Monday, June 28, 2010

Hopeful Horse Trials for the WIN!

Hopeful Horse Trials put on by the Palouse Hills Pony Club (unrecoginzed)
June 25, 2010
Sat: BN Test A, XC, then Stadium

We pulled into the show grounds Friday evening after having a stressful 3+ hour trip due to truck problems. I was a nervous wreck and was ready for Jasper to be stressed out. I unloaded him from the trailer, he looked around, and started grazing. He wasn't exactly "ho hum," but was very chill in comparison to past trips. Found his corral, walked the XC course 2 times because I got lost the first time, and got a quick ride in as it was getting dark. Set up camp in the back of the trailer with a flashlight and Saturday morning came early.

My parents drove down to watch, it was great to have them there and neat that they got to see all 3 phases in one day.

Our dressage test was at 9am, had plenty of time to warm up and he seemed good. Spooked at the brick jumps set outside the dressage arena (this comes around again later in the day), spooked when he kicked up sand that hit the white vinyl arena markers and made a scary noise, and didn't pick up the left lead canter until about half way around the circle. I'm still not sure what happened there, he seemed forward and in front of my leg. He just wouldn't canter. I now wonder if he wanted to pick up the right lead instead and realized it was wrong, and then couldn't get his feet situated. My dad started video taping right after all this had happened, so here's the good half:

We got a 27. A 27! That's a 73% in regular dressage. It also confirmed that our score at Aspen wasn't a fluke. She didn't mark us down for any of the spooking and we got a 5 on the canter transition.

So THAT was fun, and we were leading. XC was next, and due to the torrential amounts of rain the TD decided to take one of the jumps out that was in the middle of a muddy bog. I was glad, I know it's cross country, but still. They also took the water complex out because the water level was too high for regulation levels. I was glad about that too, it was muddy and boggy all around the water and there was not a straight shot for BN. The course was really fun, mostly a single track trail up and down hills through the woods. Most of the jumps were inviting logs, with the bigger questions strategically placed in the warm up arena and the dressage arena where the footing was good. It was a great confidence builder for both of us. It was cute, I could tell when he saw the next jump- his head would go up, ears forward, and a hint of hesitancy. Then he'd just roll into it. They didn't time any of the XC due to the muddy footing in areas, and we were clean and still in the lead.

Showjumping was a twisty course that included our last XC fence. The jumps were not crazy maxed out like they were at Aspen, it seemed to be a 'normal' 2'6 course. He was great. Took quite a few long and I grabbed mane often, but overall was really great. You'll see him spook at the brick fence when we were supposed to be turning for the line down the diagonal and trot, I was yelling, "no, that one- THAT one dummy!" he saw it at the last minute and jumped it from a trot. It was his first time jumping flowers, there was a rainbow jump combination with lots of flowers, he took a GOOD look at that one!

When the announcer announced "Clear, no time penalties" it took a moment to realize we had just won! Woot!

Dad and Mom as support crew. Dad holding our new leather halter. Jasper expressing what he thinks about standing still for photos.

And then, get this- they give out an award at this show for the overall lowest score. We won! We got a blanket!

Jasper sporting his new halter and blanket, I think he looks good in periwinkle.

Anyway, if you're near the area, (Deary, Idaho) I highly recommend this event. It's very well organized, the people are friendly and accommodating, the footing in the arenas is excellent, and the XC courses are inviting and confidence building with some good questions built in.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gearing up

for the Palouse Hills Pony Club's event derby this weekend. It's about 2 hours south, and the BN division does all 3 phases on Saturday. I suppose we're ready, since we've been home I haven't gotten much riding in due to the footing. Eternal spring in the Northwest has been dumping rain and turns the arena into wet slippery goo. I actually just found out about this event and mailed my registration in at the last minute, it will be good miles for us. We're driving down Friday and staying the night, hopefully Jasper will eat. (Please eat buddy, it's good for you!)

Opportunities like this are few and far between on the dry side of the state. There's another event derby in July in the same area, (Serena and Roxie might come with us... woo hoo!) and then Stanton Farm's recognized event in September. Rumor is there might be a few XC schooling opportunities out at Deep Creek this summer as well with Karen O'Neal.

