Lexington wrap-up

I had a decent week end at Lexington. I was bummed that I wasn’t able to ride in the coliseum, because that is one of my favorite parts of the event. Training show jumping was held up on the hill where the dressage warm up was. But more on that later.

We arrived on Friday and had three other students of my trainer, plus some spouses, so we had a big group. Three of us were in the training rider E division and one in novice. I rode Oh So on the top of the hill in the dressage warm up, and he was completely relaxed and focused. I just rode some stretchy trot, a few canter serpentine loops, and then took a break. I finished off with an exercise I did in my lesson last week. In walk, we did should-fore, half-pass, to leg yield. We only worked for about 30 minutes, then went for a hack around the grounds.

I really think he likes the overnights, and I wish we did more, but we have so many events around us that we don’t really need to. I’m thinking about making the trek up to Plantation Field sometime just for a change of scenery and the overnight aspect. He settled right into his stall and had a nice roll in the shavings.

I hacked him around a bit on Saturday morning and then got on for an 11:45 dressage ride. I tried my 20 minute warm-up, and he actually took what we had into the ring, which is a huge step. He still head flips a bit in the upward transitions to canter, but some of it is my fault. I anticipate that he’s going to do it, so I don’t sit enough steps in trot and I can sometimes tip my upper body forward. It’s also his way of relieving tension, so the problem is a two-way street. He used the free walk to check out the scenery, and when I picked him up, he jigged a bit and that carried through to the right canter transition. We need to work on that sequence. His stretchy trot circle was a little quick and he was leaning to the inside. He just lost his balance a bit after the lengthening in canter. So it’s more of a strength issue. His lengthened trot was very good for the training that he has so far. It got quite big after X and I felt that I was able to push him a bit without fear of breaking into canter. We ended up with a 33.2, to be in seventh.

We did cross country a few hours later. He’d never done that format before, but I knew he’d be fine for cross country. It’s stadium the next day that I was more concerned about. There were quite a few combinations on this course, so it was a good test. At 4ab, there was a turning question of three strides. He landed from the first jump and I sort of had to catch his attention to make the other fence. It was also slightly downhill, so it was a new thing, but he negotiated it well. There was also a one-stride combination at 7ab, and he just sailed through it. We took a nice flyer to the steeplechase fence, and went on to the water.

It was a log, land on grass, and turn left out over a garden gate. No Problem. The final question was a maximum coop, three strides up a bank, one-stride down over a log on top of the bank. He sort of launched off the bank, but he’s still learning how to step off. He does it fine schooling, but in the excitement of competition, he usually launches. We ended up with a few time penalties, because the footing was so muddy and deep. It down poured about an hour before I was scheduled to go and the footing just turned to mush. As a result, we only did one cross rail in warm up before heading out.

He seems to be comfortable in muddy, deep footing, so I guess I can call him a “mudder” now! He really settled into a rhythm around course and didn’t hesitate to anything. I think we’ve both finally stopped worrying about things.

I’m not sure why they decided to put show jumping in the tiny dressage warm up on the side of a hill, but that’s where we had to jump. We even put studs in back because the footing was so thin. It was distracting up on the hill, because the horses jumped the first fence, and saw all of the horse center on the other side. He did well though. We had one rail, but it wasn’t a big deal. My trainer and I decided that I needed to be bold off the turn to fence 4, and go for a four-stride to a two-stride combination. Some people were getting 5, but stuffing the combination. We jumped well over the oxer, but after that I should have whoa-ed. I thought the four strides would have to be a bit go-ey, so as a result, he got flat to the maximum vertical into the combination, and had it down with his toes. Just a learning experience.

Overall, we were third after cross country, but ended up fourth overall.  Not bad for his third training.

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