Author Archives: KC Scott

CHP Novice Takeaways- Stadium

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

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

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All the yikes

Which probably stems from this:

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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So. We rode fast the next day.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

CHP Novice Takeaways-Dressage

“Hey, remember when P & I completed our first BN and I referenced it pretty much every post after that? Well, prepare for more spamming, this time Novice-style. Because Novice. And this time I have professional photos!

When I left CHP Sunday evening, I drove home with no radio, no phone calls, just drove and thought about the day. 48 hours later I’m still in disbelief. I can’t believe we did it!

But as always, there were lessons learned that I need to hammer into myself before the next one.

-Ride every movement in the dressage test. 

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The smile when you nail centerline then think, “Wait, which way do I turn?”

Despite the error-on-purpose, I felt like I actually RODE the movements, vs just sat there and reminded myself what came next. Which is something that I’ve always struggled with in dressage. So despite the terrible score, there was something positive to come out of it. 

 

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The look on your face when you can feel Trainer B standing ringside judging you.

My tendency is to freeze when P is going well, when actually, small movements with my aids will be what keeps him consistent and focused. Unless a trailer full of horses is banging down the road 10 feet from us. I guess he gets a pass for that.

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30 seconds later. I wish there was a hi-res version of this.

P’s capable of a lot- he has good gaits and he’s more consistent in his balance than ever before. I need to shorten my reins and carry my hands a bit more to relay messages to him faster.

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Would be a great picture if we could both keep our mouths shut

He’s come a long way since scooting around in hexagon shapes like a giraffe. And while we have a ton to work on, ahem, right lead canter, it’s the journey, right?

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P: “I spy with my little eye…something to spook at. 3..2..1..”

 

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The braids made it through dressage!

 

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First dressage show- February 2015

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June 2018

 

 

White Numbers

When I last left off, I was leaning towards entering BN at Carolina Horse Park, since we have only completed one BN last December, and then I retired on course earlier this year at Windridge, when P felt off galloping on XC.

Then I did this:

Nov1

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I entered before the closing date, with the reasoning that if I really panicked, it would easier to beg convince the office ladies to move me down a level, rather then asking them to move me UP a level if all was going great.

Logic. I gots it.

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I arrived at CHP before everyone else, and headed out to check out the XC course by myself so no one would witness me sobbing if the jumps were too terrifying. The first white I saw belonged to #3, a big cabin, and I thought, “Well, it looks sorta big but I guess it’s doable.” Then when I got past some trees I realized it was a Training jump.

Who even am I?

The Novice #3 next to it looked extremely doable and the BN #3 seemed positively miniscule. So I headed towards the start box and walked the whole thing.

Jump 1 was right in between identical BN and Training jumps. So I just kept my eye on the Training jump to make this one look smaller, and then glanced at this one quickly to snap a picture at the last second. #CourseWalkTips

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Then you headed right (straight towards the barns), and then psych! Turn left to jump 2, with the huge open oxer directly behind it. Nothing can go wrong here.

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Then up a hill to 3, a small raised log pile. Since I had seen the Training jump next to it, I thought this one was pretty small.

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Then head to the field and up a short steep hill (next to banks/ditches) and over this  thing that then lands downhill. P has done only one similar jump before, and the jump was the tiniest of logs, so this would be brand new. Trainer B said to tap him with the crop 5 strides out to keep his attention on me and not the ditch we were passing.

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Then a right hand turn to this canoe jump, then 2 strides into water. Another first for P. He’s a champ at the water, but never has he had to jump a jump this close to it. I wasn’t sure how he’d reactXC5

Spoiler alert: no biggie.

 

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He didn’t even peek at the shark in the water!

 

Then a left turn out of the water and in between 2 enormous jumps to this coop, that landed downhill and made it look like you were heading off into the abyss. Trainer B cautioned this would be a spooky one for P and to sit way back.

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Then you go downhill and make a sort of awkward u-turn then have a good straightaway to this one. P has never been a fan of cutouts in XC jumps, so I was told to have a really forward gallop as soon as we came around the turn.

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Then continuing up the hill and to this 5 stride. P and I suck at combinations (glaringly obvious statement right there, I know). And the B element is A LOT bigger in real life than it appears in the below picture.

