June 22, 2009 at 8:09 am 4 comments

So Mr. Kid and I survived our first Starter Horse Trials.  Waredaca puts on a great show, by the way, and we had a wonderful time.  We also had some fantastic help and support from fellow boarders and friends, so big huge thank yous to everyone 🙂

Having that bit of super-organized assistance from people who know what they’re doing definitely makes things much, much easier, so I found I was far more relaxed getting on than I expected to be.  Until…. well, here’s the report.


Actually, I’m not sure what we did was technically dressage, as much as it was “omigod turn!  turn again! wait,  you’re supposed to trot there, oy!”  But I might be getting ahead of myself. 

Klon walked up the hill to the dressage warmup, and into the warmup itself, like a pro.  He seemed sort of unhappy and like he might start being upset, so I set right to work which wasn’t my original plan.  I didn’t want to overdo anything or overthink anything, so had wanted to do a fair amount of walking, and then a quick WTC and head right into the ring.  It wasn’t meant to be.  I got him up into the canter until he felt like he was breathing and settling, and then changed direction.  Upon changing direction, for some reason he felt he’d really had enough of the warmup area. 

He explained this to me by ducking his head to the side and trying to charge back towards the gate.  Then when I stopped the movement in that direction, by, um, rearing.  I’ve explained before that this is one of those things that I don’t deal well with- it scares me and it is incredibly difficult for me to master that and ride forward.  I managed to do it, but made the mistake of continuing on in the good direction, to the left, rather than forcing the issue.  I just wanted forward. 

Again, once we were good, I changed direction only to encounter the same problem.  It seemed to coincide with some really bad footing, which I happily would have avoided completely except that we needed to go through it to get to the ring.  I managed somehow to work through it until he would walk through the crappy area, then we stayed on firmer ground or in the corner, where we could walk on a loose rein until our test.

Amazingly enough, once we actually went to circle the dressage ring, he was fine.  I guess being uphill from the chaos helped keep him in a happy place.  We entered the ring at a reasonably forward trot and surprisingly straight (yay!), but from there I quickly realized that 20 x 40 meters is a very small space. We have been working on really going for the happy flatwork, on a longer-ish rein and going nice and forward into the corners and transitions.  But I felt a little bit like there was no time, and the first part of the test, which was a turn up the short diagonal, came so quickly I had no time to think.  Pictures show I really should have moved my hands forward and sat tall in my lower back- I reverted a bit to the hollow lower back which I think makes K a little more likely to be a resistant giraffe.

Our opening 20m circle was the best part of the test, scoring a 7, but the rest of the test comments were littered with gems like “open mouth” and “head high through transition.”  Which really is about what I expected, given how much trouble we were having at home.  All that aside though, it went really well.  I remembered the whole test, and was fairly accurate (if not pretty).  The transitions to canter felt great to me, though I don’t remember what the judge said about them.  She also noted he was a “very handsome horse” which really is all we need to be happy, because he *is* a very handsome horse. So we were pretty happy, and while I had originally had a bunch of thrilling fantasies about scoring a 30 or below (hahahahaha! hah! hahaa!) we ended with a 44, and I’m not complaining as neither horse nor rider has *ever* done a dressage test, ever, in the real world.

Stadium Jumping

The stadium course was a bit more complicated than I had expected for our first unrecognized horse trials- just a lot of interesting turns that took some planning, bending lines, and rollbacks.  We walked it twice the night before, and my plan was to take as much time in the turns as I could, and I was basically prepared to trot the whole thing if I needed to.

With that in mind, we trotted into the ring, and then trotted the first jump, which was an oxer.  He went, but it felt sort of awkward to me and since he landed in a nice enough rhythm, I continued on at the canter.  Jump two went fine, he was looking (lots of brightly colored rails and decoration) but I actually used my leg, and while it wasn’t the prettiest jump ever, we didn’t have a major problem.  Then we had a sort of rollback turn (but it was somewhat funny angled one) to a plank jump (the planks weren’t straight, but shaped like waves, sorta) to a bending line to a vertical.  I didn’t get quite as good a line there as I had wanted- we’d been watching people for a little while and saw a lot of folks ride it straight, angling both jumps, and that wasn’t working out.  So I wanted to land straight off the first one and wait for the turn.  What actually happened was something in between, and we jumped out of that line somewhat crookedly (though it wasn’t awful by any means). 

We landed on the wrong lead, but since it felt OK otherwise I didn’t want to interrupt the rhythm by getting a lead change.  He can do flying changes, but it’s not reliable yet, so I continued on.  I’m thinking now we would have been much better off if I had stopped and changed it.  But everything looks better in hindsight, right?  We jumped into the next line a little crooked, and I had gotten ahead of him which meant it took several strides for me to sit down and realize we were nowhere near straight for the next jump (though seriously, every other part of the course was land-turn, LOL).  I was too late in trying to do something about it, and we had a run out.  Totally my fault. 

So we took a deep breath, and regrouped, and came back to that jump at a trot.  Once out, again in fairly even and happy canter, I continued on and we did the next vertical just fine.  The following jump was out of a rollback and also went just fine- then a 90 degree turn to an oxer and a sort of funky rollbacky turn (just like jump 2 to 3, basically) to the last jump. 

