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Newbies Taking the Plunge

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  • Newbies Taking the Plunge

    Got my mare (happy accident! Sister offered to give me my favourite of her horses!) late last summer. We board "off-discipline," an OTTB ridden exclusively English at a western gaming/QH barn. Got a trailer in March, so we've been free to explore.

    Over the past two months or so, I've settled in with a coach I really enjoy. Weekly-ish lessons. TBs are her breed of choice (I wonder if I'd love her so much if she hadn't immediately loved my special mare), and eventing is her game. It's not anything she talked me into. This is my #SummerofExploration, and XC was high on my list of things to try.

    Just did our first real XC schooling a week ago, and had a blast!

    So there's a lot of uncertainty in my life right now (married to a military member, likely moving next summer, plus I'm applying to join the Reserves), but assuming I'm home in July, coach has identified a combined test she thinks would be a great intro.

    Think we're gonna bite the bullet and try this thing out!

    I have NO eventing background. Just turned 39. Have no clue what I'm doing. Haven't even started memorizing the dressage letters yet! But coach assures me that it's a super fun, low-pressure event. They haul in on Friday, camp two nights, have solid timings so you know what to expect. And (completely non-horsey but amazingly supportive) hubby says he'd happily go and camp with me.

    Soooooo... I'm not a dummy for jumping right in before I have any idea what I'm doing...am I?
    Last edited by MegBackInSaddle; Jun. 16, 2019, 11:57 PM. Reason: Can't proofread

  • #2
    You will have a blast. The secret of winning is win the dressage and go clear in the cross country and the showjumping. Easy huh?
    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Win dressage...so I suppose I should learn some dressage, right? Our flat work is going well, just haven't bothered calling anything dressage yet.

      Winning isn't even a remote consideration. Just want to take care of my sweet pony and have a fun learning experience. Also stoked that the hubby is so ready to come with me! I've "made" him ride twice of the four times he's ridden in life. The other two were his choice (though, I'm sure a big part of his motivation was that I enjoy it).

      My sis hates when I gush (she's hung up on me before when I've gushed too much in a phone call), so I'll gush here. I'm the luckiest person on the planet! Just to have this mare, be her steward, adventure with her! She's so capable and willing. There's nothing that I can do that she can't carry me through. I could search for years with a 5-figure budget and not find the partner that was *gifted* to me.

      Comment


      • #4
        You can start now Meg.

        Dressage means training. You have already started.

        Most people lose points in the dressage from inaccuracy.

        Download the arena with letters and the measurements. Know where your circle is going to touch which is not near the letters after the initial start. Know where the diagonals start and finish.

        Learn your test and you are half way there.
        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
          You can start now Meg.

          Dressage means training. You have already started.

          Most people lose points in the dressage from inaccuracy.

          Download the arena with letters and the measurements. Know where your circle is going to touch which is not near the letters after the initial start. Know where the diagonals start and finish.

          Learn your test and you are half way there.
          Amen to this - don't give away points with bad geometry! For any of the lines that end up on the centerline - better to turn a little too tight and drift to the center line than to turn too big and have to drift back (my experience). Ride your circles 1/4 at a time, keep your eyes on where the circle needs to touch.

          You're going to have a blast!

          Comment


          • #6

            I went to my first Event/CT having ridden Dressage - showing non-rated - & "schooled" cross-country on trails over convenient logs.
            I found Eventers most welcoming & helpful.
            I had to ask how to use the Start Box & people were happy to explain.

            You can have someone read your Dressage test at the show.
            I do better memorizing as a reader distracts me, YMMV.
            But do practice at home w/your trainer so you have a mental image of where you will be riding & how the geometry works.
            Walk the cross-country course if that's included.

            Most of all: Relax & have fun!
            Everyone has to start somewhere

            And do come back here to tell us how it went.
            And to gush... COTH welcomes Gush
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post

              I went to my first Event/CT having ridden Dressage - showing non-rated - & "schooled" cross-country on trails over convenient logs.
              I found Eventers most welcoming & helpful.
              I had to ask how to use the Start Box & people were happy to explain.

