Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Would Brian Boitano Do?

Wow. What a crazy two weeks. I'm sorry I didn't manage to keep my blog more updated during the journey, but we managed to keep ourselves quite busy. We made it home safely on Tuesday night and spent pretty much all of Wednesday sleeping. Today has been spent doing laundry, mowing my jungle of a lawn and just getting back into the groove of EST and Pennsylvania. I'll try to cover all the important things here, but forgive me if I jump around a bit!

I mentioned before that during my international classification I was re-classified as a Grade IV from a Grade III para-equestrian. I've had a lot of people ask me "how could they do that??" Welllll.... how could they not? I needed be classified internationally, when they went through the same process that they went through three or four years ago when I was nationally classified, the only difference being that now I am stronger, I've found different ways to compensate for the muscles and bits that don't work, I've developed more core strength. Which of course leads to my mixed feelings, on one hand I'm very excited about being reclassified and knowing that I have improved physically. Of course, receiving this news the evening before you are about to compete and you've spent every penny you had and didn't have to get your horse across the country in your one shot at earning a qualifying score was NOT what I wanted to hear.

The grade IV test is more like a third level test. The differences from the Grade III test include: Extended trot, Extended Canter, Simple Changes, Walk Piorettes, trot half pass, canter half pass, canter-halt, and extended walk. Easy-peasy right? All I can say is that I have an amazing horse and an amazing trainer. We had never done over half of those things, I've played a bit with half-pass, but mostly a the walk in an effort to teach Bastian how to do our turns on the haunches..... Becaus Kristin has trained both Bastian and I correctly, we were able to do some semblence of the all those new movements, although not nearly as good as they should be and for a few, the first time I did them was in the show ring.....

So the theme of the weekend became "What would Brian Boitano do?" We all know of course, that he would make a plan and he'd follow through, that's what Brian Boitano do. So Team Bastian regrouped, I studied the Grade IV Test Team for Friday, watched a few youtube videos on walk piorettes and extended walks and got ready to give it my best shot. On Friday, we misse our qualifying score by 1/6 of a point. We scored a 59.4%, we needed a 60 :( The test itself went pretty well (my video camera is in a bag that was unpacked at the barn, I will post videos once I get it back!) I missed a lead in one of my simple changes, had we gotten that we might have eeked out our 60%.

Saturday was the Grade IV Individual Test, which was more technically difficult, it had more simple changes and the test was actually doing pretty well until we missed our right lead in a simple change at P, then missed it twice more and didn't get it until we were in the corner before K, obliterating any chance at a decent mark for either the simple change or the collected canter between P and K.... We end up with a 53% for that test, moving even farther away from the desired 60%. After we got Bastian put away, we sat down and started working on my Freestyle. I had a freestyle for Grade III, in order to ride it for Grade IV, I had to re-write the choreography, we had to include all those elements I mentioned above except for the walk-piorettes.

We tweeked it a bit, then I saddled B back up and we rode through it once in the practice arena. I switched to the double bridle, I figured it couldn't make it any worse! LOL, it was just what we needed, he rocked back, was more collected and our transitions became much better.

Sunday came and we tacked Bastian up one more time...our freestyle rode SURPISINGLY well given that we changed it to fit the music I had and be Grade IV compatible and that I had only ever ridden it through once. I only had to improvise one movement-we threw in an extra 10 meter circle in extended walk and believe it or not, we managed to get our 60%, just by the hairs of our chinny chin chins. During the awards ceremony, when the judge was handing me my ribbon, she complemented me on taking on the Grade IV test and dealing with the difficulties of the test without any preparation. So, long story short, we earned our Certificate of Capability and we are now eligible to be selected for the WEG team.

Its of course, much more complicated than that, but this step of the process is done. I have until Wellington next spring to work on the Grade IV test and actually learn how to do all those things I was The location of the Para-Nationals is still up in the air. Apparently show management thinks paras make things too difficult? I don't really know, but that is the blunt answer-I'm not one to mince words. If its someplace we can make it to, then we'll be there. Right now our show plans include the NODA shows at Grand Haven in July and the WPDA show in August. Then, Regionals in October and Wellington for a CPEDI*** in the spring.

I have to give a huge thank you to Team Bastian. They were amazing in keeping him happy. Between stall cleaning, 3 hand walks a day, icing, poulticing, grooming, bathing, and tack cleaning they more than earned their keep. Also, a huge thank you to my sponsor, Hastilow Competiton Saddles. I love love love my Hastilow Concept Saddle and obviously Bastian loves it too or else he would not be able to utilize his back and rock back onto his hocks as well as he does.

I also have to give super thanks for all of the words of encouragement from the other para-riders, the Classifiers, the Stewards and the USPEA representatives. It was a tough weekend for us, Bastian and I definitely gave it our all and well I of course would have loved to have done better, I feel that we did pretty damn good given the situation that we faced.

So. Take that Bembridge Scholars!

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