Last weekend was the 6th competition in a row for BK and I. Ssshh, don’t tell my husband - I tend to spring them on him late in the week hoping he has forgotten the week before. Of the 6 we competed in we won 2, came second in one, came fifth in another, and of the two in which we had to jump in we hung out in the double figures experimenting with all sorts of crowd pleasers like dropped rails and refusals at the last jump. BK did however try extremely hard in the jumping comps and I believe is getting marginally better. I have high hopes of blending into the majority of SJ competitors who know what they are doing in the short to medium term future.
Our first win was at the Wandin Adult Riding Dressage Day. BK performed a lovely couple of tests and we were surprised to find ourselves being called over the loud speaker. Upon presenting to the secretary we found that they had no record of one of our tests! Despite our inner beauty BK’s general brown-ness can see us blend into the crowd and we seem to have been slightly unmemorable. Mental note to investigate fluoro coloured saddle blankets and experiment with original ways of presenting to the judge (high 5’s perhaps??). Anyway, luckily we had a video of the test which helped to sort out any confusion.
At our next competition the sky was ominously dark and we had driven through some serious rain before arriving, so we opted for a small warm up to do a test in the dry rather than waiting until our scheduled start. We gave our final salute and the judge and I congratulated each other on scraping through before the skies parted and we were awarded with second place.
The next week I had optimistically entered us into a combined training. It was my birthday, so why not do what I love best, go for a ride! Unfortunately, the night before I was also doing what I love second best, drinking wine. By the time my sore head and I had eaten cake for breakfast and packed the horse we arrived at the event unplaited with about 7 minutes to go before our start time and no knowledge of the test. Luckily my time at university, studying amongst other things Mandarin, has taught me to cram all sorts of information into my head at short notice and we remembered most of the test and were winning after the dressage. We then headed over to the showjumping arena and were impressed with the ease we were tackling the course until we arrived at the last jump which BK took great exception too. Perhaps he didn’t want the good times to end or he was embarrassed to be out without his hair done. We came up to the jump again and I felt him slow down and I executed a perfectly timed well practiced pony club kick and he decided we might as well not be complete gooses and ended up on the other side, I think we might have been ended up about 10th.
The next weekend we had our Top Teams combined training. One member down increased the pressure on our ability to get around the show jumping as our score would have to be counted for the team. A good dressage test had us near the top of the leaderboard and clear SJ rounds from our other team members before me meant that as a team we were doing ok. There were a few scary jumps and we were jumping indoor too. BK bravely tackled all sorts of unfamiliar objects after some careful training at home with our own brick wall. Though unfortunately he knocked a white plank, relegating us to double figures and the team to 15th overall.
I like swimming and I like riding, so our last event last Sunday gave me an opportunity to do both at once! I also do some running (at least as far as running late), so I am pretty much a triathlete. We battled some soggy weather in Melbourne to nab our first EA win! A number of combinations less equipped to deal with the cold than my hardy ACT bred horse stayed at home in bed or in front of the fire, lessening the field size which may have been a contributing factor to our success. BK already thinks I am deranged for the strange things I do to his hair, so he only gave a small sigh when I pulled him out of his paddock between thunder rolls to head to the competition. Someone (a fiendish competitor perhaps?) had attempted a bit of a Tonya Harding and had erected a tyre near the arena. BK was petrified that I had left my senses and had not only decided to ride him in a storm but attempt to event him in said storm. When we passed the tyre without attempting to jump it he was so thankful he repaid me with a good dressage test. His warm up for our second test involved standing in a stable away from torrential rain aghast with fear at the parked tractor in front of us.
Since our EA competition, I have worked on developing nerves of steel in my weekly lesson (helpful for career as an Navy SEAL if this dressage gig does not work out). The lesson was conducted despite the escape of Chad the wonder pony to a tasty nature strip, B buggering off as I attempted for the 3rd time to carry children to the house, Henry the fall-back horse eating the arena fence throughout the lesson and 4-time-escapee child standing at the gate and crying incessantly. Do Navy SEAL’s get to drink wine I wonder…