Sunday, May 27, 2012

MCTA and Fairhill Horse Trials

Zara started the weekend off with dressage in the evening on Saturday around 4pm. She warmed up wonderfully; I've found that she tends to be a bit less nervous and distracted when we ride in the afternoon. Just to keep things exciting as usual, just a few minutes before we are to enter the ring, Zara pulls a shoe. I got over to the check in station, and they said they couldn't fit me later, and the farrier would not be able to get it done in time (4 minutes to ride time). So, since Zara was very sound, and the ground was nice, we went on into the ring lacking the shoe and had a pretty good test! We scored a 45.6 to start the weekend at our 3rd advanced.
Sunday Baby was also at the horse trials to do her first recognized event of the year, running the training level. I was lucky to have the help of Dodon's wonderful Emily Hanna to help with the 2 mares for the day. We were the first trailer to arrive, and I managed to catch a walk around some of the advanced with Sally before Zara's rides. Zara was feeling very fresh in the stadium, and is usually a tougher ride in the grass. Being right next to the cross country didn't do us any favors either. Zara was less rideable than usual, and we had a disappointing 3 rails around the course. Lucky for me, excitable or not, Zara is a fantastic horse on the cross country. She went around the advanced easily, coming in with just a few time penalties to place us in 3rd.
After a long wait, Baby's dressage was around 3. Baby was well behaved in the test, and I didn't really understand the scoring. She scored in the 40s to start us in the lower end of the open training pack. Apparently it was not my best stadium riding day, as Baby was also a bit hot in the stadium and had 4 down, but was brilliant in the cross country. She showed me that she has the confidence to run preliminary at her next outing.

Zara started this weekend also, with her rides early Saturday. She was fairly relaxed in the dressage, but I made a slight test error to earn a 50 under Brian Ross, which was acceptable because I am happy we are improving from our last ride with him. We again had the stadium in the grass field by the cross country, but this time she was much better behaved. I feel that I was able to keep myself much more still and steady in the contact to have a better step to each fence. We had 2 down, one of which was my mistake of a slipped rein coming around to the 4th fence, and the second was at the last fence through a tough combination. Despite the rails, it was a far better round. The intermediate cross country rode easily for her, and we didn't rush the time to come in 2 seconds over. Zara finished in 8th.
Baby's rides were early Sunday morning, and she gave me a lovely test minus a few distractions in the ring by the grandstand. Emily Olcott from Worthmore Equestrian Center came along to help for the day.  She earned a 37.7 to start off in 9th in the open preliminary. After the previous weeks, I had been toying with changes in Baby's tack, as she had a few habits that were new and undesirable. I found that she is much steadier in the bridle when she is in a single jointed bit as oppose to the french link type I have had her in for a while. She warmed up for the stadium very nicely, and I rode a little bit sloppily in the ring, but Baby showed me her scope as she successfully fixed my occasional rider errors to have one rail. She ran the cross country boldly, having a bit of a look at the big trakehner at number 5, but didn't let it affect the rest of her ride like it has in the past. She navigated the rest of the questions like a pro and made me excited for her next preliminary at plantation in a few weeks. Baby also placed 8th.

Next on the schedule for Zara is the intermediate at Seneca before the advanced at the New Jersey horse park. Baby is planned to run preliminary at Plantation, then either Surefire or New Jersey.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Solidifying our Confidence at Advanced - 5th at Fairhill!

GRC photos from Morven Intermediate

 GRC photos from Fairhill Advanced

After returning home from Aiken, with the consult of Sally, I decided that it would be best for Zara to assure her confidence before continuing at the advanced level. We went to the Horse Trials at Morven park and had a great ride around the intermediate.
We then moved on to do the Fairhill Advanced, where I also got to scope out the CIC*** course. In the dressage Zara was certainly having a grumpy day, as despite having a very nice, relaxed warm up, she choked a bit on the canter entrance, making our trot work have more tension than we have in schooling. The canter work was improved, despite her attitude about the flying changes. The judge was kind enough to consider each movement separately, awarding Zara good marks on her walk work which we have been schooling a lot.
I walked cross country with Sally, and felt confident about the course. The ground was quite hard, but we decided to run and it rode softer than it walked the day before. Zara had a pretty great ride around the course, with only a few small areas that could have been improved. The main issue we had was a misunderstanding about the skinny cabin, through steep downhill road crossing, up to a longer cabin. We went in slow and smooth to the skinny cabin, but Zara decided that the very steep hill was a bank and leaped down into the road, unsettling me a bit. Luckily for me, she was already locked on and going to the cabin at the top of the next hill, so I set my hands wide, sat back and let her take me to it. What a smart mare! The next 2 jumps suffered from the bit of confusion, as we trotted the hanging log and then I pushed her back up into a strong step for the 2 roll tops through the water and out over the skinny. We took a straighter line than I had walked, but with the step and power I had at the time, it was a better choice for her to have a big confident step through them than a more collected bending line we had planned. Our neighbor in the barns, Susan Beebee commented, "you rode her socks off at that water!" The very next jump was the fish tank table, which was the cause of our troublesome experience in the CCI** last fall, and we conquered it perfectly. We finished with a clean round and about 5 time penalties.
Stadium the next day was a bit tough, especially with the hard ground in the warmup and in the ring. Many people were having rails, in fact, Sally was the only clean ride in my division. Zara warmed up well, but felt a little sticky in the ring. We had the first rail but went clean the rest of the way around to place us 5th in the division.

Next we will do MCTA Advanced.