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September 19, 2009

So Far, So Good

I guess I can say my evening went OK...I won the USEF Medal class and the PHA Finals.  As per usual, Calvin was there for me every step of the way. 

My Medal round was actually a disappointment to me, so it was quite a surprise to hear my number being called on top.  I thought maybe we were testing in order, not in reverse order like we usually do.
   
Old Salem's indoor ring is quite big, considering OSF is a normal farm and not strictly a horse show venue.  The schooling ring, however, can get a little tight when everyone is trying to warm up at once.  They made a rule that only the next 10 horses to show could be in the indoor schooling ring at once (and that helped immensely), but ten horses still fill up a considerable amount of space. 

The rounds went very quickly so I did not have time to canter around the outdoor ring and open my horse's stride before the Medal, and I definitely felt the consequences in the show ring.  I never quite put my horse in front of my leg, and I ended up leaving long out of a line that was supposed to be quiet. 

Coming back for the test, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice, and I really galloped (or a less kind person could say I ran) to the first jump and found a very bold distance.  I did nail the halt and counter-canter though, and I was sure that Calvin's head was in the right place, and he was really listening to me.

The PHA Final had a test built into the first round, which caused some problems for many riders.  A lot of people had trouble halting without using the wall to back them off after the flowy three-stride line.  Others had difficulty with the course itself, as it involved two narrow turns between jumps that were parallel to each other. 

I was worried about both turns, not only because they were tight, but also because of what came after them: the first had a two-stride and then the aforementioned three to the halt, while the other one was a bending line to a trot fence.
   
Before I rode I saw some beautiful rides that looked hard to beat.  I am proud that I was able to channel my nerves into focus and produce a winning round.  When it came time to halt, I said "whoa" and dropped my weight, and I hardly had to pull on the reins at all. 

I kept Calvin on a reasonably long stride for the counter-canter, so getting down the next line was no problem. I ignored the building pressure on my way to the final trot fence, and it came up perfectly.  This was a great personal victory because up until this summer I was an absolute failure when it came to trotting jumps, and I've worked very hard to fix that.
   
Now, I have to set my sights on tomorrow. I wish today's judges were doing Maclay Regionals, because clearly I had them impressed, but I know that if I ride as well tomorrow as I did in the PHA, I will be pretty undeniable. 

Every time I get butterflies in my stomach I just remind myself that I don't have to win, just come in the top half of the class.  I know they say not to count your chickens before they hatch, but I feel making it to Syracuse is an attainable goal, since I've done it the past two years.
   
Val decided that everybody's horses were good enough that we don't have to ride in the ring tomorrow morning. She told us that 8:00 would be an appropriate time to come to the show. Waking up for a major final at 7 a.m.? That's practically a vacation! This weekend keeps getting better and better.
   
And of course, I would like to thank the PHA and all the class sponsors, along with Val Renihan, Barbara Howard, my family (especially my mom), and everyone else who has given me these wonderful opportunities.

More blog posts by Emma Johnson...

 
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