Sunday, May 31, 2009

All Good Things

... must come to an end. And by end, I mean a pretty spectacularly bad show.

We arrived on time, warmed up for dressage, Brego was nice and forward in warmup. We had a throng of spectators, mostly 13 year old girls, that ooohed and ahhhhed. He did well.

Then the actual test was in an indoor, that is stifling and sucks the life out of you. My one goal was to keep him forward. The ring was running 20 minutes behind which really irks me. You have ride times for a reason. It completely messes with your warmup to peak your horse, prepare to enter, and then have to cool your heels for 20 minutes. Uhg. He did a reasonable test, although we broke to a trot from the left canter. But it was good enough for second place after dressage, with a 37.6. Not our best performance, but adequate.

Then cross country was a disaster. People were falling off left and right, major refusals at the water and the bench. The course was held many times and ran behind by over 45 minutes. Again, I warmed up Brego and he peaked and then I had to cool my heels for 45 minutes.

Anyway, we went on course and Brego was way too forward and looky over the two first logs. He was perfect in warmup so I was confused and figured he would just settle in. At fence 3, a bench, I felt him lock on. At three strides out, I knew our distance would be fine. At two strides out, I still felt good and started taking my eyes off the fence to line up the next one. Then he stopped. I was shocked. Brego has never refused a fence on course. I circled him around and took it at a trot so I could drive it and he way over jumped it, very spooked about this bench. Then a long downhill to a birch ramp. The red flag had fallen down and was suck in the middle of the fence (Major Problem #1). Brego took a hard look at the flag and stopped, helped along by the Aussie which ran out under the fence and yapped at him (Major Problem #2). I circled around and he took the fence fine. I considered retiring after the water, he was way too weirded out. He went fine through the water, and our next coop was fine so I decided to continue.

So we headed down a steep hill. I made him trot down the hill because he was too strong (yes, I will bit him up next time). We got to the bottom of the hill and started to get our gallop stride down and then I saw the next fence was knocked down. It's a railroad tie fence and the top tie was off the pile and POINTED BACK AT THE CHEST OF THE ONCOMING HORSE!!! Major effing problem #3. I hauled my horse to a stop and started waving at the jump judges sitting in the truck halfway up the hill. It took them over three minutes to get out of the truck and come fix the fence. When they approached, they commented "Wow, how did that happen?" Gee, I don't know, that's the fence you are SUPPOSED to be monitoring.

Meanwhile, Brego is amped and jigging, trying to get back up the hill. He knows the course and knows he is almost done.

So they finally put the fence back up so it's slightly less of a death trap and I trot Brego over it to make sure we don't knock it down worse. Then a fast gallop up the hill to finish over three more fences.

So total bizarreness cross country. Brego really doesn't refuse. In fact, the last time he refused a fence was, oh, two and a half years ago. Something got into his head and scared him and I worry that it was the completely trappy course. Of the 11 people in my division, only THREE got around without any jumping penalties on XC. This is supposed to be a schooling show, nice and inviting.

Then for stadium, I walked the course. Ten fences with a ROLLBACK to a SKINNY. Are you kidding me? Beginner Novice, people, not Grand Prix. Major Problem #4. Plus, the arena was shortened by a third, due to rain, and there were massive puddles, so the lines were all messed up. It was a very tight course. I considered jumping the first fence and retiring, especially since the rider who was ahead of me (and had a fall at the water on XC) fell off at one of the walls and possibly broke her leg. Where was the ambulance? Oh wait, no ambulance. Major Problem #5.

I decide to just see how it goes, but I was not about to ruin my horse's confidence on such a trappy stadium round. We went in and he was way too forward to the first fence, but then seemed to settle in nicely. We even jumped the rolltop and all the walls without too much drama. All his canter work helped with the rollback and he didn't worry about the skinny. At one point, I forgot the course and he thought we were going around a fence and I pulled him to it at the last second and he still managed to clear it. Then we chipped into the combination and he added to get out, but he saved my butt and we went clear. So couple his obvious heroics to go clear in stadium with his strange stop on XC, and I am very confused.

So somehow, with 40 jumping penalties, we ended up sixth which is just a testament to how insane the course was. When I turned in my penny, they had lost my dressage test, so now I have no idea what the judge thought of Brego. Major Problem #6.

