Monday, June 1, 2015

Groton House Farm 2-Phase 2015

On Saturday we had our first eventing-type outing of the season: The Groton House Farm Combined Test. We entered the Elementary division (Intro B, 2' jump height) which is the same as we did last year. For reference, last year we scored a 34.4 in dressage and then had two refusals in stadium (which many competitors did) for a final score of 46.4 which put us in 3rd place (out of 7).

Now, on to this year. First and perhaps most importantly, Maggie rocked her new hairstyle:

Paint horse problem: need two different color bands...I forgot to get white. I still think it looked quite good though and I saw a couple bay horses with white bands, so I guess that's a thing anyway? I used only rubber bands and they still held up well throughout the entire day. I could try sewing them in next time and get a little less of a sticky-upy effect, but I was still pleased.

I love that two-tone braid.
Now, about the actual show.

It was hot. REALLY hot for just the end of May. It was somewhere between 81- 85 degrees. I hadn't ridden Maggie the day before (as planned), but I wasn't worried about her being out of control because the heat tends to tone her down. We had a 2:12 PM ride time, which made for a bit of a late day, but it was nice to not have to get up early to bathe and braid. I checked her back first thing when I got to the barn and she was fine!

We got to the show about an hour before our ride time and I got on and gave us about 40 minutes for warm-up, since I still wasn't sure what to expect with her. I walked her around in the warmup field for a minute before trotting circles and figure eights and I could instantly tell that we were just going to be...average. 

She wasn't being bad at all, but she also wasn't completely focused on me. Focus has always been a little bit of a struggle for Maggie during shows and frequently during lessons as well. She's not usually spooky, just "looky". She'll be plugging along nicely on the bit and then something else will catch her eye and she'll take her attention off me for a second to look at whatever it was. It takes a half-halt (usually with the inside rein) to get her back listening to me.  

I swear I focused on sitting back more than this during the actual test.
Unfortunately, we had a camera malfunction during the actual test so we didn't get video :( I was admittedly upset about this at first and was a little cranky with my husband for it (sorry Dan!), but then I thought about it for a second and nothing neither spectacular nor terrible happened during the test so it really wasn't a big deal. All of the judge's comments we things I've seen before: needs better bend, needs better balance on outside rein, needs better energy. It definitely wasn't to the best of our abilities, but we certainly didn't flub it like I feared we could have. 

If anyone has any recommendations regarding how to get Maggie to stop snatching the reins from me when I start to let them out for the free walk please, please let me know!

Despite the very mediocre feeling of the test it still put me in 3rd in my division.

Jumping was running behind so we had about an hour and a half to sit around and chill (in the blazing sun) until I put the jumping tack on and leisurely made our way back over. I was the last person in my division to go, so I figured I would walk the course first and then still have plenty of time to pop over some warmup jumps before it was my turn. As I started to walk the course the jumps were still set at BN height and you know what? It looked totally do-able. Comfortable even. As they dropped the fences down to Elementary height they started to look tiny. I think we're ready for a move-up at least when it comes to 2-phases!

(there weren't actually any oxers in the Elementary division)
I then relieved my husband of horse-holding duty, got on Maggie, and took her over to the warmup jumps. She was pumped and starting jigging. We picked up the canter and all I could feel was POWER. She jumped right into a strong canter to begin with but then when I turned her toward the warmup vertical and she locked on to it I seriously thought she might pull my arms out of socket. 

Holy horse. My pony has turned into a freight train over fences!

I only took her over each warmup fence once and tried to get her to slow and listen to me more, with mild success with each new jumping effort. This is exactly what my jumping instructor was talking about during my first lesson with her  - now that she knows that her job is to get from point A to point B by going over the obstacle (and doing so with gusto), she needs to slow down and listen to me so that she becomes adjustable. Even as freight-trainy as she she was being though, I could help but smile at how much enthusiasm Maggie had. She really has some a long way from having to spook and refuse at each fence before going over it! 

That's her serious face - that's my happy face.
I was able to watch almost all the rounds before mine. Last year, fence 1 was exceptionally spooky and many competitors across all the divisions took refusals right there. A healthy handful, including a few in my division, were even eliminated at the first jump. Maggie thought it was spooky too and we picked up two refusals before getting over it the third time and jumping clear the rest of the way. 

This year though, they had remedied that situation and fence 1 faced towards the in-gate instead of away from it. This year the course flowed very nicely and no one was having that kind of trouble. Here's video of my round: (please excuse the shakiness at the beginning - Dan was trying to brush a daddy long legs off himself)

Like the warmup, she felt like a freight train cantering through that course. As we circled half the ring before coming to the first jump she was trying to lock on to each fence we passed and I essentially had to say, "No, not that one!" "Not that one either!" I came out very pleased with her, but thinking that perhaps trying out a slow-twist full-cheek wouldn't be a bad idea. However, watching the video back I don't really think it looks too rushed or out of control. I know I've noticed this before; it feeling really fast, but then looking fine on video. I'm not really sure what to think/ do about that, though obviously working on her being adjustable and waiting for me to tell her how fast to be going is certainly on the menu. We also clearly need to work on getting the correct lead out of the jump, there's a whole lot of cantering on the wrong lead going on here!

So a clear round meant that I kept my 3rd place and came home with a yellow ribbon from the GHF 2-Phase for a second year. And funnily enough too, as I was writing this post I looked back at last years scores and got a 34.4 that year too! So much for progress...?

Next on the schedule is a 3-Phase at the same venue toward the end of June. Bring on the XC! (but first some XC schooling will be in order...

Obligatory post-brain curly mane pic. I will never get over this.


  1. She looks SO cute all braided up! I definitely like the buttons better than the running. She also looks very forward and happy to be out there in stadium. Congrats on the ribbon!

    1. Thanks!! Even my husband (who was weirdly a little sad when I cut her mane) admitted that she looked pretty cute with the buttons. WIN.

  2. I love her over fences! She's very enthusiastic over 2' :)

    1. haha yes, I think she knew she had it covered!

  3. Her in braids is adorable! Especially the multicolored one! Congrats on a great show, she looks so happy out there.

  4. wooo hooooo congratulations!!! you guys look so great - and that 'well turned out pair' comment must have made your heart sing! i can imagine that course looked easy to you after rocking the 2'6" hunter divisions too - plus Maggie looks like she was on fire! what fun :D

    1. I feel like those verticals were more at 18" than 2', but yes, definitely a breeze after that 2'6" hunter course!

      I had a different reaction to the 'well turned out pair' comment actually...It's a nice comment, but I read into it more as "you look nice and I don't have much else to say about your riding" - I'm probably reading into it way too much though and should just take it as is lol! I'd be interested to know what it means to you and everyone else!

  5. Maggie is SO CUTE in Stadium. She is super excited and thrilled :D Once you get some adjustability you won't feel quite like a freight-train anymore.