorrow we're going cross country schooling one time before the course closes before the event at the end of the month. We're all doing anti-rain dances in the hope that we won't get rained out!

3 comments:

Heidi said...

I love all the pictures! Congrats on a successful first show :-)

Suzie said...

Great pictures! I love Thermal. It was actually my last show before I "converted."

I'll admit that I'm very disappointed that you have no riding ones to speak of. :(

Tony said...

Love all the pix and fun blog comments. Glad you are having a good time here in Thermal. If you love authentic Mexican food...try La Cazuela on Harrison at 53rd. Yum. Ask Jenni Martin-Macallister

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