2019 Spring Bay Horse Trial – Cross Country

Yay Cross Country Day! Right? Right! Except…. we left the barn at 6:30AM to make my trainer’s ride time and… it rained most of our drive. I anxiously watched the weather report, and that wasn’t looking promising either. My 3:46PM ride time was right smack in the peak of the anticipated thunderstorms. Plus, if there were lightning delays, we might run out of sunlight before my division could run. UGH UGH.

No matter what though, our team would not be deterred! We all hopped out of the truck and hustled to get my trainer on. It was super fun watching the Prelim and Training level riders go out and come back on course. Although, I was kind of shocked at how many of them were going out in muddy, hilly conditions without breastplates on. Is this a thing? Let me know.

Things wrapped up pretty early, and the sun started to come out. We have a few hours until the BN riders had their rounds (around 2PM), so we got the horses all settled with hay and water and then grabbed some lunch. Honestly, those few hours were BEAUTIFUL.

After lunch, we decided to walk the course again with our trainer, since we had walked it on Saturday night without her. There were very few things to talk about on the Starter course, but we did have a short discussion about the water complex for starter. I really should have gone back and read the rule book about it. The water complex was marked S1, but the flags were snugged up around the water with no way to go around it.

Future reference, this is a compulsory passage. Here’s the rule:

Numbers and Letters – Each obstacle shall be numbered. Obstacles with elements or options (see EV140.2) shall in addition be lettered (A, B, C, etc.). Each compulsory passage shall be marked with the first letter of the level and numbered consecutively.

ERRORS OF COURSE. All compulsory passages and all obstacles, including all elements and/or options, must be passed or jumped in order, under penalty of elimination.

However… I couldn’t find anything about if you can even get a refusal in a compulsory passage? I wish I had known the answer, because if it was no (which I think it is), then I would have schooled the water. Oh well. More on that later. I figured I would throw the pics of the whole course below, so you can see it in SUNLIGHT. You know, the way I saw it before I left the startbox.

Around 1:15PM… it started to thunderstorm and BAD. We all ended up huddled in the dressing room of the trailer with the door closed because it was raining sideways. At this point, I texted the husband and told him not to try and come. The last thing I wanted was him spending nearly 3 hours in the car on a Sunday, driving through torrential rain, to see me NOT ride. The radar looked miserable and only one BN rider had gone out at that point.

Luckily, there was only one round of lightning delays. Once it was lifted, everyone moved quickly to get the BN riders out and on course before weather could roll in again. At this point, I have to give so much credit to the organizers, volunteers, and competitors at this competition. Everyone HUSTLED, but there was NO chaos. Riders showed up in warm-up, got their place in line (seemed to be 4 – 6 horses out), got warmed up, and went. No one complained, got angry, or even seemed all that frazzled.

The footing though… was pretty shot. As a result, there were a lot of refusals and a few eliminations, so I was rethinking my plan.

Once our BN riders were done, I looked around and realized that they seemed to be almost done with BN, so I hustled back to the trailer and threw tack on May.  How quickly did I get ready? I put my riding pants on OVER the leggings I was wearing, and I wore my trainer’s C4 belt because I couldn’t find mine.

We power walked up to the XC area, and I felt my little fear bird show up.

Yes – I picture my fear as a little baby chick.

The mud was deep. My horse is barefoot. The course was soft and easy for her but I don’t think I have ever ridden this horse in conditions like this. Then, I walked my way through my fear. The truth is, I spent my younger teen years hunter pacing very green horses over WHATEVER in the Spring and Fall in NY/NJ. We never used studs, and I had definitely ridden in worse weather. I just needed to take my time, ride the rhythm, and keep May’s hind end under her.

I warmed up on the flat as quickly as possible, since the footing in warm-up was fetlock deep mud at this point. NT advised me to pop over the crossrail… and I told her I couldn’t. the takeoff and landing for the crossrail was pretty much gone. Deep skid marks crisscrossed through the mud on both sides and at all angles. We decided to just pop over the small coop and then the log. May was ON her game and taking me to the fences, despite the footing. I felt good, so we headed to the start gate. On the way to the start gate, someone commented to me that my horse looked totally unfazed by the footing and was definitely a mudder. I couldn’t agree more.

