Had written the organizer to please schedule us late as we were driving down for the day of competition. She, as is tradition, scheduled from most advanced division to least advanced...which was us! So Katie and I ambled down in the morning, checked in to get packets, and got ready. We were both going Tadpole - I took Echo only because Katie was the only student who signed up to go. I have not had time to school him, but thought it would be interesting to see how he handled being out in public. He raced from age 2 to 10 and I would have expected some real adrenalin about being back!
We had to cross the old training track to get to 4 dressage arenas, stadium, and warm up all in the infield! He played tourist and did plenty of looking, but stayed quiet and thoughtful. As competition ended in one arena I used it to warm up and let him see the white plastic chain fence of an arena. Half way round he was leaning away from it and scared to go into the corners, but then decided it was not a threat, and paid it no further mind. Katie rode her best test so far on Bill. Only her second Beg Novice. but they really looked pretty good!
I rode several horses later, and Set up a long trot to "Enter at A", and as he stepped into the arena, Echo just dropped into my hands, and said "I don't know what we're doing here, but I'm here, and I'll try!". He rode his best test ever! Judge had plenty of "tense" comments, but she didn't know this was his first time out after racing 8 years and 60 races! I was thrilled with him!
The organizer had chosen to run Stadium before XC, to keep people with problems from getting hurt on XC. Katie and Bill were clean, though he had some hesitations and tried to miss the upbank, but Katie is determined and they succeeded! Echo was attentive and did not rush his fences, but as he gathered at the bank, I got into two point, he spun out to the left and I went down the middle of his spin. I remounted and the judge said I coulld continue for the schooling, and he jumped it and finished the rest of the course! I was not allowed to go out the Out gate, but sent up to the judge, who pointed out I had been eliminated, but smiled and said to tell XC that I had her permission to continue as I was certainly safe. I cracked that I'd been eventing since Prelim was indeed the Preliminary level and we parted laughing!
Katie was on XC as I started. We had to jump 3 obstacles that were 2' or less, but had the option of jumping any of the Beg Novice jumps at no penalty as long as we were deemed to be safe. Katie did some extra, but the last Tadpole (mandatory) was a narrow face log on the top of a knobbly hill. You came around a clump of trees, jump judge was close on the left, jump loomed abouve a steep climb, all the show activity was in front of you. Bill's concentration was not up to that challenge, and they had one refusal.
Echo hopped over Tadpole #1, a much smaller than 2' 7" Beg Nov #s 2 and 3. He didn't like the look of BN # 4 and I thought he'd done so much so new that I cantered by it, but he did the ditch, BN#6, Tadpole # 2 was either ride through the water complex or hop little logs to the side - he did the water (which is why I don't event Tricks!), did a 2' 7" barn, 2 more BN fences, and then we came round the corner, he saw the last Tadpole jump and worried about it, looked askance at the jump judge, took in the stadium activity, lost his rhythmn, and we did his worst jump ever over the last one. Got it, but it truly was not a thing of beauty!
Katie finished just out of the ribbons in a good sized division but her biggest challenge and Bill's most advanced performance to date! I had enough fun that I may have to come out of retirement with Echo!