We were set to ride Stadium around 1pm on Sunday, so I got the horse park with enough time to feed, check on M and walk my course. I had thought about taking him home on Saturday night but a few too many stall beers at the KHP and a trip the Mexican place and I opted to leave my trailer and my pony.
He was none worse for wear and was super relaxed when I got there. Covered in poo stains (yay! He relaxed enough to lay down) and munching hay quietly.
After XC on Saturday, I noticed he had twisted his RH shoe slightly, so I was worried if he weaved at all overnight it would come off but it was ok and I opted to just leave it and have my farrier check it on Monday.
The course walked fine and looked like a lot of fun, so I watched a few trips to see where people opted to turn then headed back to tack up.
In the warm up, Marcus was pretty mellow and maybe a bit tired. We jumped a few, and then hopped over the oxer which he spooked hard at. That caught me off guard but we cleaned it up before going in.
He walked in and was a super star! Maybe we need to run XC first every time so he gets some of the sass out of his system! I managed to ride all of the inside turns I had planned and aside from a snug spot at 3 and a huge effort over #7 (thanks Marcus), we had a really nice, equitation like trip.
Plenty of fist pumps after that trip. We moved up to 3rd and got to do the victory gallop!
Julie is now talking a move up (eventually) to Training and while most of me is saying (yelling?) “NOPE!” part of me is starting to say “Maybe?”
This past weekend was Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the KY Horse Park (I know I should venture out more, but I really love the KHP). This event is #2 for favorites-mainly because of the organizers but also because the courses are always challenging, but fun to ride. I also have a soft spot for this horse trial because it was my first ever USEA event in 2015.
Midsouth PC also runs their Novice with dressage/XC on Saturday and Stadium on Sunday, so I was really excited to see how Marcus took to the change.
Friday night we had flash flooding-I usually ignore The Weather Channel but this time, they actually called it. So, cue in panic mode for the footing for XC.
Saturday morning I loaded M up and headed over to set up, walk my course and braid. I walked the XC course and only panicked about 3 jumps- the #2 table, the corner and the half coffin. Not bad really. The footing for the most part was okay, so I relaxed about that. But we did have a few extra water crossings on course.
Dressage was not perfect but a big improvement from May Daze. We still have places where we need work (i.e. the B-E and E-B change of directions and his “SQUIRREL!” moments) but our circles were round and our transitions were pretty relaxed. My goal was below a 35, and we ended up with a 35.3 to put us 5th of 17.
I walked XC with my trainer once she got done judging and we talked about a plan for the jumps that were making me nervous. She suggested avoiding one of the water crossings because it was rushing water (you could take an indirect route from 7B to 8 to avoid it) and we made a plan. I got tacked up and headed down.
I think M was a bit confused but warmed up perfectly, and they asked me to head to the box a few rides early with only a 30 second count down. No turning back now.
Fence 1 was a simple log and he jumped it no problem, then we headed through the gap and out to the outfield. He was locked on until we hit our extra water #1 right in front of the #2 Produce Stand table that made me want to puke. Not wanting to get muddy, I growled and kicked and we jumped it. The corner was #5 which we had planned to jump dead center, but alas my fearless eventing partner was too busy spooking at the flower and we jumped it right of center.
The middle of the course flowed really well even though we were conservative on pace-there were a few places where the footing was just so so in the outfield so I figured a sound horse was better than time faults.
Fences 14-17 were back in the infield. Fence 14 was a large roll top, then 5 or so strides to the half coffin. He took a flier at 14, so in a moment of panic I yelled “WHOA” then I had to growl because he peaked at the ditch. It worked out great, and we went on to jump the last two fences and finish 6 seconds under optimum time. We moved up to 4th after that double clear.
He’s so darn cute on XC. Why did we waste so many years in the hunter ring?
Oh that’s right, because I’m a chicken shit.
Marcus has had an easy last two weeks after May Daze. Because of his age, I don’t like to jump him for a week or two after a horse trial and I tend to keep his schedule light. So Frankie got to be the center of attention.
Champagne Run put on another schooling CT/MT this past weekend and since Marcus was getting to relax, I entered Frankie in the Greenie Ground Pole CT and Greenie X Rail CT. They put on a lovely show that is a super experience for young horses.
I hauled over with plenty of time to let Frankie hang out, lunge him a bit and have plenty of time to warm up. I find with a baby its a fine line between taking the edge off and making them so tired that they think showing isn’t fun. He was a bit up coming off the trailer but loads better than last time. I tossed him on the lunge for a few minutes, then decided to head on down to the warm up.
He was a steady eddy in the warm up despite lots of activity and an open space.