Then… as we were standing by the start gate, the water flag conversation came up again. I guess people weren’t going through the compulsory crossing by the water. We were coming up with a plan for it (i.e. just go through the flags no matter what), and then all of sudden I got the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” countdown… and I was probably 20′ from the actual box. DAMN! I pulled May around, trotted into the box. Stopped, set my watch, and went!

Jump one rode great, but she quickly fell right on me. We had a discussion about NOT doing that… and then she did it again at jump 2. I guess the starter jumps were too easy, so she needed to add her own level of difficulty.

MayXC Jump2
Pic Cred: Vic’s Pics

Jump three was a VERY small jump, but it was off a tight left hand turn. It also had a steep hill right after it that crossed over both the BN and Novice paths from earlier in the day. Since I wasn’t sure about the footing there and the jump was so small, I trotted the turn and kept May in a collected canter over it.

MayXC Jump3
Awkward baby jump. PC: Vic’s Pics

We swept down the hill to the brush at 4. There’s a picture of this somewhere… I didn’t totally get our rhythm back by it, and I didn’t want to make any big moves in this footing. As a result, it rode pretty awkward. Oh well, May could care less.

Jump 5 was a little roll top on the hill. May was looking back at the warm up and we jumped it weird. Oops. Jump 6 was shared with BN, but they took the brush off the top for us. It was a bright blue roll top that rode GREAT.

Jump 7 was a little oxer thing. By this point, we were getting into a rhythm. The rhythm was simple. Pitter patter canter on the long stretches. Then, I would pick her up and get her moving forward maybe 8 strides before the fence. Then land and back to pitter patter. We had SEVEN minutes to finish this course, so I was in ZERO rush.

Jump 8 was a little red coop that she jumped great… with her eyes mostly closed.

MayXC Jump7
PC: Vic’s Pics

Jump 8 was a cute little cabin going downhill. I kept her canter super collected so that we didn’t launch ourselves down the hill in the mud.

After Jump 9 was the water crossing. As I got closer, I saw that the flags had been moved so that you could go around the water. Again, I wasn’t sure about the rules here, so I went around the water but through the flags. May took a hard look at it, since it was now deep, dirty, and a bit slick, but she went through. At this point, I had 3 jumps left in a mostly straight line, and I had a 4:15 on my watch. The penalty time was 5:00, so I decided to grab a quick trot circle. (Of course, now I realize my watch was slightly behind but whatever). Either way, I am glad I did because it led to some cute pics (PC: Vic’s Pics).

After wasting maybe 30 seconds, I continued on. Jump 10 was tiny. like TINY, so that was fine. Jump 11 was a cute little saddle rack. Then, it was over the last, through the flags, and within time!

 

Neither May nor I was at all winded, but it was just starting to rain again. While I chatted with my teammates a bit, May got to walking around. I saw the girl in 1st place coming through the finish line after me. It was a junior rider, who was just BEAMING ear to ear. I congratulated her on a good weekend before walking my own pony back to the trailer.

Overall, we finished on our Dressage score of 29.3 and in second place. I couldn’t have been happier with my little yellow mare, who was a total professional the whole weekend. I guess it’s time for the BN move up. 🙂

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2019 Spring Bay Horse Trials – Show Jumping

While my background is completely hunter jumper (from ages 6 – 23), somehow, show jumping is the only phase that wants to give me pause. However, this time I was armed with some new rider psychology tips via the Brain Training for Riders. (Big thanks to Amanda for the recommendation)

I did have one advantage on Show Jump day though. We walked the course when it was set for Prelim. In case you are wondering, walking a course when it is set for Prelim makes Starter look REALLY small. Still though, it was a complicated course with 0 straight lines in it… I wish I was kidding.

However, I had a plan. I was going to ride May forward enough that I wanted to pull… and then not pull… Other than that, I was going to get her body straight and square to ever fence. I wasn’t going to worry about distances but concentrate on my pace, line, and balance.

Spring Bay Show Jump

I also got the whole thing on video! (Sorry for Youtube killing the quality.)

