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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Groton House Farm H.T. 6/26/09: Day 1, Dressage


Out of our enormous and very competitive division (23 people, there were two scratches last minute), Gogo and I have tied for 2nd with a 31.5, less than half a point behind the leader. The leader is a professional riding at Intermediate (and just did a CIC** in Florida), and the rider I'm tied with is an Advanced/Intermediate professional who just spent the winter competing in Area 3. And then there's me. To say I'm thrilled doesn't begin to describe it.

We had a very solid dressage test. She just warmed up well, and maintained it through our entire test. We had the same comments that we've gotten all year so far - needs more activity and forwardness - but I was letting her be on the lazier, more relaxed side, just to err on the side of caution. I obviously will need to fire her up a little more for the Areas! I can put that kind of pressure on her now, but last year it would have been a disaster. Just one more maturity notch in the Gogo training stick. We had an ENORMOUS severe thunderstorm (complete with ground lightening and hail) at 5am this morning, but it was gone long before I ever even got on. I had plenty of sun for my dressage test.

That's what I saw out my window at 5am.

From there, it got progressively hotter and muggier... and I got a nice sunburn after walking the course again in the afternoon. I pretty much killed Ti, who was panting uncontrollably by the end of the coursewalk. You'd think a greyhound with no fat or hair would enjoy the heat, but apparently not. The course looks awesome. If you want to sort of follow along, you can go to the coursewalk, but the pictures aren't working for me... at least you'll have the map!

From the startbox, we have our first fence, a big rampy thing all covered in bright purple flowers jumping into a downhill area. Pretty intimidating for the first one on course! You go through a narrow opening in a fenceline, then swerve back up another hill to the right to fence two, a set of logs filled in with brush like so:

We'll be shooting for the gap between the second and third trees so she's not so backed off. Up from there you go down a path in the woods to a set of logs that is set to land on a downhill slope, so you can't see the landing until you're on top of it, and you have to crank right when you hit the ground. The fourth fence is another set of funky narrow logs, and then comes a question - how to get to fence five? You have to thread the needle through a bunch of trees on a hill, and the question stands as where IS the best place to go? I have a path picked out that should cut time and not be too outrageous, so we'll just see how she's feeling. The fifth fence is simple:

But the following path is NOT! You again need to weave through the trees in the woods to get to fence six, which is big and dark and in the shadows so you can't see it well. There is just no easy way to get there. Once you're over fence six, you're back out in the field, and fences seven and eight are straightforward, easy to look at, and gallopy... very gallopy. There is a looooooong gallop to fence nine, which is a hay rack that's a bit looky, and fence 10 is a barn that's on a loop around through where the dressage arenas were. Down a steep hill and you have fence 11 - only the second real stand-alone fence on course that's not connected to a fenceline (fence four is the first), and the landing is up a steep hill and into the woods. We'll need to pick a careful line so we don't end up in the damn trees! Cranking it to the left, and then back to the right, you gallop down a road that brings you eventually to the opening of the next field and fence 12, which is an enormous black yawning ditch of doom. It's bigger and deeper and darker (filled with black mulch) than any ditch she's ever done, and she used to have a major ditch phobia, so EYES UP and LEG ON! That's a big question, and so is the next fence: an actual small drop fence. Not just a downbank, but a real drop fence, which looks like this from the landing side:

And the landing is looky as hell - you drop off onto a short sloping hill, at the bottom of which is the entire water complex, tons of people, tents, fountains, etc! You can't see ANY of that until you get to the actual drop! You need to crank to the right HARD when you land to look around to the water, which looks like this only plus the actual, you know, water:

Her first real fence out of water. It's a NARROW corridor out, and a hard turn to the left in order to get to fence 15, so this is going to be trick and I will be conservative through these four efforts. But there's only two to go from here on out, so we'll gun it to fences 16 and 17, which are big, rampy, and covered in more flowers and shrubs. The idea is to get as close as possible to the optimum time to break the tie, so I'll take it more conservatively if I can. The rider tied with me obviously knows what she's doing, so she's going to be shooting for the same and probably already has a way better feel for the pace of this course than I will, so I'll keep my eye on my watch.


Aw man. As Daun said, "tell her to keep her panties on, she's working!"

We ride tomorrow at 8:28am. SO FREAKING EXCITED. The course is big, flowy, gallopy and fun looking. I am pumped as hell and I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!


blogfourfiveone said...

Yay! Congrats! Have a great XC!

Kate said...

That's amazing - you go girl(s)! Being in heat doesn't seem to have hurt your dressage results. Thanks for the virtual course walk - it looks like an interesting and challenging course. I miss cross country - it was a blast - I'm too old for it now and rarely jump anymore.

DressageInJeans said...

Again, as always, luck!! I was checking your status whilst I was at work, waiting for an update. :D!!!

Golden the Pony Girl said...

Congrats! Looks like all of your dressage work has paid off!