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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mystic Valley Hunt Club H.T. 5/30/09 (Cont.)

We did it AGAIN, oh we did!!!

While I feel it is slightly tactless to start going on about our big win in the face of big problems like Daun's annoyances with a defunct schooling show, I don't think I can contain this excitement any longer. This is Gogo's second ever Novice, and second event of the year, and we've won both of them on our dressage score. We are high atop the Area 1 Leaderboard already, and are chipping away at the top riders on the USEA National Leaderboard (the ones that have been showing in California and Florida since January!). We are overqualified for the Area 1 Championships, and just need one more completion (we don't even have to place, we just have to obtain a final score!) in order to solidify our trip to the AECs this year.

The day started out FREAKING EARLY. Woke up at 4am, staggered out to Gogo's stall in my PJs with her breakfast in tow, staggered back in to get dressed and gather my final items, staggered back out to the barn, threw her shipping boots on, and tossed her and the dog in the truck and trailer, departing at roughly 4:35am. We made it to the showgrounds at around 6am, and I was thankfully much more awake by then due to a Monster and a delicious Clif barn :D

Bright eyed and ready to go!

We had a leisurely hour to get ready, and I got on with a little less than an hour to warm up. Well, apparently it wasn't quite enough! Gogo was showing some of her usual magic show-heat signs - total distractability, talking to other horses, etc - and I spent the entire warmup feeling like she was being okay, but was ready to jump out of her skin. The actual test was a total blur, and I hardly remember it at all, but I halted, saluted, gave her a pat, and groaned inwardly. The whole thing was a tense mess, I thought. So much for a good placing!

Hi mom!

Back at the trailer I untacked (she hadn't even broken a sweat and was still raring to go), groomed her, put on her boots, and plopped her back on the trailer while Ti and I went to go walk the two courses again. The water jump looked just as hairy as it did the day before (it wasn't anything other than a TON OF ROCKS that made me worry about it... not that we wouldn't make it through, but would we make it through without major injury?), but everything else seemed inviting still.

By the good grace of some higher being, I happened by the scoreboard on my way back to get ready for stadium, and the dressage scores were up. I thought my test was rather caca... well what do you know, apparently it didn't LOOK caca even though it felt caca because I ended up with a 30.0, and was in first after dressage! Woohoo!

And off we went again for our stadium and XC, after getting all dolled up. They ran the format back to back, which is tiring but efficient, and I went into my stadium all dressed for XC, vest and pinney and all. I only warmed up a little, mostly just stretching out her muscles and bopping quietly over a few warmup fences, and then I went into the big grassy field, a little ahead of schedule. This course flowed VERY well, and the fences were beautiful - props to Mystic. I was much more relaxed than I was at King Oak, even though I drove her a bit to the first fence and got a little bit of a big spot to it. Second fence went smoothly, third fence went beautifully, fourth was even better.... and we settled into it, rode quietly to each fence, got an appropriate medium spot to everything (not long anywhere!), and cruised over the final big yellow oxer for a double clear round. Gorgeous, and FUN. Yay!

We then went right off for XC, and literally my warmup was the walk over there, and one lap around the warmup ring at the trot. That's it. We were already all geared up and ready to go. And for the first time in her life, Gogo didn't oogle at the first few fences, didn't take a little while to settle into the course - she was locked on and ready to go right from the very first fence. That's incredible.. she's never been that ready before. Our pace steadily picked up from there, and fences one through five went beautifully, five being the big ditch that a year ago would have probably had me slung off over her head! (Major phobia of Gogo's last year... this year she cantered over it. CANTERED PEOPLE. Even at the end of last year we were still leaping over them!) Our spot to fence six was a little bit off, and she knocked a toe on it, but picked up her pace in the three strides to the next coop and clear that one beautifully. No problems over the next set of logs and no problems in the woods either - we came at the water from a brisk trot, slowed to a sort of fast walk in the middle of the water (which she peeked at because it was moving but it never felt like she was going to stop at it, she just wanted to see what it was doing!), trotted out, and hopped over the log out of the woods just fine. Everything else went totally according to plan - picture frame, down bank (which she took overly enthusiastically as usual and we landed pretty hard!), bench, stone wall, and big curved white log at the end, which slowed her down a little but didn't cause any problems. Double clear again to TAKE THE DIVISION!

Gogo says, I won okay grass now please.

The only crappy part of the day was that it then took 3 hours to pin the division, and they had announced that there would be a mounted awards ceremony 10 minutes after each division's scores were final. Well, idiot me thinks that isn't going to take very long, so I kept her tacked... and waited. And waited. And got back on, and rode around. And waited. And got off, and kept her tacked but unbridled her and let her stand around and eat some hay and drink some more water. And waited. And got back on. And waited. Forever. And finally, even though our scores had been finalized for OVER an hour, they went oh wait, yeah! And there were only two horses that showed up to this mounted awards ceremony, and I was the only one actually mounted. Only four people in my division showed up to get ribbons at all! The other girl that actually came up to the awards ceremony with her horse (untacked, of course, and I wish I had done that too, poor Gogo!) and I had a good long chat, and shared a victory meander around the field (mostly it was me cantering around her in circles while she lead her horse around and laughed at me, it was very fun).

You know, our sport has a lot of things to work on right now, and a lot of glaring holes and problems, but the core of this entire sport is held together by the people that love it. I had so many people approach me, so many people offer to help me when they found out I was alone, and SO many people come running up to me with a smile to congratulate me after it was all over and ask how my day was. Everyone was smiling, everyone was friendly, and everyone was there to lend a hand whenever anyone needed anything. This is why I won't - why I can't - give up on this sport, no matter what happens. The heart of all of this beats with the people who live and breathe eventing, and do it for the love of the game, and the love of their horses and the partnership and satisfaction they find there. There will always be bad eggs, but there are so many good ones out there too. We are such a loving, wonderful community, and together, we will find ways to make this sport safer and better.

My favorite part of the day came when I was tacking back up to go get our awards, and a big wind came through the trees. We were parked in a shady spot, the sunlight trickling through the leaves, and a whole shower of helicopter seeds burst from the tree directly overhead. As I mounted and started back on the walk to the awards ceremony, the seeds all came floating down gently around us, settling all over us like confetti. It was as if Nature itself was celebrating our win, giving us our own private little ceremony, validating and praising all the hard work we've been doing all year long.

Life is surely beautiful and good.


manymisadventures said...

I am so happy for you. I've struggled with talented yet, uh, opinionated horses before, and I know how amazing it feels when everything comes together.

You and Gogo have such a great bond. I think all the progress you two have made is a testament to your hard work and her trust in you.

Albigears said...

Love it!
What a great post!

Daun said...

I am so proud of you and Gogo! You are a constant inspiration to me to not give up on this crazy sport.

I can't wait to watch your round at Groton House and cheer on our CHAMPION!!

JW.BW said...

Congrats!! Thats just awesome!

DressageInJeans said...

Wooo woooo! :D You guys are doing AWESOME. What's even better is that you KNOW that last week can't even be called a fluke, because you came out and did it AGAIN.

Just curious as I am no eventer, but when do you bump a horse up a division?

Jana said...

Congratulations! That's so exciting!!! You and Gogo are such an inspiration for me!