Philosophers might ask: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I think the horse blogger might instead ask, “If you didn’t blog about it, did it really happen?”
It turns out, maybe not so much. My husband and I went to a schooling HT at Hitching Post on October 14th. The next day, I drove my husband to the airport so he could return to California for a week of working at the office. Then I proceeded to try to cope with keeping 4 horses, 2 dogs, and a brand new adopted puppy alive for one week by myself. Vermont decided that’d be a great time to snow.
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2 of the horses decided to throw shoes, my farrier bailed on me and referred me to a different farrier, my one dog decided she needed to eat a plastic teething toy and go to the emergency vet, I had to have oral surgery to remove a broken tooth, I got off the waitlist for a barn cat and had to pick it up right now and the puppy
required still requires constant vigilance. The whole week was exhausting and I never got enough time to blog about the show. Now, because I didn’t write anything down, I honestly don’t remember all the details. So, while the show really did happen, the details I have about it are sparse.
I can normally spark some memories by looking through pictures and going over the dressage tests, but we can’t find the dressage tests and because of timing, the only pictures are of my dressage test.
Despite the dearth of pictures, the show did happen and it was a good day. I’m going to try to remember what I can.
The day started off by being incredibly foggy. This was better than the pouring rain they had the day before for their rated event, but it made for a chilly and damp morning. We hauled the boys over in their blankets and I tried to tack up around Levi’s blanket. I was too cold to wear a show jacket and did my test in my black wool pullover. It was so foggy, we had to ask where the warm up was because we couldn’t see it from the parking area.
The warm up area was a little bit weird because it was a circular track. You could make a circle/go across the diagonal/change directions/etc by going onto the grass in the middle, but it was a little awkward. Since I was doing the Elementary division (above grasshopper, but below BN) and the grasshopper people were also in the warm up, it was filled with lots of kids on ponies with trainers constantly yelling at them – with very little success – not to get in everyone else’s way. Levi was being sticky about picking up the correct lead so we spent more time on canter transitions that I would have liked (he gets tired fast and I didn’t want a repeat of the Huntington test where he ran out of steam), but we did get the leads cleared up.
Finally it was time to go down to the arena. Unfortunately, I was first in my division and there was quite a bit of confusion about that. Although my number was last for my division, I was scheduled to go first. Once I cleared that up with the judge and she found my number was listed first on the schedule, she rang me in. Then, as I was trotting around, she stopped me again to ask what test I was doing. Um, BN A? Grasshoppers were doing the Intro test and BN was doing BN B and the Elementary divison was doing BN A. Apparently they couldn’t find that written down anywhere and it also seemed like they couldn’t find any BN A tests. So I started thinking, maybe I’m wrong and I am supposed to be doing another test. After some additional shuffling, they finally found the BN A tests and said I could go in from there. Well, the long pause had kind of gotten Levi out of dressage mode, but we marched off.
This wasn’t a great test. It wasn’t terrible, but it was just generally blah and not what either of us is capable of. I had some weird geometry issues, which is not something I usually suffer with and I kind of suspect the ring wasn’t entirely straight. But most of it was my own fault. Some of our circles weren’t terribly circular and I know I came onto centerline for the final halt and found the judge’s booth off to the side and was like, oh sh*t but I couldn’t fix it then.
After stopping to talk to the judge, I never really got Levi back in the connection. I always hesitate to get after him during a test since his reaction to correction can be rather extreme, but I really should have just half halted him and pushed him forward instead of carrying on like above.
Our canter transitions were spectacular. I didn’t even need the picture to remember this part. I distinctly remember muttering to him after the first, “that was unnecessary?”
Because we had no connection, free walk – which is normally a good movement for Levi – was lacking. He basically just meandered across the diagonal with no stretch to the bit.
We carried on, never establishing any connection, and doing an excellent impression of a llama.
But we carried on and got it done. Like, I said in the beginning, it wasn’t the worst test ever, just not a good one. We ended up tied for 3rd with a 38.3 going into XC.
We had a long break after my dressage and took the opportunity to walk XC. The sun was slowly creeping it’s way out of the clouds and it was looking like the afternoon might be sunny. The Elementary course was interesting.
Unfortunately for picture’s sake, my husband’s dressage time was exactly the same time as my XC. My husband also failed to pack the helmet cams despite my asking him if he had so I have no media of XC or stadium. When we found out his dressage ring was running late, he came up with me to the XC warm up thinking he could maybe see me do the first jump or so before he had to go. But XC was also running late. Or rather, it wasn’t running at all. The grasshopper division just did stadium with some logs, so Elementary was the first division to go and no one seemed prepared for that.
There was no ring steward or any other volunteers anywhere nearby. Other riders and trainers trickled in to the ring, all confused and asking what was going on. Finally, we saw a volunteer heading out to the start box across the field, but no one showed up to the ring. Confusion continued. I was supposed to go at 11:15 and around 11:35, I finally just rode Levi across the driveway and field over to the start box to ask. They didn’t know when XC would be starting either. Cool.
