Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Change of Scenery

Sir Robert is no worse for wear after the first outing of the season. He spent Sunday frolicking around in the fresh mud and getting stuffed with treats when we stopped by to drop off my tack trunk.

hubby: he looks like some sort of mythical creature in that fly mask.

Monday we started work for our next venture: hunter land.

My one and only goal this year is to improve my show jumping rounds. As was evident over the weekend, this is still the number one goal for good reason. I'd already planned on attending a hunter show this Sunday to get in a few jumping rounds off property, but as I was driving home Saturday, I started thinking about just how much eventing means to me.

And the answer was....maybe not as much as it used to.

it helps when your horse looks adorable in his hunter outfit.
(okay, so it's bobby. you have to use your imagination a little bit to see the cuteness.)

I already have an entry sent in for a horse trial in June, but as I was looking at my show budget, it was between sending in another HT entry or saving that money for any local h/j shows that come up. The decision was easy. I had zero desire to send in the HT entry.

It's hard for me to not be good at what I do. Constantly struggling is not fun for me. I'm all about the journey and yada yada, but one failure after another--especially when the failures only seem to come when I'm paying people to watch me do them--kicks my ego in the ass something fierce.

Now I'm thinking, "Just how bad can hunter land really be?"

"really bad. being sane around an entire course is hard."

I'm not saying I'm permanently making any switch. I've competed in exactly one hunter show my entire life, and it wasn't with Robert. I may hate it enough that paying people to watch us commit one epic failure after another in the stadium round of an event seems like the best idea ever. I may decided to put Bobby's skill on the flat to the forefront and show straight dressage.

It's hard to think of giving up cross country. Bobby really is a beast in that phase, and it's without a doubt his favorite thing to do.

For now though, that's where I'm casually leaning. Easy courses in a nicely manicured ring sound fucking dreamy right about now.

plus i got to buy MOAR HORSE STUFF!

I've pestered Lauren to no end with questions already, and she basically dressed both Bobby and I for our debut along with walking me through the entire check in process, so now I get to put to the blogosphere everything else that's confused me thus far.
  • What is the judge looking for in a courtesy circle? Is it always at the canter? If it's at the beginning of the course, do I pick up the canter from the walk or the trot?
  • Can I wear spurs on the flat? Will that count against me? It's easier for me to focus Bobby and subtly push him into my outside rein with a little nudge from my spur. Otherwise I have to get obnoxious/busy with my leg.
  • How late is too late to get a change after the jump? Or, I guess, just how quickly do I need to get the change? I can usually get it on landing, but that's assuming I'm focused enough to ask him to land correctly.
  • Let's just go ahead an assume Bobby is going to be the fastest horse in the flat class. What are the etiquette rules for zooming past people?
  • Any riding position tips for both over fences and on the flat? Anything specific a judge might be looking for?
Urgh, it always seems like I can think of more when I'm riding. Feel free to dole out any advice you think is pertinent. And if any of you are randomly hanging out at Cornell this weekend, come hold my hand through this perilous time be my friend!


  1. First, I think you should have fun with whatever kind of showing you do. Hunters is all about a steady pace and nice jump, which will only help you in stadium. PLUS IT'S AWESOME!!!!

    Now, your questions:

    - Courtesy circle is a way to give the judge the first impression of your horse. If he has a 10 trot, trot most of it. If your walk to canter transition is amazing, do that. Basically do whatever shows him off best and gives you a good start for your course.
    - Yes, you can wear spurs on the flat. You won't be alone.
    - You want to get your change before the corner ideally. A perfect change would be about 3-4 strides after the jump in a straight line, before you start turning your corner.
    - Faster horses need to stay on the inside
    - On the flat, stick out your boobs and ass. If it's an equitation class, sit the canter on the flat. If it's a hunter u/s class, do a light half seat at the canter. Over fences just ride how you usually do. Don't try to change things up the day of the show just because it's hunterland!

    1. This! Also, in the hack class if the judge is on the rail, ride the quarter line so they can actually see your magnificent beast instead of just his belly. Both your O/F trips and your hack should ideally make Bobby look like a consistent, pleasant creature who carries himself and maintains a good rhythm. Have fun, and don't get too angry with the hurry-up-and-wait!

    2. The quarter line tip is great advice!

  2. Hunterland is a mystery to me. I'm excited to hear what you and Bobby think of it :)

  3. Obviously, I wish you and Bobby the best of luck in your voyage into Hunterland! I'm sure you guys will kick ass....or at least have some great stories afterwards!

    Hunter courses are SUPER easy to learn, it's usually something like: diagonal, outside line, inside line, other diagonal. The simple courses are an advantage over the jumpers.

    However, I will warn you: my #1 pet peeve with Hunterland is the subjective judging.....hate hate HATE. I've seen horses that were literally head-bobbing lame pin highly on the flat (or even win the class. WTF), and horses that had wonderfully balanced and correct rounds not pin at all. I find Hunterland judging to be extremely political and at times ridiculously unfair.

    But as long as you're ok with the subjective judging, then you'll be fine :)

  4. I totally love Bobby's pink flymask - it rocks!!!

    I say - play in all the rings! Do it all! There is no need to pick one identity and pigeon-hole yourself. There is good things to learn and fun to be had in all the disciplines.

