Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh, the places we'll go!

I must say I'm slightly impressed with myself for being prompt on updating this blog! So much has been happening that I have actually had something TO write about!

Anyways, I am on Summer break.. finally! On Sunday morning, I walked downstairs about 10 am after finally being able to sleep in and my sister says "go get ready, we're going to a horse show." Well, okay... if you say so! Lauren rode her horse in the Novice division at Mill Creek two weeks ago and he had a slight melt down in the stadium, so we both have been practicing in it. This particular show was held at Longview Horse Park, the same venue that the trials were at two weeks ago. It's a pretty big show - two days long, with a big hunter derby and $1,000 jumper mini prix (which I entered, btw...)

We arrived around 12:30 and entered.. I entered in one 2'9" class as a warm-up, two 3' classes, and the $1,000 mini prix.

In the warmup ring, Phoenix was being absolutely fabulous. All of the hunter riders were stopping and staring at us, and then my horse trainer came up to me and goes "From afar, before I recognized that was you, I said wow look at that horse!" Definitely boosted my ego. :)

In the 2'9" class, Phoenix went in and did his stuff. Definitely too easy for him because we darted through the course and jump-off, good enough for a 2nd place in a pretty big class.



In the next class, we had a nice clean course and were definitely fast, but we had a few sticky spots. I felt like I kind of just blacked out. When I was done with the course, and getting ready to do the jump off, I leaned over the side of Phoenix and started dry heaving. I seriously felt like I needed to throw up, but because I hadn't eaten anything yet, nothing came out. I asked for a couple breather seconds, and went on to my jump off. We had a flawless jump-off and would have definitely won the class, if not for the very last jump where Phoenix unfortunately pulled the rail.

My trainer made me scratch from the next class because she wanted me to go get something to eat before the mini prix.

In the mini prix, I felt like I had no chance, because I was up against all professionals and actual jumpers. I think I was the only eventer. My sister even asked me to scratch because she felt like I didn't have a chance, and it was the last class of the day and she didn't want to wait around. I figured, what the hell we already entered, and decided to do it anyways. I felt like this course was a turning point in Phoenix and I's relationship. We are finally starting to figure things out. We had a nice, consistent, fast course over bigger jumps (not whimpy BN height) and he didn't fall on his face from getting on the forehand. I was beaming when we finished the course. Before we went back in for the jump-off, my sister (who is a former A/O 3'6" jumper champion 3 consecutive years in a row in MO and KS) was giving me some pointers. My trainer on the other hand, just wanted us to have a good course. I'm too competitive to not want to win, so I definitely listened to my sister. Phoenix and I went in there and ripped through the course with some serious roll backs that I didn't even know he was capable of until then. We had a clean jump-off with a time of 35 seconds. I think the highlight of the show was my sister coming up to me after that course and saying "I don't even think I could've ridden a better jumper course than that." That tickled me pink. Unfortunately, our time was not competitive enough for first, but we were good enough for 5th place which won us 50 bucks! The people that beat me were professionals, so for an eventer, I couldn't have been more pleased.

We have a show next weekend at Heritage Park, debuting at novice and the weekend after that our first recognized novice at Queeny Horse Park! Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Moving on up!

Quick update while I put off studying for my last final keeping me from my summer...

Phoenix and I are entered in a one day trial on June 3rd at Heritage Horse Park and we entered in our first NOVICE! :) Not that huge of a deal to most of you, I'm sure, but this is a big moment for us. The height has never been an issue for me, but now that I have a horse that has all three phases of eventing down, we can finally move on up. But one more thing... I get my wisdom teeth taken out on May 31st... two days before. How badass will I look galloping cross country with blood pouring out of my mouth? :)

We are also entered in the Queeny Park Horse Trials at Novice in St. Louis, Missouri on June 9-10th! I'm so excited. :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SEE YOU IN GEORGIA!

WAIT, what?! I disappear for 6 months and return to tell you that I'm qualified for AEC's?! But yes, it's true. And in typical Mallory form, I forget that I have this little blog. However, when it does cross my mind, I think about all the topics I have not covered and all the posts I have not done, and then I think of it as a chore so I put it off for another 2 weeks. BUT HERE I AM! And that's all that counts, right...?



This past weekend was the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials in Kansas City, Missouri. Easily one of the best run events in Area 4 (and with the selling of Briar Fox, it might as well be the only one.) I did not know if I was able to compete because three weeks before the event, Phoenix ripped his chest open somehow in the pasture! It required stitches and the strict instructions not to ride until they were out. Well, he got his stitches out 4 days before the event! I literally had four days to get three weeks of missed fitness  back. Luckily, we were only signed up for beginner novice.