Although my nerves are doing slightly better at the lower levels, I still get anxious leading up to XC. I generally try to get on late and do as little warm up as possible. Having an extra 30 minutes of saddle time before XC was not helping my nerves. Plus, my type A personality doesn’t really like disorganization. I know it can be hard to get volunteers and things can run behind, but having 1 person who knew what was going on come over to the warm up with an update or even to say “we don’t know yet, but we are working on it” would have been nice.
The startbox volunteer told me to walk around in the area while she radioed around to seen when we’d be starting. I walked Levi around as he grew increasingly upset that other horses were far away and doing things. This helped my nerves of course. Finally it was time to go. The course wasn’t timed so she asked if I wanted a count down or if I just wanted to go and I said I could just go.
We trotted out of the startbox across the first field. The first Elem jump was in the second field, which was actually nice. Since Levi has leaving the start box issues, having a bit of time to get him going without worrying about a jump was nice. The first jump was a very inviting little log on top of a hill. Levi popped right over that.
The second jump was across the field a ways. The footing was decent for how much it had been raining, but it was still a bit slippery so we stuck to a trot going down the hill to the second jump, which was slightly bigger, but not too bad.
The third jump was a straight line from the second and it was a decent sized log with a slightly shorter half if you really wanted to. We cantered off of #2and over #3, which Levi thought it would be super fun to get as close to as possible.
We made a U-turn after #3 to jump #4, which was a jump on the BN course in the other direction. It was a slightly easy BN jump, but still considerably bigger than the 1st jump. Levi was in the groove now though and we got over this one.
We had to mark a hard right and climb a steep hill after #4 to get to #5. Levi thought it would be more fun to just keep running straight back to the barn so we had a bit of a wrestle to get up that hill, but the jump was easy and we got over it just fine.
#6 was a water jump. However, it was set up a bit oddly in that the flags were on the opposite side of the water (everyone else went the other direction) and there was a big patch of dry ground between the water and the flags. As we got near the water, Levi tried to take off in the opposite direction. We were still at least 50 feet away from the water at this point, so I just turned him back towards the water, gave him a smack, and made him trot through the dry ground between the flags and the water. We never fully stopped or circled, but I could see that the jump judge was a child and worried about them calling it a refusal.
At this point, we were headed back towards the start again and Levi was like, omg, we should just gallop off in that direction. Except we needed to turn left off that path and jump something on a downhill. Once again, Levi and I had a bit of wrestling match about turning and then another one about trotting. He was literally fighting to canter as he tripped and nearly face planted on the wet grass. I wish I had the helmet cam for this part because I remember saying something to him about this is why you need to trot. #7 was another jump shared with BN, but I liked how inviting it was with the ramped logs.
The last jump looked brand new; the wood was all bright and unweathered. It was also a new and different sort of jump and Levi likes to look at those. He tried to put his head down and nose it at the last moment, but had too much momentum and we sort of crashed over it majestically, but we were done.
I headed straight to stadium after XC. Stadium was down by the dressage warm up. When I got there it was absolutely the worst timing. My husband had just been sent down from warm up to do his dressage test. Eugene sensed Levi somehow and proceeded to get distracted and scream his head off for his test. Levi was happy to sing back the song of his people as I tried to convince the ring steward that she did not need to chase the people walking the course out of the ring. I could totally wait (and go far away so my husband could get through his test in peace). Alas, she did not listen to me and made me go in. I had not walked the course, but I had looked at the map and seen some of the grasshoppers go earlier before I did XC.
We went into the ring and Levi, fully distracted with screaming for his brother from another mother, didn’t seem to realize we were jumping until he crashed into the first jump. I don’t know how – since I heard the noise it made – the jump stayed up. After that, Levi was a bit more aware of his legs, but still not very interested in listening to me and much more interested in finding Eugene, who he could not see, but could hear. We managed to careen around stadium clambering over jumps in the most graceless of fashions, but the jumps (2’3″) were low enough that Levi could be distracted and dumb and still go clear.
As we left Stadium, I found my husband returning from dressage and complaining about Eugene’s distraction during his dressage test. I commiserated with him. He did end up 6th out of 8 with a 39.1 in the Novice division. At this point I had to leave to go pick up the puppy we were adopting (the timing of the adoption transportation was just awful) and I left my husband with the horses to do his XC and stadium later (no media from this either). I told my husband as I was leaving that I thought the kid at #6 might call it a refusal and to protest for me. I stopped to get a drink on my way and checked online to see they had marked a refusal at #6. I called my husband, he assured me he’d go fix it and then I continued on my drive. When I looked again (over an hour later) I still had a 20 and he said he hadn’t protested until after his XC and stadium so it was outside of the time limit for protests. Thanks, hon. I would have finished in 3rd without that.
My husband managed to go clear on his Novice XC course, which was refreshing as this was their first return to Novice since getting eliminated/retiring from XC at Coconino. Since they had done a rated just the day before, the course was not a dumbed down for being a schooling show. I was particularly concerned about the ditch to giant, shared-with-training chevron combination.
They had two rails in stadium, but Stadium has always been Eugene’s weakest phase and going to it straight off of a long, hard XC course left him a bit tired, so two rails isn’t that bad. They ended in 6th place.
Overall, it was a fun day. The facility is really pretty and I look forward to showing there again in the future.