Saturday, September 15, 2012


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.
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:
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.