Show Recap: Running Start BN Combined Training

Saturday, Jack and I (with the help of our amazing friend C) headed out to do a quick Combined Training event in Southern Pines. The goal was to get a little more exposure and get a confidence building round. Essentially we were to do our dressage test, go back to the trailer for a tack change, jump, and head home again.

Jack’s dressage test was okay. The next time I take him out I’ll be adding spurs, because I feel as though his tension translates into getting behind my leg, and I definitely was not able to be nearly as quiet as I am at home. Still, the judge liked him well enough, giving him an 8 on the following movements, as well as his gaits:

  • Trot circle right
  • Change rein KXM
  • Trot circle left
  • Change rein HXF
  • Downward transition to trot
  • Free walk
  • Upward trot transition + turn down centerline

We got dinged overall for our hollow moments which was not surprising- again I know that we are going to have hollow canter transitions for some time until we re-wire Jack to use his hind end instead of his massive shoulders to change gait. The test scored a 29 (71%) with plenty of room for improvement.

Our jump warm up was also just okay, and I needed a swift kick in the butt to hold to the base of the fence. Our jumping round was then the total opposite, as each fence impressed Jack more and more and we got ugly chippy distances and even a stop at the swedish oxer (which is fine- that’s a new question to him and no ground line). So after having cowboyed him through the course, I was not satisfied and quickly requested a schooling round, which is what you see below.

It’s amazing what change you can effect when you actually ride. I was really thrilled with the result and felt like Jack would have a very positive note to end on. The pony got lots of pats and stuffed full of treats and we were homeward bound.

Thanks to a brain fart on my part, we likely won’t be competing in October, but definitely lots of lessons and hopefully even a clinic with a certain former trainer of ours. The more miles the better!

Two Years


A friend sent me this over the weekend. It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Foster and I’s last outing, a clinic where we aimed to get around our first Training level showjumping course.


While it wasn’t without its blips, I’m still pretty effing proud of having at least done this with Fosterpants, despite nearly peeing my pants in the process. (Two one-stride combinations, max height/width fences, and a horse without a motor- I shudder to think of it still!)


This was also the one of the few clinics I did with Foster, and I think I learned more from it than any other clinic I’ve done before- those lessons still stick with me today.

Because this makes me happy, I will reuse it for eternity

Because this makes me happy, I will reuse it for eternity

Part of me is also a little sad that the only “competition” I’ve done between now and then is the little GaG CT I did with Smitty back in October. Of course when it comes to horses there is no such thing as plans written in ink, but somehow I imagined having done just a bit more over the last 24 months. How on earth have I kept this blog going otherwise?


Still, one day I hope to get back there, jumping all the things, even if I have to convince myself not to be a total weenie in the process.

clinic canter

It’s all about the journey, right?

A time when I had bigger balls. Kind of. Actually I remember being terrified walking that course.

Show Recap: Fork CT

Saturday seems like a crazy blur in my mind, it all happened so quickly! Maybe the time went by so fast because my watch died en route to the show (I kid you not- talk about bad timing, har har), and so I had very little grasp on what was happening when.

Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 1.53.55 PM

After getting to the show and letting Foster munch on some hay for a few minutes (he doesn’t eat in the trailer, but digs into the same hay net at the show- weird?), we got tacked up and boogied on down the road to the show arenas. The horse I had for the day was surprisingly fresh, and just a little tense. Still, I liked the energy I had, even though he was being a little fussy in the bridle. I decided to post the trot to allow his back to come up and release some of the tension in his topline, and I think this was the right decision.

Our test felt pretty good. The couple places I know we could improve are in one corner that I didn’t prepare enough for, and those dern canter transitions. The stretchy walk didn’t have its usual stretch either, partially because Foster got distracted by the jumping going on right in front of him. Looking at the test, the judge nailed us on this- just think of what our final score would have been otherwise! Also, you’ll notice that he decided to step out in our final halt- bummer! On the bright side though, I thought the test was more forward than CHP and that in general, he was straighter and more obedient to my leg. The test earned us a 31, good for 3rd after being trumped by a stunning 20 and 24 in 1st and 2nd place.

photo (3)

Showjumping is the most blurry part of the day. After being distracted by the comings and goings of the day, I didn’t find time to walk the course before jumping. Go figure that it was probably the most intense showjumping course we have done to date. Serious bending lines, intense roll backs, and no less than 2 one-stride combinations. What the what?! I thought we were doing Novice! Walking the course was pretty much vital here, but I did without. Where I regretted it most was in the rollback from 5 to 6AB (a one-stride)- you can actually hear my “Geez!” trying to make that turn and get straight into the one-stride. Because of our disorganization, he didn’t find his spot to the first fence and then brought down the second element rail with his hind end. Add to that, a sprinkling of cross-canter, because that’s what Foster does at shows, and that was our course.

