I have to admit, I went into Saturday feeling pretty defeated. Sitting 12th of 14 after dressage is not a place I’m used to being, and I felt like our shot at finishing in the ribbons was completely blown. But there was still a tiny glimmer of hope left, because Corona is known for eating people alive in stadium. At the May show there, Bobby and I were the only two clear in BN. I figured if I could pull off a clear we would at least move up a little bit in the standings. Since we hail from Jumperland, stadium is our easiest phase, but we are still far from guaranteed to go clear at a place like this. I knew if I made a mistake I would pay for it. I also knew that if I kept Henry’s shoulders up and kept coming forward to the base, we had a good shot.
Bobby and I didn’t do stadium until 7pm on Saturday so we had aaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll day to sit around. Our other barnmate Sherri did her dressage just before noon so that helped break up the time a little bit, but it was still a really long day. The weather ended up being overcast and unseasonably cool, so we totally could have just gone ahead and done stadium in the afternoon. Around dinner time a light rain started up and kept going for the rest of the evening, which cooled things down even more.
This of course made for a pretty exciting warm-up ring. There were a lot of pros in our Novice division on their green horses, and what happens when you put a bunch of green horses in a busy warm-up ring in the sprinkling rain with a nice cool breeze? Chaos. Mass freaking chaos. I got in and got out as quickly as possible, trotting a lap each way, cantering a lap each way, jumping the vertical once and the oxer twice. Even just doing that, one pro in particular used my horse’s butt to stop her runaway, which neither Henry nor I appreciated. We got the hell out of there and just walked around outside of warm-up and waited for our turn.
The course was pretty much all singles, with a couple of tight turns on the downhill slope that claimed a lot of victims, rail-wise. Fence 2 and Fence 7 came down a lot. If your horse was on the forehand or you didn’t keep a good rhythm, you were not making it around clean. We had a hard rub at 7 where I let him get a bit flat, but I guess we accumulated some karma points after dressage because it thankfully settled back into the cups. Otherwise it was a pretty smooth round and he especially jumped the oxers really well.
We were one of only 3 people in our division to go clear (Bobby was another) and we moved all the way up from 12th to 5th. Yes seven places. Everyone was tightly packed enough after dressage to where you just couldn’t afford to add 4 to your score. Corona remains the crusher of stadium dreams, but it sure worked out in my favor.
I’m a nerd and did the math for stadium throughout all the divisions – only 18% went clear. That statistic drops to 15% if you throw out the Starter division. 15%!!!
After stadium when I got off Henry and loosened his girth to walk back to the barn, the show vet came over and asked me about him. He said that he’d been sitting there watching all these rounds from P/T on down, and he just wanted to let me know that Henry was his favorite. He said that he was so impressed by how he walked in there as calm and professional as could be, turned it on and did his job perfectly, then walked out again just as calmly. He said it was a pleasure to watch a horse do a job he obviously loved. I have to thank that very kind man for coming up and saying that to me, it really made my day. After having had my spirit crushed a little bit by the dressage judge the day before, it was a taste of sweet redemption for my unassuming little brown horse that always tries so hard for me. It makes me happy when other people see that quality in him too.
Tomorrow – on to Cross Country!