How Do We Grow Horse Sports?

So this post was inspired by a post that was submitted as part of the HN Blogger Contest by Carson Nelson. In the post, she hypothesized about why people don’t get into horse sports. The number one answer she found – money.

However, I am not sure I buy that. I have looked into how much it costs to join a yoga or pilates studio… I have seen the cost of barre classes and crossfit memberships. The truth? They aren’t a lot cheaper than riding lessons. Throw in a cheap pair of paddock boots, a barn that has helmets, and yoga pants (or even jeans you already own!), and you are about there in terms of clothing. Again, not much more than a yoga mat and appropriate clothing.

Please be aware, all of the below is a HUGE generalization of the horse market, and it is not directed at any person, barn, or organization. It is just my observations as a member of horse sports in, arguably, two of the most horse-dense areas of the country (excluding NYC).

Horse Pop
Chart from The State of the Animals IV: 2007. Highlights mine. 

Websites

I think it is terribly confusing, difficult, and discouraging to try and find a lesson barn as an adult, ESPECIALLY as a beginner. We no longer live in a culture of phone calls to strangers. We live in a culture of email, contact forms, and online scheduling. Farm websites tend to be clunky, not mobile friendly, and lack even basic SEO to show up on google searches.

As someone who moved to an area and knew no one, I know how much power your website can have. For a beginner adult – they are looking for something that looks approachable. Unfortunately, most websites either show an amazing plethora of small children, with no adults, or they show shiny show horses and only people in full formal attire. Neither of these things is likely to resonate with someone considering taking riding lessons.

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Is this relatable to the average person? Maybe?

Price Transparency

Farms can also have a nasty habit of hiding costs, leaving outdated prices on their website, or telling people to “Call for Pricing.” Pricing is readily available for nearly any product we could want, and we can pay for almost anything with a credit card. Therefore, it can be a bit off-putting to not find the real price of a service on a farm’s website.

How many times have you heard of someone being burned by a barn, including experienced people, because they weren’t made aware of other charges they were incurring? It goes from something as innocent as “would you like us to tack up your horse before your lesson?” (no mention of it being $15 extra) to THOUSANDS of dollars worth of charges at someone’s first competition. Nothing quite like having to shovel over some of your savings to make you want to quit a sport.

Trainers – have a rate sheet. Hand it out. Post it online and in your barn. If you don’t know how to do this, I can guarantee you that someone in your barn does.

Horse riding would benefit as being sold as a form of fitness, as much as a hobby. Then, maybe, people will be more likely to devote a portion of their budget to this “new kind of classes.”

Diversity

Let’s face it. Horse sports fall pretty far to the bottom of the diversity spectrum. We lack diversity in race, ethnicity, body types, and socio-economic status, among other areas. At the lower levels, the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against one another also lacks gender diversity. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but let’s just say that being friendly, welcoming, and promoting a sense of inclusion at barns would probably help keep everyone more involved.

It is scary enough to join a new sport as an adult. As for me – how many classes have I taken in sports/classes I am not already familiar with, alone? (None). If you are an average sized woman or man, are you going to call the barn that only shows very slim riders in white pants in their photos? Or no one that looks REMOTELY like you? Didn’t think so.

Beginner Adult Friendly Barns

Where are the Mimosa Rides? or the Wine Wednesday Evening Lessons? I will admit, both of these things appeal to women more than men AND serving alcohol with horses is a terrible business idea. However, there is just about no marketing barns do to encourage adults to come try riding lessons. In contrast, I have seen “Back to School Specials”, “Spring Break Sessions”, and “Summer Camps” for the under 18 crowd. Let’s try material that is targeted for the adults. Hey, it could even be “Back to School Specials” with special lessons during the day for stay-at-home adults.

Most adults don’t want to lesson with children. We learn differently, our bodies react slower, and our muscles don’t grow as fast. Trainers need to offer private and semi private lessons to accommodate adult schedules. AND have the horses to accommodate them.

