It seems the step from Training to Prelim catches a lot of riders. Good riders and good horses seem to struggle with this move up. I see it time and time again, and I sometimes wonder how 4″ can have such an impact.
Truthfully, I’ve begun looking at Prelim and wondering if Georgie and I should attempt the move up. We’re now qualified to go Prelim. It only takes 3 clean xc runs and some decent dressage and stadium jumping to do so. (Ironically it takes 4 of these to do the T3D, which makes no sense to me..) But there is nothing that bothers me more than when I hear someone say “Well we have qualified to move up, so I guess we will!”
Lots of riders buy an already experienced Prelim horse. So both of them aren’t inexperienced going at that level. Seems like a lovely idea. But it’s not realistic financially for me. And to be honest, the years spent going Novice and Training, and going up the levels, learning together, is actually more appealing to me. There is this thing called trust, that’s really really important to me, and I think that can take years to build.
So, my question is this: What makes a Prelim pair? Georgie can jump 3’7. Especially now that she travels in a more uphill frame and is more forward to the jumps. She can do the Prelim level dressage movements. Not perfectly, but it’s not horrible either.
And yet, I don’t know that we will ever be a Prelim pair. It has way more to do with me than her. I’m not the thinking rider I feel you need to be in order to go Prelim. If everything went perfectly on xc it would be no problem. But if it doesn’t.. well then I am putting Georgie in an awfully dangerous position because I’m not a good enough rider to help her out.
Georgie and I have come really far. I would say we are a very solid Training pair. I love the challenge of a T3D, but am not intimidated by jump size anymore. I’m able to give Georgie a great ride most of the time because I am not overcome by nerves. Instead I can plan and assess and change as needed. But I know I currently can’t do that in a 1 stride combination to a skinny, something we may see on our Prelim xc course.
I have no idea what this coming event season will bring. I’ve got a Training level event at Inavale followed by the T3D at Rebecca. And after that, we may be done for the season, or we may not be. What I do know, is that even if we never do a Prelim together, it won’t be a failure. I’ve learned more from Georgie in the last year than I have on any other horse at any other time. She’s honestly given me her all, and while I know she loves xc, she probably doesn’t love when I drop her a stride out, or I yank on her mouth because I didn’t plan ahead. She’s given me everything, and I’m not going to ask her to give me more if I can’t give her my equal share.
So here’s to continuing to work on becoming a thinking rider all the time, and wishing my great grey mare a happy happy 13th birthday!