I couldn't end the season with my brain farts at Heritage Park, so I signed up for Texas Rose Horse Trials in November (conveniently also close to my sister in Dallas).
I decided to go down early to take a lesson with my sister's coach and hopefully have a less strenuous and stressful experience for Stromboli. Thursday morning, I got in my frosty truck in the early-morning dark and drove for two hours. In the middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma, I pulled into a gas station and realized that I forgot my purse at home. It did not look like my airhead streak was over. I considered scratching from the competition and heading home right then. Luckily, I had paypal and my sister helped me get an Exxon Mobil Ap set up on my phone, so I ended up driving all the way to Texas without my drivers license and having my husband overnight my purse to my sister's apartment.
I had a great lesson Thursday night with Lauren Lambert at Southern Cross Equestrian. Stromboli felt like a real prelim dressage horse and we had a very solid sitting trot, some really nice transitions, and acceptable leg yields and lengthenings.
But....by the time we got to the actual show grounds on Friday, he was frantic and terrible. Saturday morning for dressage he was furious, not eating, had hives, was super sore on his left hindquarters, and every aid I had didn't seem to work well. We scored badly in dressage just like usual. For show jumping we picked up one-rail. It wasn't a great course, but we got lucky --and it was still probably better than many SJ courses we've ridden at this level.
By Sunday he seemed back to normal, relaxed & happy. Texas Rose is known for having a stout XC course and this one did not disappoint. I felt like I was heading out onto a Rolex course.
I rode every single fence and it went according to plan. I took some long routes & rode conservatively so as not to repeat my previous mistake. I never felt nervous or panicky, and was thrilled to gallop through the finish line clean & just a little over time. After my ride, I began cooling my horse out as my sister checked scores. She informed me that I was listed as TE. I couldn't believe it. I had done so many stupid brainless things this season, but I knew that I had total control this round & cleanly cleared every fence. There was one fence that was removed from my division right before my trip that I was a bit concerned about, but it was clearly flagged off & unjumpable during my ride. I also had jumped the wider part of a corner when Stromboli got a bit spooked by someone on the course, but there was definitely no disputing that his entire body went between the flags. I ran up the show office where the TD informed me that I had jumped the wrong fence 15 (down bank) & the jump judge had confirmed this with another witness. I still couldn't believe it. The turn to the intermediate down bank would have been different from the one I rode, and I could clearly remember thinking through my pace and approach to the correct fence. I was absolutely crushed & felt COMPLETELY INSANE. I felt like I had just woken up and someone told me that the year was 2015 and I had hallucinated an entire year that didn't happen.
Luckily my sister had watched most of my ride and didn't think I had jumped the incorrect fence. RNS VIDEOMEDIA was on site, so I raced over to their tent to see if I could see some video footage of my ride, at least to justify in my mind my total lapse of consciousness. I can't tell you how incredibly nice & helpful these guys were to get the video of my round up on a camcorder immediately. Sure enough, I watched my ride.......the evidence was indisputable. I JUMPED THE CORRECT FENCE! I ran back to the main office, went with the TD back to the RNS video tent. I finally got the correct score for my round.
I can't tell you how defeated & insane I would feel right now if I hadn't had that video evidence! I thank god for the awesome guys at RNS & I will be very hesitant to run XC again, especially at this venue, without having people I know on course watching & preferably videoing.
I ended up placing 7th in the large and competitive division. On the long ride home I reflected on my weekend & the 2016 season, scoring issues aside, I could not have cared less about the ribbon. I achieved a personal best score at the Preliminary Level and I finally felt like I was a contender. I started the season having some difficulties controlling Stromboli at the training level and even put him up for sale. I felt like he was nervous and miserable, and would be happier in a different situation. I think fate was looking out for me --only one person ever even sat on him, and I'm so glad I decided to commit fully to making the best out of my current situation. Dressage be-damned, he's the best jumping horse I've ever sat on in my life. It's going to be a long winter trying to keep this confidence, but I will keep reminding myself about the serious prelim horse I have and what an incredible feeling it is to be able to jump the green flags.
Who knows what next year will bring, but we are officially qualified for a CCI1* now!
SEE THE VIDEO THAT SAVED ME:
If there's one thing I know about horses, it's that things NEVER go according to plan.
I had planned on ending my season with Stromboli at Heritage Park in KS at the end of October. Dressage went well, but I got very stressed before my test due to the bit checker having some issues with my unconventional leather bit and the bell for me to go in the arena seemed to be greatly delayed. Needless to say, I turned the wrong way and got my first error of course --on a dressage test I knew front & back and had ridden a dozen times before. We still picked up our best score at Prelim yet, by 6 points. This was a very bad sign.
I felt confident after a good run at Feather Creek, but by the time I walked the course at Heritage Park, the jumps looked HUGE.....and I mean HUGE...and set on weird half-strides --not good for my "attack the course" kind of horse who has been known to put one-stride in two-strides multiple times on course. Things were going well, until they weren't. I was blazing fast...and completely neglected to slow down and set him up for a turn to a very difficult ABC coffin. I blasted through the turn, tried to correct, but came in so poorly my horse had no way of jumping the A-element. Poor Stromboli picked up his very first 20 on course. I circled, approached, and he rode perfectly through it. He blasted around the rest of the course like it was nothing. 50% of the division picked up stops, run-outs, falls, or some kind of elimination on course, so I was in good company. Show Jumping the next day went fairly well with just one-rail. I ended up 11th out of 20 riders.
I left this event very proud of myself for finishing with confidence and not letting one mishap ruin my entire weekend, but I still felt like I let my horse down. A small (ok, really a big) part of me was a bit worried about my mental state & nervousness in competition.
Adventures eventing as a semi-pro in the mid-south.