Ridiculous outfit
Hilarious photo of May as a “lion” and me as a “lion tamer”… This is a fun facebook pic… but probably doesn’t below on your barn website. 

I am sure I can go on, but I think this is a good start. Is there a market for this? Honestly, I think there is. Plenty of adults lacked the funds, time or access to horses as kids that  might be able to try it out now. MANY adults are bored, and open to trying something new.

I don’t think large membership campaigns, such as USEF’s “Join the Joy”, have made any significant strides, especially outside of the already established horse community. Growth will have to be the grassroots kind, and, as tough as it is, that starts with the trainers and riders with their boots already planted firmly on the ground of their communities.

What do you think? What can riders, trainers, and organizations be doing to help grow new interest in horse sports?

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Random Updates

The heat really broke in KY this week, and we have gotten the first SWEET taste of fall. While the days are still warming up to the mid-80s, the humidity  has fallen and the mornings and nights are cool and comfortable. Even the horses are feeling the change as their fuzzy coats start to peek through their slick summer ones.

I took full advantage of this on Tuesday, when the lack of sun kept temperatures comfortably in the 70’s all day. When I arrived to the barn, a couple of the girls (women? ladies?) were tacking up for a trail ride. I quickly threw a saddle and hoof boots on May and joined them.

Not sure I will ever get over how beautiful KY is. The grass here is LITERALLY greener than anywhere else I have ever called home. hahaha.

As for May’s feet, they’re doing really well. Excuse the durasole peaking through in these pics, but I think this will give you an idea of where things stand. Last night, it was starting to become apparent that the sole was starting to really adjust and become concave, while the hoof wall was starting to take on more of the weight of the foot.

Take a peek at that rock hard back foot hahaha. Fingers crossed the front feet turn into that over time. 
Not bad for 1 week post shoe-pull. 

The white line has dried out, and the spreading/cracking seems to have completely subsided. She is very comfortable on grass and soft surfaces without boots, so she has been as happy as always in her turnout. However, she does still get a touch sore on gravel, pavement, and hard packed dirt. (hence the hoof boots for our trail ride). Fingers crossed that things continue to go well. If it starts to look like we are going to have a wet fall/winter, I might invest in some keratex hoof gel. Let me know if you have ever used it!

This weekend will be full of horses, but probably not very full of May. Flying Cross Farm is having their annual recognized horse trail this weekend, which also includes the University of Louisville’s collegiate team challenge. They are running Starter – Prelim, and I know at least one person in almost every division. Being a good member of the eventing community, I will be jump judging for XC on Sunday. (Probably going to be a 7AM – 7PM job!)

Check Out USEA Events A-Z: Flying Cross Farm Horse Trials to learn more about this cool event.

How about you? Any fun plans for the weekend?

Blog Hop: The Horse You Bought

After seeing Olivia’s blog post on “The Horse You Bought”, I hopped on over to Two and Half Horses, where the hop originated. Since it has been nearly three and a half years, I figured it would be fun to look back. I have zero media from our first trial ride, but I do have the wording of her ad:

Belgian/QH cross….UTD on everything. Has been shown and placed well at larger shows! Jumps up to 3′ courses. Trail rides alone and in a group, crosses water, trailers well… Literally does nothing wrong. Easy enough for an advanced beginner to handle!

To be honest, our first trial ride was not some beacon of hope where the clouds parted and angels sung. I could barely keep her on the rail, and at the canter, we basically careened around wherever she wanted to go. She leaned so badly that I was concerned she would trip and go down. The trot had no rhythm, and my first thoughts were “I could sell her as a trail horse for as much as I was paying” and “she’d be easier to sell than my c current horse.”

Seriously… so many people have this amazing AHAH moment when they buy a horse, like buying a wedding dress. BUT I didn’t have that. I had “this will probably work” and “I just need to ride something different.” She had really no personality and any jump we took that day was under 2′, and we got to it sideways. With all those romantic images in my head, I loaded her onto the trailer with a smile on my face anyway. Pure joy? Maybe not. Relief and terror? Probably more so that.

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Hilarious part? I still have this ENTIRE outfit except the breeches.