The whole show was amateur hour. Horses were flat out galloping around the ELEMENTARY course, riders were way out of control. It was just some very scary stuff.

So I have one more show in June at Groton House and I might just quite with that. It will be a great course since they also run recognized. I am not a big fan of these trappy, bush-league courses. Plus, I have a lot of homework to do on my riding before we head out there again. Brego and I need to work on control at speed, no matter how much he loves to run and jump. And I need to get him better distances in stadium so he doesn't have to be a hero.

Pictures and video coming soon, I just had to get this off my chest.


Andrea said...

Dude. I had a similar experience at a sort of similar schooling show with Metro many years ago... and I vowed that day to NEVER do an unrecognized event EVER again. (And I stuck to it, save for one mini trial I did with Gogo at South Farm in OH, which runs recognized shows through Prelim and I know the owners). It's an awful, awful shame when things like this happen.... so unfair to everyone involved.

Here's the good part though - it wasn't you and it wasn't Brego. You guys did the best you could given the bad situation, and who knows, maybe his instincts knew more about the course than anyone did, and he was trying to protect you both. I personally think he's a hero and I think you are one gustsy rider to stick it out and still be safe at the same time. And I'll be willing to bet Groton House will be AWESOME.

Go have a stiff drink and go sit out and enjoy your lovely view at your lovely farm. That big boy loves you, that's for sure!

Aced: said...

I've been a long time reader bit have never commented before... But I have to ask was this green acres? I'm in area 1 at an active eventing barn and our two riders who went to green acres today were both eleminated. One for a pony who didn't like the mirrored indoor dressage, and one fell off cross country. The whole thing was rather off for our riders since things like that aren't normal for them. I'm interested to know if it's the same show so I can know to stay away from it! Sorry about the bad day, but luke the other commenter said none of it was your fault!

Funder said...

Andrea said it all. Brego was a champ under those circumstances!

Wiola said...

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

Keep up the good work! Sounds like a nightmare show.

Anonymous said...

I think you and Brego both did very well, considering how badly run the show was in all aspects. Sorry things were difficult and that it wasn't an enjoyable experience - but you should be proud of yourself and your horse.

manymisadventures said...

I very much agree with Andrea, though I've had positive experiences with the two unrecognized events I've done (both run by well-respected, experienced people, though, and one of them was at a place that holds recognized events).

At least it wasn't your fault and it wasn't the horse's fault. I'd chalk it up to a weird weekend and give Brego a big pat for being a good guy!

Jenn said...

You can always learn from other's mistakes and turn lemons into lemonade.

sally said...

One of the things you can take from such a show is wisdom gained. I read how hard you and Brego are working and know this experience is one to push to the back corner. All the best for the next. you guys are great

Daun said...

Thanks everyone, I want to be perfectly clear. I am not blaming the venue on my two refusals. There is plenty of issues with the venue and how the show was run. People did get clean around XC and Brego and I should have been one of them. I KNOW there are things to work on, I know we need more schooling, I am not implying in any way that we are perfect and we don't make mistakes.

However, aside from my two refusals which are 100% my fault/my training/my homework, there were MAJOR flaws with the venue. I did not mention that the warmup fences were not flagged and had many problems/collisions, the fences were in disrepair, mis flagged in places. Fences were knocked down causing a hazard that as a rider, I had to stop and alert the jump judges who obviously weren't watching the judges. Some fences in lower divisions were too high. Some fences in high divisions were way too hard a question, offset two strides to a downbank into water, come to mind.

I have a learned a very valuable lesson and only half of the lesson involves the many things we need to improve in our riding.

Thanks for your kind words.

Shanthi said...

Wow, that's crazy...we have a local barn that puts on an AWESOME schooling show 2x/year. Dressage runs on time (if anything, slightly early so you have the option to go before your time if you want, or not), cross-country is nice and inviting/safe, and everyone generally has a clue. My only objection is that they put their stadium course on grass with a hill, and it can be a bit slick if there's rain/dew, but obviously no worse than cross-country.

I hope the next show goes better!

Maybe Mae said...

Yikes, what a mess. Glad you pulled through it as well as you could. Did you contact the show organizers and discuss the unsafe/unwise things you noticed about the show? I think it's really important for people to voice their concerns; it might not do anything, but enough complaints might make them rethink how they run these shows. Glad you guys pulled through without any disasters!