Everytime I sit down on Fox's back I am more impressed with him and grow infinitely more in love with him. This past Saturday after a particularly hellish week at work I loaded up my favorite fuzzy, red pony and trekked the hour to a small CT put on by one of our local Pony Clubs. Gods bless them for putting together a lovely event that I don't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to get to.
They also allowed for this go round of the CT (that had one earlier in the summer as well) competitors to enter two different divisions if they chose. I entered Fox and I in the 18 inch Grasshopper division and the 2ft Kangaroo division. I hadn't been able to ride since the previous weekend (I truly do hate my job if for nothing else than jacking my schedule so badly I can only ride on weekends) so I was going more for the miles that Fox would gain than actually trying to be competitive. Fox however had other plans.
The day dawned drizzly but cleared by the time I had to load up and we made decent enough time that I was able to stop for gas and breakfast. Which was a good thing since I left all my carefully packed horse event snacks sitting on the kitchen counter. I really am losing my mind. Our first dressage foray for the day was frought with lovely work from my pony and excitment from a loose horse.
I was awaiting my turn near the dressage arena when the clarion calls of loose horse, loose horse! rang out. Said horse comes flying up, rounds the arena, jumps in to the arena with the still going dressage competitor in it then comes barreling at myself and Fox. I tried to get out of the way while Fox is making very definite, friendly murmurs in his chest. Seriously? You're going to be buddy buddy with a horse who at this point might mow us down? But we evaded the other horse and he went around us and found his owner who also happened to be my old coach.
Fox being Fox didn't let that little escapade rattle him and we put in a good test to score a 33. Fox got a break at the trailer while I went to walk the twisty stadium course. These were the same jumps used last time just in a new pattern but it had been a couple of months since Fox had seen them sooo Momma packed her jumping bat. We got in a good warm-up and Fox made a small effort to actually jump the fences rather than trot them.
Our course went fantastic! He didn't looky-loo, he didn't pause to decide whether he really wanted to jump the fences, he even cantered off after quite a few of them. I was soo extremely proud of him at that moment. Then we went on and did our second dressage section which I thought had gone better than the first but we got a 34 and several remarks on the test of "slow". Alrighty then Momma is going to test out the brand new spurs we just bought.
Then the second jump course. This did not go as well as the first round. I think for a couple of reasons. A, by this point Fox was just a little tired and B, half the course consisted of oxers. I'm not talking one or two. I'm talking at least five or six of the ten fences were oxers. A fence that unfortunately Fox had never seen before. My only thought when I got ready to go in to the ring and saw all those gleaming width fences was CRAP! But my pony showed me his true heart and bottomless grit.
When I had read or heard about horses people called real "try-ers" I never really got what they meant until we entered the arena that day. Fox, caught completely off guard by these strange fences, really, really tried. He approached each one with enthusiasm, he took hold of the bit a few strides out, pulled me to the fence and really tried to read the question being asked. He did remarkably well for a horse that had never jumped an oxer before. We had two small bobbles. He just barely ticked the rail on fence number five and one side fell out of its cup and then on the last fence he had what would technically be a stop but after a milisecond of thinking it over threw himself over it(leaving the rails up) and nearly unseating me on the other side. But I managed to stick like glue, stay on, right myself and pump my fist in the air and yell (embarassingly) VICTORIOUS! Yeah I'm that dork.
I waited around until my group's scores were totalled so I could get my dressage tests, Fox happily hung at the trailer pretending to be a plow horse (LOVE HIM!) and then I picked up the pretty ribbons that went with our tests. In our grasshopper division we got 3rd! Soo proud of that, it was a large section and I was really happy with the effort we put in. In our kangaroo 2ft section we faired less well and got 4th out of 4. I think if we hadn't pulled the rail or had the stop we would have placed at least second. And I know, I know I shouldn't care about the placings but that little hunter princess girl inside still likes taking home the blue and red ribbons.
Overall though...sooo much love for my pony! He really did try and gave me what he had to give. The CT also showed me where we need to work so that we can be really polished and ready for our end of the season event at Kelly's Ford. We definitely need to practice some oxers at home so that Fox can read the question in a less stressful environment and really understand what I'm asking. And I desperately want to be able to canter all the fences. We are so close, we just need a little more practice and Mom needs to get her big girl pants in gear and just CANTER ON! I will also be taking a lesson the Thursday prior to Kellys Ford with my friend who is well on her way to being an Intermediate level rider.
I'm also going to try and do a session with a saddle fitter. I want to make absolutely certain that I'm riding Fox in something that keeps him happy and as much as I love my Pessoa I am not totally certain that it fits him that well. I want what we all want, for my horse to be happy and sound.
So here's to keeping a happy horse between the flags!