She was sort of easy to load (once food was involved), and we took her home. Then, I attempted to get a beauty shot of her at home, and I got this.

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And I wondered for a moment what I had done…

My first lesson? She couldn’t do a 20M circle and ran out the gate of the arena. Our canter transitions took more than a dozen trot steps, and my saddle really didn’t fit.

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And this was as good as our trot got. 

May was a lot greener than even I had anticipated, and I had ridden A LOT of green horses. I had started a couple horses from scratch, and this was even more difficult than that. There were moments of real promise… and moments where I couldn’t even figure out what was causing everything to go Oh So Wrong.

During one of these moments, I turned to my trainer at the time and just told her I was completely stumped. I knew we weren’t straight, thorough, or forward, but I couldn’t seem to get any of those things to work together. That day, I paid for my first pro ride on my horse, and it seriously helped us move forward.  I wish I had more media from those first few months because they were… not friendly to me.

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We added to her education with gymnastics and formal XC schools

I think this was our first “course” together:
Video Link

Overall, she was green but a fun horse to work with and every ride was engaging… even when I was mostly failing at accomplishing anything.

Fast Forward to 2018?

May has proven herself to be a really reliable partner. I have spent COUNTLESS hours ALONE riding at different barns. We have seen deer, bicycles, strollers, small children, quads, and, most recently, sheep together. We have done horse trails, Dressage, SJ, XC, clinics, hunter paces, trail rides, games days, and many bareback rides together.

May has been the horse my friends get on to ride something “other than a schoolie” before they set off horse shopping. She is also the horse that has, in slow motion, run away with more than one person in the arena. (never faster than a medium trot, just without willingness to walk)

We even did our first BN together… Which wasn’t the smoothest… But we got it done.

 

Her personality has come out of her shell. While naughty is probably never the right word, opinionated is probably a better one. She has broken cross ties, simply because she was hungry. She had decided that certain farriers should not be allowed to work on her precious toes. AND she has learned how to express to me when she feels a saddle does not fit to her standards (crow hopping).

However, now, I wouldn’t trade her for the world… Although, I could still definitely sell her for more than I bought her for!

Back to Barefoot

If you remember my post about our hunter pace, May threw a shoe right near the beginning of the pace. My farrier was able to tap the shoe back on, but it became pretty clear that she had some funk going on under the shoes and into the hoof wall. I kept her shoes on through our show, with my farrier even tightening the one shoe once we were done, since he was going away for a week.

Terrible angle but naked toes!

We discussed pulling her shoes when he got back. Her feet are ridiculously hard, and her barefoot back feet have held up even better this year than they have in the past. I think a change of diet/pasture/turnout in the new barn has made a bit of a difference for her. I tried treated the hooves with white lightning with the shoes on, but it wasn’t as effective as it could’ve been. (Although, May was a superstar and just napped in her stall the whole treatment. Is it possible for that stuff to feel good?)

Then, pretty much as soon as he got back, May threw the other shoe. Our choices were – keep punching holes in new places, or just take her barefoot. She’s been on a hoof supplement for a couple of months now, so I decided we would give barefoot a go again. We don’t even have another show on the horizon until November (if we even do that one), so there is really no rush.

Tuesday, when the shoes were pulled, she had off. Yesterday, I just walked her around in the grassy field for a half hour. You could definitely tell when she stepped on something, but she was pretty happy to be doing something. This weekend, I’ll throw the hoof boots on her and see how she really feels. Obviously, there is a transition period, and I want to do another White Lightning treatment.  However, the feet already look a lot healthier just from drying out over the last couple of days.

View this post on Instagram

Because she's not spoiled enough… #easyboot #may #princesspony

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Other foot things? Durasole, Farrier’s Finish Treatment. Why Durasole? It really makes an immediately difference in how a horse feels barefoot. It also treats thrush etc. It’s super cheap and a go-to for me when taking a horse barefoot.

FarriersFinish
Worst Packaging Ever Though. Might buy a separate jar and brush for it. 

