Drawing the Bigger Picture: Part I

3 trainers, 8 days. Information overload? Just a little.

venndiagram

In many ways though, the lessons do overlap, even though each trainer had different ways of communicating the same things. Here are some of the theories that I’ve noticed transcend two or more of the lessons in just a short time period.

Response to the Aids
Foster should always be listening (ideally), and always waiting for the next cue. We’ve been together so long that sometimes I fall into being repetitive or allowing him to be ho-hum, which makes communication when I really need him a challenge. In our June jump lesson, the trainer had us do canter walk or canter halt transitions and incorporate turn on the haunches or turn on the forehand to keep him thinking about balance and reactiveness. In Bobby’s showjumping lesson, we focused on halting after fences or a line, to keep him coming back to me as the source of instruction. Both accomplish a horse that is listening and reacting quickly to my aids.

My [mental] picture of the right canter

My [mental] picture of the right canter

Focus on the Canter
The quality of the canter in showjumping is everything, and Bobby stressed that he be balanced and active when approaching fences. Similarly, in our dressage lessons we have been working on increasing the activity of the canter, which teaches Foster to sit while engaging his hind legs. Even though the truly collected canter is not a gait that you would use through a showjumping course, the idea of increasing engagement certainly translates.

[From the Clinic] Bobby Costello shows us how to use both hands and outside aids to make a turn to 9

[From the Clinic] Bobby Costello shows us how to use both hands and outside aids to make a turn to 9

Following with the Hands
All three instructors have now said something to this effect, which is saying something. In my June jump lesson, she reverberated pretty much word for word what BC said in the February clinic– push your elbows to the fence. With dressage, this really comes into getting the most out of the free walk by actively following the bit with my hands- even if there is slack in the reins, the horse can feel it and likely take that room to stretch down. With the collected canter, this comes as making sure that I am not constantly holding, which would make him heavier and heavier in my hands.

 

Tomorrow- 3 more things that have been beaten into me this week…

This.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet- I tend to be that person that has something stupid happen to her in public. I’m pretty sure there’s an award out there with my name on it for people who have ripped their pants in public the most amount of times. And on a horse? The opportunity for disaster is exponential.

warmup_oxer

Case in evidence? This, this, and this.

I like to try and take it all in stride, and maintaining a sense of humor in the wake of your latest embarrassment is something I get to practice a lot. Humility, y’all. If you don’t have it, your horse will be happy to teach it to you.

doug-lesson-trot

So this article written by Kristin Carpenter really spoke to me. Not only does she describe perfectly what it’s like to be that person, but she also encapsulates all the things that I love most about eventing- the rush, the horses, and the comradery.

gallop

I may look like a dummy sometimes doing it, but this is eventing, and this is my sport.

Carolina International 3*

The weather could not have been more perfect for the fun day spent at the Carolina Horse Park. We arrived just in time to see the start of the 3* division go. This meant I had missed Mr. Medicott in the 2* (one of my favorite horses everrr) but it was hard to be disappointed when Olympic level riders immediately started leaving the gate.

The new lens was a great big fail. Here's Karen and Mr. Medicott again, Rolex 2012

The new lens was a great big fail. Here’s Karen and Mr. Medicott again, Rolex 2012

After enjoying a mimosa (or two) at the water complex, which was riding really well sans one rider fall at the corner out (the horse hit the corner with its knee and the rider just popped over the handle bars, no harm done), we meandered over to the Stonehenge complex. After a while a gentleman wearing the staff badge came over to see how the complex (a vertical through the ‘stones’ then three strides to a corner) was riding. It was soon clear that it was none other than Hugh Lochure, the course designer himself.

Boyd Martin and Remington, Rolex 2012

Boyd Martin and Remington, Rolex 2012

Happily, Hugh was more than willing to chat with me about the current miasma of finger-pointing that is going on in eventing at the moment. He also shared a few fun facts regarding his course and some of the riders running it. For instance, the famous Stonehenge complex was originally meant to represent a different set of standing stones from Scotland (his native country). When the inaugural 3* was planned, a sponsor came forward with a farm called Stonehenge, and the decision was made then to arrange the fences in honor of that sponsor.

