Well, I made the move to Novice this past weekend and it was a good event in a number of ways. First of all, we finished fine and actually ended up in 5th place. That was great, since Eddie and I both love pink! Not bad for my first outing at Novice, but I also take it in stride, knowing that it wasn't a recognized event, so things weren't quite as "maxed out" as they may be at the real deal.
We had a lot of time penalties on cross-country (which means we were slow and "x number" of seconds over the optimum time; an optimum time which was too fast for an unrecognized show, in my opinion). It was very wet and slippery out there first thing Sunday morning, so there was no way I was going to tear around the horse park, slipping and falling all along the way, or sliding into big solid fences (like my friend Sarah did at the "stairs" jump, fence #6...although her horse got his hindend underneath him just in time, and they cleared it fine). Sarah was even slower than I was, and she had speed faults (meaning, she was too fast and was too far under the optimum time) at May Daze this past summer, so she and Raj aren't known to be pokey. But, since it was so muddy/slick out there, we both took our time with our horses and had clean jumping rounds, which is the most important goal in a schooling/unrecognized event: sacrifice the time penalties for clear jumping efforts. We're there to practice, not take home blue ribbons.
Neither Eddie nor Raj were 100% this past weekend. They are both pasture horses and being in a trailer on the road for 3 hours, then in a stall all weekend, really makes them stiff and "ouchy." Both of them took some "off" steps in dressage warm-up Saturday morning, so we only asked of them what they felt like giving this past weekend, and as true and honest as both of our guys are, they sucked it up and never let us down. It was a good weekend for seeing how Eddie might deal with a new level and new challenges, and I couldn't be happier with the result! He was very eager and easy throughout the whole competition, and knowing that wasn't his best effort, made me feel confident that when we are both 100% and ready to go, that our first "real," recognized Novice next spring will go great. Now, I can't wait to get back out there and do it all again! But, that won't be until March 2008. Until then...it's fox hunting season!!!