Sometimes, things don't turn out the way you pictured them in your thoughts.
This is basically the summary of what happened to us at Jersey Fresh.
All season long, I was gearing to Jersey. Our dressage was improving at home and our show jumping was in sync. We'd had three amazing cross country runs in a row, and I felt that it wasn't beyond our capabilities to finish in the top ten or even the top five if things went extremely well.
Mostly though, I just wanted to get around and get a qualifying run.
Our problems began about two weeks prior. I noticed that Dante's lateral work was stiffer and less willing on his part. Dante has a weak right SI ligament, and while he usually begins the season with beautiful lateral work (for him), it tends to weaken throughout the season. I was hoping to make it through Jersey without it getting sore, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. So our lateral work went quite downhill literally the week we were in Jersey until I mainly thought to get through the right-handed lateral work. Lovely. (It doesn't affect his left lateral work at all interestingly enough. However, I had refrained from doing any lateral work in the previous week or two and so the left lateral work suffered from lack of practice.)
However, both my vet and I discussed at length and concurred that the ligament did not bother him at all for jumping, cantering, galloping, and most trot work save right-handed lateral work. We decided to go and let the chips fall where they may.
Sure enough, we got through the dressage test. That was about it. I had hoped to make up some points in the canter work, but we were both tense and the canter-walk-canters became canter-halt-canters which scored very badly. The scores were running quite high throughout the day, which didn't help my case any, and I definitely felt that the score was a few points higher than it should have been. However, I squeaked out a barely qualifying score, so at least there was that. I was through the first phase.
Onto cross country. Dante was amazing out on course, other than spooking a little at the second jump and the trakehner. Every other jump he just attacked and jumped as if he had been doing this level his entire life. It was a touch course, with riders like Phillip Dutton and Kim Severson falling off and retiring. Dante ate it up like it was a Novice course and we cruised in twelve seconds under time, no problem. It was amazing. So now we were up to four awesome cross country runs in a row.
After cross country, I iced Dante in the ice boots twice and jogged him up for Mike. Mike and Heather both thought he looked great and I thought so too, from what I could see while running next to him. We just jogged him up in stabling, not on the roads outside of stabling, but he looked great.
The next morning I got to the stabling at 6 am and jogged up Dante. So far as I could tell, he still looked good. Heather and Mike saw him job around 7 am and also thought he looked good. However, when we got out on the asphalt right before the jog, Dante took a few slightly funny steps. We got held, and the vet said he was a little short on his left front but couldn't find any soreness at all. We reinspected and I thought Dante looked a lot better on reinspection, but unfortunately, the decision didn't go our way.
Looking back, I think Dante was affected by the hard ground, but only a tiny bit...enough to be sound on the (very) slightly softer ground in stabling, but bothered by the hard asphalt in the jog area. If I had iced Dante that morning, I believe he would have passed with no problems. From now on, Dante will get iced in the morning before the jog, since he does seem to be affected by hard ground just a bit. I'll also make sure to jog him on the hardest surface available to make absolutely sure that he's sound.
Dante's had a long season, and he's on a long vacation now. I'll be working and in summer school throughout June, so he'll start back up in July. For the fall, we'll keep it as short as possible and only do three shows, Richland, Poplar, and Fair Hill CCI**, with Galway CCI** as back up. The vet will come out every two weeks to check out Dante and make sure he's on track too.
Hopefully, we'll be good to go in the fall.