We got to the show a little before one, checked in and got Tia settled in her stall. They opened the course up at 1 to walk, and I wasn't scheduled to do my flat class until 2:15. The plan was to walk, change my clothes, get tacked up, then warm up on the flat. The walk went pretty well, minus that both Jen and I had trouble figuring out strides. No distances between fences were posted on the course (the course pic is posted below) and we had to walk a couple lines twice. Overall it was a pretty technical course considering it's a local medal final. There were 2-3 make-it-or-break it fences and our plan was to just ride everything forward and go for it.
It started raining while I was changing. The classes were being held inside but warm up was outside. It was warm, around 70* and humid. I was dying in my hunt coat. We somehow got behind tacking up and I got on with about 15mins to warm up. Oops. It stopped raining, yay!, and we went outside. The outdoor ring was pretty deep and Tia was having a little trouble working in. We schooled transitions, trying to make them as crisp and clean as possible. We headed over to the indoor a couple minutes before to relax and breath.
There ended up being 7 in my class, a few ponies, one somewhat wild TB who kept screaming, and a couple other horses. I tried as hard as I could to find us a spot on the rail but kept getting behind the small ponies. Tia was largest horse there, with the biggest stride, and I felt like we were lapping everyone. We had to do a couple laps one direction and another lap the other way of sitting trot. My leg hadn't really been bothering me until that point. When the judge called for the second sitting trot I thought I was going to cry. I'm sure I made some lovely faces.
Jen said we looked pretty good, the only major thing was my hands. I tend to have piano hands. When we were just trotting or cantering around I could think about having my thumbs up, but during the sitting trot I was more concerned with the pain and not looking like a sack of potatoes and my hands reverted back. We ended the flat class with a 4th, which I was surprised with. As long as it looked better than it felt I'm happy!
We had about 45mins to wait till the over fences round, and I was scheduled to go 6th in the order. I got off, grabbed a snack and some water, and let Tia graze for a bit. Then it was time to get back on and school over fences. We didn't do too much, a couple x's to warm up, then we worked on doing square turns to vertical on the center line. Tia was pretty balanced, I just needed to ride her forward more. We went back to ring to watch a few rounds before I went.
Fence 7 is where disaster struck. Tia was over bent again in the turn and didn't want to land and turn to 8. It was a forward 5 or a tight 6 strides to fence 8, then a tight 3 strides to fence 9. Since she landed a bit disorganized off 7 I asked her to come back to me to regroup. She took offense, flipped her head, and did her bunny hop short stride thing. We ended up at five and half strides to fence 8 and I panicked. I circled her off the fence, and came back to it. I know if I had just sat up and kicked her forward she would have gotten out of it. The three might have turned into 4, but she would have figured it out.
Coming back to fence 8 we found a distance and the three to 9 flowed fine. Fence 10 was the hardest fence on course. It was angled funny, and you had to ride past the turn to it to have a nice landing turning right. Almost everyone else got an awkward 3 strides to it off the rail with a wide right turn after. Our plan was to almost hand gallop it in a two. We nailed it. The two was almost short and Tia was even pooping as we cantered up to it. I was looking right, opening my right rein, and she landed perfectly balanced and on the right lead. We were able to shave off a few strides from where everyone else was landing and turning. Coming to the last fence I had to collect her a bit and we got a short stride to fence 11.
We ended up 6th out of 7 (the 7th rider was actually eliminated for refusals). A lot of people who were watching told me I would have won if not for the circle. We had the most polished round and were able to ride the make-it-or-break-it fences (# 3 and 10) the best. I am kicking myself for that damn circle, but I'm really happy we were able to make the hard fences look good. For Tia, the point and shoot hunter who doesn't do turns, to be able to do fences like that is huge. I could tell she wasn't sure or happy with some of them, but she did it, and did it well. I am disappointed that we could have won, but there's always next year. I'd say for my first medal finals I did pretty well.
|Thank you Tia for being the best horse I could have asked for and for putting up with me!|