After I got the A-Ok from the vet that flipping herself over a lead rope had merely annoyed and inconvenienced Cairo, but not harmed her, I put her in the trailer and off the Meika Decher’s gorgeous Polestar Farm and a clinic with Dom Schramm of Evention TV.
I was feeling a little unsettled. My jump trainer Kari has been on the road so I’ve lessoned over jumps maybe twice since December, I was still getting over a bodyworker episode who kind of freaked me out … and I haven’t done cross-country since last August.
The clinic was fabulous, as was getting my write up posted on the front page of the Chronicle of the Horse! You can read the whole thing there, but suffice it to say, his advice to me to ride my hot like horse “like she’s sweet” is working great. Cairo was her bold happy self cross-country and stadium I could feel we had really come along. It helped before the clinic I hauled over to my friend Becky’s and jumped around a couple times, which was sweet of her to let me. I don’t want to push Cairo, but for her fitness and my brain we do need to jump once a week.
One take-away from the clinic? I need to stay with her jump! I’m trying so hard not to lean at the fences (hunter-rider flashbacks) that instead I lean back.
Cairo’s first corner. She was delighted.
The clinic really helped me feel like Cairo and I were ready for the season to begin. Or at least fences were not an issue!
And then suddenly it began… I had waited a day or two to enter Aspen Farms Horse Trials and got waitlisted. The day before I needed to leave for that 4-hour haul, I got in.
Wednesday night I packed and bathed Cairo and then Thursday morning Cairo and I (and my dog Biggie) were off. Cairo schooled dressage just lovely and Meika praised how far we’ve come. I warned her though that Cairo is the girl with the curl. When she’s good, she’s very very good, but when she’s bad she’s horrid!
Our dressage was at 8:30 am Friday, and it was chilly, so Cairo was feeling a little “let’s throw some bucks in the warm up” sassy. Meika put us to work and we did some spiraling at the canter and standing her up off the outside shoulder, which helped Cairo get her to bring her hind leg under herself.
Cairo does not like to stop and start, so Meika had a plan that would have us trot in the warm up, trot around the ring and go right in. It got foiled by a miscommunication with the gate person, and we didn’t start as soon as we needed to, so Cairo was still gnashing her teeth a little when we headed in.
The Northwest is not a big circuit, so there are limited numbers of judges. For some reason Cairo and I keep getting the same judge again and again, even when there is more than one judge doing Novice. And this judge is perhaps not Cairo’s biggest fan and doesn’t appreciate Cairo’s unique, ummm, style. I know Cairo has come really far, but alas thus far our scores are not reflecting it. You don’t get graded on doing all your homework when it comes to competitive horse prancing!
Soooo despite the fact a discouraging score of 44 percent put us at dead last in Senior Novice Amateur, I’m going to concentrate on the fact that Cairo no longer tosses her head and has developed a steady rhythm.
I was nervous as always for cross-country on Saturday and Cairo probably picked up on that. When we got down to school we had bigger and better bucks than for dressage schooling. Meika had us go right into a canter … then a hand gallop and Cairo, who hates to be boxed in, was soon happier. From gallop to the x, to the vertical to the natural, boom, we were ready.
I try to be really careful in the start box to canter or trot off slowly when they say go — making time is not an issue — so we don’t have start box antics. We flew over the little log at 1 and then turned left to two in a big open field with people, other fences and distractions. Cairo was like, “What do I do?” And I said “Jump!” A tight turn to a flower stand then through the woods to some logs. The bright logs after the dark woods made her over jump and I don’t even know if she saw the ditch five strides later — she cantered over it like it was not there. And at that point it was game on. She flew around the course like a little fence-seeking missile.
A curving log at the bottom of a steeper hill was the only fence I questioned. Cairo said no problem. There was one related distance on course, a two logs separate by a 4 long strides or five short ones heading for home. Four long obviously with Cairo. Duly noted, she has a long stride. It was almost three and half! The last fence rode wonderfully and I almost cried I was so pleased. Cairo was so full of herself she danced and half reared while I tried to remove my pinney.
We moved from last to 12th with our double clear.
On stadium day she was still sassy but she rode like a little pro. With Meika’s coaching I remembered to NOT hold her back and we checked then flowed in the long gallops. Double clear again and she even checked herself in the in and out (rather than trying to bounce it!).
We stayed in 12th but I was over the moon with happiness at how well she rode. The dressage? She’s only 6, we will keep working on it! Meika by the way had a beautiful double clear xc in the one start and got fourth and Cairo’s uncle Loki got third. It was kind of just one of those fabulous weekends …
I’ll post photos when I get some.