Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MCTA : the running + jomping part

Ok who's ready for some glorious cross country??!!??!?! I know I am! Tho, kinda a funny story. While much of the course was visible for spectators standing up on a hill, the distances were such that made video almost pointless.

And at times during the ride, I actually found myself grateful for that. Like, "thank god nobody is taking pictures right now bc I really don't need to know what we look like!"

Tho, joke's on me bc apparently GRC Photo was on site and will be posting their pics today so... Ya know. Maybe there is documentation haha.

god this horse has great hair
Charlie was very very good for the ride, but also very green. And honestly a little bit impressed by some of the fences, just as he was in stadium. Not necessarily over-faced, per se. And never feeling like he lacked the confidence to do what I asked of him or accomplish these fences. But he showed his inexperience at the level (f*ing duh, Emma, it's his first BN, after all!).

jump 1! i was actually thisclose to planning on cantering to jump 1. we're allllmost there. but i still just like giving charlie that little bit of extra time to get on board with the plan
The course looked great tho - looping between three main fields with varying terrain and some stylish fences. Options galore, and actually quite a few good questions.

the course actually had a lot of brushy type stuff on it - esp on some of the bigger jumps. therefore seeing something of a similar 'look' but on a smaller fence felt like a great intro to the track
Fence 1 took us right out of the start box with a reasonably inviting brush covered split rail type fence, shared with intro. I always kinda look at brush-y type fences a little sideways since Charlie had that silly little stop at his first ever xc schooling at that hay covered box. But I need to just get over that. The horse is clearly fine.

My plan was to trot this jump, tho I would allow canter if he volunteered it. Ever since our first run at Loch Moy, I've gotten the impression that while Charlie is more physically comfortable jumping from canter, he's more emotionally comfortable approaching from a trot when he needs extra processing time. And in this instance, he held his trot right up to the base. Good boy, that's fine!

surprisingly beefy log! i think this was actually shared with N too, but there doesn't appear to be a number on it
Then a quick jaunt up to this somewhat large log that Charlie reached a little awkwardly before cutting through the treeline. Immediately to the left of the treeline is the trailer parking areas, and the novice track had a fence just through that clearing that went straight toward the trailers. Tricky! Luckily BN went through the clearing and turned the other direction for our next fence.

nothing complicated here - tho a fun little approach from within the treeline 
Which was just another log. Totes cool, have at it Charlie! Felt like a reasonable way to get him jumping - with a couple height and width questions coming soon.

first option! that green bench was the final jump at jenny camp, so obvi we did that again
I really appreciated the variation in fence types on this course. And the number of options. For most options, I simply went with the bigger fence. Tho in at least one instance, my decision was colored by style of fence - since this course allowed us to try out a lot of different looking fences as we saw fit.

This bench was a no brainer tho - bigger, but also something we've jumped before. Charlie popped over nbd.

second option - either the left hand cabin or the two middle mulch piles
The next option was kinda strange. On approach just by judging the face, I was leaning towards jumping the brown house type thing - it appeared to be about the same height as the higher mulch pile, but visually looked a little more 'normal xc style' maybe? Idk. But when I got a view of the fences from the side, it was clear that the mulch pile was significantly wider. So. Mulch pile it would be!

Charlie kinda looked a little bit at it tho, and then got right up to the base before popping over. The low sloping profile of the jump made that nbd tho, and he had no problem jumping across it despite getting in so tight.

another option! big ol' rail fence on a slight downhill approach
Here's kinda where we started to see some of Charlie's inexperience begin to shine through tho. And the point in the video where my commentary switches from lots of reassuring and encouraging "Good Boys!" to "Whoas" lol. See, Charlie looked a little bit at the mulch, got a bit underneath it, popped over, and landed very strong and forward.

