Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Fork HT - April 2008

The Fork II - April 2008
I was super excited about going to The Fork - I had been keeping up with the US eventing blog information on it the weekend before, and the facility and event both sounded wonderful. I had also decided that I really like North Carolina, especially the nice, sandy ground (although, I has I had found out at SP I, it hurts just as much when you fall off, sand or no sand!). Upon arriving at The Fork, it was obvious how lovely the facility was. I especially liked the duck pond near stabling! Octavian thoroughly enjoyed dragging me all over the trails during our walks, and was actually disappointed when I wouldn’t take him walking on them; he wanted nothing to do with grass, but really loved walking on the trails. Upon arriving home, I was sore from the fast pace that I had to walk - or be dragged around at. No kidding!
Let me just say how much I LOVE three day events. I love the downtime and how you can really focus on your one phase for the day. We had a very nice dressage warm up, and I was looking forward to going in for our test. Our test was not bad, it was very much improved, however "we" had a brief tantrum during a canter circle. Coming out of the ring I was not expecting good scores at all. Nevertheless, I had felt the improvement in the test and was really pleased with it.
Later in the day after looking at the scores, I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had scored a 41.1 - nearly 10 points better then our last dressage test at Southern Pines. I still wasn't sure how we had pulled it off, especially because of the tantrum. However, I knew that I would be able to figure it out after looking at my test. Octavian had felt more rideable then he ever had before, especially in warm up, which left me feeling confident upon going into the ring. 41.1, even though it's not the best score, was our personal best at the preliminary level.
I walked my cross country course with Molly Bull Friday afternoon. The course was beautiful and was looking like lots of fun. The first fence, a simple log type jump with flowers was followed by two, solid and large tables. I had never seen the maxed out tables come so early on course and was a little bit worried about how they would ride. After the tables, there was a mushroom skinny which was my next concern. Earlier in the month, in a lesson with Molly, we had jumped our first mushroom skinny, and at first we had a couple of run outs that were due to my riding, but by sitting a bit more, and being very supportive going
into the fence, we had successfully jumped the mushroom. The mushroom on course required you to make a left hand turn torward it. To ensure that Octavian's shoulders were straight during our approach, and to give me plenty of time to prepare and support him, Molly suggested that we go all the way to the galloping lane rope and then make our turn. After the mushroom, we had a vertical to corn feeder combination, with about 3-4 strides in between, the corn feeder being on just a bit of a bending line. After that, we headed down to a green wine bottle (very realistic looking!), and then down a hill, to the right, and over another table type of fence. We then headed off torward (yet another) table, that was followed by a trakehner. I had never seen trakehners like these, the trakehner sat diagnolly over the ditch, and in order to not take it at an angle, you had to plan your approach and turn very well. We walked the best line, and headed on to the next fence, another table before the first water. The first water was a jump in, 3-4 strides through the water, and out over a canadian goose log jump. I was really excited about jumping the goose. After the water, there was another table, and then you had to turn left immediately for an up bank and corner combination. The corner was to the left of the bank. Because corners are not our best fence, we had to walk this line several times. I originally walked a bad line, and Molly showed me a better approach (which I walked 3 times to make sure that I rode correctly the next day!). After the corner, there was a rolltop, 2 strides, down bank combination. I was a little anxious about this because of my fall at Southern Pines, but my instructions were to keep my shoulders back and my leg on. The next combination was a ditch to a chevron, and then we were to head up the hill, over a brush oxer, another table type fence and then head into the second water. The second water was a vertical log, two strides to a drop, then about 4-6 strides in the water to a turtle jump, and then the last two fences before the finish line.
Upon warming up on Saturday, Octavian was feeling a bit strong, so we worked on the show jumping canter transition to try and get him listening. I was nervous, but excited, about riding the course. Upon coming out of the start box, we had a sticky first fence, Octavian was behind my leg. Thankfully in between the first and second fences, we had a nice long gallop so he was no longer behind my leg. The tables were a nice beginning to the course, I felt like they really got Octavian jumping well and paying attention to me. The mushroom, to my relief, rode well, and we were feeling really great. When we got to the table to trakehner area, we got in a little tight to the trakehner but otherwise it rode well. Octavian was wonderful through the water, and thought nothing of the goose. We then headed onto the table before the bank and corner combination. The table and bank rode well, but I did not give him a good ride to the corner and didn't ride the line I was supposed to. I sort of froze after the bank and became completely useless, and therefore we had a runout. I quickly took the option and we were off again. The rest of the course rode well and Octavian was wonderful. I was definitely kicking myself for my bad riding at the corner though.
Stadium at The Fork was very exciting. The course was well put together and had a very nice overall appearance. We had an okay round, we pulled two rails, both of which were preventable.
We headed home feeling more confident. I was overall happy with the weekend, and was pleased about how Octavian seemed to enjoy himself and the new "skills" we were learning together. I was learning how to ride better to skinnys (corners still needed more work), and dressage was becoming something that I didn't have to dread. I was looking forward to our next event at Difficult Run the first weekend in May.

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