Posted by: shannonc | June 21, 2010

On the road to recovery

…I think, I hope!

Event report:  Groton House Farm Summer Classic – June 20, 2010 – Beginner Novice

Through the finish flowers!

First of all, we had awesome times, especially for a day predicted to be 90 degrees and humid:  start at 10, end at 12.  My biggest challenge was fitting in all the walking!

I love this event.  I wish we were at the point in our schooling where we could do the big GHF, which starts at Novice, but maybe next year.  If you’re not quite at the level, though, the Classics are fantastic mini versions of the sanctioned HT, from the big fields with super footing, well built fences, and breadth of questions, right down to the professional photographers, the announcer, and the vendors.  Yum.

Our flat rides have been a little bit hit or miss the last few weeks as we’ve continued sorting through the pony’s issues and his body feels different day to day.  I’m also trying to retrain myself to ride dressage in my jump saddle.  It’s just a little harder to get myself where I need to be.  Finally, I think at times I am tending toward being too tentative with him because I’m worried about his body. 

That said, maybe the army of interventions have been what he needed, because I have no complaints about our dressage test and only a little concern about his comfort in general.  We rode BN B, which is interesting in that it has very little canter, and the canter it does have comes late in the test.  Most of the current holes in our training come through strongest in the trot work.  So lots of opportunities to display those :)

Our test was by far the best we have had to date.  He wasn’t swinging in his back, but he wasn’t tense, and he only popped off the connection when I lost his straightness.  We have a big straightness problem right now – mostly I lose the left shoulder.  He made me work for the rhythm and regularity but it was generally good.  He was the most on the aids he’s ever been – it was as good as the best work we’re getting at home, and better than our warmup.  I don’t think I can expect any more than that!

We had more 7s than I think we’ve ever seen (including a riding collective and a canter that actually got the comment “uphill”!), but we also earned a smattering of 5s, all related to crookedness (although sometimes the judge read it as resistance – I think it’s more imbalance, but it is also true he can be softer in his jaw and poll).  Her comments were that we have a lot of promise and that I should work on his acceptance of the bridle and relaxation through his back.  Our score was a 38.5 and tied us for 7th in a group of maybe 15. 

I like it when the good is really good and the bad is just bad – like we blew a lead (those transitions approaching X are HARD when you don’t have good straightness!), because I think it means if you just reduce the bad to middling, your good will carry you to a much better score.  More obvious what to work on I guess.

My video of D isn’t cooperating – I can watch it on the camera but can’t seem to transfer it.  Will work on that.

Tory and Kisses

Show jumping – flat sand ring, colored poles, no filler.  One very good turning question from 3 to 4, an oxer-to-vertical line in which the vertical was on flat cups, and a 36-foot in and out.  Gulp!!  We have so far never gotten 2 in a 33-foot distance, so 36?  Yikes.

I used a flash on the pony for the first time jumping and I think it helped a lot.  I actually got some half halts in.  He was still a pistol but I was better about softening in the last 2 strides and we got around clean and in some semblance of control.  And we got 2 strides in the in and out no problem!  I really liked 7 of our 9 fences and that is a record.

Being in my head during this course was kind of funny.  Salute, entry circle, fence 1….huh, that actually felt good.  Weird.  Fence 2…gosh, that felt nice too!  This is going to end any minute now…and it went on like that until the last line, for which we were all done listening and being well balanced.  Tee hee.

Show jumping.  Let’s just say I don’t see anything here that suggests pain to me.  I heard there was a bit of giggling on the sidelines during our round, even from the judges’ tent.  :P

We went straight to xc.  Fence 1 was an away question and in the fenceline.  2, small but narrow faced and bright straw bales.  3, solid house off a swale approach.  4, red coop.  Down a steep hill in the woods and then sharp turn off a short approach to 5, dark brown gate with flower pots underneath, leaving the woods.  The gate was nice and rampy but big.  Before the turn the horses were face on to another fence.  Some nice field fences followed, then another short trip through the woods, then double offset logs on a related distance but numbered separately, then down to the water run through, up a hill back into the field for a few more jumps, and across the road to a stone wall, run to the finish.

The pony went out of the box well (so glad he does not have away issues) but was a little sticky at the start.  From the video it looks like I could have let him out a little more, but he is definitely also looking, especially at fence 3.

We had a stop at 5.  He was very good on the turn but he just did not have enough time to look and it was a looky fence.  He stopped honestly, with his front legs a pony’s length out in front of his body, and his nose in the flowers.  It was not a stuffable situation, so we reapproached and over he went. 

We crested the hill and were on our line to #10 (the first of the related distance logs) when I heard “HOLD!”  I thought it was coming from the log fence judge.  We were already committed to 10, so I circled out after without presenting to 11 and asked “me?”  The jump judge shouted, “no, not you!” so I said “sorry!” and was remembering to skip #10 and find a way just to #11 and the jump judge said, “no, my fault,” and I said, “volunteers are never wrong,” and somehow during this conversation the pony found the fence and jumped it.  Haha!

It turns out 5 ate a few people.  The Classic is an unrec event and they don’t post detailed xc results but there was a lot of anecdotal buzz and talk in the parking lot among riders who had stops at fence 5.  So we were in pretty good company and it was definitely a tough question.

6 people in my division went clear on xc.  We finished 8th with the 20pp.  The overjumping in stadium coupled with the sticky xc does worry me a little, but I am probably being overanalytical given everything we’ve been through the past couple of months.  He definitely seemed happy to be out there, and he was his usual chuffed self at the end…good pony!  I’m awfully proud of him.

End of xc



  1. Congrats on a great day! #5 was very tricky, I did not like that approach at all. After picking through that rocky steep bit and then finally making the turn to the fence, I did not feel like there was any time to adjust pace much, so we just keep to a strong trot over it. I didn’t want to fiddle too much that close to the jump.

  2. Hi! Thanks for the comment on my Aspen blog. Love your pony! Sounds like you’re about in the same situation as we are… but it’s fun, huh? Looking forward to reading more…


  3. Great show after lots of hard work!

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