Monday, October 19, 2015

Course Brook Horse Trials Results 2015

Last weekend, Donovan and I did our first Training level event as a pair! He's done one Training down in Florida, and I've done a handful with Ben but never actually finished one, but this was our first one together. 

He warmed up absolutely beautifully for dressage, he was so supple and relaxed, his transitions were excellent, and he just felt fantastic. I thought there was one less rider in front of me in the order than there was, so unfortunately we ended up sitting for a few minutes before our test which did not do his little pony brain any good. We lost all semblance of relaxation which led to lots of unwanted cantering in our test... There were some decent moments here and there and he did get better as the test went on (The right canter was gorgeous!), but as a whole it was a pretty yucky test and scored a 45.0. But hey, at least there was no pressure for the jumping phases!

Stadium was a sizable course. He warmed up really well, much calmer than he was at Kent which was nice because I could actually adjust his stride. I watched rider after rider come around the turn to the oxer at 4, get to a half stride, forget to put leg on, and then stop/crash through/pull the rail on the fence. I reminded myself I needed leg around that turn but I'm sure you can imagine what I didn't do... :-) We got there on a half stride, I had no leg to help him out, and we took the rail down in a rather dramatic fashion. 

He's great, however, and doesn't care about things like that. He went on down the line to jump the two stride well, did the five stride line of verticals super nicely, jumped the following vertical right out of stride, and then I buried him to the in oxer of the one stride which he helped me out of but did take the front rail of the oxer down. Turn to the final fence, I thought I saw a stride but it was just a hair too long and he just tapped the back rail with his hind feet to bring our round to a total of 12 jump faults. While the score was the worst of the three stadium rounds we've ridden thus far, it rode a lot better than the one at Kent and I felt like he was listening better. I've only had him for less than two months, so I'm still trying to figure out the best way to ride him over fences where I'm helping him instead of hindering him.

Cross country was shortly after, we jumped one quick warmup fence and we were out of the box. He was really wonderful and dead honest to nearly everything. Fence 4 was a skinny wedge that he had no problems with and Fence 6 was a skinny house off a short left turn that he was straight as an arrow too. He got a little wiggly to fence 7B which was a set of logs on a downhill slope set three strides after a bank up but I honestly think he was just a little confused about the question. He was perfect to the corner and bold about jumping into the water. A little too bold though, and our turning skills went right out the window! The water was 9A and B, a log into the water and a sharp right turn in the water to a bank out. We jumped into the water but as soon as I tried to turn right it was like pulling against a brick wall. We regrouped and got it done, but he left long and dragged his hind end on the bank a bit which left us both a little discombobulated and him a little unfocused as we turned to fence 10, a stone wall. 

I really think he just didn't know where I was pointing him up to that point, because as soon as we got in front of it he definitely thought about jumping it which I didn't allow. We got it back together though and continued on. We were a little messy through the coffin right after, mostly because he was really jumping and jumped me out of the tack at the jump after the ditch but after that everything was smooth again.

He jumped the log to bank combo beautifully, hit the two giant tables right out of stride, and finished really nicely. Even though the scoreboard may not reflect it, we had a great outing, I am so in love with this pony, and we now have our homework to work on for this winter: relaxation in the flatwork, adjustability in the stride, and rideability, particularly to the right!

We've got one more show this weekend, its unrated so the highest level offered is Novice so we'll have another Novice run, Ben is also going to go and just do the Beginner Novice two phase for fun and to get him off the property, and I'm also riding one of our client's ponies, he's young and has only been under saddle for three months. He'll be doing what is called the "Grasshopper" division. I'll certainly be busy riding three horses but I think it will be a fun day and a good way to end the season. 


Helmet Cam:

Stadium and XC:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kent School Horse Trials Results

This past Sunday Donovan and I ventured off to the Kent School Horse Trials. It was a very cold morning, being a whopping 42*F when we arrived. 

Our dressage warmup was limited as I procrastinated a little getting to the warm up area because I was under the impression that I had more time than I did and Donovan doesn't need much in the way of dressage warmup. I think if I had about five more minutes he would've been a little more relaxed for our test.

That being said, the test was decent, we had one little blip coming back from the free walk and he got a little uppity about the trot transition after it. Other than that, he really just needed to be more relaxed over his topline and go forward more in the trot. The canter work was much improved from our last event so I'm very pleased with that. 

We're still figuring each other out, I've only had him a little over a month, and he's very sensitive to the leg, so there's a fine line between pushing him forward and being way too forward, so I think once we figure that part out he'll actually be quite nice in the dressage ring.

All in all we scored a 39.1 to put us in 7th place after dressage,

Stadium was a little messy, I'm used to stadium being my best phase so there's a little bit of a learning curve riding a horse whose worst phase is stadium. The course design was honestly a little strange in a small, muddy ring so there were a lot of tight turns and short approaches; not exactly the best possible scenario for a forward going horse who likes to attack the fences. 

Our biggest problem was that he jumps better from a slightly longer spot, but I was hesitant to let him take the long spot when we had a sharp turn afterwards because I have yet to master bringing him back quickly. When I ask him for the closer spot, he ends up lengthening the stride before takeoff which makes him jump past his arc. We ended up pulling two rails, both the front rails of oxers, because we took off too close and he couldn't clear his hind legs from the front rails. 

At least after watching the video I can see what the issue was and we can work on our homework. He just needs to be slightly more backed off from the fences. I also need to work on getting reorganized after the fences faster (for an example, see the interesting maneuver we made between fences 5 and 6 on stadium in the video below ;-) )

Cross country was great, and again he was easily double clear. He is so game to jump anything out there, it's an incredible feeling. We had a couple disagreements about distances out there as well where I asked for a shorter spot and he responded by jumping poorly, but I think a little practice on adjustability will go a long way in helping us with that issue.

Helmet Cam:

Dressage, stadium, xc:

We ultimately ended the day in 7th, and Donovan earned himself a pretty purple ribbon:

Next up for us is the last event of the season, Course Brook Horse Trials, on Saturday!