Recap time!! I am having so much fun eventing this little mare and truly wish we could do this all day every day. Something about the methodical preparation, careful warm up strategies, then balls to the wall, no holds barred riding really appeals to me haha.
And I think Isabel likes it too. Tho she wasn't exactly on her A game this weekend. Poor mare was in season and maybe not feeling her best. Normally I only have to meet her about halfway-ish for her to be amazing - she's queen of rising to any occasion. But this weekend she was just a smidgen dull. Obviously not actually dull bc duh, she's Isabel. But it required better riding from me, and I am decidedly NOT queen of rising to any occasion...
I don't have nearly as much media as from Loch Moy - and am especially lacking in pictures of us jumping. And the media I have is, um, kinda poor quality even for my own low standards. For some reason these screen grabs are pretty iffy. Luckily you can still get a decent sense of our general picture - except for my torso blending into the background. Rest assured my torso still looks like a hunter rider's torso. Nothing new there haha!
I kept our canters pretty short too - just an organized transition up, a circle, maybe a few extra strides, then another organized transition down. We maybe cantered twice in each direction. The left lead was a little sticky, something that hasn't been a problem in a while - but I didn't drill it, just loaded on the praise when she got it right.
Maybe one day I will know how to ride through this to help Isabel become more put together - but on this day I just sorta did the things I know how to do while purposefully NOT rocking the boat, then volunteered to go into our test early.
I left the ring with a big grin all the same tho - feeling like I had gotten the best ride from Isabel that I know how to get, given my piloting abilities and her current blah-ish state. I knew it wasn't as good as our last two tests, and certainly had no delusions of scoring anywhere close to the (probably overly generous) 26.8 from Loch Moy. But I was pleased.
I didn't see the test sheet until after cross country and was floored by the score: 45.3. We got 5s and 6s on every.single.movement. It was not at all what I expected - I felt some movements were decidedly better than others, but no real difference was reflected in the scores.
Per usual all the judge's scores and remarks are included in the video, and I can (begrudgingly) see where she's coming from. We got seriously dinged again and again for being behind the vertical, short in the neck, or above the bit.
But idk... This score is officially our personal worst score - and it is tough to swallow coming off our personal best a mere 2 weeks ago. The Loch Moy judge was very generous, yes, and perhaps this judge is just a little more conservative. (tho honestly the bitter voice inside of me wants to gripe, 'that judge just doesn't like arabs!').
The likeliest explanation I can devise is that the judge was looking for a certain level of flow and acceptance of the bridle / submission that we simply never reached - thus the very consistent scoring across the board. However I remain (as always!) open to any constructive feedback!
And this, folks, is perhaps the best argument for not checking your scores in the middle of the day! I mean, yes I would have looked had they been available, but they weren't. And it probably worked out to my advantage bc I felt VERY sour after seeing this test sheet.
Luckily tho - that didn't happen until after I had jumped. So going into stadium my mood was positive and all business. The stadium course was exactly to my tastes for Isabel: mostly right turns and only one super long straight approach (to fence 7). Plus our four-fence warm up (trot x, canter x, canter vertical, canter oxer) went smoothly so we felt ready.
To be 100% honest my memory of our ride is fuzzy. We mostly got our distances, and Isabel felt powerful and game. She saved my ass at least once, maybe twice - tho I can't remember which fences. Could be 7 bc I rode really strongly (including a tippy-tap with the stick) after seeing a number of spooks/refusals there.. We also added unexpectedly in the 3-4 line.
But Isabel was a star and didn't come close to rubbing a rail even on our iffier fences. Good girl! Even better - B & Wick could watch our round on their way back from dressage. Our times were right on top of each other, but a delay in the stadium ring worked out perfectly. Too bad we didn't know about it ahead of time or else she could have taped the ride... oh well!
I really really REALLY hope I can procure some photos from this ride. GRC Photo apparently had photographers on the premises, tho their trailer was elsewhere. So I will be stalking their website for the next few days to see what crops up.
I'm particularly interested to see if all my focused work on *releasing* the mare over fences paid off. It felt better during this ride - I felt looser in my arms / shoulders, while still very secure in my seat and legs, so hopefully there will be some actual supporting evidence haha.
Anyways, the clear stadium round bolstered my confidence going into a long and challenging cross country course. Stay tuned for details tomorrow!