Thursday, August 27, 2015

overly ambitious? delusional? mebbe. doin it anyway.

We have another horse trial this weekend - which will bookend our recent flurry of horse show activity. There's another bunch of events on the weekend of Sept. 12... but idk. None of my friends will be competing and I think we'll enjoy just taking that weekend off instead.

But before then, one more trial! (plus probably a few more this fall... but that'll come later haha)

long lining the mare after her chiro appt (with the angry wound from interfering still wrapped up)
We're signed up for Olde Hope Farms' "There Goes Summer" trial over on the Eastern Shore. It's a little bit of a hike, and I'm also going totally solo, which kinda bums me out.

The ride times aren't fabulous either for being alone, with just one hour between dressage and jumping. I'll have to be super economical with my time to get the horse happy and the course walked. Not impossible, I just have to stay on top of it.

she got doctored and petted quite a bit, complete with getting her face stuffed with hay. she approves.
Olde Hope is known for being a fun and inviting event, with divisions from 12" through novice. Their website advertises courses with 'banks, drops, ditches and water all with easier options,' and goes a step further to say it's 'a good opportunity to try and move up to the next division.'

wrapped up and parked at the hay in an effort to eradicate the last bits of swelling! 
So perhaps you see where this is going.

mare looking satisfied after our shortest dressage school EVAR
I'm not totally convinced that Isabel and I are actually ready for novice yet (considering we declined the trakehner at our last schooling, chevrons spook me if not the mare too, and jumps in close proximity to the water continue to be sketchy). But. I want to give it a shot.

seriously, we were out there for about 13 minutes. she was sure i must be kidding
We seem to be as prepared as ever for the height increase, jumping 3' in the jumper show and schooling novice cross country. And again Olde Hope is known for being a bit soft.

Plus Isabel seems to really understand the concept of a horse trial. She's consistent through all three phases - as demonstrated quite clearly by my posts over the last two days, and also our Fair Hill posts (and Fair Hill was arguably a much more challenging test). I also have all three trainers on board with the idea, kinda an important detail IMO.

but obvi didn't need any extra encouragement to move on to phase 2: eeeeeting
I took the opportunity of a quick golf cart ride with DOC at the clinic a few weeks back to ask him about his thoughts on moving up too. His answer was simple: the current level should feel easy.

Which begs the question, is beginner novice easy for me and Isabel? The answer might change depending on how you define 'easy.' For instance, I think there are still opportunities to challenge ourselves at BN (and we still struggle with jumps out of water). So I'm not quite willing to give the blanket statement that the entire level across all competitions is 'easy.'

my braiding skillz..... ugh haha
Rather, I'd prefer to say that the level is solidly within our skill set - that we have the tools to handle it competently and without error when I ride the way I've been taught.

Furthermore, I'm increasingly feeling that many of the skills required at novice are also becoming standard parts of our tool box. The level will undoubtedly be more challenging, and we certainly have a smaller margin of error.

But I think the timing (coming off a very confidence-inspiring and yes, EASY, run at OF last weekend) couldn't be better and the stakes are very low. We will give it our best and assess what the future might hold at a later date.

It's exciting!!! (but still with just that touch of uncertainty that I can't seem to escape lol)

How have you assessed whether to move up to a new level with your riding? What do you need to see before deciding to go for it?

47 comments:

  1. I had a feeling a post like this was coming :) A bunch of people have posted about how you know when to move up (either in height and/or level) and I do agree that your current level should feel easy, and/or feel totally within your skill set, and that seems to be the case with you and Iz. Reading your last HT recap, I got the sense that you and Iz were totally comfortable with the height and the questions asked on XC, and then showing 3' at a jumper show was a boost in confidence too.

    I think this is a GREAT time to move up, knowing that this HT is considered a bit soft and really inviting! If the Novice course seems super intimidating and you and Iz don't feel good about it, there's no pressure to stay at Novice, ya know? But since you're feeling pretty good, I say, give it a shot! :)

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    1. thanks - that's pretty much the plan!! we'll see how it goes haha

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  2. VERY EXCITED!!!! You are totally capable and I'm pumped for your move-up!