All photo credit goes to Vic’s Pics. They had an AMAZING deal at the show to get ALL your pics for $50 on a USB. And honestly, they got so many great pics, especially in SJ, that I put in my order before I even ran XC (and when I was questioning if XC was even going to happen). Oh and that cambox you see? I forgot to turn it on for SJ. >.<

Jump 1 was the best jump 1 I think I have ever ridden in my life, and May jumped it so well. (It’s the top pic of this post). Then, we bent around to get a great jump at 2…. and again to jump 3. It felt AWESOME. Usually, my first three jumps on course are me getting into a rhythm and don’t flow great. This time, I HAD the rhythm, balance, and line, and they jumped GREAT.

So here I am. So super excited about how things are going. I made a great turn to Jump 4… I got her square… and she suddenly decided to RUN at it. It’s really hard to see in the video, but she wanted to get flat on me. I halt halted, but it threw us off enough to tap 4 pretty hard (I am shocked it didn’t come down). That also meant that we didn’t land as balanced as we needed to in order to get a good turn to 5. I didn’t put my leg on as soon as I should have, and the distance came up ugly. She jumped that one awkwardly but kept it up.

The turn to 6 was seriously what jumping dreams are made of, and she jumped it out of stride. Then an easy bending line to 7. Despite our cross cantering, the rhythm and line were good, so she popped over it easily. Then… we made kind of an awkward turn to 8, so she jumped it kind of funky. Oh well, it was still easy for her.

Jump 9 just came up out of stride, and we made a sweeping turn to jump 10. I had to put my leg on for the big spot, and she jumped it great.

Obviously, I was super happy to have a double clear round. I think that it, honestly, would have rode BETTER if the jumps had been a little bigger. May was super unconcerned with distances to the point where it actually made things more difficult. She was also very unconcerned with what any of the jumps looked like. There was no peaking or over jumping. Just happily cantering around.

However, I am VERY VERY happy that I managed to execute my plan. I am also happy that, in the pics, when the distances got ugly, I kept my shoulder back and my body over her center of gravity… instead of throwing my whole body up her neck.

As a result, we maintained our 29.3 score and 2nd place standing going into cross country on Sunday!

2019 Spring Bay Horse Trails – Dressage

I want to start the recap of this weekend’s event with so many “thank you”s. I am not sure who I can thank first or even the most.

Obviously, a massive shout out goes to my friend that really pushed me to sign up for this event. Over the last several months, she has gone from a girl I knew at the barn, to the girl I go to the gym with, to one of my biggest cheerleaders. She got 5,000 questions from me about pretty much everything, and she had to reassure me maybe another 5,000 times. However, I am so happy she pushed me to do this horse trial. Hereby, she shall be dubbed “Motivational Friend” hahaha.

I woke up poor Remus on Sunday morning 🙂

On that note, I need to thank the rest of the barn family. We had tons of people show up both days of the show to watch and help. We had people help out at the barn while we were gone. Our younger riders volunteered both days and were a massive help to the show. My teammates all stepped up to help one another and make sure our ponies were as comfortable as possible over a crazy weather weekend.

My trainer gets a HUGE shout out. Not only did she compete her own horse, but she was completely committed to each of us competing in the lower divisions. She took my warmups and prep just as seriously as everyone else, even though I was only doing starter. It was only my second time showing with her and the first show was a super soft schooling show. At this show, between the atmosphere and the weather, it was an incredible experience. It really is an amazing confidence boost to have a pro in your corner who knows you, knows your horse, and totally has faith.

Finally, I am so incredibly thankful for my amazing husband. I ended up recommending that he stay home on XC day due to the weather (more on that later), but as soon as I got home, he was combing through the pro pictures with me and watching my helmet cam footage. He was so proud of me and excited for me that he posted some of the pics (all purchased) on his facebook. If that doesn’t make your heart grow, I’m not sure what will.

ALRIGHT – ON TO THE COMPETITION

Both days were super long days since we had riders and horses in the first division of each day, and I was in the last division. Since Saturday and Sunday were held at different venues, we trailered out both days instead of stabling. However, that meant that May was on the trailer at 6AM on Saturday, and our first ride time was at nearly 2:30PM. May didn’t seem to mind. She drank really well all day and had plenty of grazing breaks throughout the day… and she took a few naps. All in all, a pretty good way to spend the day in May’s book.

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Bahaha… where am I going?

