Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Waredaca: cross country!

I really can't convey how good it felt to complete this event. Honestly up until very recently, I had doubts about whether I'd ever reach BN (low level tho it may be), let alone reach it with Isabel. So it was still thrilling, despite our performance looking fairly poor on paper.

Still no photos of us jumping yet (sad face!) but my order is in with GRC Photo, so I'll post when they arrive (you can click through the gallery on their site if so inclined). In the meantime, we can sorta relive the experience through the pics I snapped on the course walk. 


course map. sorry it's such crap quality! 17 efforts over 1790m
Just like at Loch Moy, I finished this course walk feeling pretty low. Not exactly near-tears again, but also not optimistic. Tho interestingly my worries about this course had more to do with the general picture: longest ever distance with the most efforts, lots of turns where the next fence wasn't visible (nor was it obvious where to go! I actually got lost on the walk more than once), and some seriously tricky and hilly terrain. 

I was also maybe a bit more stoic about the fence sizes tho. Only a couple looked REALLY big to me - but Loch Moy went a long way toward reassuring me that the height really is OK.
get going!
Fence 1 would probably have looked big to me before Loch Moy - but this time it just looked inviting. Like a good fence to set the tone - esp given the lesson learned at Loch Moy that starting out at max height helped make the rest look easy. It was pretty close to the starting gate on somewhat rising ground, immediately followed by a steep dip down the hill that I planned to trot. 

Isabel jumped well tho and happily (and politely - good mare!) cantered down the hill - tho we drifted left and ended up on the left side of the tree above and had to swing right again (you can sorta see the tire tracks that I wanted to follow) to make it up the hill to a left turn to fence 2.
lattice
I didn't look twice at this fence on the walk. Just snapped a pic and moved right on along. It's not particularly big and seemed inviting. Hah. Imagine my surprise when Isabel hit the brakes 4-5 strides out. I kicked and I growled and I used my stick. No dice. We stopped.

I quickly picked my jaw up off the ground and got the mare over in no uncertain terms - tho she actually wasn't too sticky. Wtf. I'm honestly not sure what happened. Like, I wasn't *driving* the ride - but Isabel usually does well in cruise control and I really didn't see it coming. So. I may or may not have plans to build a bright white lattice gate for schooling at home...

Anyway, we moved right on along through the fence opening (where the horse is in the pic) for a looooooong gallop to fence 3. This was the longest stretch of gallop that I've ever done with Isabel - ever. Just a huge flat field of mowed grass wherein I got out of the saddle and let go of the reins - only using an open rein to guide her general direction. She FLEW across the grass. It felt incredible - and was perhaps where she clicked into gear. I have no doubt that if this lattice had come after the gallop she would have jumped it out of stride. Because that's exactly how the rest of the course went.
rails
I avoided settling too early for 3 (a familiar looking rail jump) - while still organizing enough to be safe about it (esp given the fact that we had just had a refusal at the last fence). She was fine. Up and over for another long-ish run (but maybe only a quarter of the distance) to 4. 
downhill
Fence 4 looked fine to me - we've jumped stuff like this plenty. It wasn't even that big. But what's difficult to tell from this picture is that the landing side slopes immediately down a steep hill to curve right towards the treeline. 

I was worried about that big ol' unflagged monstrosity in the middle of the pic bc Isabel has a record of spooking at random big jumps in the vicinity. Plus, both trainer P and I had each heard reports of this hill being a little treacherous - especially given that the right hand turn is blind and leads immediately to...
sneaky green rolltop
Oh hi there massive (and aptly named 'sneaky') fence 5! It's a green rolltop! Made enormous by extra brush! Guys - this is the stuff of nightmares for me. Except - honestly I again felt stoic about it. Isabel has demonstrated repeatedly that she doesn't share my concern about rolltops (green or otherwise), and she did just fine at the brush fence at Loch Moy. Tho, in the interest of honesty I willingly admit that I didn't get anywhere CLOSE to this fence while walking the course. It just seemed very VERY unnecessary to know exactly what size it was. 

But Isabel was a star. She jumped 4 well, listened carefully down the hill (again in a nice balanced canter!), didn't look twice at the other stuff on course, and locked on to 5 from pretty far out. I gave lots of verbal encouragement anyways (including shout-counting out loud haha) - but she jumped it out of stride and immediately started hunting for 6.
sneaky bump
Fence 6 was sneaky too - continuing the blind bending right line. There was another unflagged obstacle between 5 and 6 (visible in the center of the last pic), and I actually took the outside line just to get Isabel's eyes on 6 a little earlier, even if it meant having less time to actually get our line to the smaller right side of this fence. She jumped it very well.
swale out
There was some very odd terrain around 7 that actually made my gut twist a little on the walk. There was this big sunken area that almost looked like a dried out mini-pond then steeply rising ground to 7 - luckily on the small side. My concern was that Isabel would spook at the ground anticipating it to be muddy/marshy (tho it was quite dry) and then be too under-powered to make it uphill over 7. 