              You can have someone read your Dressage test at the show.
              I do better memorizing as a reader distracts me, YMMV.
              But do practice at home w/your trainer so you have a mental image of where you will be riding & how the geometry works.
              Walk the cross-country course if that's included.

              Most of all: Relax & have fun!
              Everyone has to start somewhere

              And do come back here to tell us how it went.
              And to gush... COTH welcomes Gush
              Most likely not, actually. Readers are typically not allowed, but do ask the show secretary just to be sure.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                Most likely not, actually. Readers are typically not allowed, but do ask the show secretary just to be sure.
                What changed?
                Unless show is FEI you can have a reader to Fourth.
                Allowed by USDF as well, unless it is a Regional Championship.
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post

                  What changed?
                  Unless show is FEI you can have a reader to Fourth.
                  Allowed by USDF as well, unless it is a Regional Championship.
                  Eventing does not allow readers. I'd imagine a CT would follow eventing rules.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Combined tests are fun and a nice introduction but often no xc....and that’s the best part of eventing . But have fun. Try and ride through your test at least once before the show. For a first show....just try and stay in the ring! Good luck....sounds like you have a great husband and fun horse.
                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Many American eventers seem to concentrate on dressage (see above) but the unique element of eventing is jumping cross country. Practice riding at the correct speed for the competition, practice riding over different terrain, practice jumping outside because, ideally, xc is about rhythm and balance not counting strides like in stadium jumping. So go ride xc and just have fun! (You can win extra % points in dressage by being accurate).
                      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                        Many American eventers seem to concentrate on dressage (see above) but the unique element of eventing is jumping cross country. Practice riding at the correct speed for the competition, practice riding over different terrain, practice jumping outside because, ideally, xc is about rhythm and balance not counting strides like in stadium jumping. So go ride xc and just have fun! (You can win extra % points in dressage by being accurate).
                        Yes, as I said after winning the dressage you need 0 faults in the jumping phases with 0 time penalties and you can't be beaten.

                        I am not sure about over there. Sometimes in the lower classes you have to ride to an optimal time, so you can be penalised for going too fast as well as too slow. You practice with a watch to learn your speed.

                        The showjumping is a bit more technical as it is in a smaller place, you need to be able to shorten and lengthen strides as needed.

                        But most of all just have fun. It is a great ride and day when you just don't fall off.
                        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          So...I apparently misunderstood some things. The combined test is a different event than the one where people camp. The combined test is only about an hour away, and it's June 30 (a week from tomorrow). We're registered for it.

                          Coach sent out test info, and today I stopped by the Dollarama, bought twenty dollars worth of little orange cones and white picket garden edging, and I "built" a dressage arena in the outdoor (barrel racing, haha!) arena at the barn. Practiced our dressage test three times. (Not in a row, but three times throughout our relatively easy flatwork today.

                          We're ready! As ready as we're going to get immediately. I'll ride the test for my coach during a lesson, and then work on some stadium jumping (I'm still relatively green over fences; Winnie's done more than me, but not by a lot). And in just over a week, we'll see what there is to see.

                          Thanks for all of the responses!

                          SuzieQNutter , test learned! It's nice and simple, now I just have to ride it. Was fun practicing today. Realized we had never really worked on halting from the trot, but thanks to the good work Coach has me doing, all I had to do was THINK it, and Win halted nicely at X (or close to it, haha). And in relation to your last comment:
                          Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                          But most of all just have fun. It is a great ride and day when you just don't fall off.
                          Sometimes, it's a great ride and day even if you *do* fall off! Winnie and I did a jumper clinic (first for both of us, as so many things are) in April, and the second day, I fell off. My first unplanned dismount since 2004! But it was a GREAT day! My little mare tried her heart out, did everything I asked as best she could interpret it, and it was just bad/chickenshit riding that got me dropped. Hell, I even got my SUV and trailer stuck in the mud and needed help to get out, and it STILL was a good day. Because when Winnie B is on my team, I will NOT let life be anything but amazing. I'm one of the luckiest people on the planet to have this amazing girl.

