Well, I always say better (really, really, extremely) late than never, so here we are a month and a half after Course Brook with no result post in sight! Sorry about that!
Course Brook ended up being a very perfect way to end the season. As previously mentioned, we had decided to run Beginner Novice there, which I think was absolutely the right decision. We had a not-so-great dressage warm-up on slick grass on a slight hill. Ben is still getting used to feeling comfortable doing real dressage work on grass, especially if it is not level. I ended up making the decision not to canter at all in the warm-up, as I figured it would make things worse instead of better.
We then went in to our test which was very average. He was quite lazy, his trot to canter transitions were slightly horrendous, his left canter was more of a 'tranter', and he wasn't as steady in the bridle as he can be. It was still fine, however, it just needed a little more get up and go as a whole. Apparently, they are much more lenient about these things at Beginner Novice because we were in second after dressage with a 35.2!
I have never in my entire eventing career with three different horses, Beginner Novice through Training, ever been in the top three after dressage at a recognized event so I was quite excited to say the least!
Stadium was very soon after dressage, less than an hour actually. I had decided to just do dressage in my jump tack and head right over to stadium which worked out just fine. We had a pretty good warmup and then went in and jumped a lovely double clear round. He was very confident and bold which was exactly what I was looking for.
Cross country warm-up went very well and was great for both Ben's and my confidence. He was extremely wired on the walk to the start box and it turned into a bit of a rodeo a couple times but we managed to keep it together. He was great out of the start box and over the first fence. He got a little close to 2 and 3 but was straight, forward, and did not balk at all. Number 4 was in the middle of a field so he was a bit more looky, but he still put his eye on the fence and went right over.
I would say, on average, that it take Ben about 5 fences to really get into a rhythm on xc. During these five fences anything can happen: he can wiggle, spook, stop, buck, go sideways, etc. but usually after that he is an angel. He jumped the first four fences like a pro but we could just not quite make it over the fifth one without him doing something stupid. He saw the jump judges from a ways back and went sideways and stopped dead. After about 30 seconds of coaxing him on, I got him to trot and then canter ahead towards fence 5. As we got to it, I knew he hadn't locked onto it at all as he was too busy gaping at the jump judges so he did end up having a stop there. It was a tiny hanging log of all things, but it really doesn't matter what kind of jump it is if he doesn't even look at it!
We re-approached, he jumped it fine, and then we were on our merry way finishing the rest of the course clear without so much as a look or a spook or a sideways step. I did a lot of trotting in the woods, as I wanted him to slow his brain down a bit and really think about what he was doing, and I think it worked pretty well. We still ended the day in 7th place which I was pleased with and our Junior placing actually ended up qualifying us for Area Championships at Beginner Novice. This was all very exciting until I learned that they moved Area Championships from Fitch's Corner to GVRDC which is six hours away, so I will not be attending unfortunately.
I thought our experience was a great way to end the season. Ben seems to have gotten some much needed confidence back and we both had fun. We have our homework to do over the winter and then hopefully we will be back at it very successfully in the spring.
Here is the on-the-ground video of all three phases:
And here is the helmet cam of cross country. I went to cut out the spooking as it was just unnecessary, boring footage and I accidentally ended up cutting out the stop by mistake which is unfortunate as I like to go back and watch those things as learning tools. But the rest is all there so enjoy:
Finally, I have some exciting news to share which I will write about soon but this post is already far too long. As always, thank you for reading and for putting up with my severe procrastination in writing my posts sometimes!