We got stalls to make all our lives easier, eventhough the show was in KC. It was still about a 1.5 hour drive from Butler (where the horses are now) to KC. Chris was pleasantly surprised that she wouldn't have to haul us back and forth every day. We did a little dressage warm up on Friday night out in the field, because the warm up arena was crazy. It went well (from what I remember). Coco and I didn't have our first ride on Saturday until pretty late, 3:22pm. I decided to go for a short hack in the morning. We literally walked back and forth between XC and dressage so that he would chill out a little bit.
We rode our dressage test (which I tried multiple times to upload to YouTube and then accidentally deleted) and got a 34.0. I honestly can't remember what went wrong, but it put us in 8th place overall. The cross country course was exactly the same as the cross country course at the Mill Creek Horse Trials at Longview earlier this year, so Coco and I were pros. We went double clear to move up to 4th place. Then on Sunday, we went double clear in stadium to move up to third place.
So Coco and I are officially qualified for the American Eventing Championships next year (thought we might have officially qualified at the Heritage show... Either way, now we know for sure that it's true)! Yay!
Coco got about two weeks off (as I typically give him after horse shows). When I went to get him out, we tried to do a simple dressage school and he was coming up pretty lame. I'm assuming it's a hock issue (as usual). But I was kind of desperate, because we had a clinic with Moray Nicholson on November 14th (about 3 weeks after the Longview show). Chris (my trainer) offered to let me ride her horse Dieter in the clinic. He has been a pasture ornament of hers since I've known her, and he and Coco are best friends. I rode Dieter at the clinic (after riding him a total of 2 times before that weekend) and we did pretty well (considering how few times I had ridden him in preparation). It seemed like we might get along.
Anyways, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about Coco and his age (he's going to be 20 next year). I really wish I could give Coco a significant amount of time off this winter, but I can't stop riding. I'm just too selfish. It's time to start thinking about what is going to come next. Should I keep showing Coco in eventing and spending money on vet bills for hock injections and bute trying to keep him healthy and happy? Should I drop down and go to hunter/jumper schooling shows where we can just have fun and mess around? Is it worth it to run him into the ground and then not be able to enjoy his later years with him? Should I try to keep him healthy and happy as long as possible or try to keep winning at events and moving up the levels? Should I start thinking about starting a new horse so that Coco can share the showing responsibilities with another pony? It's a lot to think about. I love Coco to death and want to be able to enjoy him for as many years as possible, even if that means not showing or riding him as much as I have been. As much as I hate that.
Chris offered to let me start riding (with the possibility of buying) Dieter more consistently. He's a 9 year old American Warmblood (Hanoverian/Trakaener). Maybe 16.0-16.1 hands. I guess I should stick him. But even if I didn't want to buy him, it would be good for her because she could offer him for sale with more miles on him than he would have had just walking out of the pasture.
Anyways, I rode Dieter for about a month until I finally decided to just buy him. Now Coco has a brother! And Coco can have the winter totally off (6-8 weeks) and we can see how he's doing when the weather gets better. And in the mean time, I can ride Dieter and start to see if we'd have any future in the eventing world.
So far, it's looking pretty promising. Dieter and I went to a combined test winter schooling show at West End Farm last weekend and did pretty well. It's kind of fun to ride a horse who's crappy days at dressage are comparable to Coco's best days. We entered the Green as Grass division (lower than starter with the max height being 18" and a dressage test that didn't have any cantering). We got a 36.9 on our first dressage test ever (Intro Test A where we learned the importance of working on halts) and a 32.5 on our second dressage test ever (Intro Test C which includes cantering). We dropped one rail in our stadium round, but it was totally my fault. I asked him to add a stride and was totally looking down at the jump. Plus, we was probably pretty tired. He was ridden 3 times the day prior and is barely used to being ridden 3 times a week. Check out the YouTube videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ppd6JAXsyHg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jujes-T70c
It's pretty cool to start a greener horse, though. Dieter is teaching me a lot about dressage (like how to use outside rein), which is fun, because hopefully I can go back to Coco and be a better teacher for him. Dieter had some dressage training with Emily Miles (Waggoner) when Chris first got him. It's also pretty cool to see him change. We've already developed a fun relationship. I think he likes me! And he's physically changing and getting stronger and fitter. You can actually see his withers now! We're starting slow, though. The jumping is still pretty new to him, but he's got a great head on his shoulders and I think he really enjoys it. It's fun, though, because what I don't know about dressage, he teaches me and what he doesn't know about jumping, I can help teach him. It's a fun difference compared to Coco and I who were learning everything together.
Anyways, with this new addition, I've started to think about changing the name of this blog. Chris and everyone at my barn always wanted me to make Coco's show name "Sleeps On My Pillow" because he and I had such an incredible relationship and he was always willing to do whatever it took to get me out of a tight spot and save my butt. However, I was always too cheap to officially change his name with USEA (it costs all of $15). But this relationship with Dieter is looking like it's going to be something similar. He's willing to do whatever it takes to make me happy (man, I love geldings). But I'm thinking about making his USEA name "Sleeps On My Pillow" since I dropped the ball on Coco. So I have changed the name of this blog to SleepsOnMyPillow@blogspot.com to accommodate my new adventures with 2 horses! 2016 should be a fun year!
Also, the indoor animals didn't want to feel left out in wishing everyone a merry Christmas, happy New Year, and happy holidays, so they got their own little photo shoot this morning.
Merry Christmas! We wish you all a 2016 filled with health, happiness, good times with good friends, and blue ribbons!
Nancy, Coco, Dieter, Sophie, & Truman