Coconino Horse Trials – Part III

Coconino Summer I H.T. (Week 1) Stadium

Once my dressage was over, it was time for my husband to do his Stadium round. The whole time he was warming up, I was watching the lightning in the background and hoping we could get through his round before the storm got to us. Because we were both riding and there was a threat of rain, we didn’t bring the good camera with us and thus I only have cell phone shots. The stadium course for the first weekend was like a hunter course: lots of diagonal line to outside line to diagonal line.

They were fine over #1 and #2.Then a little awkward at #3, but clear.

I didn’t remember the course as well as I thought and after #3, I got the phone camera lined up with jump #5, then saw the number and was like wait, where’s #4? I look at my husband coming around the corner and I’m like, that’s an awful line for going around that jump. That’s because he wasn’t going around it, he was jumping it. It was… very ugly. Eugene came to a near stop, then sort of stair climbed over it with every leg in a different place. Because I was confused, I didn’t get any pictures, which is a real shame because that jump was special. The best part was, they were clear.

They regained momentum, cleared #5 like normal and then aced the 2 stride at #6 despite my husband looking very intently at the ground.

Not sure what’s down there

Then they were around the turn to #7 and down the line to #8 and double clear!

This was their first time going clear in stadium at the Novice level. We were both super happy with Eugene. They really have come a long way.

We got back to the stalls before the skies opened up, but then I had a few hours before my stadium to sit around and get more and more anxious. The size of the jumps didn’t concern me, it was the inevitable elimination and potential fall from Levi spinning out from underneath me that I was worried about. I was so convinced that I wouldn’t make it around stadium without getting eliminated that I hadn’t even walked my XC course the night before when my husband walked his. I just walked with him.

Levi warmed up just fine because the warm up was in the other arena. We really weren’t having jumping issues, just arena issues. They were running behind so I had way too much time on my hands and spent a lot of it just walking around thinking too much and hyperventilating.

My husband brought Eugene over to the warm up arena and went to the other end of the stadium arena when it was my turn to go. Since my second elimination in the practice rounds the day before hadn’t even involved jumps – just a complete inability to leave the gate area due to sheer panic – we thought having Eugene at the opposite end of the arena might help Levi want to go that way. I dunno; we were desperate.

We entered the arena and Levi immediately went into nope mode. I beat him. I knew I could only hit him 3 times before getting a yellow card, so I hit him hard those three times. I managed to get him to leave the corner, but he was still too upset and refused the first jump.


We circled around, but he was still in nope mode and it took a lot of wiggling and more beating to even get him to approach the first jump. We wasted a staggering amount of time. But he did go over it.

no touchy

We went around the arena and turned towards #2. I pushed him hard with leg on and a few taps with the crop, but he still slammed to a stop.

I’m not excusing his behavior, but he was legitimately terrified. I could feel him shaking with fear. At the stop at #2, instead of beating him, I just took a moment, breathed, told him it was okay, and calmly walked him a few steps, then picked up trot and canter and re-approached. I started talking to him. Just quietly telling him random nonsense like he was a good boy and “it’s okay,” and “you’re okay.” We got over #2. It wasn’t pretty, but we got over.

I don’t know what this position is, but it was over

We landed and I patted his neck and yelled “good boy.” Any pretensions towards decorum were gone. I didn’t care if people thought I was a nutcase. I just wanted him to feel confident. He wiggled a bit down the line to #3, but we made it over.

The corner after #3 that we had to go into before turning towards #4 was the scariest corner with the cattle chutes. Levi slowed to a crawl and there was no amount of leg that would get him to canter, but he didn’t spin or bolt. I continued talking to him and we managed to trot up to and over #4.


He skidded a bit going into #5, but I continued talking to him and yelling good boy at every jump.

Jump #6 was along the far side from the cattle chutes, but there were a bunch of people hanging out there and golf carts and other equipment. He really didn’t want to go anywhere near the rail and I was like, too bad; you shouldn’t have wasted your refusals on those other jumps. He squirreled hard, but he did go over it.

You can see the concerned audience watching us like WTF is wrong with that girl and that horse. 

Jump #7 was right in the middle and a straight line down to Eugene. He was actually kinda of on a roll by now and jumped this one without wiggling or skidding to a near stop before hand.

