The BIG Novice Move Up

Better late than never right?

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”


Enter a caption

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.

Fix the jumping ahead, lose the lower leg. Sigh.

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.

Marcus’s XC war paint

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.

Just when I think we have finally blended in and no one can tell we used to be hunters, he jumps like this 🙂

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!


8 thoughts on “The BIG Novice Move Up

  1. Aw yay! Congrats! I was basically a disaster at my second novice (first was a very very soft venue…. Novice-lite, if you will) and had a pretty darn similar experience. Really tense dressage, fail whale stadium (um, we went bowling), but an xc that made up for all that plus some. Like you say – not ideal necessarily but it gives ya something to work with for next time! Major kudos for getting it done!! Marcus looks freakin adorable in that xc shot!!


    1. Novice-lite I love that!! I thought this one would be soft but it wasn’t really…

      And that’s exactly how I felt- the XC run made up for all of the rest of it. I was SO SO SO happy crossing that finish line.


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