    If one stops being fun, go do something different for a while. It may remind you what you loved about your original discipline to begin with :)

    Oh yeah, and I for one pretty much think you and Bobby are awesome. I'd die happy if I had half your mad skills, so big UPs from me.

  5. OOOOH! I can answer these! (I miss hunterland.) Courtesy circle: Enter the ring at the walk, pick up your trot, trot the first half of the circle, then pick up your canter and proceed to the first jump. If there is room you can circle around the first jumps of the lines, or in front if you want your horse to see the flowers. The judge is looking for a pleasant, consistent picture the entire time you're in the ring. So a nice relaxed trot on a soft rein, then establish your canter rhythm in the circle and try to maintain that same rhythm for the whole course. If the first jump is coming toward home, enter at the walk, trot all the way across the diagonal and pick up your canter in the corner. Spurs: definitely wear them if they help you. Will not count against you at all. Lead changes are typically done in the corner, but can also be done while still on a straight line coming away from the jump. They are not late unless you don't get them until you cross the centerline along the end of the ring. If Bobby is faster than others, don't come flying up someone's butt (obv), make a circle or turn through the middle. This has the added bonus of getting your horse seen more by the judge (you never want to just stay on the rail and blend with the crowd). Over fences the judge is looking for a consistent pace, good distances, and getting the right number of strides in each line (the distances should be posted so you know). You should be in your half seat over fences and on the flat, with a loop in your reins on the flat and Bobby's nose poked out or in a very soft frame. Getting closer to the tack is acceptable over fences if he goes better that way but you don't want to be in a full seat. Overall just do whatever will make him jump his best and stay the most quiet, relaxed, and consistent, because that's what the judge is looking for.

  6. I'm sorry I have no answer to your questions :( I am interested to see how you like hunterland though, because having just futzed around an open show, which I know is a little different, it just made me love eventing more. If I were to switch to anything though it would be straight dressage I think. Ride times are a must.

  7. • Courtesy Circle -- You always do a courtesy circle at both the beginning and end of your round UNLESS the first or last jump is on the opposite side of the ring from the gate. You can walk, trot or canter and should use the circle for two purposes (ideally): 1) show off your horses' best gaits/transitions and 2) establish your canter pace.
    • Can I wear spurs on the flat? Will that count against me? Yes you can wear them and no it will not count against you. I wear spurs on the flat and do just fine!
    • How late is too late to get a change after the jump? Or, I guess, just how quickly do I need to get the change? Okay, so if you are aiming for the ideal spot, it's on the corner right when you change your horses bend. Always try to get the change, even if it's super late.
    • Let's just go ahead an assume Bobby is going to be the fastest horse in the flat class. What are the etiquette rules for zooming past people? Just be generally courteous. Faster horses should go on the inside (off the rail), however others will be riding the quarter lines to show off their horses too. Avoid running up someone's ass or cutting them off and you'll be fine.
    • Any riding position tips for both over fences and on the flat? Anything specific a judge might be looking for? Don't worry too much about what you look like since you're not being judged on your equitation in hunter rounds. One thing I always tell myself though (especially for the under saddle) is that the judge is looking for an easy, pleasant horse. I try not to look like I'm working too hard, and let my horse just "be" more than forcing him into his best frame.

  8. Wait- I'm confused. All I remember is that in your last post there is a beautiful photo on Bobby sporting two blue ribbons! Not that I disapprove of dabbling in other disciplines (do it and share all your stories with us!), but eventing world domination can still be yours!

    1. Jumping clean on paper does not necessarily mean a good time. Our first jumping round was absolutely horrendous, and the second was only passable. I'm not okay with either of those, blue ribbon winning or not.

    2. Hmm, seems fair. Well then hopefully a few trips to Hunter Land will give you both the positive experiences you are looking for! I'll admit selfishly though, I'll be sad to miss your XC helmet cams :)

  9. Could you find some hunter paces so you can do xc of sorts without having to do jumper rounds?? I'm sure there are some out there. I think I remember hearing about them back when I showed in hunter land in highschool in Orleans Co

  10. I've always found hunters a bit confusing too. I hope that you have a great time!

  11. I think most people have covered your questions, so I just want to say GOOD LUCK! Just remember that cute pones/kids in braids are actually evil little competitors (watch out) and that you may want to let Bobert poke his nose a bit in the under saddle. You two will be great!

  12. PLEASE share the magical tips from Lauren! Now that I have a hunter pony, I really am interested in foraying into h/j land as well!

  13. i'm all about taking advantage of other disciplines to zero in on whatever issues we might be having, and to build mileage. i hope the foray into hunters gives you the type of rounds you're looking for - and i sincerely hope they translate back to your stadium rounds and that you return to eventing as an even more badass team!!!

  14. Hooray for HunterLand! I'm planning a move into JumperLand, but I'll never fully abandon the hunters :)
    Looks like everyone pretty much answered your questions already, so I'll just chime in with what my trainer tells me. The goal is to have the horse moving correctly and have it look like a pleasure to do so, but if you have to abandon one, make it the latter. Much better to wrestle a little to get your pony's attention and make them do their job instead of perching while they do whatever they want. Of course it's ideal to have both, but sometimes the horse isn't entirely on board! Excited to see how things go for you guys :)


If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.