Monday, October 11, 2021

Returning again to the Maryland Horse Trials

I'm not going to indulge on a long-winded walk down memory lane, through all the twists and turns of trying (and failing) to move up, or languishing through pandemic-induced ennui, or just generally letting the vague existential feelings of doom get the better of me.... It's not exactly a unique case, after all, haha. As far as I can tell, maybe it's even par for the course in horses (or life in general?). 

Whatever the reasons, it's been just under two years since Charlie and I left the start box at a 3-phase horse trial (last time at Waredaca in Nov 2019). 

And that's not exactly for lack of trying, either -- with a couple horse trials where we made it through one or both of the first two phases, but didn't proceed to cross country. Tho, haha, that's the beauty of a blog: for those curious, Charlie's entire events history is dutifully recorded and indexed here for easy reference. 

the conquering hero returns?
The important detail I'm sharing today, tho, is that:: We finally got back out there again this weekend. And completed all three phases. Yesssss!!

My goals this year were simple: step back from the cycle of pressure and disappointment we'd experienced trying to move up, and rediscover the thrill and JOY of doing all the things with my amazing thoroughbred. We were gonna get out and do EVERYTHING, but at Novice, where we feel experienced and reliable. 

That goal got off to a bumpy start last spring, but try, and try again, right? And eventually we started settling into a rhythm of having fun again at our outings -- and making horse shows feel closer to 'routine' and 'mundane' again. 

So, knowing that I had soon-to-expire volunteer credits at Loch Moy, one of our ultimate favorite venues... Well, it seemed like now was the time to try again. I figured, either we'd get through it, or I'd have to sit down and really be honest with myself about whether I actually want to do this particular thing.


So. We went for it. And I'm hoping to have many more details to share about the nitty gritties (plus many many more photos, cross your fingers). But... The important part was that we did it. Or maybe, that *I* did it, since there's never been any question mark about Charlie. 

It wasn't easy. I was the first Novice rider for all three phases, meaning an ungodly and DARK morning. I left home at 4:00am, and we arrived at Loch Moy right in time for sunrise at 7:15am, and go-time at 8:00am. It was rainy and foggy and quite a bit cooler than I'd expected (thus no extra layers for either me or the horse), plus Charlie's long absence from this type of atmosphere meant we were a little tight in the dressage. But he was imo a very good boy <3 

added another pretty green ribbon from Loch Moy to the war chest, after finishing on our dressage score
While temperatures fortunately warmed quickly, the rain and fog persisted through all three of our phases. But it was ok. Charlie has turned into quite the professional show jumper, and the arenas at Loch Moy are all wonderful. He jumped his heart out for me, and left all the rails up despite a couple imperfect distances and rubs. 

And cross country... Hm. What to say about it? This weekend was enormously busy in Area II, and volunteers were scarce (true story: after receiving enough increasingly panicky pleas for more help, I actually came out the day prior to jump judge too). So they'd kinda scrunched all the jumps closer together so each volunteer could judge multiple fences. 

This made for a surprisingly technical assortment of turns and quasi-related distances... Plus the course featured tons of terrain -- including no fewer than 3 long runs downhill straight toward the trailers. Which... proved challenging on a horse like Charlie.

charlie is pretty sure the grass is greener on the other side of the rope, out on the cross country tracks
But guys -- Charlie was such a good boy. And, again, we did it. I dropped the helmet cam video up above for anyone who wants to see exactly how it all went, but again will hopefully have more to share soon. 

For now, I'm just trying to enjoy this little moment of satisfaction from finally doing the thing that has for some reason been so hard to do recently. We'll save the full dissection and objective critiques for later lol. 





20 comments:

  1. Awesome!! I'm super happy that you got back to it and had a great event!! Congrats!

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    1. thank you! definitely super happy (and relieved) to at least feel like we CAN do it again haha!

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  2. Sounds like a fun return and a win in more ways than one, great job Team Charlie!

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    1. thanks!! definitely a win personally haha, even if not on paper!

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  3. Running downhill towards the trailers sounds.... fun. Hooray for getting back out there and having a good time!

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    1. THREE TIMES they had us do that. charles, to his credit, was quite good the first time. second time, we missed our turn, but nbd. third time -- going straight down to the finish line with a couple big jumps along the way?? well, tune in to the video around 5:18 to see how that worked out for us LOL

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  4. Yay!! Congrats!! So awesome to get back out there and have fun doing it!

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  5. This is brilliant, so happy you had a blast in all 3 phases

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    1. thank you! it's definitely still type II fun, but i'm glad we did it ;)

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  6. WAY TO DO THE THING!! The long downhill gallop sounds like a bad joke but so glad you got out there with Charlie and hopefully had some fun along the way!

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    1. lol thanks! and yea, i was 100% not a fan of finishing a course like that, but definitely happy to have made it happen!

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  7. Yeah! So glad you were able to get out and have a successful outing. (and a new snazzy green ribbon!)

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    1. i think we're destined to forever earn green ribbons haha, i feel like i have a million of them! they are pretty tho ;)

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  8. Yay! So happy for you! I'm glad you did the thing, and it sounds like you had fun doing it! Good boy Charles!

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  9. OMG I am so happy for you that you were able to go out there, do the thing and complete!

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