But I admire those bloggers who are consistently honest and give us glimpses into the good and the bad and there is really no point in only chronicling the good. It's super long, sorry-not-sorry for the word vomit.
Parking at this event is notoriously tight, the main parking was full by noon on Thursday (for a Friday start). I decided that rather than fucking around with my rig in a tiny space I'd just take the day off and head out early.
I was there and parked by 9:30. The parking guru parked me in a great spot, super close to the stalls, washrooms and in the trees so it'd be shady all weekend. Unfortunately, he also blocked me in from every side. Normally this wouldn't be a huge issue but I was riding in the second division (meaning I would be done by 10:30 on Sunday) and the rigs parked around me were in the second last division. Slightly irritating, but manageable.
I had a really great dressage school on Thursday afternoon in the insanely busy ring, was able to give my swamp monster a bath and then a XC course walk (Sandra was only there on Thursday and Friday, so she wouldn't be able to warm me up on Saturday).
My dressage ride time was 12:30 so I was able to get a good pre-ride (remembering I don't warm up for dressage). Unfortunately Dee was in a mood by the time I got on to head down to the ring and would not walk. I knew I was in for a pretty interesting test at this point. I spent the next 10 minutes doing plenty of transitions and small circles, just trying to get her focus. By the time we headed down the centerline we were slightly better, but as the test went on Dee just got faster and more inverted. I got tighter and quit breathing. Such a great combination.
|Not relaxed but I love her expression|
Photo by Sarah's Equine Design
We ended up with a 55% (67.5 penalty points) and were sitting in 17 out of 19. Our worst score to date but not last. I'll take it. The photographer got some fabulous photos so that's a win.
|Such love for this photo from Sarah's Equine Design|
Warm up started good, and then the nerves kicked in. I reverted back to pulling and not breathing. Wonder Pony carted me around a few times but then she stopped. And stopped. (Not doing anything to fix it while representing was not a bright move, and remember my coach was not there). Thankfully Amy (who I'd done a mini XC clinic with the week before) stepped up to help me. We got back into a good rhythm and ended on a really good note.
Fence one was set at a hard 90° from the startbox and you had to cross the road. It made getting a decent canter very challenging. Add in my nerves and we had a stop. I represented and Dee deer-jumped from the shortest distance but we got over it.
Fence 2 and 3 were also set in ways that made a rhythm nearly impossible to find but we got it done. Both were galloping fences and we actually galloped, with minimal pulling.
|Fence 4 is basically right behind the spruce tree on the right|
There was a full minute gallop from 4 to 5. Dee took this to heart and boogied. I tried getting her back about 2/3 of the way and she was having none of it. It was a fairly narrow lane through the trees so there wasn't really anywhere to circle. We ended up blowing by fence 5(the faux keyhole) picking up our second 20. I ran her into th trees to get her back and came at it again. She ducked out to the left again and I barely managed to monkey myself back into the saddle.
At this point I was mad (at both of us) and I rode the snot out of the re-approach. We got over it, and the jump judges gave us the loudest cheer, making me smile.
Next onto the terrain question, it was a downhill turn to the left and then a steep uphill to a cabin at the crest of the hill. A sharp right turn to a very steep downhill again. Once again, I over-rode it, knowing we couldn't afford any more stops. Which caused us to get in close to the base but Dee isn't Best Pony for no reason.
7 was the corner, with a long option to an oxer. We took the option as planned and had a great ride through to fence 8, a max width table.
|Fence 8 is beihnd the flower pot (you can just see the flags)|
|The corner is basically just to the left of this photo. |
You come around the bend and it's just there, setting up for a great left run-out
Fence 9 was heading into the infield and rode lovely.
|Photo by Sarah's Equine Design|
This brought us into the twisty turny water. 10 was a ramp with a fairly short turn to 11, a drop into the water. The plan was to take the direct route, unless Dee was super amped, then we planned to take a big right turn to get her back and collected to drop into the water.
|You can see the drop at the very edge of the left side of the photo|
She's fabulous about dropping into water but the next fence was another corner that I was going to take the option, which meant as soon as we hit the water we needed to exit stage right, rather than cantering straight through.
|Photo by Sarah's Equine Design|
As she had already ran away on me once I took the safe route and added the circle. It rode really nice and we got a great turn in the water, heading to the ramp option.
|Sandra later told me that this measures as a Prelim corner|
13 was a large brush fence that rode great.
Fence 14 was a hanging log on a downhill slope that went very well.
