I had signed Mac and I up for our first horse trials last weekend. Coming off a great dressage show debut I was excited for the HT, where we were entered in the elementary division.
Mac has been to this venue a couple times before - once for a clinic and once for schooling when we happened to be the only people there (with his girlfriend Bugzy). Since he's been there before and has been so good at the past couple of show venues we've been to, I didn't give it a second thought that we might have any problems.
Boy was I wrong.
We got there on Friday afternoon so he'd have time to settle in and we could go out for a nice hack the day before the show started. He seemed to be fine when I got on, although a bit distracted. Then, when we went to the creek area, a woman was coming out of the creek on a young, green horse. When she got out of the creek and up the hill, her horse spooked and spun. And so Mac spun. And that was the beginning of the end. I could not get him to pay attention to me and settle. He came completely undone. I decided to get off and do some ground work, but I was too late. I don't know if something happened that I didn't see, but he started leaping in the air and bolted forward, bucking at the same time. As hard as I tried, there was no way for me to stay on. I came off and landed on my back. OUCH!!!! Mac ran away to some paddocks which, oddly enough, were not the paddocks where he was stabled. Someone caught him and brought him back to me.
Ouch. Did I say that? I was very sore. Did I say that?
But after a little chat I got back on. And Mac then decided that he was able to pay attention to me. We had the "sweaty saddle pad" schooling session where we basically trotted on the bit (with circles, changes of direction, transitions) for an hour. Found a friend with ibuprofen or something like that, took a couple, had a beer, and went to bed. Ouch. Did I say that? I couldn't sleep well because I could barely move. Turning over was such an effort that it caused much moaning and groaning and time to get my body moved over to one side. It was a very fitful night. I don't think Mac had trouble sleeping, though.
The next day was dressage and stadium jumping. I gave myself a good 45 minutes to warm up but of course he was perfect and only required 20 minutes. And his canter felt fabulous! The few riders before me were nowhere to be found so the judge let me ride my test early. Mac didn't have a chance to even have a peek at that arena ahead of time but he was sooooo good and held himself together and we put in a good test. As I went to the judge to thank her, she commented that my test was "very well ridden!" So that was good news. Turns out we got a 26.3 score (which would be a 73.7 in regular dressage). Good job, Mac.
Put him up after that and let him chill for a while, took him out to graze for a while, put him up again...we had a long wait until stadium.
Finally the time came for us to warm up for stadium. Again, he was really good. This was the first time he'd been in a jumping warm-up arena, with horses coming at him from all directions, and people jumping fences in the middle of the arena. He did a great job of handling it all and keeping his wits about him. Unfortunately, when we went into the actual show ring, he was bothered by the change of scenery, all the people in the stands, the shadows, the creek crossing, the crazy jumps. We got eliminated. Thankfully the judge was really nice and let us finish the course so I got him over all the jumps.
We could have requested to do XC the next day, but given how much pain I was in, it wasn't worth it. If anything else happened to me, I don't know that my body could have handled it, so we packed up and came home. I'm quite sure Mac didn't care!
I don't mind being eliminated, but I was bummed by being thrown on Friday night. And I'm still feeling it. Doing yoga every day, plus going to the chiropractor, has definitely helped and I DO feel better; I just wish I could go back in time and have tried a different approach. Maybe it would have worked; maybe not.
Anyway, I was very proud of him for his performance on Saturday! Colin got some video of the dressage but isn't finished uploading it yet so it will have to wait a few days.