Forgot About It Friday – Sam At The AECs (2006)

I thought I’d join in on the Throwback Thursday fun occasionally, so here’s my inaugural post. I forgot to post yesterday, so here it is on Forgot About It Friday!

I continue to get new followers to this blog every week and I really can’t believe there are people out there who care about my rambling thoughts, but thank you and welcome!

This Throwback Thursday post is for those who might not know a lot about my previous riding history. I keep meaning to do a comprehensive post, but that would involve digging up and scanning a lot of photos, so I just haven’t done it yet!

So for now, here’s a video of my one and only time competing at the USEA American Eventing Championships on my now retired horse, What The Heck, or Sam.

If you want to know Sam’s whole story, click on his name at the top of the blog.

2006 was probably the most successful season I’ve ever had on any horse, results-wise.

It was the first full year I’d been training with Lisa Reid, who is still my trainer today. She revamped my riding with Sam and had us drop back to training when we’d been doing prelim pretty unsuccessfully on our own. I thought at the time that once you did training, prelim was next, but I didn’t have a true event coach at the time.

We ended up winning three training level events, finishing fourth and second in the others, finishing second at the Waredaca Training Three-Day and winning our first prelim back at the end of the year at the VA Horse Trials, all with mostly clear rounds in show jumping, which was our nemesis.

We’d gone down to Southern Pines in March and finished fourth in a huge open training division, scoring in the 20s in dressage.

So when we went back to Southern Pines for the AECs, I was confident in our abilities.

I can’t remember exactly where we placed after dressage, top ten I think, but we had an awesome cross-country and moved into fourth.

I was confident going into show jumping but he dropped a rail, and I knew I could afford one to stay in the top 10, but I lost my focus and we dropped another to finish in 21st in the junior training.

I was devastated and pretty much cried the whole way home. We’d been doing so well and the one time we had a chance at prizes and prize money, I blew it.

We went on to finish second at the Waredaca Training Three-Day, losing the lead with a rail, but we won our prelim at Lexington to end the year on a good note.

I’ve learned a lot since then, mostly that it doesn’t really matter! Show jumping is still my nemesis, but in the last few years, as much as I love being competitive, I’m just happy to be out there competing. Yeah, I get down in the dumps when we have three rails, but the thrill of cross-country usually makes up for it!

Sam has been retired from eventing since his last competition in 2009 and we had several years of fun doing dressage at first and second level and jumping a bit at home before I ultimately retired him this year at age 21.

Like night and day

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I’ve realized as Oh So has been starting his trotting work and Bear has been progressing that they truly are different horses, in every aspect, but it’s a fun challenge to be riding two horses again.

Oh So has always had a “dramatic” personality, hence his name. He does everything to the extreme. He’s been an absolute handful (and kind of an a**hole sometimes!) as I’ve started his trotting work over the last month. The vet wanted us to do 30 second trot sets and add two minutes per week. The whole 30 second increment thing lasted about two weeks before he decided he’d had enough and was basically trantering and coming close to having a meltdown every day.

I compromised by letting him trot for a minute at a time and now I’ve added a few 2 minute sets. His hind end feels back to normal after he got used to using it again. We’re up to 12 minutes of trot this week and every day is sort of hit or miss. Sometimes I’m being run off with down the long side (no circles allowed yet) and other times I get glimmers of what he was like before the injury.

At the end of my last minute of trot today, I pretended I was trotting down centerline on one of the quarterlines and then asked him to walk and then halt, which he made perfectly square. The training is still in there somewhere!

I think once we can canter things will get better, although I’m sure he’ll be just as pissed to start with only a minute at a time!

Bear on the other hand, is decidedly non-dramatic (except in the morning when he goes out and bucks like nothing I’ve ever seen before!). He’s actually a little lazy, but I think he’s still learning about the meaning of “go.” I’m hoping once we can get out cross-country schooling in the next few weeks that he’ll find his “forward” button.

It’s interesting to have a horse that likes to be groomed. Oh So is so fidgety, but Bear actually has spots he likes.

After we jump a course with Lisa, we’ll stop to talk about it and Bear will just fall asleep in the sun. It took Oh So awhile to stand still while we were chatting and even today, he’s more likely to be thinking, “Let’s do it again!” or “I was awesome, wasn’t I?”

Sam was always in between when he was competing. He could definitely get hyped up and is sensitive/spooky about grooming, but he wasn’t really tense and didn’t internalize things like Oh So does. He was good off the leg and not overly lazy or sensitive.

As Bear has been learning about flatwork, my dressage trainer, Nicky, had me use my seat to sort of urge him into the upward transition from walk to trot. He’s getting sharper about it now from my leg and seat, but I accidentally used that aid on Oh So the other day. Big mistake! I just have to “whisper” to him with my leg and he’s off in a big trot down the long side.

Since Sam retired from full work about a year and a half ago, I’ve only been riding Oh So and now that he’s back in more work, I’ve also realized the challenge in adjusting my riding style. Oh So has such a huge stride and has been mistaken for a Warmblood before. He’s got a neck that’s a mile long and shark withers. Bear is a decent sized horse, about 16.1 hands I think but I haven’t measured him, and has a much shorter/average stride. I think his stride will continue to get better as he gets stronger and uses himself more, but for now, the difference between the two is kind of startling.

