September was a super busy month for us. We were out and about every weekend. The first weekend, we went to a halloween themed trail class. I don’t know why it was halloween themed at the beginning of September, but it was really cute. The obstacles were really challenging too. Since we’d never done a teeter-totter before, I started off with an in-hand round. Levi was completely unconcerned with the teeter-tooter or any of the other obstacles.
My husband started out with a ridden round on Eugene. Eugene thought the tricky obstacles were easy (he marched right over the teeter-totter and jumped the spider barrel nicely) but thought the easy things he’s done before (like the mailbox, gate, and egg and spoon tables) were terrifying.
When I went in to do my ridden round with Levi, he decided all the things he’d just been bored by were now scary and proceeded to have a melt-down about the gate obstacle and a few others. I spent the whole course laughing because he was being so dumb. Levi might be a lot of things, but spooky isn’t one of them. He was just having a blonde moment.
How do I know he was just being dumb? At one point, I hit the quintain too hard and it fell over and almost hit us when it rolled upon hitting the ground. I actually had to rein Levi over hard to get him out of the way as he was unconcerned.
I need to figure out how to have this sort of confidence and lack of concern for his stupidity on XC and not just at trail classes. We ended up doing a few rounds each just for the practice and then headed home. It was a really fun show though.
The next weekend was a schooling HT at a new to us venue of High Wind Warm. It was a gorgeous property with a really amazing cross country course. Although I went back and forth for a bit, I finally decided to do the BN division (my first time back at BN since withdrawing from Camelot over a year ago.) Although they were running multiple BN divisions, my husband and I ended up in the same division, only one horse apart, which made it hard to get media.
We started off with dressage and I don’t remember scores or details, but I remember it being fine. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either. My husband had about the same experience. After that, we parked the boys back at the trailer and went to walk the XC course, which turned out to be much longer than expected. It was also really maxed out in several places and shared a lot of fences with Novice. The terrain was tough too. I thought I was safe returning to BN at a schooling HT, but now I was regretting that decision.
Because the course walk to so much longer than expected, we had no time to warm up for stadium. We got back to the trailer, threw tack on the horses, I scrambled to get some studs in and only had time for the backs. I jumped on and literally trotted away from the trailer over to the ring steward who told me I was already late for stadium and I was like, well screw it and cantered him straight from the steward over a warm up jump, then turned around and trotted back out of the warm up and headed down to stadium. In the picture above, we can see a dark horse behind Levi. That’s the warm up area. See those tiny jumps across the field in the distance? That’s where Stadium was. I hustled down there and arrived panting to ask the judge if I could have a minute because I hadn’t walked the course and needed at least a second to look at the course map. There was one girl leaving the ring as I arrived and no one else there so the judge said I could have as much time as I needed. Phew. The course was on grass and the ground was wet from recent rains. Since I’d only managed to get back studs in Levi, I was a bit concerned.
We went in and got it done, though it was not pretty. We had a slide in the one corner and as we came out of it to a jump, he took down the top rail. The rest of the course was clear. I learned after the fact that the girl before me’s horse had fallen on the stadium course and they were eliminated. It was so slippery, 2 people in the BN division ended up having falls in stadium. I’m glad I didn’t know that before I went as I probably would have bailed.
I was supposed to go straight to XC so I head back across the field from Stadium and didn’t get to stay and see my husband’s round. Turns out XC was running behind and I could have stayed, but oh well. They were running XC untimed with one rider on course at a time. A few people were having issues and that was backing the start times up. I didn’t mind though because the format let me be slightly less panicked than usual going into XC. I figured I could circle and take my time handling any terrain issues.
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Helmet cam from our trip around the BN course at the Charlotte Pony Club HT last weekend. It was such a fun course. I left in the part after jump 12 where I kept asking for whoa because he’s clumsy going downhill, he thought he was fine, tripped and nearly fell in his face and I told him “that’s why!” #eventer #eventing #huntertrials #crosscountry #helmetcam #
It ended up being a really fun course, which Levi handled pretty well, though he did get super excited and wanted to go, go, go. But we made it around and I finished my first BN event since 2018. I ended up in 4th out of 6 or something like that with the 2 beneath me being eliminations. My husband was 3rd.
