On Saturday, my husband and I competed at the Woodside Derby at the B.N. level. The derby was set up as dressage followed by cross country combined with stadium. We weren’t actually sure if that meant we’d do Stadium and then go out on Cross Country and they’d be scored together or if they’d just have some XC jumps in the stadium ring. It turned out they added stadium jumps to the cross country course.
We had great ride times of 9:18 and 9:36 for dressage and then 10:58 and 11:10 for XC. It still involved getting up a lot earlier than I like, but I was happy not to have to go first at 7:30am or in the heat of the day at 2pm like the training competitors had to. We arrived at the horse park around 7:45 so we’d have time to check in and let the horses chill out a bit before tacking up and riding. Once we checked in, we headed straight to the course to do a coursewalk.
Back at our trailer, we got the ponies tacked up and changed into our show clothes. The organizer was nice enough to send out an email earlier in the week saying clinic attire and no braiding was expected. It’s nice to have that confirmed and it made for a more relaxed day. The set up for dressage was a little bit concerning. They had the dressage court and the dressage warm up in one half of one arena and cross country warm up in the other half.
By the time we got over to warm up for dressage, there were a lot more people in the dressage warm up and there were also horses jumping things right next door. Levi was pretty distracted and jiggy, but we at least had a later dressage than my husband so we had some time to settle down. Of course, extra time spent in the crowded and chaotic warm up wasn’t that relaxing. We paused briefly to go record my husband’s ride and then back to warm up. Our dressage at home isn’t so great to begin with. Dressage at an excited horse show? Even worse.
I also made the mistake of leaving my crop before the test. I don’t really like riding with it in the dressage court. I just find it awkward. However, Levi entered the ring and was like, yeah, I’m done. I actually thought he might have to pee or something because he really felt like he was trying to stop underneath me. Without a crop, I was reduced to pony-club kicking him and really trying to drive him with my seat. It wasn’t pretty. After we finished, I confirmed that he didn’t need to pee so I can only guess he was distracted by all the other horses or he’s figured out the game with the crop and knew I didn’t have one. Definitely something I’ll need to solve. But that’s why we go to schooling shows.
Final Comment: Good Effort. Work on polishing canter work and geometry for higher marks. Good potential.
The judge for this show was generous. And I do mean GENEROUS. Like my travesty of a test somehow garnered a 33.5. But she was generous all around and the winner in my division scored an 11.5. An 11.5! Apparently that was a very experienced horse with a new rider, but an 11 is still crazy. We were 15th out of 18 after dressage.
We had a bit of time between dressage and cross country. We kept saddles on, but took their bridles off so they could eat hay and relax a bit. I needed to add Levi’s breastplate and both ponies got their boots strapped on. Then it was time to head over to the warm up. Since my husband was going before me, I mostly just walked around and let Levi calm down a bit. He actually seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing, even with other horses freaking out and the chaos of an overcrowded warm up arena at a schooling event.
I left the warm up briefly to watch my husband do the first few jumps of his course and I don’t know if it was Eugene leaving him, or the site of the cross country course, but Levi’s calm eroded. Much screaming was necessary and it was clearly not possible to stand still and how dare I ask him to. When we returned to the warm up, he couldn’t even walk, he was jigging under me. Kate tried to get me to jump the big coop in the warm up, but I told her it was terrifying and she seemed concerned for my mental state, but I’ve never said I wasn’t a wimp about cross country.
Megan had also come out to watch the event and she walked over from the warm up to the start box with me. As we left the warm up, a large bulldozer drove by and Levi could not have cared less. In fact, I had a hard time convincing him that he needed to stop and wait for it to go by. Megan commented on how much she liked Levi and I was like, we’ll see how you feel about him after he racks up refusals on XC.
When we schooled at Woodside, Levi and I had done a few of the jumps that ended up being on our course for the Derby. We had previous done 1, 4, 7, 8, 12, and 13. For a horse that likes to stop at new jumps, having done 1/2 of them before was great. I wasn’t too worried about the stadium jumps either, but I was VERY concerned about #11. That jump scares the crap out of me. It’s the biggest jump on the BN course and it’s set both on an angle and with a drop on landing. I’m scared of small logs on flat ground. Large ramps on hills are right out. Thankfully, they had added a tiny log option and double-flagged the jump for Intro and BN. I planned to take the log.
We had a long time (4 minutes) to walk around at the start box because they were sending people over really early, but that was fine. We just wandered around letting Levi look at things. I even walked over to our trailer, which was parked nearby and told my husband he had time to come out and watch us. Then it was time to go.
