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”


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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!


Green bean group lesson

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!


Sayre School CT

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!

When husbands get bored and start snapchatting your rides

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!!

Learning to sit

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!


Sitting in front of the fence


My default position at a spot that worries me: jump ahead and pivot at the knee.

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.

Stupid Log Oxers

On Friday following Spring Bay, MET had an open schooling day which gave us the chance to school the N XC course.

In true KB fashion, I let the words “move up” get into my head (why? I have no idea. We schooled N all of last year). I was nervous and my default position when I get worked up is hands on M’s neck, leg off and assume the fetal position.

Which works super well at a jump that petrifies you. Stupid Log Oxers.

I have no idea why this particular style of jump bothers me so much. I do know that out of all of the jumps on the Team Challenge course last fall, it was the one that I was flipping out about the entire course walk (which is sad, because it was maybe 2’3″). And when riding up to it, it looks GINORMOUS.

The one at Masterson has terrified me and every time I ride past it I can hear my brain going “NOPE NOPE NOPE”. I picture us landing in the middle of it because it feels so wide.  So of course, this was the first N fence we had to jump after we warmed up.

I did my normal whimpering and Julie responded without batting an eye “you’ll be fine!”. So we jumped the first few, then galloped towards it.

And I assumed the fetal position. M stopped. Three attempts and Julie screaming “GET YOUR BUTT IN THE SADDLE” later, we made it over. And then jumped it again. I rode away from it as fast as I could as Julie reminded me that its a permanent jump at Masterson and I will be schooling it all summer. Blech.

When in doubt fling your body and lay on their neck

The rest of schooling went okay. We had several stops-well run outs-because he would get heavy, pull me out of the saddle and get long, then run out left last minute. It became a bit of a vicious cycle, as it caused me to lose confidence in him, which only made me ride worse and caused him to do it more. After a fit that I am not proud of (beating him in the middle of the XC field while yelling “YOU JUMPED THESE 5 DAYS AGO ON COURSE” and realizing that had it been a show I would have been handed a red card)  we adjusted my reins to the lower ring on his 3 ring, and I had a bit more whoa, it got better. Julie continued to yell “GET YOUR BUTT IN YOUR SADDLE” and “GET YOUR HANDS UP”. We still had a couple stops, but overall better.

Novice house? No problem. Starter and BN? Let me be a turd at them

Julie used this one to point out how good my position is when I SIT MY BUTT IN THE TACK

We jumped our first Trakehner without an issue which was awesome and our first mini Weldon’s wall (extra fun when you don’t realize its a ditch in front until you are right in front of it).

And back to laying on his neck because what else do you do when jumping scary jumps?

So we definitely have a lot to work on before MayDaze but at least (other than stupid log oxers) the questions and the size aren’t the issue. M is pretty brave, just not an easy ride. So I’m going to spend the next month working on sitting back, getting my butt in the saddle and getting my hands up.

Spring Bay HT-Day 2

Sunday late morning we loaded up and headed to Masterson. Marcus was super chill while we were taking up and as we headed to the warm up. I was a bit worried because normally he’s super up-jigging, spooking, just being a general PITA. He warmed up pretty quiet and we jumped a couple Xrails before jumping a log and a coop. Again, super quiet. Julie had me slice the coop to make sure we could jump at an angle because of some of the approaches on course. We headed to the box  and I took a deep breath. Only one jump was bugging me on course-fence 3 which was a rampy table on a downhill approach. Blech. Julie told me to over ride to the first two fences because of their proximity to the warm up and to just sit up and kick at fence 3. Simple enough right?

We came out of the box at the first jump and I growled a bit. He landed, turned towards fence 2 and you could feel him dig in. That’s still the coolest feeling to me. Fence 3 jumped great despite my worries and we were all good until we landed off fence 7 where we came head to head with the rider before us. Marcus spooked and ran sideways so we wasted a bit of time trying to get forward again. He did that a few times on course between fences 8-11 but then was back to all business. I can’t blame him-we haven’t had to encounter another rider on course yet.

It was a fast (holy crap we came close to speed faults! That never happens), fun, confidence building course for us and we ended up finishing on our dressage score to stay in 5th. Mr. Mellow lost his marbles when we were done and proceeded to be the most annoying, obnoxious PITA horse ever back at the trailer.
Next up Novice at May Daze. Let the freaking out commence…

Spring Bay Horse Trial-Day 1

Marcus and I ran Spring Bay HT this weekend at the KHP/Masterson Park. Spring Bay was the unofficial start to what I am affectionately calling the “Balls to the Wall” show season in attempt to get ready for either AECs or Area 8 Championships.

I debated even entering as we hadn’t done much all winter and in previous years, it’s been an event in my opinion with bad juju (terrible flooding, snow, horse deaths, etc.) What ultimately made me enter was that I knew mentally I needed to run BN once more if I was going to attempt to move up this year.

I had a few lessons in March and felt pretty decent in stadium, but still felt really weak in dressage (our test at Paul Frazer CT was HORRIBLE) and hadn’t schooled XC since October. When the weather caused us to cancel our chances to school on the Sunday before, then again on Wednesday before SB, I came close to scratching because mentally, I knew I couldn’t do it cold. Luckily Julie fit me in for a lesson the night before SB and we jumped around some smaller XC fences at her place. I figured I would just see what I had when I got there.

Saturday I hauled over early so I could scribe for the morning (KY events is awesome-they treat their volunteers fantastic and you get a voucher good for free schooling or $10 off an entry for every 4h shift). I love scribing because you learn SO much. I finished up and headed out to braid and get ready for dressage.

Marcus was pretty mellow and while it wasn’t our best test to date, we did put in a solid effort to score a 36.1. We weren’t center on the CL for our entrance and his frame was too open after we did our first canter but I didn’t have an angry, tense horse like PF and we improved on our free walk (always something we struggle with). It sat us 5th of 19.

For stadium I had a little opps and didn’t get a chance to walk my course, so watched a few rounds and figured we’d be ok. Marcus warmed up mellow and I debated taking off our gag rein (recently added back after Julie ended my two year “you will learn to ride this horse in a loose ring snaffle and use your seat and body” punishment) but the Murphy ring is tight and I figured after our stadium round at prelim speed at PF, I might need a little whoa.  There were few growls for my own confidence (and maybe an F bomb dropped by accident at a big spot), but overall a good round

I took M home and he and Hillary’s Annie got to hang out for the night and stretch their legs and eat some grass.