Sunday we finished our first beginner novice horse trials. We picked up some important lessons (bigger bit) and had some fun, and got to support Three Brothers Stable and our favorite venue, Pine Hill.
Saturday was a long day of prep. Maggie decided I needed to wear a jacket, and I asked her what she thought about button braids. Then she slaved away for quite some time, pulling Knot’s rowdy mane and then gelling it into submission. Next time we might leave a bit more hair, but Maggie did a fantastic job. We even made the braids a little bit more fun with some sparkly turquoise yarn 😉
|Photo cred: Maggie
So with our spiffy braids in, all my tack cleaned and packed, and the general things ready to go in the morning, I covered Knots up and ruined the rest of his evening:
He really has the worst life ever. Drunken trail pony life was soooooo much better wasn’t it?????
I also got to use a spiffy new gift from Robert, my very own tack box!
And so we got up [relatively] late, and left the farm about 6:30 am for my 9:24 ride time. Not too bad. After our dressage lesson on Friday, we decided to have a slow warm up and focus on being chill. No more crutch of the side reins, just us. We worked on serpentines and Knots was fairly calm at the trot. We didn’t canter. Then we stood around on a loopy rein and waited for our turn.
Unfortunately I got in a hurry and didn’t make the two laps around the dressage arena I was planning on. The whistle (car horn really) blew right as I finished lap one and I just ducked right into the arena. Oops.
We got fair scores. We weren’t on the bit, which was indicated to be a key factor at this level :~) We did have a quiet test for us, and I was completely surprised to see a 7.5 for gaits. Who knew.
Anyways, 46.8 put us in last after dressage. Strangely comfortable place to be ;). We took a short jaunt back to the trailer and chilled out for a couple of minutes before stadium came up. I walked the course, which was very straightforward, except for some deeper sand and a A/B jump that was a long two or a very short three. I figured we were going to take the three, depending on the canter I had. I even got to walk the course before tacking back up.
Down in the warm up arena, the craziness was everywhere, as is typical. We jumped over the vertical a couple of times and then the oxer. Maggie pointed out he was behind the leg, and I got him moving more in front of me for the last jump before we went up to stadium to wait our turn.
Our round wasn’t awful. We started off on the wrong lead, running away from something. He wasn’t listening very carefully, and after my jokes about the fat snaffle, karma came along and reminded me I didn’t really have brakes. Luckily, I have been riding Knots for a while (2.5ish years) and he doesn’t worry me when he gets quick. We did rub the second fence hard; the pole was balanced on the jump cup by some strange miracle. I’m pleased with the effectiveness of my riding. There were a couple of sticky spots that I managed before the got out of hand, and while the combination was super crappy, I did end up getting three. More schooling with flowers is in our future.
After the scores came out, we moved from 5th to 4th. It looks like there were two riders riding hors concours, which basically means for fun and not ribbons.
After stadium we had a looonnnngggg (ok 2 hours) break before cross country. We were parked right behind the stadium warm up, so we got to watch lots of people ride through their warm up. The other TBS peeps were hanging out, and we got some quality time laughing at Knots. This link is him acting ridiculous with the kids: https://instagram.com/p/8bRS3LoHzP/?taken-by=3brothersstable
Pony has a hard life, like I said earlier.
Eventually it was time for XC. We were pumped! We went down to warm up and popped over the logs a couple of times and then lurked by the start box until it was our turn. We went watchless (watches for XC are expensive!!), so we got a cool rubber wristband. Optimum time for this course was 6:00.
3…2…1…Have a good ride!
We cantered off sideways to the welcome log, and then we were off. Knots took off. I didn’t have any brakes at all (remember, fat snaffles are not jumping and definitely not XC bits…). I had no more arm strength or core strength… but somehow he checked before jump 2. Then he was paying a bit more attention. We turned left into the woods, and Knots let himself get a little worried about the dark/light transitions. Jump 3 was ok, and then up the hill to the log on the hill. Down we went to jump 5. The big white coop with brush on it make Knots suck back a little on the approach. I closed my leg and off we went.
At this point, we were still booking, but I was a tad worried about going too slowly, since our last horse trials we got time penalties. We jumped the next couple in the woods. I tried to stay out of the deep sand (in retrospect, should have used that for a little extra brake power). Knots wasn’t being totally crazy. He was checking before jumps, but powering off after them.
Eventually we came out of the woods and through the water:
Clearly we are not just loping along, although I think his being short definitely has something to do with the ba-da-dum ba-da-dum.
After the coal car, we were almost finished. A bench, a teal box, then up the hill to the last roll top and done! We were pretty pumped at the finish line. I hopped off and started walking him back to the trailer and a shower. We met up with our friends at the middle of the hill and chatted about the round.
I was fairly nervous all week that Knots wasn’t going to be conditioned well enough for this event. He only took about 5 minutes for his breathing to return to mostly normal after galloping around the course. Optimum time was 6:00, we completed the course in 5:19. Penalty time was 4:39. I’d say we were pretty good!
After getting Knots cooled out and rubbed down with some liniment, we settled in to wait for the standings. At the end of the day, I finished double clear on my dressage score of 46.8. Not even close to enough to be competitive in the beginner novice. I think I finished 15th out of 21 in the entire beginner novice. I guess that wouldn’t make some people happy, but I just wanted to go out and jump around a course and not have any problems. The dressage has already come so far this year, I can only imagine how it will continue to improve. And then we can start killing it in the ribbons :p
Maggie and I keep talking about how far Knots has come. He isn’t very far in the grand scheme of things, but he has come so far for himself. Old picture for fun:
Last parting information, there was someone watching my cross country round through the water who remarked on how happy Knots seemed going through the cross country course. What a lovely thing to hear.