Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weekend Recap: WE DID IT

I am so very excited to be writing this post because I am almost still in utter disbelief it happened! But Tillie and I did it...we completed our first PRELIM! What's more, is it was a cold, rainy day with less than ideal footing conditions (which I won't lie had me questioning if I was going to withdrawal). I was already super nervous and the added rain really made me question if I was insane enough to give this a go...

Tillie and I in our stadium round
The dressage arenas were the worst, followed closely by stadium, but shockingly the XC course was holding up nicely so I chose to give it a go and if things felt uneasy to retire. I had to ride our test off the muddy worn in paths so it hurt our score a bit, but I was so elated with how relaxed she stayed. Not to mention the fact I remembered the entire test was truly a feat in itself.

I was tearing up after our dressage

I walked the XC course after dressage which was good so I could see how the footing was holding up. Seneca did a great job patching what needed patching and keeping us safe. Some of the other levels they removed jumps or provided options because of the footing.

Intermediate actually ended up sharing about half our jumps...which made me feel even more bad ass (lol yea....).

Movin up to those ditances
Tillie warmed up like a beast for stadium and I felt really confident going into the ring. The first three fences rode well and Tillie was on point. We came into a two stride which Tillie slipped at the second fence nearly taking the entire thing down but the top rail popped off.

I got a bit greedy and too careful at this point...Tillie learned and took off huge over the next fence but this is where I got a bit too addy with the first slippage and rail in my mind and got her in a bit too weak (it was a triple bar oxer) and she barely took to top rail and then got flat and misread the related distance to the next fence.

After that she sat down and rode the triple combination and final bending line like she was born to jump this height and higher...so I know the rail issues we will iron out.

Soaking after the show...Goose totally convinced he can join me
I felt pretty darn proud we did it and I walked out of there knowing exactly what I did and how we can fix it in the future. But my mind immediately went to XC and I got my game face on.

Dom insisted that I warm up when we talked game plans before the day. He wanted me riding her to the base a few times and then a few more open and back to riding the base to really make sure both my eye and her adjustability were on point.

I didn't want to over do it too much as Tillie already was feeling a bit more tired than usual with the cold rain wearing on her but we did enough to make me feel ok. I set my watch, even though I was told to not look at it, and I was called over to the start box.

At this point I thought I was going to be way more nervous, but I suddenly felt...prepared. I don't know if that is the right word or not.

There were a few jumps on course and combinations that made me really have to think about how to ride into them, what my plan b was if it didn't go according to plan etc. But at that moment, I just took a deep breath, gave Tillie and pat and said, " lets do this."

For the first time I came out of the start box kicking...ok not exactly kicking, but I was ready. Usually I am ok with the slower canter to start, but I remembered Dom's advice about how I better ride up to fences because this itty bitty canter wouldn't cut it at this height.

The first combination on course had me the most worried...it was a big, and I mean BIG double brush table to a roll top skinny with brush. I knew I had to come in with some speed with that height, but didn't want to come in too hot and miss the B element. I watched the intermediate ride through it and it was seeming to ride ok, but quite a few horses did exactly what Tillie did and REALLY overjumped the brush, so I am glad I was prepared for that.

Once I finished that first combination I breathed out a small sigh...Dom warned me about the first combo saying it was a confidence test and would set the tone for the rest of the course. So I felt a very small iota of relief.

We shared the next jump with intermediate and had a open oxer galloping fence just before our next combination. It was a ramp to a 5 stride bank up to a two stride, ramp jump with a massive drop. I don't like drops typically and it did cause my some trepidation walking it, but I just reminded myself to keep my eyes up since woods were just over 8 strides on landing....I didn't need to end up in a tree.

Then we had some galloping tables and space to gallop but I took it easy. The footing here wasn't the greatest since we shared this portion with intermediate and I tried to stay on the outskirts and avoid as best I could. Then it was our next combination which had me slightly worried because it was a pretty big table bending line to a chevron brush - which if Tillie has any jump she might look at, its those.

But I breathed deep and thought back to all the schooling knowing she would do it so long as I had her straight, rode her shoulders and kept a good canter. And I was so floored that despite needing to slip my reins over the table...Tillie hunted the shit out of that chevron.

I had to control my emotions here, but swapped my crop told her how great she was and started preparing for the next combination shown at the early part of the video here:

It was another rolltop with brush but this time a skinny made out of how the brush was cut. It was flush up against a tree on the right side which is why I switched my crop left just in case she glanced off left. It had a down hill landing bending line to the B element: a narrow corner. 

Again I had to let me reins slip on landing and a tad more slipped than I wanted with it being so wet and raining...but damn if she didn't lock into that corner and got us there in the perfect striding. 

We had one table we shared with intermediate again before coming to the water...which made me fret so hard. 

It was a very LARGE tree just before a log/bank drop into water with a roll top out. I saw many horses refusing this log and have seen refusals with this combination when it was set like this in the past (yay for youtube and me stalking old courses lol)

I knew I needed to compress coming in, but not lose the power. Tillie once again took care of me and did the entire combination like a pro.

We had one more galloping fence, another table...and we had our final combination on course: a full coffin. It walked tighter that it rode, so thank goodness Tillie isn't ditchy because we had to add a stride to make it work - which benefited us in the end because the footing here was slick and had a fall earlier. 

After she came out of the coffin I sat up and told her YOU GOT THIS only one more fence!! And it was a large trakhener we shared with intermediate....so I came around the corner and told myself don't grab her, let her go at it. 

She of course soared over it and when all four feet his the ground I choked back a huge sob. 

I think its time to upgrade to real ice boots

People likely thought I was insane because the walk back to the trailer I was crying not so silent tears of pure shock, joy, elation and a whole medly of emotions.

I just coulnt believe we did it. This horse just shocks the hell out of me!

So I am debating on letting her end the season here to keep her confidence strong and ending on a good note. So I guess Ill touch base with my professional team and seek input on whats next!


  1. Congrats!!!!! So happy for you :D

  2. OMG! Congrats! You guys are super!

  3. This inspired me to come out of the lurking woodwork. So awesome to read - congrats to you and Tilly!

    1. I LOVE this!!! My whole goal is to inspire people :) I walked around for so long thinking I would never be good enough, but a I read a story on EN of a rider that worked hard despite not having grown up riding, etc and was rocking it in the upper levels! I love that message! Put your mind to it and it can be done

  4. Wow. That's such an awesome achievement. Congrats!

  5. You guys are amazing!! Such huge congratulations!