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Then head to the right, down a hill, and around to another combination, this time with the B element being uphill. We kept walking it in a 4 1/2, but due to the terrain, it was a 5 stride.

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Then up the hill, turn right and down a hill to this log/coop/thing. Yay, more cutouts.

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Then a left and up a steep hill to the “fruit stand,” which sounds inviting but was enormous when you got close. I never actually looked at it besides when I squinted through the camera lens.

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Then this was the second to last:

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And a bending 7 to finish the course.

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Then I picked up my packet and got a little panicky. For better or worse, this was really happening.

Nov2

Competition Day

I got up at 6 AM, and headed across the grounds to get to P, who had been freshly bathed the night before. I found my horse covered neck to back in manure, and I still had to braid (yep, it’s apparently a consistent thing with Trainer B). So I panicked, threw cold water over my horse who hates any sort of bath, then tied him in his stall to braid him for the 3rd time ever in the 4 years I’ve owned him. Sadly, Husband only got pictures from the opposite side, but they looked really good (and discreet- no one could see the bobby pins!) and stayed in securely,  minus the one closest to the saddle that was already thin and then I knocked repeatedly with my reins while tacking up. Oops.

Nov3

Game face

Nov5

Husband being a cheeseball

Dressage

P won the warmup- he was so super fancy, supple, connected…all the good things. Trainer B was impressed, I was thrilled- this was going to be great!

Then we got sent to the spooky ring by the woods with the woodland creatures and the road. And my husband decided a good place to stand would at the edge of the woods (I still love you).

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Preview:

Nov8

As well as it being our first Novice test in a Novice horse trial, we got another first- a penalty for going off course.

See, what had HAPPENED was…when we hit C to start trotting, P spotted my husband in the woods. I pushed him forward, we trotted, went into the canter, then a huge ass trailer full of horses came flying down the road by A. And P lost it. My only goal was to not exit the arena at that point, so I pulled him down to the trot to quickly regroup, but he dragged me past where we needed to turn and the judge rang the bell.

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Fine- I looked back to make sure it was our judge, and she stuck her hand out and waved me over. OMG, no. I finally got P under control and as we headed that way she explained where I went wrong (I already knew), and what the movement was (I already knew). Of course it’s not her fault- she was really nice and was only trying to help- but restarting it and breaking up the test like that pretty much doomed us. The rest of it was tense and choppy.

Disclaimer: I’m SO SORRY for Husband’s language. Perhaps you’ll want to mute it if you’re around small children. He apparently is very passionate about lower level dressage.

I forgot to pick up my dressage test (another first!), so no idea what our individual scores were. We were in either last place or 2nd to last place after dressage. Whatever. I only wanted to finish on a number rather than a letter, and was pretty much just there for cross-country anyway.

Stadium

We had a few hours until stadium, so I kept myself busy helping the rest of the team and cheering them on. When Trainer B said he’d meet me at warmup at 12:45, that’s when the panic started to set in.

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I told Husband repeatedly on the walk to warmup (who was driving next to me on the golf cart blasting “Eye of the Tiger” from his phone. Yes, there were stares.) that I should scratch. I was so incredibly nervous because straight after stadium, we had to go right to XC.

Stadium is what I should’ve been more concerned about. Apparently I forgot how to jump altogether.

The actual round wasn’t much better. While I definitely had a better pace than I usually do (you can hear Trainer B approve of my “aggressive” riding around the 46 second mark), for some reason I cared enough to TURN AROUND after we knocked the pole down at 4, which slowed us in the turn and we had a stop at 5. I mean, seriously? I don’t even remember doing it, but sure enough, it’s on video. We have a hard enough time with combinations, and I made it even harder. Sigh. 12 jumping faults and I think 10 time faults. Lesson learned: look ahead.

But really, while yes, I struggle in SJ for sure, I think most of everything had to do with my trepidation for XC. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where we didn’t have at least one stop- and I had a sleepless night the night before, so I went through many a scenario in my head. Repeatedly. It just didn’t seem possible, no matter how much I lectured myself not to think like that.

Add to that, Trainer B had to get on his own horse after I did SJ, and wouldn’t be able to head to the start box with us to remind me to gallop.

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Don’t want to be THAT client, but I was freaking out.

