Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Extremely Overdue Update!

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!
I have been severely lacking on the blog front lately so I apologize. I had all of these exciting things going on and the blog got put on the back burner but since Ben and I are making our Training moveup in just 12 short hours, I thought it was necessary to give you all a mass update.
Last I wrote we were going to the Sinead Halpin clinic which was AWESOME! She is a fantastic clinician and is super nice. She is one of those people who can make things click and she was very helpful in dealing with some of Ben's antics. Here is the video of all of the clips from that:

Then we were off to a dressage show where we showed Training 3 and First 1. Ben was very good and was almost too calm in out Training test! I ended up putting my spurs on for the First Level test and it was much better. Not that the Training test was bad I just had to chase him in the canter more than I would've liked. The First Level test went much better than I expected and I was thrilled. We ended up scoring a 60% in Training 3 (equivalent to a 40 in eventing) and a 61.7% in the First Level test (equivalent to a 39.3 in eventing.)

I unfortuantely have not uploaded those tests yet so I cannot post them here but maybe someday when life slows down I can get a chance to do that!

So here we are on the eve of the Training move up! I'm super excited and cannot wait to see what is in store for us on cross country!! We have a very early start tomorrow. Apple Knoll is two hours away and my dressage time is 8:24. It is also supposed to be 44* during my dressage test, by far the coldest temperature we've had so far this season so we may be a little... "up." I will be waking up at 3am and we will be leaving the barn with Ben in tow no later than 5am. Oh, the life of an eventer...

Next on the list was supposed to be The Ethel Walker School Horse Trials. If this weekend went well, we were going to go Training there. Unfortunately, however, they cancelled due to low entry numbers which I am extemely bummed about. So we are rerouting to Fall Mystic Horse Trials which only goes up to Novice so... that is what we will be doing. But never fear, I've already started planning next year's schedule... :-)

I am off to blowdry my dressage saddle. Yes, you read that right. It was such a gorgeous day today... until I got on Ben. That was when it decided to HEAVILY downpour. I just decided to stay on because by the time I got off and into the barn I would have been just as wet as I was anyway. Plus its good practice for Ben. Thank goodness for synthetic tack! Of course it is now saturated, as is my helmet, and if I don't want a cold, wet butt tomorrow morning at 8am, I'd better go do that now! And then I'm heading straight to bed to hopefully manage somwhere around five hours of sleep!

I will try to tweet regularly but my times are awfully close together (Dressage 8:24, Stadium 9:52, XC 10:22, plus I have to walk xc in between dressage and stadium) so I'll see what I can manage. (Link to Twitter: https://twitter.com/jfcx333) The helmet cam will be out in full force tomorrow so I will have that to share. I should be home early enough to get videos uploaded and a post written if I am not too exhausted.

Until then I will leave you with this picture of Ben and I the other day doing our last jump school before this weekend. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing with my elbows, but I love how Ben looks!

As always, thanks for reading and for putting up with my extreme lack of updates!



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hooray!

This post is too full of excitement to have a real title!
I managed to work things out with my parents and so Ben and I will be attending the Sinead Halpin clinic at Apple Knoll tomorrow afternoon!
I am beyond excited and I think this will be awesome for both Ben and me. I can't wait to write all about it when we get back!

Friday, September 14, 2012

King Oak Fall Horse Trials Results

Ahh there are so many exciting happenings at the moment that I can't wait to share but I thought I should probably start with how the event went.
Dressage warmup started with me falling off. Yay! Actually, we hadn't even made it to dressage warmup yet. At King Oak, to get to dressage warmup, you have to walk down a long, gradual downhill. Ben always gives me a hard time about this because he can see the horses in the warmup moving at a distance and it freaks him out. He was giving me a particularly hard time about getting down there this time complete with leaping, bucking, backing up, miniature rears, and attempts at spinning and flying back to the trailer.
Neither of those reasons were why I fell off. Nope, that came when he did a full body shake (think like when they first get up from rolling). This actually made me fall forward onto his neck a little bit and then he took the opportunity to duck out from under me and trot his little butt over to the paddocks to make friends.
I retrieved my horse, we made it down to warmup, and the rest of the day went spectacularly.
THE END
Just kidding.
He actually warmed up pretty quietly for it being Ben at King Oak where he is notorious for being a psycho. (The last two times we were there we scored a 49.1 and a 49 in dressage, respectively.)
We went into the ring and actually put in some really nice trot work. The free walk was tense because I was just praying that he wouldn't start trotting. The canter transitions were exuberant because its Ben and it kind of affected out canter circles too so those scores weren't too fabulous. But his trot work got a lot of sevens and I was really proud of him. We scored a 43 which was probably an accurate score considering the canter. I actually liked our judge because down the bottom of our test she wrote: "Cute horse with a personality (as evident in canter)." Finally someone who appreciated Ben's goofiness for what it is!
So onward to stadium! King Oak's stadium is always maxed out and there was no exception this time. Plus its in a teeny tiny little arena with no real boundaries which makes the tight turns interesting. And there were more or less all related distances which are terrible for us.
Unfortunately Ben got a little overexcited going into the first fence which made us have an...interesting...line to it where he then proceeded to clobber through the top rail with his front feet. Cool. That was his second rail ever at an event, so not too shabby considering he's been doing this for almost two and a half years now, but annoying nonetheless. He then jumped effortlessly around the rest of the course so all was still good. The rail was stupid and annoying because that's his best phase, but then again, its his best phase so its not anything to worry about.
On to cross country! The cross country course looked really fun. It was long and gallopy. After the first few fences everything was maxed out until the end. The ditch had a nice, long, flat approach to it and was all the way towards the end of the course. I was slightly concerned about the water because it was a maxed out log beam stack, few strides to the water. Now the horses could clearly see the water on the landing side which worried me because there was a very similar scenario at Mystic this spring when he dumped me on cross country. And then I had to sit and listen to the announcer announcing all of the eliminations at the water as I was tacking up to go cross country. Sweet. Plus the ditch always worries me just because its the ditch. Although this particular ditch I have a vendetta against because he dumped me at it last year, although it was jumped the other direction this time. So I was slightly nervous but suprisingly neutral about the whole thing.
So out we went and Ben totally rocked it. Well, we went flying sideways leaping and bucking between fences two and three so I yanked him up for a minute so he could get his head back. And then he was awesome through the whole rest of the course. Our only other blip was at the ditch and I still couldn't even tell you what happened. I was riding forward to the ditch in the backseat with my eyes glued forward. Then I was staring straight down into the ditch. And finally I was somehow miraculously on the other side of the ditch, still on my horse, just sans stirrups. Hmm...
So my amazingly wonderful little ditch phobic horse some way or another totally saved me from meeting my demise in the ditch. I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of him. That is a BIG ditch (the biggest he's ever jumped thus far.) And he totally caught me by jumping back up underneath me. It is quite the site to see on the helmet cam video, especially if you pause it...
We then of course had to snail crawl down the hill to avoid speed faults (surprise, surprise...) I've given up on trying to rate him. He comes out of the start box at his cruising speed and he is a gentleman about it most of the time. I hardly ever have to get in his face. He doesn't bolt or hang or run away, he just gallops along like he wants and has fun with it. He jumps well from that pace so I'm not going to mess with it. The only time he gave me a little bit of a hard time about coming back was after the bank down at 7 on the way to 8. And even then he got a reminder that I'm in charge and he was fine the rest of the time.
So with a 43 in dressage, a four fault stadium round, and a double clear xc round we finished the day in 11th out of 23 competitors. We were really tied for tenth but the other girl was WAY closer to the optimum time then we were...
So here is the on-the-ground video of all three phases:
Helmet Cam video of xc:
And link to professional pictures. I still come back in the tack too soon but he looks super cute. I also kind of hate the way both my Point Two and helmet cam look in pictures but the safety and the awesomeness of the helmet cam are worth pictures that are okay but that I don't love. Scroll down to Calder through Carlson in the third row, last column: http://www.flatlandsfoto.com/competitionphotos/2012%20albums/KO-090912/HTML/index.htm
Now for some other news:
- I almost got to have a private with Sinead Halpin this Sunday but since it was such short notice the only time available was 4:30. Considering the farm is two hours away we would be getting home really late and my parents weren't interested in driving that far and getting home that late. I'm bummed to say the least as that would have easily been the best opportunity Ben and I have ever had but what are you going to do? I'm lucky enough to have an awesome horse and the ability to compete in the sport I love.
- Next weekend I will be getting in touch with my inner dressage queen as I have entered Ben and I into a pure dressage show at Training 3 and First Level 1. Should be interesting! I picked those tests because it will be good practice for the extra cantering in USEA Training Test A because...
-BEN AND I ARE MAKING OUR TRAINING LEVEL DEBUT NEXT MONTH!!! As you can see I'm a little excited to say the least. We're making the move up at the Apple Knoll Farm Schooling Trials on October 7th. I am kind of nervous but mostly excited. I made the decision after he was such a rockstar at King Oak. He made all of those maxed out Novice fences look and feel effortless and I really think we are ready to rock it at Training.
I think that about sums everything up, sorry about the long post, and as always, thanks for reading!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Gaining Inspiration