Now, why farrier’s finish. I have used Keratex Hoof Hardener in the past, and I might switch back to it (or the gel) at some point. However, the issue we have right now isn’t the strength of May’s hooves. Trust me, they’re hard. My farrier struggled a bit to shape them once trimming off the cracked/damaged hoof wall from nails. The issue we are having is with bacteria/microbes/etc getting up into the hoof and causing damage. Especially where there are still nail holes. So, enter farrier’s finish, a disinfectant/conditioner.

Once things clear up, we will probably switch to the Keratex Hoof Gel. In fact, Keratex should be used after you treat the hoof with other stuff to clear up any thrush/etc before starting on one of their products. Otherwise, you can just trap the microbes in the foot. Interesting thoughts, and something I hadn’t considered the last couple of times we went barefoot.

What are your go-to hoof products?

Horse Jobs I Wish Could Support My Horse Habit

If wishes were horses… am I right? There is this wonderful idea that seems super prevalent in America that you should “do something you are passionate about.” Honestly, I think such an idea is contributing to the existential crises that most of us 20 – 30 something’s find ourselves in. (I cannot speak for anyone past the age of 30, but my gut feeling is, this may also be true.) Since the age of 14, I have tried to come up with viable ways to WORK at something involving horses while making enough money to AFFORD to own a horse. See what I have come up with:

Professional Horse Shopper

You may laugh because I fully admit that I hate horse shopping. In fact, I didn’t really truly shop when I bought May. Full Story Here. HOWEVER, I really love HELPING other people shop for horses. Just ask a few of my various friends who I have offered more help to then they really want.

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This makes me an expert, right?

I am sure there is a service for the ULTRA rich that involves doing this. It probably also involved connections with top AA show barns, connections in Europe, the ability to speak multiple languages, and probably the willingness to hop on a horse first. Most of which, I do not have and cannot do. (Although, I used to be able to carry a conversation in German).

Plus, my specialty is not in spending 6 figures on anything… other than a house. It is far more in the “find a great bargain at the bottom of dreamhorse where there are no pictures and the use of proper English is questionable.” The problem with this part of the market is, there is rarely extra money for a SUPER thorough PPE… and there definitely isn’t money outside of paying a trainer to find said 4-figure horse.

Independent Saddle Fitter

Let’s be honest here. There is a severe need for independent saddle fitters in the U.S. I live in one of the horse capitals of America (arguably the world), and I have not been able to find a single, really WELL TRAINED, independent saddle fitter.

I looked into it once, and I found out why. It is expensive, time consuming, and risky to become an independent saddle fitter. To really LEARN it, you have to apprentice with someone. Good luck finding a well trained, independent saddle fitter near you to learn from, AND I can almost guarantee you that their margins aren’t good enough to pay an apprentice. So you’d really have to be pretty independently wealthy to go down thispath.

Of course, one could try to supplement their income by buying and selling saddles. But if you make 20% off of each saddle sale (a bit low, but around what I think the service is actually worth), and you sell 4 $1,000 saddles a week. (which is probably too high a rate). You are only making $800 a month… Before taxes. So maybe enough for board after taxes?

Also, let’s say the average saddle fitter charges $300 to come and fit your horse. Just minor flocking or to provide a full consult with wither tracings etc. If you live in a horse-dense area like Louisville, you are probably driving 50 miles a day. In a van, so 15 miles to the gallon? You have to buy that truck too… so that’s an expense. Building good will with trainers and clients probably means a few free or discounted emergency calls. Advertising… a website… equipment… The numbers really don’t add up.

Equestrian Clothing Brand Owner

Workwear

Equestrian Clothing Brands are pretty much everywhere. As riders, we are so amazingly lucky that our sport has finally moved beyond tan breeches, black boots, and polo shirts. While Athleisure has turned yoga clothes into work clothes (in some companies), horse riding gear hasn’t quite gotten that far. How nice would it be to have clothes that can go from boardroom to saddle? (even if the elements of the barn wouldn’t allow you to go from saddle to boardroom without some freshening up)

EVEN BETTER, how about clothes that could do this and come in sizes greater than L or a 30 inch waist.

