Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cadence's 1st Entry Level Event

Well, it turns out I needn't have been worried about moving Cadence up.  I'll do a brief play by play of the event.

Our drive up was surprisingly quick, and we arrived about 30 min ahead of schedule.  I got my rider package, and immediately headed out to walk XC before the riders descended.  The course looked very straight forward.  Nothing too large, or too scary.  The only jump that I thought may cause a bit of a stir was the second fence- a tidy looking rock wall with a cedar rail on top.  Since it was a bit bigger, we couldn't really jump it from a stand still.  So if she did take a serious dislike to the jump, we'd have to count on her obedience alone to get us over it without a refusal.  Everything else was pretty basic though.  No related distances; no banks, drops, or ditches; and no water.  A bit boring to be honest, but a nice move-up event.

After chilling with the mare at the trailer for a while, we tacked up & headed to warm up for dressage.  Our division was relatively large (15 people in Junior alone) and as there were two dressage rings running simultaneously, warm up was hell.  Cadence was not interested on bending to the right, & was rater insistent on letting some of her energy out.  She's normally quite forward, but responsive.  Today, she just wasn't interested in listening and was pushing, testing, and ignoring me at every opportunity.  I was thankful I left myself more time to warm her up than usual, because we ended up taking several breaks and coming back to it.  She was pretty good by the time we got into the ring to ride our test.  Overall the test was pretty good.  She was bossy i nthe canter (though that could very well have been because there were horses running Prelim XC visible from the dressage ring...) but considering her warm up she did quite well.  Our judge was certainly not giving away any free marks though, and while we finished with a 45 (70%) we were 10.5 points ahead of anyone else in our division.  So in short, Cadence was in 1st going into stadium (though I didn't know this) with 2 rails in hand.

She was again strong in our jumping warm up, and was keen on taking the long spots.  She'd come to the fences in a nice canter then about three strides out she'd tune me out & go have some fun.  Mares. Our actual round felt worse than it looked, but she kept all the painted rails up & was well inside the time even though I made her trot two of the fences.
There were some entertaining Stadium photos... but since I feel guilty about illegaly copying pictures (and thus try to limit the number) I thought I'd display one of the better ones.  This was the final jump.

The XC warm up was pretty much the same.  She was keen & strong, but I suppose that's better than being backed off.  Our first fence out on course was a bit wobbly because she was gawking at the jumps next to it, and she did take a peek at the second fence but when I pushed her on she decided what the hell, & went for it.  Fences 3, 4, and 5 were all pretty good, but coming off of 5, she started gawking at the water & I couldn't get her back in time to make the turn I wanted to fence 6.  As a result, we came to 6 in a jumble of confusion, spookiness, and speed.  A recipe for disaster if ever there was one.  Anywho, she didn't get a good line, got surprised by the fence, and almost stopped at it since we were practically sideways.  I wheeled her butt around (think turn on the forehand) and booted her over the 2'9 (if you include the "brush") fence.  I was left kind of worried and frazzled.  Had the jump judge counted that as a refusal?  She didn't really refuse, but I would understand if they called it that way.  Anyway, she powered over 7 in spite of another bad line (I had trouble getting her back after finally making it over 6) and since she'd really been flying around the course, I made her trot for most of the section between 7 & 8, only allowing her to canter when we were 4-5 strides out.  9 was again ridden from the trot, but 10 (a larger [for the level] fence set on the top of a hill so that you landed on a rather steep decline) we took from a nicely balanced & uphill canter.  I'd intended to trot down the hill... but once again I had trouble getting her back.  Oh mare.  So we awkwardly cantered around the turn to 11, before trotting up to it.  With just one fence to go, we got into a good rhythm and neatly popped our last jump.... or at least we would have if I hadn't lost my stirrup over the last fence!  I've got a video of it (that I'll hopefully have up soon) & you can see exactly when I lose my stirrup.  Anyway, we made it through the finish flags, just 5 seconds off the optimum time!
I jump like normal horse!

So in short, Cadence completed her second event (and her first Entry level event) on her dressage score with a 10.5 point lead over the competition.  I'm so thrilled, I still find it a bit hard to believe.  She's far exceeded all the goals we had, & I couldn't be more thrilled.

This weekend we're heading up to a gorgeous looking venue that I've never been to before, & running Entry again. Lets hope my breaks are working a bit better!

Photo credit goes to Andrew Bailini of Bailini Photography

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Movin On Up

After Cadence's successful completion & first place finish, my coach decided that we should try to qualify her for the OHTA's year end championship.  The only issue is that champs run from Entry - Intermediate, there's no Pre-Entry division.  So Mare Face would have to move up a level, and soon since champs are early this year.  They're being held the weekend after Labour Day.  My coach said we should go for it anyway.  Cadence seems to be ready, and it'd be fun if we could do it... so this weekend Cadence will be running her first Entry.  there really isn't much of a difference, to be honest.  The jumps are all the same height as PE, its just that now they expect you to have your sh*t together and know what you're doing.  Such high expectations these people have!

To be honest, I'm a bit nervous.... especially since I found out that my coach won't be able to make it (the event was set for Sat, but they moved it up to Sunday & she'd rearranged everything so that she could make it up for Sat, meaning that Sunday was all booked up.) so I'm going to have to figure it out all by my lonesome self D:  I have half a mind do see if another eventer buddy can come up with me, just to help out if need be.  But the other half of me thinks I just need to suck it up and see what happens.

The only thing that really worries me is that if we get even one teensy stop out XC, our campaign for champs is off.  To qualify, we need two clean xc runs (time faults are okay, but no jumping faults) and one top 6 finish.  So to do that we're entered in an event this weekend, and one next weekend, with champs being the following weekend, so we really only have one shot.  Make it around clean, & we're golden.  If not, we're SOL.  We should be fine, but I can't help worrying.

