Monday, June 3, 2013

Least Prepared

Ok, so I'm going to go backwards and talk about Sunday first, then I'll do another post about Saturday.

The horse trial was fun! I tried to scratch but there was no refund, even with a vet note... which kind of ticked me off because I don't think there's any reason to not give at least a partial refund. Anywho, I decided to wait and see if Jetta was going to be feeling better in time to ride. Friday, the day after the vet came, she looked perfectly fine on the lunge so I didn't give her any more bute and I rode her on Saturday. She felt fantastic on Saturday and I think a week off really did her body well! Not so her training though...

Then Sunday morning I lunged her and she was still sound! So after cleaning stalls it was off to the show, with the idea that we'd at least try to do all phases, but if she felt off we'd just scratch. While putting everything in the trailer, I realized I forgot my breeches at the house. I had no breeches, no belt, no boot socks... Luckily I called up one of my roomies and I swung through town on the way, she was able to run my stuff out to me and I made it through the narrow, two way, car-lined street without taking out anyone's side view mirror :)

Then I got to the show and realized I didn't have any hay for Jetta. Fail. Luckily there was some somewhat fresh hay left over from my last trailer trip so that at least lasted Jetta for before and after dressage.

Warming up, Jetta still felt really good. She was moving nicely, being soft and swingy in her back and just felt good. She however, was thinking "I am a freight train! I must pull my rider along like I am built down hill!" No amount of half halting or leg yielding could get her off her forehand so I just decided that come what may, we'd just go for it. My main goal was to get my dang shoulders back.

I'd say we achieved that. No picture or video takers so you'll have to take my word for it, but I really did try and we didn't get any comments about it on our test. The test felt fairly good, there were no big problems and I was happy with Jetta's efforts. We did have some major pulling going on, especially across the diagonal HXF because it was slightly downhill, but we mostly kept it together.

I was quite pleased with our score. We got lots of 8's and 7's. One 9 for our free walk! And two 6's for our circles because I apparently did them too small. All 7's for collective marks except one 8 for rider! We got all pleasant comments for the most part. The only negative ones were that Jetta's mouth was open during three different movements - our halt at the end, one of the trot diagonals downhill, and a canter trot transition. All because Jetta was being a freight train, I don't know where all our hard work on self carriage went... Our comment at the end was: "Good job! Just try a thicker bit or flash, try to keep mouth closed, improved balance so less weight on hands".

I've ridden with the judge before in a clinic a year and a half ago maybe? While I really like her as a judge and will ride under her in a show any day, she's not my favorite clinician. She basically told me I was ruining my horse and she HATES Myler bits (what I ride in). Sorry, but I've tried thicker bits and Jetta does not go well in them, in fact she's more mouthy and she runs through my hands. And I don't like the idea of putting a flash on her to force her mouth closed because it makes her more tense and she fights it, plus I think of it as a band-aid for other issues we're having, not a fix. Case in point, our last dressage show Jetta was relaxed and I rode her well and we had no mouthiness issues, while at a prior dressage show she was really tense and was a bit mouthy. So we just need to work on relaxation and self carriage.


Anyways, we scored a 25.7 (which in regular dressage would be a 74.3%!!!). Super pleased with that, especially since it put us in first place in our division. We had the fifth highest score overall of all levels - there were several 23's and a 25 so I was as happy as a clam about that. Though I must say (I'm not trying to be egotistical here) that we should have gotten the score we did because Beginner Novice tests basically equate to Intro C in regular dressage, so as a horse showing first level, I would hope that Jetta could pull off a 70%+ in it.

We had a little while so I ate lunch - hey! I actually brought food and water for myself! This was actually an accomplishment. Usually I just starve and get really dehydrated because apparently I'm not that bright... Next time though I need to remember a cooler and bring more than one water bottle.

Looking super cute while I ate lunch

Stadium was next. Jetta was not quite on her best behavior - for some reason she was spooking at PEOPLE on the way up to the warm up. Just regular people... Two little kids were running full tilt down the driveway (typically I don't care, but whatever happened to the common sense etiquette of no running around horses? The kids at this show were just a little out of control IMO). Jetta majorly spooked at the running kids, snorting and trying to run backwards. Once we made it past them, there were some teens sitting at a picnic table and one of them threw an empty water bottle on the ground, which Jetta spooked at, then one of them sneezed and she about jumped out of her skin. Geez mare, what got into you??

Warm up was ok, but Jetta was jumping the oxer flat and leaving long which was a little annoying, especially since she typically jumps oxers better than plain verticals. This time it was the other way around, she was jumping the vertical nicely. Minimal warm up just to make sure I didn't tire her out, then it was onto the show arena.

Sorry it's sideways, but I think this is what our course was.

The course was a little bit crazy (for me) but I managed to remember it, barely. We had one refusal at fence 6, a brush jump. I knew she was going to look at it, so I had my leg on, but somehow I managed to come in crooked so she wasn't set up perfectly for it and refused. It was a bummer, but oh well. At least it's timed, not judged on beauty because it was kind of an ugly round. We need to work on that...