Classic silhouettes, timeless styles, affordable price point. Face it, when is the last time you spent +$100 on work pants? How about riding pants? How about Riding Pants You could WEAR TO WORK?

Full Time Blogger

This is probably hilarious to most of you reading this blog. I am not someone who has an incredible platform for blogging. I just have a really cute horse and enjoying being a part of the equi-blogging community. I enjoy talking about my horse and horses in general to literally anyone who will listen.

However, I like having my point of view, my voice. I think it is important to talk from a relatable place of being an Adult Amateur with a full time job, a husband, and limited resources. And let’s face it, there is no one banging down my door wishing I would write for them about short, fat, yellow horses. I do own the domain mayaswellevent.com, and it will, one day, be it’s own webpage. But even then, it will be pocket change. I will keep doing it though because I have really enjoyed the journey.

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What about you? If you could trade your traditional 9-5 for a horsey job, what would you do?

AEC Live – How to Watch

Just an FYI that AEC (American Evening Champtionships) started yesterday. You can watch the whole event FOR FREE at Ride On Video.

Live Scores/Times are available here: Startbox Scoring

Below is the broadcasting schedule, all times are in MDT.

MAIN CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31st
CROSS COUNTRY

Training 8:30AM – 11:55AM
Preliminary 12:25PM – 2:35PM
Intermediate 3:00PM – 3:40PM
Advanced 4:10PM – 4:55PM

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
SHOW JUMPING

Training Horse 8:30AM – 8:50AM
Jr. Training 9:10AM – 9:50AM
Training Amateur 10:30AM – 11:10AM
Training Rider 11:30AM – 12:05PM
Preliminary Horse 1:00PM – 1:50PM
Jr./Y.R. Preliminary 2:10PM – 2:35PM
Preliminary Amateur 3:20PM – 3:45PM
Preliminary Rider 4:00PM – 4:10PM
Intermediate 5:00PM – 5:25PM
Advanced 6:30PM – 6:50PM

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd
SHOW JUMPING

Novice Horse 8:00AM – 8:25AM
Jr. Novice 8:35AM – 9:15AM
Novice Amateur 10:00AM – 10:55AM
Novice Rider 11:05AM – 11:55AM
Beg. Novice Horse 12:45PM – 1:05PM
Jr. Beg. Novice 1:15PM – 2:15PM
Beg. Novice Amateur 3:00PM – 3:50PM
Beg. Novice Rider 4:05PM – 4:40PM

SECOND CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
CROSS COUNTRY

Novice 8:00AM – 12:20PM
Beg. Novice 12:40PM – 4:55PM
Introductory 5:15PM – 5:50PM

THIRD CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
SHOW JUMPING

Festival Training 12:15PM – 1:15PM
Festival Preliminary 2:30PM – 2:50PM

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd
SHOW JUMPING

Festival Novice A 9:00AM – 9:40AM
Festival Novice B 9:55AM –  10:35AM
Festival Beg. Novice A 11:45AM – 12:25PM
Festival Beg. Novice B 12:40PM – 1:20PM
Festival Introductory 2:10PM – 2:50PM

 Sponsored in part by:

and

I have no rights to any of this. All broadcasts are the property of Ride On Video LLC.
©2018 Ride On Video LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Any unauthorized reproduction if this broadcast is strictly prohibited by law.

Blog Hop – Millionaire Me

Hellomylivia did an awesome blog on what she would do if she was suddenly and unimaginably RICH. Go check it out first, then come back. It’s pure gold. Of course, that means it now needs to be a blog hop.

So what would I do if I was suddenly gifted with an UNIMAGINABLE amount of money?… First of all, I work in finance, I have a degree in finance, I would have to build some kind of reasonable plan for most of the money. Ideally, something safe that generates at least 3% a year to pay for our expenses and gift to charities.

However, this blog hop isn’t about the rational things you would do. It would be about the other things. Let’s start with real estate first.

