August 24, 2008

Kapiti Combined Training

The first show of the season for me (and quite a few others who were out there), so I guess this means things are officially underway. I was on the road at 5.45 to make sure I'd have time to get the horses all ready before things kicked off (and I still ended up running out of time! I hadn't factored in the 16 white socks that I needed to clean, it seems). I had entered all the horses into the only straight dressage test available, which was unfortunately a Novice test - but I figured at least it'd be a big arena, and we were only going as a training outing anyway. Luckily it was nice and low key like I'd hoped, but annoyingly it was in a short arena.

Alfie had a bit of a meltdown at the whole situation (so many new things for him - traffic, umbrellas, horses jumping, arenas) - so we talked to the judge and opted to just walk and trot him around in the arena for 6 minutes instead of doing a test. I'm really glad we did it that way as it gave Alfie a real no-stress introduction to being out and about. He started to settle after a few minutes in the arena too. His forelock has some weird centre part too, so strange:

And please don't look at the chop job I did on his mane!

Ned was fairly stiff through his neck in his warmup, and didn't really start to soften and listen until about halfway through the test. I'm pleased with his effort though, as he is a big horse, and needed to be quite responsive to get the movements inside that little arena. I really would have liked to have had the opportunity to do another test later in the day with Ned, but there just wasn't anything on offer. Ned's pics:

And more of Ned - I still need to work on getting him more together (I feel like I need longer legs!):

Kody was about the opposite of Alfie. For a horse with about the same experience/exposure to things Kody just pricked his little ears up and soaked everything in. I am so stoked with him. Even coming into the arena for the first time, he just slowed down a little to get a good look at the gateway, then marched on in like an old hand. He was really soft to ride throughout the test, and seems to have mostly gotten over his habit of running through the bridle when he gets anxious. My superstar Kody (check out my beaming smile from him going into the arena no fuss):

As Kody's dressage was so cruisy it's a bit of a shame that there wasn't a real baby CT class, with teeny jumps that I could have entered him in, but I guess it's good that his first outing was so casual - it will make the next one super easy now that I know what to expect:

And of course Master Neo. He did 2 tests, as I late entered him into the Open CT class. Halts were a pretty tough thing with him last season, we rarely sustained a decent halt at all that I can remember... and today we had 6 halts between the 2 tests and he nailed 5 of them quite well - it might only be a small victory, but it's just one more thing showing how much he's growing up and settling down. His 2.4 test was quite choppy, but his 1.6 for the CT was a really nice test for him - scoring in the high 60's. Not a bad way to start the season off:

We had a 3 hour break (in the pouring rain) before Neo had his jumping. I'd decided not to do a practise round, as he hasn't jumped at all this season and I didn't want to put too many jumping efforts under his belt while he's still not quite at peak fitness. After attempting a pole on the ground and getting a stop then a stagleap I wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision! But he did a few more practise fences and then went into the ring. It was like picking up where we finished last season, he hadn't 'forgotten' anything, and coped fine with the height (especially in the slippery, wet and deep muddy conditions). His dressage of course put him out of the ribbons, but I am very pleased with that effort from him. More dressage pics seeing as we don't have any jumping ones from today:

So I got what I wanted out of the day - a good relaxed first outing of the season for all of the horses. I now have a better idea of where each of them are at and will be able to go back to my calendar and sort out some plans for at least the next few months of competition.

Oh - and as a little extra cool thing, Kody loaded this morning with no bumrope - he just walked up perfectly. Yay!