CEPF Horse Trials: the good, the bad, the ugly, & the course

Well, this weekend didn’t turn out quite as expected.

wpid-wp-1436158545441.jpgGoing to go ahead and stay I still qualify as an honorary bad eventer.

It was an absolute emotional rollercoaster of a weekend, and before I get on a plane and go to a job interview (eeeek!) here’s a brief recap.  Details to come.

The Good: Murray warmed up just as expected on Thursday and I got all his bucks out before Friday dressage.  Dressage was excellent — Murray was a freaked-out giraffe going around the court, but settled once we got into the court and put in some good work.  Not our best work, but some really good work.  And he only misbehaved once — during the right canter depart — and despite getting the lowest individual score I’ve ever seen one one of my tests (a 3!), I still also got my lowest overall score (39.2)!  Elation!

IMG_1983Braids on fleek.  Is that the correct usage of “fleek”?

The Bad: On Saturday my bold, brave, forward XC horse was gone.  He warmed up sticky and spooky and we had a couple of refusals at fences we have schooled in the past.  I wasn’t confident going into XC and Alana told me I might just need to growl at him over the first few fences, but he should get into the rhythm on course.

The Hideously Ugly: Cross country was a fight.  It was not really fun.  Murray was looking for things to spook at, and he found them: horrible, terrifying, no-good, pony-eating jump judges, pop tents, flags, cordons, and the like.  Unfortunately, jump judges happen to be at every jump.  At more than once fence he skittered to the side close enough that one could have called it a refusal, but I somehow managed to keep him pointed at every fence and got him over everything without any backwards steps or refusals.  He was pulling, strong, downhill, and not listening.  And then at the last fence he’d absolutely had enough and stopped in the middle of the track between two fences and popped me out of the tack.  I landed on my feet, Alana ran over to leg me up, and I started back up after letting someone pass me.  He dumped me again.  I think I landed on my feet again, but got dragged through the dirt before I was eliminated crankily retired.

The Second Good: I did get to school the stadium course today and went back on cross country for some redemption.  It became extremely clear to me that Murray’s problems really were with the jump judges and other commotion and not with the fences themselves, as we schooled the last two BN fences without pause as well as the last training fence.  I left happy.

The Course Walk

Camelot built themselves a grown-ass cross country course.  It was the most serious BN course I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen a lot), with lots of maxed-out questions and pretty much every type of question I’ve ever seen on a West Coast XC course, minus a Weldon’s Wall.  It started out serious and kept up the entire time.  The BN course was 1937 meters (~1.2 miles) at 350 mpm, for a 5:37 optimum time.

Fence one was shared with Novice and was a sizable but inviting log.  The terrain was gently undulating up to the log but not enough to scare you or back you off.

 

 

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Jump two: a turkey-feeder heading gently up-hill from jump one.  Not too big, and not too scary.

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Jump three: a bench with knights’ helms!  This fence was after a long gallop stretch down a gently sloping hill so required a balanced ride.

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Jump four: the aqueduct that we have schooled many times.  This is a big BN fence, but somehow seemed very inviting on its uphill slope.

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Jump five: after jump four you had to make a pretty solid rollback and head downhill to jump five.  I was most concerned about this fence, as we were coming downhill and I know Murray tends to get a little strung out heading downhill.  We were also facing the scaryscary castle (which, as it turns out, was not so scary) and Murray wasn’t super into brush the last time I pointed him at it.  Alana told me to compress Murray’s canter and ride him like we were stadium jumping so he didn’t have a chance to just drift out.  My corollary to this instruction was that if he was weighting his hind quarters at least if we climbed it he would have nowhere to go but over it. Following five you had to go downhill and make another rollback left to six.

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Jump six was an up bank, which I also feel like is pretty large.  It comes up past my crotch which I know, from my extremely technical jump measuring technique, is 2’6″.  It rides really nicely, though.

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Six was followed by seven, as Sesame Street taught us all, but also required a good rollback around the training novice house (with a T painted on the side) you see above.  This fence wasn’t super tall, but it was definitely wide and positioned downhill, so definitely required a bit of thought to ride.

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Fence eight was my beloved trakehner, at which we picked up two refusals. I am going to jump Murray back and forth over this mother until he can do it with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back.  It is NOT big*.  It is NOT scary. I LOVE THEM, HE MUST LOVE THEM TOO.

wpid-wp-1435961425016.jpg*it is probably close to full height if you measure from the bottom of the ditch, but not if you measure from the actual ground.