I would buy this farm. Dream Farm and convince my trainer to move her operation there… Hey Girl – If I win the lottery 😉

Dream Farm

  • 41 Acres
  • 9 European Style Stalls (it would need more)
  • Large Indoor Arena with viewing room and sound system
  • Massive outdoor
  • round pen
  • Trails
  • Barn that features
    • living room
    • dining room
    • bunks
    • laundry
    • kitchennette
    • full bath
    • etc etc etc
  • The house is also nice…
  • Fields would need to be segmented a bit more, and I would like to add run-ins to a couple, but nbd if budget is no issue.

A trailer and a new truck for the hubs would definitely be in the cards too. He can literally pick out whatever truck he wants. I know he has a wish list for that somewhere… as long as it can tow my trailer… and is white because it has to match the Jeep.

AND MY TRAILER: A brand new, 4 star, 2 horse with front walkout and a full dressing room. Gooseneck and quiet ride equipped. Don’t ask me why this is what I want. It just is, okay? (It will also need cameras like Amanda has because those are pretty awesome.) Husband will be responsible for all towing. Thanks in advance.

4Star

I would also need a second horse. A total packer. How about this lady? Probably a mare. Something over the age of 10, not larger than 16.2, with a strong record at Training level. (time faults are totally cool. I like going too slow).

Mare for sale.JPG

As for competing my packer, I would love to do a Novice 3-day, go to Aiken, and qualify and attend AEC’s. I think… although, sometimes I just get burned out competing. Maybe I wouldn’t if I hired a super-groom. Either way, I want showing to be super low stress and fun.

I also have a weird dream of wanting to be an owner at KY3DE so… NT – You also get a horse. Something that is going at least Prelim, so we have some sense as to its real ability to be a 4* horse. Shopping as an owner with practically no budget would also be a ton of fun. Like who cares how much I lose vetting each horse… or how much we spend traveling. It will be just for fun.

May’s life wouldn’t change overly much. She would probably get more of the finer things in life, as in weekly message and such. I might transition her into a fox hunt horse, as she really thinks the other stuff is stupid, and I think she would be awesome in the field.

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I wouldn’t buy the young prospect. I would just keep buying wonderful, older packers and then retire them on my farm until the end of my days. Has the husband turned pale and sweaty reading this yet? How about this – total cost for all these things that I want to buy?

  1. Dream Farm: $2M
  2. New Horse: $30K+
  3. Upper Level Horse: $80K+
  4. Trailer: ~$30K
  5. Updates to Dream Farm: $200K?
  6. Truck: $80K

Total (without competing/fox hunting/horse shopping costs): nearly $3M

Ha…. hahaha. No way. How it would actually happen?

  1. build a house on some acreage. Continue boarding May
  2. MAYBE buy a second horse
  3. Husband still gets the truck
  4. Used trailer without the +1 and quiet ride
  5. No sponsoring Upper Level Horse

What about you? What is on your “only in my wildest dreams” list?

Goals Wrap Up & Cuteness

After a week of mostly lazy riding and reflecting on our horse trial, I think I have gotten enough distance from ER MAH GAWD I LOOOOVE my PONY to actually review the goals I had set ahead of time. (Honestly though, OMG I LOVE HER.)

Dressage Goal: Score below a 35

Done! We scored a 29, which is higher then the 24.2 we got at our last horse trail. Again though, that was from a soft judge, in an outdoor arena, and for a test we had done a few times before. I am super happy about the 29, and the consistent 7s & 7.5s in the collectives.

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Show Jumping Goal: Ride Forward!

Is anyone surprised that riding forward led to a clear round? Anyone? How about any of my current and past trainers that have been telling me to do this for YEARS? Nope. Didn’t think so. We definitely had some bobbles and less-than-ideal distances, but since we were riding forward, May was easily able to sort through things.

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Cross Country Goal: School the Water

The water was way more spooky then I was expecting. Half in the shade, deeper than expected, a bit of algae, and surrounded by other jumps that made it feel a bit claustrophobic. I kept my leg on, and we went into it without incurring penalties. May got lots of pats and love (and then tried to walk into the drain, and I had to hustle her away from it).

