View Full Version : First Mini-Trial

Jul. 9, 2012, 11:57 PM
I posted about this in a re-rider thread over in H/J land, but since it's eventing, thought maybe others over here might have had some similar experiences ...

So we went to our first mini-trial this past weekend. We've done a combined test, but this was our first time with all three-phases. It was just a small schooling show - Baby Starter, Starter,and BN (we did baby starter), but a nice way to get our feet wet.

Dressage - We still have a long ways to go, but we improved our score by five points from the combined test in June. I was really happy with how my gelding and I did. He's made a lot of improvement overall in his dressage.

Cross-Country - we got Eliminated. :no: First four fences were GREAT. Nice forward movement, no issues with any of the fences. Kept it to a trot, even slowed to a walk to give him a break at one point (it was HOT). No issues. Then we got to fence five - black boxes decorated with flowers - and he apparently did not like the look of that and he spooked hard. I got unseated and just fell off. I'll blame the heat and the fact that I was getting up into two-point. And just an overall lack of experience. I was so, so angry. To be doing so well (for us, anyways) and to get eliminated.

Stadium - our division did stadium third (in order to keep things moving and get people out of the heat as fast as possible) and the TD/show management was nice enough to let me school the course even though I had a fall. We only trotted the course, but went clear. Sigh. :( To do well there (and dressage), but have it all messed up by FENCE FIVE! :mad:

Anyways - pony is getting a few days off. I'M getting a few days off. Then it's back to the drawing board ...

Jul. 10, 2012, 10:52 AM
Four fences into xc and you were already taking a walk break? (and why - horses live in heat it's starter he's not really working) I would say that you broke your forward momentum and your focus. Those are the two key things that help horses navigate thru a course that they've not seen.

A good brisk hey we're out here doing business trot and a mentally focused rider gets green horses over themselves. Take the reins - take control and go out there the next time with more confidence (fake it if you have to!). Sit back and learn to drive forward and chicken wing it if you have to. Tipping forward and unseating yourself adds to the horse's lack of confidence and they feel your indecision and timidity.

Also work on lower leg strength, more leg on the horse, and you more down in your leg for stability. God love the schooling horse trials - this is exactly why everyone needs these!

Jul. 10, 2012, 04:48 PM
Don't be too hard on yourself (or your horse). At your very first trial you A) remembered your dressage test and B) remembered your stadium course. That's more than a lot of folks manage their first time out!

You could poll this forum and find dozens of ways people have gotten eliminated at their 1st, 5th, or 50th trial. It's a learning curve for sure.

Take in what went well, what didn't, and apply it the next time out. I agree with babecakes in that coming to the walk might have been your downfall. A XC course of that level is much less work than an average jump school at home.

Good for you for getting out there! Welcome to the league of lawn-darted eventers :) Next time will be better.

Jul. 10, 2012, 05:45 PM
Thanks - I can definitely see what you mean about the walk and I agree, that most likely gave him too much time to think. My intention had been to try to slow things down and be a little easy since it was about 95-97 and HUMID, but I guess I really didn't need to. You're right, we've done much more at home and even with the heat, we both felt good (though sweaty!) and I just over-thought it.

Jul. 11, 2012, 12:57 AM
I'm just starting out too. Everything is a learning experience. Focus on what you did right. Learn from what you did wrong. Next time will be different!!! Keep us posted!

pony grandma
Jul. 11, 2012, 04:01 PM
I always used to think that starter was for sissy riders, for the people who are truly afraid to jump, not for the horse b/c any horse can already easily jump anything 2-3ft, heck a cow can jump higher than that. I come from the era where things started out at Training, you were lucky to find some Pre-Training.

Then I was fence judging a few yrs back and saw a pro-type rider come thru at Starter at a really brisk forward road trot, on a young very green horse, and she was strongly 'stringing those fences together.' That horse only had the thought of forward on it's mind. She was teaching that horse focus and she got the idea across. He didn't have time to think about anything else. The image has always stuck with me.

I suggest that you also do a lot of watching - and really see what you're watching - look at the confident rides, take in their aura (for a lack of the word I'm searching for). Watch GOOD riding and carry THAT mental image with you. Learn to open up your chest and ride with confidence and sit deep and use your leg (less hand for all beginners). Work on your body connection, sit tall, sit back and down, open your chest and use your eyes (which turn your body) and your legs to steer. The old adage fix the rider fixes the horse. You will be surprised what your horse will do for you when you become the confident rider.

I'd love to be there when some of these light bulb moments ever do go off for you! That's the fun part when it comes together and starts working and you get it. It's so :cool:

Jul. 11, 2012, 04:36 PM
Don't be too hard on yourself. You have already gotten great advice. I have to admit even though I live in FL I probably would not have gone out in that heat so I can see why you felt like giving your horse a break, I am sure that was a huge factor in why it didn't work out, though. Wondering if you were able to school the XC before the competition? My pony stopped at a good 50% of the jumps when we schooled and then didn't bat an eye the second go round. Congrats on improving your dressage score!!! That is a huge goal of mine.

Jul. 11, 2012, 11:22 PM
Thank you, all! And Mukluk - it's nice to know someone else out there is in a similar position! I board at an any-discipline-goes type barn (very laid back, nice and friendly) and out of the eventers, I'm by far not the youngest by age, but by far the baby when it comes to experience and skill! Everyone else is hopping around BN-Prelim and I'm just trying to find my way in. I do have a great dressage instructor and great jump/XC instructor - and they complement each other well. That was the first and most important step. I don't get to take lessons as often as I want, but I try to get in as many as I can (I try to work in two of each a month). I also attend any of the local shows where my barn-mates are showing - I usually help out and just being on the ground is a learning experience. And of course, every year, there's Rolex :)

I am very grateful for all the advice and agree that FORWARD was what we needed to be doing. We worked on that today on a solo hack around our barn's trails and did very well, even though I took him from his buddy (we initially started out riding together in the arena). We are hoping to attend a local H/J schooling show this weekend, just five minutes away, to do a few courses and perhaps the field hunter course. I don't care about placing, just working on getting us both more experience away from home. It's a very nice, inexpensive, low-key show and I figure anything will help.