Musings- XC Style

I’m a classic overthinker so it should surprise exactly no one that all I’ve thought about since Sunday is the XC schooling, uh, experience.


Focus on the good. DO IT. DO IT NOW.

The highs of that day definitely outweighed the lows. By FAR. P used to have pretty much a 95% stopping rate at new jumps, and even familiar jumps were 50/50. He’s never jumped ANY of the Novice jumps at Windridge, so those were all brand new to him. And I estimated we jumped about 60 total times, since many of the jumps we repeated multiple times. He refused 2 separate jumps two times each, for a total of 4 refusals. That’s a 6% stopping rate. Yes, I did the math.


So why can’t I stop dwelling on it? I’m not sure. Maybe because I just can’t figure him out when it comes to this issue. He was so bold over the first couple jumps, then the spook at 3 was somewhat understandable. But the spinning and bolting like that at 4 was really uncalled for.

Was it because it was the first time we were heading away from the other horses?

Was he angry that I used my spurs when I felt him wiggle?

Was he legit scared of the stupid, plain rolltop?

Was it because he stopped at the previous jump, even though he ended up jumping it, and just felt like being bad?



Living the dream.

This is where I try to lighten up. First of all, I have a horse. Do you know how many years I wished for a horse? Literally decades. My kid-self would dropkick me from here to outer space if she heard me complaining about my horse.


Hanging out with mah poneh. Feel soooo sorry for me. Somewhere I’m sure tiny violins are playing.

It’s really happening.

Back in January, I wrote a post about a dream I had, where I accidentally walked a Novice course instead of BN, so Trainer B made me do that division. I told him about it because HA HA, and then his response was this:


When I saw that, I laughed out loud. Because sooooo funny. But the joke was on me, because we really did it, 5 months later. Yeesh.

Jumps are looking doable.

Yesterday I went to Trainer B’s for a lesson. His wife told me that B had talked to the owner of Windridge after we schooled there, and the log we took going uphill? Training. I said, “But it had a white number!” But apparently it’s only Novice if we had jumped it the other way, from flat ground. Jumping it uphill bumps it up to the Training division.

Snapshot 2 (7-8-2018 10-10 PM)

It definitely loomed large coming up the hill

And the last combination we did- the half coffin to log thing? It didn’t have flags, Trainer B assumed it was Novice (he’s not allowed to have opinions on jump levels anymore), but yep, that was Training, too.

In Trainer B’s words, “Look, you were schooling Training and we didn’t even know it!”



Don’t get me wrong- I still look at some Novice ones and my initial reaction is, “Yikes,” but for the most part, P is making them seem possible. Like the bench jump that he skipped over without a second thought…when I say that jump, for whatever reason, crept into all my thoughts of Novice, I’m not exaggerating.


Now it’s just a speed bump, thanks to P

And I even found myself watching Trainer B and his working student jumping the (flagged) Training jumps, and going, “Hey, that’s not so bad.” Shhhh, no one tell him.


Sharing the Fails.

I don’t really hold back on this blog. I mean, I write it for me and no one else, and the purpose of this at the end of the day is to detail our training (and to have a place to put all the hundreds of videos and pictures of my usually-adorable horse), and the fails are part of it.


Though pictures like this will always be my favorite

That being said, I went through a recent phase where I would sort of mention failures, but wouldn’t post associated media, mainly the stops. My reasoning was that I didn’t want to see it myself. I didn’t want to dwell on the stops, and just wanted to post perfect pictures/videos. Kinda like most everyone’s IG account.


So when I was writing the post about XC, I had a block of text about the refusals, then videos of our successes. I hadn’t even looked at the footage of the stops at that point.


But you know what? Not posting it doesn’t make me forget it, as much as I wish it did. And maybe a year from now P will have never stopped at anything again (hush, I can dream, right?) and I can post the gif of the insane stop/spin/bolt move he did and laugh at it.


