Apple Knoll Farm Starter Trials

Back in August Shannon mentioned that I should think about entering one of the 3-phases in the fall because that was what I’d kind of been working towards and it would be a nice way to end the season.  As usual I cluelessly went, “Really?”  Followed by, “OK, that sounds like fun.”

Unfortunately, soon after Toby hurt his leg and went out to heal which meant that I would need to start riding someone else.  It takes time to form a new partnership with a pony so I assumed this meant we would be waiting until next year.  Particularly since Cody, the pony I was moving onto is a little more towards the green side and needs a bit more support from his rider than been there, done that Toby.

Cody’s stride is much bigger.  He’s not quite sure about this whole jumping thing, but he’s much more likely to jump a fence he shouldn’t than duck out like Toby.  In addition he struggles with being herd bound which means he can get a little upset when he has to go off by his lonesome on cross-country.  Overall though he’s sort of a silly, gangly kid–very sweet, tries hard to please, and likely to trip over his own feet–or step on yours–at any given moment.  🙂 In other words, quite an adjustment but very hard not to like.

After seeing that we were going to make a reasonable match and taking into account the relatively low difficulty of the Pre-Elementary level at Apple Knoll, it was determined that it would be OK to go ahead and enter the October 23rd 3-phase.  Based on the 2-phase I did in spring I had a few goals in mind–know my dressage test better so I wouldn’t stress so much about forgetting it, have a firmer understanding of what dressage entailed so I wouldn’t stress about not knowing what I was doing, and not get so stressed about remembering stadium and XC courses that it made me forget them.  Are we sensing a trend?

Anyhow, let’s get to the show.  The first notable item is that this is a very long day.  The times for the group from FHS ran from around 9:30-4:30.  Barn chores need to be done before leaving, the trailer needs to be loaded, and AKF is a little over an hour from the barn.  This meant getting up at 5am in order to make it to the barn by 6:30 and arriving back home at around 7:30pm.  The second is that there is a lot of waiting interspersed by relatively brief periods of frenzied activity.  My first ride time wasn’t until 3pm and I was done with everything by a little after 4.

First up was dressage.  I think that as jumps get higher the nerves for that part of the day would probably tend to eclipse dressage fears.  However at least for me at this stage the x-rails and small pre-el jumps don’t hold a candle to the dressage ring.  That big open space is very intimidating.  I was determined to be more prepared than the last time I entered the ring after my first show kind of snuck up on me.  My lease rides the last few weeks were spent doing circles and free walks and making sure I knew my test.  Shannon worked with me and I managed to have two make-up lessons with Dave.  The result being while I still feel like I have a ton of work to do even on the basics I felt a lot less nervous and a whole lot more organized this time around.  We turned in a decent test with no big surprises and should get better as my skills–hopefully–improve and we get to know each other more.

After a quick run back to the trailer for a change of clothing for Cody and me it was time for stadium jumping.  The differences between Cody and Toby have been particularly challenging in this area.  As long as you’re serious and on guard for quick dashes to the left or right Toby is happy to jump over fences.  Cody while quite honest needs a lot more support and proper posture from his rider.  I’m working on it but it’s very much a work in progress.  After last Monday’s lesson I mentioned to Tim that given our current state I thought it might be a hard for us to go clean.  My supportive husband’s response?  “There’s no way you’re going clean.”  Challenge was duly accepted and guess what?  We did!  :-p  One bonus of taking pictures of the girls riding their courses all summer is that it has relieved a lot of the anxiety I was having about remembering them.  I should probably also note that Tim is actually ridiculously supportive of my riding and even polished my boots for me.  🙂

Last up for the day was cross country.  The course was in a straight line bracketed by trees and a pond meaning even I couldn’t get turned around so no worries there and since we had done most of the jumps a level up when Dave took us out on Tuesday this was pretty much solid fun.  I took care to focus and not be complacent, but I would have had to work hard to get myself wound up.  The Pre-El jumps are essentially small sticks on the ground and Cody trotted over them like a champ.

Overall it was a great day!  Other than a little naughty pony action going up to the dressage ring–thank you Tory–Cody was such a good boy.  Can’t wait until next year!

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