I realized that last week when Nicky came on Saturday for a lesson. Since we had time, she brought over her 6-year-old 1st/2nd level Warmblood and schooled him while I rode Oh So. He was on his best behavior that day (perhaps because he knew teacher was there?) and we had some really nice trot sets.

I got on Bear after that and I felt so out of balance and slow. I think I chased him a bit and after watching some video that my mom took, I realized I was way too active with my leg, practically urging him on every step. I just need to trust that he’s going to go forward and not pinch with my knee, which seems to slow him down a bit unintentionally.

Sun For A Change

The new Stonehenge complex.
The new Stonehenge complex at the Carolina International.

This weekend, I headed down to Southern Pines to cover the inaugural Carolina CIC for COTH. It felt a little odd driving down in a car and not turning into the stabling entrance, but I was happy to watch most of the top eventers in the country all in one place.

I saw a lot of my media friends and even got a sunburn! And now we might get snow again on Tuesday! Will it ever end?

I’m getting antsy to get Bear out to school cross-country. I’m hoping if we don’t get too much snow this week that we’ll be able to go. I’m also excitedly plotting a schedule of unrecognized dressage shows and combined tests. First we need to go hang out at a couple of shows, so I’m hoping we can go to one this weekend.

This was last Monday!
This was last Monday!
I'm so over it!!!
I’m so over it!!!
Rocky got a clip two weeks ago.
Rocky got a clip two weeks ago.

A successful schooling


Despite Oh So trying to thwart my plans with a lost shoe (for the first time in months) on Friday, we made it to a cross-country schooling at Gordonsdale on Sunday. Thank God for my wonderful farrier, who came out on Friday at 7pm before he was due to leave for a conference at 5am the next morning!

We started out with a good, strong trot around the property. Oh So was really extending his trot and had lovely suspension that I wish I could get at home. We popped over a few warmup fences, then went for a good 450mpm canter around the same track. We put together a string of training height fences so we could get a good gallop going at them, and he actually tried to buck! It was pretty hilarious, but he focused once we got to the jumps. I wasn’t completely happy with the effect of the pelham snaffle, so I’m bringing the Myler pelham with me to Southern Pines just in case.

We popped down some banks into water and had a lovely ride over a new trekehner, four strides to a roll top. I know he’s going to be strong at Southern Pines, but I guess I’d rather him be that than backing off a stronger bit, so I’m hoping he’ll be respectful of the snaffle pelham.

I’m trying to keep my expectations low for the event. I’m not going to be gunning for time, and I’m going to just work on keeping a strong lower leg. As for dressage, I’m feeling confident after some nice rides these last few weeks. The only tough part about Southern Pines is the insane warmup ring. It’s kind of a shock for both of us to go from riding mostly alone all winter, to sharing the ring with 50 horses.

Since we haven’t been to a jumper show since last November, I’m also keeping my show jumping expectations low. If I can get to each jump in a good rhythm and not screw up my distances, I’ll be happy. Hopefully he’ll get his feet out of the way.

My plan when we get down there on Friday is to school a bit then hack, then walk my cross-country course. We’re expecting a random snow storm on Wednesday, so I hope I can get a ride in tomorrow and Thursday. What a winter!

Countdown to Southern Pines

My entry to Southern Pines 1 is in and it’s time to get fit! I took Oh So for his first gallop on Sunday at Morningside and he was really loving it. I was beginning to get worried about our abilities like I always do at the beginning of the season, but as we galloped up the hillside and I sat up to balance him, I could feel that we hadn’t missed a beat. Sure, we might need to go back to a stronger bit, but he was (sort of) listening and felt ready to go.

We did a short jump school in the ring with Lisa before we went out. That’s where I’m still a little worried, because we haven’t jumped prelim height since December. But, the things we have been doing over smaller fences has been good. We’ve been doing gymnastics, bending lines, skinnies and related distances. I just need the practice at the bigger heights. He was quite nice and soft on Sunday though, so that left me with a good feeling.

I’m going to try to get him out every ten days for a gallop depending on the weather. I’m heading off to Rocking Horse horse trials in Florida for a couple of days for COTH, so my dressage trainer Nicky is going to ride him for me while I’m gone.

I’ve just realized that there are no combined tests before Southern Pines and that also has me worried. There is a local jumper show on March 2 that I might consider going to, and we’re entered in a dressage show in the 24th. So far, this winter has been kind of a bust as far as getting out and about.

I’ll try to check in from Florida in a few days. It should be interesting!

***The photos at the top are of me and Sam schooling over the weekend. I actually popped him over an 18″ jump last week for fun and he turned back into his fire-breathing former self, which was fun.

Spring schedule

I'm glad this winter has been more mild!

I’ve got my early schedule together for this season. Since I’m headed to Rolex on a mini-vacation and to Spain in May, it’s a little light on recognized competitions, but I think this year I really want to work on getting comfortable at the preliminary height, so I think my money will be better spent doing a few small schooling shows, in place of a recognized show. I’m going to try not to worry about placings and ribbons and concentrate more on a smooth show jumping round!

Feb. 26 – Bascule Farm jumper show
March 4 – Bascule Farm dressage show
March 10-11 – Southern Pines I (training)
March 25 – Loch Moy Combined Test (prelim)
March 31-April 1 – Morven Park Horse Trials (prelim)
April ? Combined test?
May 5-6 – MCTA Horse Trials (prelim)