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.
Despite my nerves, I entered Frankie in a little schooling show this past weekend. I went back and forth debating if the young pro should show him again, if we should each do a CT or if I should just show him. Ultimately I put my big girl panties on entered him with just me as the rider.
He loaded well (an issue we have been working on) and we headed over. I got there, got settled and he was a bit up, dancing around, kicking out, being a general PITA. So I gave him his breakfast then tacked him up and tossed him on the lunge. I spun him for maybe 5-10 minutes until he stopped trotting around like a standardbred at the meadowlands.
We headed to the warm up, and I was pretty nervous. I got on and he was nervous but really, really good. We trotted around and did a few transitions then headed to the indoor for our dressage test. He hacked down quietly and stood like a champ waiting until our turn. We walked in and he quietly trotted around the outside of the dressage arena and we started our test.
Our Dressage test:
We had a few baby moments but overall he was SO good. Better than I could have expected! We got a 39.
We had about 2 hours before “stadium” (using that loosely because it was ground poles) so Frankie got to hang out and eat hay tied to the trailer like a grown up horse.
For stadium, the warm up was in an open field next to a herd of cattle. He was much more nervous than in the morning, but held his composure well even with kids riding up behind him and with an exploding greenie. In stadium he tried hard to be good and overall he was. We have to work on his head tossing straight up in the air but that will come (not sure where that habit came from). His last 4 trot poles were perfect.
Our “stadium” round:
We ended up finishing on our dressage score to place 2nd out of 6! I was super proud of him-especially since he took it all in stride and took care of my nervous self. Not bad for a 4 year old and his nervous rider!
This past weekend I went to the Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association (MSEDA) Official’s training at Flying Cross Farm in Goshen KY. My trainer talked me into it so that I could become a stadium judge. The process includes attending a training, shadowing two judges for a minimum of 8 hours and taking a test. I did quite a bit of jumper judging in my hunter days as barter for my entry fees so I figured it could be fun.
The morning started with a power point presentation by Wayne Quarles. He did a really good job explaining the roles of officials (judge, TD, PGJ, CD) and then we moved into reviewing rules. Luckily things are pretty similar to normal jumpers so much of it was review. Next we watched several videos that demonstrated things like when to call a refusal versus a jumping effort when a horse crashes a jump and what is considered crossing your path.
After lunch we went out and walked a Novice stadium course so Wayne could have us point out what was legal/not legal (such as a one stride vs a two stride) and what was legal but not appropriate for the level (such as a swedish). I learned a ton and I can’t wait to shadow this summer and take my test.
The hope is to work off a bit of my entry fees for my balls to the wall schedule this summer 🙂
After a few weeks of sass filled flat work, I hauled Marcus over to my trainers this weekend to see what I had over fences. I am entered in a CT in two weeks and figured as much as I was dreading it, I needed to jump around to see where we were.
First showed his unhappiness with me daring to *gasp* load the trailer while he was out by galloping around the pasture for 5 minutes. Idiot.
Lucky for me this seemed to take the edge off.
Ever the optimist, I left his boots and my spurs in my trailer since I figured we would mostly flat and maybe hop over a few X-rails like our first lesson back last year.
I warmed up for a few minutes, instantly regretting the lack of spurs as Marcus spun at a) a dog, b) a person walking up and c) a pole on the ground. It was going to be ugly.
Luckily, something clicked in his brain and after a couple ugly unfocused X-rails, we got his attention and added a a vertical. We gradually built the course and jumped around fairly well and with decent manners for just coming back.
Julie had me focus on two things. First, she reminds me to square my shoulders the the jump-this gets me to tip them back and use my body which helps tremendously since my default position is fetal while repeating “shit shit shit”. Second, was to keep his stride “bouncy” and package him up, especially later in course. Marcus likes to build and by half way through the course, he thinks we need to jump BN at prelim pace.
Our final good trip. He felt awesome:
And here folks is why core strength is essential. Opps.
