Monday, August 22, 2016

Its official: we are Training Level competitors

...maybe not super duper competitive yet at the level, but god damn it, we COMPLETED! I do whole heartedly believe we will (and can) be competitive if I can get my shit straight. It is not due to any fault because of Tillie.

Dear god ignore me, but hey Tillie looks good!
I admit, I am a dumbass...for either not reading the ombibus right or whatever but I totally went in to this event prepared to ride one test and it required an entirely different test that I have ridden, let alone read or even one I have watched before.

Needless to say, the morning was totally not in our favor for two main reasons: 1) as I already listed I am a space cadet and 2) our times had been moved up and I had no idea.

Sleep tight Miss Tillie...night before the show when i was still superbly calm and confident

Luckily, I planned to arrive super duper early...I generally like to give myself an hour prior to my ride time to arrive to settle in, tack up and then have anywhere between 30-40 min to get on and warm up. I usually hack around to let her look for the first 10 min, will pick her up w/t and then let her walk around for 5 min then canter...etc.

Imagine the mayhem in my brain when I picked up my packet and saw my ride time was 8:10 not 8:39 as I had originally been emailed. I tried really hard not to panic right then and there (It was already 7:50 by this point).

Braided and ready to go!

I got on by 7:55 and was really channeling my inner zen at that moment. I was trusting in the fact Tillie doesnt require much to warm up and it was a test we know well and works well for us. Well Tillie was a bit was the first time at this venue and I think others were also feeling the time crunch with the moved times in attempt to beat the rain storms coming. I had only walk trotted around when the steward sent me to warm up on deck. I felt the sinking feeling of "crap" I may emabarass us...

I realized on my walk down to the ring, to my horror, everyone was riding a different test. So literally as the rider before me saluted and walked out of the ring, my dear friend read me the test seconds before I went to trot around the ring we were due to ride in. I am honestly surprised I remembered as much as I did and didnt get eliminated.

I walked away from her trying not to panic and repeated, "Fuck, fuckity fuck, fuck" knowing I fucked up....and will never read the omnibus wrong or not ever double check again.

So after 2 errors for totally not knowing the test and riding the wrong movements...the judge was pretty damn nice and I think pretty considerate not giving me a third which would eliminate us and letting me finish with a score of, dare I even say it, 41.8.

I walked out of that ring so disappointed in myself, which felt even worse seeing Boyd Martin sitting right outside warm up chatting away and watching those in the ring.

Oh yea, did I mention a few other top level riders I shared the ring with that day making me want to shrivel and die?! Colleen Rutledge, Lainey Askher, Jenny Brannigen....

Jenny Brannigan even passed me after my XC asking ME how I did!! And THAT is why I love this sport.

Dont even ask who was there in stadium warm up or watching from the stands....
I got back to the trailer and allowed myself exactly 15 minutes to wallow in self pity over that before switching gears to the next two phases. I thank god for my helpers being there taking out her braids and tacking her up allowing me to divulge but also reassuring me we werent total disasters. I felt pretty embarrassed and then shut it out to prep for jumping.

I have never been more grateful to have a warm up plan in my life and that I was able to chat about it with Dom the day before. It gave me a sense of comfort and feeling like I knew what the fuck I was doing among all these professionals.

It also was a bit disconcerting because the warm up he gave was specific and required adjusting and taking over an oxer: Jump a low wide oxer 2 times off both leads. Raise it two holes keeping it a square oxer and jump only if she gets flat or it isnt right. Then make it an ascending oxer same thing. At this point if she knocks a rail go right into stadium and do nothing else. If ok, raise it again to a square oxer and jump off both leads.

Tillie was being pretty stubborn about giving me the left lead, but Dom addressed that the day before knowing it is our harder one...basically it isnt ideal, but dont stress about it and keep going.

So that we did:

Tillie oddly hung her front leg a few times over some of the jumps, which I have never seen her do before...and it cost us a rail at the oxer. But Dom didnt seem too worried about it and called it unlucky with it being atypical for her. Otherwise she was jumping me out of the tack again which seems to be a new normal for Tillie at shows...

