Whitney Weston

Whitney Weston Eventing

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shall we do a three star? I think so.....

After such a wonderful trip to Poplar, my friends and I had a little look over the qualifications on the drive back to Ocala. Oh how studious we felt using our smartphones to research USEF, USEA, and FEI rules. Turns out, I was qualified for a CIC three star! And as luck would have it, our next outing was The Fork International Horse Trials 2 weeks later in North Carolina. Just when I thought I had figured out Advanced, time to step it up for a Three star! Yikes!

Well, Lusty and I were up for the challenge as we drove the solid 10 hours to NC. We arrived on the monday night before competition, Buck had training sessions and it was great to get settled in early. We had a few days to preview the property, take some flat lessons and even jump on weds. Lusty seemed a little excited about this property but settled nicely for her work.

Lusty didn't do dressage until friday, so I had the opportunity to watch many of the three star division go on thurs. Certainly was intimidating to have such a huge division with competitors prepping for Rolex 4star and the Olympics. There were somewhere between 50 and 60 entries in the 3 star....

Walking the course for the first time with Buck was exciting. Though, when Buck says "thats a big freaking fence" as advice on 75% of the course walk, it makes one nervous!!!
My friend Natalia at jump 10, ditch and wall. Doesn't do it justice, there is a deep 5 ft wide ditch in front!!!

Friday finally arrived for our dressage. It felt like ages since we had been on property for 4 days without competing! Even with our routine going so well, Lusty never truly settled like normal. She would strike a pose next to the dressage ring (while trying to graze her) and stare in the direction of the xc course without blinking or breathing for minutes on end, still like a deer in deep concentration. Lusty had competed here over 2 years ago and still knew where the course was, over a mile away....she is the smartest horse I know.

Even so I was very pleased with her level of relaxation in the ring. I knew not to push her too much since her mind was elsewhere, especially since our goal for the weekend was to experience our first three star together, learn a lot, but not nessessiarily to be competitive. She was a very good girl, though we didn't achieve our level of awesomeness at Poplar :( Still....the first test finished it was time to focus on our massive xc course!

Another lucky note: I was about three-quarters into the order of go, so I could watch several of the other experienced riders on my course before I went out. This did not have the effect I thought it would, because I saw many retirements, refusals, and falls by top riders. As I walked my course and watched every fence being ridden, it took much longer than anticipated because I had to wait for a horse to do it well so the mistake wasn't in my head! This did not instill much confidence that the course was "do-able" for a rookie like me!

Breathing deeply we warmed up with Karen O'Conner and the like, so amazing! Lusty was very excited around the start box, but I know better than to try and contain her in the walk. I allowed her to trot and do a little canter around the box, she just couldn't wait to get out there!

Captain Mark Phillips didn't waste any time to test us out on course. The first four fences were galloping, and ever increasing in size and width. As I walked the course the days before I gave up going close to the jumps, it doesn't help confidence to see they are up to your chin and wider than I am tall! The 5th fence was a very skinny and long chevron, bending to a right hand corner, the first technical test. Then on to more big things......The course road very well, except a rookie mistake made by me at the last combo: After a huge gallop fence there was a steep downhill where we cosy up next to the water jump, tight turn to jump a double corner. I over estimated how much I needed to set lusty up for this line, and we ended up with not enough energy for the first corner. I fixed the mistake and came with more energy, not speed and went easily through the combo. After the finish I couldn't have been happier, smiling so big and Lusty oh so happy I finally am letting her jump the big stuff ;)

Show jumping was certainly the biggest thing I have jumped at a competition. Lusty was jumping so fantastic I couldn't have asked for better. I used a little too much hand in ratio to my leg at two fences and got the rails for it. The best part was seeing Boyd afterwards:

"You sure looking great there, mate! Oy she looks good and fit"

love him :)

Alright friends of Lust-Bucket: here is a little photo treat from our last few events that I finally got my hands on. Thanks to Lusty, my family, friends and everyone at BDJ, I am officially a 3 star rider!!!

Jump like you mean it

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