It's been a while since I posted about more than event results or training stuff with Ben, so I thought I'd take a minute to talk about the inspiration I've gained from following the Burghley Horse Trials all weekend. I also just wanted to throw in that I decided to re-route to King Oak this coming Sunday instead of attending Town Hill this past weekend due to various reasons. That is why there is no event report from Town Hill!
Watching Burghley or any huge event just makes me want to get out to the barn and ride my horse as well as I possibly can. And Burghley in general coupled with the amazing comeback story of Sinead and Allison makes me want to get out there and rock it even more.
Watching the good dressage tests like Sinead's and Allison's, along with William Fox-Pitt, Andrew Nicholson, Clayton Fredericks' and company just make you want to go and ride every inch out of your next dressage test. Watching those people ride is like a free dressage lesson. They use every centimeter of that arena to their advantage. They prepare their horses for every transition. They sit quietly and stay out of their horse's way but man do they ride.
Ben is coming to that time where his dressage is starting to get better. Its more relaxed than it ever was and he can go pretty quietly and more consistently too. But I'm starting to ask him for more. Being quiet and fairly obedient isn't enough to score competitively. He needs to be engaged behind and through his back and really moving well like he does at home to be competitve at events. And I truly believe he can do that if I ride him efficiently enough. I tend to go in the dressage ring and just beg him with my body language not to do anything stupid. The quieter the better. But now I need to be slightly more demanding and ride my horse, instead of just hold him together. It'll be a long road, and it certainly won't happen in one event, but if he can start to go at events like he goes at home he is very capable of being extremely competitve in the dressage.
Again, watching the big names on cross country courses that huge, making it look like its nothing, is just a sight to see. They are all focus and determination and they ride every stride. Even though our results wouldn't show it, I think I ride my best on cross country. Ben is a hard ride cross country and he doesn't give you anything. You have to work for everything he gives you. I am slowly learning to ride. every. fence. like my life depends on it. Eventually, I won't have to do that but for now, I do, and that's okay. Every single cross country jump we clear is a learning experience for both Ben and me.
I haven't watched too many of the stadium rounds from Burghley but I have watched enough to know that those horses were exhausted. And yet, those riders (especially the five that managed to go clear) rode those horses as best as they possibly could to get it done. I tend not to worry too much about stadium as it is easily Ben's best phase but its still a wonder to watch the upper level riders make it look effortless.
Yesterday was Ben's day off so I haven't ridden him since Burghley ended but today we are going to go and have an awesome flat ride in preparation for this weekend where we will hopefully rock our dressage test!
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope this post gave all of you guys some inspiration too.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lord Creek Farm Horse Trials Results

I am happy to report that Ben is completely back to his normal self as we had discovered that he had Lyme disease. He is currently being treated for it but he is already one million times better than he was a week ago.

Lord Creek was yesterday and it went very well. We had a very early 8 something dressage time so there was still a little chill in the air which certainly got to Ben during our warmup. I warmed up for about 45 minutes before my test and he had just started to relax a bit when we trotted down the centerline. As a dressage test in general, it was just okay, but considering how much of a nutcase he was being in warmup, it was a very impressive feat for it to go as well as it did. There were no major mistakes, just some minor bobbles here and there and we ended tied for 4th after dressage on a 31.5. Now, they were being very very very generous with the scoring. That is our best ever dressage score and very far from our best ever test. But I was still happy and we were in a good position moving forward. My favorite comment on the dressage test was "Try working horse for longer before test." If she only knew...

Then came stadium which is always a challenge at Lord Creek because of the terrain in their jumping field. We had a very exuberant warmup where many comments were heard from entertained spectators such as "That horse is very lively," "Somebody's ready for cross country," and, my personal favorite, "I wouldn't want to ride THAT horse!" Regardless, he was jumping amazingly and was certainly back to the old Ben we all know and love.

