Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wake-Up Call!

There are two types of people in this world: Those who do as they’re told, and those who just have to learn things the hard way. I, my friends, am CLEARLY a member of the latter group of hard-headed characters. As many of you have probably noticed by now, my results at the Fork did not quite go as planned, but isn’t that what eventing is about after all: Knowing all of your alternate routes in case the direct line doesn’t seem to pan out? I guess it’s not only an eventing lesson, but a life lesson no doubt!

Dressage day at the Fork was one of mixed reactions for me. I had a wonderful warmup on Al, an even better dressage test, followed by one of the most memorable moments of my life when CMP gave me the coveted “high five,” then I was brought down to earth when Brian O’Connor announced my score of 33.0. Ahhh such is life! When you think you’re up, you’re down and vice versa. Upon later review of my test, I was ecstatic that EVERY flying lead change was clean and my corners were used and movements well executed. Whether the judge saw it the same way as I felt it is obsolete at this point: My lessons are finally starting to register! To date I believe it is the best test Al and I have ridden...the key words here being, “TO DATE.” That’s right folks, we are saving our best efforts for two weeks down the road...

Cross country day brought a few clouds looming overhead scattering some rain here and there but the footing held up for the horses throughout the day. I had a phenomenal round in the morning aboard my sale horse Rising Spirit, who laughed her way around the intermediate course clocking in precisely on optimum time. Being that May is such a “forward thinking” horse, she really encourages me to “settle” in my riding early in the course, as her rhythm rarely changes. When I set out on Al, I pressed myself to parallel the same feeling I had earlier aboard May.

As Al cantered down to the first fence, I felt nothing but confidence and wind between my Heritage gloves and Al’s webbed reins. In fact, the whole course went so brilliantly that at the final double corner combination, I softened just a bit too much to the second, thus giving Al an open door for the run out. Being that our nearly PERFECT advanced cross country record was now marred due to my overconfidence, the walk back to the barn was a very, VERY long one (Valerie Ashker can certainly attest to this)!

For the rest of the evening and throughout the night I replayed the run out over and over, wondering what I could have done better and why I could have let this happen? When all of my responses came back insignificant and somewhat inane, I decided to listen to my mom tell me the answer I did not want to hear. “WAKE UP CALL!” Truth be told it has been a long time since I have had a refusal on a cross country course and perhaps the Fork was the ideal time for me to learn yet another, difficult lesson: Never get too comfortable. Being that my round felt so confident and easy aboard Al, I let my guard down and softened the reins ASSUMING he would hold the straight line that I placed him on for the double corners. Tisk tisk Lainey Evion! One should NEVER soften to a corner, let alone an advanced level one! What was I thinking?! And to this I would refer my students to the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

The point being here is that we are all human beings. We all make mistakes. Although my mistake cost me a twenty penalty markup to my dressage score, I hope it will give me that added encouragement when the next set of double corners present themselves in Kentucky! Consider this a lesson learned!

The final day at the Fork was a tough one for some, including me. Although my intermediate horse jumped a flawless round to finish second in the class, I was unable to show jump Alex due to a twisted shoe on course the day prior (probably a result of my misgiving...or lack thereof). The farrier fixed the shoe just fine, but I just couldn't risk an injury being that Rolex is now so close, so I figured I would save the Phenom for another day...preferably two weeks from now.

I am happy to write that the horses have all been moved in and are settling in superbly to my new barn at Rockville Equestrian Center. Lynn Woychick and her lovely daughter Caitlynn have been overtly hospitable which has made the whole moving process an enjoyable one. As the clock keeps ticking my focus now turns to maintaining Alex’s fitness while snagging some last minute lessons from Kim to perfect those tiny 8 meter circles! Until then folks, tighten up those shoulder in angles and perfect that 5-loop canter serpentine! We’ve got a four star to win!