Side story: One thing that I’ve been repeatedly told by Trainer B (poor guy) is to “go faster than you want to.” Because I’ll THINK I’m booking it around and then I see a video and I have to check to see if the slo-mo setting is on. So this past March I ordered another bonnet from my favorite If the Bonnet Fits, even though she had a pretty long turnaround time. When I entered Novice, I asked if it would be ready in time and she expedited it to me and it arrived Thursday night, before I left for CHP. P debuted it at our first Novice- and it totally worked! I caught glimpses of it during XC and kicked on.

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LOVE IT

Cross Country

So Husband and I head to XC, with me saying AGAIN that I should scratch. Poor guy- his 2nd year in a row spending Father’s Day at a horse show with me in 92 degree weather and I’m obnoxious as hell.

Rather than fumble through warmup, they said they were ready for me so I went straight to the start box.

The volunteer at the start was so nice- when I had a minute to go he said, “What do dressage queens use for birth control?” I had no idea. “Their attitudes.” That cracked me up (sorry, DQs!) and was so nice of him to help ease my anxiety for a few seconds.

Then we were off- sideways. Familiar, if you’ve seen the helmet cam from Full Gallop. But Trainer B and I had walked the exact line we needed to take to jump 1 (since it was off-center) and we were definitely not on it, so I smacked him. He took sort of a leap over it, but we had successfully cleared 1/1 Novice XC jumps!

We had a little fight about turning left away from the barns, but he hopped over it and then zoomed off.

Besides a peek at jump 4 (unsurprising), a fumble on my part through the first combination, and slight spook at the people and carts behind 12 (the enormous “fruit stand”), he was a rockstar. See for yourself:

Husband was kind enough to trek across the field to video the last 4 jumps.

I didn’t wear a watch, but knew we had gone really fast. So when Husband was heading back towards me after finishing, he yelled “How was it?” and I yelled back, “CLEAR!” and the woman at the finish line said, “She had SPEEEEEEED FAULTS.” Hey, lady. Trainer B will be thrilled I had speed faults. It meant I actually galloped.

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Yep. Galloping: check

I swear those are Novice jumps. I swear when you walk up to them, they take up more than half my height. So why does P make them look sooooo small?

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We finished in 9th on 68.40, which is terrible but see the column under XC Jump? See how it says ZERO? That was all I really cared about.

aThe speed fault time was 4:04 so we ended up 10 seconds too fast, and 29 seconds faster than everyone else in our division. There were 51 total Novice competitors and guess what? Still the fastest time. So P’s got some zoomies in him.

I guess what I’m rambling on and on about is…WE DID IT! Novice baby!

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You So Fancy

Remember when I took P for VA for his Novice debut with Trainer B and thought they were joking about having P braided? Well, that’s NOT going to happen again.

I used to braid aaalllll the time as a kid, and always used yarn. After trying it out last week and realizing it’s NOT like riding a bike, I searched for new techniques.

Some of you mentioned the Quick Knot stuff, which I’d seen (and quickly disregarded because I, ya know, don’t didn’t braid) floating around on FB, so I did a search for that and stumbled across a video with the same premise, but with bobby pins. It was a mesmerizing video (maybe it was the music), but would it work?

After ordering the needed supplies from Amazon, and 30 minutes rather than 10…

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OMG IT DOES

It was shocking, really.

I had my doubts when I sectioned his mane off and it was a bit, uhh, wild:

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Some of the sections, like the first section in the above picture, were too thin, so those were hard to roll up and not have any pieces sticking out. More hair is better for this type of braid. But I was thrilled with how it turned out.

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And it was also easier to see the backs of the bobby pins with the thin braids. So note to self, thicker is better for these.

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We headed outside so I could trot him around and make sure they didn’t shake out.

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They didn’t.

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When I looked at the Quick Knot stuff, they were selling them for 100 for $39.95. Not a bad deal if they’re re-usable. But in their FAQs section it says that they lose strength when used, so I probably wouldn’t re-use them, lest they break at an inopportune time. The bobby pins are not reusable, but I got 200 for $6.99 on Amazon and used 10 (will probably use 8 or 9 next time), so even better.

Ready for the next braiding excursion!

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Repetition

Friday I headed to Trainer B’s with some mishaps from the week on my mind. So when he asked the usual question about how P was this week, I was all, “How do I choose which of my horrible habits to present?”