Our stadium round could have been smoother, slower (way slower), and a touch more controlled but it was still clean and he jumped decently for the most part. I had to lay off the brakes a bit because he was becoming thoroughly annoyed with me hanging on his face (see turn to fence 3 in stadium in the video at the bottom of this post.)

Cross country was just an awesome time. We did unfortunately pick up one stop at a particularly looky fence that I expected him to have an issue with. It was a brush box filled with corn stalks, and I mean filled. On top of that, there were walls of cornstalks on either side of the jump as well as a footing change. I rode accordingly, expecting him to look, but we did pick up a stop anyway. But we reapproached and jumped it fine the second time around and he jumped everything else amazingly. The ditch and wall was interesting because he saw it at the last minute, peeked, got a pop with the crop, and then launched over it all with a split second. I'm sure that was comical for the jump judges!

Again, we were flying and came in very very fast. The footing was slick so they only set the time at 325 mpm and optimum ended up being 5:55. Speed fault was 4:16 and even with the stop we came in at 4:26...46 seconds faster than the second fastest person in the division. Oops. Ben definitely likes to run. I can't wait to move up to Training and not have to worry about speed faults as much.

We ended up finishing in 5th place. If we hadn't had the stop we would've been 3rd but I was still pretty thrilled with the pink ribbon! He was definitely full of himself after that cross country run and I'm so happy to have my horse back. Bring on Town Hill!

Without further adieu, here is my helmet cam (Yes I did finally get it up and running!) Skip to 1:45 for the countdown and start:

And here is my on the ground videos of all three phases:
(Not embeddable yet. Either later on today or tomorrow I will have it up here. For now here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59kx-IGTxz8&feature=plcp)

As always, thanks for reading! Hope to be around fairly often as we prep for Town Hill in a couple of weeks!

A Speedy Update

* This post is from last week, I was unaware that it never posted, sorry about that! *

So this update is going to be amazingly fast because its late and I have to get up early for a lesson tomorrow morning. However, I thought you all deserved an update because I have been absent lately.

I have been battling a subtle mystery lameness with Ben for the past week and half but it finally seems to have disappeared so Lord Creek for next weekend is on as of now. Which makes me really happy because I thought I wasn't going to get to go for the second year in a row because last year Ben bent his shoe the morning OF the horse trial. Horses...

Lameness was as subtle as it could possibly be without being sound. He would take some off steps and then some sound steps and the ratio of sound to unsound steps varied daily. He was better with bute so I gave him some for a couple of days and then gave him some time off and so far, so good.  I have no idea what it was. He is still being a little "careful" with it, which makes me slightly uneasy, but there is no doubt that he is 100% sound, so I'm not sure what is making me feel that way. His stride just isn't as big as it usually is but then again, he had lots of time to lounge around on his own and get on his forehand. When I get serious about bringing him into an uphill frame he feels perfectly normal so I'm thinking that he's just being hard on his legs and being unbalanced when he's traveling on his forehand like that.


I shall see what my trainer thinks about all of this tomorrow morning.

As far as the eventing schedule for after Lord Creek, that is all up in the air at the moment because there are a whole mess of events in September and October and I have to choose between them all. There are lots of factors such as price, recognized vs. unrecognized, level of difficulty, and how hard the ground will be if we continue to get no rain, among other things. So I'm trying to figure the fall out so I can create a more concrete leg up for the fall season because we've been taking it easy for the most part this summer.

I will hopefully find a minute to write a bit before Lord Creek and I will definitely be around after that to share results.

As always, thank you for reading!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Riga Meadow Horse Trials Results


I didn't start the day off too confidently when I picked the course map up and realized the ditch was fence number 5 headed away from home. I believe the exact words were "Oh s&*t, the ditch is number 5!" ;-)

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, let's start with dressage. Warm up was bad, then good, then bad, then the test was okay. He started off per usual, head in the air and checking everything out. Then he settled down and started looking really good. And then Lilly, his girlfriend, came over to warm up for her test. And then he wouldn't stop screaming his head off and was paying no attention to me at all.

I will say the test went better than I expected. He didn't call at all and once we trotted down centerline something seemed to click in his brain and he tried really hard to listen to me. To make matters worse cross country was running in the not-so-distant distance.

Both of our centerlines were decent although on the turn off the second one he fell on his face. Oops. Both out trot circles were pretty decent although the flies were really bad so that warranted some head flipping. The judge seemed to realize this was fly head flipping and not behavioral head flipping which was nice because we got sevens on both the circles.

Our trot walk transition was good but we get knocked all the time for being inactive in the medium after the transition and before the free walk. I hate to walk and then kick him forward because then he tends to jig in the free walk. We almost made it all the way down the diaganol in the free walk without jigging but Ben decided he NEEDED to jig the last few steps so that was an automatic four.

The transition from walk to trot was the only time Ben felt he needed to see what was going on over in the big field with the jumps in it (of course!) so that transition was pretty horrendous. Then for our canter transition Ben decided he needed to show everyone how smart he is by performing his transition a quarter of a circle early with zero input from me. I just rolled with it instead of pulling back and then transitioning again.

Both canter to trots weren't great but were okay and we got 6s on both which I was pretty pleased with. The right canter circle was pretty good and got a 7! That's new! His halt was perfectly square but he likes to add some sass and swing his hips to the left so that along with the fact that he needed to get another look at the cross country course meant we got a 5 on that.

I got a 7 on Rider and on Impulsion which I was very pleased about with some very nice comments from the judge about doing a good job keeping him on track and riding well. Overall we scored a 40 which is our best recognized dressage score ever. Just can't break into the 30s though! 0.1 points off! This left us tied for 9th out of 14 so I was pretty pleased.

The stadium course was really fun. It was a bit tricky which I LOVE because Ben rocks stadium so when the course is hard, Ben usually jumps a clear when others don't. He didn't disappoint this time and jumped clear to move up to 6th. We had a close moment at fence 3 when the rail literally came out of the cups and dropped back into them again... I had asked him for another stride, which he listened to, and he just couldn't get his knees up quite enough. Even if the rail fell, I wouldn't have minded because he listened to me instead of blowing me off which was nice! Number 7 was a very spooky fence with a brick wall filler and some fake flowers sitting on top of that right under the rail. Ben peeked pretty hard but I expected such and rode accordingly. I love how well we know each other.