It makes me giggle that of all the problematic things on that course, the thing that I flubbed was the *one* straightforward part.

Cross Country

After jumping we had to head back up the hill for XC.  The entire walk over, it was relaxed and businesslike Klondike, with me riding on a loose rein and thinking about how much fun we were about to have.  Once up in the warmup area (which we were going to skip… no need after just jumping in stadium!) however, he took one look over at the still-busy dressage area, and started to get a bit upset again.  This time, instead of doing anything really worrisome, he ducked his head down and tried to spin around towards where we had just come from.  My usual use of the crop plus FORWARD NOW! was not working, and he just wanted nothing to do with that warmup area. 

Being unsure of what to do at this point (I know, forward is the answer, but I wasn’t getting any, plus people were trying to jump, and other people were trying to spectate in the warmup area) I just yelled for someone in the friend group to come help.  Fortunately they could still hear me, and Allie came jogging back to assist.  He just needed a lead, basically, and she got us across the road, and led him in a few circles until he exhaled a little bit.  Then we got him walking and moving around and then it was time for the start box.

Once in there, it was all systems go 🙂  I had planned on trotting out, but he wanted to canter, and I felt he would focus more on the jump coming up if I wasn’t trying to wrestle with him, so on we went.  The first jump was an inviting log and we had no trouble with it.  Then down a little slope and up again to a wooden miniature hobbit house looking thing.  The third jump I trotted as it was downhill and the landing was downhill for quite a ways-  I know, but really, I’m still not used to this. 

The fourth and fifth jumps went VERY well, and it was a shame no one was down there to see it- he took a good look at four but I actually sat and waited for it, and it went fine.  5 was a really cool thing called the “palisades” and everything about it was near perfect.  That was my favorite jump on the whole course, actually, and we found it right out of stride and it was easy-peasy.  Then around the corner and down a little swale and up over another log, no problem (though we trotted down into it).  The next four jumps were bigger than the others, and I admit I was a titch worried about them.  The first of that group was a roll top thing, painted dark green, and set so that you were approaching it uphill.  It took a lot of leg and I could feel Klon looking at it, but he went right to it.

Once over the roll top I finally took a breath, and figured everything else should be easy.  The following jump was a white lattice thing that they had put some brush on to make it a little less spooky.  It looks sort of out of place on course, so he looked at that one too, but again, I kept my leg on and it wasn’t a problem.

The jump after that originally worried me when walking the course, but from horseback it just looked fun, and it rode that way too.  On landing, we came back to the trot (probably could have kept going, but I felt a little unbalanced) to a coop that looked bigger than it was.  Klon had no issue, and it was on to the water where we… walked in.  He never felt the least bit hesitant about the water, there was just no getting him to trot in.  He likes water and will trot and canter through it when it’s smaller/clearer or in a different setting (the woods, usually).  This was murky and deeper and in a strange place, so he just wanted to test it out.  Once out of there, we cantered to the last jump, which was a small little barn shaped thing set uphill. 

I let him go a little to that one (probably still achingly slow in reality), and we got to a very funny distance.  I could almost feel him thinking about what he wanted to do, but just gave him the reins (and maybe leaned forward? I need to stop doing that, huh?) and he chose to take the flyer from pretty far out, then we ran up the hill to the flags with big grins on our faces.

I hopped off and we walked all the way back to the trailer (hey, he just carted my too-forward and jumping-ahead arse all around Waredaca, right?).  The whole way he was walking like a rock star, acting like he’d just won the Derby.  I think he *might* like cross country just a little bit (and maybe I do too).

KK and me with Susan, one of our awesome support team members

KK and me with Susan, one of our awesome support team members

In the end we finished 11th out of 17 entries, with 48 points I think.  Considering it was the first time for BOTH of us (really, is that recommended? I don’t think so. heh.), I’m pretty thrilled.  I have some stuff to work on for sure, but he was essentially a rock star, and it was SO MUCH FUN I want to go again. 🙂


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Holy Moly- it’s an extravaganza! Not Sure I’m Ready

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. elyse  |  June 22, 2009 at 8:33 am

    hooray kelly and klondike! i’m so glad that you had such a great day! its funny to read about your thoughts on your staduim round because i was watching it with my friend and we were both like… i wish i could ride that quietly! she makes it look SO EASY.

    it was great to see you yesteday, though i wish you hadn’t seen the ugliest stadium round of my entire life 🙂 xc was a blast (and SO MUCH BETTER), though i relaxed (like you) after the rolltop and we had a stop at the white latticey jump. if we hadn’t had that stop, we would have been 2nd… oh well (10th is ok for pony’s first HT!).

    hope to see you again soon! 🙂

    • 2. carrotplease  |  June 22, 2009 at 8:43 am

      that pony is so cute! And with her looking at everything in stadium you rocked it getting her over the course! Can’t wait to see her again!

  • 3. Kym & Guinness  |  June 22, 2009 at 9:09 am


  • 4. Jessica  |  June 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

    That is an awesome report and a great first horse trial for both of you. It only gets easier as you go. Love the pic!



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