There was a nice, wide rollback to fence 9, which was a red bench I have jumped many times before.  Nice and inviting, not too easy to run out around.  At this point in the course, I was contemplating exactly how much the event spend on flowers.

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After this there was a long gallop stretch past the observation castle where you had to guide between two sets of cordons that were designed to keep horses moving the right directions through the water complex and (probably) to also keep spectators out of everyone’s way.  Ten was a small, electric purple rolltop that I was in love with, and eleven was the entrance to the water.

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Twelve was my beloved canoe about two strides out of the water.  It’s small and not scary but I love its shape.

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Fence thirteen should be a fan favourite: CAMILLE!  We got to jump her face which, once again, Murray was NOT concerned about.  What he WAS concerned about was the TERRIFYING JUMP JUDGE seated nearby her face.

wpid-wp-1436157028414.jpg wpid-wp-1435961423592.jpgThese are Camille’s babies!!

Fence fourteen was this magnificent bicycle rack that doesn’t look as big as it really is.  I have jumped this in the past, and I think they dug it into the soil a bit because last time there was a solid 4″ gap underneath it and it was definitely lookier.

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The next two fences were a combo for the novice course, but not for the BN course despite the near-identical striding.  I’m not complaining.  A nice inviting house to a ditch.

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You had to take the right path above to line yourself up correctly for fence seventeen, as it was angled pretty hard to the left.  However, seventeen was a pretty mellow fence for this course.

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I was SUPER STOKED on eighteen and it made being unable to jump it even more upsetting.  For jump eighteen was EXCALIBUR!

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I’m 5’1″ and this fence is basically half my height.  It rode super well (when I rode it, of course) though.  Of course, what you also get to see is my fantastic outfit of the only shorts I packed (I planned well) which are tiny and Australian themed.

Tomorrow: detailed recaps of all the reasons I cried this weekend. Spoiler alert: there are a lot of reasons.

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21 thoughts on “CEPF Horse Trials: the good, the bad, the ugly, & the course

    • Many happy tears were shed, and I ended the weekend on a smile, so it definitely wasn’t all bad. Things are slowly coming into perspective too, so I’m feeling much less bitter about that XC ride. Plus, I was complaining that I didn’t have any of his bad behavior on video…. 😉

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  1. That is a super serious course. Yikes! Looks really nice though, the course designer should be proud! Better that really the jump judges were the problem instead of the jumps, people can sit around your jumps for schooling!
    Good luck at your job interview!!

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  2. Cute course! Decent but not awful. Sorry about the parting of ways… he isn’t the first horse to think jump judges are terrifying! He’ll figure it out. Congrats on the dressage though.

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    • It IS cute, isn’t it?! I felt like it was absolutely ENORMOUS walking it the first time, but now that I’ve ridden it, it seems less serious. It was absolute carnage for the Jr/Yr Beginner Novice division though! About 1/3 of the riders got eliminated for falls, and only a few ran through clear. Definitely a course to separate the poniez from the scaredy cats!

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  3. YAY FOR GREAT DRESSAGE! Such a disappointment to get tossed off on XC, but at least it was the jump judges/atmosphere and not the task at hand! As you get out more he will learn to get over it. That course looks pretty fun! 🙂 Big hugs, next time you’ll kick ass!

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  4. I still LOVE the jumps at this place – especially Camille. Sorry that XC was a fight though… I know that’s not what you were hoping for. Glad you weren’t hurt and there was still a lot of good from the weekend.

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    • I too am glad I wasn’t hurt! There was much to learn and much good from the weekend, so it definitely wasn’t a wash.

      Camille is fabulous. They painted her with glow in the dark paint, so she lights up at night!

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  5. I’m sorry that it was a bit of a rough weekend, but it definitely sounds like Murray had some great learning opportunities. The fact that Murray wasn’t worried about Camille, yet found the jump judge horrifying, just makes him even more the endearing horse that we all love to read about 🙂 I think you do a great job of taking his shenanigans in stride, literally and figuratively!

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    • LOL Jodi, it’s true. I didn’t exactly start this blog because riding Murray was all sunshine and butterflies! I’m glad he’s teaching me so much, but I’d like to not cry about it so much sometime…. 😉

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  6. Welllllllll that wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. If it makes you feel any better, I nearly got eliminated on ground poles xc because OMG JUMP JUDGES.

    Even though people are standing by his jumps 90% of the time anyways.

    I really cannot explain.

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  7. sorry it was so frustrating!! glad you found lots of reasons to be happy and proud too – like that awesome dressage test despite his antics, and schooling the xc + stadium well afterwards! the issues he has with the atmosphere will hopefully be eased significantly by exposure

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