Then came cross country. When I first walked up to the ditch on course I wanted to throw up. It wasn't huge or anything. Probably about three feet wide, I could just barely step over it with a little extra hop. It was probably only a couple feet deep. It was in a treeline so it was winged on either side. But it was a real live Novice ditch and I was terrified. But I sucked it up and trudged on and honestly, I felt pretty good about it after stadium. I talked myself down by forcing myself to stick to the plan.

Sometime between getting on and walking to the start box it started to rain pretty steadily. I was actually happy because the ground was a touch hard for my liking. I jumped one oxer really nicely in warm up and headed to the start box.

He headed out and over the first jump like a xc machine which hasn't happened in a while and I was very pleased with that! This picture is actually the back of fence one, I was having camera difficulties in front of it and my course walking buddies were leaving without me!


We turned to fence two and his head went between his knees and we threw in some bucking for good measure. That's apparently a new thing now... The cons of overly fit horses...

Fence two had some weird gentle terrain changes in front of it and then landed ever so slightly downhill.


There was some more attempted bucking on the way to three but I was ready for it that time!
Number three was very sketchy. I cut the turn a little too close to it, as it was a right hand turn after two. He looked a bit at it and we jumped like a deer over it sideways. But he went and that's the important part! My horse a few months ago wouldn't have done that, especially since this fence was actually quite sizeable.

Then there was a left turn to fence four, a hanging log, that I made sure we had a good ride to, because the ditch followed.

Then came the dreaded ditch... I cut the turn short, kept my eyes absolutely GLUED forward, kicked my feet up on the dashboard, threw in a growl for good measure and OVER we went!!! YES!!!
 



He got a ridiculous amount of praise and pats and I had a ridiculous smile on my face for the next three fences. Honestly he could've bucked me off right then and I wouldn't have cared, I was just so happy with him!

We galloped on to fence six a nice little cordwood:

Then we headed to this little log which had a sizable drop on it, I was actually surprised that we shared it with Beginner Novice:

Then came the water which he went right into (I guess we don't have water issues any more...), then a few strides to a tiny little ramp out which we wiggled A LOT to. He still has a hard time with fences out of the water, he gets transfixed on going through the water and has difficulty focusing on jumping jumps so soon out of the water. But we made it and that's one more good jump-out-of-water experience in the experience bank.




Then we made the turn to a nice red house that we jumped well:


Then came the very fun up bank, few strides, down bank which we got good practice with at Frazier last month, with a much harder version of this! He was really good although really flung himself off the bank again. If I trot and pop off the edge he just pops down quietly, if I canter off, he flings himself... silly horse.



Then we galloped a short way to a big, ginormous, airy oxer in the treeline. Again, the pictures never do big jumps justice, I should've had somebody stand next to it but it was most definitely maximum height. It was one of those awesome fences where you see the perfect distance about 10 strides out, your horse locks onto it, you feel how powerful they jump it, and you land perfectly and gallop on. Those don't come often but they sure are incredible!

A little ways on to 14 A & B, a bending line of tables. The first table was maxed out and the second was slightly smaller. It was an 8-10 stride bending line depending on how you bent it. I believe we got 9. It rode really well for us.


Then we went down a little decline to fence 15, a bench, but not before we spooked at a jump judge's umbrella... horses.


We then galloped on to the smallest fence on the course where I think I had the stupidest stop of my eventing career. The tree was in the middle to make the jumpable part narrow and he did spook at it but the log was 2'3", we should've been able to jump it. But I lost control of his shoulders and once that happens I'm screwed. So, smack, circle around, jump it no problem. Really?


Next jump was another tiny little log up a little incline that we jumped just fine:




Then came the next stupidest stop in my eventing career. Yes I really did have two stops at two of the simplest fences on the course after jumping the ditch, the water, the drop fence, the bank complex, the big oxer in the tree line, and the table combination just fine. This one was covered in brush which Ben is generally not a fan of. I planned to ride this one defensively for this reason. Of course I didn't expect him to drop his shoulder and run sideways 15 strides away from the fence, I expected more like 5... Again, once he gets his shoulder away from me, we're done. Smack, circle, jump perfectly. Ugh.



The last fence went well, except we got a little close and popped it.


I truly wish I could say that I cared about the two stupid stops but I truly didn't. He jumped the ditch!!! I'm beating myself up a little more now about the stops because there is no other explanation except that I stopped riding, yet again. One of these days I will learn that I have to ride every.single.fence. with this horse, he is not an easy ride. If there's a way out, he's going to take it just because he can. There were other people across the Novice divisions that had stops but I was the only one in my division. That being said, we were also one of only three that made the time. Sigh. I swear we don't feel fast, or out of control, or dangerous, or too quick to the fences, but somehow we are always WAY too fast. Can we even imagine what my time would've been if we didn't have two stops? I had 0:28 left on my watch when I crossed the finish line as it was!


So if we had jumped double clean xc we would've finished up 5th, but we didn't so we finished 10th. I didn't get a ribbon and I don't care. I am so unbelievably thrilled and proud of my horse that I can't even explain it. One day I will learn to do him justice and actually ride well for an entire recognized Novice course. Hopefully that day will be in the near future.

Next up is Lord Creek HT on August 19th. That's like home base for us so I'm going for some redemption and a CLEAR xc round!

I leave you with this video from Riga, its dressage, stadium, and xc all in one. Enjoy!






Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

So, in short, we did NOT get to go xc schooling at King Oak this week which is really unfortunate. I had hoped for numerous reasons we'd be able to go. I was hoping to school the ditches, maybe the trakehner, the Training drop into and out of the water, the Training bank to log combo, and maybe the Training level corner. All the places we have around here to school are all lower level stuff, usually only up to Novice. Which is all fine and dandy, but I would like to see what Ben could do over bigger and more complicated stuff.

But, such is life, and we've been trudging on, prepping for Riga per usual. We did a jump school on Monday with varied success. I had a warm-up crossrail on one long side, a 5 stride line of a 2'6" and 2'9" vertical on the other long side. On one diganol there was a 2'6" vertical, on the other a 2'9" one. On one short side I set up a 3' oxer. And then we have these super skinny coops that are probably only four feet wide. I put one of them more or less next to the oxer on the short side. If you stuck to the edge, you went to the oxer, if you cut in a little more, you went to the coop. I put the other one on one of the diaganols. Nothing special or fancy, just wanted to get him jumping over some Novice fences as this was to be our last jump school before Riga.

