My husband and Eugene have been working very hard at their eventing skills with the goal of eventually moving up. Eugene has schooled some novice XC jumps before and has a completely clean XC record, but he has yet to go clear at a rated event in stadium. They’ve been working really hard to improve stadium as well with lots of lessons and schooling show rounds at higher heights. The CT seemed like a good/safe place to try a move up to novice.
Their dressage round was nice, but a bit too relaxed. I think my husband was trying to avoid Eugene curling by not really asking too much of him. Eugene wasn’t really on the bit or engaging his hind end. The judge was very generous in scores so they got a 36.9, but since she was generous to everyone that put them in 10th out of 11 going into jumping.
It was still a great first novice test for them as a team. They’ve really come a long way in the last year.
The novice course was similar to mine except they raised all the jumps, changed some of the fill, and removed the option at 9 so there was only a XC jump. Because some of the XC jumps were BN sized, they added rails on top of them and that was a bit weird looking to some horses. I watched a bunch of horses object to #9 and #11.
Eugene was already physically warmed up from dressage it was stupidly hot by this point so my husband did very little warm up. They popped over 2 jumps, he knocked a rail on the second so they redid that and were done. Then it was time to wait and watch other people go and get a feel for the course.
Going in to the arena, my husband wasn’t sure which options he would take. He wanted to see how Eugene felt and how things were flowing. He definitely wanted to do the brush at #5 and the log at #11, but wasn’t sure about the cabin at #10 because it was big jump and a skinny at that. While Eugene has never had a problem on XC, he gets to really move out there. In stadium, he sometimes gets awkward distances and knocks rails and if he knocked that cabin, he could hurt himself. This whole arena XC combination is pretty challenging for a horse like Eugene.
They really rocked it around the first half of the course. Eugene was jumping so well. We watched them add a ton of brush to #5 during the break and Eugene could not have cared less; he just popped right over that.
Then they came around to the 2 stride at #6 and #7. Eugene is a little horse and has a really hard time making the strides on short distances.If the line is a 5 or 6 stride, he can do the add stride pretty easily, but adding to a two stride is ugly. Most of their rails in stadium have been at combinations. In the past Eugene was pretty well convinced he could not take the long spot. Now, he’ll occasionally take a flyer and it catches my husband off guard.
Sadly, he got left behind and they had a rail at #7. #8 rode well and then it was around to #9. This jump was causing a lot of issues for riders. It was a bit of a weird angle off the fence and it went straight towards the judge’s booth. I watched a few refusals and a lot of wiggling at that jump. Eugene was very squirrely to it and they ended up jumping to the side, but they got over it.
My husband decided to do the stadium fence option at #10 partly because of the height, but also because they lined up better to the gate coming out of the turn. I had seen a few horses give dirty looks to the #11 log with a rail on top. I don’t blame them; it’s certainly not something they see very often. Luckily, Eugene doesn’t care at all about such nonsense.
Then it was down the home stretch and Eugene had to curl away from the audience. If half of Eugene’s rails in stadium have been at combinations, the other half have been along the judge’s booth or audience/bleachers section. Jumps don’t scare Eugene, but people still do.
Luckily, he straightened himself out just in time to overjump the crap out of it. Well maybe not really, but it’s a big overjump in the world of Eugene.
They were clear on time so they just added 4 points to their score. My husband was super happy with Eugene. Although it wasn’t a rated event, it was a great first competition at Novice.