Today was a big day for The Brego and I. We headed over to New Hampshire to participate in our first real three phase schooling event. We had been to a schooling event last year, but we were decidedly non competitive, trotting the entire xc course.
Today we were actually going to compete, or at least complete the event. Things didn't go as well as hoped, but they certainly went fair enough with Brego and I winning a fifth place ribbon and earning reasonable scores.
In dressage we scored 42 penalty points which amounts to a 58%, our lowest score ever. The test was not really that bad, it was accurate and obedient, but Brego was definitely hot and completely over the whole dressage thing and so we both performed poorly. The more I tried to push him forward, the worse my position got, and the worse he did as well. The judge, to say the least, was unimpressed. In fact, she couldn't manage to find a single positive thing to say about us, either verbally after the test or on the score sheet. Other horses, in inverted frames, who broke from the canter during the test scored higher than us. Such is life in the dressage world, but it definitely set the tone for the rest of the day.
Cross country was the phase I was most concerned about, since Brego tends to be very looky and slow. By the time we were set to enter the start box, it was very hot and humid. I knew I would have trouble getting Brego going, so I wore my nubbin spurs. Boy, did he listen to those! We came out of the start box with his usual lethargy but after a few good kicks, he was off to the races and stayed in front of my leg the rest of the ride. He jumped everything very well, in stride and without hesitation. He was a complete machine on course. I was so proud of him.
Stadium jumping was 15 minutes after cross country. I made the mistake of dismounting and loosening his girth to let him recover from cross country while my wonderful family sponged him off. Usually the loosening of the girth is his sign that his job is done. And that's pretty much how he acted during stadium: What, I have to work again?? He knocked down all three of his warm up jumps and the round itself was sticky and ugly. To add insult to injury, there was a rolltop on course, which we have not schooled since the ill-fated refusal at the hunter trials, so I over rode it and we got a rotten distance. The good news is that he jumped it fine, but then proceeded to knock down fence 6 off a bad turn. We made it through the rest of the course without too much trouble, but it was not a great round.
So we ended the show with 4 jumping faults in stadium for a total penalty of 46 points, which was good enough for 5th (out of 12, four horses were eliminated).
Brego got all his leads, both on cross country and in stadium. As the first show where we had to do all three phases in one day, it was a pretty big success. We did not get eliminated, and even though he was tired and fell asleep at the wheel during stadium, he jumped well. We were well prepared, neither one of us was overfaced. In fact, I thought cross country was a little ho hum, even though he rode very well. In fact, Brego was a little too relaxed at the show, and needed a LOT of work to get him going.
Which leads me to... The bad:
Man, Brego was very nonplussed about the whole thing and used the dressage test (and hence my inability to beat the crap out of him) to just drift farther behind my leg. I did pop him a couple of times during the test, but the damage was done. The judge was very unkind about our performance.
Watching the videos, my riding is pretty poor. My leg is vertical (mostly), but I am so toed out that sometimes my toes rotate past 90 degrees, if that's possible. I don't actually realize I am doing it over the jump, so I don't even know how I can bend that way. Also, my hands were pretty bad, lots of elbows out. And of course, driving Brego around makes my position all squatty and gross. It's a total bummer because I want to be proud of us, but I just expect more from us. Brego can definitely perform a better dressage test, he does it most days of the week at home. And all the work I have been doing on my position jumping was seemingly forgotten when I needed it most. It's pretty frustrating. I want to ride better so badly, and I take lessons and practice all the time. But somehow, I can never put it together when I need it.
Anyway, it's good to get the first show out of the way and I feel like neither one of us are a danger to ourselves on course. But I also realize I have a tremendous amount of work to do before the big show August 17th if I don't want to be wasting my efforts. A 42 in dressage is not great and at my level, everyone goes double clear so I can't get rails in stadium. Not that I am out to win, but I feel some level of pressure to perform well to prove Brego and I can be eventers. Sure there were Thoroughbreds flipping out and getting eliminated, but that's expected. Show up with a draft and you better have done your homework to be taken seriously. Or maybe that's just all my perception...