At least he looks sorry.
There were 15 people in my division this past weekend, I think. My only goal was to put in 3 nice rides and end on my dressage score, and if we got lucky and qualified, that'd be cool too. Dressage was at 12:30 for me, so I woke up at 8:30, and was at the horse park by 9:00. I fed, braided, and watched a little bit of dressage. Even with being in my clothes and my horse mostly ready, I still found a way to be late to dressage warmup with lots of stress, because I hate being late! Phoenix put in the most brilliant dressage warmup ever, easily our best flat school yet. In the actual ring, that was a different story, but I have to remember that I never broke 30's with Millennium and Phoenix and I are a still fairly new partnership. When trotting around the ring before going in, he spooked at the judges box and I never really got him back after that. He was interested in watching the crowd and after the free walk, he almost reared up and started to toss his head. On the right lead canter, he picked up the wrong lead so I had to correct that. Other than that, our test was, what I thought, mediocre at best. I was frustrated when I came out of the ring, but people kept telling me it looked pretty good, besides his few diva moments. Even with the worst test we've ever done, he still manages to pull off a 38.6 which placed us in 6th place after dressage. I can't wait to see what scores we can achieve when his centerline nerves go away! Lots more dressage shows for sure.

Down centerline.
All his halts are always square.


In cross country warmup, Phoenix was absolutely awful. He was kicking out at everyone, spooking at everything, and taking off after every jump. He even did the biggest rear I've ever felt, I literally thought I was riding Pegasus. I was not nervous by any means, I mean.. no offense, it's beginner novice. But I was pissed he was being so flippin' rude! The second he left that start box, however, he meant business. He locked onto the first jump and popped over it. He was on cue to all my aids and just ate up the course for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After the last jump, he took off with me into the crowd... just to let me know he was still himself.

Out of the start box!
"Weeeeeee!" - Phoenix                             
Slowing down to a jump.  Love dis.



Last jump!

Prepare to take off with Mallory in 3... 2... 1....
                                      
Nobody in my division was having trouble with cross country, so we didn't move up. :/ I cannot tell you how stressed I was being in 6th place when I needed ONE MORE 5th place or better to be qualified. I stayed up all night Saturday stressing. Sunday morning, I got to the barn and my sister was already gone doing her show jumping (novice.) I took the alone time to chill with Phoenix and relax. He was relaxed and happily munching on hay. To be honest, I was nervous for show jumping. Anyone that knows Phoenix, knows that he gets on the forehand really heavily and then just barrels downwards and takes off. There is no relaxation time on our show jumping courses; we are constantly fixing something in every single stride. With Millennium, I was just a passenger. I could just sit on him and three strides out figure out what I want to do. With Phoenix, it is not like that. And the last time I even jumped a full course on Phoenix was the first week in April at a jumper show, when I fell off and had to take the ambulance to the ER because I messed up my shoulder really badly (but that's a different srory.) Yeah. Not so good. The height was not intimidating by any means, if anything it was insulting.. but the control portion of it was getting to me. In warmup, he was being his usual douchebag self, rearing when horses would pass by. But he was perfect, over every single warmup fence. He didn't even try and take off. Perfect perfect perfect!!! I was so pleased, literally smiling from ear to ear.



Going into stadium, I knew we were going to lay down a nice ride. Every fence was immaculate. I could have not asked for a better ride. We got to every spot perfectly, and Phoenix was relaxed!!! He didn't try to take off once and I could just tell he meant business. I landed the last jump with the biggest smile on my face and leaned down to say "Thank you" to him, for being such a good boy the whole weekend, and finishing on his dressage score. I could have not been more pleased, than that moment right there. Little victories. Baby steps.

Last fence.
Pats for Phoenix!

I knew as a bare minimum, I placed 6th. At the point, I didn't care if we qualified or not... I was happy with finishing on such a positive note. But the next three riders had rails dropping like flies. Oh cool, we qualified. Wait, WHAT! We qualified! I knew it when the first rider had a refusal at jump one, because she was only ahead by two points, but I didn't say anything. It was kind of a shock. Then they announced the awards, and I ended the weekend in THIRD PLACE. TOP THREE BABY. What a good Phoenix!!!!! But now, I'm qualified for the AMERICAN EVENTING CHAMPIONSHIPS, a goal I have been trying to obtain for three years! On top of that, that was our last beginner novice, as we move up to novice at the Queeny Park Horse Trials the first week of June! Finally. Now we have the whole rest of the season to perfect dressage and stadium, and mentally prepare ourselves to compete with the best of the best in September! WOW! It's really happening!



                                     


Also, on a side note, I got my braces off after five years AND I wanted to show you guys my Phoenix oil painting that I'm working on as a final in my painting class. ONE MORE THING... can I get someone to make me a sweet ass banner for my blog with pictures of Phoenix? I want to re-do it with his XC colors (royal blue) and pictures of him, since I'm no longer competing Millennium. Email me at mal.stvr17@gmail.com or comment on this blog so I can email you the pictures that I want used. Thanks!