When P was all, “Byyyeee y’all” But I somehow stayed on sans stirrup, like a rabid squirrel clinging to the last acorn on earth.

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Tales from a Bad Eventer (seriously hilarious…and oh-so-relatable), and I appreciate blogs like that because it’s honest and gives me some hope. No one is perfect 100% of the time and it’s ok to show the uglies, too. Plus, the fails are funnier.


Not exactly a fail, but this was a jump where I wasn’t sure what he would do and he looked hard at the falling away terrain on the backside. We have the exact same expression on our faces: mouths open, eyes a little like, “What are we doooooing?” Derp.

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy working with Trainer B?

Seriously, I can’t believe where we are now vs a year ago.

In June 2017, I went XC schooling with Bette at Windridge (same place we went this past Sunday). Except last year not only did P refuse pretty much all of the tiny starter jumps and  need a lead over for many of them, those tiny little starter jumps looked enormous and daunting to me.


LOOK HOW TINY. Thanks for the lead, Finn the Angel Pony 🙂 PC: Bette


PC: My iPhone (look at that majestic quality). Jumping TRAINING 🙂


PC: Danica M. Oh look, another Training combo 🙂

It’s pretty incredible, really, and I owe it all to him. He never gets upset, he never makes me feel less-than, he’s just so methodical and well, genius, that I know we really lucked out. In all my years of re-riding as an adult, I’ve never felt more secure in the saddle, more confident on my horse, and more equipped to deal with (most) issues that arise.

Priceless stuff right there.


Husband is the perfect birthday gift giver


Wine glass that says, “Novice, Training, Prelim.” Going to be one of my horse show wine glasses ❤️


Windridge XC Schooling

Sequence of events XC schooling with P: Great, fantastic, bad, super bad, super-awful bad, good, great, fantastic, phenomenal.


On Sunday Trainer B took the team XC schooling at Windridge. I’ve been there a few times before and always had a good time. Windridge was the first HT we won:


October 2017

It was the site of our first hunter pace, and even though P was ridiculous about stream crossings, I still had fun with Sara.


It was also the first place we schooled some real BN fences. Bette can attest that I thought this BN cabin was way too big and wide to jump. My, how times have changed.


PC: Bette

I got there just as Trainer B was getting the Starter/BN group going, so left P standing on the trailer to go watch. And, though I had been determined not to look beforehand, I caught glimpses of a few Novice jumps from the back of the golf cart.


The few that I saw looked enormous. Jumps 1, 2, 3, and 5 were just, well, intimidating.

Our Novice group was small: just myself, Trainer B on his OTTB, and another client. We started at jump 1, and P took one look at the jump and….

I know. I was as surprised as anyone else.

Then we went to jump 2. Windridge’s #2’s have never been kind to us. He had repeated stops at the starter one last year while schooling, and when we were there for BN earlier this year he peeked hard at it. The Novice one was next to the Starter one, so looked even more enormous. We started with the BN one and then circled back for the Novice.

Snapshot 2 (7-9-2018 10-30 AM).png

Practically no difference between starter (blue) and BN (green), then HELLO NOVICE

He definitely didn’t give any indication he noticed the height difference.

So that was encouraging, and I was confident that it was going to be a good day. Trainer B remarked after jump 2 that P was ready for Prelim.



Everyone started with BN #3 and P sailed over it. It wasn’t so long ago that jump would’ve given me great pause, but I didn’t think anything of it (🙌).

Now, the Novice jump 3 was spooky, ok, fine. He wasn’t the only horse to stop at it, so it wasn’t exactly surprising.


A strong reprimand with the whip and spurs, and he popped over with no further issue. We ended up jumping that jump successfully at least 8 times, so fingers crossed next time he remembers there are no goblins hiding in it.


