Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lyme Horse Trials Results

The Lyme Horse Trials was a resounding success!

I took Ben in the Novice and my trainer's horse, Mickey, in the Beginner Novice. Both horses were excellent and it was a really fun day, although quite exhausting considering all I did from 8am to 1pm was switch back and forth between the two horses!

Ben's dressage was the first phase of the day at 8:30am. He was a little bit wild for dressage and stadium so his test was definitely not anywhere near the quality of work that he has been putting in lately but he had some really nice moments in the test as well. He scored a 30.4 to sit in 7th after dressage although I do think they were scoring generously and I would have put his score for that test more in the 35-36 range. 

He spent his first trot circle desperately trying to scratch his nose/leg/get a fly so he added in some unnecessary flair with that right front leg in the beginning of our test! Here it is (the video is of all three phases but dressage runs from 0:00 to 4:37):

Next up was Mickey's dressage at 9:00am. Mickey has a very severe distaste for dressage and with him it is all about surviving. You kind of just have to grit your teeth and get though it, hopefully without getting run away with and making all the transitions happen where they're supposed to. It actually went better than I expected it to and he scored a 42. This put us in 17th out of 19, but I had expected to be in last after dressage so I was pretty happy with it all things considered!

Ben's stadium was up at about 10:00, so we headed up to warmup at about 9:45. The warmup area was small and full of a lot of horses which made Ben a tad crazy but he was jumping well.

He went in the ring and put in a really nice round, aside from the first fence which he totally just went through the top rail of because he was too busy bucking from excitement! 

Here's our round (again, all three phases, but stadium starts at 4:42 and goes to 6:02):

I went back to the trailer, swapped horses, and was back at it with Mickey for his turn. The event was nice enough to let me jump out of order and jump stadium first in the division at 10:45 so I had time to get to xc on time with Ben at 11:15. That being said, the division ended up starting very late and we spent a lot of time hanging around the in-gate!

When it was finally our turn we went in and Mickey put in a really nice clean round (runs from 0:00 to 1:50):

It was finally onto the best part, cross country! I got back to the trailer at about 10:55 due to the lateness of the stadium start and I had to be at the start box on Ben at 11:15. He still needed to be tacked and on top of that its a mile hack to xc at this event, which takes about 10-15 minutes. I threw Ben's tack on and got my butt down to xc as soon as I could! 

Ben was an absolute star on xc and he put in probably one of the best cross country rounds I have EVER had on him. He easily jumped double clear (a little too easily, we had to circle at the end to avoid speed faults!), proving that our great ride last weekend was not a fluke and I actually do have my horse back. I am so excited to see what the rest of this season and especially next season brings!

Here's the helmet cam:

And here's the on-the-ground video:

The last phase of the day was Mickey's cross country. This was more or less his first real eventing experience and I was super proud of him, he handled everything like a pro. This horse loves to jump and will basically jump anything you put in front of him. We did have one little issue at fence 4, just a basic log, because I didn't have enough left leg on and I think he just wasn't entirely sure he was supposed to be jumping it. Absolutely my fault. That was our only issue in an otherwise great round though!

We did lots of walking and trotting to avoid speed faults because if you let that horse go he doesn't come back! I made sure I kept him nice and steady the whole way. Here's the helmet cam:

And here's the on-the-ground video:

At the end of the day Ben ended up in 5th and Mickey ended up I believe 12th out of his big division even with the stop. I was super proud of both boys, they were both great. I had a ton of fun riding two horses and I think it was really great for my riding to have to continually switch back and forth between two very different horses. I slept pretty good that night, however!

There's not too much going on for another month or so on the eventing front, sadly, as now that Ben is back all I want to do is run him cross country! I think September 21st we'll head somewhere, I haven't decided where yet though, as there's a lot to choose from that weekend! I think I'll also try to get him to Kent and Course Brook in October to round out the season. If he keeps up the good work I think he'll have an early Training moveup next spring but as always we just take it one day at a time!

As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Frazier Farm Horse Trials Results

I have my event horse back and he is better than ever!

This past Sunday, August 10th, we ventured off to the Frazier Farm Horse Trials for our first event back since our disastrous spring and our mini eventing hiatus. I didn't know what to expect. We just went Beginner Novice to keep things small and simple.

