Two months ago I had butterflies the size of flying squirrels in my belly as I prepared to ride Cairo in our first horse trials over itty-bitty little starter fences. I was delighted when she didn’t make an attempt to jump out of the dressage arena. Now, only a short time later, we zoomed gleefully through a double clear cross country at the Event at Rebecca and judging from the photos, Cairo would merrily have jumped even higher.
We didn’t finish in the ribbons, but we finished happy and had good rides and a lot of fun, and I’m just blown away at how far my sassy little mare and I have come.
Hmmm, now to get her to have that same respect for the stadium fences.
Kristine and I got to Rebecca on Tuesday night and pulled in with the Polestar crew. Cairo was a gem. OK mostly. She trailered great — drinking, eating and pooping up a storm — the whole 11 or 12 hours it took us to get to Montana. She attempted to eat not only her hay but Tucker’s too and learned how to open the chest bar in the trailer.
Tucker is giving her a little side-eye here, but really put up with her antics with great patience.
Wednesday morning Meika gave me a dressage lesson. To my horror, she handed me a dressage whip to hold parallel between my hands to help keep them up and level. I immediately had flashbacks to trainers past who used all kinds of “tricks” to “help” me while I rode horses that bucked, spun, charged and otherwise misbehaved. Because hell, if you can’t fix the naughty horse, at least you can work on the rider’s equitation, right?
Luckily, Meika’s goal was to actually fix the horse who needed me to be more even and up with hands, as well as my equitation, and it worked beautifully. Thanks to that and to Leslie’s schooling before I left, I got a 7 on rider position, which is the best I’ve had all season.
All the work we did to help Cairo stand up through the shoulder paid off — Meika thought she looked stronger than she had three weeks before at Inavale.
After dressage schooling, we course walked. The course at Rebecca is gorgeous and the 2’11” Novice fences looked solid but fun. From bird fences to a Western town where we jumped the hitching post, the course at Rebecca is lovely.
Cairo did give this osprey the hairy eyeball, but jumped it with no hesitation.
The Western town and
the Indian village were among the cool fences on course.
The day ended, like so many of the good ones at shows do, with whiskey sipping and good conversation.
Thursday was our big show day. Rebecca is such a large show that it gets spread over more than the traditional three days, so some did dressage Thursday and the upper divisions competed dressage on Friday. The Novice folks did dressage AND cross country Thursday. My dressage was at 9:54 and I got up early for coffee and a course walk. All was well, hungry Cairo was chomping hay and slurping water and groomed to the nines, until I tried to braid her.
I have Raynaud’s syndrome, and between the cold day and my show nerves, my hands went numb. I was failing dismally at braiding with bloodless fingers when Meika dropped by to put a cool compass rose on Cairo’s butt. Thankfully, she and her working student Fieka stepped in and braided Cairo’s mane and gave her rump some decor.
(This is actually Tucker’s rump but you get the idea).
Our dressage was good … for us. Cairo had some lovely moments. And she had some “Mooo oom I’m sooooo bored of trotting 20 meter circle” moments. I think she might actually have sneered during our free walk. Her good moments gave me insight to what she can do in the future and her less-than-stellar head tosses and eye rolls led Meika to suggest that Little Miss Thing has gotten bored with dressage and we need to engage her speedy little mind more. Lateral work it is, Leslie told me when I got home and filled her in.
We got a 43.5 and slid into … not quite last place. I didn’t care (much), I just felt excited to be there and feel those good moments … also my xc was at 12:08 so I was more concerned with changing tack and clothes!
Kristine’s dressage was at my xc time, so Letty and another of Meika’s students, Susan, helped me school and they were great. I don’t know who asked “Is it time yet? Can I go NOW?” more often, me or Cairo. We hopped a couple fences and Cairo was ready.
XC was a blast. Cairo was quiet in the startbox and when they said “Go” she struck off into a confident canter to the first fence. I think I was grinning wildly by fence three (that would be the rolltop she’s soaring over in the first picture).
Coming to fence six, which was before a water obstacle she hesitated slightly — it looked at first like you were jumping into water — but she popped over it when I put my leg on. I landed slightly in a heap but Cairo merrily zoomed through the water and up the bank on the other side. I took a second to get oriented,and find fence seven, a ramp. She leaped over that and turned for eight, a little cabin in the trees. I didn’t steer quite how Meika told me to, which resulted in my getting whapped in the face a little by one of the trees. Duly noted: listen to your trainer.
Worried I’d lost a little time during my brain fart, I galloped her a little between the next fences. As it turns out, I was almost a minute under optimum time, so I don’t think I need to worry that I’m slow with Cairo’s big strides! She sloshed through water and happily leaped through the Western town and Indian village. She was still over-jumping at the end, as you can see by this picture of the second-to-last fence.
The last fence was a train — we jumped the log car while the Advanced riders would later jump the locomotive — and I am just smiling hugely as we sail over it, double clear and we moved up into 15th.
And I’ll finish the rest of Rebecca tomorrow — it’s time to get away from the computer and go ride Cairo!