So we’re maybe not going too far back but I never got the chance to share these videos with you:
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to the wonderful sponsors that E.I. secured for their first horse trial. Not only were the ribbons ginormous, but they also came with wonderful prizes.
For Dandy’s 2nd place, he also won a leather halter from Olson’s Tack. It’s beautiful. I just need to do a photo shoot so I can see him in it.
Stadium day was basically a mess. A rushed mess. Mostly because this time I wanted Dandy’s braids to be perfect so I was not accepting any mistakes on my part. By the time I was on the last few braids, N, was rushing me to get my horse tacked up so that JLE would have enough time to warm up.
In the end, I ended up being very happy with his braids. By the end of the season I will, hopefully and especially if Dandy keeps going into Stadium in top 8, be a master at them. Ideally I’ll be able to do them faster as well.
Even rushing, we got down to warm-up with plenty of time. Especially because Dandy was being such a gentleman. JLE didn’t want to over do it with the warm up so she just let Dandy stand at the rail and take in everything that was going on. Finally Dandy was just a few horses up so JLE popped him over the warm-up fences and then came back to get him all cleaned up when she was the next horse in. That’s when we realized something was very very wrong.
To my eventing friends, look at the bottom pictures. Do you notice anything wrong? Maybe something missing?
If you said that JLE was missing her medical arm band, you are correct. Just before Dandy was supposed to go in the ring, JLE looks down at her arm and says to me, “I’m missing my arm band.” I swore and took off running for the barn.
A few things: one) I hate running. I haven’t run in forever and two) I’m wearing my Dubarrys which are not great running boots and three) the barn is like a half mile away from the rings. Even when I was in my best shape ever the fastest I did the mile was 10:00. How the heck was I suppose to get to our stabling, grab the arm band, and run back all in the 1:30 while the horse before JLE went in the ring. But I had to try.
My lungs were on fire by the time I got to the barn isle. Everyone started asking me how Dandy had done but all I could squeeze out was “Armband!” I found JLE’s helmet bag, found the armband and took off running back to the rings. Maybe I could make it.
Alas, it was not to be. Because of the Dubarrys, or because I was dying inside, or because I am just a klutz, I tripped over a log and went sprawling into the gravel. Immediately I pushed myself up but remember those lungs on fire? Yeah, now they felt like they were broken. I spent a moment on my hands and knees trying to catch my breath. Two young girls on their bikes in front of me started asking if I was alright. I was but the tears were starting to well up. Dandy was doing so good and he was going to get disqualified. No. I had to keep trying.
I got to my feet, and there, just yards away was JLE and Dandy. “Are you alright?” She called as they trotted towards us. I nodded that I was and handed her the armband. She had gotten the second place person to switch ride go with her and figured it would be faster if she came and got it herself. With the armband now firmly in place, JLE and Dandy trotted off only to go straight into the ring.
I limped along (apparently I hit my knee pretty badly) and was able to catch most of the ride.
And they jumped clear. Better than clear because there had been a really tight two stride (which Dandy is infamous for bouncing) and he not only didn’t bounce it, he got the strides and let JLE sit him back.
We were both very proud of him. And while I don’t like to gain on other people’s misfortune, the horse in the lead after XC had two rails down so Dandy moved up to second place.
In just two weeks, Dandy will be going Novice at Aspen. I can’t believe how well he did at his very first event, the second place was just icing on the cake. And I can’t wait until it’s me up there!
There was no sleeping in on Saturday. The Open Beginner Novice Division started first thing at 8:00 am in the Derby Field and JLE and Dandy’s ride time was 8:20 am. Luckily Dandy was eager and ready for the day.
The best part about XC is that the getting ready is no where near as intensive as getting ready for dressage or stadium. There are no manes that need to be braided. Just get the horse sparkling clean, shampoo any white legs, Showsheen the tail, put on the hoof polish, and tack him up. I didn’t stick around to watch any of the warm up; I wanted to be where the action was!
Before braiding on Dressage day, N and I had walked the Beginner Novice course. It was so different from anything we’re used to up here in Washington. There were hills! And not just rolling hills like we see at Aspen but actually up and down steep hills that your horse is going to want to go charging at. None of the jumps looked scary to me on the ground so I was confident that Dandy wouldn’t have a problem with them. They also offered two options, a log instead of the water (swung you way out of your way) and a house instead of the ditch.
Eric and I staked out a place near the water jump where we could see the most fences and waited for the show to start. The first horse was actually the leader after dressage (by about four points) and they were not having a good run. They had three refusals (at different jumps) where we could see. And that unfortunately set the tone for the next few riders.