We had USDF Intro test B for both CTs. Our first one was pretty good except for one pilot error. He was steady and tried hard but I forgot that both halts were at X. Opps.
I went in for our second test and told the judge I would do both of my halts in the same place this time and she laughed at me. He was AWESOME for the second test. A few baby moments but I could not have asked for better! The judge stopped me and told me she loved him, he was a great mover and she thought I was going to have a TON of fun bringing him along. Her comments on my test were equally as good.
We ended up with a 30.4 and a 29.8, respectively.
Frankie had to hang around for a couple hours between dressage and stadium, so we went for a walk, got some water and then he stood quietly tied to my trailer.
Our ground pole class was WAY better than last time-he was steady and didn’t flip his head once.
For X-rails, he was a bit more “up” in warm up (he jumps big over them when he is excited but he doesn’t offer anything else bad). He walked in and just simply trotted everything, steady eddy. He did trip over one but I think that was partially being tired and partially being bored.
The funniest part about this horse is he is a total ham. He LOVES being the center of attention-his ears are pricked the whole time in the ring and he trots with a bit more swing.
We ended up 1st in ground poles and 2nd in X-rails. I was thrilled with him! He has been so so fun to bring along, and he seems to enjoy it. I hope CR will hold one more show this summer where we may try either the starter CT or run the starter MT depending on where we are at.
I’m sure after reading my lesson/XC schooling/CT recounts, you are wondering, waiting with bated breath, how we did at May Daze with our Novice debut.
I’m just kidding. We finished 13th out of 15.
But we did it, and I only cried once (okay maybe twice), I sat up and rode and we went double clear on XC so I will take it as a successful move up!
Our dressage was just okay, as I was super nervous and thought I was going to forget my test. So I got tense, forgot to bend and added a few random upward transitions where they didn’t need to be. We ended up with a 39.5 which we deserved.
Stadium really tested my new found ability to sit my butt in the saddle. Marcus was a bit keyed up, and I was really, really nervous (insert crying episode #1) and typically that is not a good combo. Luckily, Julie has worked really hard to reprogram my brain to think “let go and kick” when I get nervous rather than “assume fetal position and pray”. So I rode forward, looked for a bold spot and nailed the first fence. We landed and we felt fantastic and I thought “we’ve got this”
But then Marcus saw the giant mountain standards and we didn’t have it anymore. We went from a forward canter to slamming on the brakes and spinning away from them in about 2 seconds. I turned him around, kicked him forward and growled a bit and he jumped it even though he was still pretty scared of it. Good news is I had my butt in the saddle, so unlike two years ago, this didn’t end up with me on the ground and the EMT greeting me. But it did get us 4 faults for the refusal, 4 faults for the rail when he jumped it on the second attempt and 16 time faults.
Rather than be happy that I made the best of it, the perfectionist in me reared its ugly head and I walked out of the ring super disappointed (insert crying episode #2). I felt like stadium was always our Achilles’ heel, and I worked so hard to improve it and still struggled. But once I calmed down, I thought about how far we had come and was quite proud of my ability to get it done.
The good thing about going into XC at a move up sitting in last place is that there is no pressure on you. I figured I couldn’t do worse, so my goal was to just get around. Julie told me two things-don’t take no for an answer and praise him heavily if he is bold and drags me to the fences. Marcus warmed up beautifully, and we headed to the start box.
That horse has figured out what “3, 2, 1 have a great ride” means and man he loves those words. He drug me to the first fence, then the second. The third made me nervous, so I kicked hard and he jumped it no issue. The sixth one scared the daylights out of me (still having nightmares of that one) but I kept my leg on and butt in the saddle and he jumped it great. By the time we landed off fence 7, I had a huge grin on my face and knew we were going to do it. I’m sure people in the barns could hear my extra loud “Good Boy Marcus!!!” over every single jump. The rest of the course was awesome, fun and confidence building. We finished double clear with a big fist pump in the air and tears streaming down my face crossing the finish line.
Was my move up perfect? Nope. But that’s ok. For 2017, I am striving for progress not perfection. And May Daze was just that.
Next up-Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the end of June!
I took my boys over to Julie’s on Saturday for lessons since we had a break from showing. Marcus (no pics/video) was a super star despite the heat and my poor riding to one (big) oxer.
Frankie did his first group lesson with my friend’s greenie (if anyone is shopping for a OTTB who WTC jumps little jumps and hacks out alone and groups let me know!).
We worked on a few things:
-Getting him to swing through the shoulder at the trot a bit more. He is a good mover but we will need to improve his trot (mostly in his shoulder) so we’ve been working on that slowly
-Downward transitions. He has gotten pretty heavy on the left rein in trot-walk transitions, so Julie helped me from the ground to get him softer. She gave me some tricks to try when I am working him at home.
