Monday, May 16, 2016

May 14 & 15 2016 - Winona Horse Trials

We loaded up Mata Hari on Friday the 13th to head to Winona, OH - which is west of Canton and south of Youngstown and in the middle of nowhere.  The 4.25 hour drive took 5.5 hours...we arrived tired but happy to see that the barn they had us stabled in about 3 miles from the show grounds was clean and quiet. Mata Hari got settled in with about 7 other horses (the two next to her from Michigan!) and we went off to our no-tell motel (an option I voted on after hearing the weather forecast of "very cold, very wet" all weekend.  No camping for me!

In the morning, we went back to the barn where Madison gave Mata Hari a massage with liniment and then got her braids going before taking a break.  Their ride times for dressage and stadium jumping weren't until the afternoon so we had plenty of time.  This was when we appreciated being off the show grounds in a nice cozy barn instead of in the shed row barns which were starting to flood.

When we got out to Stone Gate farm, it was a muddy mess.  The warm up area for dressage was a mess and very treacherous.  This is what Madison and Mata Hari looked like before they even went into the arena for their test!

You can sort of see all the standing water in the arena and all the splashing going on when they canter.  It was terrible but they did pretty well and placed 3rd in the Beginner Novice division.

Stadium jumping was next and that arena wasn't much better.  This was NOT a pretty ride but they didn't get any penalties so they remained in 3rd place.

You really know it's a muddy mess when you lose your horse's whole hoof in the grass just walking..

As the rain continued, the drive out of the trailer parking area was getting worse and worse.  More and more people were having to be towed out by the big farm tractor.  I kept watching those that were successful and developed a strategy.

After the people next to me pulled out, I was able to get turned around and pointed out where it was still mostly grass. I had Madison wait with Mata Hari until I pulled out to the road so I didn't have any extra weight - and made it easy peasy!

That night after we dropped off Mata Hari and got her settled in for the night at the stable, the clouds were starting to break up but the winds were picking up.

The next morning it was a crisp 36 degrees, windy but with some breaks of sun. Mata Hari felt good and frisky - just what she needed for Cross Country!  Madison had walked the course the evening before and again in the morning.  It was dramatically improved in the morning with the wind having dried up some of the wetter area.  Since she was one of the first riders in the Beginner Novice division, we had high hopes that the footing would be okay but we had no illusions that if it wasn't, she would "put the horse before the course" and withdraw. NO RISKS was our moto of the morning.

This video clip was actually taken just before we left but it did this off and on all morning...

The course at Stonegate Farm covers a LOT of ground over some very rolling acreage. Since I had already walked over 6 miles the day before and did a number on my hip, I had to let M&M head to the starting gate on their own and take up position closer to the finish gate where I could see the last several jumps.  Many of them were decorated like this one with the bunny rabbits on the sides and carrots covering the "table" of the jump.

Here's the video of the section that I could see.  They looked awesome and I loved the announcer saying "They are home safe" at the end!  Big sigh of relief for me!!

The parking situation on Sunday started out okay but as the snow and rain mix continued off an on, it got worse. More rigs were getting towed out by a very unhappy farmer who had taken down some of his fencing order to improve the parking situation.  This time I was parked slightly down hill and had more of that muddy drive to navigate...I watched a few that managed to make it out and planned my exit carefully.  I moved M&M out of the way along with a neighboring horse, backed up a little to have more grass under my tires, popped in 4WD and nailed the gas.  With tires spinning and spraying mud everywhere - I made it out to the road again!  With only a little mud reaching the roof of the trailer, we loaded up our rock star mare, and headed home.

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