Jasper seems quite happy and content to be home and settled in quickly. He has a new next door neighbor that's young and spooky so they spend a lot of time running up and down the fence line pretending to be scared. Actually, I'm amazed at how much he's grown up. Not too long ago, if he was tied up at the hitching post and another horse was in the arena he would have mulitple meltdowns from the stimulus. To the point of bucking in place. Yesterday he was tied up and a horse in the arena was being lunged over a big blue tarp and bubble wrap (yes, bubble wrap). He couldn't have cared less and turned his butt to it. Now, this gal said that when he's loose in his paddock (that shared a fence line with the arena) and she moves the tarp around he gallops around in a frenzy. I now believe it's because it's fun and not so much because he's really afraid anymore.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aspen Farm Horse Trials 2010

Aspen Farm Horse Trials, Yelm WA
Recognized by the United States Eventing Association
Area VII
Division: Beginner Novice
Participants in division: 20
Friday: Dressage, BN Test A
Saturday: Stadium Jumping
Sunday: Cross Country

Jasper: Just turned 5.

Jasper's first recognized event. Really, his first event period. Mine too.

All photos courtesy of Action Taken Photography

I felt the dressage test went pretty well. It's a very simple test. I completely forgot where I was and what was next on three separate occasions, bent out in a corner when I was supposed to be circling, had some pretty speedy transitions because man, those letters come up FAST in a small arena! He felt pretty good, I think I was too nervous to even really notice. He didn't argue and was fun to ride because he was excited and "on his toes" but still paying attention.

After our test I loaded him up in the trailer and took him back to the house. A while later Terri calls and the first thing she says is congratulations. "For what?" I ask. "For winning!" she says. "Yeah, right. We totally blew a bunch of stuff." Silence. "What... are we in last?" "I'm looking online at the scoreboard and you won! With a score of 29.5!" More silence. "I don't think that's possible..."

29.5 is 70.5 in "real" dressage. In 3 Day Eventing, the lowest score wins. So, for instance, for every rail you knock down in stadium jumping you get 4 points added to your dressage score. For every refusal on the cross country course you get 20 points added to your score.

The stadium was BIG. I went to the arena to walk my course in the morning and asked where the BN course was set up. "This is it" she says. "The fences are HUGE! And there's huge combination (I swear it was a one stride) and a bending 3 stride line!" "Well," she says, "you can trot it..." One of the trainers there said that if I could get my horse through this course I could get him through a Novice level course.

As they were calling my number to be on deck, Jessica asked where my medical armband was. Uh... for stadium? She's a good sprinter. They had one at the Gallop's saddlery booth.

Grab mane and hold on. It was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

The first jump on course. He... cleared it.
My stirrups felt really, really short but in these pictures they look too long.

Yep, cleared this one too, think? It was problematic, because he also landed galloping. So it really shortened up the distances between the fences- the fact that he landed way beyond the landing area and was already galloping, but not necessarily balanced or ready for the next jump that came rushing toward us at a thousand miles per hour.

You don't have to have good form if you just overjump everything.

Look at how hard he's trying. He thought some of these were really scary. Plus the fact he really hasn't had much experience with oxers. Thre were a freaking lot of oxers.

The combination. It was a sea of blue and white rails. I swear it was only a one stride. I'll be able to tell once I get the video. He was very surprised there was another jump so close and on landing over this one veered right to go around it. I pulled him left which resulted in:

"Skyrockets in flight..."

And a discombobulated landing.

The last fence. Whew. Through all of that we only had one rail down. I was pretty pleased after all of the adrenaline wore off. There were only 6 clear rounds out of 20.

Cross country was just such an unknown. He hadn't seen anything like some of the fences on course, I had no idea what he was going to do. We had a refusal at the second fence, (the first "real" fence on course) I believe he was just too overwhelmed by his surroundings. We had just galloped through a path in the woods that opened up to a big field, there was a big dark scary jump next to ours, and at the last minute he noticed the jump judge.

He took it the second time just fine, took the 3rd OKish, took the 4th pretty well, then found his stride. I found myself pulled to the rest of the jumps. I tried trotting into some of the really scary ones so he could get a good look at them, and he would pick up the canter on his own. I think he started to have fun about half way around, it's always fun to gallop.

(If you don't see your distance you just close your eyes)

I checked online when I got back to the house and it looked like we dropped to 13th after the refusal on course. Then Terri called. "You got 8th!" "No, I got 13th." "No, they did the scores wrong, I'm looking at it right now and you got 8th! Get back over there and go get your ribbon!" Needless to say, I got back over there pretty quick and now have a giant brown ribbon to show for it. And a gift certificate to a tack store that I already used to get a white all-purpose pad and a pair of socks.