Since day parking at the KYHP is so far from the Dressage complex, we got on pretty early to walk over… and then got lost. Oops. Luckily, Best Husband Ever was there, and he helped navigate me in the right direction. I started warming up quickly, thinking I was running late. May felt AMAZING. We had floppy Dressage ears. Does anyone know what I am talking about? She was ON IT.

Then, there was a delay in our ring. so I let her walk on a long rein. Then, when we were one out, I picked her back up, did a few walk/trot transitions, as per my trainer’s recommendation. I threw in a quick canter transition, and we were ready to go in!

(Below are the movements, score, and a version of what the judge wrote. It’s not verbatim because… drawings. Any of my comments are in italics)

Movement Scores

  1. Entrance, Halt, Proceed at Working Trot: 7.0 – Obedient to Halt. Square. I am surprised this scored so well. There was a ring and warmup running behind the judge’s booth… As soon as we came down centerline, May REALLY wanted to watch those rings. 
  2. Track Right at C: 7.0 – Smooth Turn
  3. Circle Right 20M at B: 7.5 – Active Trot Steps. Well Shaped Circle
  4. Circle Right 20M at A, with Canter: 6.0 – Prompt Transition. Lack of Bend and Poor Circle Shape.  I got so excited about a decent up transition into the right lead canter, that I almost forgot to circle. 
  5. Transition in and out of Canter: 6.0 – Well planned up transition. Unbalanced down transition.
  6. Change Rein at working trot: 8.0 – Good quality trot shown
  7. Circle Left 20M at E: 7.0 – Becomes a bit rushed. Loses shape a bit. She actually thought about giving me a canter transition here… hence the loss of rhythm. 
  8. Circle Left 20M at A, with Canter: 7.0 – Better plan to start circle. Better quality canter.
  9. Transition in and out of Canter: 7.5 – Fairly good prep for transition.
  10. Medium Walk: 7.0 – Keep marching walk I was just super happy that she didn’t jig because she was getting VERY jiggy in warm-up. 
  11. Free Walk: 7.0 – Covers Ground in FW. Show more stretch down. Agreed. 
  12. Working Trot: 7.5 – Smooth and Forward
  13. Center line and Halt: 8.0 – Straight and Square.

Collective Marks:

Gaits: 7.0 – Some stiffness in Canter
Impulsion: 7.0 – No Comment
Submission: 7.0 – No Comment
Rider’s Position: 6.5 – Keep eyes up!
Rider’s Effectiveness: 7.0 – Effective Rider
Geometry and Accuracy: 7.5 – Well executed test

Overall Score: 29.3

How could I be anything other than thrilled with that? Scores at schooling shows tend to be pretty soft, so I wasn’t sure where we were going to end up. However, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that 29.3, and it put us in second going into SJ!

My Shopping Cart – Show Season Addition

May and I have been a team for nearly 4 years at this point, so a lot of stuff we have managed to acquire over the years.  However, there are a few things I have thrown into my shopping cart (through multiple retailers) that I have realized I need to pick up before show season starts.

The Must Haves

RWR No Knot Hairnet

The RWR Hairnets are my JAM. They work wonders with my shoulder-length hair, and they were just as good when I grew my hair down to my waist for my wedding. I always get mine in black because the dark brown isn’t quite dark enough for my hair.

Definitely shop around for this one because I have seen prices everywhere from <$10 to MORE THAN $20. 

Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover

Green spot remover. May isn’t gray… but she really likes to poop all over herself. I like the cowboy magic one, but honestly, most of these spot removers do the job I need just fine. As a result, I try to just pickup whatever my local tack shop has.

Either way, it is non negotiable that, as soon as May gets off the trailer, a rag gets sprayed with this stuff and rubbed on her body.

Super Bands – White

May’s mane might be roached, but I keep her forelock. However, I am far too lazy to braid a forelock the legit way… so white rubber bands are a must. Again, pretty brand-agnostic on this one, so whatever my local tack shop has is great.

Shapley’s Show Touch Up – White

Do I feel like a hunter princess when I break out the Shapley’s? Yes. Do I use it anyway? oh yes. Nothing else gets those white socks GLEAMING quite like Shapleys.  Since I only do a 6″ x 6″ spot on one of May’s back legs with this stuff,  it lasts me forever. However, my bottle is finally running dry and needs to replaced.