                          endlessclimb, thanks! I was a bit overwhelmed and wasn't sure I was ready (battling some lower back pain, too, ugh), but after "building" our dressage ring and practicing today, I've realized it is JUST RIDING WELL, nothing more or less. We can go and try that, for sure. Will get Coach to be eyes on the ground to make sure we're pretty round in our circles. Appreciate the info about turning tighter and drifting to center. I have NO background, so I'm not even sure I practiced correctly today, but it's a start.

                          2DogsFarm, hmmm, relaxing *is* part of our homework. My coach saw through me from our first ride with her. "I'm gonna need you to get that stick out of your ass and flop around a little, look like you're having fun." (I have a bad case of the tries-too-hards and get stiff). I'm only starting to learn JUST how much my TB mare "hears" when it comes to my body language. I only stopped stopping her with the reins a few weeks ago (I stop her with my mind now, lmao! but truly, it's amazing what my seat and breathing can do). Coach has been wonderful and appreciates my sensitive mare, so we're making incredible progress. Not sure about the test reading thing, but Coach said to memorize the test, and it's pretty easy, so that's what I'm doing. No start box stuff at the combined test, so one less thing to learn. Hoping the July event she mentioned is a full trial with XC. If not, we probably won't go (sad, as hubby is willing to come with). My budget is REALLY limited for show stuff, and I'm not going to pay a few hundred for another combined with no real XC.

                          bornfreenowexpensive The hubby and the pony are BOTH keepers! Lucky me! This will likely be the only combined test I ride in, as I can only do a few events here and there (budget), and XC is what pulled me in this direction. Like I said above, hoping the camp-out event in mid-July is a full trial! I'd probably rather just pay to school XC some more than do more combined tests with no real XC, when it comes to where I spend my limited dollars.

                          Willesdon sadly no XC for this first one, but appreciate the advice! I definitely need to learn to ride more forward and go with my brave little mare for XC. The one excellent thing about being a mediocre adult re-rider is that I have SOOOOOO much room for improvement, lol!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Gratuitous selfie of me and my Winnie B from before today's test schooling. I got a bonnet for free with a tack lot last fall. I think it makes her look ADORABLE, and it means we don't have to have a discussion about how AWFUL it is when one's forelock (wimpy as it may be) touches one's sensitive ears while riding. (I actually braid her tiny forelock before most rides, as she complains about it every time it blows back and touches her ears.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                              Eventing does not allow readers. I'd imagine a CT would follow eventing rules.
                              OP is in Ontario - our rules allow readers below Intermediate

                              ARTICLE D304 RULES GOVERNING THE DRESSAGE TEST
                              1. Commanded Tests: All tests at the Intermediate level and above and all National and Provincial Championship Tests must be ridden from memory.

                              OP, I run a schooling dressage series in Puslinch, Ontario - if you want to practice your dressage, we have two more shows this season (July and Aug). We use EC judges but keep costs reasonable. PM if you want more info.

                              Have fun at your CT!

                              I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks SolarFlare! Appreciate the invite! We're in the same province, but you'd be a 9 hour round trip (probably more like 10 with a trailer).

                                I think the only two competitions I'm aiming for are both in Quebec. But even if they, too, allow reading, Coach wanted me to memorize the test. It's pretty simple, so it's already memorized.

                                Schooled stadium today, and surprisingly I now feel totally ready for the CT. My little mare is just a freaking DREAM! If my nerves stay out of the way (first competition of any kind in a decade and a half, first trial ever), we should have a fabulous time.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Schooling cross-country is one of my favourite activities and I would definitely recommend finding all the schooling opportunities you can, just for the fun of it!
                                  If you are near the Eastern Ontario region, you should try some derbies (short and long courses). The National Capital Horse Trials Assoc. offers several in and around Ottawa over the summer and they start with cross-rails and go up to training-level. They are timed jump courses with a combo of stadium and cross-country jumps and are a great intro to the jumping portion of eventing.