I couldn't be more pleased. Not only did we complete all 3 phases without getting disqualified (my goal), but I have an official event horse. Plus (and this is kind of a big plus) he didn't scream the whole time we were there. He was relaxed enough to GRAZE. He did do some landscaping when tied to the trailer, but who needs nice grass when you can have churned up sod chunks, rocks, and dirt. He didn't pull back while tied to the trailer, the halter and lead rope are still in one piece. We've come a long way, baby! Should have the video of the stadium and xc in a couple of weeks.

On Tuesday we came home, and next weekend we're going to a one-day horse trials put on by a pony club. On July 17th there's a combined test/derby I think we'll go to, then one last recognized horse trails in September down in Idaho. I think a lot of trail riding will be had from here on out! Oh, and I'm making jumps. Going to set up some grids, see if we can figure out how to jump. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Aspen Farms course walk

XC course walk at Aspen Farm Horse Trials, Beginner Novice...
(I took these after the event, was too nervous to do it before!)

1- Baby logs into the deep dark woods.

The deep dark woods

2- Logs next to a big dark scary jump. He was overwhelmed by his surroundings and we had our only refusal here...

Log jump in the speckled shade, I was worried about this one because the lighting was really harsh and the jump was hard to see. Wasn't a problem.

Around a bend and... Spooky slatty thing. I was nervous about this one because of all the light coming through it, it almost seemed to move as you approached it. I believe we cleared this one by about twice the height and depth needed.

After the slatty thing he found his pace. He pulled me to these big logs on a slight uphill slope. Up the hill, bend to the right and...

What the hell? This was dark and slatty. I decided to trot from a long ways away so he could get a look at it as long as possible before we got here. He came to a trot, saw the jump, broke into a canter and sailed over it.

Bend left and... huge barrels. The worst part was that it looked like you were jumping out into space as it was at the top of a hill. You couldn't even see the landing until about 2 or 3 strides out, so I chose to trot to this one as well. Jasper, however, was having none of the trotting stuff and about here picked up the canter and popped over it out of stride.

After the barrels was a pretty steep downhill gallop, then back up...

The approach to the next fence. This one was big and intimidating and at the top of a pretty good hill. Right before you got there the water complex appeared on the right, white land marking tape in front, and a big downhill on the left.

I didn't want to trot because I was worried about losing power on the hill and felt we needed a pretty strong canter to get over it. This was one of my biggest concerns. Jasper didn't even hesitate.

Left bend down a long hill to this jump hidden in the hillside. Cantered part way down, lost balance, and trotted. Picked up the canter, steered off the main thoroughfare and he pulled me to this one.

180 degree turn and back up the hill. Left bend to the up bank. I wasn't worried about this and he sailed up it. Maybe a bit fast...

Closely followed by this one on a downhill slope. We schooled this one at the clinic, whew!

Little log rails headed toward the water complex. Isn't the ship cool?

Cantered toward the water complex. Cantered through the water complex. Nuff said.

180 degree left hand turn and over the kayak. He took a good look at this one but didn't hesitate.

Last fence on course- giant black jump of doom. At 1:08 in the afternoon it was in the shade. It was a giant dark imposing shadow. It was huge, no one could believe it was on a BN course. This was a big concern as well due to it's size... needed a big canter/gallop. I started preparing for this one a long ways back, pulling his head up, leg on, clucking... he didn't seem to see what the big deal was.

OK, more later, finished up my working student experience and the pony and I got home this evening. Woot!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One more day...

and then Aspen.

Here are our ride times.

Some day I'm sure all of this will seem like no big deal.

We had a stadium jumping schooling today with a gal named Terrie Hook. She was kind enough to fit us in on very short notice. Jasper was a star. He did his first combinations (3 in a row!), his first oxer, and his first roll top. He did a really hard short left hand turn to a pretty substantial fence and nailed it each time. Had a few stops but always went over everything the second time. Terrie really liked him and thinks he'll be a great eventer, and warned me not to try to move him up the levels too fast. No problem. Events are few and far between on the dry side, and are not cheap to enter. Josh let me borrow his Jeffries Flyover (my stirrup fell off my saddle AGAIN yesterday when we were schooling cross country) and man what a difference a saddle can make. I felt much more secure.

One more dressage schooling day tomorrow. I sewed the buttons back on Janaira's old dressage coat I've been borrowing for the last, um... years. It monsooned rain today, so do a little sun dance for the weekend.