Unfortunately I’ve had to put poor Nautica on the back burner for the past few weeks or so, but never fear, we are back to work! Just to clarify, I have still been riding him, just not at the same amount and intensity that we had been in the weeks prior. More on him in a post coming soon.
For now, I have to side track a little bit and brag on my other horse, Lacy.
Lacy is my little rescue horse. She’s an off-track thoroughbred with a new life as an event pony. I’ve owned Lacy for about three years and it’s been a slow restart. She was my first OTTB retraining project, purchased while I was in college and while Nautica was recovering from his sacrum fracture. I had to learn a lot on my own, paying all of my dues in “basics 101” and then some. I would find out later that Lacy is a very sensitive mare and that she comes with a little baggage from her previous lifestyle. I also found out that Lacy is fairly athletic and talented with an aptitude for jumping. After making all of our various first-thoroughbred mistakes and finishing up my final two years of school, we finally settled down and got under a trainer. Thank goodness! We desperately needed some direction.
For the past ten months I’ve been working as a working student and assistant for Cotton Meadows Farm under Debi Crowley in Alabama. While there, Lacy and I have been working hard on training as an eventing duo. It’s been a long time coming, but on April 20th we entered our first recognized horse trial hosted at River Glen Equestrian Park in New Market, Tennessee.
Having only been to schooling shows, and never a full three-phase, I had no idea what to expect. I entered Lacy in the one-day starter test to play it safe. After a rather shaky flat school around the property that Friday evening we were a little apprehensive. Lacy was inverted, spooky and swapping leads when cantering. This is a long time habit of hers and a weakness she reverts to when nervous or tense. I believe it stems from her preference of being ridden up off her back. To top it all off I had also realized upon arrival that I forgot half of my show wardrobe, tack and equipment at home. Thanks to an awesome group of barn friends and coach Debi I was for the most part show-ready come Saturday morning.
The day of the show I entered the dressage ring with some anxiety. I don’t remember much of what happened once the bell rang. Thank goodness Intro C and I go way back. Even with the new 2019 tests, I can do Intro C in my sleep! Judging from our video, Lacy was a little bit above the contact, but reasonably so and maintaining a pleasant and rhythmic tempo in all her gaits. Overall she was lovely! We scored a generous 38.8 for what it was. I was very happy with her.
Cross country was a blast. It was our second time on a cross country course ever and, obviously, our first time seeing River Glen’s fences. All I can say is Lacy was awesome. No spooks, no run outs, in pouring rain… Nothing phased her. River Glen’s starter test’s maximum jump height of 2’3 may not be impressive in photos but when you’re on what could still be considered a green horse they become a little more intimidating. We finished well under time and I’m thankful that starter didn’t count speed faults. According to our watch, we kept a blistering 400 mpm. We will be watching our speed more closely for our move up to beginner novice. But in all honesty, 300 would feel like crawling to us! Unfortunately, our chance for XC pictures were a bust due to the rain.
By stadium Lacy much more responsive to my half-halts. She was good and tired. Thankfully, tired Lacy still requires very little to move her forward; the perfect time to jump her. Thank you, eventers! I like this adjustable Lacy. She jumped with a little less of the snappy, knees-to-nose action she had in XC, but still cleared the tiny 2’3 stadium fences with room to spare. I think she was a little offended at the height, or at the very least bored. First show, first double clear!
We finished on our dressage with a 38.8, earning a 5th place in a competitive class of 12 and working our way up from our initial dressage placing of 8th. I couldn’t be more proud of my little project horse. She is an honest, talented and FUN mare and I couldn’t ask for more from our first mini event.
So that was my first recognized horse trial. We’re planning to hit a few schooling shows in the next few weeks or so along with a confident move-up to beginner novice before going the recognized route again! Bring it on; this saddleseat-hunter eq-dressage rider is ready!