After a huge confidence boost at the Buck Davidson clinic at Holly Hill in February, I was really chomping at the bit to take Stromboli training. While I didn't want to rush him up the levels, he has yet to have a single fault XC and we have consistently struggled with almost coming in too fast (despite the fact that I feel like we are going at an easy pace). With such a great dressage test at Feather Creek, I felt our dressage demons were behind us and he would be ready to make the move up at Texas Rose.
Unfortunately, at Texas Rose Stromboli's dressage demons returned. He started off the day turning circles and nervous pooping constantly in his stall, and tried to buck me off the minute my seat hit the saddle. I knew I was in for a ride, but tried my best to stay calm and make the best of it. Ultimately, I was able to keep him in the correct gait and rode a test that was tense, though not as terrible as some we have ridden in the past. I was pretty disappointed to receive a 50.5, though we aren't strangers to the bottom of the board after this phase, and I knew we had the ability to move up.
Stromboli's tension remained through our stadium warm-up which is pretty unusual for him. Thankfully another NWA trainer, Heather Swope, was at the show and was able to talk me through a few different strategies in our warm-up. By the time we entered the ring he had calmed down some, though was still taking a bid at the fences and throwing his head up in the air like a giraffe. I entered the ring, they blew the whistle, and we cantered toward the first fence, suddenly Stromboli was back to being his usual rhythmic and responsive self. Unfortunately, I didn't adjust my riding style quite-quickly enough and rode a little too defensively to the second fence to knock the rail. It was a good wake up call and we were able to finish the rest of the course clean, despite the fact that my half-pad was slipping out from under my saddle and flapping behind the saddle on his back for some much un-needed extra encouragement every stride!
Texas Rose held the AECs last year and everyone was unsure if they would keep the XC at the same championship level for the start of the 2014 season. Surprise surprise, they did! The jumps are large and there was nearly every kind of question you could expect on a training level course -very angled offset rolltops, up bank to angled cabin, trakhener, large drop, Weldon's wall, half coffin, etc. Stromboli warmed up like an old school pony and was almost creepily lazy. I was worried we might run out of gas on the course. Thankfully, he came out of the start box and held a perfect pace for the entire course. He didn't look at a single fence and we came in 10 seconds under optimum. I was elated! Though our bad dressage kept us out of the ribbons, we placed 9th and came home with tons of confidence!
Adventures eventing as a semi-pro in the mid-south.