So as some of you may have seen already on Horsenation, my first event with Midnight was a success! I feel like a very neglectful blogger here on CE but it has been a crazy busy week prepping for the show. Here's the rundown of everything that's been going on.
Last Sunday Midnight had a TOTAL meltdown in the crossties after I'd been working up to it slowly for weeks. When it first started getting hot this spring, I would just hold him in the wash stall, then I just used one tie and held him with the lead, and then I had been using both ties for about two weeks until The Incident. I knew he had cross tie issues going into the lease, but WOW does he have cross tie issues.
I was bathing him with Micro-Tek shampoo to try and soothe his rain rot a bit, and I was just about done, but I didn't want to dump out my bucket in the wash stall since the drain was clogged and there was a bunch of standing water, and I didn't want to make a splash that would freak him out. So (not thinking) I went out of the wash stall to dump it outside. Well THAT made him really freak out.
Once he realized he was stuck in there without me, he pulled back, splashed around (of course), freaked himself out more, reared (thank God he didn't fall backward or hit his head on the ceiling) and spun--his brain just went out the window. Somehow he managed to break the cross ties AND finagle his halter off, then he trotted outside, but didn't go far--of course he suddenly felt less scared when he saw some tasty grass. Thankfully other boarders were there to help me.
Once he settled down I attempted to get him back in the wash stall rather unsuccessfully. I was able to get him fully in there for about 30 seconds after I had been tapping and tapping with the end of the lead rope, but he has this new trick where he ducks his head behind you really quick and I wasn't able to hold on to him.
So I grabbed my instructor and we figured out that trick pretty quick with the chain. We were able to tap, tap, tap and get him to take one step at a time into the stall until his head and neck were in there. But theeen he started rearing and striking out at us when we corrected that head-snaking move with the chain. Great. So that's the "stud-ish" behavior his owner told me about.
His ground manners in general are atrocious (though I've been working on keeping him out of my space) so we are switching to a rope halter so the corrections actually mean something...and I'm going to try to teach him to ground tie to make the whole thing less stressful for everyone. I don't think he's ever really been taught to give to pressure when being tied, and it's just ballooned into this huge production where he loses his mind. So I think until he can just chill out ground-tied, I won't push the issue. I have no desire to deal with a rearing wannabe stallion.
And now on to...
I'm pleased to say the event was a lot less dramatic than the incident :)
I shared Midnight with the other half-leaser, who is an experienced eventer and showed at Elementary, while I was a level below at Intro. She was nice enough to let me use her tack (much easier than trying to switch) and she won her division!
Dressage: We did USDF Intro Test B and got a 33.44 (eventing scoring). Wow. WHAT an improvement from the Fix-a-Test when I rode my first dressage tests ever, getting a 58.1 and a 60.6 (dressage scoring). So that's an over 10-point jump from the same judge in just two months! We are beginning to get round and guess what...our circles are actually...CIRCULAR!!!
As I was practicing the week before, I noticed that in Intro B, all of the transitions are in corners--which seemed like a perfect way to incorporate shoulder-fore and set up the bend in the way the judge suggested in the Fix-a-Test. So I tried to do that but obviously still need to work on putting all the pieces together--the main comment appeared to be that he braces against my hand when I ask for roundness and bend in the transitions in the corners. The only collective scores we didn't get sevens on were submission (6, but with the x2 multiplier it counted as 12) and rider's position (6.5--a half point jump from the Fix-a-Test). Both of course have to do with me not quite setting up the bend correctly so it's nice that it's one clear thing to work on.
So with mostly sixes and sevens, the dressage put us in first place before the jumping began!
Jumpalooza: So this event was a little different than a normal combined test. They had a special class called the "jumpalooza" which I just had to try--you start jumping in the arena, then trot or canter out to the XC field, and come back to finish your round in the arena.
I went out to walk the course WAY early in the morning, before many people had arrived. It was a pretty simple, flowy setup with a couple related distances and the option to do a bending line--but Midnight and I had never actually jumped a full course before! My expectations were low, and as my instructor said, "It's OK if you need to circle or if you want to pull up. This isn't the Olympics here!"
So after some initial confusion on where to enter the ring (it was different from the previous show in the series, which I volunteered at), I went in with my plan: trot in, and canter out. If he got quick at the canter, I would just come back to the trot. It was a successful plan! However we did have a stop when he looked at one of the jumps, and I was so focused on trying to remember where to go next that I circled him around rather than keeping him pointed at the jump. Oh well. We got over it. Then in the last jump before the XC portion, Midnight put on a bit of turbo speed and I was just about ready to pull up and quit...but then he came back to me like a good boy and I did some yoga breathing.
We trotted over to the XC field, where the course was almost exactly the same as it was when we schooled a few of the jumps--just a big loop around the field. I didn't ride that well to the first jump (not very forward, and not defensive enough in my position). It was a small oxer with natural branches from a downhill approach, so we had another stop and I circled again. Then a couple of logs uphill...easy peasy, and I was so pleased once we got to the top of the hill! Then I almost forgot where to go...oh yeah, turn around and go back down the hill! Two small ground-pole-ish jumps downhill...and then THE HAY BALE OF DOOM. Okay, maybe not doom, more like "I'm supposed to jump it, not eat it?" Another stop, but finally I had it together enough to deal with his wiggling and we just popped over it from a standstill.
Then back to the stadium again, where I almost forgot where to go again. The fact that the jumps were numbered helped! He did great although we did have a rail down. Honestly I was just happy I didn't have a panic attack in my claustrophobic vest!
16 jumping faults later we were in third place...out of three. But I didn't feel disappointed at all. We did AWESOME in our dressage and not half bad for our first time jumping a course. I wolfed down some homemade pizza I brought, then spent a few hours watching some of the more advanced dressage and jumping, did jump crew for a little while and then once everyone was done we had celebratory drinks and fruit in the "show office"...AKA trailer with an extension wire and a fan.
I have to say eventers know their stuff: effective riding, humane horsemanship, and the fact that there is nothing better than a cold beer after a long, hot day of horse showing. Looking forward to doing it all over again this fall!