Keeping with our busy schedule, the next weekend was the GMHA Fall HT. Eugene hadn’t schooled at the Novice level since his hocks got injected though so he wasn’t prepared to go Novice again yet. While Eugene could have done the BN, he’s done it before and my husband didn’t feel like doing it again. My husband decided to enter Levi in the BN division. Initially, when the times came out, they were dead last in every phase and of every division. Levi is so herd bound, we were worried about him loosing his mind if all the horses had left the warm up and other arenas. They ended up changing the times so that, at least for dressage, another division was running at the same time and he wasn’t left alone even if he was the last one on that court.
Their dressage time was crazy late. I forget now, but I think they went at 2pm. It was really bizarre to sleep in and have tons of time to bathe and braid and then twiddle your thumbs before needing to get to a show. We ended up getting down there early and parking right next to dressage so we could watch the rings while waiting. Then it was time to warm up. My husband has a magic seat. Completely unintentionally on his part, he tells every horse he rides to go FORWARD. It was particularly noticeable in Nilla when she would just take off cantering whenever he rode her. For Eugene, who is already inclined to be quick, this isn’t helpful. For Levi, who would prefer to go around like a western pleasure horse, it’s a great combination. They ended up putting in a pretty good test and landed 5th out of 12.
We had a few hours before stadium so we wandered over to the tack store at GMHA for their cocktail party, which was fun, and then drove the trailer over to park it near the stadium. That way we could keep an eye on the ring and know if they were ahead or behind so we could plan better for when to get him going. We also got to watch stadium and see how the course was flowing. Then it was time to get on. Since my husband was literally the last person scheduled to ride for the entire day, we were quite concerned about him being left all alone at the ring and being distracted from jumping by screaming for his long-lost friends. We made some plans with the person before him to stay, but then someone in front of him forgot her arm band and trotted off to go get it so he ended up not going last, which was great. As an aside; I do feel like they should put the pros last and not the poor ammies.
The course was long and flowing, but we’d watched quite a few people having issues with it while waiting. Levi went in there and made it look easy. No chipping, no rushing, just forward and flowing and listening. Of course, he still had to overjump everything, but this time he wasn’t jumping upwards because he’d buried himself to the base, he was just jumping really beautifully.
They were double clear and because people were having so much trouble with the course, that moved them up to 2nd! We returned home for the night and then had to wait forever again the next day. My husband was once again the last rider out and I think his start time was like 4pm. I’d go absolutely insane waiting all day to do XC, but it was nice to sleep in and not be up at the crack of dawn for a horse event.
We trailered down early to let Levi chill out and see if they were running ahead – which they were. When it was finally time, we got Levi ready and they warmed up, then I hiked out to get in place for pictures. Levi was flying. They were going so fast that they had to circle before the last jump and I think they still made it quite close to optimum time.
They were double clear to finish in second place, which was awesome all on it’s own and is also a qualifying score for AECs.
The next morning, we were up bright and early so I could catch a flight to Florida where my friend and I did both Universal parks and 4 Disney parks in 3 days. We were absolutely exhausted, but it was a great trip.
I flew out Monday and returned Friday. Because September was a jam-packed with horse events every weekend, we had a Hunter Pace on Saturday. This was a really gorgeous hunter pace in South Woodstock put on by the North Country Hounds. We once again told the hunt pace was FAST and we went FAST. This time we were only about a minute under optimum time, but we still lost out on first place to a team that was 9 seconds off optimum.
It was a great day though: gorgeous weather, Klondike bars at the rest stop, cool prizes, and great food at the lunch. We even met up with the previous owner of our property and got to chat a bit.
The next weekend, we went to ANOTHER hunter pace, which neither my husband or I apparently took a single picture at. Which is a shame, because it was really fun. This one was really long (a little over 13 miles) and endlessly full of cross country jumps. We rode all over the countryside, past a whiskey distillery, through a sculpture garden, through forest and across meadows, all with endless jumps. By the end we were seriously groaning every time we saw another jump and skipped several. The ponies were tired too because we once again went FAST. Unfortunatly, our strategy didn’t pay off and we didn’t even get a placing. We actually would have placed second if we’d been in the faster division, but we did the middle division because we knew the horses might be tired after doing so much that month. Placings aside, it was a lot of fun and we’ll definitely go again.