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We Are Flying Solo

November 7, 2009

In Which The Universe Turns In On Itself

Fall 2009. Version II of the HT we did this spring. It started as a cold drizzly day. And to share the punishment, I give thee no pictures because we couldn't con any friends into accompanying us that day.

Dressage time was around 9:30-ish. I'm on my horse and head up to the ring in the drizzle and my black coat at 9:00. As hooves hit footing, some woman on a horse in the warmup ring informs me, "Oh, you're next!" That popping sound you heard was my eyeballs rolling in and striking each other.

WTF? As politely as possible, I said, "But my time is not for like 30 minutes?"

"Oh," she says, "I think you might be mistaken about your time." Yeah right, random lady, your dressage time is like the one piece of information you make SURE you know before you even leave the house for a horse trial. I screw up a lot, but I'm pretty damn sure I got one number right.

However, leaping off your horse to pummel random riders at horse trials does not generally endear oneself to management, so I ask if we can at least trot around first? She says sure and I assume body language to assure her that I am not a happy camper. I then proceed to trot off (did I mention it was about 45 degrees and drizzly so poor Solo was quite cold and stiff).

A random Solo pic for your viewing pleasure...several years old, as I am noticing the distinct lack of neck muscle.

After a couple minutes, in which I trot around in fury, trying to relax enough to get Solo approaching the edge of suppleness, a guy approaches me who looks much more like an official steward and says there are four riders before me to go. THANK YOU! I am much relieved, thank him profusely, and return to my warmup. However, my dressage zen is blown (hey, let me pretend it existed, ok?). I do my test, but it is tense, feels counterbent, and I leave the ring furious.

I stomp (at least mentally, I do try to keep childish outburst internal) back to my trailer to sulk for a while before stadium. At least it has stopped raining.

In a moment of show-day-kindness, a friend pulls her rig up next to mine -- she is showing her new horse that day in the Maiden division. Yay, now I have someone to talk to!!!

In an even larger moment, I go check the leaderboard and discover that for our stiff dressage test, the judge has bestowed upon us a 37.4! Now, please step back as I jump up and down with a hearty YEEHAW! We have finally broken the 40 barrier, which had previously seemed impenetrable to all our efforts! Now the world is a much brighter place.

Grin firmly planted on face, I head back to the trailer to share the news and Solo and I are sitting in fourth place.

Stadium Jumping
I am a bit nervous going into stadium. I had just moved Solo to a new (improved!) farm and our schooling that week had pretty much resulted in a battlefield strewn with poles and jump standards. Ouch. So I wrapped my legs around that horse, sat down, and WENT.

Tension got the better of me -- there was a tight turn to fence 3, I overshot, got all floppy and useless in a panic and Solo jumped through the MIDDLE of the oxer. I heard the poles scatter behind us, but the big red boy kept going, so I set my jaw, looked ahead and we finished the rest of the course with no further difficulties. It was my mistake, so I took my 4 penalties, decided I was satisfied (it was a tough course that took down many with stops and crashes) and went to look up our XC time.

Cross Country
The course was walked, every conceivable form of protective boot applied to Solo, my vest zipped up, and both of entered the start box with bright eyes. The thing I love most about this facility's courses is that she wheels the beginner novice course at about 425 mpm -- so you get to RUN. And run we did. And were one of only two to go double clear XC in our division.

Then it was time for a giant wormhole to open, time to turn upside down, the universe to implode and the unthinkable happen.

PhotobucketWait for it....

WE WON OUR DIVISION. I actually read the score sheet about 5 times because I was SURE there had been a typo. But typos there were not and first we indeed were. We got a shiny blue ribbon AND a blue bucket full of goodies. And I pranced. I pranced all the way back to the trailer to track down friend and share much giggling and exclamations and glee. I snapped a quick shot of my tired boy wearing his hard earned decoration and loaded up the truck.

Maybe there was hope for us after all...


  1. Woooohooooo! Congrats (again)! And, if you won first even with what felt like a stiff dressage test, imagine how great things will be when you're not rushed/riding-in-the-rain/stressed because-of-stupid-ring-steward. Well, I guess you can't do much better than first...maybe you'll have to move up a division!
    Again, please send some of your luck my way!

  2. There may well be a move up in our future...if I can figure out how to stop riding like an idiot!

  3. Whoohoo!!! That's so exciting :) Can you explain eventing dressage scoring to me?

  4. good job!! I enjoy reading your blog!!

  5. Thanks, y'all! Jen, eventing dressage (and the whole event) is scored sort of like golf -- you want to have the lowest score. In regular Dressage, you get a positive score, say you earn 60% of possible points on your test. In eventing (cause we gotta be different!), we flip that around so a 60% becomes a 40%, meaning you lost 40% of your points. That way, it's easy to add penalty points from stadium and XC to get a total penalty score.

  6. Aha! Okay, that makes sense. I was a little confused about being excited about a 40, but now I get it :)