Jumping Branch Farm: Dan's first Training!!
Ah... how cool that Dan's first ever schooling horse trial was at tadpole at Jumping Branch Farm and now.. his first Training HT is at Jumping Branch Farm's final horse trial? I mean, it's sad that Julie won't be hosting horse trails anymore... because they are awesome. But it's pretty cool that he's had two "Firsts" here.
We had to come when she posted it was her last one ever. And.... I wasn't quite sure we were ready for training, but I figured it's such a perfect place for his first training... and even if we had some issues, I thought I would be more mad at myself for not training than if we tried and had some issues. And I didn't think it would be huge issues, so.. we went for it. And I'm soooo glad we did!!
Of course, in typical Dan style... there was some problems. ;) I didn't get to ride but Tuesday this week and of course by the time Friday rolled around, I hadn't even really packed. So I got up and started packing. In theory it shouldn't take me long right? Everything basically lives in the trailer aleady. So.. I got mostly done.. even ate some breakfast. All I had left to do was pack the cooler and give Dan a bath. I really wanted to clip him, but that wasn't happening. So I put the cooler in the truck and noticed.... what the??! DANIEL FLOYD BREAUX!!!!! He had pulled the velcroed cover off the auxillary gas tank and chewed up the wires. Seriously horse?!?!?! Are you kidding me? I wanted to leave in 30 minutes! So... I called Lead Foot and they said they'd take a peak. I got unhitched and when I turned the truck on.. it said ZERO GAS! Like... not even hovering. The needle was flat. Well.. of course I know that's not the case. I know I had at least half a tank in there because of how my aux tank works. So... I drove to Lead Foot. On my way I prayed that God would be gracious and let them be able to fix it quickly and easily. Even if it was just to where I could use my regular tank, but know how much gas I had and come back later to get the aux tank fixed. Because... not only did I really want to show, but I really wanted to cheer my friends on too. And while I could go without my horse, truck, or trailer... I wouldn't have a place to sleep and would have to get a hotel... and had already paid so much for the show. Luckily Lead Foot is great and God is Amazing and Kind and they were able to get me up and running in 30 minutes. Dan destroyed one of the connecting pieces that is specific to that tank, so they had to order it, but he was at least able to wire me back up to bypass my aux tank and my gas gauge read correct. :) So then I went and put another 10 gallons in to be at full and raced home. I gave Dan a bath because he was... chunky! Like dirt was literally caked onto him and there were chunks in his hair. Unfortunately, because I had to essentially power was him, it took me a lot longer than I wanted. So it was finally 1 pm before I left. Sigh. Oh well. Sally drove great and we were doing great until we hit a bit of traffic. Then I had to pee and it was getting really warm. I had put the cooler on Dan because he was wet when I loaded him and it was chilly when we left our farm. So I pulled into the rest stop to pee and pull his fleece cooler off. I had hopped in the back when a face popped up in my window. He said "Cute horse! Can I come look at him? Is he friendly". So when I said yes, he walks into my tack room and tries to come towards Dan. I warned him that he isn't super friendly and the guy asked his name... his name was Dan too. And he's talking.... and finally I was like "Um... I hate to be rude, but... I was going to pee back here and then we need to get back on the road before I run out of daylight, so...". ha ha. Awkward! But he was nice and left so I could pee and then we hit the road again. We made it to Aiken at 4:30 and I knew I need to walk my XC course for sure since I wouldn't have time tomomrrow. Thank goodness because... I didn't really have time and there was one fence that took me awhile to find. So.. Cindy and I walked together. The course looked FUN!!! Like super fun. It was a perfect first training. But there was a few fences that looked big and a few I worried about. Then we walked stadium and it was getting dark. It took us a minute to find fence 1 (we missed the map on the board) but once we found that it flowed nice. So... this is important... she has the bank complex in the course. The left side is BN and tadpole and the right side is training and prelim. The training and prelim side is graduated.. ie, the left side was shorter and the right side was taller, but it was one solid piece.. it was just that the ground sloped. For prelim, the flag was set in the middle of that section to force them over the higher part. There was a note that said something to the effect of, training can go farther to the left. So... in my mind... at dusk... prelim jumped the right side of the white flag and training jumped the right side of the second white flag farther to the left. Anyways.. by the time we did that it was too dark to ride, so.... darn!! Now Dan hasn't been ridden since Tuesday. But.. he had a paddock, so he was much happier and I was much safer. His neighbor paddock buddy had nice owners who mentioned that Danny was very observant and always watching. I laughed and joked that he was trouble and a bad influence.
So... then I went to shower and... MAN... my freaking shower doesn't work. It dribbles! Argh.. when the RV place replaced it... they somehow messed it up and this was the first chance I used it, so... dang it! Argh. Well.. Cindy and I said screw it and went to dinner. We went to Aiken fish house and I got oysters!! Yum! Afterwards we checked ponies and went to bed. I didn't sleep well. I did pray to God that I was very grateful that he let me get to Aiken and appreciated him having my truck fixable. And I also prayed that the rain would hold off so that we (collective we.. the whole show) didn't have to ride in the rain if possible and that he would help me ride my best and have Dan be on his best behavior so that we had a good ride. And I prayed too that we would go clean, although... I would be okay if we didn't.
