Our drive up was surprisingly quick, and we arrived about 30 min ahead of schedule. I got my rider package, and immediately headed out to walk XC before the riders descended. The course looked very straight forward. Nothing too large, or too scary. The only jump that I thought may cause a bit of a stir was the second fence- a tidy looking rock wall with a cedar rail on top. Since it was a bit bigger, we couldn't really jump it from a stand still. So if she did take a serious dislike to the jump, we'd have to count on her obedience alone to get us over it without a refusal. Everything else was pretty basic though. No related distances; no banks, drops, or ditches; and no water. A bit boring to be honest, but a nice move-up event.
After chilling with the mare at the trailer for a while, we tacked up & headed to warm up for dressage. Our division was relatively large (15 people in Junior alone) and as there were two dressage rings running simultaneously, warm up was hell. Cadence was not interested on bending to the right, & was rater insistent on letting some of her energy out. She's normally quite forward, but responsive. Today, she just wasn't interested in listening and was pushing, testing, and ignoring me at every opportunity. I was thankful I left myself more time to warm her up than usual, because we ended up taking several breaks and coming back to it. She was pretty good by the time we got into the ring to ride our test. Overall the test was pretty good. She was bossy i nthe canter (though that could very well have been because there were horses running Prelim XC visible from the dressage ring...) but considering her warm up she did quite well. Our judge was certainly not giving away any free marks though, and while we finished with a 45 (70%) we were 10.5 points ahead of anyone else in our division. So in short, Cadence was in 1st going into stadium (though I didn't know this) with 2 rails in hand.
She was again strong in our jumping warm up, and was keen on taking the long spots. She'd come to the fences in a nice canter then about three strides out she'd tune me out & go have some fun. Mares. Our actual round felt worse than it looked, but she kept all the painted rails up & was well inside the time even though I made her trot two of the fences.
There were some entertaining Stadium photos... but since I feel guilty about illegaly copying pictures (and thus try to limit the number) I thought I'd display one of the better ones. This was the final jump.
The XC warm up was pretty much the same. She was keen & strong, but I suppose that's better than being backed off. Our first fence out on course was a bit wobbly because she was gawking at the jumps next to it, and she did take a peek at the second fence but when I pushed her on she decided what the hell, & went for it. Fences 3, 4, and 5 were all pretty good, but coming off of 5, she started gawking at the water & I couldn't get her back in time to make the turn I wanted to fence 6. As a result, we came to 6 in a jumble of confusion, spookiness, and speed. A recipe for disaster if ever there was one. Anywho, she didn't get a good line, got surprised by the fence, and almost stopped at it since we were practically sideways. I wheeled her butt around (think turn on the forehand) and booted her over the 2'9 (if you include the "brush") fence. I was left kind of worried and frazzled. Had the jump judge counted that as a refusal? She didn't really refuse, but I would understand if they called it that way. Anyway, she powered over 7 in spite of another bad line (I had trouble getting her back after finally making it over 6) and since she'd really been flying around the course, I made her trot for most of the section between 7 & 8, only allowing her to canter when we were 4-5 strides out. 9 was again ridden from the trot, but 10 (a larger [for the level] fence set on the top of a hill so that you landed on a rather steep decline) we took from a nicely balanced & uphill canter. I'd intended to trot down the hill... but once again I had trouble getting her back. Oh mare. So we awkwardly cantered around the turn to 11, before trotting up to it. With just one fence to go, we got into a good rhythm and neatly popped our last jump.... or at least we would have if I hadn't lost my stirrup over the last fence! I've got a video of it (that I'll hopefully have up soon) & you can see exactly when I lose my stirrup. Anyway, we made it through the finish flags, just 5 seconds off the optimum time!
I jump like normal horse!
So in short, Cadence completed her second event (and her first Entry level event) on her dressage score with a 10.5 point lead over the competition. I'm so thrilled, I still find it a bit hard to believe. She's far exceeded all the goals we had, & I couldn't be more thrilled.
This weekend we're heading up to a gorgeous looking venue that I've never been to before, & running Entry again. Lets hope my breaks are working a bit better!
Photo credit goes to Andrew Bailini of Bailini Photography