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!
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!