May 13, 2009

Manawatu ODE

Well - the weather could have been worse last Sunday for the ODE at Aokautere.. but it certainly wasn't too flash either! I was up at 3.30 to get the horses ready and give them some breakfast, then Pie came home from a night out with friends just before 4.30 so he helped me load up. It was a great drive up, so nice when the roads are quiet - especially with that big bright moon we've had lately. Mostly it was mild and dry, a bit of rain as we got closer to Palmerston North and very wet roads so there must have been a heap of rainfall overnight. Apparently not enough rain to cancel though, and I must say, the grounds at Wairakau, Aokautere were far better than I've seen them in a long time. I got Dani ready for his dressage while Kim (Dickson's owner) had come along to help out and have a little ride on him. Studs in for the horses with studholes and we were set.
Dani's flatwork is improving all the time. I am really pleased to say that he is honestly going forward now and his transitions are quite clean. I think his dressage score was about 64% and had some nice comments too. Dani was slipping a fair bit, but luckily we were the 2nd combination in so the arena wasn't cut up.
Dickson was a little nappy in his warmup, but not too bad. Poor fella got caught in a hailstorm (yes, I was on board - so I got caught in the hailstorm too!) and he had hailstones caught up in his ear fluff! No wonder he wasn't too keen! But his mind was on the job as soon as he entered the arena and he did a nice test with just one untidy canter transition. I was really pleased with his efforts and his score was a few marks above Dani's (though we were competing H/C as Kim rode him earlier).
Xev was really feeling the ground and sinking right in, so she wasn't confident to move forward. Wish I had studholes in her shoes, but we have to make do with what we've got. She did a nice calm accurate test anyway and her scores put her in the top handful.
Dani and Dickson had their showjumping straight after Xev's dressage. PreTraining was the first class to go into the showjumping arena, but even so the ground was quite cut up and poor Dani slid around a bit. Thankfully the fences were small enough that it was easy to regain enough balance to get over them safely. Both did nice clear rounds. Piccies of Xev's final halt, and Dani SJing (thanks to Kim for braving the awful weather to stand around with her camera!):
And Dickson showjumping:
I quickly ran around the crosscountry (walking half of the PreTraining and half of the Training course as I didn't have time to get both done - they were starting the XC at 11! And only 3 starters in the Open which didn't leave me much time to get Xev ready). The weather turned really filthy when I got on Xev, and while I was waiting to go into the start box I managed to get caught in a downpour and absolutely soaked to the bone. Not fun. The flat areas of the course were okay, but the hills were so wet and we were sinking right in. Xev wasn't confident in her footing and was looking to take the conservative short strides rather than the nice bowling long strides on the XC. I don't blame her either - as I pushed her into a few long strides and she slipped on takeoff and it was rather scary! She did jump straight into the waterjump though, so that is awesome. However once I got through the finish flags I went and withdrew her as there was no way I wanted to showjump and knock her confidence in conditions that weren't good. Will stick to some nice all-weather surfaces the next few times she goes out to build her confidence back up, and will ensure we drill studholes if she's going to be competing on grass again through winter.
Dani's XC course didn't go up into the hills as much, so the footing wasn't so bad. He skated around a little bit, but I pulled him back to a trot for all of the fences on hills and that seemed to work well. He did a lovely clear round and still came home inside the time even with all of the trotting!
Dickson is still horrified by fence judges and managed to spook at them even over the very last fence on the XC! But he did hop straight into the water and got into a far better rhythm (after the first half dozen fences) than he had at Waikanae, so I think he's more comfortable with the solid fences now.
Dani came 4th overall - so he's well and truly ready to head up to Training level now. And I'm pleased with the improvements in both Xev and Dickson. We loaded up in the truck, got towed out by the big tractor then managed to get home, rugged & fed all just before it got too dark to be able to see. Quite well timed! Dressage this coming weekend, and then Tielcey Park combined training the following weekend look like our next few outings. In the meantime I am going to look into those Arista waterproof show jackets!