He was jumping okay to begin with. He wasn't throwing his shoulders over fences or anything and he was being as adjustable as Ben can be. He actually was jumping well, it was just the in between that was kind of bad. I warmed up over a bending line of 2'6" verticals, jumped the outside line and had the 2'9" down simply because I chased him to the distance and he couldn't get his front end out of the way. My bad. He jumped everything else fairly well until the oxer. In hindsight, it was a very bad place to put the oxer. Because it was on the short side, I had about two straight strides to it, which wouldn't be terrible if I had a horse that actually bent around the turns when he was jumping. At this point he was starting to get strong to his fences and hang on the bit. He doesn't do this all the time, but its really annoying when he does.

In my attempt to get him *up* in front and *bending* around the turns, he gets pissy, starts kicking up with his hind end and then ends up even more on the forehand than he started out. This is what he was doing going into the oxer the first time. I didn't see a distance so I pulled back instead of pushed forward because all he was doing was resisting my leg if I kicked him on. Of course that just made us lose all of our energy and before I knew it we were right in front of the fence with zero energy and I had a very bad image of what was about to happen when he tried to jump this sizable oxer.

Luckily, he ducked out to the left. I have never ever ever been so happy to have a horse run out in my life. I actually patted him for it because he made a smart decision. Sometimes I really wish he wouldn't take off for some of the things he does. By all means, I am thrilled that I have a game horse with a good fifth leg that will help me out when I get us wrong. I don't want him to stop if we don't have a perfect distance. But there *is* such a thing as a too honest horse! I was happy he used his brain in this situation.

We circled around and tried again with a much better result. He was still kicking up and being annoying headed in but I kicked forward and even though we still got there pretty close we had the energy to get up and over and cleared it. I then omitted that jump from any later courses we did because it was just in a bad place and it was hard to get a correct distance to it where it was. We won't have to deal with any crazy turns like that at events, so why risk integrating bad habits?

I thought I would finish up with a quick course. Crossrail, outside line, bending line, diaganol vertical, skinny coop on the diaganol. All is going super well. After the coop I loop around and go to jump the other coop on the short side as the last fence of my course. And he runs out to the left. Umm, my horse doesn't run out, so I think I might have gave him an unintentional mixed message with the oxer. So we reaprroach but I definitely overcorrected and basically gave him no other choice but to duck out to the right this time. So we turn around and try yet again, but at this point he is so flustered that I don't even think he knows what he's doing and runs out to the left again.

I did give him two good whacks for that because, whether it was my fault he was doing this or not (and if it was I feel extremely guilty!), he still needs to be reprimanded for running out three times. That is just not acceptable. So we came back to a nice, quiet, reassuring trot and popped over the coop without issue. LOTS of pats! Then we popped over a 2'9" vertical well to end on a good note. So it was a mixed jumping day. The quality of the jumping was good, but the in between he was stubborn and strong. He's not like that so much at shows which is good but it just makes it hard to work on things at home.

As far as the running out I am 100% convinced that I gave him a bad idea when I praised him for being smart about the oxer. I think I was just so relieved that we weren't both on the ground that I didn't think it through all the way. I don't think I should've reprimanded him for it, but I do think that I should have just done nothing and tried again. As far as the coop, I don't ride him defensively because this horse has never really run out on anything in the time I've had him. I think his confidence was a bit low at this point and I wasn't helping him by giving him barriers with my hand and leg and he just slipped out the side door. I think it would have been slightly less worrisome if it hadn't happened *three* times but it truly was my fault and he was upset. As soon as I took a step back and reassured him, he was super about it.

We have been diligently working on our dressage the past two days. Yesterday we worked on all of the things that are tricky for us: the centerlines, the trot-walk transitions, the trot-canter-trot transitions, and the free walk to med walk transitions. Things went well and I felt pretty good by the end of it. Today we did some basic w/t/c and then some walk/canter/walk (which he is getting really awesome at by the way!) and some changes as an attempt to improve his canter, particularly to the left. His left hind is definitely weaker than the right and some days its harder for him to use it than others. Today was one of the harder days. So to the left, when circling, he bucks and kicks out in protest so we were working on NOT doing that today. Once he was going better in the left canter we did a quick run through of our test for Sunday which went pretty well. The 20 meter trot circles and the left canter circle were pretty stiff but fairly steady for the most part. When he is bending and moving more fluidly, it is a lot easier for him to be steady in the bridle. He just wasn't moving all that well through his hind end today which affected the quality of the work. That improves at shows as well, luckily.

The canter transitions I wish were a little more prompt while still being balanced and steady. He either does a prompt transition immediately when I ask with his head in the air, or he runs a bit but then makes a pretty nice transition. I want to have my cake and eat it too! Free walk to med walk has improved a ton! Which is nice because there is a whole movement dedicated to that transition in Novice A. Everything else was decent, but I will definitely be running through again before Sunday.

I'm planning on riding on the flat for the rest of the week assuming I don't burn him out by all this dressage work. Maybe he'll need a walk to the stream at some point but I really am happy with how he's been going. Bring on Riga!

Sorry about the length of this post, it really wasn't supposed to be this long! As always thanks for reading, you guys are the best!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sailing On

I thought now might be a good time to catch everybody up on all of the current happenings.

I had the vet out for Ben's odd back bumps. She said not to worry about them and to just let them go away on their own. They are still sensitive but I've been riding for a couple weeks with them now and he doesn't seem to be bothered even a little bit.

We did not end up going schooling because of the bumps but we will hopefully get to go Monday or Tuesday. We should know by tomorrow if we'll be able to go or not. If we don't get to go, we'll just have to wing the ditch thing, which is not ideal but I really don't think the ditch at Riga Meadow is going to be an issue.

Ben tossed a shoe a week before the farrier was supposed to come and I still haven't found it in the field, which worries me because Ben will eventually find it, probably by injuring himself on it. But we got a new shoe put on the next day and so far, so good.

I hadn't realized how close Riga Meadow was until today. Its a week from tomorrow! I'm pretty excited because our last event went so well and I'm itching to get back out and jump some real Novice sized cross country fences. I actually miss walking cross country and thinking that some of the fences are huge. It makes it feel like an even bigger accomplishment when you fly over them without a problem. I'm also a tad nervous just because its our first time back at recognized Novice.

After this, we're headed to Apple Knoll on July 29th to give their Novice course another go. Last year I got my butt dumped at the tiniest of all ditches because I looked straight at it. So we're going to go and redeem ourselves this time!

