Saturday, November 12, 2011

Briar Fox Horse Trials

So a couple weeks ago was Phoenix's first USEA event together! We went to the Briar Fox Horse Trials in Wichita, Kansas! Briar Fox is a really well run event and they have three recognized events per season. The last two this Spring and Summer were cancelled due to the EHV-1 virus so a lot of people were dying to get to this event. Three years ago, I did my first event there on Millennium and somehow won since I was the only rider in my division to put in two double clear jumping rounds. Needless to say I was pretty excited to finally be back. :) Beginner novice was an open division this year instead of jr/sr/horse. Also, the wednesday leading up to the event, I fell off of Phoenix in a jumping lesson and hit my head on the arena fence, getting myself a nice concussion! I almost opted to scratching from the event.

So dressage started late for the beginner novice divisions. My ride time wasn't until 12:58. My sisters ride time was earlier, so I slept in while she fed the horses and I came to the show grounds at ten bright eyed and bushy tailed. I braided Phoenix's mane and headed down to the warmup arena, which is an indoor. He put in a flawless warmup. He was on my aids and listening to every cue, so I was thrilled for my test. Silly me. Everyone knows warmup is always better than the test! The second he walked out of the indoor arena to the dressage ring, my sister (stupidly) had brought her mare down to graze by the dressage ring while she watched my test. Phoenix happens to be in love with Luna, so the second he saw her, he let out a god awful, belly shaking whinny. On top of that, while I was trotting around the ring waiting to start my test, the crazy winds blew a plastic bag into his path and I kid you not, Phoenix literally jumped 3 and a half feet over the bag. I let him walk for a second, let him know jumping wasn't until later, and rethought how I was going to ride my test. Obviously, with the sudden changes of atmosphere, Phoenix was fairly tense and kept bellowing out for Luna. My initial goal was to just let it all out and give the best test I could possibly give, but I decided to be more conservative instead and hold him back. This affected our score some. He was not quite tracking up and he kept whinnying during the test, but we earned a fair score with a 38.5. This placed us in third. The judges comments were nice and she said he's an "obviously nice horse with a well planned test." I was bummed that I didn't get a lower score, but this was Phoenix's first event and based on the circumstances, I was proud of him.

Show jumping was later, and Phoenix was literally falling asleep while I was tacking up. This thrilled me! For those of you who don't know, Phoenix gets crazy hyper in stadium and tries to take off upon landing each jump. My trainer, Donna, and I decided to work with sleepy Phoenix and have a casual walking warmup and plop over a few jumps every now and then. This worked wonders for our round. We got a perfect spot to every jump and he didn't try to take off once. This has definitely been our best show jumping round to date. Unfortunately, we had an unlucky rub of a rail that knocked us down to 4th place. But I was still happy, none the less.

Cross country day dawned bright and early Sunday morning and Phoenix and I both had our game faces on. Cross country was uneventful and we went double clear. I had to slow him down and trot a lot of the course because his big 16.3 hand strides are too fast for 300 mpm. He was spot on to every jump and handled everything like a pro.

We ended up finishing our first USEA recognized event together in 2nd place, and officially have our first AEC qualification down for next year!!! The girl that beat us has been taking her horse novice for two seasons and has never won an event so she went BN and only beat us by 4 points. I ended up getting first place in junior placings, meaning that girl that beat me was an amateur rider. Cool! Needless to say, I was very thrilled with Phoenix's performance. Onward and upward!

P.S. NONE of my pictures from the weekend will load on blogger so enjoy a video!! ;)