We also talked about some of the safety aspects currently being developed in the sport. Frangible pins, collapsing tables, and air vests are all becoming common sights to see at the higher levels. But not all riders and venues adopt these changes. It turns out that Michael Pollard doesn’t like the way the air vest feels, and so he rides without, even at the 3* level. Hugh also compared the adoption of ‘safety fences’ (my term) in Europe versus the US. It seems that across the ocean, frangible pin and collapsable fences are more common than over here, where venues are not as likely to invest in them.

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive, Rolex 2012

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive, Rolex 2012

Local hero Kelsey Briggs (whose horse, The Gentleman Pirate, has made a miraculous recovery from a broken neck and just ran the Intermediate course) also came over for a bit and we all regaled her with memories of local eventing. It was a good day for Kelsey, who came second in her division with Pirate, and a great day for Phillip Dutton, who walked away with $35,000 after winning with I’m Sew Ready to end on his dressage score.

After the 3* completed, we watched some of the Advanced group warm up (seeing the riders take a huge rolltop at an angle was a kick in the pants reminder to school this at home!) and then peeked through the shopping tents before departing for home. I snagged myself a new pair of mesh Roeckl gloves and a whole new set of fun memories- can’t wait to return to this exciting new event next year!

The Skull Cap Debate

As I briefly mentioned in my Competitor’s Toolbox: Equipment post, the British Eventing Association has banned fixed-peak helmets from cross country. [Read EN’s post with the news here]

Frequent image contributor J (rocking a skull cap) and the handsome Jasper / PC: High Time Photography

Frequent image contributor J (rocking a skull cap) and the handsome Jasper / PC: High Time Photography

Many US eventers are already wearing skull caps, and some like myself, are not. Besides my vanity thinking that peaked helmets are slightly more attractive, I just don’t have the dollars right now to dole out on a new helmet. Especially when I just walked a hole into my paddock boots. (Durn it)

PC: High Time Photography

PC: High Time Photography

I used to have a skull cap at one point, but never used it, and now the padding is so deteriorated that the thing wobbles on my head. I’m not saying I won’t make the move to a skull cap, but it’s not going to happen in the next couple months for sure.

But I’m curious, what do you guys think? Eventers- what are you using/plan to use this season? And for non-eventers, let’s pretend- if you were about to go cross country, what would you don?

Case of the Closing Date Blues

Not for the first time in my life, I have been taken advantage of by someone in the horse industry. It’s been on my mind on and off (but more on) for the last several months since this incident, so it’s probably worth writing about, at least now that it appears to be finally on its way to being resolved.

Last August I signed up for the Virginia Horse Trials, a schooling event that takes place at the Virginia Horse Center. I had only heard good things about the facilities, and looked forward to trying out a new and promising venue. Then, a week before the competition, I got sick. Sick enough that I couldn’t work even at my desk job, making the 4 hour drive and subsequent cross country riding look like a really daunting prospect. I noticed that VHT had already cashed my checks, so I gave them a ring and confirmed that if I scratched on the closing date that I would get a full refund. They assured me I would, and so the next day, still no better, I both sent an email and left a voicemail with my decision to scratch. The ride times were posted the next day, without my name on the list- good, they’d gotten my messages.

J rocking the Novice course at VHT last year / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

J rocking around the Novice course at VHT last year / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

Fast forward another few weeks. I started checking the mail with an eye for a letter from Virginia, but none came. I emailed VHT once again, asking about my refund (almost $200, by the way), and no response. Called and left a voicemail, and no response. Repeating this process every 1-2 weeks became an exercise in my patience. I became incensed- if a venue promises a refund on their website by a certain date, they should honor it. Or, don’t promise refunds, in which case I would have loaded up on Red Bull and dragged my sorry behind to the event. My resentment eventually led me to social media.