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Overall Goals:

  • No Negative Self Talk: SUCCESS. Created a plan for the water and SJ with my trainer and executed without hesitation.
  • Utilize visualization: I probably rode through the SJ course in my mind about 5 times. Did it go exactly as well as my visualized course? Nope. But it definitely helped me stay focused on what mattered (Balance, pace, line instead of the perfect distance)
  • Stay Positive: This was easy because each phase went really well. It was a long day, but an unbelievably fun one.

And the Cuteness

One of the girl’s from my barn was featured in Eventing Nation for her adorable helmet cam footage. Before her round, I helped her put on her new galloping boots. During her round, you can hear the whole team cheering her on. Mind you, her round went at nearly 4PM, after we had all been at the show since about 8AM. Did that matter for the riders, parents, and people that came to help? Nope, and that is part of what makes eventing so much fun.

I thought May’s ears were too cute to handle, but this takes it to a whole other level.

The Video

Eventing Nation Article

Is there anything better then a girl and her pony?

2018 Fall Mini Trial – XC

Who’s ready to party on Cross Country?! (that kind of rhymes, right?) I was able to give the XC course a good walk by myself well before I needed to be on May, so I took my time and took lots of pictures. Overall theme? Jumps were very small, but there were some good questions asked. Below is the full course:

Nice course map. I still got lost between 11 and 12. 

I didn’t bother rewarming up between SJ and XC, since they pretty much rode one right after the other. Also, the first jump in Starter looked like this:

It was then a straight shot to jump 2, which was at least more interesting.

We had a tight uphill rollback to jump 3:

Then, we had a bit of a straightaway downhill to jump 4:

You can see the SJ warmup just to the right here. The start gate to the top left was for N and BN.

After jump 4, we cantered along the “galloping lane” which ran next to the warm-up for SJ and jumped 5 and 6 in the fenceline.

We had another steep downhill. to jump 7, where May took a GOOD look at the bright gravel behind it.

The gravel doesn’t look like anything in this pic, but it was a lot more apparent in the helmet cam. 

Jump 8 was a bit narrow and uphill, and led right up to jump 9, which was wider but a bit spooky going into the woods.

I thought it was nice to have a clear bending line at Starter. 

We then went back down hill and up again to jump 10. I trotted down this hill to make sure we kept our line and didn’t risk slipping.

Hills are always steeper in real life than they appear in pictures. 

We had some time before jump 11, which really wasn’t an issue.

Interesting they put bright shavings in the middle of a dark bench. Oh well, May didn’t care. 

Jump 12 was apparently set for another division when I walked the course, which made me sad because it looked fun set a bit higher.

You can see the flags for other divisions jumping this in the opposite direction. 

Then… the water. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this event, and why I wanted to do it at Starter, is because this event has a pretty spooky water complex. It is mostly in the shade (by the time I rode), it has a lot of jumps surrounding it, and the entrance is very narrow and away from the barns.

Then, I found myself sitting in third place in the division, the competitive side of me came out, and the water had a go-around option. I had jumped my first clear SJ round with May EVER, and I wanted satin. This is a terrible way to feel, and I really should stop checking scores during competition. I asked NT what she thought. She told me that, if all was going well and May was feeling confident, to give it a try. I nodded. Sure. I can do that. Here is two views of it, so you can get an idea of how it looked both when I walked it, and when I rode it:

 

 

 

 

The entrance was to the right of this red roll top, which was away from the barn and a bit narrow. You can just BARELY see the green and white Starter flag ALL the way to the right. 
The sun went behind the clouds for our ride, so I think this gives you a better idea of what the water looked like during our course. Dark, a bit claustrophobic, which a tight entrance that was tough to get straight to. 

Jump 14 was a small bank going uphill, which was fun. Right after Jump 14 I checked my watch. Optimum time was 5:18 with speed penalties being below 3:20. I was sitting at just under 4 minutes, so no worries there. I had WAY too much fun just kicking on to the last 2 jumps, and the jump judge at the end definitely got a kick out of me whooping along.

