Bentley loaded, hauled, and traveled like a seasoned pro which was very nice. We thankfully had a great layover barn in Spokane that had very nice stalls with runs attached so the ponies didn't have to get off the 8 hour trailer ride and just sit in a stall all night.
He was calm and relxed every time he hopped of the trailer and I even took him for a bareback hack at one of our stops to stretch his legs!
We arrived at Rebecca Farms on Sunday and the following day we went Xc Schooling at a place nearby. All the horses were great and we had the positive ride we needed before tackling this first novice. On Tuesday we had a light dressage school which included riding in their giant arena with approx 30 other horses and, for parts of it, 3 giant water trucks. Bentley couldn't have cared less about all of it and we had a nice relaxed school! Just what we both needed.
Dressage day rolled around and he was warming up much better then I had anticipated! The normal issues we always have with him just being green but no nonsense like we had at Inavale last month. We went in and put in a solid test (for him at this point in his training at least) and got a 34! We were tied for 9th out of 26.
The XC walked big to me. Definitely had mostly maxed out novice fences, a half coffin, and a corner. But overall the course was open and flowy. I knew I would really have to ride the first 7 fences but thought the second half of the course would be very doable. He came out more backed off to the fences and strong between the fences then I thought he would but he was getting it all done. The half coffin that I had worried about (if you remember how ditchy he was previously) rode beautifully! I have him a big pat and let him roll a little bit more after it. Unfortunately the whole "letting him roll" didn't pay off as he was quite strong and resistant to my half halt coming up to fence 8 (a steeplechase type fly fence) and I just think he never really registered he was jumping a jump and we had a runout. He popped right over it on second try. It was extremely disappointing because he doesn't really ever say no to a jump and I feel like I didn't give him the best ride to it (even if he wasn't being the most cooperative). He jumped around the rest of the course well and I crossed the finish flags with an incredible amount of pride and disappointment at the same time. My horse is so much better then what the score on paper said after xc but you live and you learn. He jumped around a novice course, and made it feel easy, after just 6 months off the track! How cool is that?!
The silver lining was that there was zero pressure for stadium. Bentley is very scopey but he doesn't always use it in stadium and had the potential to have some rails. Again, the jumps were maxed out with some big oxers but the course looked fun. He was very bold to the fences and was jumping great. He got away from me around the turn to #4 and got flat so he pulled a rial with his back leg. Otherwise he was jumping really well and wasn't wiggley between the fences at all like he was at Inavale. Fence #8 was causing a lot of problems for people but that was our best line of our course!
It is hard to not look at what could have been. Such as if we finished in our dressage score, like he is fully capable of doing, we would have tied for 2nd. All the pieces are there we just need to keep working at the details and hope that one day they will all fall together at a show. The experience he gained this week was definitely a game changer for us and he handled the whole week like a professional. His future is looking very bright and I can't wait to keep chipping away at it all!