The weekend of my birthday, seven of us (well seven riders, eight horses, one mom, one barn mate along for the adventure) headed up to Michigan for Cobblestone HT at their new Revel Run facility. RR was formerly a golf course turned into an eventing venue, meaning it’s every equestrian’s dream come true. It was about a 4 hour drive for us, which honestly wasn’t bad at all.
The majority of the barn was running Modified, Training and Novice, who did dressage and SJ on Friday and XC Saturday, but the two of us running BN and Starter went up together since we did Dressage and XC Saturday and show jumped Sunday.
Friday was full of watching everyone show jump, walking courses and unloading. The facility is still new, so they have temp stalls and it required some toting of things around. Everyone had great rides, Archie got a bath, off to dinner we went.
Saturday my dressage ride time wasn’t until almost 11am, but we were there bright and early to watch the earlier XC rides and braid. First time officially braiding my own horse for a show and I was downright pleased with how they came out. Magic combo of Spot On braiding wax and Quick Knots for the win. I’m still slow AF because my horse has more hair than any other in the barn, but at least this helped.
We eventually headed down to dressage warm up and rings and Kristen actually came to watch and met us over there! She was super helpful making sure I looked presentable too – I need to find a horse show mom I can hire apparently. Archie was a little inconsistent to start in warm up, but my coach came down between XC rides to help warm us up before she had to hurry back and by the time she left, he felt great.
Our test was fine – nothing to be unhappy about, but I definitely let some nerves creep in and pulled and pulled and pulled. It’s my go-to subconscious nervous move to slow my horse WAY down (something Archie never argues with) and it’s totally apparent in the video later. We were moving in practically slow motion and that had us sitting 7th out of 15 after dressage on a 39.8.
We didn’t run XC until LATE Saturday – like after 5pm late. By the time we got out there, we’d been able to see most everyone else ride and I was feeling great. We got into the warm up and any forward I’d had just.. evaporated. My coach worked with me and got us to a point where we were easily jumping all the fences in warm up, but it should have been a warning flag.
A warning for what? Well, leaving in startbox in ABSOLUTELY NO HURRY WHATSOEVER. We were fine over jumps 1 and 2, despite our absolutely lackadaisical pace, but when we got to 3 (a really straightforward log stack), Archie was so behind my leg, he just opted out. I represented and he jumped it easily and really tried to get him up before 4 without screwing with the balance. Four went fine and then we came around a semi-sharp corner to five, a small but bright blue house with cutouts. He was behind my leg and I just… gave up going to it and we had a stop. I let myself get flustered and chose an absolutely horrendous track for representation and Archie (rightfully) said no again. Finally, I took a deep breath, circled around, got the horse in front of my leg and over and off we went. Six and seven were two of the bigger fences on course, but posed absolutely no problems.
Then came the water – it was unflagged for Starter, but he needed the experience of going in. We walked up confidently and… he said, “no thanks.” A small disagreement ensued because, um, no sir, that’s not an acceptable answer. Once we were in, he was fine and I was finally (!) fired up. I just wanted to get through the flags and home at this point: we WERE finishing. Apparently this was the ride he’d needed all weekend, and the last four fences rode beautifully. We were both sweaty messes, honestly embarrassingly so for Starter, but we’d finally conquered that demon. Thank God for sweet Kristen who grabbed Archie to keep him walking so I could catch my breath and not pass out.
Sunday, both my barnmate in the BN and I rode fairly early so we could get out of there. My coach had left already, but left me (and the third barnmate who stayed to support) strict instructions. I decided to walk over to the ring a little early (it was about a 10 minute walk from the barns) by myself – and a pump up playlist of Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie. Apologies to the children/families who walked by.. oops.
It worked and by the time I was over near warm up, we had game faces on and were here to get some shit done. The next step of the plan was, before we did any other warm ups, to go for a short gallop. Not a stadium canter. A GALLOP. This worked well at Cobblestone, where warm up for stadium was actually set on the XC course (since they’d all run the day before). When Archie and I came back to warm up, he was in front of my leg, moving forward and doing a much better pace than the day before. I jumped a handful of warm up fences and… waited. The ring that had been running 15 minutes ahead when I walked up had now somehow gone to 10 behind? We waited until I was in the hole, at which point I jumped my oxer and vertical each once again and off we went.
As soon as we got in and the bell rang, I went and did a BIG canter loop around the ring, really making sure he was in front of my leg. Once we headed to the first fence, I felt totally ready – we had this. And we did. I gave him one awful distance to the out of a five stride line across the diagonal, but he jumped it cleanly and we finished double clear.
While the score is nothing to brag about (um triple digits), the fact that it’s a number, not a letter and there was absolute improvement from our last time out meant I was so pleased with the trip. It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility, the footing was PERFECT the entire weekend, the people were wonderful and it gave us a chance to go do the thing somewhere new. We’ll definitely be back!