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Isn’t this adorable?

We left the woods and went into an open field where the last two jumps were. Jumps 15 and 16 were fairly straight forward, with more stuff sitting in the bench of jump 15.

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Again, random junk in the bench. 
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Sorry for the terrible pic. The sun was wild early in the morning. 

So how did it go? See below!

When all was said and done, the person in 2nd ended up with a few time penalties, and we moved up to finish 2nd out of 17! Super proud of wonder mare. She was… less than impressed with the whole thing and, as soon as she was cooled down, went back to napping by the trailer.

May was seriously suspicious of the white gravel anytime we came across it, and looking at the video, I am really not surprised. It’s got to be pretty hard for a horse to read. Not a big deal though, and she was super game over all the fences.

We ended up doing the water. She sucked ALL THE WAY back to the walk, but she didn’t stop, back up, or go sideways. She got lots of pats and loose reins in the water. Until I had to steer away from where I knew a drainage pipe was hidden.

We ended up finishing with a time around 4:25, although the video below clocks in at 4:20. Either way, well within both time limits.

2018 Fall Mini Trial – Show Jumping

Because I have no chill, I looked at the scores and knew we were sitting in 3rd heading into show jumping. Since we had more than two hours in between Dressage and Show jumping, I watched a few people go at BN, and I realized that, to me, BN still looked big. The course was simple though, and the same for Starter and BN. Except, they removed oxers at Starter. >.<

One things I have learned about myself recently, I ride better when I have a “count” to ride to. Sure, ride the rhythm and all that, but I know if my rhythm is good by how well we’re getting down the lines.

I got on May about 30 minutes before my ride time and walked for a solid 15 minutes. I just let her take in the atmosphere and look at all the activity before I asked anything of her. I would say that probably 10 minutes into this, she took a deep breath and relaxed.

Our warm-up went really well, she was in front of my leg and distances came up easy. I think we jumped two jumps. The crossrail and then a vertical, and we were done. I watched a couple of more people go, including my barn-mate, who had a smooth, clear round. I didn’t see any poles go down, and I started to get nervous. What if I was that person that totally screwed up the whole thing?

NT gave me a few tips before we went in. Number one? Get my pace early and keep it going the entire course. Number two? Sit and turn her with my seat, leg, and both hands – don’t just try to pull her around the corners. Got it. Got it.

Below is how it went:

Things to note:

May tripped pretty good before fence one. The footing was just a bit beat up on that edge of the ring, and she was trying to look at the barn/horses in the small pens right next to the ring. This kind of messed up our rhythm and caused the short distance to fence 1.

I didn’t make a decision soon enough about the counter canter after fence one. Once I gave up trying to micro-manage it and just kicked on, she fixed it. Things to remember, just go forward.

The bending line rode pretty good. We got in tight to jump 2, but I picked a good line and moved her forward for a great jump over number 3. She swapped the front end before 3 (because I pretty much pulled her front end off the right lead) and landed crossfiring again. However, because I just kicked her forward after 3, she fixed it. Maybe lead swaps are in our future?

The outside line was my favorite part of the whole course. Over jump 4, I could hear my trainer go “Yes!” from the rail. It was a good feeling, and I just rode the rhythm over jump 5. I thought we got rolling a bit after the line, and I started to pull her around the corner. Then, I thought better of it, sat, and pushed her around the corner with my outside leg and both hands. The head flipping stopped, and we got into the line really strong. I pushed instead of steadied, so it was a bit tight on the out. However, since we had some pace, May had no problem making it work.

We landed on the left lead, and I decided to just roll with it. I kept the outside bend and moved her around my left leg and left hand to jump 8. She stayed on the lead, and I didn’t get the best turn to jump 9. I gave her a kick, she moved  up, and we finished the round double clear. Go May!

I knew we at least held our third place into XC, and I ran back to the trailer to grab my vest and pinny!