|Fitness, thbpitness. Eh, I think it's naptime anyway.|
Encore came sound last Friday, bruises healed and body restored, a little over a week before the CT we completed yesterday. In some form of horse-show-withdrawal frenzy, I scribbled his name onto entry forms and shoved them through the mail slot without much consideration of details.
Just little things, like, oh, test preparation (we haven't taken a dressage lesson since the beginning of July), or the fact that Encore hadn't seen coloured jump poles in three months, or the teeny issue that his rider was just as winded and out of shape as he was.
Lucky for us, his TB magic meant that with a concerted effort to ride/long line/hot walk him every day until the show, he regained more than adequate condition to perform two phases on a lovely fall day. His rider had a generous crew who kept a bottle of gatorade and a granola bar close at hand so there were no dramatic fainting episodes and only a little gasping for breath.
|Suzpension iz hard.|
Tip: Sore No More contains witch hazel (which you can also buy on its own by the jug at the drug store). Wait until the horse's body cools down completely and then begin rubbing it into the muscles. Any areas where there are knots, tension, or heat will cause the liquid to foam up a little as you gently rub it in, indicating a sore spot. You can then massage that spot some more or identify stretches or alternative techniques to relax and rest those a
|Enter Working Cute.|
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little stunned that this all paid off. We've not exactly had a run of amazing luck over the past two years and I'd just spent way more time and money getting my horse sound once again than I would have liked. BUT IT WORKED.
In warmup, I focused on riding correctly and accurately and made sure to leave enough time before my test to do a little trot work next to the actual show arena so he could relax there (I've always rushed that part too much in the past). While he did sometimes get looky and tight in his neck and jaw in the arena, especially his corners, he was pretty obedient, there was NO acrobatic bucking, and that entering centerline felt really damn good (and nailed us an 8!!!!). All of the judge's comments were spot on and helpful, encouraging us to work on creating more jump and straightness in the canter (oh lady, if only you knew how awesome it was that we HAVE a sound canter on both leads), and better bend where it is called for (definitely agreed!).
|But he is finding that suspension!!!|
|Sure, I be dressage poneh, whatevs.|
|We've got the step, just need the jump!|
We then had somewhere around 2.5 minutes to change tack and be ready to jump. I confess, I wasn't thrilled about the horses not getting much of a break between the two, but it did mean that your jumping warmup merely required hopping over something a few times to get them thinking forward and over and you were good to go. And that he was -- as soon as we entered the competition ring, a firecracker lit up underneath me. Encore hadn't tackled a course in three months either and he fairly vibrated with excitement. The whistle blew and we were off.
|I sendz telepathik Cuna-thankz youz!|
So in honour of the badass-ness of the Cuna/SB mastery of mad skillz, Encore very proudly wore (and I had long coveted) the gorgeous chocolate and powder blue Five Star Tack breastplate (which is just as exquisite in real life as I imagined) originally sported by Cuna during his reign of glory. Encore must have absorbed some magic from the Cuna-dust in the elastic because we put in the first double-clear stadium round I can remember in a long time. He was bold, he was rock-steady, and he galloped through the finish flags begging for more. Oh, and his mom tried really hard to ride properly and WAIT for him. It helps, really.
Thank you, Aimee and Cuna, we will strive to live up its legacy!!!
|2'11"?? Heck, I'll take 3'11", mom, bring it!!!|
|The elegant beadwork of his Topline Leather browband just sets off that classy TB profile!|
|Good pony. Cute pony. Honest pony. At the moment, sound pony! Who could ask for more?|