The Wants

Epona Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer™

Everyone keeps talking about this thing and now I want one. Will May like it? I have no idea, but I hope it will last longer (and is chaper) than the plasticy brushes I use to scrub my horse.

And maybe it will be a super boost for green spot remover? One can only dream.

A New Dressage Pad

I love May in white, but the problem is that, after a while, all white pads start to look dingy. A new pad (maybe with some bling?) would be a welcome addition to the lineup.

The “Not Right Now”

There’s only one thing on this list that I am completely restricting myself from buying.. and that is a new jump bridle. Probably due to two reasons:

  1. I really don’t want to spend any more money right now
  2. I can’t find anything I really like (horse size, dark brown, figure 8 noseband)

Maybe I should just get May a regular flash noseband bridle? Idk.

Either way, I plan on making a trip to my local tack shop sometime soon to see how many of these items I can tick off, while supporting my local place. What about you? What items do you need before show season completely takes off again?

Volunteering at Flying Cross Farm

Last Sunday, I spent the day XC jump judging for Flying Cross Farm’s horse trial. Despite the plethora of schooling trials in the area, this farm features the immediate area’s ONLY recognized event, and it features levels ranging from Starter to Prelim. It even features a collegiate challenge for the University of Louisville, so a fun show with local flair! Since I couldn’t ride in it this year, I wanted to support as a volunteer, and I am glad I did.

Let me start by saying, it was a LONG DAY. I probably should have heeded everyone’s advice and done half a day, but I knew the event needed the volunteers AND the weather was going to be pretty good. So, I hopped out of bed at 6AM (and the wonderful husband got up to and packed me a cooler), and I drove the 16 minutes to Flying Cross Farm… in the pitch black.

The event organizers were nice enough to let us bring our cars out on course, which was an absolute godsend given that 1- they weren’t sure if it was going to start raining mid day; 2 – I had to move to a new jumps area every division; 3 – I wanted to have my cooler with me. I have been REALLY in control of my diet for the last month and a half, and I didn’t want to rely on the (totally generous and awesome) volunteer lunches.

First up was Prelim, and I got to sit at a nice, straight forward jump, fairly early in the course (jump 6). It even looked mostly jump-able to me! So you know it was friendly for Prelim. There were (unsurprisingly) no issues at this fence.

Next up was Training, where one of my barn mates was taking on her First Training Horse Trial!!! (not going to lie, this was part of the reason I was volunteering). She let me share her go-pro video with everyone, so enjoy! You can see how much support she had from the various non-go-pro videos sprinkled throughout. It was truly awesome!

Needless to say, she did a great job and was clear but not everyone was as lucky at my fence. The longish grass, combined with the downhill approach and even more downhill landing, caused a couple of refusals and one girl to retire. It was a new jump to the course, so I’m not even sure most local people had ridden over it yet. Either way, Training ended up being the SECOND most-interest jump judging division for me.

At both Novice and BN, I had the first jump of a line of jumps that were basically a stretched out coffin question. Novice had zero issues, and BN only saw one refusal at the ditch. I think most horses actually benefited from being able to get their eye on something before and after the ditches.

Starter was just a baby roll top next to the Novice and BN jumps I just judged. It actually caused the most problems out of any of the jumps I judged that day. I saw a couple of run outs and even one poor rider who completely forgot about the jump previously. My day ended up ending right before 6PM, so long, but I got so much out of it.

Overall, it was a great day, where the temps hovered about 80 degrees and the sun stayed mostly behind the clouds. Although, I did get a RIDICULOUS sock tan… so no skirts or dresses for me at work this week. (COME ON FALL – MAMA NEEDS TIGHTS) And… I found that I really didn’t think the Novice XC course was unattainable for me. Show Jumping needs a ton of work for us to get there (or even to get back in the ring at BN), but it really gave me the bug to get out and at least school XC again soon.

How about you? Do you enjoy volunteering/jump judging?

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!

2018 Fall Mini Trial – Dressage

Can I start by saying that a horse trial held in mid-August should not be called a “Fall” mini trial? Until the weather is cool and breezy and leaves start to depart from trees, it is summer in my book, and the sweaty horses this weekend is a testament to that.