He repeated that same pattern but to an even greater extent at this next fence - one of the tallest options on course, and also hay-covered, natch. With the downhill approach, I found myself riding a little backward to the fence, but he jumped it pretty well all things considered anyway.

moar optionz! spoooooky pipes. excellent ground lines tho!
Then we rolled back around up the hill to some tiny black pipes. I told Charlie to be brave and put my leg on to ride him up to a pretty good distance, even as he wanted to stand a little bit off from the jump.

another one that needed a side view to determine which was bigger. right side was taller but left side was wider. went left.
He landed strong again and didn't necessarily want to settle ahead of this next fence... But we were still able to reach it from a fairly forward distance instead of backward.

faux ditch - schmo ditch
Then I tried to really sit him down well ahead of the faux ditch, which I didn't anticipate would do anything to slow him down lol. Which it totally didn't - he zoomed over barely even acknowledging it haha and barreled on down to the roll top.

roll top option! actually the roll top looks a little nicer than those barrels anyway lol
I actually really like this style of jump for Charlie (which is funny bc I used to hate them back in the day lol). It's solid and substantial enough to force the horse to read it (and maybe even respect it), but of an inviting and safe enough construction that it's forgiving if the horse makes a little mistake. Which Charlie did, by getting a little bit underneath it again. But nbd, he just had to pick those knees up even higher.

traaaaaain!! left hand side is definitely very beefy, esp in width
Then I actually really did sit him back down and whoa for real. Like, the horse has to learn that this isn't a race, ya know? That we're not just building up to maximum speed as the course wears on - that he can find his show jumping canter even out in the middle of an xc course.

Plus, there was an optional question coming up on course that would specifically require me to adjust Charlie pretty rapidly on landing from a fence, and I needed to know if we could do that.

So going down to this train I really wanted to our canter back. And was honestly uncertain whether the high option was the right choice here or if it would contribute to Charlie's running. But he did in fact settle his canter on approach, so we went for the caboose anyway. It's a pretty good sized jump actually - I jumped it before with Izzy and it's surprisingly wide! Charlie tackled it nbd.

these are almost the same dimensions. we jumped that feeder at jenny camp tho, so i opted for the bench this time. 
Then we cruised around the N corner (that actually looked totally doable) to turn to the next option. Both on the small side relative to some earlier stuff, so it didn't much signify which side we jumped. I chose the bench since I've never jumped that one before.

this fence was purely an option, could be skipped or added at will for BN, with down banks hot on its heels
Next up was what I felt was actually a REALLY cool combo option on this course - a triple bar to down bank. The triple bar was optional but the down bank was not. Charlie jumped this triple bar at Jenny Camp so I wasn't worried about the jump - but I *was* a little bit worried about getting him back in time for the down bank.

down bank had varying heights, all with very steep downhill landings
There's a couple options for riding this: 1) Go straight through - triple to bank - and pray; 2) Jump the triple bar then immediately circle left (thus giving time to regroup) before approaching the bank; 3) Jump the triple bar then aim for the itsiest bitsiest right hand portion of the down bank, but then pull left again to hit the next tier of banks visible on the left hand side of the above picture so we could actually school a proper bank; 4) Skip the triple bar.

from "basically non existent" to "ok i guess that's a bank"
It kinda killed me to do this, but I opted for #4 - skipping the triple bar. In my mind, it was more important that Charlie school the down bank vs tackle a new type of combination. Furthermore, it was important that he be set up to understand and execute the bank safely without issue. Building confidence, not proving confidence.

And I simply did not trust my ability to regroup on the landing from the triple bar quickly enough to give Charlie time to be safe and clear on the bank in front of him. Maybe that's an overly conservative position, but it worked out well enough. He just trotted right on down the bank, and actually landed practically walking lol. I'll take it!

ahhh the water mud puddle. i knew during our walk that we would have trouble here. sigh. 
Anyway, we mostly walked/trotted down the rest of that super steep hill to approach the water, where I was fairly sure we'd have issues. And issues we had. My grand plan was to get up close and personal to the right side red flag. There was more dry ground there, plus Charlie would directly face the warm up area filled with other horses - hopefully enticing him forward.

It was a no go, tho. He incurred at least 1 penalty, up to 2-3 according to the jump judge. So I pulled him around the back side of the flags where the goon walked right into the water, then back around to the front where he again had at least another refusal, or maybe 2-3 per the judge.

"ohhhh noooo not the watttterrrrr" - charlie, probably
You can see the judge coming toward us and speaking to me in the video - a fairly sure sign we were eliminated. She said words of advice or something  (which, uh, no thanks lady! not interested in unsolicited advice, kthxbai!) while I took Charlie back behind the flags into the water again, then back around and this time through the flags. Then right on through to the finish.