Then Super Awful Terrible P came out. We were supposed to jump 3, then head down to 4, which was a red rolltop. Yes, it’s Novice size, but it’s plain and boring. So we jump 3, and halfway across the field I feel P get wiggly, so I put my leg on and then right before the jump he does this incredible spin and TAKES.OFF.


I had one stirrup and honestly have zero idea how I stayed on galloping down the hill and back up. I thought for sure my DNA would be scattered among the Windridge fields forever. He’s spooked many a time in our life together, but he’s never just kept going like that.

So Trainer B comes up, gives me a little pep talk, and I head back to 3 again to re-attempt the line. This time P gets closer to 4, then spins even MORE violently and my right stirrup goes flying completely off my saddle. I had the time to think, “I’ve got to get off my horse to get the stirrup anyway,” and “I really don’t want to sit through another bolt,” and while it wasn’t exactly a dismount, it wasn’t a fall, either. It was more like a… surrender, if you will. I landed in a squat, still holding the reins, and was tempted for a split second to just let them go and hope P disappeared over the horizon, preferably forever.


Then Trainer B had mercy on me and asked if I wanted him to get on. YES, PLEASE.

Snapshot 1 (7-9-2018 10-48 AM).png

You’ve brought this upon yourself, P

Now, this is what I just don’t understand about P. He jumps a jump or a course and what happens? He gets praised, patted, and we move on. If he acts like an idiot, he gets the crop and/or spur, and in some cases, has Trainer B climb on. Trainer B has zero fear and P can fight all he wants, but he WILL end up doing what he’s asked. The score right now is somewhere along the lines of Trainer B: 1,000,000,000 vs P: 0.

You’d think by now he’d know that.


Clueless P

Then I got back on and was seriously considering asking Trainer B if we could just do a few BN jumps and call it a day. Before I could say anything, he said to start with 3 again, get over 4 anyway I could, and then head up to 5.


I walked back to 3 thinking, “We haven’t even gotten over 4, and 5 is absolutely humongous.” Honestly I felt a little defeated. He’d just cruised around CHP’s Novice (which is not a soft course by any means) and a little red rolltop is causing this many issues?

But off I went.

So that was a big win for me.

We did that a few times, then headed to a 2 stride. Oh, goody. My favorite.

But all the 2 stride practice at home and at Trainer B’s has paid off.

Then we wandered over to the water, which P is always fine with. So we put together another mini course: rolltop to the water, down the hill and a left turn to a u-shaped ramp, immediate right up the bank, right turn down the hill, then up the hill to a log. I had no idea what the log looked like, but Trainer B said it was at the top of the hill and to look for white numbers.

So my first glimpse of it was as we were galloping up to it.

Snapshot 2 (7-8-2018 10-10 PM).png

Some 4 letter words may have crossed my mind when I saw it.

Bets on if he jumped it?

Helmet cam view:



He always looks super badass in the water



Heart eyes for the knees


Made it!

We went and practiced the up/down bank a few times, with no issues. Then the Novice group was done for the day.

So P & I thought. Muahaha.

On the walk back to the trailers, I think Trainer B could sense my disappointment. Even though most of it was great, I was still stuck on how terribly awful he had been for no reason. So he asked if I wanted to stay on and do some more for the next session, which was him on his own horse he’s moving up to Prelim and one of their working students who is going Training. P seemed just fine, so I said yes.

We got a 40 minute break or so, while the horses who’d just finished got taken care of and the 2 going out got tacked up. Then the 3 of us headed (back) to the start box, and I expected some serious fussiness from P since I figured he’d assumed he was done.

But he was great, and we ended up doing 1, 2, and 3. Then found some new Novice jumps we hadn’t jumped before, and strung together a longer course of 4, 5, 6 (a log coop), 7 AB, 8 (a bench), 9, and the water.

Let me tell you about this bench.