Let’s back up though. My day actually started closer to 6AM (before the heat but right within prime fog time in KY). The sun wasn’t up yet, but there was a slight glow to the sky that let you know it was trying. What was I doing at this time? I was climbing through some overgrown and wet weeds in May’s field, trying to make sure I didn’t fall on my face while trying to find her. Luckily, she was hanging out by the shelter and let me catch her. She had even stayed mostly clean from the night before. Good mare!

We loaded up the horses around 7AM, since our first rider had an 8:17AM ride time… My ride time was 11AM, but it was well worth getting up early to be a part of a big team again. I forgot how much of what I love about showing is about the people I show with.

Anyway, May got off the trailer more relaxed then she has ever been off property, and this is saying something. Husband of the year decade lifetime held May while she cocked a foot and took a nap. Cool. I tacked up, swapped into my white pants, and hopped on for a quick warm-up before Dressage.

Now, Dressage immediately  had a couple of challenges for us. The warm up area was right next to the start box for XC, and it was on the other side of the property from our actual show ring. Also, the show ring was in the facility’s indoor arena. We have never done Dressage indoors, AND it is one of those indoors with an entrance on the side to the barn and stalls partially open to the indoor (with horses in them).

May was awesome in our warm-up, but she was a bit amazed by the indoor thing. Our minute inside to warm-up got most of the tension out, but it took away my ability to really push her into positive tension and any kind of self carriage. Great. I resigned myself to riding an accurate test and keep a higher emphasis on balance and rhythm then really anything else. After all – this is Intro C we are talking about…

So there it is. There is a lot I can say about it, but I’ll give you all the scores and judges comments, then my own.

1. Enter Working Trot Rising. Halt through Medium Walk. Salute – Proceed Working Trot Rising.

Score: 7.0

Judge: Forward and Square. A little crooked after.

Centerline

Me: A little? We practically made it to the quarter line before correcting. The first trot after the halt on centerline was pretty bad. Granted, we have never halted at the beginning of a Dressage test before, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that May was a bit sticky off my leg and chose to go left ins

tead of forward.

2. Track Right, Working Trot Rising

Score: 6.5

Judge: Could Show More Bend.

Me: Could show more of a a lot of things. She kind of fell through her inside

shoulder through the turn, and I should’ve taken the opportunity in the corner to really lift her and shove her over.

3. Circle Right 20 Meter

Trot Right

Score: 7.0

Judge: Steady Tempo

Me: Ok. Yes. The tempo was steady, but she was so far away from my outside rein that it was a bit like driving a tractor trailer with the steering wheel on the floor.

4. Circle right 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, right lead. Before A – Working trot rising.

Canter Right

Score: 7.0

Judge: Fairly Balanced

Me: This is a hard movement for me to review because the transitions get their own score. Also weird. No thoughts. It was fine but not nearly as good as I know she can be.

5. Transitions in and out of canter.

Score: 6.5

Judge: 1st could be more responsive. 2nd – Smooth.

Me: Totally agree. The downward transition wasn’t WONDERFUL, but we got the tempo back within the confines of that movement. (i.e. before A).

6. Change Rein, Working Trot Rising

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.

Me: I like straight lines like this. I can open her up a bit and show her off. She was really good here, and we could show off a working trot.

7. Circle Left 20 Meters

Trot Left

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.

Me: Yup.  Not as steady in the contact as I would like, but the rhythm and relaxation were there. Again, that became the aim after we decided that the indoor was not our happy place.

8. Circle left 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, left lead. Before A – Working trot rising.

Score: 7.0Left Canter.JPG

Judge: Fairly Balanced

Me: Look familiar? Same score and comment as the other canter direction. I thought this one was better, but I’ll take a seven. (Can we also discuss how the judge must have been staring right at the right entryway of the indoor?)

9. Transitions in and out of canter.

Score: 6.5

Judge: 1st Smooth. 2nd could be more prepped.

Me: I am pretty meh about both transitions. I would’ve given me a 6 because I really needed a half halt before both.

10. Medium Walk

Score: 6.5

Judge: Smooth transition. Could be more active.

Me: I agree. Unfortunately, this was one of those tension trade offs. We were right near the scary side entrance and the stalls of horses. I could either push for more activity and get tension and jigging, or just deal with the flat walk. Flat walk won. (Rewatching… I actually don’t think her walk was that flat. What do you think?)