                                  The combined test will be a good place to dip your toes into dressage and stadium. I agree that eventers are a friendly bunch. Have fun!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    the best thing to do your first time out is don't care if you place or not, it's so not important. Know your test, know your ride times, walk your courses, have fun
                                    .

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      FlaxenChestnut we've schooled XC twice now (or kind of one and a half times?). Once at Coach's place where she has a smallish XC field, and once at a place with a lovely large course. Both times were fun, though the first time at Coach's, I was a bundle of nerves. I haven't jumped *that* much in life, and I'd only jumped so far this year at a jumper clinic back in April. At Coach's place, we managed to pretty quickly crush a rolltop. (People I've never met at Coach's barn now know me for this, "OH, you're the ones who killed the rolltop!"), but had a good, confidence-building day. Then at the second schooling, we had a FREAKING BLAST!!!! Winnie was so interested and engaged, and she is such a BOLD mare! Trotted right into water the first time I asked (OMG! how she BOINGED! I laughed like I was severely mentally ill across the entire pond), and then cantered into it with no questions, despite it being around 2 feet deep from our heavy spring rains. SOOOO much fun! I was still a bit scared (maybe not "scared," that's a bit strong...but unsure or timid), as I've never even ridden much on hills, never mind cantering up one to a jump at the top of it. But I lied and told Win we're badasses and that I knew we had this, and she believed me completely and made it true.

                                      About to pay for our first full trial, an event in mid-July that Coach says is a total blast, camping out there two nights, right on a lake, just a really fun all-around experience. Hubby's even coming with (and bless his un-horsey heart, helping to finance it).

                                      Good advice, sunhawk! Exactly my plan. I mean, if we luck out and place, don't get me wrong, EVERYONE I'VE EVER MET WILL KNOW, lol, but I can't afford to be actually competitive in anything, no matter what my riding abilities (just okay) or my mare's abilities (far more impressive than my own) happen to be. We can only do a few fun events here and there, and it's just about adventures with my beloved pone. This weekend is just to get my feet wet and actually enter and complete a competition, what Coach advised us to do in preparation for the trial in July.

                                      The only pressure I really feel is some pressure to give my mare the ride she deserves. She's so willing and talented, and I just want to be THERE for her and make it as fun for her as it is for me. She's forgiven me many bad spots and a rough hand or two. She keeps me out of trouble. I doubt I'd be at all interested in exploring any of this stuff without her as a partner.

                                      I'm pretty stoked, and considering that I have some anxiety issues and am an overthinker, very calm for now. I'm betting I'll sleep poorly Saturday, though.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        So today was our combined trial. And...we won our division! There were only 5 of us total in the division (adults Entry level/2'9"). We placed 4th out of five in dressage. Not even disappointed. Most of the judge's comments were about tension. Winnie isn't the most relaxed mare, and I'm sure I gave her some of my nerves today. Good learning experience.

                                        But my little mare just SHINED in the jumping ring! She takes such good care of me. Never questioned the skinny barrels that caused a few refusals for others. Never questioned anything, in fact, just gave me everything I asked for! Went clear and won the jumping by enough to win our division.

                                        More importantly, we had a ton of fun, and she behaved SO WELL for the entire day! She didn't call out to another horse even once, was happy to stand in her trailer munching hay, graciously accepted pats and love from various people (she's not a huge fan of touch in general). Even gave a pony ride at one point, AND ponied a strange mare for a few minutes (a rider in the jumping ring crashed a fence, and when a fellow rider hopped off to assist, I ponied her mare around until she got back).

                                        Could NOT be any more proud of my girl!

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