Posted by: shannonc | August 16, 2009

I think I can, I think I can!

Competition report:  Coursebrook Farm Derby, August 16, 2009 –

2’3″ – 2’6″ division

No dressage today – not that we can’t use the practice! – but fairly close by, at a place the pony’s never seen before, a sj/xc show was being held, so I set off to take the pony’s temperature over some bigger jumps.  His personality and learning style respond super well to mileage – he really likes to have time to check things out whenever I ask a new question, so I want to give him the opportunity to do that before the Sept BN effort.  This particular show had a division with mixed fences 2’3″ – 2’6″, and I thought that was just perfect for what we’re trying to accomplish right now.

It’s been a very hot day.  As I write it’s 104 in the sun (which explains why I’m inside writing and saving my chores till later ;)).  Trying to be cognizant that the heat would make the pony’s work that much harder, I gave him a quick warmup – just a w/t/c around and the xrail, vertical and oxer one time.  He went very bold to the oxer so I figured that was a good place to stop.

little gallop in warmup

little gallop in warmup

The first class was a s/j warmup, so we rode the course we’d ride for the class itself, but not the jumpoff.  I had the chance to watch a bit and one fence was causing a lot of trouble:  it was a green rolltop off a hard turn going away from home and unfortunately it wasn’t one of the fences set to 2’3″.  The horses had to head right toward the spectators and a complex of xc jumps, then turn in front of it and take a short approach to the rolltop.  It looked like they were distracted going in, and the fence was looky.  I decided to take a wider line, around the xc jumps, for a longer approach.

We headed out to fence 1, red and white rails with bright red flower boxes underneath.  The pony goggled and stuttered and then went from a near standstill.  Then, in spite of the longer approach, he did stop at the rolltop.  He was barely done spooking at the xc jumps.  I kicked and he answered with a lovely sideways movement, so I gave him a little tap, turned away, reassured a little, tried the shorter approach and he went.

scary rolltop

scary rolltop

After a break we did our official round and he didn’t look hard at anything.  He got it!!  The in and out vertical to oxer at the end was 39 feet and I could not get a good spot in or out in either round – ended up with a poppy 3 strides both rounds – but that’s more a riding and luck problem than anything.  Thank goodness this isn’t the hunters.  I was really pleased at his progress from the warmup.  I even tried a somewhat difficult route in the jumpoff – I wasn’t going for time at all, but he landed with the correct lead on a hard downhill turn so I tried the short path and he was wonderful!  He ended up winning this class.  I think he had the only clear round.  It was a quiet show and a small group, maybe 6 or so in each of our classes.  Here’s the vid.

Next was the xc derby round.  When I walked, I confess my eyes sort of fell out.  This course had larger solid fences on it than I have ever pointed the pony at, including 4 shared with N that were no 2’3″, I’ll tell you that much.  I was thinking, here is where I appreciate the difference between Elementary and BN.  For me with this pony, it had the same feel as the big leap between T and P for Blue.  There just aren’t a lot of 2’3″ solid fences around to school – and then suddenly they are 2’7″.  Time to find out how the pony feels about that!

Here are the best photos I got to illustrate the difference:

the fence 2s L to R: Elem, BN/N, T/P

the fence 2s L to R: Elem, BN/N, T/P

Foreground: BN; background: Elementary...

Foreground: BN; background: Elementary...

the fence 4s

BN - left; Elem - right

 And here are a couple of the others:

Fence 1

Fence 1

Approaching the ditch

Approaching the ditch

 No xc warmup round was offered, so off we went.  The pony was really pretty wonderful.  He gave a little moment of suspension at fence 1 as if to say, “hmm?” – then jumped 2 and 3 nicely.  Fence 4 was mammoth compared to anything he’s jumped before.  He propped at it madly, saying “you can’t mean THAT?” and then actually jumped it from a standstill!  It was the biggest thing out there and I landed thinking there’s nothing that’ll teach you your pony can do the height like him jumping the largest thing on course from zero rpms.  LOL!  He then did a dance at the ditch which earned us some penalties.  I said to him (kicking madly), “you can do it!” and he did.  Then he was good to the big red table, and into the woods, and over a log in the woods with a super short approach, back out into the field to do the crappy in and out again, through the finish flags and he was done.  MANY pats for the pony, a nice hosing and coolout, a roll on his lead, and another ribbon – 2nd in the derby.

XC fence 1

XC fences 4-8

It’s nothing near smooth and easy – but it’s progress!  GOOD PONY!  I hope he had fun – I think he did!

Finding a little patch of shade to pat the pony and loosen his girth before heading back to the trailers

Finding a little patch of shade to pat the pony and loosen his girth before heading back to the trailers



  1. Marvelous! Sounds like everyone did well! We fought with the white-bordered ditch on Friday. …and the red table *was* big!

    Well done both of you! :)

  2. Fence #1 looked huge. Fence #2 looked small. Why didn’t they change them up?!?!
    Fence #7 (the reddish table?) looked pretty sizeable! The grey bench didn’t look as big
    as you made it sound, hehehehehehehehehehe….

    The stadium course video looked fantastic! A huge difference from the last time! And you’re
    right – the distance on that last combination must have been WONKY!!!!!!

    I don’t understand why there isn’t a GOOD level between weenie and beginner novice. This elementary course looked tiny!

    YAY Kisses & Shannon!!!!

  3. Hip Hip Hooray – Jolly Good, Kisses and Shannon!

  4. Thanks Mom! He was a good boy. Fences 1 and 2 were the same height, but the photography might make them seem otherwise. I’m amazed he took that red table from the angle I brought him at – extra good pony! The grey bench was max BN.

    Hopefully after I walk the T3D course next week I will gain a whole new appreciation for 2’7″!

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