Penny Oaks HT: Stadium

I was feeling pretty down after XC.  We put so much preparation into it, and aside from a few fences, nothing had changed.  After how good Dressage was, and how, well, usual XC was, I was starting to wonder if maybe he wasn't cut out for the jumping sports and we should just stick to Dressage.

The dream team trekking from warmup to stadium.  Also, we tiny.

Photo by Claudia Slabaugh.
The plan was pretty much the same for Show Jumping as it was for XC: leg, leg, leg.  The course was trappy, with multiple rollbacks and weird lines, and had rode horribly for Training and Novice.  Clear rounds were rare, and rails were flying all over the place.

Connor warmed up quietly, like he did at our last two events, so I had my guard up, since that translated to a wild stadium round in each of those cases.

In the end, he surprised me.  It was the quietest, most normal stadium round this horse has ever done!  It was like he turned 9 that morning and suddenly decided to grow up and be a normal adult jumping horse.

Video:

The jumps aren't quite fluid, but he's not racing through it, weaving before the fences, or really putting his nose down much.  It was so NORMAL.  I was elated.

The one rail we had, you can see in the video, I pushed him to it in the last two strides.  Without that, I think he would have gone clear.  Lesson learned.

Now for myself...

This is really the first horse I've ever jumped.  And my eq has never been good.  And while the saddle has helped on approach, and has definitely helped me get my seat back faster after the fence, my lower leg is still swinging in midair, and I seem to be incapable of folding my upper body.

It's hard to get too discouraged about it, since we focused almost exclusively on Dressage all winter, and as a result, that is now what we're good at.  Now it's time to keep that Dressage progress, but work really hard on jumping.  Trainer is on board.

That said, here are some really ugly pictures of me:

Photo by Lisa Brezina

GUYS LOOK AT HIS EYE.  HE'S BORED!  THIS IS THE FIRST FENCE!  THIS IS PROGRESS!
Photo by Xpress Photography

Photo by my mother-in-law
Photo by Xpress Photography

Photo by Xpress Photography

Photo by Xpress Photography

His genetic butt wrinkles are clearly evident here.
Photo by Xpress Photography

A element of our three stride combination

B element

Our rail :(

Fence 8

Happy pony
I love accelerating away from the fence photos!

Photo by Lisa Brezina


Photo by my mother-in-law

In the end, our rail dropped us from a 2nd place finish to a 7th place finish, which would have been disappointing except that I was over the moon at how maturely he has just handled that round.  Real, tangible progress!
What a good boy.

Photo by my mother-in-law

25 comments:

  1. You may not be folding much, but you're still nicely in balance with him in almost every photo. That's more important, I think. With his wild jumping history, and his jump style, folding too much might get you in more trouble, don't you think?

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    1. Yes, agreed. You know that instructor said she could tell the way my horse jumped by the way I rode fences at that lesson we did over New Year's. Maybe now that he's jumping slightly more normally, that will start to change.

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    2. my thoughts exactly - it may look a touch defensive for the hunter ring, but it's safe for xc on a notoriously squirrely horse. the rest will come in time - congrats on a super finish, he looks so much more rideable in stadium!!!

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  2. Your position is understandable considering all the chippy distances he gave you and his "up and down" jumping style - don't beat yourself up over it. :) Great job getting him around like a grown up pony!

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    1. Thanks! "Across" is going to be our motto for the summer!

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  3. You have so much to be proud of! Huge class - great finish :)

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    1. Thanks, it was MASSIVE! Can't believe they didn't split them further.

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  4. Sounds like a great finish to me! And even better when ponies decide to adult!

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    1. Definitely! They are so slow to mature, it's been a long road, but I'll take more rounds like that.

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  5. He looks so much more grown up over these fences!! You two make a great pair!! Congrats on a great first event this year.

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  6. Yup, what they said. You're a bit behind him, but a) dressage all winter will do that to you and b) WAAAAAY better to be behind him than ahead of him. His jumping style is leveling out, but he still doesn't look "easy". You guys are making so much progress together. :-)

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, I really appreciate it. That I am not jumping ahead generally IS an improvement now that I think about it. He is definitely not easy. Thanks!

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  7. Congrats! Just chiming in to echo everyone else...don't beat yourself up, he doesn't look overly easy with that big up and down jump - you're doing quite well!

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  8. I really wouldn't give up on jumping, which you obviously aren't going to do since this round is a big improvement. I love how on some of these he takes is embracing a longer distance. It's all going to get a LOT more fluid when he doesn't want to bury himself and stare at every fence.

    I have some ideas that might help y'all with stadium, but don't want to give unsolicited advice. Your round is really forward and it was a great way to end an event!

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think you're right about the burying-himself-and-staring thing, and I almost wonder if these maxed height stadium jumps are more at his eye level, so he feels less like he needs to bury himself?

      I appreciate the not-wanting-to-give-unsolicited-advice thing, but I am all ears! Please, share your jumping wisdom, you are way farther down that path than I am!

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  9. Hey - it takes a lot of guts to go out there and do all three phases. I think you guys did wonderful. There will always be things to work on - that's just horse riding!

    Also, I LOVE your jacket. Is it an Arista Modern Hunter jacket?!

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    1. Thank you! The jacket actually might not even be meant for riding, it's an Italian jacket Connor's breeder accidentally got off eBay for $20, $300 tags still on it. Then Austen gave me pewter Welsh Dragon buttons for it. Sorry I don't have a better answer, I love it too!

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  10. I think that better simple changes or starting flying changes will help you create a smoother round. Some of your disjointed moments were due to the transitions breaking things up. Other than that I think you rode quite well!

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  11. Congrats on such a strong finish to the event! I agree with the other commenters about your position - you're riding completely appropriate for the ride he gives you and you're balanced and SAFE. Plus your legs are awesome! Glad he gave you a mature ride for his birthday present.

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  12. Ha, riding green horses can temporarily mess with your form. If I had photo evidence of my last lesson on Mo, I think my position would look pretty bad, even though it's usually pretty good. Why? Because he's green, and sometimes he jumps the standards, and sometimes he's a little awkward, and so all I have to do in the air is stay out the way and then try to land on my feet instead of hands and knees on him. Mo will be easy to jump once he knows what he's doing but right now it's a little "Jesus take the wheel." You'll be a'ight. :)

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  13. He looks so well in the photos and video, he's definitely cut out for the jumping sports too! Mostly just for our viewing pleasure haha.

    I have a very bad tendency to focus almost entirely on dressage and then wonder why our jumping isn't quite as strong. It's hard to get that balance when there aren't enough schooling days in the week huh!

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  14. Way to go!! I think I'm running into a similar situation as you as dressaging all winter

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  15. In addition to Connor's attitude, I see real progress in your pace too. Like you said, it's not fluid, but once you get more comfortable some of the slightly longer spots will be there and the entire round will smooth out. You should be SO happy and PROUD of both Connor and yourself!! Way to come out swinging :D :D :D

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