Virginia Horse Trial’s website

I tried the venue’s facebook page, and again, nothing. Then I cast further, to the broader Virginia eventing association, and found out that I was not alone in my refund pleas.

Virginia Horse Trail’s facebook page

 

None of my leads followed through. I continued calling every month or so, noting that VHT’s voicemail message had changed- how could they not have received my messages? Friends signing up for their current shows similiarly assured me that their emails were responded to in a timely manner, convincing me that I was purposely being ignored. Around December, I started to give up hope that I would ever get my money back, and vowed to never give this venue money again. I started debating if it was worth having the lawyer husband write them a strongly worded missive as a last ditch effort, and to soothe both of our frustrations on the subject.

J and the VHT Trakehner again (this fence makes me pee my pants) / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

J and the VHT Trakehner again (this fence makes me pee my pants) / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

The finally, last month, I had one more brain wave. I emailed Eventing Nation, that hub of all things eventing, thinking that if they didn’t know someone directly maybe they would write a post about it. You know, go all whistle-blower with the business. To my surprise, they forwarded my email to the new owners of VHT, and I got a response the next day.

EN to the rescue

EN to the rescue

While it seems I won’t be getting my precious dollars back, the new owner has offered me a compromise- a free entry to the Recognized horse trials this May, a $200 value. This gesture, though it requires me to spend money on gas and a renewed USEA membership, goes a long way in feeling like the right thing. Before they can back out of it, I’ve accepted. We’ll see if they follow through or not, but I’m hopeful that the event will be a happy ending to this extremely trying tale! While I didn’t plan on any recognized shows this year- maybe this (and my new USEA membership) will open up other recognized opportunities later this season!

Fingers crossed!

 

Looking back at the Season – Part 2

The second half of the year we continued with our busy schedule, and threw in both a Hunter/Jumper and Recognized show for fun.

Hunter/Jumper Show, August 2014

Hunter/Jumper Show, August 2014

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.

FENCE, September 2014

FENCE, September 2014

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.

CHP, October 2014

CHP, October 2014

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.

CHP, November 2014

CHP, November 2014

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!

Looking back at the Season – Part 1

2014 definitely marks a year of doing more shows than I’ve ever done before (at least with my own horse, because, IDA). Now that the show season is officially over, it’s time to be retrospective and look at how things went.

Running Start, Feb 2014

Running Start, Feb 2014

February – Running Start Horse Trials
This was our debut at the Novice level, and technically a little on the more difficult end of a move-up course. Foster put in a great dressage test (a 35.5 put us in 2nd after dressage), and was about as relaxed as I’ve ever had him. He then went double clear in showjumping. On the cross country course, he came out a little strong, but did his first jump into water and faux trakehner confidently. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep my leg on at the half coffin and he had a silly runout, followed by my celebrating too early and not realizing I hadn’t yet gone through the finish flags, racking up a whopping 26 time faults to leave us at the bottom of the pile placing-wise.

MacNairs, March 2014

MacNairs, March 2014

March – MacNair’s Combined Training
Somehow I barely remember this show. It was an eh dressage test for a 33.4, and I did a crap job as pilot and we brought down one pole for a 2nd place ribbon.

CHP, May 2014

CHP, May 2014

May – Carolina Horse Park Horse Trials
Our first Novice at the Horse Park, and I remember being pretty intimidated. Instead, I had a solid dressage test, scoring a 31.3. Our showjumping course was pretty sticky, but Foster’s clever feet got us around for a double clear round. Cross country was the first time I really had a blast the whole way around, and we came in with a big grin and double clear. We earned ourself a 4th place ribbon, our first Novice ribbon!

The Fork, June 2014

The Fork, June 2014

June – Fork Combined Training
We drove down to the Fork so my mum could see the painted pony in action. I tried for a forward dressage round that may have been borderline rushing, but earning a 31 nonetheless. I didn’t get to walk the showjumping course at all, and it was the toughest course to date- with two one-stride combinations and lots of bendiness throughout. We took out one rail and I believe we placed 3rd overall. We followed the show with a super fun cross country schooling, and practiced our first water-upbank-fence combinations.

