So the funny thing is, I had a working student this summer named Marian who was pretty terrified of a ditch-and-anything and it became kind of a joke around Blue Clover Eventing. For fun, we put Trisha in front of the ditch and wall on Friday's course walk and sent it to her. Well, it was a good thing Marian wasn't at Southern Pines this weekend!!! Luckily for me, Smarty thought this fence was fun, hell lucky for me he thought every fence was fun as we just stormed around the Intermediate cross country on Saturday at Southern Pines. I don't think I've ever praised a horse so much after crossing a finish line!!
It started like a normal competition, Bailey and Trisha in the Training and Smarty in the Intermediate. We got there in time on Thursday for a nice dressage session, Smarty thought he saw dead people there for a minute although a few circles on a longe line (God Bless Cat and Megan!) and we were golden. Bailey was primed and ready for an early Friday dressage, and did he make quite an impression on the judge! Marks of '9' and '8' on the first two movements of his dressage test, way to go! The training was a very competitive division, and we were hoping the time would be hard to make over a very fun cross country course. Unfortunately, not exactly the case, although I don't think he had a single bad fence. A momentary trip in the water just to make for some dramatic photos...we will take it! Smarty had a pretty super dressage, tough crowd as we were in 6th on a 26 jeeze. Kudos to dressage judge Lisa Cox, she judged Intermediate from 8 until after 530 and she stayed so positive! A lot of fun to get to ride in front of her and I wish I could say that about more judges! I do want to take the moment however to compliment all of the crew at Southern Pines, it is like they have professional volunteers there that just make all the difference in the atmosphere. I look forward to bringing the barn back again next year!
I say that hoping that a few changes get made to the cross country before next year lol. In all seriousness, however, I feel strongly that Southern Pines II always has a very big and difficult track for the Adv and Int and here it was again this year. I don't think horses were reading the bank correctly so early on, I am so so fortunate to be on the bravest and scopiest horse and he didn't bat an eye, I gave him a strong ride and he soared right over it and got short even to the roll top. I got more wiggles to the bank down at 7 than I thought I would. Smarty was just absolutely full of running and he thought the initial house to the bank down apparently was the only question there, cheeky little monkey, and he saw C as kind of an after thought. He was quite honest when I closed legs and reins and jumped thru the flags we did! I cruised thru the Pond Water where so many were not so fortunate; I think my horse's experience at Intermediate made quite a difference there as I pretty much balanced him halfway down the hill and just kept coming down to it and he was happy to oblige. My excitement came actually dodging trees trying to find my line to the skinny at 12 up on top of the hill afterwards! His stride is so big, you have to be careful what you wish for when you ride him strong like I did to the water, takes a few strides to recover ha! Then it was full on galloping to the double corners, and my fancy little show jumper it starting to be a scrappy cross country pony. He took out the flag on B much to my surprise and excitement, actually, as a year ago that would have been a run out! I liked the 4 and thought I needed to keep coming thru the turn, well I accomplished that and got him there a little tight sorry bud; but that's why the flags pop on and off right?! On to the big water where the goal was to find my line to the very tight angled line of houses, Smarty was all about it and just cracked through it like it was a training exercise. Whew. One last tricky combination to go and I have had some ugly rides there before, the palisade things out in the middle of the track. I was cocky, I was close to making the time, and I went the direct route in 3. And I got it! Smarts came right back, jumped, turned, and pretty much locked on and jumped all at the same time. Goooood poooooony :)
Not too much time to celebrate however as we had to run back over for Trisha's show jumping. I don't think poor Trisha had any nerves left after getting me thru the cross country ha ha ha every 3 seconds someone was falling off, retiring, or her phone was ringing full of more bad news about how the course was riding. Maybe that was the secret to her show jumping round, she rode great, executed her plan, and Bailey got through the combinations with room to spare yippee! I must admit she did a better job than I at executing show jumping plans this weekend. I had costly time penalties in the OI-A to drop to 4th :( Smarty was jumping quite well, in fact I don't recall even a rub during his round, however we had a major discussion over a lead change after the oxer at 7. In the midst of all of this, I kind of slowly see us going to the outside of the first fence to get to the planks at 8, and realize that is NOT where I needed to be oh no! Do I rip his face off for the inside turn and probably get a rail because I've thrown everything out of whack? Didn't seem like a good idea, so I casually boogied around the long way, continued to leave up all the rails (and he jumped like dynamite through the triple!) and knew as I crossed the finish line after a beautifully clean jumping round that I really screwed up. There will be lead change boot camp this week I guarantee you so we can finish in the Top Three at The Fork in two weeks :)