Trainer P scoffed at that idea tho, and was proved correct when Isabel very handily navigated her way through.
up the bank
Then we cantered past the jump judges in their cars to turn sharply right up hill to a large up bank - to continue up even more rising ground. The bank didn't worry me too much since Isabel beasted a similar sized bank at Jenny Camp two years in a row - but the terrain concerned me (esp bc we had at this point been cantering for about half a mile).

She came around the bend on her left lead too - pretty unusual - and I had a bit of organizing to do in order to make the turn ok. Nbd tho. Banks do not faze this mare.
rolltop by the bank
Fence 9 closely followed the bank - tho we were getting into the part of the course where I started to have problems remembering where to go.
feeder
And actually I took the wrong line after 9 and had to sorta wheel back around again to get to 10, the pheasant feeder. This one was way less spooky than the feeder at Loch Moy, plus we had just jumped another one xc schooling a few days prior (blog post to come!), so I wasn't worried. Neither was Isabel, good mare. 

On my walk I seriously stood around spinning in circles after 10 trying to get the map to make sense of what I was seeing. Luckily during the actual ride I remembered that I had to cross a little road to the left into another field for 11. Isabel maybe looked a little bit at the road crossing but nothing serious.
faux ditch
The faux ditch has never posed a problem for us. Nothing different on this ride. Except honestly I wondered if she would even jump it vs. stepping *on* it. She was fine tho and this came up right out of stride. 
table
It was kind of an awkward left turn to 12 - another biggie fence that I wanted to approach on a careful line. We probably cut the corner a little more than I wanted but she jumped well and with power. Then it was a straight shot to 13.
treeline log
I actually got a really uneasy feeling while riding toward this jump that Isabel was going to back off. Not sure why - it's just a log - but something had me super worried and defensive about it. I'm probably crazy but rode strongly anyway and it was nbd. 
log after the puddle
The water actually wasn't flagged, but was huge with inviting entrances from all sides. My plan going on course had been to avoid the water if we were clear, but to school it if we had a refusal by this point. Unfortunately I promptly forgot all about that plan until it was too late (and kinda just wanted to stay on our rhythm anyway). This is a big regret - since obviously schooling new water obstacles is important and I should have capitalized on the opportunity...

Oh well, as it was, I approached the tiny log from the position this picture was taken from - meaning it wasn't a difficult line at all for avoiding the water. 

I again got lost on the course walk after 14 and ended up walking straight back toward the treeline above, when I actually needed to turn sharply left and cut across a little trail through a different treeline. Luckily I saw the path during my ride and we managed to navigate it mostly ok (tho we had to come to a halt to make it through a puddle ughhhhh).
sheep shed
We got back up to pace well enough for 15 tho - phew! Then I got lost again and turned right, even tho the path is actually pretty obvious in this picture. Luckily I remembered quickly and got back on track. 

Isabel did NOT love that dirt path tho - the big pond was on the left, and a marsh full of noisy bull frogs lined the right side. But I think it was just the dirt she didn't like - we drifted up onto the grass and she was happier. 
lakeside ramp
Still not reeeeeally happy tho and I kinda strong-armed her over 16. She wasn't really threatening to stop, but felt kinda distracted and I wasn't taking any chances. Esp bc 16 is definitely the type of fence Isabel has plenty of experience with and there would be no excuses for penalties here.

Then it was a right turn up another steep galloping hill. Sheesh - I thought I was avoiding all the hills by choosing Waredaca over Plantation this weekend, but wow no. Hills errywhere! Shockingly tho (or maybe only to me?) Isabel still had plenty of gas left in the tank after this mile+ long course and powered up the hill no problem. 
waredaca barn
I think we had a somewhat questionable distance to 17 - but nothing heinous. Then through the uber-wide finish flags, and we were finished! Yay!!! I hopped off immediately for the lonnnng trek back to the trailers. Isabel was blowing and sweating, but not even close to what I expected. And actually was more or less dry by the time we got back.
mare says this is her 'innocent' face
I was SO proud of this little mare! She looked happy and bright and seemed to understand what she had just accomplished. That early stop was a HUGE bummer - but I'm determined to chalk it up to our mutual greenness. 
moments too late with the bell boots... in season mare wanted to be close to Wick, but not *too* close, as evidenced by her striking out and whacking her foot on my trailer fender... ugh. at least it was after we were finished, and is actually quite superficial...
I didn't know my dressage score by this point and thought we might have had a chance for satin if not for that stop (checking the results now shows we would have finished 5th. le sigh). Tho oddly learning that our dressage test was so rough and non-competitive actually compounded the disappointment... 

