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: