Eventing is a funny sport, I guess by funny I mean hard, but what sport isn't hard, right? Just when you think you've fixed one problem, something else arises, possibly the polar opposite problem! With three very different tests, there are many, many skills to master, and even more things that can go wrong. Honestly, it's part of why we do the sport, why do something if it's too easy? Event riders love the challenge of mastering three phases instead of one.
I've had a really great season with Union, it started out a little rocky until I found the right xc bit, then things really clicked into place. We jumped clean around four intermediates, dressage was getting better and we had a couple clean stadium rounds. Denny and I started talking about moving up to advanced next season, thankfully that's still the plan but you never know what can happen between now and then! Anyway, I took Union down to plantation this past weekend for one final event for 2014 and it didn't go quite as planned.
Just before entering the dressage ring, as I passed the judge, Union leapt into he air, and that's about how the rest of the test went. Our tests have been getting much better, but the tense, nervous tb came out this weekend. It can happen with him, but less than in the past. Oh well, onto xc, right?!
The course looked great, big and gallopy with a few technical combinations. I thought it would be a great course for Union but I was worried about the out of the ruins and the last combination, a big table three strides downhill to a very oblique corner. I talked to several people and they all said to go straight the the corner in three, there was a possibility of jumping the table on an angle and bending four strides to the corner. Whenever you do a bending line instead of a straight line there is a greater chance of messing up the line, so I decided to go straight in three. Union was cruising around the course, he was making it feel so easy and I was right on track to make time (something I never do!) Union locked right on to the out of the ruins which made me feel very confident for the corner combination. I came to the table and jumped in well, but I didn't push enough for the three and we got three and a little, Union went out try and jump but (probably for the best since it was way too long) ended up stopping, chesting the corner and then running out. We did finished the course but I was very disappointed.
Last year, at this event, Union took over and smashed the last combination, almost fell down and I went flying. We worked so much on getting him more rideable and more under my control. We did achieve this and he is more rideable than ever, however, I think now when he is balanced, he does not have a full 12 foot stride. I think this is why the three stride was so long for us, the total opposite problem from last year! So, at least he is better than last year, but now we need to work on him staying balanced but opening his stride within that balance. I noticed it in stadium as well, we had two rails, both from him having to reach to the distance.
So, all in all, a disappointing weekend, but we came home no worse for the wear. I learned a lot, and we are both still as confident as we were before, in fact I feel even more confident with how well and easily he jumped the majority of the course. It isn't like he ran right past the corner either, I know if I had gotten him there better, he would have jumped it. So, good things for "winter work" and onto bigger and better things next year!
Below are the xc videos the Horsepesterer took. Thanks Dave!