So those are the tentative plans for the rest of July. As always, thanks for reading, I'm sure I'll be around this week as we prep for Riga and I'll especially be around if we get to go schooling!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Horses Have Terrible Timing

My horse has no concept of when important things are coming up. So he does stupid things like get hurt three days before we're supposed to go cross country schooling.

Luckily, its nothing tragic. Sunday I went to the barn later on in the day. I wasn't planning on riding so I just brought him in to give him a grooming. He had some hair sticking straight up on his spine behind his withers which I assumed was mud or something similarly sticky. So I curried it. And he flinched and swished his tail and leapt sideways. Well that can't be good.

Its one little spot, about an inch long, right along his spine. He is very reactive to it. I kind of just assumed it was a bug bite or something that he was being sensitive to. I know its not saddle fit or anything as it came on very suddenly and I also just had both saddles checked and reflocked two months ago. I left it overnight and went back yesterday to no change.

I can just lightly touch it with my fingers, or run a soft brush right over it and he doesn't care. Its only when you put pressure on it that he flinches and reacts. There is no cut, no open skin, no bump so its all kind of a mystery at this point.

In turn, Ben has had Saturday-Monday off which can't be any good for either of us. I put him on the longe line yesterday just to see if he moved any differently and he is perfectly fine. He is acting completely normal. I put my saddle on him yesterday sans saddle pad just to see where it fell. He didn't care and my gullet is far far away from being even remotely close to the area so he'd probably be fine for riding but I don't want to take a chance like that.

So the vet is coming out today in a few hours. Hopefully he'll just tell me that he banged it on a rock or something, that it'll be fine on his own, and that I can ride and xc school tomorrow. If we get the okay to ride I will give him a really good workout tonight to avoid too much silliness tomorrow. If not we have a backup date to school next month. I don't really think its anything big but I'm just stumped on what it could be and I'd rather just have the peace of mind knowing what it is and what I should do about it.

Sigh. Horses...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Frazier Farm HT Results

Today was, in a word, amazing.

Ben was the best I could have ever asked him to be from behaving himself in all three phases, to standing like a gentleman tied to the trailer, munching on hay (which he never, ever does. At least not without pawing himself into a hole and trying to climb on the trailer).

Dressage was awesome. He was spot on for everything. Its amazing to me how far this horse has come. He now knows that he has a job to do in the dressage ring. Sure our test had a couple of little bobbles, like a few canter strides added in to the left trot circle, and flipping our nose in the left canter circle a bit, but considering at the beginning of the season I considered it a good test if he only bucked once or twice...I think it is safe to say that we are making progress.

We went into the ring to score a 31.7, the best score I gave ever gotten in dressage on any horse, ever. I was ecstatic. We had five 8s! In my entire show career, on three different horses, I have gotten three eights across every dressage test I have ever ridden. So five in one test is pretty amazing to me! We were in fourth place after dressage out of twelve people. I have never been in the top half after dressage. Never. Usually I'm happy if I'm not last. I've never been in a position to say "Well, if I just jump clean, I'll definitely get a ribbon." I've always had to hope that if I jumped clean I would move up into the ribbons.

Of course, the pressure was kind of on for me then! I wasn't about to mess this up now that I had finally gotten the opportunity to see what it felt like!

So on to cross country we went! The course looked like it would be a blast! He warmed up fabulously and we headed over to the start box...where it proceeded to start raining and thundering and lightning. They sent me off anyway, and I must say it was pretty awesome to be galloping cross country along to the claps of thunder!

I finally, finally remembered to get pictures of the course! So I'll post the picture of each fence and write about how it rode:

Fence 1
This was a very simple, straightforward log on an uphill slope and winged by other jumps on either side which helped to minimize his wiggliness. We had a bit of a long spot and awkward jump here, but I'd take too bold any day over sticky and not confident.

Fence 2
This was a very, very cool fence although it was quite odd that it was only the second fence on course. It was a bank up, one stride across the top, bank down. Ben jumped really boldly up on the bank and was in for quite a surprise when he realized he had to jump down again! But he handled it pretty well, even though he kind of launched off the bank a bit, which he doesn't usually do. I just hung in there and let him figure it out.

Fence 3
This stone wall is off a long uphill gallop and rides like a bank up, even though it is a jump, because the landing is significantly higher than the takeoff. Ben jumped really nicely up here, although he took off a bit long!

Fence 4
This fence is tiny, but it comes off a fairly steep downhill quite soon after fence 3 and there is a pretty decent drop on the landing. We just popped quietly off the edge and galloped on. Of course, the exciting part happened on the turn to fence 5, when he launched himself into three huge bucks. He was having a little too much fun!

Fence 5

This fence is uphill, straightforward, and well-winged and Ben just kind of took charge and motored on over this one without any issues.

Fence 6
A fairly upright brush fence, we got a touch close to, but he snapped his knees up and had no problem clearing it.

Fence 7
A pretty narrow approach to a decent sized, but inviting, bank up. Ben pretty much was running away with me at this point, so I can't take much credit for the perfect spot we got to this ;-) This was followed by an extremely steep uphill, then to fence 8.

Fence 8
Not the best picture in the world, but this log was small and had a flat approach, considering you just came from the crazy steep uphill. Ben was long here but had no problems.

Fence 9
The reason I moved back up to Novice here, was because they didn't have a ditch. So imagine my surprise (and panic!) when I find this on my course walk. It wasn't terribly big, but it was indeed a ditch. And guess what? My horse didn't bat an eye at it. I turned to it, sat up and back, kept my eyes glued forward, and kicked on. And he just popped over it like he's not deathly terrified of ditches. Huh.

Fence 10
This was quite the pretty little fence, although a little spooky because of the shadows. We got a good spot here and jumped well. We then went through the clearing and turned left to fence 11.

Fence 11
I expected him to try to wiggle out to the right because this fence was off a blind left turn after the stone wall, but he saw the fence, locked on to it, and jumped it fabulously!

Fence 12
I really don't know why this picture makes this fence look so small because it is quite big. And its airy and has a bizarre groundline. Of course, this was the only fence we jumped really badly because you jumped 11, crossed a dirt road, down a little hill, then a sharp turn right to this fence. At this point, my medical armband decided to fall down to my wrist, so I was trying to get it out of my way while maintaining control of my horse. No easy task! He got rolling down the hill and I never really brought him back so we got close and he jumped over his shoulder a little bit which was kind of scary when this fence is as upright as it was! But we made it over and carried on.

