The Secret Life of McKenna & Dorito: High Highs, Low Lows

Last weekend, McKenna and Dorito had a roller coaster of a move-up at MCTA. And like the true eventers they are, they’re already kicking on.

From McKenna:

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the type of post I was hoping to be writing this week, but alas I am. Here is a look at my first unsuccessful training level event.

Let’s start with the best part of the weekend: Dressage! I had a pretty good warm up, Dorito was really responsive and just all around very good. Throughout my test he was quite excited, but he managed to keep it contained for the most part, except for a few moments during my canter and stretchy circle. I’ve been working very, very hard on my dressage and it is really starting to come together. I scored a very respectable 43.2, which is 3 points better than what I performed at my fix-a-test back a few months ago and 4 points better than my last Novice test at Morven. I am EXTREMELY happy with that score, and had I remembered how to ride a circle and the size of a 15m circle, I believe I may have been able to even strike into the 30s. I think one of my favorite comments on the test was “super pony”…A dressage judge that actually likes a pony… this one is going in the record books!!

Onto the not so best part… jumping.

Going into MCTA, I was really quite excited and confident. I was feeling really good, and I had a fantastic jump school that added to my confidence and Dorito’s, but on show day, I just kept getting progressively more and more nervous. My show jump warm up wasn’t stellar but it wasn’t anything to complain about. Into the ring I go…First jump, good. Land, realize I need to whoa him, whoa him for too long, get to the base of the fence and have no power so no jump there. Re-approach, up and over we go. Up and over 3 and 4 with just okay jumps, an extremely bad ride to 5 from me so a stop there, 6ab also not the best, 7 okay, 8 was awful on my part, and then at 9 crap finally hit the fan.

Throughout the course, I just wasn’t riding the way I normally do; it was like I wasn’t %100 there or something. Also, Dorito wasn’t his normal self. He wasn’t backed off by the fences but something was different… it’s just one of those things you can’t really explain so hopefully you all understand what I mean.

Some more contributing factors to me being unsuccessful I think may have been…

1. I was in Kentucky the week before so he had a bit of time off
2. My mental game just wasn’t up to par
3. Dorito tried extremely, extremely hard for me but unfortunately it was channeled a bit wrong. He was jumping everything by at least a foot plus so I think as we made our way around the course he lost some confidence because he felt as if he couldn’t try harder.
4. Both Dorito and I were just missing a piece of our puzzle that we normally have.

So it was not one of my better weekends. Looking back and going over, I have come to realize it was not as bad as it felt but it still was not good by any means. I’m still working on debriefing from the event and coming up with some more theories and analyzing my performance but what I do know is I will be increasing my jumping per week and consistently incorporating some bigger fences into my regular rides. I will be in search of some more exercises to perhaps help Dorito out with his jumping style over bigger fences and I sense that I will be jumping a few grids. I think it’s good that I have a nice long break before my next event to really focus on fixing the issues and improving our skills. So although I would love to go back in time, or crawl in a hole and forget about last weekend, I can’t. That’s not how it works and unfortunately, it’s how our sport works and how life works. You learn from your mistakes, which really sucks, but it’s reality. The best I can do is look back, analyze my performance, pick apart the good and the bad, and then fix it and work hard at improving so that next time I go out, we will be that much better.

In the words of Karen O’Connor,”In our sport we have some really high highs and some really low lows but we always stick together no matter what because that’s what gets us through.”

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