Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fair Hill XC: horse doesn't know what "TE" means

Or, in other words - Isabel had no real way of knowing that we had been eliminated in stadium. Sure, we had some shitty moments but what else is new, right? I tried to keep that in mind as we headed over to the start box to make our way out on course.

out of the start box!
Honestly I had briefly considered just scratching after SJ out of pure frustration with myself. Why oh why can't I jump this horse anymore?!? What is my problem? But those thoughts are just a distraction and are easily pushed aside (at least until that long lonely drive home ugh).

friendly log to start
And we were already there and I had already paid, so dammit we were gonna jump that xc course.

isabel knows the drill
And that resolution was made even easier to stick to knowing that the cross country course looked AWESOME. So fun. omg. And yes, it absolutely proved to be just as fun riding it as I had hoped!

little house for fence 2. please excuse my defensive stance and recall we had smashed through a stadium fence in very recent memory... 
First few fences on course were the same as last year, and Isabel slipped easily into gear.

lazy over the ramp
(also, is it just my imagination or has my position slid from "more or less good 'nuff" to... whatever that is ever since the K&M entered our lives?)
We jumped the log and house in rapid succession, with a short sprint to the ramp, then the same produce stand from last year.

blue produce stand caused some trepidation last year. pretty sure either would be fine now
A nice thing about revisiting the same venues is that I *know* this stuff is all fine for the mare bc she ate it all up like candy last year with way less experience under our belts.

Also - I spent much of my walk checking out the novice fences too. Truth be told, we should be going novice right now. And I am seriously seriously annoyed with myself for slipping so much in my riding. Ugh.

legitimate up bank combo for all three levels (with log option on left)

Also - I also realized after uploading all of these pictures that I could have interspersed more novice fences into my course (or instead of the BN fences) without fear of elimination since... well, you know.

See, I'm a big fan of mixing schooling opportunities into my actual assigned course. For instance, I wanted to try the above shorter route to the roll top for N instead of the longer bend to the coop for BN. But since all the lines were flagged AB I wouldn't have made it over the novice B element without crossing my path on the way back to the BN B element thus garnering 20 penalty points, so it got nixed from the plan.

friendly little coop
Had there been more time for me to process the elimination and it's repercussions (no more worries about penalties on course!!) between SJ and xc, maybe I would have come up with a new plan. As it was, it honestly didn't even occur to me. I was so wrapped up in moving on with the 'PLAN' that I didn't consider that I was free to move about the cabin course now.

can you pinpoint the exact moment i lost my helmet cover?
Oh well. I'm cool with it as it was. Would have been nice to jump some of the bigger fences but I'm always happy to walk away from an outing wishing we had done more, rather than the alternative. 

easy out! 
And for this particular combination, it didn't much make a difference anyway. Isabel handled it beautifully imo.

this red table scared me to death last year. this year? n looks totes doable
Then another little gallop to some fences set in maybe the muckiest wettest area on course. The big red tables from last year. Somehow they look much smaller now tho. Still very wide, sure, but still very inviting. 

she doesn't exactly make it look small, but she does make it look easy. meanwhile can we just pretend that i'm doing my best pdutty impression?
Isabel got a pretty good shot too - she was just totally in the zone, eating up whatever was in her way. I have zero doubt that she would have paid any more attention to the bigger fences either.

we've seen this before
For some reason there were lots of oblivious folks walking the course while we were out, and our approach to this wagon marked the second time I shouted "heads up!" to get people out of the way. So I'm just gonna go ahead and blame that for our slightly tight distance to this wagon... lol

long straight-aways for both bn and n, lasting three jumps each
Then starts the section of the course that I am MOST regretting not jumping the N stuff - there's this string of three fences all set in a straight wide open flat line and Isabel was cruising.

roll top schmoll top
Next time I'll remember to update my cross country plan should we be eliminated in stadium haha. But please Emma, let's not have a next time, mkay?

chunky, yes, but pretty inviting trakehner
Because I had really wanted to work this N fence 9 into the course. My thoughts that morning had been to jump this first, then loop around and jump the BN fence to continue on. But I worried that it was unfair to add in a lot of extra distance (of all the BN and N fences, these two were maybe the farthest apart from each other. and poor mare is admittedly a bit on the fat side right now...), or that it might disrupt our rhythm too much - breaking the mare out of the zone, so to speak.

that novice oxer looks WAY more doable than others i've seen at this venue
Similar story for this N oxer. I've been saying for a while now that novice at Fair Hill scares me bc of the oxers they have on xc... but this is definitely not the one I had in mind (so perhaps the one I'm thinking of isn't actually novice?). This looks challenging and a little scary, sure, but I think we could give it a shot.

