Going into the competition, I had a lot to stress about-- how she would react to the atmosphere, whether or not she would try to "exit" the dressage ring, how she'd feel about leaving the start box on cross country, what she would think of doing a full course, how she'd react to the show jump ring...! It was enough to make me want to steal a lick of GastroGuard!! A lot of people were a little shocked that I would take my four year old to her first show Novice, but the jumps themselves were the least of my worries! Of course, little did I know that this was a BIG Novice course. Everything looked as though it was built to maximum specifications-- BIG bank, BIG ditch, lots of "AB" combos-- but although it was all big, it was all pretty straightforward, exceptionally well-built, and inviting.
|Sophie in the rather large Novice ditch!|
|(c) D&G Photography|
Cross country began with a melt down as we left the box ("I don't know if I should leave all those horses...!"), but as soon as she set her sights on the first jump, she was ALL BUSINESS! By fence 4AB, she was on course and jumping out of stride. Of course, 5 was the aforementioned Big Bank. My plan was to trot in to it to give her a chance to check it out, but I think if I'd kept my canter, she would have hopped right up. Instead, she trotted right up to it, stopped, sniffed, and scrambled up it from a standstill. We got 20 penalties, but talk about an A for Effort!
The rest of the course rode really well. She overjumped the big ditch by a mile, and started to get sticky to the last few fences as she got tired, but she was game for every single one of them. Doing a full course is not the same as schooling 3 or 4 in a row, and by fence 12 I could feel her wondering whether or not we were done. She rallied beautifully when we made the turn for home though! Also, it didn't help matters any that it was well over 90 degrees! We had 14 time penalties from the circle before one, and the trotting into fence one and five, but I was unwilling to push her in the heat during the long gallops to make up for it!
|(c) D&G Photography|
Now for a quick aside-- holy COW does Roebke's do an amazing job with its volunteer force!! When I hopped off my horse at the end of the course, volunteers took my tack onto a cart to take back to the stables for me. They took my horse to hose her down, and they had cool water for riders and the horses at the ready! I was so impressed, I'd go back again just for that!
(c) D&G Photography
|Haha! But seriously.... its true.|