11. Free Walk -> Medium Walk

Score: 7.5

Judge: Better Activity. Clear Stretch. Difference Shown.

Me: See? Boring walk paid off. May’s conformation just makes this movement a bit hard for her, but I think that this time, she clearly showed a stretch over her top-line and an opening of her stride.

12. Working trot rising to A

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward and Steady

Me: Yup. This is kind of an odd movement to score. It is trotting around half the arena.

13. Down Centerline. Halt through medium walk. Salute.

Score: 8.0

Judge: No Comment

Me: Same. Appropriate for the level. Although – Am I horribly leaning to the right? This video makes it look that way. I need to watch my mirrors/set up my camera at home to see if this is a habit.

Collective Marks: (nothing was underlined or circled).

Gaits: 7.0

Impulsion: 7.5

Submission: 7.0

Rider’s Position: 7.5

Rider’s Effectiveness: 7.0

Geometry & Accuracy: 7.0

Judge: Cute! Pair works fairly well together. Forward thinker. Watch he doesn’t get too fast. Canter transition could show more prep/polish.

Me: Agreed. I don’t think speed is an issue as much as balance.

Final score: 29 to put us in third out of SEVENTEEN.

08.19.2018 Horse Trial – Goals

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In 2016, when May and I competed more regularly, I was really, really good at setting goals for each show. This year, as we returned to horse trials, I let them slip for the first one, but I am determined to make this a habit again. Our modest Sr. Starter division has 18 entries, so I am going to be really conscious of keeping goals away from ribbons and onto things I can control.

In writing this list, I realized that it is really a combination of two lists I had done previously: the one before our first BN and the one before our first recognized trial. The former was a BLINDING success in my mind, while the latter still feels a bit like a failure. The hilarious part? I got a better score (by like 6 points) at the recognized event. Just goes to show you, scores do not tell the whole story.

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Dressage

I am not sure what to even write here. We scored a 24.2 from a very soft judge at the last schooling horse trial, which had us in 4th out of 19. I am going to throw out there that I want to score below a 35. I think our last test was, more fairly, in the 35 range, and we will be doing Into C, which is not a test I have ever done before.

SJ8

Show Jumping

Ride forward. Really. That’s it. If poles come down because May doesn’t respect anything at 2′, then I am ok with that. I will not be ok with crawling over more oxers. If we are going to get back to BN, we need to go forward.

xc-jump

Cross Country

Do the water if it’s an option. I would much rather be out of the ribbons and get a 20, but school the water, then have the same thing happen at a BN recognized horse trial in the future. I don’t need to prove to anyone that we can win. I just need to make sure that my horse and I come through the finish flags as an even better team.

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Overall

No negative self talk. I am just going to quote this one from my first BN horse trial:

I am not nervous, I am excited. That is not a huge jump, it is a reasonable effort. I did not screw up; I found something we need to work on. My pony is not a Corgi, she is an elegant gazelle (or something I guess)

Utilize visualization to create positive outcomes before they even happen. This always sounds kind of hippy to me, but it does work.

Stay Positive. At the end of the day, I am at a horse trial with my friends, and I am riding a horse that is genuinely just happy to pop over some fences with me.

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Anyone wonder why she decided it wasn’t in our best interest to attempt the next jump from a weird stride and awkward angle?

Things not on the list:

1. Clean Jumping Rounds: If we get rails, we get rails. If I try for one of the bank/ditch/water options and get a refusal, that’s not the end of the world. I am truly utilizing this event as a barometer for what we need to focus on going forward. I am going to ride like I stole it and come away with issues to work on.

2. Make My Trainer Proud: Maybe one day I will write a full post on this one. However, I think a lot of riders put a lot of pressure on themselves to not embarrass their trainer. I know I do. Of course, I managed to eat dirt during Marilyn Payne’s clinic in 2016, so I am not sure I could embarrass anyone more. At the end of the day, I work hard, am nice to the other boarders, pay my bills on time, and care about my horse. That’s all my trainer really wants from me.

3. Win: One day, I would like this to be our goal, but after so much time out of the game, it is not our goal on Sunday.

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Even though I am still a 12 year old kid who loves ribbons.