oddly enough, this novice fence 11 was removed by the time i made it on course. notice the water right upon landing
Oh well. Just add it on to the pile of regrets I have from this event lol. Anyway, Isabel ate up the fences I pointed her at and we continued happily on our way to the water. Where I finally found a way to incorporate schooling the water into our xc course.

bn had an easy in, no out. novice and intro both had outs tho
BN didn't have anything on the far side of the water, but N had a house on the left side, and Intro had log pile on the right. The N house honestly looks a bit beyond us right now - esp given my absurd dislike of jumping uphill (it was pretty steep!).

this. we shall school this. i will finally do good by my plans to make the water count
But Intro looked jusssssst right (in retrospect, the little house next to it probably would have been more appropriate). Close enough to water's edge that I had to be committed before we even entered the water, but small enough that I knew we would get over it one way or another.

Isabel was a little surprised at my insistence that we trot on and try to canter through the water, since I usually let her meander and dawdle, but she was a good girl and moved right on up. Score 1 for schooling!!

surprisingly steep downhill in a forward 6 strides to the ditch (filled with water, natch)
After wending our way back on course, next up was the only other really potentially tricky question after the earlier bank combination. A long straight steeply downhill approach to a full size roll top, 6 strides to a big ditch. These two jumps are notably numbered separately, so one could theoretically circle between.


But I expected Isabel to be totally fine. And she was. Marched right on down and skipped over the ditch like nbd. Yassssss!

lookie here, it's another coop!
We were both definitely starting to get tired tho, so I mostly let her just gallop along as she liked to this coop.

might have preferred this to the bn version...
The penultimate fence on course would have concerned me a little - and frankly I would have considered this novice up bank easier if it weren't for the fact...

never actually tried one of these before
That the bump on the hill was shared with Intro. For whatever reason we've never schooled this style jump before so I wasn't totally sure what to expect and was maybe a little nervous.

bumps on a hill are apparently easy
It was totally fine tho! We saw a good spot a ways out and Isabel happily marched up and over. Good mare!

same cute train to finish as last year
Then one last short gallop stretch to the Fair Hill train!

choo choooooooo!!!!
We got in a little tight but just fine, and then were home free and clear!!!! (except obvi for that pesky elimination in SJ... oh and also the fact that we probably would have accrued time penalties for being too fast, as they were in fact timing this course - but the range was something like 4:50-9minutes haha, so only those too fast would be penalized).

fierce through the finish flags
I couldn't have been happier with the mare tho. She was super honest and easy out there. Again my riding leaves something to be desired - it's not the exact same set of issues as SJ but it's related. So far tho, the mare jumps the (solid) jumps and makes it feel easy.

And call it a cop out if you want, but I'm beginning to question how well this K&M saddle is working for us - and it certainly doesn't appear to be doing much for me position-wise compared to the Bates. Is it possible that my weaker and less secure position is contributing to our current woes? Hard to tell. I feel an experiment coming on...


ANYWAY. This helmet cam video is honestly one of my favorites so far to watch - Isabel just manages everything so well and the course was super fun. I hope you enjoy it too!

Hopefully we'll be able to get a similar feeling at our next outing in two weeks - still at BN bc no rational person can justify moving up after an elimination ugh. And I obviously need to fix my stadium demons. 

We'll see what happens, esp as I have a few new plans of attack. 

51 comments:

  1. Izzy looks so happy on XC! Hopefully your position and stadium kinks will get worked out.

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    1. Thanks she really does love it out there. And things are already starting to smooth out - I have a new plan of attack that I will write more about later :D

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  2. So glad you had FUN on XC even after the SJ debacle. That course does look like a blast, though that downhill rolltop to ditch line is miiiiildly terrifying!

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    1. Ha oh c'mon, you ride the ditch King - that line would be cake for you and Dino ;)

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  3. Your xc looks like so much fun!! I wouldn't call it a cop out, I have a friend locally who lost a whole year of jumping due to confidence issues and then randomly tried her old saddle again and was all woah I want to jump all the things! Definitely experiment with tack!

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    1. So fun OMG. And yea the saddle thing is real I think. Got back in the old saddle just for a hack and immediately felt right at home. We will see.

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  4. Yay! I'm surprised intro had a jump out of the water when BN didn't... wth? Glad you had a confidence building round.

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    1. BN had a jump into the water, right next to the novice jump in. Which, oddly, novice also had a jump out of water and they ultimately removed the N jump in. I guess it got to treacherous with the footing? Or maybe someone complained? Idk haha. But I need more help on jumps out instead of in so doing the BN lined up with the intro out worked perfectly for my purposes.

