After leaving the dressage arena you head over to the cones course. You would have had plenty of time to look it over on paper and walk the course so everyone should know it, right? Well some of us still got lost. Namely me.
I also did a few things wrong, but when you are out there on course, you don't really have a lot of time to think. As you walk the course you need to look for long straight lines. Give your horse a chance to set up well in advance of going through the cones. One thing I have learned from riding, blogging and also from watching others, Do not look back. Don't even look down at the cones. If you do- you will screw up and hit them.
In jumping you always look to the center of the jump. It's all in the approach. Ride to your fence and look past it as the horse goes over it. After you land, look for the next jump. In cones- always look to the center of the two cones. It's all in the approach. Drive to and through the cone, looking past it as you go through it. After you are through the cone, look for the next one.
Hardy Zantke told me at the CDE in March, in a very stern voice- Always halt to salute the judge. I halted and saluted the cones judge. She said I was only the second person to do that so far. Good first impression there. Link to the maps of cones and hazards.
When the course was set and ready I headed off through the in gate and through cone#1. After going through it, I SHOULD have turned around to the right giving Kat a longer straight shot at #2. What I did? Was ask for a sharp, hairpin left coming back almost across in front of 1, then a sharp hairpin right going back to line up for #2. We were still clean going through the first two, but that little fudge made for time penalties later.
We were fine through #3 and #4, but as I came through 4 I forgot where 5 was. I looked around, cirling left and still moving, hoping to find it somewhere closeby. If I had circled right, I may have found it sooner and would have actually been better aligned for it too. Instead I now had to go back and figure it out while trying to make up for my error.
Kat was his usual light and responsive self, but I could tell he wanted to just take off and run. I have learned that if I want to have a clean round- a steady pace will give us just that. Letting Kat blast off between cones to cover the distance, even if it is an extended trot, it will be tough to bring him back and line him up for the next cone. We will take it out every time.
We wound our way around and through the rest of the course without any more issues. No getting lost, no crazy ideas of sharp short turns, and no letting Kat just go and crash through stuff. We managed to finish with a clean round and 4 time penalty points for being 14 seconds over the time allowed. By the time we went, nobody had made it under the time allowed and the fastest so far was 5 seconds over. By the end of the day, only 1 person completed the course within the time allowed with a horse or pony. The mini's- almost all of them did it. They are smaller and can cut corners where the horses and ponies just can't because of their size.
Once we were through the last cone and crossed the finish line, I pushed Kat for a canter. He enjoys doing it and it let's him relax a little so why not. Once over the finish line, we are done and it doesn't count against us. I let Kat have his head and kissed to him. He was a little hesitant, but finally picked up a swift canter on the left lead. He was enjoying that and when I asked him to stop- we had brakes again!
And here is a couple of photos from the event.
The first one is during our first 40m circle in the dressage arena.
This one is somewhere on the cones course. Notice #4 behind us, but I can't seem to place us and where we were at that point.