I was out at Cazenovia College for the Courtney King-Dye clinic my GMO put on (which I'll do a post on, but I figured everyone was more interested in Dopie's eventing debut) until around two on Saturday before driving home and grabbing Hubby and the puppies to drive down to Geneseo and walk my cross country and stadium. From there I drove back up to Rochester to bathe Opie and throw the last couple things in my trailer. Then I went home and
|i was too tired to braid him so he got to sport his shaggy button braid length mane|
all day instead. he looked like a cheeky pony.
Fortunately the event was only forty-ish minutes with the trailer from my barn so even though our dressage was at 9:30 I didn't have to roll out of bed until six. Opie loaded right up and then calmly walked off the trailer and dug into his breakfast without fuss. He definitely likes hanging out at the trailer more than he did being stabled. He can move around and keep track of all his soulmates without a stall door blocking his view. Priorities.
Seeing as how this horse has spent all season doing dressage, and I pretty much always end up getting on with way too much time to spare, I gave us about twenty minutes to get on, get over to the far reaches where the ring was, and get warmed up. Turns out we needed every minute of it, and really it ended up not being much of a success anyway.
|wow so fast much running|
Opie was blown away when we stepped through the hedgerow and into a giant open field with jumps and other horses and no real ring to warm up in. His dressage princess brain just couldn't even and I could tell I wasn't getting anywhere with him at the walk and trot so I commandeered a big circle and let him canter.
And canter. And canter. And canter.
|it was a beautiful morning out at least|
When I finally brought him back to the trot he had settled a little bit, but it sure didn't last.
We went to circle the ring and right away Opie took offense to the judge's booth. I let him walk by it and check it out so it was less scary. Then we trotted from the grass to the sand at the end of the court to circle and he spooked at the footing change. And then people walked out of a different hedgerow and he tripped and almost fell down because he was too busy gawping at them. So I gave up and let him stand there and have a giant stare fest until the judge blew the whistle.
|"THERE ARE THINGS EVERYWHERE SENSORY OVERLOAD"|
I don't think doing a couple more circles would have helped him any, and he at least went in not afraid of the judge. Doesn't mean it was a good test though!
He was so distracted by everything the whole test. But he is Dopie. Judges cannot get enough of this kid. Even with his head in the air he scored basically all 6.5s with a few 7s. Most of the comments were that his back was tight or that he was a little fussy. Both true. The final comments were, "Canter is better than trot. Use it to make trot better!" Which just LOL because you all know how hard I've had to work on this canter, and that the trot is just naturally easy. Apparently when you're an event horse you have to show off your jumping canter instead.
The final score was a 35.5 which isn't the worst but not great either, especially since I was bringing a strictly dressage horse in here. Sometimes it's easy to forget he's still in his first year off the track and every place I take him is a brand new experience. I have no idea how that stacked up against anyone else because they haven't posted results yet, and they weren't forthcoming with them at the show either.
|i also forgot my 3/4" purple spurs at home and had to grab a barn mate's nubs instead.|
they were essentially useless in the steering department which wasn't much fun.
I was SO WORKED UP for stadium. When we walked it the night before I pretty much resigned myself to not making it past that phase. I was banking on 2' jumps and these were mostly 2'3" including two oxers--which Opie has never jumped before. In the back of my head I knew he could jump them easily enough, but my brain has never been able to do stadium. Ever. In the history of eventing.
Everyone I talked to was like, "U R being SO DUM STAHP. #childgenius!!!" and then I even had a dream that night where we cantered the whole course in a perfect hunter canter with zero issues. But the hour wait between dressage and jumping had me crawling out of my skin and I refused to even start getting ready until twenty minutes out. I didn't want to be in the saddle waiting to go for one second longer than I needed to be.
|spoiler alert: just the best.|
Right as I went to bridle him, the horse at the trailer behind me made a run for it as she was getting bridled and went galloping right past us. There was another OTTB also doing their first event walking in front of my trailer on the way to stadium right then too, and he and Opie both just froze and stared at the commotion. Once the horse was out of sight (who was caught and went on to compete just fine), Opie couldn't stand still to save his fool life as I tried to get his figure 8 adjusted properly. Fuck these non-Micklem bridles and their ten thousand moving straps!
|jk look how cute he looks in it!|
Opie had no idea what was in store for him, but he was excited to do it. He power walked over to the tiny warm up area where they were waiting for anyone to go in. Thank fuck because I sent him right to the trot, did two laps, picked up the canter, jumped the X twice, the vertical once (and sent it flying), and offered to go in with all of five minutes max to warm up. Exactly the limit my brain can deal with!
