I chose the beginner-novice level to make our eventing debut. At a schooling show, of course.
First up: Dressage!
The old man doesn't seem to care...
We enter the ring and begin our test. One of the judge's comments was:
The ring felt so small compared to our practice space at home. It felt like the geometry was easy to make accurate. Of course, that could have something to do with letters actually being there... But the test felt great! And we looked like we actually belong there!!
Beginner Novice Dressage Test B
We scored a whopping 33.34 points on our dressage test! I am thrilled!
Then we waited for Stadium Jumping. In the rain.
At least we look like jumpers...
Finally, we get to go! And, look! I think the rain has stopped!
Into the combination, slightly down hill
Over the oxer - he LOVES oxers!
Save time and take the gate at an angle? No Problem!
Did I mention I had a huge fan club turn-out? Well, I did. With every success, the stakes get a little higher...
I remind myself that the entire point of today's exercise is to expose myself and my horse to the sport. Oh, yeah. Don't get hurt!
I explain to the fan club that I can start my cross-country course at any time, now. Do they want to find a good spot in the tree line to watch? How long should I give them to get re-situated? About 15 minutes later, I start the cross-country course.
Will I remember the course? I don't actually have to make any drastic directional choices, do I?
We start in a nice, easy hand-gallop. I don't have any idea how fast we should be going for optimum time, so I aim for controllable and calm.
First up is a (1) tiny log jump.
Oh, you want me to go over that? he asks.
Oh, I suppose so...
Then comes the first real (2) coop He's ever been faced with at competition. It looks so solid! There are tiny spaces he could run out on either side, framed with trees. I felt his eyes get huge! He didn't so much "back off" as he really gathered himself under and launched over the coop! He gallops out the other side, as if he is saying, "Oh, yeah! Bring it on!"
And so we did. Our next fence was sort of skinny,as there was a tree in the middle of it. It has a decent uphill approach, but it looks like an (3) ascending oxer, so he hops on over it!
Next came a barn-like structure, or perhaps it is a (4) raised coop. He wasn't too sure, as the approach wasn't straight from the line out of the last jump. He got a little wiggly. I convinced him he could take it. Really.
The (5) rolltop on top of the hill was wiggly right at the last second.
Never mind! I don't like it!
Add 20 penalties to our score... The second time, he decided that perhaps it wasn't so bad.
Then came a (6) combination of roll-tops! Or perhaps they are hog sheds? He's cruising right along as they come into view, and I'm worried about a repeat run out. He closes in on them and seems to put a lock on the middle of the first one. He launches over it, 3 strides and launch over the second one, and we're through just like that! What a rush! He's found his stride, and I'm regaining my confidence that he'll jump!
The (7) bank is so tiny. He gallops right up it without a second thought!
Back into the wide open, he is truly galloping! He doesn't even blink at the (8) ramp-painted-like-a-shark's-tooth! I looked at it pretty hard every time I saw it!! He didn't care.
I expected a look at the (9) steps, but those didn't phase him, either!
He slowed up a bit for another (10) roll-top/hog shed thing, which made good sense since we had a hard right turn as soon as we landed. This line took us straight into the water, where we just trotted through the puddle.
A few strides out of the water, we have another grand (11) coop. Even though the line is a little questionable, he hops right over it, ready to face the next one!
By now, my old man is feeling quite happy in his work, and seems to be getting the idea of what this is all about. We head on over a (12) rounded, table-like structure with some space under it, right up to a (13) stack of cord-wood. Perhaps I was getting a little to complacent, or perhaps he just doesn't like taking new-looking fences on uphill approaches...
He ran out again at another (14) round-topped, shed-like structure. This is where I explored a "non-traditional jumping position."
This is where you hang from your horse's neck with only one stirrup (my left, in this case), while hanging on for dear life with the other thigh (my right, in this case), because you know that if you reach the ground, you will be eliminated. I refused to be eliminated on my very first try ever. I stayed on by sheer force of will, then doubled around to take the fence again. Which he jumped with no problem. Did I jump ahead, or did he just get so caught up in the galloping that he forgot to look for the jump?
On our merry way, we take the last obstacle, (15) a stone wall, just as easy as can be, and gallop across the finish-line (finish-burm?) to report our 2 run-outs to the XC judge before cooling out.
Yup, he's smiling!
We're hooked! We love it! I can't wait to do it again!