Levi took the first jump nicely and then landed bucking. He was very excited to be doing cross country. You can hear me yelling “No” at him. It’s hard to tell in the video, but #2 is on a decent decline, especially for a stadium jump when your horse is in XC mode. You really need to sit them back and make them jump it right. I think it’s an interesting challenge and I actually would have liked them to have more than just the 2 stadium jumps on the course.
Levi was super wiggly going up to #3, but popped right over it. Then he proceeded to wiggle back and forth across the track like a drunkard. At one point we were sort of pointed left, but moving at the canter to the right. If you watch the video, you can hear me asking him why we’re going all over the place.
#4 we had done while schooling and he was being weird about it, but we got over it and on to #5. We hadn’t done that one before, but he didn’t care at all.
#6 was a stadium oxer. We got in too close to it, but no worries. Levi was not going to touch that thing.
#7 was the jump we’d had a refusal at while schooling, but Levi didn’t care at all on Saturday. He just flew over it.
We came around to the water and Levi decided too late that maybe he didn’t want to touch it and tried to jump. If you watch the video, you’ll hear me laughing. He’s such a goofball. It did make for an awesome photo though:
Through the water and on to #8 which he flew over. If you watch the video, you’ll see us land and then go charging off across the brush instead of staying on the track to #9, because Levi had decided that he didn’t need me telling him what to do. Remember how I said I needed a stronger bit for cross country? Well, I didn’t remember until I got on course, but I had almost no control over that horse. I got him back on the track to #9, but he wasn’t really paying attention to me and I could feel from a few strides out that he was really backed off of #9. We had an exit stage left and a discussion about listening then back to business.
We had a long run to #10 which was double flagged and had an option. But the cabin didn’t worry me and he jumped it nicely. After #10 there’s a long run down a hill to #11 and Levi was like, let’s gallop. And I was like, you trip on flat ground and you’re not listening to me at all. Woah, dammit. Down the hill to #11 and we took the tiny log.
Obviously we should have done the real BN jump at #11. He’s jumping that high anyway and he wasn’t at all backed off, but I’m a wuss. I know I will regret this – a lot – if I end up doing the rated here and need to do this jump, but for this day, I just wanted to get around without falling off.
#12 and #13 are a combination, but they’re numbered separately. I had done the combination while schooling and planned to do that at the event, but he landed from #12 oddly, so I yelled circling and came around to #13.
Levi didn’t care at all about #13 even if I was choking up on him after his trip. He just did a carousel horse impersonation for me and then flew over the finish line.
Walking back to the trailer, he was amped and jigging. Back in the spring, when my husband did the rated event at Woodside, we joked that Levi was so unfit he wouldn’t be able to canter the whole BN course even without the jumps. Well, with Nilla injured his training has stepped up significantly and he’s now quite a bit more fit. Half a cross country course was nothing.
Both ponies got to go and have a bath and then we left them to eat their hay and beet pulp while we went up to collect our tests and watch the polo tournament also being held at the horse park that day. Looking at the scores on our way up, they had me listed at having 12 jump faults (they were using stadium scoring) and a bunch of time faults. I went in to the office to ask about the jump faults since I should only have the one refusal. Asking about this was apparently not okay. The one woman told me they were only giving ribbons to 6th and (because I was so far down in the placings) removing the extra 8 points wouldn’t matter. And I was like, it matters to me. I know it’s just a schooling event, but I didn’t think I got 3 jump faults and if I did, I’d like to know what the reason is so that I can learn from this experience and not do that again.
A different person went to get the jump judge sheets and go over them with me. When she got to the one jump I had a refusal at, she pointed at it and said “see, you got a refusal” in a really accusatory way. I know, I replied, I said I got one, just not three. Continued perusal of the sheets revealed no other faults and she really seemed mad when she finished, but told me she’d get it fixed. I don’t understand the hostility. I didn’t go in yelling or being rude. I think the whole “it doesn’t matter because you’re out of the ribbons” thing annoyed me the most. Like, the entire show is unrated; none of it technically “matters.” Hell, if I only did things that mattered, I’d never go to a show at all. And the change did end up moving me from 15th to 14th so ha.
We watched 2 chukkers of arena polo afterwards and I was reminded how much I miss playing after college. I loved polo. It was so insanely fun. Nothing compares. I would happily give up dressage, jumping, eventing, all of it to play polo again. Polo is just so insanely expensive. Maybe one day.
In the meantime, this is fun too: