I've been stuck at beginner novice horse trials for three years now. I don't have a horse of my own, but I have been leasing a novice packer for almost a year now, with the goal of doing novice, maybe training. Her owner is at college, and she is half leased by me and a part time lesson horse.
Anyways, I recently competed at a novice combined test. We had our best dressage test together with at 31, tied for first, but our collective marks bumped us down to second. Our stadium was fun - no rails and no time penalties - but it was speedy. My coach says out of control, while I didn't feel out of control at all. Yes, it was fast, but my coach is making us do another beginner novice horse trial "to prove that I can control her." With this pony, we wouldn't make it through a dressage test if I couldn't control her. She is infamous for cantering, or attempting to canter, the entire test.
Overall, I'm frustrated and bored of beginner novice. We ARE ready for novice. At our last event, we got third place and one rail in stadium. My showing funds are limited, and I don't want to waste them being bored. Any advice? Thanks.
If your coach says your round looked to be out of control, either (a) believe her and trust she has your best interest at stake, or (b) find another coach who either will confirm what the first one is saying or tell you what you want to hear. Either way, this is a conversation best held between you and your coach, and not in the abstract. As a general matter, however, a good, safe BN round should look an awful lot like a hunter round, and generally not "speedy".
Or you can post a video of your ride for comment...
I can see this from both perspectives. I've seen riders zooming around the ring, getting bad distances, unbalanced through their turns, and generally giving everyone watching a heart attack. If your coach is telling you to go slower and you're not, then she can assume that a) you don't have control of your horse or b) you can't concentrate in the ring and forget instructions or c) are blatantly ignoring her. All VERY good reasons to not let a student move up! Remember that results on paper do NOT equal being ready to move up. Keep in mind if she is coach you, your move-up reflects her. She gets a say if you want her help.
I can also see this from your side. If you feel your coach is holding you back, sit down with her and get a list of "you can move up when you can do X,Y, and Z." Explain your funds are limited and you want to accomplish your goals as efficiently as possible. There are other options to see if you're ready - for example, have her take you off property to school stadium as if it's a show. Rent the arena, have a course set up, and enter the ring for a round without schooling in it first. It's likely cheaper than paying for a show and a good test for horse and rider. If you still can't come to an agreement, work with another coach and see what they say.
Gotspots, I really wish I had it videotaped, but of course, my camera died. :/
I completely agree with what you are all saying. I see her point of view, especially for safety reasons. She asked me if I speed up because I am nervous, which I don't, I just like to go fast. I know, I know...speed is not your friend.
And I so badly want to get a new perspective, go to a clinic or trailer down to ride with someone else, for supplemental purposes. Not to replace my current coach! The opportunity has presented itself, but I'm too intimidated to ask her. She can be rather intimdating. If I had my own horse, it would be a different story.
Another aspect is that there aren't many riders ready to event right now at the barn. It's not really worth her while to just take one person, but I don't think she will let me get a ride with the assistant trainer to shows. This means show season is even more limited.
The big deal is safety and the fact that the coach is likely responsible for the well being of this horse (e.g. I am guessing you are leasing the horse because of her relationship with the owner who is away at school, as much or more than your relationship with the owner - I could be wrong). It is also possible that the trainer knows this horse better than you do. Listen to your coach.
I agree with GotSpots on what BN should look like. Having ridden an ex Advanced horse at the lower levels, I know what a challenge it can be. Ask Trainer what would demonstrate control. For me, it was a major achievement to bring horse back to a trot at specific places on XC (like a water crossing or between fences on the way "home"). You may never get that hunter round, but your coach may be satisfied with other demonstrations of control.
Safety of BOTH horse and rider are likely outweighing your desire to move up. From your blog posted in your signature line, you sound young. Your coach sounds like she wants you to be safe and master the basics, before moving up. It's easy for a trainer to let you move up. It is rare that a reasonably qualified coach would hold you back for no reason.
Can you not set up a course at Novice level for the stadium and get your coach to watch? It would probably be a good exercise as you will be able to see what is needed and your coach can help you and help you make a decision?
The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
It's your horse and your money. Enter the level you feel ready for and that you want to enter! You can always go slower, trot some of the course, or even retire if necessary.
I'm all for riding at an appropriate level and am the queen of moving up and down again repeatedly depending on many factors. But in the end, the decision is MINE as to what level to enter. If I'm on the fence my trainer's advice can be helpful, but generally we are on the same page and if I'm feeling iffy about deciding she usually mirrors that and asks me what I want to do.
I know she'd speak up if she thought I was being irrational about my choice of level, and I'd listen. But if I had the feeling that her idea of my readiness and mine were worlds apart, I'd suspect a major communication problem.
But Delta, it is not the rider's horse. In the OP it says she is half leasing a horse also used for lessons, while owner is at school. Those types of arrangements are almost always due to the trust the owner places in the trainer, to do right by the horse.