Luckily I didn't have much time to stew in gloom (only about the time it took for B to walk her course while I minded the ponies {meaning prevented Isabel from maiming herself in her attempts to flirt with Wick}) before shifting into spectator gear to cheer on B. 
horses had to be separated after that... naughty mare!
Watching B's amazing rides with Wick went a long way to ease the sting of our own placing. They were 5th after dressage with reason to believe her clear rounds moved them up the placings. The organizers took just about forever to finalize the scores - but imo satin is always worth the wait and it felt good driving home with B's pretty yellow ribbon on the dash :)

So our second beginner novice outing is officially in the books. And my homework? I need to learn how to support Isabel more and stay more 'present' with the ride so that her green moments don't come as such a shock. She exudes confidence most of the time - but I need to be ready and willing to pick up the slack when she becomes doubtful or hesitant. 

The clock now resets for another 2 week countdown to the MCTA Starter Trials at Tranquility Manor Farms on the 21st.

31 comments:

  1. It's clever how they used terrain and placement to make the questions tougher, even though the fences are pretty small. Good experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i thought so too - actually that is kinda the biggest takeaway for me. the terrain was a HUGE part of this course, which is maybe a first for us. and obvi i feel miles better knowing isabel seemed to get a good read on everything

      Delete
  2. where do you find all these ht where you have so much time between each thing?? the ones i go to its boom boom boom and barely time to change from dressage tack to jumping and warm up. no breathers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Area II is the best in the land!

      Delete
    2. haha yea the events around here are pretty much awesome. the tightest break i've had between dressage and jumping was an hour, tho this event was a little over 2.

      i'm still trying to figure out the time management bit tho. like despite having so much time i still ended up needing to rush through my course walk, which no doubt played a role in nearly getting lost so often...

      Delete
  3. Great experience!! Way to go :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! it very literally added mileage to our record haha

      Delete
  4. That roll top is legit. I would have been happy just to get over that thing! Bummer you didn't get to bring home any satin, but that's one more BN completed to work towards Novice.... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks!! lol i'm not allowed to even THINK about novice until i can start getting through BN xc course cleanly.... but yea that roll top was no joke. and yet it was totally fine for the mare - i like it!

      Delete
  5. Sounds like you learned a tonne! Congrats on your finish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! completing with a number and taking home new knowledge is always a plus :D

      Delete
  6. very cool! can't wait for the pro pics :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you and me both!!! there are some pretty good ones, imo. and also some solid GOLD pics of when isabel saw the lattice fence and said 'oh hell no!' lol. and obvi i bought a couple of those... ah memories :)

      Delete
  7. Sounds like it was a great experience! It looks like a fun course.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! it was a very fun course. challenging in some new and different ways - not just big fences, but sorta a different take on the course with the terrain and just general length. i liked it!

      Delete
  8. I'd be scared, but I loved this walkthrough. It was like riding it with you! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yay thanks!! one of these days i'll have a helmet cam so you can get even more of a feeling like you're riding along!!

      Delete
  9. Africa must have absurdly long cross-country courses, or I just picked an absurdly long one for my first event. It was at Ev60 (Starter I think? below BN anyway), the course was 17 efforts over 2250m, it was 95F and my mare had half a winter coat. We both thought we were dying afterwards. Love the pretty American jumps! Can't wait for photos with pretty Isabel *and* pretty jumps :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow yea i was super worried about 1790m - another 500 on top of that would have freaked me right out! esp for the lower level!! levels here below BN can have fewer than 10 jumps and are sometimes just contained in a single field where you just do a cute little loop. so that's a pretty big difference!

      Delete
  10. Woow woot! Excellent for your 2nd BN outing! Lots of terrain, lots of gallop, and a great variety of fences! =) Great job!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man that gallop was amazing. maybe my favorite moment from the whole thing, actually. it was just incredible to let the reins go and feel her take off

      Delete
  11. A completion is a completion and learning from the experience is always better than nothing (: Keep working hard, you and Izzy make a great team!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. seriously - i will never be too upset after a completion (esp after getting eliminated-but-not-really last year haha). i'm looking forward to being a bit more educated about keeping isabel clear through xc tho lol

      Delete
  12. Wow, I was tired just reading my way through that course, never mind remembering it and actually riding it! I think you guys did great! You're learning more every time out. Kudos to you both for getting it done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks - it was certainly exhausting! and my trainer was actually a little appalled at how rough i was on the details of the course going out there. she actually expected me to recite the thing to her. oops!

      Delete
  13. Dang, definitely a challenging course! I'd be totally scared of that roll top too even though I don't usually mind them. Wicked bummer about that lattice junk, but you're right that it should be pretty easy to build one to school over. Congrats on another BN finish - you should be really proud!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! that rolltop seemed designed exactly to push my buttons, but we got over it! phew! and yea the DIY lattice jump is definitely happening. i am so determined lol

      Delete
  14. Wow! That's so fantastic you guys went through that whole thing!! I get sweaty palms just looking at some of those jumps!!! Congratulations on completing it, and no worries you will get ribbons at the next one I"m sure of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks!! i do love me some satin haha - but obvi just getting through it is pretty exciting in its own right :D

      Delete
  15. That's a lot of hills on that xc! Looking forward to the jumping pictures if you get your hands on any.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg so hilly!! i'm really looking forward to seeing jumping pictures too and will post as soon as humanly possible!!

      Delete