Then it was down the line to #8 and we were over it and done.

he even looks kinda good here

We ended up getting 73 time penalties. Honestly, I was lucky not to get eliminated for going over the max time. We somehow got 12 jump penalties though I am sure I didn’t knock anything down and only had the two refusals. I didn’t bother contesting it. I didn’t care. I was just happy not to get eliminated. I did move from 6th to 16th, but 2 people were eliminated in stadium (Levi was not alone in thinking that arena was scary) and I was aiming for a number and not a letter… even if that number was very large.

You can see me yelling “good boy!” He’s like, I know.

17 thoughts on “Coconino Horse Trials – Part III

  1. ND

    Wow! The trials and tribulations of Levi! Im not quite sure what to think about all this. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem like either of you enjoy eventing as much as working equitation or cattle penning. Every show description feels like such a chore, filled with anxiety, refusals, and unsafe behaviour. On the other hand, bravo for getting the job done and focusing on any number vs a letter. I wonder if there might be another horsey activity in your new home in New England that both you and your husband (and your horses and Nilla) could embrace equally.

    PS I miss Nilla.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I miss Nilla too. Levi is definitely going through some things right now, but I’ll give you a spoiler and tell you how he does much better next weekend. He’s also going to a trainer once we move.

  2. Brianna

    That’s not a bad round, considering he noped right out of there before, lol. Seems like he really responded to you praising him and telling him out loud he wasn’t going to die! Do you think any of his attitude is confusion about whether he’s doing the right thing or just plain lack of confidence when he’s by himself?

    1. Olivia Post author

      He was literally just terrified of that arena. He was totally fine in the warm up and we could have done an entire round in there.

  3. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    Well, that sounds less than…fun. I mean, it’s an improvement over the day before, right? But good for you and poor Levi. I’m not sure what to make of any of this as I hate when horses are terrified? Bad behavior is one thing, terror is another?

    1. Olivia Post author

      He was terrified and I felt bad about that, but it’s not like I was asking him to do something actually scary. It’d be nice if he could just be like Eugene who goes that’s scary, but you want me to do it? Well, okay. Less tantrums would be nice.

  4. martidoll123

    holy cow i just caught up on your blog (Loved the house hunter blog posts) and feel emotionally exhausted for you! That sucks about how Levi did not like that arena. UGH.

    I hope you find a place to move to! If you end up near Portland I have a good friend that lives there and am planning to go back to see her sometime. Would love to meet you guys too (Even if you end up in VT or NH!)..I loved NH but did not think the horsey scene was that great.

    Oh Levi…YAY Eugene 🙂

  5. Stacie Seidman

    I’m super proud of you! You put your anxiety aside and helped your horse around that ring that he was clearly terrified of (for whatever reason). And by the last line, you both were going great! Love the photo over the last fence. Congrats on a great learning/training day.
    Eugene is looking great too! Even figuring out how to be careful when things get a little iffy.
    Good day for you both!

  6. Suzy

    Interesting how Levi freaking out seemed to make you more bold, or at least forget your own anxiety somewhat! I’m proud of you for getting around in those circumstances.

  7. Kate

    The first refusal in stadium is 4 penalty points, and the second is 8 regardless of whether at the same fence or not. That’s why 12points for the 2refusals. Congrats on finishing!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I didn’t know that, but I didn’t have a second refusal at any of the jumps. I had one refusal at #1 and one at #2. If they gave me 2 refusals for one of the jumps I would have had 16 total.

      1. Kate

        The first refusal on the whole course is 4. The second cumulative refusal (anywhere on course regardless of whether the same fence or a different fence) is charged an additional 8. Your first refusal at fence 1 was 4penalties. Your second cumulative refusal on course at fence 2 was an additional 8 penalties. If you had 2 refusals at the same jump it would still have been 12 total. A third cumulative refusal anywhere on course would have been elimination. The stadium scoring is different from xc scoring that way. Xc 1st stop at any fence is 20, second stop at the same fence is an additional 40, third stop at same fence is elimination. However, you can accumulate a total of 3 first or second stops at individual fences before being eliminated on your 4th total refusal.

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