I know these are more skilled riders on their baby horses, for the most part, but I couldn’t believe how many riders chose to take the option or had a refusal at the water and had to swing around to take the option. There was one rider who spent the rest of her allotted time trying to get her horse in the water. She couldn’t kick him in, she couldn’t back him in, he didn’t want to follow another horse and she even got in the way of someone else trying to take the long route over the option. When we finally left after Dandy’s run I heard a jump judge radio in and ask what to do with her. But anyway, I thought water should be one of the first things you ingrained into your baby XC horses. Apparently it’s not.
So after the carnage of the first handful of riders, I was feeling pretty worried. It was early in the morning and the shadows were weird. Maybe Dandy was going to have problems too. Finally he came up the first hill and around the corner into the water complex. No problems with my baby horse, he canter right threw it like the pro he is someday going to be and took JLE confidently over the next jump (the barrels).
You could tell that he was having such a good time. His ears were pricked and locking on to everything she pointed him at. He was so full of himself but JLE didn’t give him time to fool around and got him focused.
Jump 10 was the one I was worried about the most. Not because of the actual jump, it’s just a little rolled table, but because of the approach. You come off the log jump and you have to swerve right into a bunch of trees and really get your line just perfect. There was not room for error and one team in the division actually full on missed the jump.
But as you can see, Dandy had no issues. He didn’t care about the ditch or the bank or anything. He did want to blast up both hills but JLE actually let him on the last as she was running behind, time wise.
Both JLE and I were so proud of him! Dandy was tired and sweaty after his run but you could tell that he was proud of himself too. I think he finally was starting to understand what the whole point of these shows are: to jump XC. And since XC is his all time favorite thing, he’ll put up with the rest.
I took a half-day on Thursday but even so it seemed like 1:00 pm would never come. I was literally counting down the minutes until I could bust out of work, grab Guinness and make my way to the Washington State Horse Park. But finally the clock struck one and I was on my way.
This was my first time at the Horse Park and wow was it gorgeous! You’re really not more than five minutes from town but you feel like you’re in a little horse paradise (except for hearing the freeway). While they could have organized the parking a little better, everything was set up great, the stalls even had lights hanging overhead!
Dandy had caught a ride with JLE and was already settled into his cushy end stall when I got there. He had his head hanging over the stall guard and seemed interested in everything that was going on. N was just about ready to tack him up for a hack so I lent a hand and we quickly got him ready to go. Before JLE got on, N tossed Dandy on the lunge line to see how he was feeling. On the lunge, Dandy was quiet and lazy. N actually had to encourage him to get his butt moving.
But when JLE got on and took him into the arena, Dandy finally woke up and he wasn’t completely pleased. He was up and there were moments where the pressure was just a little too much for him. Nothing major happened and JLE was still very pleased with how he acted. Apparently he has made progress even from his trip down to California.
Needless to say that I was both excited for Dandy’s dressage test the next day and worried that he wasn’t going to be all there mentally. But that’s why JLE was in the irons, just incase something bad did happen.
The first test of the day for our team wasn’t until 10:34 so we got to sleep in and didn’t have to feed the horses until 7:00 am. Dandy and JLE’s ride time was at 12:10 so I figured I would have plenty of time to get him braided and looking like a million bucks by then.
Turns out that I didn’t have as much time as I thought. This was the first time I was going to be doing a full neck of button braids and Dandy has a very long neck. I managed to fit 16 buttons in and five of them I did at least twice (a few I did three times). I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I just wasn’t happy with how the first ones looked. In fact, I wasn’t really pleased with the braids in general but eventually I ran out of time and just had to get them done.
The warm-up ring was packed but Dandy didn’t seem to care. I was shocked but very pleased. Dandy was on his game and wasn’t worried about the other horses running around him. Maybe this wasn’t going to be the disaster I originally envisioned.
Finally they called Dandy and JLE to head over to the dressage court. She was in Ring 2 which was being judged b Teresa Stewart. JLE had a few minutes to warm up around the ring while they waited. Then cowbell got rung and she turned my boy down the centerline.
The test went just about as perfect as you could hope. Dandy got almost all sevens except for one 8 (for working canter left lead) and two sixes (down center line and halt,salute). The six for the halt was actually a little generous, I thought, as Dandy not only stuck his haunches out he actually took a few steps backwards. Oops!
But the judge seemed to really like him and said at the end “A nicely presented test. Keep lovely horse stepping to bit in halts. Pair has talent for more!” They ended up receiving a score of 30.5(!) which was enough to have them sitting in 5th, out of 26, going into XC.
I couldn’t have been prouder of my boy and it seemed that JLE felt the same. She actually said that he was so lazy thru the test that she was trying to discretely kick him into gear. While he will eventually need to be more forward and energetic, I consider this a great success as I would much rather have him be lazy then panicked.
I spent the afternoon watching the rest of the team ride their tests and quietly dreaming that maybe Dandy was going to come home with a ribbon.