I decided to trot the first jump and see how confident he felt. The judge blew the whistle, I pointed Dopes between the start flags and he perked right up and picked up the canter on his own. I let him roll with it and he nailed the first jump, landing and looking for the next one.
|jumped one jump. thinks he's the king of the world.|
The second jump was equally perfect, and then a weird bending-ish line to the oxer. He got a little backed off of it so I let him trot it. He jumped it crooked and green as fuck, but he went over first try. Then the wheels came off a little bit. The next two jumps were on a line, but spaced so far apart they weren't set on any distance. Opie took a fucking flyer to the first one and then I just kind of sat there like a lump and let him do the same thing to the second.
|coming in hot|
Steering was tricky landing off of that, but we got the next one done just fine. Off of six there was a jump on the diagonal that rode a little awkward for more than just me. (Because everything has the potential to ride awkwardly when you're me.) I didn't support Opie up to it and he knocked the top rail out with a front foot. The next jump he launched over, and then we finished with two really good, normal horse jumps.
|opie: i'm doing the thingggggggg!!!!!|
|final jump, second ever oxer|
He got all the praise in the world while the volunteers had a good laugh at my running commentary of obnoxiously loud GOOD BOYs.
|thank you for having no idea what you were doing and still packing me around|
I'd had a bit of a debate with myself about what bit to use (See what I did there?). In our last outside jump school he was landing and, not bolting, but jetting off with much enthusiasm. As in, it took me a long ass time to get him hauled back up after a jump. I like having a hold when I jump so I didn't want to throw something too big/harsh in there and getting him super backed off, but I still wanted brakes. I waffled back and forth between just using his every day french link eggbutt and hoping I had some control and going back to the slow twist that I used for about a week way back when when we were having canter control issues. In the end I went with the slow twist and I'm so glad I did.
|going places. really fast.|
I asked for the canter as we left the start box and Opie launched into it. I got him wrangled right back for a perfectly reasonable first jump, and then we had a bit of a canter to jump two. He turns into a little pit bull sometimes--he rolls himself into a ball, sets against the bit, and just cruises. I'm sure he was a blast to gallop at the track, but all I needed was a nice canter.
He jumped the first two just fine, and then was kind of getting stuck in the footing coming up to three. Since he's prone to falling on his face on a good day and kept curling I had to really get his focus up, but he jumped that fine as well.
|how cute and happy is he?!|
From there we had to go down a stupidly steep hill to the next jump and I seriously almost didn't get him back in time before we fell off the face of the earth. We obviously walked down it, went over the jump at the bottom, and then stormed the hill to get back up and out.
The jump after that was pretty upright and the first "big" one for the second half of the course. Opie wasn't sure about it from a mile out and finally skidded to the side a couple strides out from it. I probably could have smacked him and chased him over it, but to what end? He'd never jumped a real xc jump before heading out on this course and I wasn't there to dominate the eventing scene. I let him take a quick peak at it and then we came back around and he went over it with a little extra leg.
One more jump, and then we had to go down to cross through a hedgerow with a gully on either side. Opie wanted no part of that death trap and we had a little discussion before I could get him to walk through and out to the next two jumps--both of which he did fine.
He had a dance party at the next footing change trying to decide what footing was cause for the most concern, but I managed to keep him cantering past that without running sideways into the ditch. Small wins.
|but we finished!!!|
Opie's massage lady found us when we were done, and Opie was mugging her for all he was worth like, "Yes, I am a star event horse, massage lady. Tell me how wonderful I am." He was definitely proud of himself back at the trailer.
I think Opie had fun, and he certainly out-performed my expectations for him. I envisioned a lot more rails flying in stadium and a horse lacking confidence having to go out into the wide world and tackle brand new jumps without another horse in sight to keep him company. Instead he totally got into it--maybe a little too much into it as that slow twist was barely enough sometimes!
So will I do it again? No, not really. I have zero anxiety before dressage shows. They don't keep me up at night. I don't get even the faintest tickling of nerves before going into the ring. Stadium still makes me sick to my stomach, and I'm completely over paying money for that sensation. Cross country is fun, but it's not fun enough to overcome that. Especially when there are hunter paces.
I think in the future this same event might be a good season-ender just for something different for Opie to do. Other than that, dressage it is.
you didn't think i was going to forget this, did you?!
*Result update: If we hadn't had the rail or the stop, we would have been second. With just the rail we would have been third. Next year we'll aim for a ribbon! #introhorseforlife