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  5. as a frequent jump judge-er, if you are going to switch up the jumps you are going over, make sure you inform the start box before hand so the poor jump judges don't start freaking out and flag you down :) As long as control knows ahead of time, it usually isn't a big deal. If they don't, it causes some chaos.

    It may be a good idea to test out your old saddle again, I agree your position isn't as good as it was in the Bates. Maybe try shortening your stirrups a few holes and see if it helps?

    Congrats on the finish, even if it was a letter. The fact you both did it without riding the struggle bus was the win!

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    1. definitely important to keep the jump judge's sanity in mind!! typically i don't really deviate from the prescribed course in that i go through all the appropriate flags in the correct order with respect to the rules. i might just add in a few other jumps too haha. in this case tho, had i actually swapped out jumps i can't imagine anyone would flag me down since i was already out.

      anyway, thanks tho! i'm working on the saddle thing and have maybe already come to a conclusion from just the briefest of experimentation. more to come there...

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  6. I kinda thought from the beginning that the K&M didn't fit you very well, but didn't want to say anything since you seemed to like it. The flap is just the craziest shape, I dunno who's leg would sit well in that shape. It seems like you're fighting it a bit, and that's never fun or easy. But Izzy looks great on XC... def ready to go back to Novice!

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    1. ugh it would be nice if i didn't have to learn every.single.lesson the hard way. like, maybe just once. alas, this k&m seems to be falling into that category. at least now i guess i know better how to try out potential saddles? #silverlinings

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    2. I will echo Amanda's thoughts about the saddle.

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  7. I wanted so badly to love the K & M myself but it just wasn't right. After watching a LOT of video of myself on the flat and over fences I just wasn't secure and it was giving me a false sense of security. I agree your position is different in this saddle.

    She just ate that course up though and that's awesome. Once we were schooling there and Emily had me canter through the water and jump that house out and I nearly got bucked off on the landing! It comes up fast!

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    1. at least you got any kind of sense of security, false or otherwise! but yea... i need to do more thinking there. ugh.

      anyway tho yea that course was great and the water was so fun for schooling! i'm still kinda bummed that the water at Carousel was dried up bc that's definitely where we need some work. oh well, we will just have to go schooling again!

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  8. Definitely experiment, I know if I don't feel 100% in my base I'm not going to canter around a course being sure of myself.

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    1. yea that's pretty much what it comes down to. le sigh. experimentation has officially begun!!!

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  9. re: your position, i was actually surprised when i saw the pictures because i didnt think they were representative of how the course looked as a whole?

    its hard to take jumping pictures. maybe theyre just bad moments. and you can also play with stirrup length. if success were a straight line we'd all getbored and quit immediately ;)

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    1. thanks. i definitely was purposefully a bit defensive, esp to start out... but the pictures actually confirmed some of my suspicions related to how it all felt... they are FANTASTIC pictures tho and i am SO HAPPY to have the - seriously, thank you so much!! and you're so right, if it were too easy and straight forward i would have quit ages ago (maybe) lol

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  10. IMO the saddle is maybe not a great fit, but it also looks like your stirrups are really long so that you don't have a great base of support. It sounds like you had a ton of fun on XC though! Isabel rolled down that line so nicely that she even left a stride out!

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    1. that might just be the helmet camera perspective - the line walked in a true 6, and 6 is what she did, straight to the base. but yea, the stirrups situation is so strange too bc the same length stirrups fit toooootally differently on my two jump saddles. idk... basically my lower leg is not even in the same zip code as where i need it. needs experimentation.

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    2. Different saddles require different stirrup lengths for me (different horses have the same effect). Idk if this is common or if it is just because my hips are F upped.

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    3. i guess the way i see it, there are some best practices / rules of thumb about where the stirrup should hit against the ankle bone when the leg hangs freely. extreme deviation from that raises some concerns for me.

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    4. Hey look at that it was six and I can't count which is why I dropped out of Cal 3 in college. Lol.

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    5. soooooo... ima let you in on a little secret about the benefits of the helmet cam - somehow the fisheye lens can mask even the ickiest of distances. like, total SPLAT moments barely register in the footage. everything just comes out suuuuper smooth looking. so obviously i love watching that, vs watching actual footage of myself lol. all that to say - counting strides from helmet cam footage can be tricky and occasionally misleading ;)

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  11. This is coming from someone who mercilessly beats up on herself for everything...But seriously. Don't be too hard on yourself for the TE, it wasn't ideal yeah but it was a wrinkle in an otherwise good outing overall. Sounds like you learned a lots of little things learned, improvements achieved,and now have a good game plan going forward- all good things to keep in sight :)

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    1. ha i hear you. and have no fear - that's not my nature at all. as i wrote earlier - i had forgiven myself for the TE within minutes of it happening. that doesn't change that it did, in fact, happen tho. and that the issues leading up to it need addressing. all of those little things learned and improvements are all things i identified and typed here for this exact reason.