This picture isn't of me, but this was one of my favourite jumps (second favourite.  The skinny was my fave) on the XC course.  It was used in both the PE and E divisions, but unfortunately I didn't get my picture taken over it.  I got the boring red house -_- Isn't it cute though?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blogging Fail... Update Time

During one of the most important times in my young mare's life, I've failed in my attempt to chronicle our experiences.  But as whining won't solve it, I'll just do my best to recap.

May started off with a positively disasterous xc school.  Cadence was in heat, and proudly displayed some of t he worst behaviour I've ever seen from a horse.  She didn't want to leave her buddies, she was hot-headed & inattentive, and requesting even the most simple of tasks would result in her grabbing the bit, refusing to move, or leaping up in the air and bolting.  She'd spin, spring, and bolt if you asked her to trot, turn, halt, walk, move, stop moving, etc.  and the behaviour continued on for almost two hours.  At the end we'd worked through enough of it that she was humble and willing to calmly  jump a few fences from the trot and the canter.  We even hopped down a few banks just to be sure.  However, a few days later we encountered the same behaviour at home only this time it was triggered by me asking her to bend right in the canter, and refusing to let her say no.  Her behaviour became so dangerous I actually asked someone to come stand in the ring with me while I rode her so they could call 911.  Again, it took 1.5-2 hours until she'd trot calmly around the ring... but we never really did get that right bend.  Sometimes though you just have to cut your losses & quit while you're ahead.
Since Cadence's behaviour had approached (and then surpassed without so much as a backwards glance) dangerous, I gave her to my BO for some bootcamp style ground driving & lunging.  Then after a tumultuous few sessions, my coached hopped on her once for me before I took her back.

June started out with me working through the remnants of Cadence's bossiness.  There were still some tough rides, & a few sticky spots but we worked through it successfully enough to go off property for a stadium school in early June & head off to a Bronze dessage show about half way through the month.
The jump school actually went pretty well.  The jumping part was fine- whe wasn't leaping, barging, bolting, or grabbing over jumps.  In fact the only issue we had arose from a trailer pulling in as we were warming up.  I guess one of the boarders had hauled out somewhere, but their return (and the subsequent situation of the trailer near the one corner of the ring) was both distracting and terrifying to the mare.  Approaching that corner of the ring would lead to spinning, shying, bolting, leaping through the air, grabbing the bit, etc. At first I tried correcting her, but as she was legitimately frightened (and not just acting up) this really only led to her getting more wound up.  The only thing that really worked for getting her head back on her shoulders? Pointing her at a jump.  Then she was rideable, calm, and focused.  Silly mare.
Cadence also did pretty well at the dressage show considering we still didn't have much of a stretch in the trot.  We scored 56% and 63% in Training 2 & 3 respectively.  She would have been far more successful had we not cantered through the trot stretches, but considering the fact that a month prior we'd been leaping through the air at the suggestion of right bend? I was pleased.  She placed 3rd in T2 and 1st in T3.
Her jumping had been improving in the weeks since her May madness, and we ended up going to a local Saddle Club show & riding around the 2'3 hunter courses.  She was well behaved for the most part, but a little strung out.  Still, we made it over everything, never touched a rail, and had something that resembled breaks too!  An improvement from previous courses we'd done ;)
Aww, look at the sweet innocence. If only she acted that way!

In July the Mare finally started to really pull through.  We went out xc for the first time since her episode in May, and had an awesome day.  It was just Cadence and a baby who had never been out xc before, so we chose somewhere small.  They just had 1 field of jumps, ranging from intro to novice, but it was perfect for what we needed.  Mare Face was a super star, & the only issue we had was when a bird flew out of one of the jumps!  Fair enough... jumps regurgitating living animals is really quite terrifying!
On the 21, we went to an XC derby and Cadence cruised around her first official XC course.  We trotted several of the fences, and had one refusal at the second fence, which was a scary log that kind of surprised her as you had to cut through a tree line and then it was right there on the right.  She just spooked at it, but we circled around & hopped over it.  There was actually a mistake later on in the course (at another jump through a tree line) because I circled her & brought her back down to a trot.  There was a young kid jump judging,  they counted the jump as a refusal even though the fence hadn't been presented.  Anywho, even with that error (& a few time faults picked up from trotting half the course!) we still came in 2nd place and had the fastest time.
Dressage went quite well considering it was right after xc, and we scored a 68%.  We would have done better, except I goofed up our entrance & rode to C instead of tracking left to H... ah well!  Stadium was also good with a clear round inside the time.
A video with clips form all 3 phases at the xc trial

August.  Well, August has been amazing.  On the 11, Cadence and I completed our first event.  She won Open Pre-Entry (lowest Canadian division... kind of in between Intro and BN) by 12 points, scoring a 75.59% in dressage (36.8 penalty points), earning 0 faults stadium, and going clear XC but picking up a few time faults to end on a score of 42.8 pp.  The event was fabulous- wonderfully run and the courses were spectacular!  There was a skinny in stadium, and one out xc too.  Cadence had never really jumped a skinny before, so I was pleased when she popped right over the little blue fence in our SJ round & doubly pleased when she jumped over the skinny log (flanked by trees, & flower pots, and all sorts of scary things) out xc with not TOO much convincing from me ;)  Overall, the day was wonderful, & I could not have been prouder of my girl.
 She looks a bit long & low here... better in the video
 Not my best moment, but look at the scenery!
Way to use your neck mare... over the smallest jump on the course!