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:

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:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

King Oak Horse Trials Results

In a day of some very extreme ups and downs, I was pretty happy with the outcome.

Ben walked off the trailer very calmly and grazed for a bit. We checked in and walked our stadium course which was in a 20x60 meter ring so it was pretty tight.

He was calm while I tacked and lunged and got on. And then he saw horses running cross country through the woods on the walk to dressage and it was all over.

It didn't help that I thought it was earlier than it was and I gave myself absolutely no time to calm him down so we went into the ring after about five minutes of running around and leaping. Our left canter circle consisted of mostly bucking and our right trot circle was pretty much all canter. The judge was very kind to us and gave us a 49 which I thought was very generous. We were in last place, but I expected that.

You know its bad when the judge asks if he's usually like this and if I felt safe jumping him. And you know its really bad when she says "I'm going to let you jump stadium but I'm going to ask them to keep an eye on you." Gee, thanks. I was ready to scratch right then and there because I was so upset that they thought my horse was dangerous.

I walked cross country and it looked too fun to pass up on, so I decided to give stadium warm up a try. He was great there so onto stadium we went. He was strong, but good, and we jumped double clean. The first line was a little sketchy because he wiggled down it and then peeked hard at the Crayola jump, which was the jump he stopped at the last time we competed at King Oak. But after that, he was pretty much perfect aside from a tight spot at 4 and was jumping quite exuberantly. Did I mention he was very strong?

Here is our stadium video:

Also, because he was being strong, I was coming back into the tack WAY too early. Luckily he is athletic enough to not let that bother him much, but its something I need to work on obviously.

Then onto cross country we went! I wish I had brought my camera out to take pictures of the course but at that point I wasn't even sure if I was going to scratch or not so I wasn't very enthusiastic about the course walking. I also am incredibly annoyed with my helmet cam because I cannot find anything that I can stick it to my helmet with that will stay on. I wish I had it yesterday so badly! So I'm going to do some digging so I can at least have it at Mystic in two weeks.

So the course started off in the front field with two very straightforward fences, some logs and a bench. We rode forward and positively to those and he jumped them great. Except for the fact that I had no brakes. Zero.

Then we galloped up the big steep hill and around the Novice log at the top that Ben was absolutely positive we were supposed to be jumping. I could hear the jump judges of my next fence laughing at me as I said "Not that one, not that one, NOT that one!" So we somehow dodged around that one and wiggled our way to our actual third fence, a little log. Around the bend in the woods to a palisade, and then some downhill left turns to a bank down, bending six strides to a little triple bar type fence. That was a super fun combination and Ben jumped it fabulously!

Then we galloped out into the field to the water which ended up not even being flagged, it was just a mandatory crossing, and jump number seven was a few strides out of the water. After a brief argument where Ben wanted to keep galloping full out and I wanted him to trot so he could actually see the upcoming water, we trotted up to it, he walked right in, trotted right out and over number seven. And I was worried about the water... He got lots of "good boy"s for that! The we continued on around the field to a little hay feeder fence, and a hogsback type fence before turning to another bench. Then we headed on to 11 a and b which was supposed to be three strides... yeah we got two. Did I mention we had no brakes?

Then came the fake ditch which is really just two fat rails with some mulch in between but given our past experiences with ditches, I couldn't help but be slightly concerned. So we turned on the line, I sat back and kicked and threw in a growl at him just in case. Not that he would've needed it because he just skipped over it like "Oh, where'd that come from?". For the remainder of the course I had a ridiculous smile on my face because I knew we wouldn't have a problem with anything else.

We then jumped the last jump in the field which was actually quite skinny with two big bushes on either side which we got close too but jumped fine. Then we turned onto the lane where Ben randomly leapt sideways at the sight of someone standing there who was walking the course. But we both recovered nicely and continued on to the second to last fence, a cute little log that I think we took at about 500 mpm...

We get to the end of the lane and back into the first field where the last fence is and I look at my watch. Optimum time was 5:40 and speed fault time was 4:23. We were at 3:50. Oops. So we trotted very, very slowly to the last fence, and then picked up our canter gallop again and popped over the last fence and through the finish!

What an awesome feeling to finish an event again! And Ben made up for his terrible dressage test by jumping like a superstar. Although I need to re-evaluate the whole not being able to stop thing... So in the end we moved up seven places from 18th to 11th! What a great birthday present!

Here is the cross country video which picks up from the water and goes through to the fake ditch:

So we are definitely looking forward to Mystic in two weeks and also to next week where my trainer is hosting a little combined test which will be good for us to go and actually put in a nice dressage test where there is nobody running cross country nearby!

And a couple of pictures:

Our very brief warmup before dressage

And both of us looking pleased after cross country!

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Live Scoring for this Weekend

Here is the link for the live scores for King Oak this weekend:

Also, quick correction, my cross country time is 2:24 not 2:04.

So dressage: 11:05 stadium: 1:16 cross country: 2:24

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Change Comes Quickly!

Geez, I go a couple of weeks without posting and come back to find an entirely different Blogspot. Forgive me if this post comes out oddly, I have absolutely no clue how to work this new format yet.

So a few things:

King Oak, the first event of the season, is only four days away which is super exciting. I just found out today that they will have live scoring which is awesome. I don't have the link yet, but when I do I will post it and you all can follow along! For future reference, we are riding in BNR-A on Saturday. My name is Jamie Carleton and Ben's name is Benefit of the Doubt. My dressage time is 11:05, stadium is 1:16, and cross country is 2:04. 

Ben has become a major tick magnet! I find all sorts of gross creepy crawly ticks on him all. the. time. It's so gross! They've been on his face, in his mane, on his sheath. Poor thing! I've been dousing him in bug spray which seems to be helping and doing extremely thorough checks every day while I'm grooming him.

Just to make me sweat, on Friday right as I was doing my last canter before getting off, Ben decided it'd be good to come up lame a week before the first event of the season. Wonderful. Luckily, the next day he was fine and has remained fine since. Knock on wood!

Yesterday we went to my trainer's place and worked on some cross country stuff around the ring. Ben was an absolute star and was completely game for everything I put in front of him which was a great feeling to have for this weekend! I have plenty of videos that I will upload to YouTube and link here.

And, finally, I was planning on wearing my Point Two vest for cross country on Saturday, but after reading a thread on the COTH Forums about someone purchasing a Hit Air air vest and not being able to get it to deploy, I thought it'd be best to try it out before attaching myself to my saddle on Saturday. So try it out I did! I figured if I was going to do it, I might as well do it in front of my horse to see what his reaction would be. He was not too concerned about the initial pop but was very concerned about the sound of the air releasing! After I went into his stall for a few minutes and gave him cookies, he was pretty much okay with it which was good. 

So the plan for the rest of the week is dressage if its not raining tomorrow, which it is supposed to do, dressage lesson on Thursday where we will run through our test, and some light flat on Friday just so he gets some work in before the bathing, braiding, tack cleaning, packing extravaganza begins!

I'll be around here the rest of the week with links and videos as promised. As always, thanks for reading!