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    1. haha yay i'm totally pumped too :D

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  3. Exciting!

    Oh moving up I've had trainers say no moving up until you compete 2-3?HT double clear in both OF phases. Obviously that's a guide not a rule but it's interesting to me. Some horses might Jump clear but me nervous in which case I would say don't move it.

    Looking forward to hearing about the trial!

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    1. interesting about going clear 2-3 HTs -- i'd never specifically thought about it like that, but i think subconsciously that was very much on my mind. i definitely didn't feel like even considering novice was appropriate when we had stops on xc - but we've gone clear on xc at the last 3, and clear on stadium the last 2 (tho honestly going clear on stadium isn't as important to me since i'm still fully capable of knocking rails at 2' haha)

      anyway we'll see how it goes :D

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  4. Sounds like the courses are soft and good for move-ups, so why not? I don't think she'll have any trouble with it.

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    1. yep that's pretty much the idea. frankly i think the horse has been ready for novice for a while now, it's just a matter of me catching up to her. we'll see!

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    2. Yup this. Might as well give it a shot.

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    3. that's the plan!! should be fun ;)

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  5. Good luck! You can do it!
    For me moving up is all about nerves at this point anyway. I know Tucker can do it. I know I'm capable. My coaches tell me all the time that I'm a better rider than I give myself credit for. None of that changes the anxiety of jumping bigger jumps. I'm maxed out at 2'6" for now.

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    1. yea the nerves are really the bedrock of any decision like this. i stayed at the 2'-2'3" level for a loonnnnnnngg time trying to get control over that, and i'm so glad i did bc now that i have my confidence (mostly) back, everything just feels better. so yea, definitely not a proponent of rushing if you don't feel ready!

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  6. I think it's good to challenge yourself -- the only way you improve is by going out of your comfort zone.

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    1. yep i pretty much agree (within reason). what i'm hoping is that my work of the last month or two has actually started to pull novice level questions inside the comfort zone. we'll see!

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  7. It sounds like you are ready for the moveup! And what better event than one that is advertised as a great moveup :) I agree with all that was said above and with DOC- you should move up when you feel confident at the level you're at and going clean is easy. Plus the move from BN to N isn't that big of a jump- just a couple more inches in height but otherwise mostly the same type of questions. Good luck and kick some booty!!!!!

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    1. thank you! and yea that's what i'm thinking about the difference between novice and BN - and we've been working on the height aspect for a little while now. there are still novice fences out there that look *big* to me, but i think we're ready all the same

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    2. For me the gap between BN and N isn't so much the height (they're both pretty small), it's the technicality. On our N courses in Area V you can expect bending lines, ditches, weldon's walls, banks up and down (some 3' plus drops), jumps into and out of water, corners, chevrons, and trakehners. All of those things are represented on course somewhere in our area. So - if the place you're going doesn't have the added technicality, the fence height itself is really not much different, therefore it shouldn't feel or ride much different either. It think it'll be a breeze for you if the course is described as a soft move-up.

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    3. yep some of those technical questions still feel a bit iffier to me - especially if they're also max height! - but we've successfully schooled variations on all of them.

      that said tho, i don't expect to face all (or even half) of them on this particular course and am not sure i'd sign up for an event where i *did* expect to see them represented yet haha.

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  8. YES!!! I saw the post title and was like "omg I hope this ends with a Novice horse trial" and yay! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

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    1. lol yay! i'm pretty pumped - and even if we don't end up staying at novice after this event it's still an exciting little adventure lol

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  9. This is awesome! I would say that if you honestly find yourself looking to move up without feeling any intimidation about your current level, the time is right.

    Sounds like the time is right. Go! Kick ass!

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    1. thanks - that's what i hope to do! i felt zero intimidation about 2 of our last 3 xc courses, and the other (fair hill) seemed more imposing but i still felt very ready for the challenge. we shall see how it goes!