Fence 13
This was up a slow, gradual hill going away from home so Ben turned into this field and balked sideways. He was nowhere near the fence at the time so it wasn't a refusal or anything, just an attempt to get out of doing more work. I took this as an opportunity to check my watch and realized we had more than two minutes left on the clock. To avoid speed faults I had to come in with less than 58 seconds left on the clock. Oops, wayyyy too fast. I never used to have this problem, but then my horse got really fit and really strong and I no longer have brakes... So I took his balking as an opportunity to kill some time and we trotted up the hill until a few strides out from this fence where we picked up our pace again and jumped this really well. You can see fence 14 just to the left of this photo.

Fence 14
This was quite a small fence because it had a bit of a downhill landing and a few strides later had a fairly big step down. He was good and put in the extra stride here and then actually listened when I asked him to trot to pop off the bank.

Fence 15
I don't have a picture of the landing side but this was quite the sizable drop down, probably close to three feet. So I trotted right off it to avoid any potential launching!

Fence 16
Last fence! A bit of a close spot but we made it out just fine and straight through the finish. Even with the balking and trotting, we still came in with 49 seconds left on the clock.

And by the time I finished my round, the rain had stopped, and the sun was back out! Go figure...

Then onto stadium which was a swamp of mushy footing and standing water. Yuck. It wasn't slippery or deep or dangerous, you just had to be extra careful around the turns. Novice goes last at this show so the footing has already been chewed up in front of every fence by 3 Elementary divisions and 2 Beginner Novice divisions. You kind of got sucked down in front of the fences which led to some ugly, over the shoulder fences from Ben. Somehow, we still managed to jump clean! There was little moat with water in it that Ben decided he needed to jump over between fences 4 and 5. Silly boy!

So in the end, we placed 3rd! I was so proud of Ben, he was everything I asked for and more today! He'll get a bit of a break from showing for now. He won't show again until Mid-July although we are going schooling at King Oak in a couple of weeks to school every ditch on the property!

Here are all of the videos from today:


And for your cute fix of the day, here is a picture from the other day when Ben found a turtle in his paddock and decided to make friends:

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, June 1, 2012

MVHC Horse Trials Results

Whew, time flies when you're running back to back events!

Well, I finally got the videos uploaded yesterday, and I found some time to write this post today. Didn't even realize it was Friday already!

So, last Saturday seemed to be shaping up to be a pretty successful event.

I decided not to lunge Ben just to experiment and it ended up working out very nicely for us. He definitely gets more tense when I lunge him at shows. So that's good news that I figured that out, and it also makes things a lot less stressful between trying to find a place to lunge that I won't get yelled at for, to bringing a bunch of extra lunging equipment.

I warmed up for about a half hour and for the first twenty minutes it was going really, really badly. He was calling to everyone and was leaping and zooming around with his head straight in the air like a giraffe. So I had kind of just come to terms with the fact that this was going to be a very terrible test.

But then, something clicked in his brain and he just settled down. I took a deep breath and put my shoulders back, and just tried to ride him really quietly. He was absolutely awesome for our test!

He did whinny once in the beginning, but that wasn't a huge deal, and our free walk wasn't too stellar, but he didn't trot so that's great too. Our judge, however, was a flat out idiot.

For starters, my ring had a whistle as the signal to go in. As I was coming around the corner towards A, I head a noise, which may have been a whistle, but also could have very easily been something else. I looked to the judge who wasn't even looking, so I decided I'd better not go in in case it wasn't the whistle. So I trotted down and asked very politely if that was indeed the whistle and I got a very snooty "Yes, it was!" back. Oh great. Sorry lady, not my fault that I didn't want to be eliminated, she should have been happy that I double checked.

So I check my scores after my wonderful, amazing test and see that we had a 43.5 and we were sitting in 10th place out of 13. To be perfectly honest, I was shocked. I really, truly expected a score in the upper thirties (37-39). I assumed that she had to have given me an error for the whistle thing, because there was no way that test was a 43. It wasn't a 41 either, but that would've at least beeen a little better.

Of course, I get my test back later, and it seems she took the whistle thing out on every.single.mark considering my test sheet was covered with 5s and comments next to them that made zero sense. No error. Normally, even if a test goes badly, I hardly blame the judge. Even if I think I deserved a better score, I can mostly see why the judges gave me the scores they did by looking at the comments. But not this one. I had a perfect canter transition saying that it was a 5 and he was braced and running. Um, no, he was perfectly balanced, bent, and round, what are you even talking about? There is no way we deserved that score, which means the only possible explanation is that she was taking the whole whistle debacle out on us through our test.

No the test was not a 25 scoring test, but not one of those movements should have earned a 5, except maybe the free walk, which she actually gave us a 6 on. I only had 5s and 6s in the entire test. Really? It most definitely should have broke 40. See for youself:


So while I was quite furious with the whole situation, I was incredibly proud of my horse who started off like a maniac, and calmed down enough to put in one of his best tests. And no kicking out in the canter transitions! WooHoo!

So on to stadium! He warmed up great, was jumping really well. Went in to put in a lovely double clear. Okay, so maybe 'lovely' isn't the word. He was wicked strong, and I buried the poor thing into some fences, and he charged down some of the lines, but he still did well! Part of me thinks I need a bigger bit, because quite honestly he is just blowing me off like I'm not even there, but I also know my horse, and he would hate me forever if I put anything besides a snaffle in his mouth. The stadium judge called us over after our round and 'suggested' that we try to go slower cross country as our time was 1:05 and most had been jumping the course in 1:25. Oops. Sorry, my horse thinks he's a jumper.

Here's our round:

So cross country was immediately after stadium and he was WAY too hyped up, I couldn't get him to stand at all. We were leaping and bucking and launching ourselves around the start box. Then we came charging out of the startbox with some more leaping and bucking, and then we got out on course.

He was good to one, quite wiggly to two (but a lot of horses were, it was a new fence for this course), jumped three fine, wiggled our way stickily through four and five, a little downhill combination, and then we finally got things straightened out (literally and figuratively ;-) ) for fence six. Once he stopped wiggling I relaxed and said "Okay, we're home free now that you've stopped wiggling. We should be clear the rest of the way!"

Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. When are you going to learn that every single time you say that, something bad happens directly after? Similar to ENYDCTA when we jumped the third to last and were having the first clear round in our division until I stopped riding to the scary rolltop and got a face full of horse neck. Well, this time we came up to a small fence with a downhill landing, that was then three strides to a little natural water crossing. Well, Ben thought for sure that he would be landing IN the water if he jumped that jump and so because I stopped riding he quit on me.