Here, Trainer B. Here’s all of them.

  1. It’s super hard for me to sit the canter to the right. It’s P’s stiffer way and he’s really bad about putting ALL of his weight on his front right. So much weight you can practically see his left hind peddling in the air.
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How turning right feels on P

2. I can’t stop micromanaging P to fences. If we’re 3-4 strides away and I see that we’re not going to meet the fence perfectly, I pick at him. I think back all the time to the Clayton Fredericks clinic I audited this past January, where he said if the distance is wrong you have two options: push or wait. Never pull, because if you pull going into the fence and it doesn’t go well, the horse blames you for it. Nevertheless, I’m fiddling with his face nonstop.

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3. I sit too long before fences, get left behind, and in an attempt to “catch-up,” I pinch with my knee, which swings my lower leg back and tips me forward. This is the opposite problem that I used to have- where I’d lean at every fence, but P stopping really taught me to not to trust that we’re leaving the ground until we’re in the air.

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Me fixing one problem by creating another 

So we started with the canter. And the fix is, uhh, awkward. I have to sit back and waaaay to the left. Like, ridiculously to the left, while keeping my right leg on for bend, left leg behind the girth, and open left rein as if I’m leg-yielding. OMG so awkward. We worked on that for a bit, and I get to do that every time I canter. Fun.

Next he addressed both jumping issues with one exercise. He put a ground pole down 42 ft away from a jump that P has jumped many, many times before, to make it 3 strides from the pole to the jump. Then he had me get in half seat and practice getting P’s hip angle further underneath him and his shoulders elevated, and then keeping that around the corner until we reached the pole. When we went over the pole, I had to give a little tap with my legs and soften, to sorta “slingshot” P forward over the jump.

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Once we had done that a couple times and it was clear P was going to jump, we worked on me. I did all of the above, and then thought of keeping my knees soft, shoving my feet forward and keeping my chest and head up.

But it was great, and it’s an exercise that’s easy to set up at home.

So we only have to do this a million more times, give or take a few.

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Saturday I headed to a local jumper show to put all this into practice. My plan going in had been to use the 2’6″ as a warm-up (yes, really), then go into 2’9″, 3’0″, and, if those went well, 3’3″.

The website said the show started at 1, and 2’6″ was class #9, so we pulled in at 12:45…and they were already on class 3 after starting at 12:30.

I had this moment of panic when I realized they were about to start 2’3″ and thought maybe I should go in to let P see the jumps. But I didn’t, and stayed with my plan to use 2’6″ as our warm-up.

And…it was fine.

He felt like he hesitated when I got him straight to 7 and he saw both jumps, but when I saw the video I think he just chipped in vs thought about stopping. And he’s clearly unimpressed by 2’6″. So unlike last year when we couldn’t make it around a 2’6″ course for anything.

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So boring. Zero effort required. 

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So we had awhile to go, since there were a bunch of other riders, and I hopped off P to let him graze while I talked to BO, who had come along to help and take videos (hooray for great friends who understand the importance of media). Then one of the volunteers came over to where we were standing and handed me a blue ribbon. I asked if they were done with 2’6″ and he said yeah, so I headed to the counter to add 2’9″. The lady looked a little crestfallen and said there were no entries, so they were going to conclude the show. I said, “Ok, so I can’t go in then?” and she said, “Well, can you help us raise the fences since you’re the only entry?” Uhhh, sure.

So I did, then hopped on P, trotted him in a circle and we headed in.

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He felt awesome, and I so badly wanted to see if we could raise them to 3′, but when I headed out the gate, the volunteer handed me my blue ribbon (since I was the only one) and walked in the opposite direction. So I rode to the counter and before I could even say anything, the woman told me she had filled my check out for $40 (I had left an open check so I could add classes), and asked me if she could get my number from me. Okkkkk then, guess we’re done.

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It was still fun, though. To put it like Michael Jung, P “gave me a great feeling,” and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Even better, I feel like I really used all that we worked on the day before in the rounds, and even when things didn’t go perfectly, I was able to let P sort it out rather than start meddling. Sort of a crucial quality in an event horse, no?

Though I made the mistake of posting the pictures/videos on FB and quickly earned myself a comment from Trainer B, noting that Novice was 2’11”. Hey- I wanted to go in the higher classes!