So we had 4 faults for the rail and a few time penalties...because of the darn not giving me the left lead so counter cantering and then the laser focus on her part on the lower field after fence #2 so almost not turning. 

But again, time wasnt something we should be worrying about just yet. Dom told me to hang out wide on all my turns and just take our time to not worry about making the optimum or accruing penalties right now. 

So we went out to XC which was backed up a bit. I dont like makes me nervous and I felt muyself getting restless. I jumped the two xc warm up fences they had and was pleased Tillie did them both quite well. 

I reminded myself about the coursewalk we had the day before and to go with Tillie. Slow and steady since the rain started at that point and just be safe. 

Fence 1 to 2

Just as they called me on deck, the rain and drizzling stopped...I gathered my reins which were slipping and vowed i would replace them with rubber or something less slippery for my next event.

Fence 1 to 2 felt fine...I knew I was riding a bit too conservatively but Tillie wasnt protesting and better be safe than sorry.

Fence 3 was a table i knew after was a bit of an uphill gallop to let her blow off some steam.

pretty inviting and towards the dressage and stadium rings so pretty sure this was going to be a non issue
I didnt ever let her gallop to prevent her not locking on me, but now we had such a successful run, my homework is to practice this and possibly test more of letting her go at our next event.

The 4 a&b angled tables rode beautifully and I sat up immediately asking Tillie to balance since there was quite a long grade down hill steep enough to make me worry the studs I had in may not be enough with only having her tapped behind...after today though she will now be tapped for fronts as well to prevent this fear again.

The downhill approached a narrowish and large produce stand which I had already heard caused a few glances or refusals so growled a bit and pressed Tillie at it.

The next fence was on a decent turn which was the reason Dom had me put in the slightly larger studs and it handled no issues to the chevron, which Tillie didnt bat an eye at.

I breathed a sigh there, but it wasnt long lived before I locked my sight on the first water.

This fence was the first one on course I soooort of questioned. Everything else seemed inconsequential. My good, brave mare charged into the water and took this no issue even with the huge pond just two strides straight behind if she didnt read it right or understand we needed to turn could have been a bit sticky. 

I talked to her A LOT this course and it was here I really got vocal telling her "There is the spot!!" probably more for me than her...

After this was another bit of gallop before the lattice into the woods to which her lack of wanting to half halt made me tell her "Eyes up mare there is a fence." It was a lower fence for us so she took it not really paying attention to the fact we had a narrow entrance to woods right after. 

But a bit of a swerve we made it in there and I asked her to trot a bit with how narrow it was knowing the next jump was into the second water complex with an A & B with the A jump being directly into water which we havent done before. I could see this complex from the warm up area and really reflected at the horses doing this at how amazing they looked and hoped we could also look like we belonged here. 

Tillie took this on like a pro! 

She galloped after this feeling pretty proud taking the ramp pretty boldly, which if you listen to the next video you may capture me shouting, "WEEEE, Tillie!" just before crossing the road to the bending line:

I totally counted out loud and we got a bit long to the B element but i was soooo happy!!

She took on the next few jumps so easily its ridiculous, and we came to probably the harder element on course:

Tillie was so sure of herself, my words of encouragement were, again, probably more for me than her. She was so cocky after this I said out loud approaching the last two jumps, "OK mare, dont get cocky, pay attention" since both were still nice and inviting but still decent sized jumps. 

Sure we got sooo many time penalties but I got choked up and did almost cry galloping through the finish. We officially completed our first training level event and XC was such a breeze it was ridiculous. The tears were basically an overwhelming emotion of going from not being able to do BN without looking silly to completing training level bravely and confidently.

My next event wont be until early September, so I am looking forward to really getting my own shit together and giving Tillie the ride she deserves! 


  1. Ahww well congratulations! Sorry to hear about the dressage kerfuffle but Tillie does sound like a rock star out there!

    1. Thank you! I know we will eventually get three solid phases again :) At least they are all things within my control and it isnt a Tillie thing!

  2. That feeling of not knowing the right dressage test is the ACTUAL worst, omg. I would've quit

    1. OMG I totally had a moment of "I cant do this..."

  3. Sucks about the dressage test :(

  4. Congratulations!!! Sorry about the dressage test mess up, but you still managed it.