The second half of the year we continued with our busy schedule, and threw in both a Hunter/Jumper and Recognized show for fun.
July – Hunter/Jumper Show
We went to a Hunter/Jumper show for a change of pace and with the goal of getting in jumping rounds in a low pressure environment. Leading up to the show, a series of crap schoolings and trying to fix things instead of leaving them alone left me with a super tired pony who just wasn’t up for what I asked of him. He tried very hard though, and still earned us two 4th place ribbons in a couple classes. I learned a lot about show prep for my horse and about the world of H/J.
September – Recognized Horse Trials at FENCE
Foster’s first Recognized show, and my first one in about 10 years had me pretty nervous leading up to it. I did my damned best to prepare my horse for it, and overall it was a success. What felt like a fairly good test earned us our all-time low of 30 for dressage, and we debuted the helmet cam with a rockin’ cross country course up a small mountain and coming in well under time. I made a mishap of not getting to the start box as soon as I should, which looks bad on paper, but oh well. Foster was tired on showjumping day and took out 2 poles, which was pretty good considering I was almost concussed in the warmup.
October – Carolina Horse Park Horse Trials
Another show at the Horse Park. Although an unrecognized event, they reused the course from the Recognized show prior, which meant I finally had to jump the dreaded trakehner and brush fences. The footing was super sloppy, which was a first for Foster, but he handled it well. We had a slightly tense test for a 31.7, and added 1 time fault in showjumping with a scrappy round. I thought I was going to puke with nerves before cross country after watching multiple refusals, but Foster came through brilliantly and went double clear. We got ourselves another 4th place ribbon.
November – Carolina Horse Park Horse Trials
… and yet another at the Horse Park. A more forward dressage test and a harsh judge gave us a 35.7, but left us tied for second place. This followed by our most fluid showjumping round, though I made turns way too way big and Foster accidently dropped 2 poles. I then went out to cross country preparing for a fun run around, which I was having when I forgot a fence and was pulled up 3 fences from home. Ended on a Technical Elimination.
Our Season By the Numbers
Total Shows: 10
Number of Horse Trials: 5
Average Dressage Score: 32.65 (67.35%)
Average Number of Poles Down: .85
Double-clear cross country runs: 3 (4 if you count that we probably would have gone clear without my TE, regarding pace and jumping faults)
Number of Ribbons: 6
Color of Ribbons (Placings): 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 4th
Times I Forgot Part of Course: 2
Times I dyed Foster’s tail purple: 2
As the numbers show, our tendency is to be at the top of the pack after dressage, then for me to mess things up in the jumping phases. From now on I am holding myself to a mandatory second course walk. But, looking at the positives- we learned a TON. Foster’s confidence at the level has come in leaps and bounds, which in turn has made me more confident. Pace has not been an issue at Novice, though admittedly, there are other venues that run Novice faster than the few I attended. We had one run-out this year, and that was mostly due to my being a passenger instead of kicking on. Since then, my mantra of ride every fence (other than being ironic at the last show) has been a helpful attitude and keeps me from getting too laid back about seemingly easy fences. I should tattoo it on my arm, right next to where my cross country watch goes.
Next year’s calendar will be interesting, depending on how long it takes for us to feel ready to move up to Training. There’s another Running Start Horse Trials in February, and then we would wait until May to do another unrecognized event. Combined Training shows will help us dip our toes into the Training test and battle some showjumping courses, which may be just the ticket. I’ll be spending the winter thinking about our goals and what is the right path for the spring, and hoping the season goes just as well as 2014!