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  10. You can totally do it!

    I've always gone by the "does it feel easy?" method for moving up. This has been problematic on Moe, because jumps up to Training level or so feel very easy on him because he is so game. But his dressage was always a weak point (I mean, it FELT easy enough to giraffe around).

    If you feel like it's time to move up, do it! What's the worst that could happen? You have some penalties? It's okay- identify and fix the problem!

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    1. haha yea giraffing around IS pretty darn easy, isn't it?? lol ... but yea, about the 'what's the worst that can happen' bit, that is mostly a mental game for me, i think. when my confidence is shakier, that's a question i'd rather not answer. but right now i think we're in a place where some penalties are nbd (isabel doesn't know what penalties are anyway), and i can live with elimination. obvi i'm hoping to set us up for success - but i also plan to ride in such a way that i support isabel even if things get dicey

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  11. Whoa man, I am excited for you! I was wondering if you were going to make the run for it soon.

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    1. lol it's been on my mind for a while (ego is funny like that, moving up to BN was such a huge deal that suddenly i gotta go novice too....) but hopefully i've done my due diligence in preparations too!

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  12. EEEEEEEEEE!! You're going to own it... You know that. She knows that. Rock it!

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    1. thanks!!! i certainly hope we do!

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  13. I'm soundly in the "does it feel easy/good" camp! I think that since you guys are doing so well, and you have such a great opportunity that this could be a great fit! I cannot wait to hear about it! SO exciting!

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    1. hopefully i'll have good news to report :D this really is a question of opportunity too - honestly i'm not sure there's any other novice at this point that i'd sign up for, but this one should be good !

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  14. Nothing attempted, nothing gained. I'm sure you will do great!

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  15. Totally agree with DOC. However, I would add that you do need to be schooling the level you need to move up to regularly and with (somewhat) confidence before moving up. Confidence lost is not easily replaced.

    This has been my struggle with the move-up to Training (ignoring of course that my horse has not jumped in MONTHS and surgery and all that). While Novice is feeling pretty easy, Training starts to ask a lot of questions that we just don't have the confidence to do yet.

    Still- you'll never know until you try it!

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    1. that's a great point - one that i probably should have written about haha. we've been working on schooling for a little while now - i expressly told all my trainers about my plans some time ago and asked for their help/opinions - but have not specifically put it into words for fear of jinxing it lol.

      but yes - schooling the next level is also key bc i do NOT want to undermine all the work i've put into rebuilding my confidence and mental health re: riding. so that's part of why i'm not actually sure we're ready for a true novice course - but that this softer event will perhaps serve as a nice barometer. we shall see!

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  16. sounds exciting!! whatever you decide i'm sure will be good for you both.

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    1. thanks! the entries were in a while ago so now it's just a matter of following through.

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  17. I have a braiding post on my blog somewhere, don't do a running braid, do a french braid down her neck. It stays neat and tight.

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    1. ehhhhh on my list of new skills to learn, braiding techniques are very low haha. my current method works for us about .... 75% of the time? lol i'll check it out tho

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    2. Basically you just do a french braid, like you do with a forelock. You probably already know how to do it. Most people braiding arabs use a running braid which doesn't stay in well.

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  18. I'm with DOC. I level up in jumping when my horse has gone clear at the previous level without me having to get on the floor and beg him to do so, or him being really tense and making stupid mistakes. I want it to be solid, fairly to extremely relaxed (depending on the individual horse's personality), and not a fight.
    Although "easy" is a difficult word. I'm not DOC, but riding is never easy for me, LOL.

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    1. interestingly, DOC said nothing about going 'clear' - tho he was fairly adamant that placings didn't matter. now i suspect that going clear is part and parcel of being 'easy' but it was an interesting omission. and yes - i definitely prefer a relaxed ride to a fight!!!

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  19. Some wise words I heard at the horse show this weekend was "You either win, or you learn" :)

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    1. i love that quote - always a good way to think about it. and... as it happened, i managed to do both at this event :D !!!!

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