Posted by: shannonc | September 12, 2010

Stop the presses

…I own the world’s most amazing horse, and he’s BACK after six very long years out of competition.  And he’s happy, like he’s spent all this time wondering where my head’s been, leaving him home.  Just let me be biased – I’ll come down off my Blue-high, but give it some time.  Not everyone gets a second chance with their horse.  Today, I did.

Event report:  King Oak Farm fall HT, USEA recognized BN – September 11, 2010

If you want the TLDR version, here you go.  This one pretty much says it all:

Look at his face!

So, I decided I was going to scratch the pony from KO.  He’s on all kinds of meds – doxy, Adequan, Legend, Cough Free – just got front eggbars with pads on Tuesday after being barefoot his entire life, and was lame for almost a week after last Friday’s LH suspensory block.  He came sound on Th but I just didn’t think it was fair to ask him to do an event.  He needs time to get confident again – he’s been through a lot. 

The crazy idea to take Blue crept into my thoughts, but I barely wanted to give voice to it.  He’s been sound and back in consistent work since he got his hind shoes and front pads maybe two cycles ago.  Before that I was working him on soft ground only on the advice of the vet, who said I should not let him get any weaker.  I had pretty much not jumped him at all.  Maybe one gymnastic and an unscheduled crossrail or two in the D saddle.  I’d taken him to FHS a few times to help Tory work on her dressage, and he literally ran onto the trailer every time.  His mind was way ahead of his body, but the message was still coming through loud and clear:  he wanted to work.

Hedging, I scheduled him for an extra acupuncture appointment with Jessie, and took him for a jump school.  That could be its own entry…but suffice it to say, although we were both rusty, things got better and better as we went along.  So I waited to see how he felt the next day.  And the day after that.  And then…I asked KO if they would let me substitute him.

And, because they are wonderful, they said okay, and found a spot for him in the Open division.  Blue was so happy, he went out and got the secretary a thank you gift:

My one reservation was that he might not be strong enough to do a HT in one day.  But I resolved to pay close attention and pull him at any point if it seemed he was tired, unhappy, or anything even nearly approximating unsound.

Friday night, Blue stood like a statue through all the stuff I’m used to him hating, like being doused with cold water, and having his face washed.  Braided him in prime mosquito time and he didn’t move a muscle.  Saturday morning, I went down to the barn to find he’d twisted his antisweat almost under his belly, but somehow, he didn’t have a dirty (or injured) spot on him.  Off we went.

I should mention that for our ride Friday, I measured out a D ring and practiced our test – for this event, BN A, which plays to our biggest weakness – the left canter.  In A, there’s a whole circle of it (only half of one in B), and it comes before a lot of the trot work (in B the majority of the scored trot work is done when you get to canter).  Our rehearsal was hysterical.  I posted this FB status update afterward:

*Memorandum* To: Landlord/Carrot vendor From: Blueberry Re: Stuffage

It has come to my attention that you would like me to perform an entire 20m canter circle to the left. I regret to inform you that this is not what Blueberries do. May I remind you, should you think of insisting, that I do know how to jump out of the ring. With sincere wishes that you would find a HT with xc as the 1st phase,

I literally could not complete one left 20m circle.  As soon as I half halted to bring him up, he would break to sprawly trot, getting so rattled and unbalanced that I couldn’t pour his brain back in his head for the rest of the test.  Ooops.  Does not bode well.

So I planned to ride him like a hunter in D and suck up my 50-odd penalties.

Welp.  I mount up at KO and he is as calm as calm can be.  We mosey down to the D warmup and walk a bit, and then I pick up the reins and BOOM, experienced horse arrives on the premises.  Drops his head, picks up his back, and waits for instruction.  Huh. 

There’s some confusion, because I’ve switched divisions, about which ring I’m supposed to be in, and he stands in the shade and looks around gaily while a few green horses explode nearby.  We aren’t sure if we’re going to be called now, or much later, so it’s hard to know how tuned to keep him, but I decide that I want to save him and that more work is not going to make our test that much better, so we walk around and do some lateral steps.  Eventually, in we go to the grass ring, which  is made of slippery rocks.  Seriously.  Every time we put a foot down, it pinged back up at us.  Blue didn’t like it at all. 

Still, he gave me the best test I could have asked for, considering his strength right now.  Before the left canter I whispered to him, “just get through this,” and he almost did.  We had an early break, but we got around the *(&^^%$%!! circle.  MUCH better than I’d anticipated.

I am thrilled. Blue is eyeing the camera, saying "I had it all under control."

What a good horse.



The comment on our collectives was funny.  It said, “Nice position.  Horse needs help with canter.”  Tell me about it!  Well, six weeks ago the horse wasn’t even cantering.  So it’s all good.

We got a 38, which I thought was very respectable.  The judge was pretty generous all around, and the 38 put us in 12th.  Our division was 20 deep, but there were a bunch of ties ahead of us, and our score placed us pretty close to the bottom.  That was fine with me.  I was excited to have made it around the left canter circle :P  And I was also more worried about how he’d responded to the footing than I was concerned about our placing.

More tomorrow!



  1. Yay! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

  2. Almost brings moisture to one’s eyes. :)

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