Overall we had two bad fences but he was obedient and happy. I’ll take that!
Since I mailed in my first entry of the year last week, I thought I probably ought to (tentatively) map out my season so I had an idea of what we are going to do this year.
Marcus is going to a CT at the end of March and then we will start HTs in April. The goal, as of now is to run BN at Spring Bay and move up to N at May-Daze. That being said, if I don’t feel ready that move up isn’t going to happen as I am still nervous about the jump up in height and technical difficulty. I keep reminding myself that a) we were schooling N and T last year and b) I was this nervous moving up from starter to BN and we did fine. But again, no need to move up if we aren’t ready.
My schedule is pretty heavy on the KHP shows, and while I would love to show elsewhere, it adds considerable expense compared to showing at a venue that is 10 minutes up I75. I hope to make it to IEA in IN as my “away” show this year.
Paul Frazier CT
KHP Lexington KY
Spring Bay HT (USEA)
KHP/Masterson Lexington KY
Sayre School CT
Masterson Station Lexington KY
Wilderness Trace CT
May-Daze HT (USEA)
KHP Lexington KY
IEA HT (USEA)
Midsouth PC HT (USEA)
KHP Lexington, KY
Champagne Run HT (USEA)
KHP Lexington, KY
AEC or Area 8 Championships
Flying Cross HT (USEA)
Jumpstart HT (USEA)
KHP Lexington KY
Team Challenge HT (USEA)
KHP Lexington KY
Frankie will likely do one schooling show a month if I can swing it. Champagne Run holds schooling CTs and MT and there are a few other places we can go (dates havent been posted yet). My goal with him is to do starter at Octoberfest over halloween weekend.
Frankie went and did a little schooling jumper show this weekend while Marcus was on the mend (which didn’t stop him from throwing a giant hissy fit when he saw me hook up my trailer and *gasp* load his baby brother and leave him behind).
A local farm here does an awesome schooling jumper show ever other month or so. They start at X rails then 1’9″ and go up every 3″ until they get to the big stuff. For $50, you can do up to three heights (two classes offered per height) and for $60 you can jump all day. What an awesome, cheap option for a baby horse.
Frankie loaded well and we hauled over in time for him to hang out before Laura got there to hop on. He was very relaxed but interested in what was going on.
Its funny to watch a baby horse progress over a show day.
First its all nerves and “WHAT ARE WE DOING AND WHY AM I HERE? ” . This was Frankie in his first Xrails round. Lots to look at and lots of friends to talk to.
Then its “Ok I’m still nervous but I know my job”. He progressed to this in his second class, and ended up doing a very pretty roll back in the jump off.
Finally, the cockiness comes out and you get them”OK so cool, I know what I’m doing and I am super good at this now so I dont have to listen to you..”
The last round he did was a bit of a schooling around where Laura made him listen and knocked him down a peg. He was really, really good and ended up with a 1st, 5th and a 6th.
Marcus has had some time off this winter due to a combination of working really hard for me last season and a few NQR issues in his hind feet. I’ve always given him a month to 6 weeks off in the winter after a hard show season, and never fail, bringing him back is not fun.This year he’s been particularly bad and our walk trot conditioning rides have left me thinking maybe I would be better off wearing my XC vest.
After a week of putting up with his antics at the walk and trot, I spoke to my trainer and my vet-both agreed that he likes having a job and it would be better for all involved if he just went back to full work. So my plan is to flat him for two weeks, then start him back over fences around March 10th.
Aside from conditioning, I had my wonderful vet out to do a pre-season lameness exam. Because Marcus is 18, I have him checked out twice a year and make sure hes still feeling good. Ashley watched me ride him and did flexions, and we ended up injecting his hocks as planned. We typically do them in the fall, but he flexed well before Team Challenge so she suggested keeping him in light work over the winter and doing them before we start amping work up.
So now he gets the weekend off and goes back to full work on Monday. One month to prep for our first CT of the season, 6 weeks until our first HT.