His dressage was fantastic, he has really been stepping it up lately. Obviously there is always room for improvement and the biggest thing we need to work on is just getting him to be less fussy in the bridle. We scored a 28 for 3rd place out of 12 after dressage, proving that our 26 at our last show wasn't a fluke! We even received a 9 on our first centerline! I can get used to this. Its such an awesome feeling knowing that the hard work I put into this horse is finally paying off. And of course my awesome dressage trainer has helped us leaps and bounds and has helped us to drop our scores by ten points in about six months.


Cross country was next and the course was absolutely perfect for what I needed it to do: give us a test to see if Ben was back to his old self on cross country or not. It was very simple and straightforward which was exactly what we needed.

He was absolutely incredible. He was focused the entire time, he pulled me to the fences, and it was obvious he was having a blast. He had one blip at the "water crossing" which is essentially just a very murky puddle with some fish swimming in it. He'll do any water complex I put in front of him but he's always had a strong dislike for this particular puddle. We did pick up 20 penalties for that but I couldn't have cared less. He jumped all the jumps perfectly, even after pausing at the water and breaking his focus. 

The course speed was only 300mpm so I spent the majority of the course making various sounds trying to get him to slow down to avoid speed faults. He ended up being the fastest time in the division by more than a minute, only 7 seconds away from speed fault time, but he was never out of control and he was jumping well from the pace he had so I let him go as he wanted to as much as I could. 

Here is our helmet cam, check out those happy ears and him taking me to the fences, he hasn't been like that in a looooong time!

XC Video:

After cross country we had actually only dropped two places to 5th out of 12. There were a lot of problems at the water puddle, not to mention that when you score in the 20s, your score is still better after a xc stop than some people's dressage scores! I am so not used to this 'getting good dressage scores' thing!

Stadium was last and it went fine, Ben doesn't really give much effort to jumping stadium fences that are under three feet and these fences were quite small, so he was being lazy and did end up having one silly rail, only one end came out of the cup and it actually just fell onto the rail below it and didn't even hit the ground. A rail is still a rail, though, so we picked up 4 more penalty points and ended the day in 6th. 


So we still finished in the top half of the division despite a couple blips here and there and I was absolutely thrilled with him. He felt like a completely different horse out on xc than he's been the past couple of years. He feels like the horse that I originally bought, the one that constantly ran double clear and pulled me to every fence. I almost burst out crying into happy tears at the finish line because I was so incredibly thrilled to have my event horse back!

I do believe this night and day change in his behavior at events is due to the addition of a magnesium supplement to his diet. It was suggested to me by multiple knowledgeable people, and while I was quite skeptical and didn't really buy it at first, magnesium is safe because it is naturally occurring in their systems and nearly impossible to overdose, it is perfectly legal for eventing, and its fairly cheap so I decided to give it a shot. It couldn't hurt. 

I started him on it about a month ago and immediately noticed a difference in his focus at home. He was never bad at home, just easily distracted. Once on the magnesium, even if he lost his focus a bit, I'd just half halt or tell him "hey" and he'd go right back to work. I then took him to the combined test last month where he was basically perfect. I was still skeptical that the magnesium was the reason for this behavior and figured the true test would be what he did on cross country. Lo and behold, he was an angel on cross country this weekend. I suppose it could be a coincidence, but I really think the odds of it being a coincidence are slim.

Regardless, what we're doing right now is obviously working, so I'm going to keep on keeping on! I am so excited about how great he was this past weekend and I am so looking forward to the rest of the season now. 

We're still taking it quiet and easy until I'm absolutely positive he is back to his old self, so we'll probably just stick to low key schooling horse trials for the rest of the year. This Sunday he's going Novice at the Lyme Horse Trials. I'm also riding my trainer's horse at Beginner Novice at the Lyme Horse Trials which should be fun. I'm hoping my ride times are manageable!

After Ben's performance this weekend I can't wait to see how he is on Sunday. If we can pull off another great dressage test and he's as good about jumping as he was this past weekend, I think we'll have a great outing!

As always, thanks for reading, I'll be back with a report from the Lyme Horse Trials soon!