From the MyCoursewalk app

I’ve seen this bench a bunch of times the various times I’ve been to Windridge. It’s usually a jump close to the water, but when we got there on Sunday, it was nowhere to be found. And I was relieved. See, that jump is one of the reasons I thought Novice would always be out of reach for us. It doesn’t look like much in the picture (they never do), but whenever talk about Novice would come up, that jump (and 2 others) would pop into my head and I’d involuntarily shudder.

So here I am, thinking it’s no longer part of the course, since we hadn’t seen it earlier. So when Trainer B said to continue straight after the 2 stride and look for 8, imagine my face when we were galloping straight at 8 and I realized it was THE BENCH.

So so so so sadly, Cambox died and I have zero footage of it. Right now that’s my biggest regret in life (#firstworldproblems). But the entire mini-course was perfect, including the bench- you’ll have to take my word for it.

Then we moved to a whole different field that we hadn’t previously gone to and there was a jump there that was Novice/Training.


Except this one had 2 hay bales stuffed in the middle. Yay, fillers. P LOVES those.

And so I got a good gallop going, and he didn’t even look at the fence.

At that point, I was content to stop. But as we wandered further, Trainer B happened upon a half coffin then 3 strides to the closest thing to a trakehner P has ever seen. And he was all, “Go back there and ride like hell at it.”

And I was all, e4f8be986c8067cea1ecdddcf742bb37


I look stunned that we made it (I was), and P says looking where you’re going is for sissies. So much tail sass happening.         PC: Danica M.

We did it a few more times until I stopped grabbing his face after the ditch and Trainer B declared it perfect.



Discussion Board: Riding in the Heat

I live in the Charlotte region of NC, and our summers are long. And hot. And humid. Having grown up in Chicago, I’m STILL not used to the humidity here. It’s icky and it’s awful. I sweat so much I literally carry a towel around with me when I do anything outdoors. Walk down the driveway to get my mail? Get ready for some water works.


Given that it gets hot here in May, and stays that way until the end of September (or October, some years), if we want to do things, we need to suck it up. But there are a lot of differing opinions on that.

We have those that ride super early in the morning or super late in the evening. I can do neither of those, thanks to the little monsters called my children. If I want to ride, it has to be after work and before after-school care/camp/daycare pickup, giving me a window between 4:30-6 PM every day.

Then there are those that only ride when the temp/humidity is under a certain level. In July, our average daily humidity level is 72. Which, when combined with normal average temps of 94, sucks. So if I were to go that route, I’d pretty much never ride.

My normal lesson time with Trainer B is 1 PM. That’s about as awful as you can get, but it’d be hard for me to get there earlier and each time I’ve gone there later, traffic has been bad on the way back. 1 PM ensures I don’t have to rush in the morning, and can have a smooth trip back after. So 1 PM it is.

I’ve caught some flack for that. I’ve heard I’m putting my horse in danger, it’s cruel, unfair, etc. I’ve done the research and there are definitely some sources that agree with those viewpoints.


I don’t control ride times at shows. At CHP a couple weeks ago, our SJ time was 1:03, with XC right after. It was 92 with some insane humidity. It was gross.


This is how my horse finished XC:


He was still full of himself when I pulled up, and by the time we got back to the barns his breathing was normal. Within 10 minutes of being back in his stall, his temp was regular and he was happy to suck down a bucket of water and start munching his hay.


Just an excuse to post this picture again

He had the next 2 days off, and he showed zero signs of being anything but perfectly fine. And when I got back on after 48 hours, P showed me exactly why he should never get a full 48 hours off.


We recreated this moment quite a few times.

So. The horse is pretty fit.

Now, if you normally ride when it’s cool out, or if you give your horse the day off when the temp reaches a certain point, I think it’s pretty unfair to then take that horse to a show (or anywhere) and demand it work in conditions it’s not used to.


July 2017- Working at 1 PM

My typical schedule usually includes:

Day 1: Dressage arena work. I usually pick a test and run through it and then work on specific elements that sucks.