Thus concludes the first 1/2 of the year! Tomorrow, part 2!

Just for Kicks: USEA Proposed Rule Changes

It has been announced that changes are being proposed at the USEA to the lower levels, in order to bring it up to other country’s standards. Click here for the article on EventingNation. Here’s the recap for those who are unaware:

Cross Country Beginner Novice Novice Training
Speeds @ optimum time 300 350 mpm 350 400-430 mpm 420-470 *450–480 mpm
Speed faults 420 520 mpm 450 520 mpm 520 mpm

* When multiple divisions of Training level are offered, Open Training speed is 480 mpm.

Show Jumping Beginner Novice Novice Training Preliminary
Heights 0.79m (2’7”) 0.90m (2’11”) 1.0m (3’3”) 1.10m (3’7”)
Height Option* 0.85m (2’10”) 0.95m (3’1”) 1.05m (3’5”) 1.15m (3’9”)
Spreads of oxers 1.00m (3’3”) 1.10m (3’7”) 1.20m (3’9”) 1.30m (4’3”)
Spreads w/ height option 1.05m (3’5”) 1.15m (3’9”) 1.25m (4’1”) 1.35 (4’5”)
Spreads of triple bar 1.20m (3’11”) 1.30m (4’3”) 1.40m (4’7”) 1.50m (4’11”)
Spreads w/ height option 1.25m (4’1”) 1.35m (4’5”) 1.45m (4’9”) 1.55m (5’1”)

* One vertical and one oxer permitted at these heights

Being that I have, do, and will be competing at these levels, I’d like to weigh in with my opinion, which is two-fold. If you want to skip the discussion- scroll to the end.

Speed
The current argument for upping the speeds required is that some horses have to do circles at the end of their course before crossing the finish flags in order to avoid speed penalties (for non-eventers, you can actually incur points against you if you go too fast, a time is given as incurring speed faults along with the optimum time). The purpose of the speed faults is to dissuade riders from reckless riding on course.

Beginner Novice XC Oct. 2012

Beginner Novice XC Oct. 2012

From my standpoint, I can understand why increasing the speed @ optimum time could be a good idea. Even if my sometimes pokey horse might struggle with this, I will admit that encouraging a more forward ride might be a good thing. I completely disagree, however, with increasing the speed fault speed to 520. In the current USEA guidelines, 520 meters per minute is a standard speed for a Prelim course. Let me tell you, you are seriously cruising at 520 mpm. Here is a video comprised of Prelim riders at Morven Park in 2011, for example:

Why would anyone jump Beginner Novice (2’7″) or Novice (2’11”) need to get anywhere near Prelim (3’7″) speed in order to safely get around a course? In my opinion, there is no training program that should ever include galloping 2’7″ fences as part of their regimen. If I see someone  taking these smaller fences at almost-Prelim speed (because of course actual Prelim speed incurs speed faults), I think it is safe to assume that either A) the ride is lacking control of the horse, and therefore dangerous OR B) the rider is lacking discipline, and is therefore dangerous.

OctSHT2014_0321-3610283733-O

Erm, yes, I may have trotted a couple steps after the up-bank

Let’s talk about how these new speeds might affect other competitors. When Beginner Novice (the most affected level here) allows horses on course that could be traveling at anything between 350 and 515 meters per minute, it is likely that passing on course is more apt to happen. Think about your average cross country course, which is a mixture of water elements, fields, and wooded trails. Will the horse traveling at the higher speed wait until you are conveniently in a big field to pass you? My experience tells me probably not. Now think about your average horse or rider at the Beginner Novice levels. Beginner Novice is a division created for either green horses, or inexperienced riders. How is a pair like this, presumably new to the sport, going to handle the likelihood of being passed on course? Some horses get understandably upset when another horse gallops up behind them blindly. Novice or young riders may not know how to handle the situation of being approached so quickly on course.

