So I suppose if every rider needs a ‘throw away’ event, it’s better to get it out of the way early on in the season, right? That’s kind of how this past weekend at Southern Pines went. Though I wasn’t even planning on competing there, we had some really awesome lessons the week before, and decided to see if we could somehow get in. So I must give many thanks to Abbey Dondanville, the show secretary, for doing all she could to squeeze us in at the last minute.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the event, but didn’t really care because I was just so excited to finally be out competing again. Dressage warm up felt great, and Duke felt spot on and relaxed. Then we got called into the separate warm up where the riders go when they are ‘on deck’, and Duke suddenly woke up. After many squealing and bucking canter transitions, he relaxed a bit and it was our turn to go in. I felt like I was sitting on a loaded gun as we entered the arena. I actually just had to laugh because I could tell Duke was enjoying every minute of it. It ended up being a decent test, and I was impressed with how well Duke contained his excitement.
Duke was ready to go on cross-country, it’s just been too long since I’ve been out on course because I definitely was cruising along with little regard for the time. I realized I was a minute away from optimum when I still had many more jumps to go. I figured instead of pushing him and rushing, I would focus on riding the rest of the course correctly, and settling for a couple time penalties.
I was totally pumped and ready to have an awesome stadium round on Sunday, and Duke jumped like a dream in warm up. The course was pretty straight forward, and I just wanted to have a smooth, clean round. We got about Â¾ of the way through the course, and it was most likely the best round of my life until this point. Duke came around the corner to our next jump and we’re heading towards the stands with the crowd, into the wind, with the jump crew sitting on a wagon previously hidden from view outside the rail. Duke can be a bit spooky, and I think all of it at once just was a bit too much, and he spooked the opposite direction. I tried to get him straight so we wouldn’t have to circle, but it was too little too late and he wasn’t even focused on the jump. So we came around again and he jumped through the line beautifully, along with the remainder of the course. Oh well, can’t have it all I suppose! I can forgive Duke his momentary lapse of concentration because the rest of it was so awesome.
So, many carrots and miles later, we are back home in Virginia ready to get back out there and redeem ourselves a bit. Next stop is Preliminary at Morven Park in a couple weeks. I’m thinking maybe Duke just wanted something a bit more challenging to keep his attention. And hey, we’re all allowed to have a show that we later say, “what the heck was that about!?” Next time will be better, and at least it makes for a good story!
Thanks for keeping up, until next time,
Carrie and Duke