Day 2: Hack 20-30 minutes around the farm. One of the hack days is always very low-key (more like wandering), and the other includes marching up/down hills in the pasture, lateral work around pastures, trotting up the long hill then galloping down the gallop lane, etc. 

Day 3: Jump arena with lots of ground pole work. Have started adding gymnastics to this day.

Day 4: Hack 20-30 minutes around the farm.

Day 5: Lesson

Day 6: Off

Day 7: Usually a goof-off day. Bareback/bridleless/riding in costume/playing with weird objects/filming videos/giving kids pony rides, etc.

On work days, I’m usually on for about 40 minutes, with lots of walk breaks sprinkled throughout. Then he gets to cool off in front of the fans before going back out to the pasture when we’re done. 

So how do you and your horse deal with summer? Do you have to manage them more carefully or do you just suck it up and ride in miserable conditions?


If I was super picky about when I ride, I wouldn’t have gotten to do this!

But For Real…

Despite me perhaps not working super hard between lessons, the lesson I had on Wednesday was a great one.


Not as great as the one last week, where we did 2 stride combinations over and over, and not only did P not stop at anything, HE DIDN’T CHIP ONCE. It was a miracle, I tell you. Even when Trainer B stuck the fences up to 3’3″, we didn’t chip. It was so awesome. We’re the stars of the 2 stride now.


Naturally, I have zero media of that lesson. So after we filmed the last contest video, I drug Husband off to my lesson with me to video.

Sidenote: We didn’t win! Boo. Asmar direct messaged me on IG and said that while they loved Husband’s video best of all, they couldn’t let us win 3 months in a row. They asked me a bunch of questions and are going to feature it in an “e-blast.” They’re a great company (with obviously a great sense of humor), and I’ll be doing some reviews of the clothing we won soon. 

Ok, back to the action at hand.

We spent the first half hour or so working on the flat. Trainer B is a wizard over fences for sure, but he’s definitely no slouch in the dressage arena either.

P is a pretty stiff horse, and I struggle with suppling him. But he’s also a stubborn lil guy and can be so resistant that I end up second guessing what I do, so then don’t do anything at all. Because that’s always the solution, right? So Trainer B had us w/t/c while flexing him to the right and left using my hand and leg, and moving the saddle around (not really, it was just the imagery used) with my seatbones to loosen him up.



This took FOREVER. I’m not even sure what my entire body is doing, but lap after lap of fighting him at the canter wears a person out.



Particularly in the right lead canter, P zoomed around with his head in the air and his jaw locked, and it took 3 laps for him to soften. Trainer B said to think of it like he’s got to go through the dark side to get to the light, so just because it’s not working right away, doesn’t mean I’m not asking correctly. And that each time we work on it, we’ll be stuck in the dark side for less and less time.

And then, “Well, we rarely have a triple in the arena. But here it is, so let’s do it.”


P has not always been a fan of the yellow jump- and is never a fan of when jumps are cross-rail/vertical mixes, so he had us cut in and just do the yellow one twice. P accelerated towards it and I thought, yeah! We got this.



Now, I really can’t tell you what the problem was. Trainer B said the blue jump is spooky and sure, I guess so, but P gave no indication that was the problem. My guess is that he saw that there was yet ANOTHER jump after the blue and panicked. Combinations aren’t our thing, they never have been.


Surprisingly good at bending lines, though.

For example, in our SJ round 2 weeks ago, look at how he stops at this boring, plain vertical- it was the jump into the one-stride. He’d just jumped the other 4 jumps super boldly.


And then we reapproach, and he still comes to it way insecurely.


The week before, at the great-lesson-of-which-I-have-no-media, P jumped spookier, and much bigger fences, with zero stops. I think after jumping the yellow super boldly, he saw there were two more fences and shut down. So I’m betting it has less to do with the actual fences, and more about his own confidence in combinations. I’m still not 100% confident in them either, thanks to our history, so we definitely feed off each other there.