I woke up at 6 am to sprinkles... but you know what? It only lasted about 10 minutes and then there was another short little bit of sprinkles right at 7 am and then NOTHING the whole rest of the day until 30 minutes after the last rider!! Then we got a little bit more and then it rained and will keep raining til about midnight, but... how awesome that Julie's last show didn't have any rain!?! :) God is so good! So.. yeah... we went to do our dressage and Dan was on the muscle in warm up. I tried to do the neck suppling stuff Beanie had us do and it helped I think. He was very forward and "go-ey" I thought. He did not feel tired or behind my leg at all. It wasn't the best test, but I thought it was pretty good. Apparently our canter lengthenings were more speed then lengthens... and our test needed more energy and engagement. Which... engagement.. of course, as he just doesn't really want to sit and push. But I felt like we had enough energy? If anything, too much. So... ???? Who knows. I'll watch the test and see. Maybe it looks different than it felt. I mean, I'm sure it does, because what the heck do I know? So we scored a 34 something, which.. is probably one of our worst scores, but.. it was training level. But still.. As we were walking back though I thought "dang, if he's as forward and game for jumping as he is now, I'm golden".
And... he was! We warmed up for jumping and the first two fences were decent. Nothing bad and he was forward and game. Then we went to the oxer and the vertical on the side next to the XC course and as we went for the oxer, he surged and jumped it huge! He landed bucking. Hee hee. Then he went into leaping dancing mode and trying to buck. I guess the horses coming by on XC got him amped up. I giggled because it was just like he acted at his very first horse trial there. Hee hee. So then he wouldn't settle and I was like... uh oh! He piaffed laterally (like a side pass I guess) for about 20 steps. And then.. he took a breath... we jumped another jump or two and while he was still game and fresh and forward and going, he was breathing. It was really kind of fun. So we quit with that... and then it was our turn! In we went. He was super!! I picked to the first fence so we sort of puked over it but then we got better. Then... I got to the banks... and son of a gun. It wasn't that there were two white flags.. it was that the one white flag was moved over some... so my brain panicked. I thought... I'm supposed to be able to go to the left of the big prelim bank... and my brain didn't compute quick enough so we ended up taking the tappole/BN bank... whoops! I realized it but not quick enough to avoid jumping the next fence.. so we just kept going. And he was great! We finished nicely, but... were technically eliminated. Doh! Oh well. He didn't know he was eliminated and he did awesome! They are great and let us run XC.
And XC was AWESOME!!!! He was so super. He was quick and fresh and ready and game and tore it up!! But he was also rideable! He peeked at some but it was more of him sizing it up and as soon as I closed my leg, he said Okay. And... honestly, it sort of felt like the bigger fences didn't really back him off, if anything, he was more game! Our first fence was a hanging log... the second fence was a very BLUE log stack. Then fence 3 was a HUGE table.. in my opinion. With carrots on it... I thought, man.. he's gonna stop and get rewarded with a carrot. ha ha. But nope! He soared over it! Then there was a 3 stride on a slight angle. I either jumped ahead or picked and held or something so he got in pukey, but he manned up and got us out on the 3. Then he sort of peeked at the sunburst but when I closed my leg, he opened up and did it. Then we really galloped and opened up through the woods! That was HIS kind of course!! I checked him for the road crossing and then he jumped the roll top and then was super perfect for the upright skinny down the hill. And go me, because I'm pretty sure my landing gear was on par too. Then... I remember that trakehner being WAY scarier than it was. It was really kind of tiny... and it boxed you in. It's just that it's at the bottom of the steep hill. But he sailed over it like it was nothing. Then he flew over the mushroom cap and jumped bravely over the log into the water and out of the water over the cabin. Then we galloped on to the lava rocks and then...we trotted down the steep hill because.. it was steep and angled. Then he jumped the cabin, although we sort of puked over that one. But he gunned up and got us up the bank and over the log right after. He peeked a hair at the wedge/corner but went on and then... it was the big flat bench thing. He peeked at that too but again, when I closed my leg he said yes ma'am. Then it was a simple final fence and we loped to the finish line. We still were only a little over optimum even with the trotting. SOOOOOOOOOOO PROUD OF HIM!!! What a rock star! (and I'm sooooo sad because I did my helmet cam wrong and totally missed the entire course. sigh). He had plenty of go left in the tank and while he was hot and breathing a little heavy, that quickly came down and he was trying to graze almost immediately.
Oh how I love him! That was probably one of the MOST FUN rides we've had on XC. Seriously.... it was just.... like I knew he was game and wasn't going to pull any shenanigans and I felt like we were together. It was such a blast!!
So... he got iced, tons of cookies, grazed, and now he's back in the paddock with his blankies while it's pouring rain. But.. he's still happier than in a stall. And tomorrow we were going to hack at Hitchcock woods but instead I think we'll just hack here and maybe pop over some fences again.. maybe try a few prelim ones that look fun. Then go home and he gets Monday off. :)