To me, this is the greatest danger of allowing faster speeds on these lower level courses. I think the only solution to this dangerous passing scenario would be to increase the time between riders allowed on course, to allow slower pairs a ‘head start’. However, knowing that most shows operate on tight time schedules, I see this an unlikely predicament.

Height
I can think of (and have heard from on the interwebs) more than a few lower-level riders who are crapping themselves thinking about the new height allowances in showjumping. Many of these riders (of course, not all) ride at the lower levels because they lack confidence to move up. Increasing the heights of some fences is crippling to the anxiety of this crowd, and I truly feel for them. While 2″ is not a whole lot (the increase for Novice and Training), 3″ added to Beginner Novice course practically turns them into Novice fences, exactly what that same crowd is looking to avoid. While I don’t see this increase in height to be as dangerous as the speed fault scenario, I do wonder how these changes will adversely affect current riders at the lower levels.

10649873_10102184144209409_4711948768496501054_n

That being said, I do think that these height rules could find merit at the annual Championship Competition (AEC). These riders have to qualify in order to attend, and are therefore presumably better prepared to tackle a slightly harder course. Similarly, if the championship heights are clearly communicated before the event, it would ease the tension between traditional schooling venues as to what facilities implement 2014 heights versus the new proposed heights.

In Summary
In my mind, having a more forward optimum time is fine. Still safe, and rewarding a forward ride. I get that. Increasing the speed fault speed allowed- big, big red flags for me, and I hope they will be heavily weighed in the proposal discussions. For height, I don’t understand how increasing the height of a couple fences at the lower levels brings us up to international standards, and even more so, I don’t understand why making these lowest levels consistent with other countries matters. Is there going to be a Beginner Novice Olympics any time soon? Traveling to competitions in other countries for Training level? I seriously doubt it. Perhaps implementing new heights for Championship courses is the way to go. Overall, I would like to see better reasons for implementing changes that will affect the greater population of eventers, and that is those competing at the Beginner Novice through Training levels.

Weigh in! What do you think about the new changes? How will they affect you and your decisions about what level to ride at?

Just for Kicks: What’s in a color?

We spent the weekend with the husband’s family, participating in a 5k for the Race for the Cure and attending our first doggy birthday party. I think my canine nephew has more friends than I do, and I’m certain he has better birthday parties.

Drake at the doggy birthday party

Drake at the doggy birthday party

Anyways, onto today’s musings. Just for fun, recently I’ve been playing with the idea of changing my eventing colors. *gasp!*

But why, you might ask? (I amuse myself by thinking people care)

Currently, my color is green. Green was an easy choice of colors when I started eventing, since I was on an Irish horse and we just weren’t the type to rock out pink or purple or some other ‘girly’ color (no offense if your colors are pink/purple/stardust/whatever, just wasn’t my style!). So I bought a nice green Tipperary chest protector, and that was that.

At the Fork on Merry, circa 2004. These old photos make me cringe!

At the Fork on Merry, circa 2004.
These old photos make me cringe!

Over the years, of course, I have started collecting all things green to go along with our color scheme. Green bell boots, green grooming bags, green saddle pads.. you get the gist.

Foster in our green gear, and the same old horrible white Eskadrons before they died

Foster in our green gear, and the same old horrible white Eskadrons before they died

But now that I have a decidedly non-Irish horse, I want to switch it up a bit. I want to add navy. Navy and green, with white accents. The showjumping coat I recently purchased is navy, and I think it looks so pretty against green and white! Of course the designer in me wonders if having a tri-color scheme on a tri-color horse is a bit of a visual overload, before the eventer bit says ‘who gives a crap, I do what I want’. So I invested in a navy sun shirt and a super cute navy/green/white bonnet, and I can’t wait to rock out our new style at the next show!

