It’s been two weeks since we drove home from Middleburg, Virgina after contesting Frye’s and my first CCI3***-Long at Great Meadow. She comes back to my barn this weekend after her mini-vacation, so I should probably start pulling my wits together to plan out where we are going to run next, and how I’m going to afford it.
Whenever I go to these longer horse-trials I always think I’ll blog while I’m there: that I’ll write several posts narrating my day, where we eat, shop, and how the show is running. However, that week, I don’t think I’ve ever seen caves as deep under my eyelids as that Sunday when the show was finished. I kept repeating to myself, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Monday: Frye, Huckle, and I drive from the barn in Georgia to Middleburg, Virginia where one of my coaches rides out of. I didn’t take PTO this week, so I had a few stops to take care of work things. (At one point, we were pulled over by a cop because Frye relieved herself while I was parked in a bank. The officer requested I turn around to pick it up!) But, we made it to the barn just as the sun went down. Frye travels really well, and then I went on to my inn in Aldi.
Tuesday: Tuesday I scheduled a dressage lesson with my coach before heading over to the competition. I worked in the morning, ran by the Common Grounds for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, I think I also bought a bridle this day from The Middleburg Tack Exchange. (My old dressage bridle was an assortment of black and brown pieces.) After our lesson, I hauled Frye the ten minute drive to Great Meadow, unpacked our things, and tried to make it look somewhat professional. One of my sponsors is looking at adding retailers, so I ran by the shops to see if we could come by and visit. (AKA also a good reason to shop)
Wednesday: Wednesday were formal jogs. One of my amazing sponsors flew in and arrived just before, so we were able to take pictures, and she brought this stunning jacket for me to wear. Even though I practiced running in my flats, my shoe fell off in the first jog! Luckily Frye watched her toes and we were accepted. Later, my coach was on the grounds riding, so I got a second dressage lesson to try and finesse our half-passes.
Thursday: Thursday we had an early dressage ride time. Although I had a ridiculous alarm clock time, I was grateful that I was wearing my new shadbelly during the cooler weather. My coach was back to help me again with the halfpasses and we were in. Frye put in a workmanlike test. I gave away some easy points in my serpentine, and the half-passes were.. did we do those? No, but despite this Frye had an average score that set us in the middle of the pack. I was just glad to have the first phase over. That afternoon my parents arrived. I had already walked the course once with Mary, my sponsor. Mom and I did our courtesy course walk later that afternoon a second time. This is always one of my favorite parts. I have her at the start box when I take off, so this is our time to reflect on the course. It was funny, she thought this course was actually pretty fair (it was, just long) compared to a few other courses I’d run. I believe two years ago when I ran my first intermediate, her words were “Don’t do this.” So i’d say we’ve come a long way to call 3*** courses fair.
Friday: The earliest of cross-country morning alarm clocks, I believe we got up at 4:30, I was supposed to run out of the startbox at 7:09. Cross-country just takes me some time to get ready for, and I want to make sure Frye’s eaten early enough before. Mom and I rode together, it was still pitch black when we got to the barn. I found out where we could set out water buckets and sponges when she came off the course and put in her studs. (I do try to have everything Frye and I need for xc together and organized, so I’m not panicking looking for my watch.) I got on about 6:35AM, and started walking. There was a delay of start, for about 20 minutes, but it actually helped the fog to lift and the sun to rise! In the meantime, I was about to throw up my dinner, so I chugged a coke Mom had on hand. I was riding a bit protective in warm-up, and was catching the fences a bit deep because I was holding. Frye doesn’t become unwound , so I finally caught a fence out of a forward stride and went to the box. On course, I took a pull at fence one, kicked myself, then had a great round. Frye is brilliant at keeping a good rhythm which makes it easier to see a distance to even the bigger fences. She also is so solid and unphased by harder questions, if I can place her on the right line, she’s going over the fence. It’s been great to gain so much confidence with a horse like her. To finish, she jumped clear and in the time! I may have yelled at my parents and sponsors twice to throw water on her faster to cool off, but afterwards shared soaking wet hugs, and forgave them.
It was at that point, I saw Frye had banged her stifle, either on course or warmup. The best comparison, is a bad rug-burn. But, with jogs the next day and the fact this horse of a lifetime had just jumped double clear, I made some calls and got to working on her with a laser, cold hosing, and walking. That laser was incredible. Within a few hours, it was a dark scab. At this point, I was waiting to see what the next morning looked like, but in the same instance, I want to go to these shows, be competitive, do all the right things, BUT I also couldn’t believe that my little free horse and I were actually even there and qualified. Each day, I was just soaking in as much as I could and trying to hold each experiences like a photo to take home.
Saturday: I got up extra early again with Mom to check on Frye. We went on a hand-walk and she about jumped out of hands when we headed towards the steeplechase track. I had some professionals watch her go, but at the end of the day it was in the best interest to not proceed to show-jump. Sorry, guys! (I didn’t mean to leave you with such a lead-up) Did I cry in the backseat of my car for 5 minutes? Possibly. But, was I irritated that my parents wanted to play in town and not watch my division show-jump that afternoon ? We were front row a few hours later. The next 24-hours were filled with a few mixed emotions, but the resolution was that my horse was absolutely incredible, I have the experience and time to school to be even more prepared for the 3***-Long in November, and I just like my horse kind of a lot.
Sunday: We said good bye to our adorable residence at the Little River Inn (Favorite place to stay, also affordable, tell them I sent you!) Mom, my stepdad and I alternated driving our two vehicles so I got to catch the 4S live stream XC on the way back to Alabama. We got back to my parents farm in Alabama just about nightfall. Frye has been vacationing there while I took my parents’ 3yo to start.
I’m so grateful for all of the people and sponsors who helped me get through this week. If it weren’t for Mary Hartman and @PureFormEquine’s Chock Full A Chia Biscuits, my parents, and my coaches, and girls at the barn. The Lord has been so intentional in placing the most incredible people in my life. I’m forever grateful for this ride I’m on and places I get to go. I think in reflection I’m even more admiring His timing and work. I’ve been at the lowest points with this horse and the highest, and lots of in betweens. In whatever happens, I feel so safe and secure in knowing His will is being done. That knowledge probably gave me some of the courage to only sit in the car for 5 minutes, cheer on my whole division, and book the opening date for the next horse show. Frye and I are where we’re supposed to be. See you later this season!