Monday, April 4, 2016

NTW Sunrise Ridge 4/3/2016 - Marathon and Final Results

What a weekend we had. We obviously had some serious lows, which you've already heard about, but we finished on an extremely high note on Sunday with an amazing trip on the marathon!

Drama posing mare and B2, ready to hitch up and get on with marathon!

O was really into the dramatic poses all weekend

B2, R (her husband and also our comedic relief for the weekend) and I walked the marathon course on Saturday after we were done with dressage and cones. Since this post is already going to be extremely picture-heavy, I'm not going to waste more space with individual pictures of the obstacles on course - but you can see them all listed here! You can also see the competitor list, omnibus listing, cones course map, times, and other things there. It's a great resource for us competitors to have ahead of time! B2 has never done a marathon before and this was only my second one ever, so while we knew what was going on and how we were going to approach every obstacle, there was still an element of, "ok let's not kill ourselves today." We just wanted to get through alive without messing up!

As a recap, Saturday just sucked. It was awful. O was not playing the game, there was all the stupid drama with people going nuts with rumors, and the like. We were in 6th after our crappy dressage, then moved up to 3rd after cones - but despite that, I couldn't let everything that had happened go. I was so upset by it that I stewed about it all night long. I'll be the first to admit that I'm kind of an emotional cripple who doesn't handle these kinds of situations well inside my head - it's just part of who I am. I was still so bothered by it still in the morning that I very nearly scratched from the show and stayed home. I didn't even want to go. I was really and truly that upset by it. (Caveat: since I don't think I was clear before, I am *totally* okay with the TD coming over to check a horse with a rumored injury - that's their job and what they are supposed to do! That part is totally fine. It's just the fact that someone started the rumor, and the fact that the whole thing was inappropriately handled and information was allowed to leak out all over the place... those were the problems.)

But, I didn't want to let it drag me down. I didn't want to throw away my 3rd place just because I'm a hyperemotional trainwreck, and I didn't want to let the old bats who were causing the drama to get any satisfaction out of the whole thing. So I got up, put my big girl panties on, pulled my mare in from the pasture, and headed out to the show.

O's specialties are her everlasting endurance, speed, and ability to turn on a dime easily. This is what is going to make her an exceptional marathon horse, and a good cones horse too if yours truly can actually steer properly some of the time. She doesn't have a lot of patience for intricate things, slow work, or anything involving a lot of aids coming from me. She would rather be left to do it on her own without a lot of input on my part. This makes dressage kind of a mental challenge for her - she might end up being like a lot of those event horses you see that kind of just fumble through their dressage but get out and eat the XC up. Moreso than in eventing (or at least it seems that way to me), you must have a horse that can handle the marathon and the cones and not just have a good dressage test - especially in the lower levels of eventing these days, you can have a killer dressage and as long as you can flop your way around a few jumps you'll win it every time. It's not quite that easy in combined driving, which was reflected in the way our placing lept from nearly last to nearly first by the end of the weekend!

B2, O, and myself all went for a nice walk before the marathon began. People were out there trotting around and getting all busy, but we just walked. Why waste energy? We had five hilly kilometers to tackle, no rush for us!

The countdown began.... I started my watch... off we went!

There were five hazards/obstacles to tackle along the way. She handled every one of them like a total champ, including the second one which I very nearly messed up - in each one of the obstacles, there is an enter/exit gate, and several lettered gates you have to go through in consecutive order. The gates are live until you cross them, then they are dead and you can double back through them as much as you like. Training level only does A, B, and C, but there are also gates D and E for the upper levels. You must go through them in order, otherwise you get eliminated. They try to trick you too - they'll put gate B in front of where A is to make you go around, and similar things. You as the driver must walk the course ahead of time and choose your route - and there are multiple ones to take. You play to your horse's strengths and the terrain, and while the obstacles aren't timed in Training level, they are timed at all the levels above it and you must get through them as fast as you safely can.
In the second obstacle, I flew right past A without even realizing it. The obstacle was full of trees and I got lost immediately - thankfully B2 yelled out that I had missed it! I managed to turn her around at the walk, get back through it, and continue on our way without further incident.

What a champ she was. She was just awesome. I didn't have to do anything, just sit back, steer, and enjoy it!

We can flying into the 300km-to-finish marker. We were coming in hot, so I had to slow her way down to make sure we didn't come in under our speed time of 20:05. Just like in eventing, there is a speed time and an obtimum time (which was 23:05 for us). You must come in that window, and if you go on either side of it you get time pentalties. I make very sure that my watch read more like 20:35 or thereabouts when I cross the line, just to play it safe. This will come into play soon.

She cooled out well, was checked by the vet at the finish, got a bath, and took a nap back at the trailer while we waited for results. B2 and R eventually went home, and I continued waiting.

The scores were posted. And... I had 7 time penalties, which means I had about 30-odd seconds of being over or under the time allowed. Since I had been watching my stopwatch so carefully. I knew it wasn't correct. The TD, who was gracious and kind all weekend, took me up to the office and we looked at the official scorecards. And it turns out we did catch a mistake made! It was truly an honest one - whoever handwrote my start time made a 6 look like a 5, which subtracted a whole minute from our time, landing us solidly below the speed fault time. This is why it's always important to check your watch and be sure! It was corrected, the penalties removed, and it landed us in 2nd place for the marathon. We moved up to 2nd overall!!!

Ready for a flood of pictures from dressage and cones? Brace yourselves...

My strategy for cones: go reallllllly slow

It had highs. It had low. It had drama. It had excitement. It had all the makings of a good Hollywood blockbuster. And it was only just the first show of the season!!

O has a well deserved bit of time off now, then our next show is on the 17th. Can't wait!!


  1. For not being good in dressage, you sure got some really good pictures out of it! And marathon looks like so much fun, O looks great! I'm glad it ended well despite all of the obnoxious drama.

  2. Gotta say, your outfit for dressage/cones is 100% on point. You guys look like such a fancy pair, right out of the 1910 countryside. ;)

    Marathon looks like so much fun! I would LOVE to navigate for that sometime. (Driving, no so much, but hanging off the back and all that comes with it? Sign me up!)

  3. You're outfit is absolutely lovely. I really love the hat. Congratulations on not letting the drama destroy your whole weekend.

  4. You guys look so fancy! Congrads!

  5. Glad y'all were able to finish on a high note! All the drama (which is really unfortunate and unnecessary) is why I tend to keep my blog and social media pretty filtered. People talk, so I keep a lot of details on lock down.

  6. I love learning about a whole new sport. Also your outfit is smashing. Glad you had a friendly TD and here's to more driving adventures!

  7. What a great comeback. Your outfit looks great too.

  8. Your whole rig looks amazing! Great choices on the outfit. O is gorgeous! Congrats on your placing!! I hope that proves a point to those morons spreading rumors.

  9. You guys are SO cool. Totally look up to you guys. Hopefully Spud and I can be just as good!

  10. Those marathon pics are so cool - what a game mare!