15ABC was the coffin. My plan was to get very close to the tree line to get the straight line and then just ride for C. I once again probably over rode this, which resulted in a funky distance to the first fence but we got it done foot perfect otherwise.
|C was giant!|
16 was a bench alongside the parking. Sandra wanted me to over ride this one as the parking lot can be chaotic and distracting. This went well with how I was already riding but Dee couldn't' have cared less.
17 was a roll top off sharp turn on a hill. Turns out over riding everything allows me to really nail the galloping fences :)
18AB was an offset cabin line. I rode (according to plan) the first at a fairly steep angle to get a straight line to the skinny at B.
Up the hill to 19. We got in super close so it wasn't pretty but "over or through" right?
Down the hill and a wonky turn (you basically had to overshoot the jump to get the line) to 20 and into the water to a chevron on the way out.
By Fence 22 I was determined to finish and once again over rode it but we crossed the finish. 80 jumping and 26.4 time penalties, but still a number.
With the stops and the options I came in at 7:18 (OT was 6:07). I knew Dee was going to be hot and puffing, but the vet wouldn't take a baseline.
I walked her for a couple minutes before he pulsed her. She pulsed in high (104) but her respiration was already recovering.
Isabel and Martini crossed the finish at this point and vetted in with no issues. When they left Dee proceeded to have a melt down, screaming her head off and trying to run me over. Needless to say, when they pulsed her again, it was still high.
I told the vet I was going to run to the wash rack to try and get her cooled out with water (there was no water at the finish). He told me that I had to be back in 3 minutes to pulse again.
I made it back in just under 3 minutes but Dee was still being a twerp. He took her pulse but didn't tell me what it was and told me that I could go. His exact words were "Ok, you can go".
Back at the trailer we continued to get water on/off her because I knew she hadn't fully recovered. Within minutes of being beside Martini with some water to cool her off she was back to resting pulse and respiration. I was concerned about how long it took her to recover but everyone assured me that it was hot (27° with 80% humidity), she was out there for a over a minute than most and she was being a herd bound idiot.
Getting ready on Sunday morning for show jumping someone came and told me that someone had been looking for me at my stall.
There was a note on my stall from a member of the ground jury. I tracked her down and she told me that the vet had eliminated me with concerns about my horse's fitness. I was absolutely floored. I told her that I was not going to dispute it, as equine welfare always comes first but that why hadn't the vet said something to me, someone from the ground jury let me know earlier (this was 40 minutes before my ride time). She told me that they didn't' find out until late the previous night as the vet had just left them a note.
A thing to note, there is no Equine Canada rule about having to vet in at the finish. In fact, Alberta is the only place to require it outside of the international levels. There has been much discussion and debate about this non-rule stipulation. Many feel that it is a waste of time and money and that requiring us to pulse down before we have the opportunity to properly cool our horse off (almost none of the course have water at the finish) is counter productive. Because this isn't an actual rule, the vet does not have the grounds to eliminate someone. They can express their concern to the GJ and make recommendations but it ultimately falls to the GJ to eliminate someone.
|Adorable dog to break up the text|
I was extremely upset (cue the frustrated tears). Everyone who knows me was shocked, as my horse is very fit. My previous coach went so far as to tell me that she was sure my horse is probably the most fit out of our group of 6 riders and to not worry about it.
The more I considered it, the more angry I got. The vet had a concern about my horse. A legitimate one, as she was not pulsing down as she should. But he told me I was good to go. If I was less experienced I may have just tossed her back in her stall without additional cooling, which could have catastrophic implications.
As a vet he has an ethical responsibility to the welfare of the horse. As a paid contractor he has a legal responsibility to help mitigate Equine Canada and the organizers liability. He failed on both counts. This is what makes me the most angry. He should have been involved until Dee was actually fully cooled out and he was confident she was going to be ok.
I did end up speaking with the TD after I had calmed down and she was great. Once she understood that I was not trying to fight it she listened and was helpful. She was shocked that the vet had let me go without saying anything. I did tell her that if he had mentioned his concern I would have gone and grabbed her buddy so she would settle down. I also would have brought her back to get her checked out after I felt she was cooled out, even if I had known about the elimination because her welfare is the most important thing, not a completion.
|Dee enjoying a nap while we waited to leave|
TL:DR Crappy dressage with great photos. Even crappier XC, (3 stops), eliminated by a vet who apparently doesn't understand his responsibilities. Overall, shitty weekend. But hey, great photos!