Monday, July 25, 2011

CDCTA Results

Man, when we do something, we do it right!

As I'm sure you all remember, my goal for the last three shows has been to get a dressage score in the thirties. I'm sure you also know that has not happened for us.

Well, it sure did this weekend!

We did Novice Test B which went okay. I did this because it is the Novice test that we have the most trouble with and I wanted to practice it and get feedback on it in a low stress environment. It was certainly the best test thus far but he was rushy which led to some unbalanced moments. His canter transitions, both up and down, are improving alot. We had one bobble in this test where our trot transition was really late, so our walk transition was really late and those two movements scored us a 5 and a 4, respectively. Of course we still managed to pull off a 39, so I was thrilled! I didn't think things could get much better...

Then we did Training Test A, mostly just for fun because I was sick of doing the same two Novice tests at every show. We went in the ring and totally rocked it! It felt so awesome. There were certainly things that could've been better. Our trot lengthenings were not as spectacular as they could be, we never really came back from our canter lengthening, our stretchy circle can be a lot more consistent, and our last canter trot transistion was kind of yucky, but there were so many good things about it that it was just fantabulous!

So I go to check scores, thinking I probably got between a 38 and 41, because the Training judging is obviously going to be tougher than Novice. We got a 33. Yes, a 33. I really could not believe it and I was so incredibly proud of my horse. On top of that, we got two blue ribbons! Okay, okay, I was the only one in Training A and it was only me and a friend in Novice B and she got a 40 and I got a 39, plus it was her horse's first show ever but still... TWO BLUE RIBBONS!!! (How's that for run-on sentence of the year?)

It was definitely a much needed pick-me-up after what happened at ENYDCTA and I'm excited for Frazier, our next event, because it is a low key event, and a really easy going course.

In other exciting news, we are moving to our new barn on September 1st! I think I told you all about it, at least I hope I did! This is a link to a video of it that we made to send to a friend and her mom when we were looking at it because they were on vacation. My mom is narrating...excuse her:

The barn is brand new and just so beautiful. I can't wait to move! I'm going to go back and check and make sure I told you all about it, because if I didn't, I'm going to need a whole post to tell you everything there is to know!

Ben is getting the day off today for being so spectacular and tomorrow I think we're going to do a jump school since he hasn't jumped since ENYDCTA. I shall let you all know how that goes tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Sorry this is so so late! I just got back from vacation yesterday in the early evening and then I had to go ride Ben. The night before ENYDCTA I tried to upload the virtual course walk but the hotel internet connection was being funky and was driving me crazy. Then I came home Sunday, fell into bed, packed all day Monday, and left Tuesday which left no time for typing this post. Sorry!

Saturday early afternoon, we headed up to the barn. There was a lot of traffic going up and we live a half hour away, so we got to the barn a bit later than we intended. I gave Ben a bath and we packed up the last minute things. We hitched up the trailer and off we went. At this point we were already an hour behind schedule.

The drive ended up taking us 3 hours instead of the 2 hours and 20 minutes it was supposed to. We didn't arrive at the event until 7:00 pm. We parked the trailer, found his stall, hung his water and put down bedding. Then we put Ben in there with some hay and went to walk cross country. The original plan had been to get there, walk xc to give him time to settle, and then ride him. It was getting dark so I just decided not to ride him, which was kind of crazy of me since this is Ben we're talking about. I had no other choice though, and so we started walking xc at about 8:00. The course looked really fun, there were quite a few beefy fences and quite a few tricky combinations, but there didn't seem to be anything we couldn't do. The two things I was worried about was the water, only because Ben is not so sure about man made water complexes yet and the ditch, which was huge for Novice. Everybody was saying how big a ditch it was for the level. It was at least three feet wide. Neither Ben or me had ever jumped a ditch that big before but I was determined that if I kept my eyes up, leg on, stick ready, heels down, seat and shoulders back, and hands wide, we would be absolutely fine.

Here's the course walk:
1 - Welcome Rails

2 - Brush Box

3 - Gray Coop

4 - Stacked Planks

5A - Bench
5B - Bench

6 - Ditch (Looks tiny in this picture!)

7A - Step Up
7B - Narrow Brush

8 - HVFS Barrels

9 - Roadside Rails

10 - Bales & Rails

11 - "Cash Splash" Water

12 - Palisade

13 - Table

14 - HVFS Log

15 - Feeder

Then we walked stadium which looked hard but good. I like hard stadium courses because that is a lot of people's weakest points but stadium is our strongest point. When there is a hard course it usually moves us up in the placings.

The course started as an oxer to vertical outside line with a long 5/holding 6. Then around to a vertical on the diagonal, bending line to an oxer on the centerline. Then around to a vertical off a short turn on the long side, 90 degree turn to a two stride, vertical to oxer. Right turn to a plank vertical on the short side, to a rolltop vertical on the long side, bending line to an oxer. It looked really fun.

