Another Student Perspective on Rocking Horse Winter HT II
This past weekend, I headed to the Rocking Horse Winter HT II. Truth be told, I was more nervous about this one because this was to be my first Training Level competition. Rick had said at the previous show, that because I had established the fundamentals at novice level and I had done so well (I placed first in my Novice division at the previous RH Winter HT and 3rd at Ocala HT in November 2012) he was confident I could move up. My confidence in going clear and with no time penalties in the training level cross country was running a little low. So, it was with some reserve that I agreed to move up and compete in my first training level.
I knew that Rebel could jump; we’ve been a team for almost three years and over those years, I’ve come to know just how special a horse she really is. But, in saying that, I do know that sometimes her brain can get in the way of her talent. That being said, my brain can also get in the way of my talent as well. I had my doubts, but I still proceeded with the plan.
I didn’t have as much dressage practice as I would have liked to have had, my fault entirely, so I knew that dressage wouldn’t be getting me any wins this time. I knew stadium was going to be a piece of cake, but as I said, my trepidation lay with cross country.
Friday was the start of the weekend, beginning a with a long four hour drive to Altoona, Florida. After unpacking everything (including my “Dead Body” trunk as Rick and the gang like to call my entirely too heavy tack box), I had my lesson. Rebel was a bit feisty in the beginning, but Rick soon fixed that (with a little lesson about nose bands) and she did well the rest of the lesson.
After a great night eating out and camaraderie with all of Team Wallace South, it was time to get mentally prepared for the next day’s competition. Saturday was dressage and stadium day and I was as ready as I could be. Our dressage result was a 39.40, not a great score to be honest, but it was another learning experience. I will work on improving this with the help of my coach and lots of practice. In stadium, we went double clear; though to be honest, Rebel was to be credited with this clear round. I was just not feeling it that day. She jumped like a champ even in the tight situations she was put in, which again attests to the wonderful talent this horse has for jumping.
We ended the day in a tie for 8th place. Overall I was happy with our position, and learned more on how to improve errors I had made. Toward the end of the day I was pleased to receive a surprise visit from my uncle and 3 cousins and was also happy to hear they would come see my cross country run the next morning.
Sunday was the big day, for me at least. I had walked the course several times and the final time was with Rick to go over the game plan on speed, approaches and how to maneuver each of the different questions. The goal was to complete the memorized course under the optimum time allowed, but also go clear over each jump. There were many interesting obstacles, including ditches, banks, and a crazy tree jump. Despite the new and higher jumps, a longer course and faster pace, we did manage to jump clear and end our time two seconds under optimum. Which was the best time in junior training level, I might add. So, a clear cross country round with no time penalties moved us up one spot, to finish on our dressage score in seventh place out of twenty riders.
Rebel was a true sport this weekend and I am very proud to be her owner and rider. Thanks to Rick for all his help and support this weekend. My progress can be attributed to his talent as a coach. I can honestly say that I very much enjoyed this weekend and I’m looking forward to my next show at Poplar Place. I’ll make sure to get enough dressage work in beforehand!
I have found that Eventing is truly a team effort. The support of my teammates, Briggs Surratt and Parker Miller is essential and especially the enormous support of my mother, Patricia Dileo who takes incredible photographs for TWS and is my built in groom. All of them I would offer this phrase…..Thank you.