Leg needs to be more forward, but otherwise getting better!

Leg needs to be more forward, but otherwise getting better! Also.. does this look big for a Novice fence to anyone?

Cross Country Schooling
After all of the memory-taxing activities were over, we went out to the cross country course! I wasn’t sure how many jumps would be available, since the Fork seems to employ mostly portable XC fences in their course. There definitely was not an endless supply of fences, but there was enough to play over, given that Foster was already somewhat tired from dressage and showjumping. So we played around the water complex for a while, and Foster was an absolute champ over everything. I felt like I was actually riding, instead of coasting around to the next fence like I had done in showjumping. With a smile on our faces, we called it a day and headed for home.

Upbank combination:


More water complex fun:

Impression on the parents
I think it’s safe to say that Foster redeemed himself this weekend. He put on his game face for sure, and showed off his chill demeanor and sweet disposition. While you can hear my mother’s gasping and um, other exclamations on the videos, she was impressed by his rideability and quietness. Bonus, that Foster did right by my sister as well, even ponying her back to the barn. I wish my dad was able to meet Foster, but it was not meant to be. Also, unfortunately, Foster managed pulled off both front shoes in the water complex, so he will be having the next few days off anyway- he earned it!

All of us with Foster at the end of the day

All of us with Foster at the end of the day

A Show Recap: MacNair’s Combined Training


Let me start by saying that if I wasn’t prepared for the Running Start Horse Trials, then I really wasn’t prepared for the Combined Training show yesterday. But I thought hey, it doesn’t get much cheaper and easier than 1 dressage test and 1 jumping round at a barn only 25 minutes away, right? So I went, even though Foster had only been ridden three times in just as many weeks (due to my travel adventures, moving barns, one rainstorm from Hell, and one lost shoe).

After getting stuck in the hellstorm..

After getting stuck in the hellstorm..

Anyways, the show went better than expected. We notoriously struggle with the warmup at this facility, as the jump warmup (read: kids on ponies trying to jump fences both directions) and dressage warmup share the same smallish space. But luckily our warmup was only mildly heinous. I tried to focus on relaxation, and spent 20 of my 25 minute warmup encouraging stretchy walk, trot, and canter. Thankfully this approach did help some, though Foster retained some of the tension (I theorize that the tension is also a bit due to lack of muscle and therefore balance in the working paces), but was about 75% alleviated before the test.

Trotty trot trot

Trotty trot trot

So other than having a few tense moments, the test was passable. He felt a little more lateral than usual, which the judge picked up on, but again I put this down to simple loss of conditioning. We are going to have to work to build the strength back up in that right hind in order to achieve perfect straightness. But the test was obedient, and my geometry pretty decent. Foster earned himself two 8’s (20 meter circle trot and our diagonal), and even got a 7 on his right lead canter depart (not expected!). To top it off, we both got 7’s on the collective marks, which I was fairly pleased with as well! (below is a blurry video of the first part of the test)

Following this, I did a hasty tack change, ran around my course on foot (not a single straight line! yikes!) and hopped over a few fences to warm him up. It was apparent that he was lacking a bit of energy, but I hoped he would wake up in my round.

We went in, and noting that the first fence was a nice brick wall, I tapped him on the shoulder to let him know his job. We then proceeded to go around the course like a cross cantering whirlydirvish! It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was forward! He did hit one pole with his backend that I was a bit disappointed about- very uncharacteristic of him but I imagine he was just getting tired. Watching the video makes me cringe a bit, as it’s apparent that I wasn’t really riding the fences- just pointing him at them like a monkey on his back! This is something I seriously need to work on, because I don’t want to give him any bad habits because of my ineptitude. I think a show where I can get in the jumping ring a few times to get my act together would be perfect- maybe a Hunter show is in my future?

Anyways- here is the video so you can see my bad riding (and Foster’s mostly clever footwork) for yourself. Foster, I promise I will do better by you next time! Until then, I need to work on landing on the correct lead, and maybe even trying to teach changes to my horse who wants to change but hasn’t figured out yet how to change the back as well as the front!

It turns out that silly pole cost us 1st place, but we earned ourselves a pretty red ribbon for our efforts! Yay Foster!

What a cutie :)

What a cutie 🙂

Our next plans include hopefully getting a lesson in (haven’t had one at all this year!) and then I’m debating between a clinic and another horse trial (at Denny Emerson’s farm in Southern Pines). Heading to Pittsburgh again this week, and when I get back we will be working on our fitness! Let’s whip our butts into gear!