Posted by on Sep 28, 2011 in News | Comments Off on A Weekend of Firsts

A Weekend of Firsts

As I mentioned last week, this past weekend was spent at the Twin Rivers Horse Trials in Paso Robles, California.  Upon arriving at the event, I was unusually anxious and nervous.  I really wanted to be sure that this was a positive and confidence building outing for Ginger and I so we could pack our things and prepare for Mexico the next two weeks without replaying the mental video of something not working out at our most recent show.  As I have mentioned probably countless times before, Ginger has been conditioned and is getting fitter than ever, which made for a different kind of weekend for me.  Bea has also been working with me on restructuring our dressage.  So this weekend, I was going out with a different feeling horse and a different plan for the dressage ring.  To say the least, Ginger is no longer the predictably quiet, relaxed dressage horse; now she has the energy to be excited and ready to tear up the cross country, but translating this excitement to the dressage ring in a positive way is where I had to focus.  She had a correct and good test with some tense moments; I had to be sure to calm my mind and focus on how to keep her straight, keep the canter three-beat, and soften myself.  I guess the concentration worked, because out of a very competitive group of nearly thirty intermediate horses and riders, Ginger topped the scoreboard with a 28.4 after dressage.

I must say I was the most anxious for cross country.  Derek told me that this course should be an exercise for Ginger; we needed to make time, because this was going to count as one of her gallops; this was a small change in plans because I thought we were going to go slower, but with perfect footing I knew this would be a great place to go for time.  After walking the course, I definitely saw some places where I would need to ride.  I don’t know why, but the first combination on course is always the one that I think about the most.  Maybe it’s because if we get caught out there, I know the rest of the course and the rest of day is dedicated to thinking, “What the heck was I doing up there?” and the disappointment that causes that mental video tape to play.  Nonetheless, I was nervous.  As I said, we needed to have a good round to build not only Ginger’s confidence, but my own.  The unfortunate part of having one horse is so much lies on just her doing well.  If you are wondering, “Why is it such a big deal?  Just do the dang thing”, there are some strange things to know about event riders: we are all far too competitive and we all wish for the cross country to be over before it starts, but once its done, whether we went well or terrible, we wish we could do it all over again.  So after galloping out of the box and jumping through our first combination, I got some relief.  By the end of our course, Ginger had jumped each jump the first time and…for the first time ever MADE THE TIME AT INTERMEDIATE!!  Overall, Ginger jumped around fantastically.  I am now finding out how to ride a fitter horse who will now eat up the distances in the combinations, and because of this I have to be sure not to override her.  That being said, I was very relieved we could have a strong cross country course to pack into our memory bank.

For stadium, Ginger and I had to go last because we held our first place position.  I have not had to do that in quite awhile and honestly was excited to get in the show jumping ring.  Our show jumping test was in the afternoon so I had all morning to think about our upcoming round.  In the show jumping, we recently switched to the bitless bridle, a hackamore, and Ginger is jumping stronger than ever.  When we finally got to go in the ring, Ginger was so excitable.  She jumped so well.  Over a couple of the larger oxers, mid-air, I felt my feet jingle in the stirrups because she was jumping so hard.  I just love riding her in the stadium jumping because she tries so hard.  We finished the round double clean, to end up in first place and finishing on our dressage score for the first time at the intermediate level.

This was a great final outing for Ginger and me.  It definitely raised my confidence.  Also, sitting in first place all weekend helped my nerves so much.  At the Pan American Games, I know no matter what place I am in, I am going to be feeling the pressure.  This weekend, with the afternoon show jumping, going last, and dealing with an excited horse, I had to face these nerves and make due.  It was great practice on how to stay focused and calm.

It is now a countdown until we leave for Mexico.  On our to-do list, we have two more gallops, shopping for jog outfits, packing, tying up some paperwork, and Woodside.  Ginger and I are entered to compete at the CIC** at Woodside and will do a combined test with the dressage test as a practice for the test we have for the Pan Ams and a show jumping round.  Then we will fly out a couple days later.  So until then it is boot camp and getting ready…and maybe a little shopping.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Ginger and Lauren