We had a successful outing at the BREA schooling combined test last weekend. I felt more relaxed in the dressage arena, however Octavian suffered from his nerves a bit. We did prelim test 'a' first, we didn't have a horrible test, but it wasn't great either. He started to lean on my leg and hand throughout, which seems to be something he only does in the ring. He seemed surprised to be going back in the dressage ring for a second time for prelim test 'b', but we had a much better test. He seemed a lot more relaxed. Our shoulder-ins were not that good, we lost impulsion, but thankfully we had no major disobediences. Our canter work in the second test was loads better than the first. We don't like the 10m canter circles.
Octavian felt extremely excited for stadium. He was very forward, not running or rushing, but not quite as responsive as I would have liked. We went clear, but I had hoped for a quieter round. I wish I would have ridden a bit better to achieve that goal. We had the opportunity to go back in the ring for a second time as a schooling round, and we pulled a rail, but overall the second course was better.
We ended up getting a 40 on our prelim test 'a', and a 38 on prelim test 'b'. I wasn't that happy with those scores, which I suppose is an improvement in itself, because at one point I would have been thrilled! However, I know that we are capable of much more and we will continue to work torward that goal.
Yesterday we headed to Plain Dealing for a lesson with Molly. We started out in the stadium ring. We began by going over a verticle, turning right and around to another verticle. Here I had to work on turning well, keeping my eye on the fence, etc. We had to do this a few times before I was riding well. We then added an oxer on a bending line about 5 strides away. The first time, we got a long spot. The second time was much better and we managed to add in the extra stride. After that, we worked on a skinny to a verticle, I had to concentrate very hard on getting the turn right to the skinny, not too early and not too late. The first time we got in a bit close and then took a long spot at the verticle, but the second time went well. Our next thing was another skinny, straight, and then making a left turn to a faux corner. Our approach to the corner went well, but we had a runout. Looking back, I think I was riding a little to averagely to it. Not exactly weak, but not as strong as I needed to. The second time I gave him a better ride to it and it went fine. We jumped it from the other direction with no problems. After that, we headed out to the cross country course.
Octavian and I were both really excited to see cross country fences again! It's been a long time since we've been on course, the last time was early June at Rubicon. We warmed up over a few easy fences, and then did a log on an angle to a skinny. Skinnys and corners are the hardest things for us, and I always get a little nervous whenever I'm riding them, almost as if I'm afraid to have a runout. I managed to not freeze up from my skinny nerves, and the combination rode great! Next we worked on putting a corner in combination with a bank. We went over the corner, then a bending line (3-4 strides) and up the bank, and then down two steps, and then reversed the exercise. Once again, he was really good! We then headed over to yet another corner, and did a corner, 3 strides to a skinny. I was a little worried about how this was going to ride, or rather, if I could give him a good enough ride, but he was perfect! Except, he refuses to brush through brush, making the skinny much bigger than it needed to be.
Next, we worked on steeplechasing. I was really excited about this. Molly said that she would let me know if I was going too fast or too slow, and to just keep my legs in front of me and my shoulders back and to not worry about the distances. I have to admit, that galloping torward our first steeplechase fence, I was a little nervous! It felt weird to be galloping that fast at a fence. Octavian caught on really quickly. We practiced the steeplechase fences twice, and the second time Octavian and I were both having a blast!
After steeplechasing, we worked through a coffin once, and I had to make sure that I brought him back after our steeplechasing fun. He was pretty good through the coffin, he peeked at the ditch briefly, but never really lost impulsion. We ended the lesson on the water, we worked on drops, through the water (3 strides) to a small log, and then a vertical, one stride, drop, and then finally a drop and 4-5 strides to a skinny that was on a bending line.
I came away from the lesson absolutely thrilled. I think that Octavian and I are both really look forward to Difficult Run!