Finally we’re into our eventing season! We’ve done three events since my last update, so here’s a recap:
We started off with the starter trial at Loch Moy on Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t too hot, but definitely humid, and we just dodged thunderstorms in the afternoon.
He was a little bit dry-mouthed in the warmup, which wasn’t a terrible thing, just not usual for him. He was perhaps slightly holding his neck, so I worked on some suppling exercises like leg yielding in trot and canter to get him a bit softer. He ended up with a 23.8, but I took that with a grain of salt considering it was a schooling show.
I spent Father’s Day like so many before, at Seneca Valley Pony Club Horse Trials with my dad!
I had super early ride times and was done by 10:30, which I was grumbling about at 4 a.m. when I woke up, but I’m glad we got done before it got unbearably hot.
Bittersweet Field, where the event is held, had some damage due to cars and tons of rain this spring, and they ended up cancelling the prelim and intermediate. As a result, there were some rutty spots on course and the dressage warm up was half the size and not super great.
Since I scratched Oh So from Seneca due to his SI pain, my coach Lisa suggested I enter Bear in the beginner novice in his place so I didn’t lose my money. I was a little hesitant because he just did his first three-phase the week before, but we’ve been jumping beginner novice height at home in the ring, so I nervously agreed.
I had planned on having another couple of cross-country schools over solid beginner novice height jumps, but since the opportunity presented itself, Lisa and I went into Seneca with the idea of schooling.
We ended up parked right by the cross-country warm up, which I thought would be terrible, but Bear just hung out and watched people go by all day while eating out of his hay net, which was a nice surprise.
The dressage was a bit of a walk and he got a little nervous as we approached the warm up ring. I hadn’t competed at Seneca since they moved the dressage rings and I like where they are now, very isolated from the jumping. There were four rings, but there was enough space so it wasn’t too crazy. He was quite tight and up for the first 10 minutes or so and then he settled and decided to get behind my leg!
I moved him over to a more isolated spot as our time approached in an effort to diffuse any separation anxiety. He did one neigh and a hop, but then settled. The ground was so hard and this was his first time doing dressage on grass, so I think he was a little short in his stride throughout the test.
I stupidly didn’t look over my test one last time before dressage so I ended up with two errors, which I’ve never done in my life, in the simplest test known to man!
Besides my dumb errors, he was just a bit behind my leg. It didn’t look so bad on the video, but he did seem a bit uneven in the contact and his push from behind.
We had four hours to wait until show jumping, and I actually kept myself quite calm!
The show jumping course, also on grass, looked pretty doable for us. The cross-country definitely looked a bit bigger though.
He did not like the hard ground in show jumping and felt a little four-beat and stiff around some of the turns, but he was jumping well. We’ll need to work more on bending through our turns in the coming weeks.
I asked for one long one, which he actually obliged, and a short one that he tapped but it stayed up, and the rest were pretty spot on. He was swapping leads a bit and swishing his tail (I think due to my spurs), so it wasn’t the smoothest round in between the jumps, but he was clearly seeking the fences.
Lisa took my spurs off for cross-country, we did a warmup roll top and it was off to the start box! I’ve definitely missed the countdown and the butterflies as the starter says “go!”
The first jump was a cabin and he met that nicely but got the wrong lead to number 2, which was a pretty big roll top with brush on top.
I think it caused some issues for others and he definitely hesitated on takeoff and in the air, but once we landed, he seemed to be happy to canter away to the next jump.
The next several jumps were good and I just worked on keeping my leg forward and my upper body back in case he did anything silly. I need to be conscious of my upper body because we weren’t getting the correct lead most of the time because he follows my weight.
I flubbed a couple of them and got him too close, but I now have a better feel of when he gets long and strung out in his canter, so hopefully I can correct that next time.
We got over the first 11 fences well and then came the water…he stopped dead, which I expected he might, and after three step backs, we were eliminated.
The jump judge kindly let Lisa lead him in and then we trotted back in once more so we could end on a good note. There was only a ditch and two jumps left, so while I’m bummed we didn’t complete, it wasn’t totally unexpected. He still needs some time to get in the water and when they flag it at the beginning like that, you’re SOL if they take a few tries to get in.
So, on paper, it looks bad, but I think it turned out to be a great schooling opportunity. If I had to do it differently, I would have taken him in another water before, but there was no water on our elementary course at Loch Moy.
He showed me that he seems to be enjoying his job and he definitely has the scope and gallop to go higher, and I got to head out of the start box at a recognized event for the first time in over a year. What more could I ask for?
I’m hoping to do Waredaca and maybe VA Horse Trials in October after we get a bit more
cross-country schooling in.
Oh So is starting his work back a few days early today because he’s been a jerk in the barn and needs a job. I walked him and trotted a bit and he felt a little uneven, but I’m hoping that goes away as he works more.
Here’s the video of Bear at Seneca. I edited it to get rid of my mistakes in the dressage and my mom had a camera issue, so she only got one jump on cross-country 😦
I got Oh So in September of 2007, He’d been started over small fences after being off the track for a couple of months.
By April 2008, we were doing our first combined tests and derby-crosses and by the fall, we were ready for our first recognized event!
I was a little nervous because we’d had a hurricane during the week before the Seneca Valley Horse Trials in Maryland and in the end, the event scrambled to move the show jumping to higher ground. It ended up being on the inside of the steeplechase track on a slight slope- a challenge I wasn’t quite expecting.
Beginner novice always goes last, so I think my dressage time was about 2:30 and I’m sure it was hot, but I’m wearing my coat in the video, so maybe it wasn’t. I can’t remember!
I do know that I was nervous about doing my dressage there because the rings are right by the cross-country, but I got lucky in that they were changing over to the next level when I went, so it was fairly quiet.
He kept his head down and did a good test for where he was at, and considering the footing was a bit tacky.
Show jumping went well but we had one rail in the in and out. It was right as we cantered past the in gate, so Lisa said he just got distracted and dropped his hind end.
He rocked around cross-country and ended up in sixth place!
I actually didn’t have a lot of experience at beginner novice since I just did novice with my first event horse and training and prelim with Sam, so it was interesting to be stepping over such small jumps, but now I’m back there again with Bear!