So we reapproached, and he did it again. Deep breath, REALLY ride it, smack on the way in. He feels like he's going this time, but SLAMS on the brakes at the last second, getting his feet up in the fence a bit, then panics and spins out from underneath me. We can't just have a normal three stops, you're out elimination you know. Nope, my horse has to dump me and go careening around the cross country course. Sigh. Well, on the bright side, I was wearing my air vest and man that thing is like landing on a pillow, I didn't feel a thing.

Even with our crappy dressage score, we would've placed 6th if we had finished clean. It truly was a legitimate question on Ben's part because, I realized with his lack of depth perception, he really thought he was going to land in the water. And this was in the woods, where it was dark, and the water was dark. The fence wasn't the problem, and the water wouldn't have been the problem if it was by itself or farther back, but the combination together didn't sit well with him, and I wasn't there to tell him yes. It also didn't help that he was SO hyped up because I think he had so much adrenaline, that at the slightest hint of something spooky (the water) he just reacted without trying to read the question. Because I know a lot of horses there who jumped that jump without an issue, so it wasn't the fence, it was him.

Here's the first half of cross country:

So, hopefully that was just a silly little fluke. Because he was perfect at King Oak. So things are still on for Frazier this Sunday, where we're moving back up to Novice. They have no ditches or water, and all the fences are straigtforward and mostly inviting, so hopefully we won't have any issues.

Later on this month, we're going cross country schooling at King Oak so I can jump every single ditch on the property, including the one he dumped me at in the fall. I also want to try dropping into water, so that he can see that even if he was going to land in the water, it really isn't all that bad!

The even sadder part of the whole weekend? If I was in the Novice division, which he probably would've gone clean around since he's jumped clean around that track twice now, we would've place at the very least 4th. And my horse actually jumps the Novice water. Silly horse.

Oh well, hopefully we can redeem ourselves this weekend. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Combined Test Videos

They haven't been online long enough for me to embed them into the post but here are the links from the combined test this past weekend:


I also got my times for this weekend and I am actually incredibly happy with them. Dressage is 10:55, stadium is 2:27 and then cross country is more or less immediately after stadium. We got put into the Junior Beginner Novice Open division and there's twelve or thirteen of us I believe. Of course the Novice division I would have been in only has 6 people in it, as opposed to last year when I was in the division and there were 16 people in it... Eh, c'est la vie.

Main goal is to not meltdown in dressage and jump clean. Hopefully we can handle that!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy Season

Whew, there is so much going on at the moment!

King Oak pictures have gone up. They can be found here. We are under Carleton in the fourth or fifth row I believe: http://flatlandsfoto.com/competitionphotos/2012%20albums/KO-051312/HTML/index.htm

Now, normally I am pretty happy with my position in horse show pictures. These pictures, not so much. For the most part, I am over my leg with my heel down, and not pinching with my knee. However, like I said in my previous post, I am coming back into the tack way too early, causing me to round my lower back and hunch my shoulders, preventing me from keeping my hips back, which doesn't make it too easy on Ben for him to jump. I don't even look like I took a two point for the entire duration of the event! I used to do this same thing way back when Ben used to buck after every single fence. We had our only rail in his entire eventing career at the event where I was doing this. Therefore, it needs to go away again. So I will be spending a lot of time in two point, perfecting it. I think it is my default "defensive" posture and because he was so up in dressage and was quite strong the whole time, I resorted to this. Except it is extremely counterproductive, so it needs to go!

On the other hand I was pretty happy with how Ben was jumping. Not his best, but not his worst either, these jumps are a little too low for him to care enough. We got pretty close to the first cross country fence because he wiggled a bit and we got there a tad funny, so you can see his knees are just a touch pointing down. And I absolutely love the galloping pictures of him! You can just see the power behind it and how game he is! If you looked at just the galloping pictures you would think he was going Prelim! And that is the reason we almost got speed faults...

We also went to the little combined test that my trainer hosts every spring. Ben was a superstar and put in a fabulous dressage test to sit in second on a 37.4. Woo! His free walk was awesome and we pulled off an 8 on that! Would have been even better if he hadn't bucked into his left canter transition and circle to the left, and didn't break gait to the right. I was talking to my trainer a little bit about this issue I've been having and she said she thought he was reacting to my spurs, which I agree with. I was using them because he was being pokey. He gets cranky about them and kicks out and bucks to show his distaste. But then if I leave him alone, like I did in the right canter after he did that to the left, he breaks gait. So we have a bit of a catch-22. She suggested warming up with the spurs and then not wearing them for the test, which does make sense and is a possibility.

The good news is that we don't have this issue at shows because he is just naturally more forward away from home. He only does this at home, or at GRS because he's comfortable there as we go there every week for lessons. It is just frustrating when I'm trying to school the canter at home and he is either lazy and breaking gait or kicking out and bucking. Just for kicks, I took my spurs off for the jumping portion of the two phase yesterday and he was still good, so I'm giving Ben a no spur trial run for the remainder of this week to see how he does.

The jumping was good, he jumped clean as usual but the jumps were tiny, mayyyyybe 2'3"-2'6". So definitely NOT Novice height and we stayed in second because every single person in the division went clear. We were only two points behind the leader so if he had just been obedient in the canter work, we most likely would have won. But I was just as happy with second, and I was thrilled with every other part of the dressage test. I have videos that I will post but they are not uploaded yet.

So now we just have to get Ben to be able to put in that kind of test away from home, which is the hard part. I normally lunge him at events and give him a short 15-20 minute warm-up. For Mystic this weekend I am trying something new and not lunging him and trying for a 35 minute warm-up. Obviously what I'm doing isn't working, so I'm experimenting until I find something that does work.

The weekend after Mystic on June 3rd we're making the move back up to Novice at the Frazier Farm Horse Trials. I don't particularly want to run him back to back weekends like that, but we need to do something in June, and that is the only feasible thing. I also wasn't supposed to move up again until July at Riga Meadow but Novice at Frazier is easy and straightforward with no ditches or water so there is no real reason not to go Novice.

So, things are hectic and busy at this point in the season! Ben will get today off, Tuesday will be spent schooling a whole lot of canter (!), one day will be a conditioning day, another we'll run through our test. He probably won't jump again until Mystic on Saturday because he jumped a lot this past week between King Oak, and the combined test, and in the middle of the week I jumped him 3'6" (which he was awesome for!) so I'd rather not jump him again before the event. Gotta save those legs!

So eventually the videos will get uploaded and I will post them. As always, thanks for reading!

I'll leave you with this picture of Ben with his ribbon: