Monday, October 17, 2011

Our first Beginner Novice Combined Test.

I absolutely could not be any happier with my horse and what he did this past weekend.  Warning: this post will packed full with happy, sappy, overly proud horsey Mom moments.  So if those things annoy you I suggest leaving now ;).

Begin: happy, sappy...  Karen and I got to show together for the first time and I can tell you now it will NOT be the last.  She is such an awesome show buddy!  Hampton is just the coolest horse.  He is a four year old with the mind of veteran.  Him and Steady were instant best buds and there were so many moments when Karen and I were just sitting on them waiting and they were being so dang cute together we SO wish we had a camera to capture the moment.  Steady tends to really pick up on others energy and Hamptons too cool for school attitude made Steady so chill it was great!  Karen is awesome, helpful and just easy to be around.  I felt like we had know each other for years and were instant friends.  I can't wait till next season to meet up with our new show buddies!!!

 Enter; overly proud horsey mom...My expectations in entering a Beginner Novice combined test: Be safe.  Have fun.  Finish.  Have fun.  I had no expectations to end in the ribbons or anything like that cause remember I put myself in with some pros.  We have only competed two other times.  Once at green as grass last November and once at Starter in April.  You can see our dressage and derby from April here and here.  Since then I had to cut out all lessons due to finanaces.  The only thing I was doing over the spring/summer/ fall as far as training goes was the 4 day Event camp.  Which you probably have read plenty about.  All other work was done in my back yard.  I honestly had NO idea whether or not we were ready to move up at all.  The only thing I did know was that he could jump higher than 2' and in my post about moving up I was encouraged by my some of my readers to make the move so that really made my decision.  But I knew that in doing so it was going to pose many situations that we have not yet encountered.  Like the fact that we have never jumped a 'real' stadium course.  And surely have never jumped a brightly colored course with intermixed oxers.  Actually we only jumped an oxer at camp a hand full of times.    As far as dressage I have absolutely NO way to gauge our progress.  Considering I do not understand dressage much at all.  I only know to do what people tell me to do and we try our darndest to do it.  But I could not tell you whether or not we are doing it correctly.  These were all the things going through my head. 

We pack up and leave on schedule at about 4 pm on Friday afternoon.   On the trip down having to go an hour west and an hour south with Indianapolis right in the center of that trip means I would hit Indy right at 5 pm. NO way was I hauling in rush hour so my other option was to take some back off intersate roads to make my way down.  It was pretty much a nightmare but not as bad as Indy at rush hour.  But other than some swear words at some jerk drivers the trip was fine.  Got there and was imediatly greeted by Karen who had done the smart thing and gotten their early enough to miss rush hour all together.  She helped me get Steady setteled in and we went to dinner.  After talking her ear off out of sheer excitement it was back to HHP to sleep in our trucks luxury hotel.  The horses were apparently getting aquanted the entire night.  So between whinnies and pawing we somewhere in there got a few moments of rest.  Eventers were up bright and early preparing for their rides and at about 7 am I decided I may want to get up and join them.  Threw Steady his breakfast and got to spend a pretty leisurely morning getting ready.  Since I didn't ride my dressage test until 10:42 am.  Karen rode her first test(beautifully BTW) at 9:30 so I taped her ride then immediately ran to get on.  That is when I started to feel the pressure.

Steady does take a good amount of time(40 min minimum) to loosen up his hind end.  Considering he was already a little stocked up from being in a stall all night I figured I needed more time than that.  Then once on I panic started to set in that I wasn't going to remember my test.  Just before my time to go in Karen ran back to the warm up with my test and helped me at least run through it once before going in.  Though I could not concentrate whatsoever due to the annoying ring steward screaming 118 you need to go in repeatedly.  I knew what time it was and knew that it was not 10:42 and that I have every right to keep warming up.  I finally got to the end of the test and tried to relax my mind on the way over.  As I was exiting the warm up the ring steward says "you better hurry".  I looked at her and said "My ride time is 10:42 I am fine".  She then said "oh sorry I was reading the clock wrong".  No problem mam' but the screaming repeatedly at me really did frazzle my brain right before I have to go ride my test(not what I said but definitely what I was thinking).  Oh and have I mentioned the wind?!  Holy cow it was out of control and that of course makes for tense horses.  I made my way over the the arena and proceded to ride my test.  All the things going through your head during a dressage test is insane.  It was feeling good though and I thought Steady was listening and responsive and what more could I ask of him?!  It all felt good until part way through and it suddenly hits me, SHIT I am supposed to be walking right now, ugh.  And the bell rings.  Not knowing anything about dressage I immedialy assumed our test was shot.  I for some reason thought going off course was -10 points.  I go back to C and assume the test where I left off and finished the test.  I couldn't be happier with Steady.  To me the test was good for us, so I was happy.  Though completely annoyed with myself for forgetting the test that I had practiced a hundred times.  But I was glad to find out when my friends greeted me at the gate and told me how great we looked that going off course was only -2, YAY!  Then Steady and I had a nice long break until 1:45 before we needed to do our Stadium round.  It made for a pretty relaxed show day which was nice. 

I wanted to walk the stadium course before the first divisions started so I checked out the course.

  The course to me seemed like a challange.  I soon found out that stadium courses are not meant to really flow and involved tight turns and challanging lines.  Duh!  Now I know.  I memorized the course and I don't really remember what I did for the next couple hours.  I know it was not eating or drinking and maybe the lack of nurishment is contributing to the memory loss. Or I may have just spent the next 2 hours in disbelief after reading our dressage score......we officially got a 31%!!!!  Meaning if I had not gone off course we would have had a 29%!!!  Are you shitting me!?!  29 would have put us in first but 31 put us in 3rd place!!!!  Out of 10 in our division, WOW!  3 6's one on the free walk which is a coefficient, the rest were 7's except for 2 8's on our canters!!!!  I was on cloud nine. I am sure beaming with so much pride over my horse I probably was annoying.  Coming into this feeling like hacks 'pretending' to do dressage since that was what I was told at the last lesson we were in in July with someone who knew what they were doing, and walking away feeling like I have a damn good horse and I have done a damn good job with him.  I cannot describe how good and validating it felt.

Next thing I remember is about 1pm I got on to warm up for stadium.

 I walked over to the course and peed myself.  I saw the jumps set for beginner novice.  I distinctly remember someone saying that they set the jumps at minimum height for this schooling show so I didn't need to worry.  Uhhh ummmm uhhhhh those jumps are NOT set at 2'3".  I would say all were set at Max 2'7" with many oxers until right before they did lower 1 of the jumps.  I was not the only one freaking out about the height either.  Note to self; phyching myself out about the jumps right before I have to go in, NOT a good idea.  We were plenty warmed up so I just headed over to get it over with.  I was 5th in line to go in.  You can watch my ride and I can distinctly see that it took me to jump 5 to say to myself "Amy what the hell are you doing?  Ride your horse!!!"  We had a refusal at 4 and I know if I had my head together he would not have refused it.  He knew I didn't feel commited and he wasn't sure how to handle that.  Watching the video you can see he wasn't afraid of the jump it was more like he didn't even realize that is where I wanted him to go until one stride before.  That is 100% piloting error.  It is my job to make sure he knows where he is going and I failed him right there.  We then had one rail down.  So we ended with 8 errors.  But what I am most amazed with is we now have rythm, I am not throwing myself at his neck anymore, when he gets off balance he brings himself back to recollect and moves on and do you see all of those automatic lead changes.  Tell me this horse was not born to do this!!! We were by far not the only one that struggled with the course a bit because there were many rails and refusals.  But I came out of the ring beaming and I was as proud as I could possibly be with what Steady just did in there.  We have never jumped an entire course and WE have NEVER seen anything like the jumps and course they had set up.  He didn't balk at one thing and was just like, 'ok mom you say go and I will go'.   So we ended the day with a 39%, not bad, haha, who am I kidding that was freaking awesome! 

There were lots carrots and apples and Karen found Steady's number by pulling out a box of sugar cubes.  He heard that box russle and his head flew around so fast we both started laughing.  I have never giving him a sugar cube but he appearantly knew exactly what that sound was.   LOL I loved it and will now be adding sugar cubes to the grocery list. 

While I was eagerly and impatiently waitng for the scores to come out I think I finally drank something which was helpful but nearly enough to combat the dehydration I had started.  Scores came out and I only dropped one place with our stadium round!!!!  We ended in 4th place!!!  Waaa...frickin...hoooo!!!!!  I was already on top of the world and I still had cross country schooling to go, man, could my life get any better?!!  I will post the excitingness of cross country in another post since this once is quickly turning in to a book.


  1. Heck Yeah!! Wow you guys LOOK GREAT!

  2. Hoorah victory pat at the end :)
    I LOVE a gushing entry myself of a proud horse momma. Go Steady, he looks very happy to be leaping around and I think he handled it all very well. It's nice when the failure can be blamed on yourself and not them, I think. It makes us better for them since they give all they have :)

  3. Since I was in warm up when you did your dressage test, I missed it - so glad I got to watch on video! You both looked amazing :) Didn't you just love the wind?!

  4. Awesome!! That is super exciting about your dressage score!! Haha, lots of exclamation marks, but I'm really happy for you guys.

    Odd sidebit: oxers wig me out a little bit too, but I've never noticed that Izzy cares even a little bit. I don't think horses mind them the way we do. ;-)

  5. You guys looked great! That dressage test was beautiful, Steady looks like such a regal pro. For what Steady did for some many years, you guys are doing great. Imagine how hard it is for him to not go full bore around that course after his prior career. I'd be super proud of myself if I were you!
    So, the dressage rider in me has a couple of thoughts; do you notice yourself being heavier in the left rein than the right? Of course, you might notice this at all, because we usually don't:) He counter flexes to the left quite a bit. Also, remember when you take with one rein, you must give with the other. I saw this the most on the stadium jumping. Pretty minor and easily fixable things:)

  6. Thank you thank you thank you all!!

    Horsemom: I am quite proud of him and myself. We have worked a long time on the 'not going full bore' thing and things are really starting to fall into place. I would agree that I am not a wonderfully straight rider. Combine that with a naturally off balance crooked horse and then you have me and Here is the thing though Steady is much stronger to the left and drops his right shoulder often. In order to correct this I try to support him with my right leg and force him into my left rein. In doing so I sometimes get that counter flextion that is not so purdy ;). Because my natural tendancy is to steer(with my right hand) into a bend but that is not correct either. Does any of this make sense?? Because you know dressage far better than I, I am sure.

    As far as taking and giving go in the stadium I too see it big time! In this situation Steady is a very 'wobbly' horse. By that I mean he is VERY easily is made crooked and when he is crooked he is like gumby's horse pokey in that his head is going one direction and his ass in another. This is something we have and are working on alot and have made significant prgress if you watched the XC schooling video with Peter you can see this at it's most extreme. But it is the perfect example of what I had to work with. My arch nemisis is the fact that I steer WAY too much and need to ride straighter in the saddle. BUT in my XC lesson later in the day Saturday my instructor really helped me find a way to keep him straight. I will post about that soon.

  7. What a good good GOOD Steady!!!! Aw you two look amazing! Congratulations-I love how he gets his good boy pats immediately after the round is done. Whoo hoo!

  8. Excellent job! Go right ahead and brag, proud mom! You have done well! :-D

  9. You guys looked fantastic!!! You have come so far with Steady! You definitely did not look like a hack pretending to do dressage. You look like you've been taking lessons all year. :) Great scores too.

    Congrats on getting into fourth place. I'm going to go read the next post because I'm excited to hear how your weekend finished up.


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