This rider also appears to be a junior rider -- not sure how old the blog is, but it says she is 16 years old.
That does complicate matters--sorry I missed that. Still, to me the difference between BN and N is the smallest of all the gaps between divisions, and an attempt at Novice for a competent team is usually not a big deal in stadium.
Sevendogs, I see we posted at the same time. Originally, I was going to full lease her from the owner personally, but some things came up where I could only do a half lease. My trainer was also looking for a new school horse at the time, so that's how it worked out. It's complicated.
I agree, Deltawave. Beginner novice to novice courses are very similar. It isn't the stadium she is worried about, it is the cross country. I ride cross country much more conservatively, for many reasons.
Last edited by Nike; May. 12, 2013 at 05:24 PM.
Reason: Needed to add more information without another post.
Does your lease allow you to train with other instructors? Perhaps your current instructor does not feel comfortable in her own knowledge to teach above the BN level. Have you checked her credentials? or experience?
I've been riding with her for almost three years. She has competed to preliminary, I think, but not in the recent five years. She is training fourth level dressage. As Long as I have been there, she has had one student go to training level. The horse and rider weren't a good match, moved up to training after one event at novice, and it was scary.
One of the barn rules is no outside trainers, so that won't happen any time soon.
I would ask her if you could try riding a novice course somewhere other than your home barn, at the pace she feels appropriate. That might be the simplest and cheapest option. I totally understand having limited funds and I don't think its quite fair to expect you to pay for a 3-phase at BN just for her to feel like she's comfortable. Honestly, I feel a trainer should be able to fix these issues, whatever she is most concerned about, at home in a few lessons. But if she's really concerned it might be easiest just to have a "practice round" somewhere and ride it how she wants it ridden.
One way to look at this is to ask yourself why you believe you are ready to move up (and being"bored" at a level is not justification for moving up). Ribbons and placings are also not necessarily a good indicator.
What are the quality of your fences like? Are the vast majority of your fences " good"? Are you getting to the base (not leaving out strides or launching?) How are your landings? Are you able to land in control and canter away in balance? Are you able to adjust stride lengths and speed readily before and after fences? Do you have effective half halts? And the best one of all: is anyone gasping or clutching their chest when you are on course? Just some thoughts and gauges.
One other thought is you might be able to ask another trainer or even an official at a show for feedback. It's a little tricky but not impossible. I would phrase it as feedback as opposed to asking for a recommendation on moving up. You might ask whomever is judging stadium, but you would need to do it relatively quickly after your round, which could be hard if you are towards the beginning of the class.
Last edited by SevenDogs; May. 12, 2013 at 06:38 PM.
Well, it's been a goal of mine for quite some time now. I believe I am ready because our dressage is now fairly consistent. Generally, I am seeing my distances and rarely knocking down rails in practice or shows. We have been schooling novice with some training level mixed in. We are both fit enough for the level. The pony and I have very good communication, and with her previous experience, I think it'll make for a smooth warmup.
I think being bored IS a good justification for moving up from BN to Novice, coupled with the fact that your dressage scores are competitive (which they are). After all, dressage in theory is supposed to be a test of discipline, submission and "readiness" to go on to the jumping phases. And while SevenDogs, i TOTALLY would agree with you that "bored" alone, is not justification let's say, moving up from Training to Prelim, I think the matter of 3 inches in show jumping height is no problem to move up if you're bored.
You could argue that there is WATER! and BANKS! and DITCHES! but if you truely are bored, than you should be able to navigate those issues as a challenge to you..no problem. They're not big questions (in height and difficulty) from BN to Novice.
I also will add, that some trainers may give great advice and be totally competant, but the longer they keep you at the BN levels, the more you tend to lean on them for advice. I'm not saying this is true in all cases, but I see it all the time.
It has been proven at the highest levels that dressage scores do not positively equate to safety on XC. Dressage skills are a part of jumping, but good dressage scores don't mean a heck of a lot. Ask Colleen Rutledge.
Also having the goal of moving up is not a reason. Your blog states a goal of riding at the highest levels - that doesn't make you ready to do so. Goals and ambition are important, but aren't good indicators of a reason to move up at any level. Solid skills, combined with desire and ambition, are a good reason.
I would also want to be jumping stadium fences, at whatever height I aspire to show, without knocking rails (with the very occasional exception). Remember, those XC fences don't come down. Dropped rails really indicate a lack of readiness to me.
Look, I don't know you or your coach, and neither does anyone else in this thread, but really ask yourself what skills you are demonstrating that indicate you should move up at any level. You could also take a lesson from another event trainer in the area, who has school horses available, for another opinion.
Last edited by SevenDogs; May. 12, 2013 at 07:03 PM.