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My lil champion earned lots of admiring comments from spectators and other competitors

Hesitation

I’ve gotten a lot of, “When are you moving up?” inquiries lately, and the truth is, I don’t know. Thankfully I have 5 more days to figure it out.

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If anyone has any insight on Carolina Horse Park’s Novice course, let me know! I’ve found some helmet cams on YT, but most are from 2015.

See, the thing is, for all the jokes I make, the jumps themselves don’t scare me. What gets to me is how I think Pilgrim will react to them. If my dear horse would just come right on out and say, “Listen lady, I won’t stop at a single thing today,” it’d be GAME ON.

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And P has a killer game face.

But sadly, Pilgrim no habla ingles. Now, do I think it’s helpful to walk around a course and go, “He’s going to stop at that, and that, and that…?” Of course not. Self-fulfilling prophecy and all. If I’m unsure, P feels that. He doesn’t know that the REASON I’m unsure is whether or not he’s going to stop, he just knows I don’t feel right. Then he stops. And around and around we go. It’s mental, I know. I’m working on it.

Jump

The next horse trial coming up is, on paper, the perfect setting for a move up. It’s a venue we’ve been to twice before, it’s unrecognized, and they have a schooling day the day before where you can jump the exact stadium courses and all of the XC jumps (you can’t jump the XC jumps in order, if I remember correctly).

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So why the hesitation?

Number one: Memories

I attended this same show exactly a year ago. And joined a clinic for the schooling day, which still to this day, remains my absolute worst ride on P. The clinician was so critical of P that although I started off defending him (there was A LOT going on, to be fair), I slowly started believing her. She made comment after comment about how “shitty” he was, which really got in my head. Then made some comments about how we should be competing over poles on the ground, when she didn’t know we were in earshot. And the next day, even when P was back to his non-demonic self for the actual competition, she made some more comments about his sanity that rattled me.

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Yep, she was really talking about THIS horse. And I let it get to me.

Now, should I have let this virtual stranger dictate how I felt about my horse when she had observed us for a grand total of ONE crappy hour? No. But I was keenly aware that this was my FOURTH time at attempting to move up to BN, not to mention I’d only had him back from the worst-selling-experience-ever for 2 months, so I was a bit fragile. The most awful part about falling off halfway through stadium wasn’t the bruises, the burn from sliding in the sand, or the embarrassment; it was the smug look on her face as I led my horse out of the arena.

Number two: The Schooling Day

The schooling day there can be a bit crazy, which was my main reason for putting P in the 2’3″ division when we went last November. The XC course for the baby levels is separate from the BN+ levels, and sure enough, when we schooled, it was calm and quiet. P’s main downfall is other horses, so when we were there last June, he was totally freaked out when we were in the woods part of the XC course and could hear all these horses, but couldn’t see them. So even though we have the advantage of seeing the jumps before the competition, that could easily be negated by the craziness of the schooling day.

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Much better on XC when we’re alone

Number three: ALREADY?

Now, this is how I see other people out there doing things: they train, have success, move up. Rinse and repeat. We have not been so linear.

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I’m not saying no one else has issues, but rather sometimes I look back and we seem to have moved at a snail’s pace. I’ve owned P for 4 years, for crying out loud. And I sometimes cringe when I think of it like that. BUT…when I got P he was 4. We didn’t even attempt anything jumping-related until late 2015. Then there were those 3 months I was out with a broken ankle. And the 2 months he was in Aiken to be sold. So in reality, I guess it’s actually closer to 2 years that we’ve been struggling along. Sounds better than 4 years!

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But no matter how you slice it, I’m still used to taking things quite slowly. From 2015-2017, we entered 8 horse trials at the starter level. Of those 8, we completed 6. We were eliminated two times (one because I steered P out of the arena in dressage). So not as bad of a track record as I sometimes make it sound, I admit.

In 2017 I entered two horse trials at BN. The first one ended with the RF, the last one ended on our dressage score.

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Full Gallop HTs, you have my heart

And we’ve had one go together in 2018- at Windridge at BN where he was great jumping, but felt off while galloping, so I opted to retire.

And then of course, with Trainer B in the saddle, P has now had a successful run at Novice on a tough course in a huge field. And was a total champ.

So is it really too soon? Maybe not.

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