Tuesday, June 14, 2016

First Recognized show: Complete!

Sorry for the delay in posting everyone, its been hectic and I need to start being better about scheduling my own days off.

Anyway, our first recognized event is done! and we survived! It was HOT and humid...I couldnt have been more thankful I made the switch to my FITS show coat and Smart pak cool show shirt. Both made it bearable for our dressage.

Sneak peak at dressage
I chose to braid her the night before since I havent done it before and a good friend, who has done it TONS, offered to come help me. Thank goodness for her!! I couldnt help but feel like a proud parent prepping to send their kid off to their first day of school. I full expected my to even tear up once she was all done being braided up.

Tillie oddly LOVED being braided

Except...when I stepped back and looked her over it just looked wrong. Maybe I am just not used to seeing her braided or maybe her ears just are that big....but it just looked weird.

all braided up
I also chose to keep her in overnight because a new horse was being introduced into her field that same night and my gut told me to play it safe and keep her in...close to a $300 entry was on the line and I did not want to risk her coming in with anything wrong. It made me a bit worried about how she would be the next day, but I figured it was our best option considering the only open paddock available for turn out left she previously (and other horses like her) have tried to get out of or hate it in there.

all tucked in....looking like batman
Shockingly the day of, I was pretty calm. If anything, all this showing lately has helped my own nerves (excluding dressage apparently) but the build up hasnt been nearly as anxiety ridden as it has been before.

We tacked up for dressage and I tried to let go of some of my more recent frustrations with our flat work and remind myself this was not the time or place...that I needed to trust the training and keep it simple.

Trying to dressage....not stressage
Warming up she felt ok...pretty relaxed, but just like recent flat rides just not totally consistent and confirmed in my contact. But hey, we had relaxation more so over some other events. In hindsight I should have studded her with it being on grass and the ground was soooo hard so I noticed a few horses slipping a little. Tillie when she slips realllly gets herself in a tizzy so I tried to keep warm up conservative.

Cantering has gotten better!!

FINALLY when we trotted around the dressage ring I had the same horse that I had in warm up. Sure I knew our dressage lately hasnt been on point, but I at least had the same horse when in past events as soon as we change location its tension central.

Once we entered the ring things were feeling ok, but the longer we went the harder I had to work to keep her focus on me. She neighed once (so weird she hasnt done that except at home) and was just generally pissy about working.  There is something about this particular venue (Ill elaborate more on this later) that makes Tillie just really unsettled in general. I can remember the last time I have had sass or leaping into a canter depart, but that we did:

"off aids"

We kept a lid on it and she started to settle in after left lead canter and event started giving me a better trot. I chose to ride conservatively on her trot knowing we wouldnt score well on it, but my goal was to keep her tempo slower in comparison to our last test...now its just to find the happy medium.

Here is the full video:

After walking XC I checked in on our score and we scored a 32.4, which I was a bit unenthusiastic about, but it put us in 4th after dressage which shocked the heck out of me! I am really competitive with myself and would have liked lower, but hey its progress and we will figure it out. At least we are consistent right?!

we can hang with the best of em!

When it came time for stadium, I took a breath and was hoping it wouldnt be a repeat of last year's stadium where she was a freight train and warm up was a shit show.

Again, something about this venue, especially the stadium area, Tillie bugs out. As soon as we started making our way up the hill to the warm up area, Tillie starts jigging and her head is so high, ears pricked so hard forward all I could do was just sigh....talk to her, leg on and decided to let her trot up the hill to see if it would help get wiggles out.

Not exactly...she felt like she had ants in her pants so referring back to a recent Dom lesson I decided to go ahead and start cantering around working on forward canter and half halt to slow again. She really wasnt thrilled about it, but she was doing it. I was also a bit on the struggle bus with how hot it was and think I also was feeling not 100% in my head and wanted too slow...so I know I was riding her backwards.

The more she jumped the better it got. I threw in a few halts after jump warm up fences to make sure she was paying attention, but trying to stand around to wait for turn wasnt happening. Tillie was flicking her head, offering to back up or move around...this was not the same horse I had a loch moy who was falling asleep one leg cocked.

