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What to expect from prelim @ MCTA

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  • What to expect from prelim @ MCTA

    OK. So, the thoughts and ideas I had regarding the spring aren't happening as I thought (bare in mind I DID NOT say the "P" word ). MCTA seems like a reasonable idea for trying to move up, but I've never paid attention to the prelim course, other than the bits and pieces I've seen occasionally. What can I expect to see? Big is not a big issue, but if it is terribly technical or on the stupid side of course design (which I highly doubt, considering how nice the training was), then I might look at something else. I know the show jumping is going to be big, but hopefully my sj demons are more or less conquered and my sj round this year will be more memorable for being smooth and precise rather than just plain .

    Other thought is Loudoun, but I'm very familiar with that course.

  • #2
    I wouldn't pick it for a move-up course, particularly in light of what you said below, and would pick Loudoun over it.

    Two issues with it (and bearing in mind that I understand Tremaine has been working on it). First, SJ tends to be very dead ground - for whatever reason, the fences are bigger there and the horses don't seem to jump well off of it. I can't put my finger on it, but the ground always feels quite dead, plus there's often XC running nearby which is distracting. Second, there are some issues with XC that I think makes it a hard course. The more recent courses have been focused down at the bottom, so you don't have the huge terrain issues from coming down the hill, but the result is the course is pretty twisty turny and hard to gallop forward. It's a course that I always feel like I'm about to get lost on given the turns. Most of it isn't huge, but there are a couple of big questions that are a bit surprising. Moreover, I think the water is very difficult and have seen some nasty falls at the Prelim there: it's the biggest table on course, 7 strides downhill to a hulking log-into-water that you jump almost into the sun if you go early, and turning question to narrow log out. Just doesn't ride well and is a tough question for the level, particularly in comparison to the rest of the course. Of course, this was all based on the last time I looked at it; things could very well have changed since then.

    I think the advantage of Loudoun for a move-up is excellent footing for SJ and very good galloping turf. The course is pretty inviting and I think the corner and water are fair but straightforward. Prelm is Prelim, but I happen to like this course better for a less experienced horse.


    • #3
      It's funny, because before I read GS's answer I was going to say go for it!!!
      Just goes to show how everyone's experience is colored by their own perspective.

      I rode that course 2 years ago, so I don't know if last year was different...we had done 1 prelim completely so we were quite green at the level, and as you know both me and the pony are, er, not brave.

      I LOVED the beginning of the course -- just very nice and progressive, straightforward and open, build to bigger fences.
      Then you turned to go across the road, did a related set of rolltops, and off to the trakhener.

      I hate that trakhener. My coach (who was I think POGJ so not able to help out) called me before I started and said "when you cross the road, start tapping behind your leg, and do not stop until you are on the other side of that thing."

      I did, and we rocked it.

      But I digress.

      The water was TOTALLY and when I walked it the judges and the TD, who is a friend, all told me there had been some really nasty moments there. It's like GS describes.

      I watched some people make the turn to the table -- it is probably the biggest squarest thing on the course and the temptation is to go wide and get a good run at it. This was a mistake (luckily I went and watched it ride, since I had no one to course walk with me). Everyone I saw do that had a dreadful jump into the water because they landed from the table in a heap. I asked the judges and they said, "yeah, don't do that. The good rides have all taken a tight line and then kicked up to it."

      So that's what I did -- I think I managed it only because you can't see the dang thing turning around the tree at the last second like that, so I could stick to my plan without being diverted by, er, terror.
      My horse balances himself to fences so I really could put my hands down, and ride forward. He came around the corner and was like "wow!" -- so I could KICK and still land neatly.

      Jumping into water is his weak spot and he nailed it, so I think it's about balancing over that table. I'll post a link to pics of that course and you'll see I almost forgot to jump the out because I was SO excited that we had jumped in (and there is no pic of the mega table, sorry -- it is truly mega, though).

      After that the course was very straightforward. There is no coffin and NO bank or drop, which is weird. The corner sets itself up with a fence before.

      So I found it actually a great course for me because I was able to confront my two demons, traks and jumping into water, but otherwise it wasn't very hard.

      this should be the link tomy pics
      The big man -- my lost prince

      The little brother, now my main man


      • Original Poster

        How is that two people who's opinions I respect have two TOTALLY different opinions!?!

        GS, the boss actually read your take and I think he's thinking Loudoun will be better, too.

        Of course, I might not get to jump again until May, so this may all be irrelevant!


        • #5
          hey, I didn't say it was a great moveup -- I said I had a good run
          For the record, our SJ was horrendous and maybe it was the ground (of course, he came up lame with bilateral suspensory tears 3 weeks later, so....)...

          Honestly, I think that for a moveup it was mostly really straightforward -- the course I did at Waredaca the October before was harder in terms of related distances, terrain, had full coffin, had a corner out in the middle of nowhere with no help, etc.

          But the water at MCTA was sort of mean.

          I can't compare it with the spring Loudon course so I totally defer to those who can...now, if we were comparing it to the FALL Loudon course (which was my ill-fated previous attempt at a moveup), I'd have to put my rep on the line. That course was awful as a moveup -- at Oatlands. In addition to The World's Largest Trakhener it had a very trappy 3rd fence (never a good sign when folks are stopping/falling at fence 3), a big fence horses were banking, a sunken road, a VERY steep coffin, etc etc etc.
          The big man -- my lost prince

          The little brother, now my main man


          • #6
            I personally didn't have a good run with a green horse at MCTA a few years ago. Half of the horse division had stops....and a few of us got letters not numbers. But they changed course designers since then. It wasn't a terrible course...just more of a good Prelim before moving up to Intermediate. But it is a nice well run event.

            Between the two...I like Loudon better as a move up. That said, my trainer is probably moving my horse up at MCTA and I'm sure that they will be fine.

            Good luck...I'm sure you would be fine at either.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


            • #7
              yeah, BFNE, I think the course is v. different with Tremaine designing -- I was out eyeing/partially schooling the prelim course the year before they changed designers, and it seemed MUCH more technical than the one I rode in 08 -- 2 corners, accuracy bank question, etc.
              The big man -- my lost prince

              The little brother, now my main man


              • #8
                I rode prelim there a few years back. I thought it was a good course. It started at the top of the hill and then winded down. The first few fences got progressively bigger, then there was a turning combination at the end of the field through some trees. Then a long gallop to a brush fence, then a log on a mound, down the mound, then over another log. Then there was the road crossing fence, then a weird skinny in the trees which was very difficult to get to.

                After that, was the trekhener, then a few more things and the water was a white house, one or two strides to a log in, out over something, then a few steeplechase fences. Those were followed by the one thing I didn't like, which was a turning combination with two big tables. Of course, I had a great run, but missed the finish flags! It was confusing down at the end of the course.

                It sounds like things have changed a lot.

                On a side note, what about the training there for a greenie? My plan for my guy is to do novice at Morven, training at Loudon, then maybe training at MCTA for a change of scenery. He's done one training at Lexington. I don't travel up to MCTA very often.

                Check out my blog at http://lindsayberreth.com