But we eventually got through it, albeit, not very prettily. That’s what lessons are for, right? RIGHT?!

Then he sent us through the one stride, and then around to the triple the opposite way. If you have the sound on you’ll hear, “She’s not going slow anymore, that’s good.” SCORE! Self-high five.pat-yourself-on-the-back-gif-5.gif

And then one final time to boost P’s confidence. And it was pretty perfect. P likes to land and then zoom off around turns, so we worked on softening him after the jumps and having nicer downward transitions, which we nailed.

So guess who’s going to set up a new gymnastic every week to help with our collective confidence? Send me your favoritesgiphy.gif






When Your Trainer Asks You…

…What you’ve been doing since he last saw you 5 days ago…


I mean, uh, some desensitizing exercises. Always very important.

Umbrella 1Umbrella2

Giving pony rides to my 4 year old who has every day since, demanded that we “share Pilgwim.” He spent the 30 minutes ride (longer than my ride on P!) begging me to jump, cajoling P to “go faster,” and pony club kicking. Future pro event rider?

You’ll need the sound on.



And last not NOT least, planning, directing, filming, and editing our latest Asmar Equestrian contest submission. This is for sure the BEST ONE YET, thanks to Husband, who is the best sport ever.

You will DEFNITELY need the sound on for this.

A very productive 5 days it’s been, I tell ya.

CHP Novice Takeaways-Cross Country

He’s a cross-country beast with the right rider. 

Remember when I wasn’t so sure he liked cross-country? Well, if he’s ridden correctly, he damn sure does.


He was a bit sticky to the first 2 jumps, but I can’t really blame him- we were heading right for the barns, where he had a fan and 2 buckets of cold water in his stall. It was 94 degrees at 1:30 PM and we had just jumped SJ. But as soon as we were over jump 2? He clicked into a whole ‘nother gear.


Into the field towards 4

Jump 4 was a jump where I had no idea how he’d react. This has been his only experience climbing a hill, jumping, and going straight downhill:


October 2017


And even though he peeked, and it was a bit awkward…


…He made it over to the other side, which is what counts

I was so impressed with him in the water. This is the same horse I used to have to drag through every puddle I could find because he was aversive to getting his delicate tootsies wet.

XC boots2

2015- hesitant about splashing in the water


2016- He spent the year convinced he couldn’t go faster than a trot through water.

2017- finally getting there


2018- Sees water, accelerates towards jump, and flies in.

The next 2 jumps were ones I was definitely hesitant about. Jump 7 we had to weave in between two scary looking jumps, and it landed downhill. Didn’t know what P would think about the drop off, but man, he flew.


I did have to slow him down a bit to make the U-turn, and I was sort of dreading jump #8. It’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s uphill, and P historically has not been a fan of things with cutouts. So imagine my surprise when he charged at it.


The other one I was a bit concerned about was the table. Not for P, because P doesn’t seem to mind those types of jumps. But I was worried that I would do something to mess him up or convey that I thought it was a bit large. So I made sure to keep my hands forward and while it took every ounce of mental strength I had not to mess with him, I let him figure out his own stride. He definitely spooked a tiny bit at the carts/people walking directly behind the jump, but was a champ.


Spotting the table


Chances are high that this picture will be somewhere in every post from now until the end of time.


At this point I was sad there was only 2 more jumps to go.

The last bending line I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t be able to turn him and the last thing I wanted was a run out at the final jump. So I took him to the right of this and we met it slightly awkward.


He made the line easily, though, and made the feeder look like a Green as Grass jump.


Now at this point I got a bit choked up, and was so ready to jump off and throw my arms around this big guy. P had other ideas- get through the finish flags as fast as he could.


Not sure if I’m smiling or crying here. Probably both 🙂

I was happy with how I rode on XC.

