Thursday, June 14, 2018

Derby Weekend: Day Two

You would think that a sport like cross country would be a sketchy choice for a confirmed anxious rider. I mean, galloping over uneven terrain at solid jumps takes a certain level of insanity confidence and hopefully skill?

As I have neither skill nor confidence, what exactly am I doing?

To be honest, I am having a blast when I'm out there. And at starter level 2'3" jumps it is pretty okay not to have much skill. Really, just point your horse at the little log and even if it doesn't go well, at least your horse can just walk over it if all else fails.

Blurry screen shot but definitely smiling!
So going into Sunday's derby I was feeling pretty optimistic (perhaps even hoping to be a little competitive!). Well, that was until dressage.

We warmed up rather well and I was feeling kind of excited. This would be Shiraz's very first judged dressage test. My goal wasn't lofty -- just try to find a good trot and concentrate on correct test. As we began walking around the outside of the dressage ring for our turn though, things unravelled quite quickly. The temporary ring had been set up tucked into the corner of the cross country field next to the trees. The wind was blowing and the branches were making usual branches-in-the-wind noises. Shiraz seemed pretty sure the forest was full of bears. She started prancing on the spot and I began to struggle to get forward and up seemed like a possibility. Then we came around the corner (still outside the arena trying to do the usual lap before the bell) and in her prancy state she decided people in lawn chairs trying to watch some dressage were actually wolves about to eat her alive. As she unravelled I just could not. I hopped off before it got any worse and scratched from dressage.

In a slow walk of shame, I led her back to my trailer and deliberated over whether I should scratch xc too or just hope for the best. I waivered a few minutes but heck, I was here. I knew xc would probably be okay. I was going to do the thing.

Coming in hot! ...or mildly lukewarm, lol!
I had entered two starter rounds of xc. The first went really well, but we trotted quite a bit in the beginning. She handled every jump really well and galloping cantering slowly up the hill to the final jump and finish line, I was just so pleased with Shiraz and glad I had made myself do it. Our second round was even better and we were able to increase the pace a bit.

After completing the starter courses and seeing Shiraz do so well out there, I can really get a picture of how things will be once we are through this green stage. She is a good horse. I just need to be patient, and pace myself for my own confidence-sake and keep building on what we have.

In my happy place, and I think Shiraz agrees :)
I was considering meandering through this summer without a clear-cut itinerary. To heck with that. I need a plan. Charts, graphs, a support team. All of it. I do better with goals and coaching.


  1. aw good for you for pushing on even after not feeling so great about the dressage phase! Shiraz really seems like such a cool mare, and i just love that she focuses in so well on the task at hand - seems like she really likes the jumping part!!

    1. I am so glad she likes the jumping part. If only dressage could add a few cavaletti in the ring for us, lol!

  2. If you really want to event the cross country being solid and the dressage being more of a challenge is a ok thing. If a horse hates cross country it is a no go but you can sneak in improving the dressage with field Dressage, ground work, outings, and etc. and you will get there. She sounds like she will be a really nice horse with a bit more mileage!

    1. She is pretty great and I am working hard to ride effectively and help her out. We'll get there eventually--just probably a lot slower than most. :)

  3. It's too bad that you had to scratch from the most fun part of eventing (ha ha). I'm glad that she rocked the course. The rest will come. I laughed at "I need a plan. Charts, graphs, a support team'.

  4. That's awesome that you completed the XC! If they didn't put dressage first, everyone would scratch. Maybe not everyone, but I would. Shiraz is just telling you that's what eventers do.

    And yes, plans are the best way to do the things. Even better if they're color coded and require a binder with tabs.

  5. Well done getting out there after a nerve-wracking experience! Shiraz IS a good horse and I think a plan will help you two figure out the nuts and bolts a lot quicker.


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