The next morning we got there at about 8 am. I fed him his breakfast, picked up my packet, took him for a walk around the grounds, and braided him. Then I tacked up, got dressed, and lunged him. Then we headed up to warm-up where we warmed up for about 25 minutes, then headed in to do our test. He was so good in warm-up, and so relaxed. We were cantering by horses and everything and he didn't even think about bucking.

I had made it my plan to just go into the dressage ring and keep the relaxation and not worry about his head. I figured that it was better to make a nice, relaxed circle and get a 6, then to try and get an 8 and end up with a 4. That was by far the best dressage test we have ever had. He was relaxed, quiet, had an awesome rhythm, was working through his back, and was just great in general. Unfortunately, we ended up with a 43 and I have no idea how. That put us in 9th out of 12th which I was okay with, I just thought we deserved something a little better.

This is a picture of us in our dressage test that I absolutely love, despite me looking down and having my hands in my lap... :

Then we moved on to stadium. He warmed up really well, was really bold and going for the longer spots as usual. Meanwhile, the course was eating people alive and rails were flying. All of the verticals were very upright with minmal groundlines and the oxers were all maxed out. And whose horse was one of only three in the division to not knock any rails? Mine was! Unfortunately, we did pick up a stop at the second to last fence. In his defense, however, every single horse either looked at the rolltop and had a rail there, or stopped at it. Also unfortunately, he stopped so hard and so fast, that his head flew up and I got his neck into the right side of my face which ended up giving me a wicked headache, a cut on the inside and outside of my lip, a couple of loose teeth (which have returned to their normal state now, thankfully!), and a whole lot of blood. Luckily, he didn't get the middle of my face or he would've most definitely broken my nose.

Then came cross country. To get to the start box you had to go down two really steep hills that crossed over the xc track so Ben was kind of silly about that. By the time we got to the start box he was ready to explode so we just went into the start box and parked ourselves in front of the back rail until we got counted down.

First fence went wonderfully, as did the second, third, and fourth. The benches were a really long two strides apart, and we were really going so I decided to jump in and push for the two. He couldn't do it though so he ended up chipping to the second fence and landing in a trot. We regrouped and headed for the ditch. I did everything I was supposed to, kept my eyes glued up into the trees, heels down, etc. We got up to the ditch, he took one look and said no way. He proceeded to do this two more times and that was it. We were eliminated.

I was so annoyed with both myself and him because I knew that there was absolutely nothing that I could have done better. I wouldn't have ridden it any other way if I had the chance to do it again. It was also frustrating because ditches are just one component in a huge picture that is eventing that is keeping us from doing well at the level. Well, and dressage, but we're working on that! Plus, if we had run around cross country clean, we would've been 6th, so obviously dressage isn't the biggest factor.

So we need to work on ditches and a lot of them. Unfortunately, he will jump any kind of simulation of a ditch without an issue, so we can't use that to school. He will also jump any ditch 2 feet wide and under which all of the ditches I have available for schooling are. The one at Apple Knoll was an exception but that was only because I looked at it. So we are going to have to figure this out.

The next event for us is Frazier Farm Horse Trials on August 7th. That is a very easy, straightforward Novice which will be great for us. In the meantime, we're going to a dressage show on Sunday to do Novice Test B and Training Test A just for fun and experience. I guess we will evaluate and go from there but I also have to remember that he is still green and we've only been working together a year and half. And even though it feels like I've been competing him forever, ENYDCTA was only his 8th event ever and only his 6th Novice ever. Sometimes I just need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So I have finally found a short moment to sit down and write this post.

I have been running around like crazy trying to get everything ready for ENYDCTA this weekend, and getting things ready for vacation which is right after that. The event is Sunday and we're leaving for vacation on Tuesday. I'm very excited for everything, it has just caused a lot of things to do.

I had a lesson today and we did some xc stuff. Ditches and banks. Ben was incredibly good and so was his flatwork! He was so relaxed through his back and really pushing with his hind end. He was reaching for my hand and just being generally agreeable. It was fantastic!

I have a dressage lesson tomorrow, a jumping lesson Friday, Ben's getting his new shoes Friday afternoon, and then we're off to the event on Saturday. Busy, but very exciting!

Yesterday I rode and did a lot of canter work. Walk-canter-walk, leg yielding at the canter, counter canter, etc. He was so good. Hopefully he'll keep all of this up for the weekend. I'm bringing my laptop to the event, so I think that I will post Saturday night with a virtual course walk.

This is all I have time to write, I have to go organize my trunk to bring to the barn tomorrow!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Apple Knoll Professional Pictures

Link to the professional photographer's pictures from Apple Knoll Horse Trials. I want to buy almost all of the dressage pictures, they make it seem like my test went so well!

I promise I'll write a 'real' post soon, things have just been super busy lately!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Ohh Ben..."

I finally put together this video that everybody has been begging me to make for the last 8 months. I finally had enough clips to put in it, although I'm not sure that's such a good thing...