Trainer B said, “If you feel a little out of control, go with it,” and I did. I feel like I steered and stayed out of his way, which is key for him. I was also told that if I didn’t feel him accelerate 10 strides out, to use leg and the crop. I only had to do that to fences 1, 2, and 4.

While we were walking the course, Trainer B told me that when I try to set him up before I fence, P listens, so if I don’t then follow the setup with clear directions, it confuses him and he shuts down. Which makes sense. When I kicked on towards a fence, or tapped him with my crop, he responded immediately. Even when I felt uncertain about a distance or our stride, I just stayed out of his way and he figured it all out, as long as he knew I wanted him to go.

The bit change was necessary.

I don’t think I brought it up before, but Trainer B changed up his bit for XC when we went to Virginia. P gets low and flat while galloping, and will blow you right off in rubber bits/snaffles. When we first changed him into a rubber bit, the hope was that it would give P confidence to the jumps. Well, it worked a little too well. 2 days before we left for VA, Trainer B jumped him around his XC jumps at his place in the Nathe and said nope, that he’d bring something for him. He ended up putting P in a full cheek, rubber gag for VHT.


And I think we can all agree P was great there.


My concern was for when I took back over. I’m clearly not the same rider as Trainer B, and didn’t want to do anything that would hurt P and thus back him off from XC even more. But I also know how P is on XC, and the tugging match isn’t fun. When you’re flying around, hauling on the reins and getting no response, you tend to not enjoy XC very much.


Before we left for CHP, we had an XC lesson in the gag, and I was seriously afraid to canter, lest I hit him in the mouth. But I was overreacting- P was fine, and he was definitely fine on XC at CHP. It’s not a harsh mouthpiece, but it does allow him to go around in his own frame where he’s comfortable, while still giving me the control to get his head up before a fence. I always felt like I HAD brakes…I just obviously didn’t use them, hence the speed faults. But I knew they were there. So a win for everyone.

-P is a better 3 Day horse. 

Trainer B and I talked about this for awhile. When we were at Virginia, P got to do all 3 phases in the “correct” order. And he was great. Trainer B said the one day format where you do SJ before XC isn’t the best structure for P.

XC gets P forward. SJ gets P sucked back.


A little behind the leg


Booking it

He encouraged us to look into the Novice 3 Day next year at Heart of the Carolinas (which was already on my radar, but at BEGINNER Novice…yikes), and that will also probably factor somewhat into which events I chose to attend.

We need to change up the start box routine. 

I’ve always just walked P in, stood there, and then headed straight out when we’re counted down. Since this marks 2 times P has come out sideways, Trainer B suggested picking up the trot/canter outside the box and coming through already with some speed.

He also had the idea to wait until we’re counted down, and THEN pick up the trot/canter and head through the box. That way we waste some seconds, to maybe avoid speed faults.

-We’re at the level we should be at.

After the competition, I asked Trainer B if I should enter at BN for the next competition, which is recognized.

B: “Why? So you can ride like a slug around SJ and get away with it?”


Slug? Me? 😦

Fair point.

Honestly, the whole day before, as well as the day of the competition, I felt like I shouldn’t have been there. I had no idea what possessed me to enter at Novice, and why I thought it would work out considering we had such little experience at BN.


But Trainer B said that sure, it was technically unrecognized, but the course was a legit Novice course. It wasn’t a “guaranteed success” course. The War Horse series is a big one around these parts. They bring in real course designers and use the same jumps that they use for recognized competitions. So ok, maybe we won’t look like idiots the next time.

-The “T word” resurfaces. 

While neither Trainer B or I were upset by the speed faults, I asked him if I should do something different next time. Pull him down to the trot at some point in the course? He said no, P needs to get going from right out of the start box and stay forward. His confidence obviously increases the further he gets in the course, so messing with his rhythm wouldn’t be a good idea.



Then I got, “Hate to break it to you, but you’re going to get speed faults until you go Training.”


CHP Novice Takeaways- Stadium

-I can pretty much guess what we’ll be doing at Trainer B’s this Friday. 


