After MONTHS of anticipation, it's over. I feel relief that our first outing was a success. I'm so happy with the outcome (details to follow:)) I feel a TINY touch of disappointment in myself that in every phase I could have made an improvement to improve HIM. Our test could have been better if we'd warmed up longer. Our xc run would have been clear had I proactively used my crop the FIRST time over the kennel. Our sj round would have been clear had I not jumped up his neck. You get the picture.
So, for the jumping phase, BN went first thing at 8 am. We had walked the course the night before, and I was happy. It was a lovely, flowing course with a generous time allowed and nothing tricky. I was most worried about the first jump (big oxer with LARGE flowers), the panel jump (he's just never jumped one of those), and the final jump (a maxed oxer). Nothing was particularly scary looking, but it was a different TYPE of course for him. Everything looked stark and big because compared to hunter jumps, and even the "jumper" jumps at a local h/j show, they all looked very airy. Which should be GOOD for him.:) These jumps looked like the 2'9 ones at a local show. Which would be FINE if we'd either A.) schooled them, or B.) jumped them at a lower height:) But, I guess it's time for me to put my big girl panties on and learn to do it the "hard" way.
In warmup, he felt yuck. His flatwork was terrible. He was a total rubber ball, NOT striding out at all. At the slightest touch of leg, he wanted to break into a canter. His trot was tiny and stabbing. I got up in my 2-point and cantered. After THAT, he felt super.
Left the ring to watch Marisa and Zoe ride ( each had one rail), then went back in to keep moving. Once I went BACK into the ring, he just felt pissy. I decided to go ahead and jump. Coming into the crossrail, he didn't back off at ALL. He was saying, "See mom, I REMEMBER. You want FORWARD." Came to that again, then around to the vertical. Same thing at both. Came into the oxer, which, again ... jumping "cold", it just looked really BIG.:) Cantered up to it, tried to wait because there was NOTHING, and he went. Soooo, got a little left, but there was no "EEK" and stutter. Hacked another minute or 2, jumped the oxer and vertical again, then the oxer one more time and it felt GREAT. So I stopped there. Walked until I got the on deck call (about 6 minutes), so I schooled ONE more oxer, and again, it was perfect. Waited calmly, walked in, and felt excited.
As I walked in, I tried to allow him to pass in close proximity to the jumps. The whistle blew, and I cut across the ring and picked up my canter. Coming into the first jump, I slipped a finger under my neck strap, sat back, and legged. He jumped it great, but landed a little disorganized. Bending line to 2, a red and white post and rail vertical. He drifted left to it, and knocked it pretty hard. 3 was a dark green oxer; I waited, and it was good. Left hand turn to a yellow and red vertical. He drifted left again, and I had to use leg pretty hard. Bending line to a yellow 2 stride, vertical to oxer. He was super sticky at the vertical, so I purposely rode it in 3; the oxer felt fine coming out. Left hand turn to the panel jump, and that felt good. Straight ahead to a black and white oxer, and he AGAIN drifted left and looked hard. I STAYED BACK, and it worked out well. Right hand turn to another red and yellow vertical, and I saw a forward spot. Clucked, legged, and *I* went, but he chipped, then completely fell over his front end and knocked down the rail. Got myself together and rode the final oxer like it was the giant coop I'd been afraid of, and he ended GREAT.
So, yeah. I was bummed. The spot was RIGHT there, and I RODE for it. I was a little disappointed in him, that he didn't really rise to the occasion there. Then I shifted the disappointment to me, in that I allowed my body to get faster than my brain, and if only I'd come out of the corner and WAITED, he would have been clear. I figured we'd dropped out of ribbon contention because I had been in 6th coming in. NOT the case. We moved up again, and finished 5th overall.
I was ECSTATIC!!! You know who won my division? Becky Holder, that's who! So, 5th out of 10 in a class with 5 or 6 seasoned professionals isn't too shabby. As we walked to the awards ceremony, the announcer said something cute. "This is Jen Bishop and Ricochet. Sadly, they had an unfortunate ricochet off jump 2 in the cross country" ... Lol, it was great. LOVE my pink ribbon, and I had the most AWESOME time in the victory gallop. Can't wait to do it again:):):)