Stella went to her first horse trial a few days ago and she did great!
She has already proven herself an easy traveller and I have been really pleased with how blase she has been given how little experience she has going places and doing stuff.
This was a tie to the trailer kind of show so we got there that morning, about an hour before my ride time. I knew Stella wouldn't need much warm up. She doesn't seem to get fresh or spooky, and she really doesn't have enough dressage skills to warrant an extensive warm up! It was going to hit the 90s that day so we made sure Stella got a nice shady spot under some trees, two hay bags, and her bucket of water. Which she emptied 4 times by stuffing her hay into it and snorkelling. Oh well, at least she's a good drinker.
Dressage was first, the warm up area was filled with other riders as well as the jumps for my division so marking out an even area to school in was difficult. Realizing that no amount of circling would get her head down in this environment (since she had just started going on contact at home) I decided to work on her response to the forward aids by weaving her in and out of areas I thought could be potential "stop and look" spots. Our dressage was about as expected, score under 60% to put us 4th out of four. I was ok with that.
We went straight to stadium from dressage which I actually prefer to do, I was in my jumping saddle anyway, and Stella was already warmed up so I just jumped a few warm up fences. The course was TINY so it was a very positive experience for Stella as far as going over stuff. However, the ring was small and the course was very twisty, I jumped a few fences off of an angle or almost on a 20m circle and lots of other people that went faster had trouble making the middle of the fences, or slipping in the very dry grass.
We were done with dressage and stadium by 9:30 and XC wasn't until 5:12pm (last ride of the day!) so we did an awful lot of standing around. I took Stella on a few walks, and held her lead rope while I sat in my chair for a change of pace being tied to the trailer. Here she is eating a tree.
Cross Country was much more difficult than it seemed if you looked at the height of the fences. Fence one, although small, was very bright and many horses had trouble with it. I gave Stella a good hard crack on the shoulder right out of the start box and another crack 2 strides away from the fence, I sure didn't want to have a stop at fence one and set the tone for the rest of the course. Stella responded really well, too well! She LAUNCHED over fence one and landed in a nice novice speed gallop and I had her head up in my face trying to get her to slow down so we had a ACK!! at fence two. We have not done much cantering fences and I wasn't sure if I should let her canter to it and risk an error at the canter but I clearly did not bring her down to the trot in time to jump it well.
You had to make a crazy U turn to get from fence 4 to 5 and then the angle between fence 6 and 7 was almost impossible to ride well, given the angle and fence 7 being a skinny it had a lot of problems, us included. I just couldn't regain control and get her lined up straight in time so we had a stop. It was more of a WHERE the heck are we going???!!! so rider error and not horse saying no.
GAG/Starter course walk
Given our couple problems I just about died when I was handed a second place ribbon! Frankly the fourth place ribbon was really pretty and I would've been happy with not being eliminated, but to move up two spots after cross country? AWESOME!!!
So I went home super happy (and hot, and stinky, and exhausted) and Stella's ad off Craigslist can come down.