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    2. I need be more like you in this way! I'm needlessly horrible to myself...over things I have no control over? Makes total sense I know :P

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  12. This looks like such a fun course. I'm kind of surprised how many of the intro jumps that you pointed out were banks/on hills. Do normal people not get freaked out about that stuff? Do they think it's easy? Good luck with the saddle experimenting.

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    1. ha no - i think you're right, and i don't think people necessarily think that's super easy either. my impression of the intro course at fair hill is that it's quite stout for the level, and most appropriate for individuals who are up and knocking at the door to BN, but maybe still have concerns about the height. all the questions are still there!

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  13. Can I just say that you have shared so much lovely media of the literally the ONLY sunny day in this area in the last 2 months, and I am reveling in video of sun on pricked chestnut ears and the sound of hooves on solid ground? Cause, damn. Happy place. Right here.

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    1. oh man, happy place for sure. isabel's relief at going in reasonable footing was palpable. i'm like, 85% sure that the loveliness in the dressage test was totally due to her just thinking "FINALLY i'm on a decent surface!!" and also, yea... galloping around a gorgeous venue in nice weather with a happy horse just cannot be beat.

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  14. I am jealous of your media! Who takes all of those?? Also, awesome job

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    1. oh man, i am SO GRATEFUL for all these pictures!!!! should have mentioned it in the post, but another blogger Megan Kiessling (linked above) from Let's Get Ready to Runkle was at fair hill too and took all of our awesome photographs.

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  15. Hugs on the saddle. I know how irritating it is to have to go between saddles so often. I'll think positive thoughts!

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    1. thank you! it's definitely not the saddle outcome i was expecting, but what do i know. maybe i should just bag the whole thing and stick with the saddle that i know works for me?

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  16. What fun! If you can jump those jumps, you can jump anything! Saddles. My Keiffer is giving some grief for Savvy. Let's just burn all the saddles and learn to do all the things bareback. :P

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    1. ohhhhhh nooooo :( so sorry to hear that about the Keiffer!!! ugh. yes. fire. burn them all with fire. that must be the only answer, i think.

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  17. I love that you turned a bummer situation into a positive. That course looks so fun!

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    1. thanks - sometimes it takes more mental acrobatics than other times to spin the situation into something less... shitty. but the reality is that it really was a good day, it was a net positive. so ya know. next time will hopefully be better too!

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  18. Looking so good! What a positive ending to your show!

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    1. thanks! i feel like this is becoming a trend: nice dressage, super shitty stadium, then freakin awesome xc! whatever. a strong finish can help the rest roll off lol

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  19. hey hey hey- in the SJ world on my side, when a jump is knocked down they usually just leave the ring. Kudos to you for finishing the course! Love the dressage photos and XC looked like a blast!

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    1. ha... yea.... i guess being stubborn has its benefits (tho really the outcome would have been almost the same either way here - just a W instead of a TE...). thanks tho, xc was definitely a blast!

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  20. I also noticed the difference in your position during the jumping, but silly me didn't put 2 and 2 together with the new saddle!

    Isabel looks excellent as always - I love your color game!

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    1. Thanks! I wanted to try out my new sun shirts and must say I was quite comfortable all day! And yea the saddle thing... I didn't put two and two together either. But these pics do feel like a real departure for me. Idk. We will see!

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  21. That course looks so dang FUN!!! FH was the very 1st place I ever XC schooled in my life (5-ish years ago) so watching your helmet cam was awesome and brought back all the memories/feels :D Ugh saddles, right? I once bought a Hastilow that fit my horse perfectly, but mest up my jumping position a LOT. The flap was just NQR :/ Have you tried a County on Iz? That's what I have now and I swear that thing is magic!!!!

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    1. aw glad the video brought back happy memories!! i've really liked riding at FH a couple times (tho our first outing predated the helmet cam, sadly). and re: saddles, i've tried just about anything under the sun placed reasonably close to my price range on the horse, and have worked with two professional fitters. it's a bit of a sore spot, unfortunately.

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  22. im so glad you opted to still do XC! sounds like it was a good positive outing and confidence building!

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