-The dreaded left lead. Frankie is really hesitant to pick up his left lead and gets pretty frazzled if you ask too many times. But he’s pretty willing to land on it over a jump. So our homework is to only pick it up over a jump for a while until he gets more balanced and comfortable. Pick your battles with the babies.
-Jumping little jumps. This is mostly me-I was trying to make him stay in a frame in front of the jump and also trying to hold him. Julie said to let him raise his head a bit and that my only job was to get him to the path of the jump, then I need to push my hands forward and let him figure it out. Feels like a trust fall exercise trotting a very green horse up to a jump and letting him decide what we do. 🙂
After the lesson, Frankie and his new buddy Dewey went for a trail ride. I almost said no, but figured why not. So we hacked down to the creek and Frankie met his first kayakers! He was a rock star and loved it!
Last Saturday I took Marcus to the Sayre School Horse Show at Masterson Station Park. This is one of my favorite schooling shows of the year and we lucked out that the weather was perfect.
I had originally thought about sending both ponies, but with a wedding that night and one pony that doesn’t stand on the trailer alone super well, I decided to leave Frankie at home and focus on Marcus. I entered the Novice CT (gulp), but when a friend’s horse came up lame after the CD, she transferred her entry to me and we entered BN as well.
Our BN test was pretty good! He was consistent and happy-we even got a 9.0 on our halt! Stadium was easy and we rode it like a nice equitation round to end up FODS of 30.5 and land a 4th place out of 10. Not bad at all!
Our N test also went pretty well- I was nervous as it was the first time riding that particular test, but aside from a few bobbles, it was steady, accurate and consistent. The judge told me Marcus was “super cute” but a “turkey sometimes” which I don’t disagree with at all 🙂 We scored a 30.4 to sit in 7th out of 14.
Stadium was a bit more challenging. We schooled Wednesday and he jumped around great (even did our first triple bar) and I felt like we were ready to move up, but Julie wasn’t there and when I walked the course the oxers looked huge for some reason.
I suffer from almost debilitating show nerves and I am not really sure why though I think most of it stems from a fear of messing up. I started to warm up, and pulled up and sat on Marcus crying saying I couldn’t do it. Thank goodness for friends who talk some sense into you-Vicki told me to a) take the pressure off-its a move up, so who cares if we have a rail or a stop and b)to go ride it like it was BN. I wasn’t quite convinced so she then told me walk in, jump the first fence and if I’m not feeling it, walk out.
So I walked in, sat my butt in the saddle and put my leg on and my pony took care of me. It is amazing how much easier our stadium trips are now that I am learning to sit and get him up. They are not perfect, but they are progress.
(Ignore the untucked shirt-I lost some weight and my breeches are a bit big. And I was too busy melting down to check my tails before I walked in)
We ended up jumping clean to move up to 3rd. I was thrilled!!
I received an educational grant this year from the Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association (MSEDA). In my application I explained that I was just learning how to event my former hunter and was also bringing along a young horse. I was awarded the grant to use for lessons to prep for the Novice move up on Marcus and to prep Frankie for starter and I was asked to document the process along the way.
The last two lessons on Marcus have focused on learning to sit. This has been one of the hardest parts of the transition to eventing. I finally have it somewhat mastered in my dressage saddle, but I have avoided it like the plague in my flat jumping saddle. My body was so used to a half seat around course that it’s been a true one way ticket on the struggle bus for me to learn how to keep my booty in the tack.
And I’m not gonna lie- I hate it. But it works.
After the last XC schooling, Julie and I talked about taking some time in my lessons to really focus on getting me to sit around course. While he’s bold and forward, Marcus has learned that he can get flat and low when I’m out of the saddle which leads to a last minute duck out at the base. Not good.
“You do a lot of things well-you are soft, you have a great eye and you keep a good rhythm around course. But sitting on course is not one of of them” Julie told me last lesson.
So we’ve been working on it and I’ve been working on it at home. It means more flating in my jump saddle, canter work without irons and jumping a single vertical at home back and forth.
Funny thing is, as hard as it is, it makes me feel like a million bucks. I can keep Marcus from getting long heavy and flat and I feel like I can jump anything put in front of us. I won’t lie-my trust in him was a bit shaken after the last XC schooling.
It has also helped my position over fences and I think with time will fix my using my knees as a pivot point and jumping ahead.
We’ll keep working on it though! I feel better already!
I think I can see a little improvement already but it will take time to train my body to make it feel natural (and to do it when I’m nervous at shows) . I’m glad my friend was able to video my lesson because I can really see how much more “up” Marcus is on his front end when I sit and get my hands up.