Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WNRDC Pipestave Hill Horse Trials 7/13/14

Two Sundays ago (yes, I've already let myself fall behind in posting...) I took Maggie to Pipestave Hill in West Newbury for their July horse trials. I had competed at Pipestave twice before on a horse I leased years ago and I loved the event. It really is the perfect place to get into eventing - the event coordinators are all very friendly and very forgiving (ie. if you got eliminated in stadium you could still run XC for the experience) and the XC course has the perfect sized jumps and isn't too long or taxing for a young, inexperienced horse. As a whole the event is focused on horse and rider having positive experiences and gaining confidence while still being competitive.

I registered for the Elementary division, so we did Intro Test B again for dressage. Maggie was excellent in the warm-up...loads more calm than she was for dressage schooling at GHF. Maybe she just like Pipestave better for some reason? Either way, we both managed to stay relaxed in the warm up and she felt good. I didn't want tire her out too much before our actual test because it was quite hot out that day (in the 80's an they didn't waive jackets!)

Maggie stayed nice and calm during the test - no "looky" behavior at all - and I felt like we had certainly done better than our last time out. I was completely blown away with the actual results though: a 26.3!!! Forget that one 8 from our BN test at GHF...we just blew that out of the water! And well probably have a hard time beating that personal best. I'm very pleased though that the work I've been doing trying to sit up tall and slow down seems to have helped.

Warming up for dressage. Much more relaxed, but still alert.

Here's the full test:

So checking the scores, we were sitting in 1st in our division by almost 4 points after dressage! At Pipestave, they have arranged it so that the second phase is stadium jumping and you hack down to the start of the XC course right after you finish your round.

This year the stadium course was in a different place than I'd ever seen it: instead of in one of the two rings it was in a small corner of the property that was used in years past for dressage warm-up. I'm not sure of the logic of it - I imagine it was to give more room for dressage warm-up, which I appreciated, but it made the stadium course very tight and also a little spooky for some of the horses.

On course in stadium. 
Fortunately, Maggie was totally fine with it! I think she's really getting keen on jumping. She was very alert and was looking around when we first entered the ring, but then as soon as she figured out that we were there to jump she was very focused. We jumped clear, so off to XC we went!

I've got to admit, I was a little nervous about the XC. After all, this was Maggie's first course! I had only been able to get out and school with her once prior. Turns or I had nothing to worry about though, because she totally owned it! Just like with the stadium, she seems to know what her job is. We did have one little bobble on fence three which was a light blue colored coop. I had purposefully not jumped his gene when we were schooling because I was convinced that it was too big for our division (guess I was wrong!) She hesitated but didn't stop, and with a tap of the crop and some mad clucking from me we chipped over it. The rest of the course went perfectly!

Owning the XC - look at those knees!
Her ears are up in every jumping picture! Photo credit: Sophiea Bitel.
So proud :)

So we ended our first three-phase with a win in the Elementary division! I think all the flat work has certainly been paying off and the bit of jumping mixed in has been good as well. 

Things to work on:
  1. Not jumping ahead.
  2. Giving her more of a release over fences.
  3. Keeping our trot work consistent.
  4. Starting canter work so that we can move up to doing beginner novice tests. The canter work will also help with making her jumping more consistent. If I can get a good canter rythym, then that will help me see distances to jumps and if I can see distances better it will hopefully help keep me from jumping ahead.

And I've got to give a shout out to my wonderful, supportive, and very tolerant husband for the camera work and horse-holding :)

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