I'm seriously considering doing the novice 3 day before moving up to training level this year. Any advice?? Who's done one? How many people should I bring to help? Should I do any extra fitness work on top of riding 4-5 days a week? Was it worth it?? Any and all advice would be helpful!!
I did it a couple of years ago with my chunky Irish mare. She was fit enough, but it was VERY VERY HOT and she got good and tired. I did not do much extra fitness work with her beyond the usual legging-up I normally do in the spring and her regular job. Since she's a chunky monkey, I would have liked her fitter but she was a trooper and did fine.
It was great fun, even though it wasn't my first rodeo--I've done a T3D and a CCI* in the past--and was well organized and the courses were fun, nothing too difficult for a going Novice horse.
I had a bunch of people from my barn there competing that weekend so I had plenty of help, but I think even one extra person would be enough if you're pretty together in general--everyone pitches in and the time schedule is so relaxed that there's plenty of time for doing everything. Still I would not want to do it 'solo'. I'd say 2 people would be plenty.
I'm planning (fitness, time, and tendons willing) to take my spotted guy in the T3D, so hopefully I'll see you there!
I did the T3D in 2011 and it was SO much fun! Even if I hadn't of had so much fun (but seriously, I don't know how that would be possible), I picked up a ton of valuable skills and it was a great experience for my horse. I'm trying to get one last qualifying score so I can do another one there this year with my current horse.
I felt completely lost going into it, but at the suggestion of a friend I checked out these forums, which were chocked full of help. If you can't find the answer to your questions, don't be afraid to ask- obviously there's a great wealth of information here. The most stressful parts for me were worrying whether my horse was fit enough and the packing.
I don't think it would hurt you to do some extra conditioning work to be safe, although you're the best judge of that since you know your horse and his natural fitness much better than anyone on the internet. If I make it there this year, my TB is going to need a lot of conditioning because he struggles to make time at training. When I ran it in 2011, I was lucky enough to have a freak of nature TB who didn't need much work (and still won best conditioned). Even though he didn't need much, I still freaked out, especially because he had most of the spring off because of an injury. I took the better-safe-than-sorry approach and was happy my worrying was all for nothing when we finished XC with plenty of steam left.
The packing was super stressful just because there's so much extra STUFF you need to bring, just in case. My 10 minute box went very smoothly because I was well organized going into it and even though I didn't need to use any of the extra stuff I brought, I'm happy it was there.
You could probably get away with 2-3 people to help you out, one of which really knows what they're doing and the others who have been instructed and shown what to do in advance. The big jobs were someone to lead the horse and at least two people to sponge and scrape to cool the horse down- I had enough that I was able to let my helpers take over and take a break for myself. If you don't have anyone you can bring or don't have enough people, I wouldn't worry too much because there were lots of extra helpful people there willing to pitch in.
Just to sum up, if you're on the fence about doing a 3 day at IEA I was totally say to do it! It was super well organized, everyone was SO friendly and helpful to each other, and it was tons of fun! Oh, and if you need any last incentive, the year I went there was a free lunch on the first inspection day, a pretty good competitor's party, and everyone in the three day got a goody bag with a free t-shirt, a few studs, sunscreen, and a thermometer.
THEY ARE SO MUCH FUN!! My chunky monkey did the same conditioning sched as the folks who went T3D & they have used for * & ** back in the day. I just changed the speeds & a couple other adjustments for her build. She is an easy doer. And the fitness was for my horse as well as me. : ) I love the long format process. go! Have FUN!!!