Winter is coming soon.
It's October, which means the eventing season in Area 1 must come to a close. At this point, Area 1 members either buckle down and prepare for a long winter or prepare for a trip south to continue their training in warmer climates.
Yesterday was one of the final events in our region, the Kent School Horse Trials. It was also the final event for Zeus and I this year. It was a culmination of many sorts for us - a year of hard work - from beginning crossrails in April to jumping over ditches, banks, coops, stone walls and yes, even cabins. To struggling mightily with his focus in dressage (as in not completing his final halt at his first event), to getting consistent scoring and some lovely compliments from the judges. I couldn't be prouder of this horse, the one who people would call to me, "Isn't he the rescue? Wow, what a horse!"
Our dressage yesterday was "a bit wiggly" - our centerline looked like we had a few cocktails - but we also had some nice moments of "straightness, good efforts and uphill momentum." And a 7 on our free walk, among several other 7's! We improved our score from King Oak. Success.
Show jumping was a tricky course with sticky, scuffed up footing from the rain, and seemed to garner problems in every division - with refusals, falls, rails and even time faults. We picked up 4 penalties in the show jumping, but he put forth decent focus on a huge grand prix field and over some tough fences.
Cross country was magic. We did not go clear, and I don't care. There was a water crossing, but after a slight hesitation, he went right through it and I could have turned him around right then and there, taken him home and called it a huge success. He jumped fences with joy and wild abandon. As we galloped to Fence 8 - a cabin just like Fence 5 - it dawned on me that there was a huge shadow being cast by the jump, looking like there was a giant ditch in front of the cabin. Zeus didn't know how to handle it, so he skirted to the right as he tried to figure out the question in front of him. So we had to double back and have a second attempt, at which point he sailed over, understanding it was just a shadow. As we galloped away, I realized that I have never ridden or jumped him in late afternoon in the fall, when shadows creep out from under fences and create wonky ground lines. After that, the brush to the down bank, the up and down ramps to the giant logs, the long gallop to the bank up and the final coop, he was listening, in front of my leg, and loving the challenge.
What more can I ask of this horse, who gives me so much?
I have to say thanks to everyone who have supported Zeus and I this year. To my husband Matt, who doesn't have to be a part of this adventure and chooses to be there with a smile on his face every single day; to my parents, who drove 4 hours at breakneck speed to be there for my first event back after a 12 year hiatus in July, and to my mom who has yet to miss an event in my entire career; to my in-laws who came from North Carolina to cheer us on and get to know a bit more about their crazy daughter-in-law's passion; to my brother Jay, who came with my niece Emily who yelled "Yay Auntie!"; to Connie, who came along for the ride and took a day off from the dog show world to enjoy the horse show world; to my great friends Liz and Alen (and Liz's mom) who know nothing about horses and supported us as we went flying past them; to brother and sister-in-laws Chris and Barbara and nephews CJ and Jack and niece Hannah for allowing me to fly out the door during their visit to walk the course and then braid Zeus the night before, and understanding why it was so important to me; to Carla who is always an extra pair of hands and has a kind, encouraging word; to my students, friends and other supporters who either stopped by or sent us good luck texts and emails; and last but most certainly not least, to Pete and Anissa, who let us borrow their truck to get us to these major milestone events.
We have a few hunter paces left this year, but the pressure of the season is off and we can all rest easy. Zeus has come so far this year - from a wild card to a real, bona fide event horse. Who yes, is an OTTB rescue, and is just getting started in showing the world what he's made of.