Wait, that’s not how you properly go through a one-stride?


All the yikes

Which probably stems from this:


October 2017

And while we eventually got it after multiple tries that day, my psyche was already damaged. Which I continue to relay to P 8 months later.


This only took five billionty times

Stadium is officially the worst phase. 

Out of the mouth of Trainer B. We get by when the jumps are small, but missing to 2’6″ is different than missing to 3′. Who woulda thought?

Heckling helps.

Now I had just taken P to our first jumper show this year and we cruised around 2’6″ and 2’9″, but the videos showed a much slower pace than I thought we had.


Jump-off. I thought we were flying. Not so much.

On our way to dinner the night before the horse trial, we all went out to dinner and Trainer B rode with me. As I was driving towards the restaurant, he goes, “How come you drive your truck so fast, but ride so slow?”


HA. HA. Maybe because my truck responds when I put my foot on the accelerator and doesn’t stop unless I choose to engage the brake?

Then later we were all sitting around outside the stalls and Trainer B says to Husband, “I’m going to Petsmart to get a shock collar to attach to P’s girth. Anytime I think she’s going too slow, I’m going to press the button. Cool?” To which Husband replied, “Yeah, man!” And then I laughed. And then Trainer B looked me dead in the eye and said, “Oh, you think I’m joking?”

Ummm, I actually can’t tell.


So. We rode fast the next day.


Made it over jump 1 on our first real Novice course 🙂

It wasn’t all bad.

Was it pretty? No. BUT. I didn’t micromanage him to fences. I didn’t freak out if I saw nothing or saw a wrong distance a few strides out. I added leg and we moved on. That in itself is a HUGE win.


I had to cut the turn after jump 1 to this oxer super sharp so he didn’t have time to think to stop.

Like, despite the rail at 4, I was really proud of how I rode this 7 stride. Because when we walked it, it walked in 7. And then I did 7. Not 6 + a flier. Not 8. SEVEN.


Count for yourself!

Even though SJ went nothing like I wanted it to, Trainer B said my riding was good (except the whole looking behind me. What an idiot), and this is all stuff we can clean up at home. So pray for me.

After SJ, we still had a number score, not a letter.

I mean, we made it around with no falls! Quite a different result than when I attempted BN at this same HT last June.

Go or Crash

Trainer B said I try to make things too perfect for P while jumping. And P has learned that if it’s not perfect, the answer is to stop and try again. And then I try even harder to set him up right, but if the Princess deems it not to be so, stopping is alright.

No. He said he’d rather P crash through fences than stop at them. Seems a little harsh, right? I did at first, but he explained that P has got to learn that not everything is going to be perfect for him, but that unless it’s absolutely dangerous for him to jump (like if I point him off the edge of a cliff..banks don’t count), the answer has got to be, “Yes, ma’am.” He also said P is smart enough not to WANT to crash into fences. But if I have that in my head as those are the only 2 options, chances are better that P will jump rather than stop. So basically he’s telling me not to let stopping be an option that I’ll accept, which I will then convey to P.

A new way of repeating something he’s been telling me for a long time. But the phrase is catchy enough that I might actually remember it.

Open-Fronts for Stadium. 

Because we had to go straight to XC after stadium, I opted to just put on P’s Majyk Equipe XC boots for SJ. Which, looking back, probably contributed to the rails we had. I was honestly really surprised about the rails, because well, we never have them. If P jumps, he’s pretty much going to do what he needs to do not to hit a rail.

But in warmup, we hit a rail, then went in and he knocked down 3 rails (technically only 2 counted- the organizers were supposed to take out a jump after the final 2 stride, but they hadn’t done that when we went in), and was very casual about the whole thing. So great, ME technology is wonderful, but open-fronts for P from now on.


First ever stadium round- August 2015 at Kingfisher’s CT.


June 2018 (something in his mane is obvi very interesting)