Wow, I was just about to ask the same thing! I'm entered at Novice there, my first Novice! I think I saw it said that this was a nice move-up course? Maybe not. Anyways, I'm glad to see what others have to say.
"Red on the right, white on the left, insanity in the middle."
When we went last year (our first event after MayDaze) I would NOT have considered it a move up course. Fence three was a narrow faced ditch and wall between two trees on a funny bending line. There was a max N something that made them think they were jumping into water... wasn't a big fan of the course, overall.
Show jumping was twisty and tight, but I recall it rode fine, overall.
The HHP in general takes pride in the quality and substance of their fences. Their levels will be mostly max height and width. There is a big field where you will gallop for many miles between fences then you will disappear into the woods on narrow paths. The fences all have clear groundlines. The footing is golf course quality grass, very level but in the fall it can get hard if it has not rained. There are a few areas of stone dust especially on the way to the water.
The novice bank is a good size and often has a fence a few strides right after, I think last year it was on a bending line.
The novice ditch is right before the water and will be a good sized ditch and a fence a couple strides after.
Water will probably have a smaller log a stride or two before the water and a log a stride after the water or right near the edge. The water complex is enormous and well laid out but it can be looky because it is by some roads, there is a big hill, and bleachers for spectators. If you have a gawky horse you'll need to ride hard through the ditch/water area.
There will be some combinations.
Stadium is usually very bright and will be set big, it will be in a level sand arena. There will be lots of bending lines and rollbacks, people seem to have rails if they don't ride their lines right.
NOT a move up. Feels like you are riding through a hedged maze (fun and scary). In 2009 I went novice and my mare who is not usually very looky spooked hard a couple times and was quite overwhelmed. We had a glance off at the second coop on a bending line coming out of the woods. She did her first Training there and went clear but spooked pretty hard in SJ at a fence with faux rocks under it.
Last edited by mcorbett; Jul. 9, 2011 at 06:51 PM.
As I understand it, it used to be a good introduction to the levels, but last year the organizers wanted it a bit stiffer. This was unfortunate for those who were bringing horses new to the level and expected softer courses.
For your viewing pleasure, Penny Oaks 2010 Novice helmet cam.
I started the camera too early so fast forward through that if you want to watch it. It sprinkled a little and the ground was a little slick, nothing like a little moisture on grass over hard ground! In fact, I rode the combination at 15/16 badly, he slipped on landing from 16 and I landed on his neck, i stayed on, had an otherwise great ride, it was a fun course. I would not call it a move up.
Last edited by riderboy; Jul. 10, 2011 at 05:54 PM.
Penny Oaks has classically been an excellent moveup at all levels. I usually look at historical results for course evaluation; if you look at the 2010 results, the top 10 scores were mostly FODS, implying no problem for experienced pairs. However, there were a disproportionate number of E's in both NR classes, suggesting it WAS NOT a good moveup course or those entering were not ready for the questions asked.
From the photos posted above, it looks pretty inviting for a BN rider, though? Maybe the pictures are deceiving, but I would totally think about bringing my junior BN rider there for a go. Closing is the 19th? hmmmmm
The course rides very nice. I live close and have ridden all levels of the course at recognized events, even back when it was Hoosier Horse Trials. The fences are solid and inviting, and I would not consider it a difficult novice. The footing on xc is flat and tends to be hard. It has to downpour to make it mucky. The staduim course depends on how they lay out the arena(s) and who the course designer is. It is a fun, well organized event and I would encourage anyone to go.