Even with the four faults for refusing and 4 faults for time penalities, we managed to remain in first after stadium.

Cross country was last and me, being ever the most prepared person, never got to walk the course... Yeah. So I studied the course map as much as possible and watched where people started off when they left the start box and just planned on winging it.

My only prep for xc

It started out really rough (ok, most of it was rough). Part of the problem was that I forgot my whip at the trailer and didn't have time to run back and grab it which was a huge bummer because I needed it! The plan had been to tap her with it a couple strides before the fence, in addition to using my leg = magical xc jumping formula!

Then I also forgot my medical armband and was slightly worried about that. Especially because after the first fence, a small log, Jetta BOLTED and my thoughts were "I'm gonna crash and they're not going to know to call my parents because I don't have my armband!". It was really unusual for Jetta so I don't know what the problem was. Then, the second fence, also a log, has light blue/gray gravel about ten feet in front of the jump and Jetta just would not walk on it. It took us a few seconds and a pony club kick to get her up to the jump which she took at the babiest jog. At least the fences were small... Then the third fence was a blue-roofed barn which we had schooled with no problems when we went schooling, but Jetta thought it was going to eat her and refused. Take two, we made it over and galloped down the trails. Found jump number four, another log and made it over with no issues then galloped back up the trail. This was the BEST PART EVER. I just let Jetta go and she was perfect. I didn't make her gallop full out (I never have) but she just went at her pace, a perfect, ground eating gallop.

We popped out of the forest back into the main field. Jetta hesitated strongly at the next log fence but boldly jumped the ditch (from a canter!) that was a few strides after. Thank goodness... we haven't schooled ditches in forever! Then we crossed over into the other field, walked into the water (bad pony, we were cantering through it not too long ago!) and then looped around to come over a coop, then promptly got lost. I had to ask for directions.... Luckily I figured out where fence 9 and 10 were. Jetta walked off the little bank which was stupid because she typically loves banks.

Made it to 11, then 12 was the dreaded trakehner. I have never been able to get Jetta over this trakehner... last time I tried is when she reared and I bailed off of her. First approach was a refusal. No whip so I smacked her on the shoulder with the tail of my reins (I have no idea if that is illegal, but I was desperate. I figured if we didn't make it over this fence we'd be eliminated anyways so what the heck). Second approach - cleared it!! I was so proud of her. 13 was a combo which Jetta did without a problem. I was super happy because typically she tries to run out on the second fence but she didn't give any indication of trying this time. 14 was towards "home" so I had to circle Jetta back to a trot to jump it, then 15, our last fence was the "hazelnut table" and Jetta refused. Actually I made her refuse because she tried to go IN BETWEEN the two fences next to each other that had like 4 inches between them and almost poked her eye out with the flag. Dork. Second approach, cleared it.

I thought that maybe, just maybe we would have managed to finish with a number not a letter with three refusals, but I guess one of our "walk" fences got judged as a refusal which was pretty disappointing, but despite that I smiled all the way back to the trailer. Just that one moment when we were galloping between fences was just SO MUCH FUN, I couldn't get over it. Even with no ribbon I had a blast and oddly feel more confident about the recognized horse trial. I mean, if I made it around the course with no major "OH $*%&" moments and I didn't feel like I was going to die, so if I can remember my whip and actually walk the course, I think we'll be in great shape!

And I love eventer people too. I got asked three times by random strangers on the way back to the trailer if I had a good ride. Everyone's just so nice. You just don't get that at H/J shows and while dressage people are typically polite, they're never that friendly in general.

Overall, we were kind of a train wreck in stadium and cross country, also just in general because I forgot a bazillion things (I should have won a "least prepared" award). The goal is to clean up our act before the recognized, make our stadium look pretty and get Jetta jumping those xc jumps more confidently. I just really, really want to end with a number not a letter. I'm really happy we were able to go because it gave us a test run for the real deal coming up. And best of all, Jetta seemed perfectly sound even after cross country!


  1. A trakehner at BN, WHAT? That is absolutely not a fair question for the level. (I would actually argue it's not even a legal question.)

    Congrats on that fancy dressage score and on having a good time!

  2. Well, they called it a "ditch with log" which in my mind basically equates to a trakehner, but at least we know we can make it over now!

  3. Yeah, the guidelines for BN specify "a shallow natural ditch." I suppose one could argue that a downed tree may "naturally" fall across a ditch now and again, but it's certainly not spirit-of-the-law.

    Glad you guys conquered it even so!

  4. Congrads on the fantastic dressage test! And glad you made it around XC and that you had so much fun. I bet with a little more preparation next time, you'll nail it!

  5. yay dressage score!!! I am not a DQ but I do know lower is better hahaha!

    1. Thanks! Well, lower is better at least in eventing dressage ;)

  6. Sounds like with the time off and the forgotten things it was still a great show!