Sunday, April 6, 2014

ADT#2 Obstacles

The last part of the ADT's is obstacles or hazards. They really don't like calling them hazards anymore because hazards sounds hazardous and I'm sure the insurance companies have themselves a heyday over these things. Either way, four hazards to navigate is just never enough. Everyone crosses the finish line and is disappointed that its over and they are done for the day. Unless of course your horse/pony gets out there and goes a bit stupid on you. If you're fighting them the whole way, you might be glad there's only 4 hazards to get thru and you pray you survive.

After the insane speed Kat had in cones, when I walked the hazards... I made sure to leave plenty of room for him to run. Wider turns, straighter shots at the gates- it all meant that if we hit warp speed again, I could let him go with it. And after looking at our scores in each one, comparing them to the rest, well we, wait. Scratch that. I may need to rethink that plan.

Kat was again amped up for the hazards, but he didn't get up to the speed he dished out in the cones. One thing he did want to do was to run from one hazard to the next. Time in between doesn't count, at least not in the ADT's. In the CDE your time on the whole course counts as well as your time in each hazard. This makes it tricky. You want to rip thru the hazards with quick times, but relax and just cruise casually along between them so you don't get time penalties for going too fast.

The challenge to the hazards is that there are just the gates, the proper direction you go thru each one and not much else. I can look at the map and have one idea of how to do it. Several other people may see the exact same route thru it all. Someone else sees it and thinks of another way to do it. Who's idea is better? Well, the fastest one is, but you often don't get to watch anyone really go thru their test, so you stick with your plan and hope it works. You're too busy tacking up, putting to and warming up to be watching anyone go thru them. Even when you're done, you are unhitching and taking care of the horse(s), to see anyone else go and can only ask how it went. Bummer!

Best laid plans and all of that? Yeah, that can and sometimes does go right out the window in the moment of competition. My daughter Robin was my 'gator and she was riding with another entry so I hung out with Kat in the shade, waiting for them to complete their course. They were in training level and only allowed to trot, but also their times in the hazards don't count either. When they got back, she hopped off their cart and into ours and we were on our way. We were behind Ron and his pair of minis and a couple of times we were waiting for them to come out of a hazard so we could go in. It gave Kat a short breather and a chance to relax and get ready.

We went into and thru each hazard saying the letters of the gates as I guided Kat thru each one. As we blasted thru hazard 2 and came out the finish line, the timer and scribe said, "Nicely done" as I thanked them while we sped off to the other hazards. Going thru #2, I did feel the wheels on the cart break loose so we slid sideways thru the dirt. I love feeling it do that. My friend Sheri with her pony Treasure, got her cart up on one wheel going thru there. Her hubby/photographer got it on film and the crazy thing about that pic- they were both leaning into the turn and over the wheel on the ground. How they didn't flip it? Yeah, they were lucky.

We were doing well up until the last hazard. I had walked it with Sharan and gone thru what route I was going to take a few times before I realized by watching her, that I was going thru C the wrong way. Red on the Right! I had to change my plan a little, I walked it correctly a few more times. I stood on the edge and traced my way thru it with my finger in the air. I repeated it a few times, drawing the correct path for that hazard in the air... And when we got into #4, damned if I didn't head right into C the. wrong. flippin. way! As Kat went into it, I looked up at the red C on our left and a few things happened at that split second. Robin said "Uh, Mom?" I had just realized what was going on and said "Whoa" and Kat shut down instantly. Thankfully he stops like he does! I backed him up a few steps, turned him to the left just enough to clear the pole and sent him forward. We went around the pole and thru C the right way, circled around and came back thru D and out the finish line. After stopping the watch and noting the time, as I thanked the volunteers, they told me- "Nice save. You had about 1 foot to go and you would have E'ed out." Whew... That was close.

For having such a fast time in cones, our times in the hazards were comparably s.l.o.w. We were either in the middle or towards the end on every single one. I'm going to have to rethink this one a little... Obviously there is room for improvement there. One of my good friends told me to view the hazards as cones, just without the balls to knock down. This works in a way, since the space allowed in the hazards is not according to the width of the wheels on the cart, but a set width. Because there are no balls to fall down, you can get a little more loose as to how you approach and go thru the gates. We can take them at more of an angle than the larger ponies and horses because of the overall length of the turnout, from the tip of Kat's nose to the back if the cart.

I have also been asked if we win anything for our effort for the day. Nope. There are no ribbons, no prizes and our single scores for this ADT, don't really compare to the single scores from any of the other ADT's for this year or last year. We do get points for each placing that count towards the year end awards. The y/e prizes are usually pretty awesome, so yeah, its definitely worth the effort if you're a points chaser. The length of the cones course changes at each event with the change of the course. They are rarely the same one, but if you are consistently on the top of the board for fast speeds, you're doing something right. Of course fast and clear rounds (no balls down) are what you are shooting for because if you're fast but have multiple balls down, the penalties, 3 points per ball, are going to dramatically offset your speed. What good is fast if you're out of control?

Dressage isn't about speed anyways and if your horse isn't moving correctly to begin with, they aren't submissive or responsive to you as the driver and you aren't in control as their leader, as a competitor you both are more prone to accidents and injuries in the other two parts of the event. It all lends itself to the other parts of the competition. Even the CDE's aren't about the money. You get a beautiful ribbon for your efforts, the scores you bust your butt for and the knowledge of how well you think you did, what you need to work on and of what you learned out there being a competitor. As Hardy Zantke asked me at the end of section E on the marathon at our first CDE- "Did you have fun out there, that nothing anyone ever says can take away from you?" You just can't put a price on that!

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