Posted by: shannonc | June 14, 2009

First learn stand, then learn fly

Ahhhh Grasshopper!

Event review:  Hitching Post Farm Schooling HT – Grasshopper division

On our way down to the D rings.  Isn't it pretty there?

On our way down to the D rings. Isn't it pretty there?

We had a really good time – not a perfect time but a successful outing I think!  Pony settled right in for his first competition overnight.  He even lay down to sleep (thank you, instant whitener).  I did not fare as well – funny how the B&Bs just don’t put stuff like “next door to church with working bell used every hour of the day and night!” in the brochures.  Anyway, I don’t have to carry him, so in the contest of well-restedness, it’s okay with me if he’s ahead ;)

The D warmup was busy and electric.  There were two rings, with Jr. BN and Grasshopper first up.  The warmup area was basically a 40-ish meter path in a field, and the D rings peeked through trees from down below.  A lot for a green bean to look at.  Not to insult us grasshoppers, but between the baby horses and riders in both divisions…well, things happened.  Pony got cut off and run into.  He handled it really well though.  The last time he got cut off and bumped into, it took me halfway around the hunter pace to put his head back on.  Today he didn’t mind much.  He did think there were pony eating monsters down there past the trees, but when we actually made our way to the rings, he wasn’t too hard to refocus.

I saw the test in front of me and it was GORGEOUS.  Beautiful horse, relaxed, well ridden, correct, forward, through: in short the kind of test you do not want to follow if you have a choice :) – but really nice to watch.  This ended up being a 23 and the winning test.

Pony and I put in a pretty mediocre test.  A few nice moments, but he felt tight in his back, behind my leg, and was drifting really badly through his left shoulder (thought we’d run through the chain in one corner!).  I drew a blank before the second canter and earned us an error.  The one thing I was really pleased about was that he gave me both canters without a fuss, and although the transitions weren’t perfect, they *were* much more like the ones he gave me Thurs in our lesson than the ones he’s been giving me for the last few weeks.  I couldn’t quite keep him from breaking early in one of them, but I was happy anyway.  It’s definitely a test we can build on, even if there’s a lot of building to be done!  With the +2 we scored almost 40, which put us in the middle of the pack – tied for 7th I think.  When I got the test, I was pleasantly surprised – it was all 6s and 7s with the exception of the canter work and the early break, which were 5s and a 4 (now that is more like it!  What would I do without my requisite D 4?!).

I learned a major and a minor thing from this test.  The minor one is that I definitely can’t get the baby spur on him when I need it since I’ve dropped my stirrups, so I think I’ll try a different set next time for this phase.  The major one is that he’s come along – he’s settling fine (in spite of today’s Arab tail on display – what’s with that??), I don’t need to spend so much time worrying about his head, and instead need to start expecting more of him.  I didn’t ride to a high bar and the score reflected that.

xc time!

xc time!

XC decimated my division.  I think there were 5 clear rounds, and 5 eliminations (technically one of these was an R escaping an E), mostly at the water and the first fence – which was a wavy log with some hay stuck in here and there – it looked pretty normal to me but for whatever reason it was creaming the horses.  Stephen gave me a heads-up on this because he was in radio range – lol!  I decided to take the tried-and-true approach: walk out of the box and give him plenty of time to look.  Normally he picks up a trot when he’s locked in, and takes me there when he’s sorted it out.  Today he ran backwards instead.  Backwards and left.  I got after him hard and didn’t need to reapproach to get over but we did pick up the 20.  I watched it on video and I would have given the 20 too.  Fully half my division picked up numbers and letters at this jump, so I’m okay with having had a problem there, but I also think I need to, and he’s ready for me to, reformulate the old strategies.

He was looky and green over most of the rest of the course as well – it was a real mix, a couple things cantered in stride, other places he had to be stuffed.  He was wonderful at the water, not even hesitating a tiny bit.  I loved that they put water on the Grasshopper course!  Hitching Post has a LOT of terrain.  They ran our division in the flattest parts of their fields but it still incorporated much more up and down hills than we’ve ever done, so that was good experience.  Oh – and the red flag at fence 8 fell over when we were about three strides away – he stared but didn’t even spook or break stride – that’s a pony with a really good brain right there, even if he does try to hide it sometimes!

XC fences 5-8

Lots of space in stadium

Lots of space in stadium

We went straight from xc to stadium and I think the pony was like, what!?  I gave him a honkin’ mammoth circle so he could check out the decor, and check it out he did.  Fence 1 was an ascending oxer flowerbox and he made his disdain for it clear five strides out, but let himself be stuffed.  He didn’t require extra encouragement over a couple of things that sort of resembled crossrails, but the rest he would have gladly opted out of.  The photos are going to be hysterical, I’m on the buckle in the air over almost every fence.  Like a Thelwell kid, sitting on his butt, kicking.  We need to fix this for sure, but for today it got the job done.  We did have a stop at the last fence, a super bright panel.  I thought he was going to go, he went low in front like he was going to take off and then just planted.  I think I trusted him a moment too soon and I’ll take credit on that one.  Kick and circle and over. 

He didn’t rush anything and didn’t seem worried today – he just felt green.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken he was rather chuffed with himself by the end.  Also, tired, and he rubbed himself behind interfering on the right ankle, so boots for him next time.  Due to all the carnage in xc, we actually finished 7th and got a ribbon in our colors!  Too funny. 

All business

All business

I’m nervous that just 8 days away is another move up – I would rather have another outing at 18″ than move right to 2’3″, and I’m thinking about scratching, but leaning against it.  I think I need to spend the week being insistent about getting him in front of my leg and I need to make sure we have at least one good jump school, and then I need to go out next Sunday with the goal of getting a green pony around, not with the expectation of coming home on a test of 20 penalties and a double clear.

No flying too soon.  Standing is good!

Headshot for the Kisses portfolio!

Headshot for the Kisses portfolio!



  1. It sounds like this was a good outing for you. It also sounds like they run this little schooling event MUCH more like the rated one!!!!! That’s awesome!

    It does look beautiful there! Now I want videos!

  2. Sounds great! :)

  3. Okay, got some video in!

  4. The water was BRILLIANT! :) (well it was all great, but the water was fab!)

  5. Thanks! He was a good pony there, just wanted to stretch his head down and take a look. They put it at the end of the course, which was a help. The course design in general was really good I thought, both xc and sj – just had that log/hay thing causing trouble at fence 1, which I don’t think they anticipated.

    In addition to the water we had a good variety of introductory type fences – the log/tire, a log up bank, vertical logs like that elephant’s foot at Lockwood, hanging logs, and the only thing I was worried about – a log right in the hill out of the woods. It was a sharp grade up (like mane grabbing steep) so the net was a much bigger jump effort, with an up bank type landing. It was fence 3, I had the stop at 1, the elephant’s foot was 2 and it was sticky, so leaving it I was thinking, good God, I better find some engine, but I can’t run at it flat. I can’t remember if we ended up at trot or canter, I was just thinking about the hind legs, but it ended up riding really nicely. There were no mini-benches or coops or tables on the Grasshopper course, but I did notice the BN had some that didn’t look max.

    It was very much a mini-recognized event. A well known TD was the sj judge, Tamarack was there, they had an announcer (who at one point said, “we are now finished with the Grasshopper division…and an interesting time we had with that today…”), Nancy brought her tack shop, and there was good food! Although with detours and traffic the ride up was 4 hours, the ride back was only a little over 2.5. I’m thinking it would be great to go back!

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