Navy swag

Navy swag

Eventers out there- how did you come up with your colors? Has it been hard to find gear in your particular scheme? Non-eventers, what would your colors be?

Recognized Show Recap: Showjumping

After spending Saturday night basking in the glow of our successful cross country trip, and partaking in Blue Moon and pub food (the best kind), our entire party attempted to get a good night’s sleep and prepare for the last and final phase of the event. The showjumping course consisted of a whole bunch of bending lines and a few rollbacks thrown in for good measure, and seemed like it would ride quite nicely.

FENCE showjump 2

When I got to warm up, it appeared to be a circus. Immediately while hugging the rail we encountered issues as another rider blazed up Foster’s bum and sent him (and myself) into a minor tizzy. I tried to regroup, and jump a couple fences, noticing that we didn’t have quite the energy I would have preferred to be jumping with. Since we were several rides out, I decided to let Foster walk around and conserve energy, and when the rider before us went in, we would do a quick hand gallop to get the forward momentum, jump a fence, and go in.

Just as started to put this plan into effect, disaster struck (mildly exaggerating here). I began my canter around the outside of the arena, and noticed a rider playing chicken with me on the rail. In my dealings with this rider (yelling ‘Outside! Outside!’ and attempting to pass on the right as ring etiquette demands), I failed to observe the dog sitting most sneakily just outside the arena. Foster, on the other hand, found the canine highly offensive and promptly threw on the brakes, spinning and throwing his head backwards with impressive velocity, straight into mine. Completely and literally sideswiped by the events, I sat there in the saddle, head in hands, trying to get a grip on the immediate headache that was pounding away under my helmet.

FENCE showjump 6

At this moment, J rushed over and offered me water and helped me get a grip on myself. She also, as politely as possible, mentioned that I needed to head over to the arena, and that if I didn’t, I could be eliminated. Great.

With that, I promptly decided I was not going to fall off, I was going to go forward, and in order to do that, I was going to proverbially light a fire under my horse’s ass. I went into the arena and determined to keep my leg on through the entire performance, come hell or high water, and that was that.

Of course we started out by bringing down the first rail. I needed to have him sit up as well as go forward, so that was my fault. Coming around to fence 2, which looked oddly huge, I did my best to lift his balance and get him really in front of my leg, which was successful, but lacked some of the preparation needed for the rollback to fence 3.  I’m pleased with the way 4 and 5 went, and especially happy with the way the oxer-to-vertical 2 stride rode, since our habit can be to not have enough power into the first element and then have to scramble to get over the second. Turn right to fence 7, another bending line to fence 8, which he left long and got a little flat, bringing down our second rail on course. Rollback to 9, bending line to 10, and done.

Overall, I can’t complain. Half of my division had rails, so I was not alone in my mistakes. For my part though, it’s not the prettiest riding, as I sacrificed a bit of finesse in favor of the forward going ride, but I like the pace set in the video. I know with a bit more preparation I can focus on my equitation, so that will come. And again with fitness, I was still able to come under time in the showjumping phase, even though Foster had run up a mountain the day before. Many, many things to be happy about, and lessons learned for future shows!

Purple tail for the win!

Purple tail for the win!

Final Thoughts
As our first recognized show, I thought this weekend was quite successful. A 30 in dressage, double clear cross country, and 2 rails in showjumping leaves us in a great place to improve for our next outing. We both learned a lot, and I laughed a lot, along the way. Here are some of the tips, tricks, and mistakes I learned not to make from the experience:

  • Not even power cords are safe from Foster’s mouth. His stall must essentially be puppy-proofed for every outing.
  • Too much blue lotion = purple tail. Snazzy, but not part of our color scheme.
  • Give more time than less time for warmups, I’ll thank me later.
  • Helmet cams are awesome, but they have audio- try to say less stupid things next time 🙂
  • Don’t be late for the start box!
  • Keep riding every fence!
  • Balance up, and hind legs under!
  • Bleach pens are white jods’ best friend

And the biggest lesson learned….

KEEP KICKING ON!