The trip back from a horse show is always defined by how well or how badly the show went. If I fell off, I’m taking Advil, listening to soothing music, and trying to figure out what to fix for next time. If I did well, I’m singing along to some ridiculous song (yes, I do know all the words to “All-Star” by Smashmouth) at high volume, calling a few friends, and probably consuming way more peanut butter M&M’s than can be considered healthy.
Coming back from River Glen was totally a loud-music-junk-food-call-a-friend trip. After re-building confidence at Hunter Oaks, I was pretty sure we were ready to go Prelim again. Sure enough! Our dressage test was not stunning, but it was solid and respectable. We didn’t have a clear stadium round, but only one person in our division did, so that actually moved us up in the placings. Despite a bobble at a simple table on cross-country, Marly smoked around the rest of the course like he did this all his life.
There were some legitimate questions that I was concerned about – two combinations made out of narrows, a sizeable corner, a downhill coffin combination, and a combination into the water jump, followed by another narrow combination. But once Marly got going, he really got going! I rode hard and he stepped up to the challenge. What a super feeling coming across the finish line! All said and done, we came home with sixth place, a pretty green ribbon, and a definite feeling of accomplishment.
Reflecting on Marly, I’m really excited about where he’s at. There have been some very rocky places along the road – two major freak accidents that left me considering his quality of life and future soundness, my broken ankle last summer, and this past winter, his respiratory surgery. Somehow, he’s sounder than ever (knock on wood), my ankle looks funny but feels great, and the surgery made him 500 times happier and healthier. Sometimes people think making up an upper-level horse isn’t that hard. Buy a nice prospect, keep training it, it becomes an upper-level horse. Not so much. It’s hard, hard work, and some luck too. But man is it rewarding!
After River Glen, it was time to pack up and head back to Albion, thus bringing me a debate: Should I spend more time driving or packing? I pack every time I drive – but I drive 4-11 hours every – so does that mean I should spend at least 4 hours packing for each trip? Hmm…
Once back at school, Marly and I are planning an exciting fall season. Well, I’m planning it (with Bill’s advice, of course). Marly only has a small say in what we do. We’re also planning on an awesome school year – can’t wait!