Posted by: shannonc | August 9, 2010

Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel

Yes, please, the E!

Stadium railbirds

The pony and I had a nice D test at Snowfields for a 35.2.  We followed, as is our habit, the most lovely test of the division – which really I couldn’t begrudge because it truly was lovely.  A 35.2 is the pony’s best score so far this season and I was pleased.  Our warmup was a little glitchy as the stewards wanted us up in a small area near the ring 20 minutes early, and the pony was a little heavy in my hand (which Joy warned me would probably be his next phase), and slightly distracted as stadium got started behind the dressage area, but really quite nice and steady and correct.  We had all 6s and 7s and the judge said we need to work on his lateral suppleness.  Oh so true – but a very nice change from “acceptance of the bridle” underlined three times. :)

Some D stills:

I ought to know by now when we have one of our better D tests (this one put us in 5th, 5 pts off the leader), we are headed for trouble.

I’d walked the sj before D and my first reaction was, this is going to be difficult.  There was terrain and the terrain was used in the course design.  The turns were challenging and it was highly filled.  Fence 1 was a max oxer picket fence directly away from the start gate, maybe 6 strides out depending on where you made the nearly 90-degree turn off the rail to it.  Fence 2, max oxer flower box, U turn and navigate around the in and out to get to fence 3, another max oxer 4, up the hill directly at the judge’s pickup truck to fence 5, an airy cutout-type vertical, downhill slide to fence 6, hairpin turn to a 2-stride (many got 3), bending line to 8, difficult turn away from the ingate to 9, and ending with a rollback to 10 (plain X oxer toward the outgate, left jump of 3-panel in photo below and one of the most straightforward looking fences on course…lol). 

Ingate view

I watched two-plus divisions go and it was riding hard.  Quite a bit of time, and even the clean rounds were not what you would call pretty.  It was a bit King Oak-like in that way, with a bit more terrain, a bit more decor, and a bit more in the way of tough turns.  Fence 1 caused a rider fall, at least one elimination, and a number of stops.  The pony stopped at fence 1, then twice at fence 2 and the second time, he put his feet underneath enough to knock over all the flower boxes.  Whistle, end of day.

The people were so nice – the ring steward actually found something positive to say to me – “well, good job muscling him over fence 1!”  That was kind of cute.

In my three-hour drive home I talked a lot on the phone and of course, tried to figure it out.  Here’s what I came up with for possibilities:

  1. It was just too much for him.  Possible, but I’m doubtful.  He was clean at KO and clean at ENYDCTA, both of which were also very fancy and colorful, albeit with more forgiving course design.
  2. He was having a brat day.  Also possible but not really like him to date.  He always looks, but he also always tries.  He has enough mileage now that he knows what his job is in there.  In this case he did not want to play, period, end.  The only other day we’ve had like that was UNH.  And guess what was the problem there?
  3. …He’s hurting again somewhere.  The way this manifested at UNH, remember, was he looked from the ground like he was being a brat pony.  He was heavy in my hand, scrambly in the canter, cranky, unwilling, and when stuffed to fences, jumped badly. 
  4. Possibly, he’s holding our lesson last week with the many stops against me and we’re going through a testing the pilot phase.

The last time I assumed I was having a green pony issue and got all over his case, he had a legitimate reason for stopping.  In that sense I’m somewhat glad we didn’t have the option to keep going yesterday. 

Of course in retrospect, a pattern falls into place:

  1. Last stadium lesson he started out well and got worse over the hour.  The more I managed the canter and asked him to sit down, the worse the jumps got even when the distances were right there.  He didn’t stand off, he started putting in extra strides.  At the time, looked like a progression issue – asking more, need time for him to adjust and get comfortable.  However…exact same symptom as in April/May.
  2. A lot of stops at the last fence of our xc lesson last week.  At the time looked like the drop issue, but could have also been beyond his physical comfort level.  What it looked like in the spring was a combination:  he doesn’t really feel good doing it, and if on top of that it’s not really something he feels like doing…more resistance.
  3. The warmup was very like my warmup at UNH.  Not horrible, just a variety of selections from him on leaving the ground, pulling, and possible hind end discomfort that manifested in things like breaking to trot down the hills.  Not really in front of my leg – the million dollar question, of course, being – why?
  4. New spin on the flatwork – another reason, besides an educational phase, he’d be heavy in my hand.

Top candidates for source of discomfort:

  1. He’s way out of alignment in his pelvis again.  Or even a little out of alignment:  I will call the pony many things, but I will never accuse him of being stoic. 
  2. He does, in fact, as Natalie Barnard and Jessie Springer have suspected, have symptomatic Lyme, in spite of the low reactive test result from May.  This would be tricky as my regular vet believes Lyme is the current vogue catch-all diagnosis, resulting in a lot of unnecessary treatment.
  3. He needs his hocks done again.  If this is the case, after three months of doing 2’6″, I think a jumping life is probably not for him.

Just as I was writing this, Dr. Jessie called to see if we could move next week’s appointment to this week.  Huh.  Almost seems like a sign…in any case, will be good info, as I’m not sure atm whether we should scratch Great Vista, or KO, or both.

How strange to go from a 1st place to an E to an Area Championship.

I think my brain hurts now :P  Ah well…back to the drawing board!



  1. Shannon, your D stills look lovely. In fact, he doesn’t look like a pony at all. I’d say he was looking very warmblood-ish in some of those photos. Congrats to that. And screw the E.

  2. hahaha! thanks Sarah!

  3. if it makes you feel any better ..we drove to Kentucky for a weekend CCI* last Sept. Kimber had a nice test and was in first….SJ is the challenge and they made it around the huge SJ course until the last element of the triple (the last fence; finish flags right there). Colin quit, knocking fenc down…reset…reapproach slams on breaks. E…..from 1st place at international event, a total of 48 hrs of drive time, well over $1500 in fuel alone….colin also had big lacerations on his hocks from his sliding stops and need vet care and then later became quite colic-y….Our trainer(michelle brochu) tells us ‘there are those who have, and those who will’. Hang in there!

  4. Aw – so sorry you had to go through that! I like Michelle’s perspective, though. Are they having a good time so far this year?

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