She at least got her shit together though!

She kept wanting to get too low and lean on me as well I presume from the heat...she was protesting it was hard, but the mare was jumping out of her skin. I literally grabbed mane a few times because she was jumping me out of the tack. When it came time to enter the ring she had a mini melt down like the last two times we competed here (There is seriously a gremlin or something in this ring)....but we got in and I chose to pick a nice steady rhythm.

Not the prettiest round, but I got her listening to ME and the longer we went the better it got. Jump one she just was off in la la land looking at the horses out in XC, so the turn to jump two and three were a bit like hey girl...we are jumping, pay attention please!!!!

Then to jump four she didnt want to do the simple, I should have tried to ask for a change and pushed her forward, but again she was coming towards warm up and locked on the horses there so I worked with what I had. After this line though she clicked in gear and things started cooking...

We walked about being over time so accrued some time penalties which I honestly totally forgot and didnt realize we got timed...#whoops and fail on my part. Im honestly not sure I would have done much differently though since I chose to make her wait and listen. New goal: refine the details here in stadium, clean it up and get a more forward listening stride.

Next was cross country:

Walking XC, it was definitely significantly "harder" than our last few starter events at novice. Quite a few of the jumps were large - not that I was complaining! I knew we would be fine. Even the down hill jump into the woods which was my nemesis last year I walk over and said, eyes on the horizon and we will be fine.

We had a few good questions: a steep uphill incline to a jump, a jump a stride or two before water, a jump one stride after water, a jump down hill kind of like a bank into woods, a chevron in the woods, a bench two stride to a down hill bank/ditch, an up bank, a bending line 6 stride combo and finally a sunken road.

Sooo proud!
I chose to start out of the box slow with the first portion of the course being down hill. Jump one was a breeze, jump two was a maxed out novice table that Tillie rubbed slightly not fully aware of the height and solid fences now. But she woke up for that and jumped three to the steep uphill #4 beautifully and forward. The water series she did so well and confidentially!! We actually cantered into water!! (we havent at an event before....) and she did the jump out wonderfully, galloped to jump 8 and then we really galloped.

The kind of galloping that the wind was so loud and whistling I couldnt even hear myself think but boy was it fun. I probably (ok I know) I pulled her up too soon for jump #9 but it was another maxed out novice table which was leading to the jumping down hill into the woods so I knew I needed to get a nice distance to it which we did...and I had to holler at some people walking the course who had no idea I was coming lol but luckily Tillie didnt care and we breeze through the woods, over the chevron and out  to the open field again.

Steeplechase jump we sorta biffed:

We had a roll top then a short canter to the bench to bank/ditch which Tillie did sooooo well with. I was thrilled. I let her open up a bit again into gallop to the up bank and brought her back for the series of jumps after which was the bending line...then we had more galloping which I let her gallop and let the terrain change of the sunken road back her off. Then we were three jumps to home...we got a bit buried to the steeple chase brush but she recovered nicely and ultimately we went clean!

Lots of pats after that last jump

With our jump time penalties we landed in 7th...not too shabby for our first event! I am so incredibly competitive with myself so I was a bit disappointed in a number of things from the day, but all in all I need to make sure I stay proud and grateful for my pony who is trying her heart out.

Lastly, I am forever grateful for all the help from my grooms, to supportive friends...etc. Teamwork makes the dream work! (Ok I borrowed that from Dom!)


  1. Woo hoo! I know I've said this a lot to other people, but Plantation is electric in every possible way. I think being able to have a good outing there is a huge accomplishment because even very experienced horses feed into the energy that venue has! For what it's worth, that show jumping ring is HUGE and seems to lure people into time penalties:) You guys looked incredible out on XC!

    1. Thanks!! Yes it really is something about that venue isnt it?

  2. You guys kicked some butt!! Huge congrats!

  3. Hey you got a number not a letter, congrats!

  4. Congrats on finishing and placing even if it wasn't as high as you thought you'd get. You did a good job.

  5. Congratulations on both a successful and fantastic outing!! Great job, both of you.