The ODE this weekend was not my favourite, I must say. We ended up withdrawing just before cross country started so unfortunately didn’t get a finishing score for the event.
They say that pictures speak a thousand words, and so I’ll let my horse show you himself how he was feeling about the day. The ears, eyes and nostrils say it all really, don’t they (#allofthemonsters!).
Although I can’t blame him, the whole weekend had been gale force winds and sideways rain. The kind of wind that blows bits of your roof off and tips your horse float over. Seriously, imagine your trailer just parked up, and then a gust of wind rocks up and tips it over (didn’t happen to me but someone posted a photo in one of those horsey Facebook pages for riders in my area). That’s the kind of wind we’re dealing with. Add rain to that mix, and a horse that’s high on spring grass and we have a situation that’s challenging at best.
However! I was way too excited not to have a crack at it, it had been 56 months since our last ODE after all. So no amount of crappy weather was going to deter me. Plus, we were on super late for dressage so it wasn’t like we had to face the horrible conditions at some ungodly hour of the morning or anything.
We arrived at the show grounds and my horse was completely unsettled to begin with. The dressage was on the other side of the property and way out of sight, so I wanted to jump on straight away and head over there.
The dressage test was ‘L4’ from the 2009 book, which I was stoked about because that is one really nice test to ride! Oscar was so incredibly tense slash downright rude during the warm up – snatching the bit, nose diving and snorting. It was horrendous. He was completely braced against me, and every time I put my leg on to bend him around it, he would just throw his nose up and canter. I think he got a shit tonne of rain up his nose because he wouldn’t stop blowing it! I sent L back to the car to keep warm, he was saturated and there was no point him getting sick to watch a not very nice test.
There were moments though where Oscar tried really hard and was listening to me. With the wind howling and rain just hammering us, I’m really stoked that he did at least try to behave. Our actual test went along the same lines as the warmup – mostly tense, braced against me but with moments where he tried to be a good boy.
He switched legs during one of the canter movements and switched back again – flying changes are the current party trick! There was also a corner of the arena that was completely flooded so you couldn’t see the sand underneath, and the pipes had blown over so the arena wasn’t even rectangular. For a spooky horse he did very well!
When I got back to the float, L was feeling really guilty for not watching and had bought me a coffee to warm up – too cute. He looked miserable, and considering he spends six days a week out in the elements with horses, I felt really guilty for dragging him along on a day like that. I offered to scratch from the rest of the event, but he said I had to do the show jumping. Went from hella cute to hella not in about five seconds. He quickly hurried me along with switching from dressage to jumping gear and then all but chased us out to the jumping arena. Oscar was shivering underneath me, so I really need to remember to add his waterproof exercise sheet to our show box.
I warmed up and saw that there were three jumps causing heaps of problems on the course. Oscar was jumping exceptionally well though and I was spotting strides for the first time ever. Don’t know where that trick came from but huzzah! There were nine jumps on course, and L told me to take number five slowly as a few horses were slipping and/or stopping at it.
When my number was called and I got into the ring, I was so excited! What on earth self?! You finally learn to spot a stride and then you get excited about show jumping?! The bell rang and if horses had business pants, Oscar whipped his on! He just felt so chipper and confident going into all the jumps, was super tidy and straight and with them cute pricked ears that he wears on cross country. I had a smile on my face the whole way around the course.
I lost a stirrup coming into jump five, of all jumps, and didn’t manage to pick it up in time. There was a sharp right turn into jump six, which was an oxer and part of a one stride double. Despite fumbling my way through the turn to get my stirrup back, Oscar kind of presented himself at the fence and popped over neatly. That jump had also caused a few problems when I was watching the course earlier, but Oscar wasn’t fussed in the slightest. Such a champ! The fact that I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve schooled show jumping in the last four years, but he still got on with the job in trying conditions is a huge testament to the kind of horse he is. I complain that he spooks at his own shadow, but I am so, so proud of his bravery and honesty when it comes to jumping. Maybe it’s having something to focus on that stops him spooking, but he’s just a different horse over fences.
We had a clear round, which bumped us up to third equal (I’m back number 98).
L said he was too nervous to take photos – aha! but they wouldn’t have been great anyway thanks to the weather – though the rain had slowed to a drizzle by this point and we managed to get the photo of the two of us above. He looked truly miserable, freezing and tired. I was so proud of Oscar that I honestly didn’t mind scratching from the rest of the show, despite being in third place and knowing that Oscar would have tackled the cross country course like a champ. Cross country is easily his favourite phase, and Horowhenua have an awesome course.
It goes from being out in the open, into a forest trail of sorts.
I would have loved to do that course, and the trees would have provided some shelter which would be well appreciated. However, both of my boys were saturated and cold and I felt really selfish keeping them in the rain for several hours whilst we waited for our turn and then prize giving. Like I said, it’s our first ODE in 56 months and so just completing the dressage and a clear show jumping made for a nice outing for Oscar and a bit of a confidence boost. He was brilliant at our XC practise the other week, so now he’s had a go at all three phases we’re more than ready for Flaxmere in three weeks.
Flaxmere is in the Hawkes Bay, which is notoriously hot and sunny with brilliant weather – so hopefully it comes up with the goods!