Kinda a crappy way to finish a course imo (I much prefer galloping through the finish flags myself lol, and have never actually finished a course with anything other than an actual jump - it just feels weird lol) but c'est la vie!

gets real boring real fast at the water. sigh. 

The jump judge said she assessed 3 penalties on the ride (tho she told the TD it was more like 4-5), saying any halt of forward progress constitutes a refusal. I disagreed with that, understanding that rule to relate to jumps with height, while jumps without height allow a stop and sideways steps, but not backward steps.

It's admittedly a gray area tho, and Charlie absolutely had refusals (plural). But I wasn't sure there were 3. I can see in the video how she got to her counts... but I can also see how a more generous jump judge may have reached a different outcome.

She also said a recognized show wouldn't allow me to go behind the flags into the water. I disagreed there too, having seen Elisa Wallace do exactly that at training level (skip to 3:20 in the video) without penalty (scores here). So... I felt this judge was kinda wrong on the letter of the law, and kinda probably maybe missing the spirit of the law for starter trials too.

I talked to the TD tho, who stood by the judge's experience and said that, "riders are often so caught up in the moment that they don't actually know what their horses are doing" ... which... idk. Feels kinda insulting to say to a rider. But whatever. I tried!

my handsome new event pony. he'll learn water eventually <3
All's well that ends well tho. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Charlie doesn't know what penalties are. Nor does he know what "E" means. As far as he knows, he put in three solid tests and was a very good boy. Which is really what I want to highlight from this event - rather than the underwhelming finish or my sour grapes haha.

It felt like a really solid introduction to a new level - while also reaffirming that my 'blurred lines' approach to the levels is probably the right fit for Charlie. Height continues to be a non-issue for the horse. Rather, it's the "questions" of xc that he still isn't confirmed in answering yet.

So I'm happy to go back to 2'3 next week at Fair Hill, where we can expect to see more ditches banks and water, each likely to have jumps with related distances. It feels.... very likely that we'll reach a similar fate at the water there too lol (curses!) but them's the breaks. It's all basically schooling anyway, right?

52 comments:

  1. hah runkles first ht i had the same issue at 'the water' which was flagged so he didnt HAVE to go through it but uh he had about 3 ft to not go through it which still meant he had to go past it and thus was terrifying

    we have discussed the interesting scoring already but to add i kinda cant believe the td said that.

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    1. Lol yea water is definitely just one of those things!! As is this TD's attitudes toward competitors haha. Oh well. It was fun!!

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  2. Sounds like a frustrating experience with both the jump judge and the TD, but at least you're right, Charlie doesn't understand what an E is. All he knows is that he DID THE THING. And he did :) great job!

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    1. thanks!!!! he did do the thing!!! pretty freakin well too!! i'm so pleased with him! the experience at the water was frustrating from a technical perspective - but not from a horse training perspective. he's just plain not schooled to it, but that's fixable!

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  3. you know you were eliminated, I dont think that judge had to add salt to the wounds by being a pain about it. That is annoying. And it was a STARTER TRIAL so come on....i mean not that you might not have been eliminated no matter what but game face people, dont be jerks. UGH...

    I wonder why he doesnt like the water.....esp that mud puddle you had there....ha Fair hill is FULL like up over Remus knees :) IS there a water element near you you can school at? I mean not before FH obviously but later this Summer? I would spend a day somewhere and try to get the fun part of water in him. Remus loves to splash through it now...and I think Charlie will too. hey at least he does banks and ditches:) He is getting there. And great recap on your ride. Some of those options were intense....:)

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    1. well - in fairness, i stopped after going through the finish lines specifically to discuss with the jump judge. and i did *not* know i was eliminated - she told me she gave me three. which perhaps implies the elimination, but she didn't say those words (which i find odd) so i didn't see that with certainty until the scores came out, at which point i asked to speak with the TD.

      the reason charlie doesn't 'like' water is because he's just not schooled to it. not bc we don't have options around here but bc we haven't been out purposefully schooling in a couple months (our last planned outing was cancelled bc of the heat). he's been getting other types of experience tho - specifically by competing. we will be schooling lots this summer tho!

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    2. good time for schooling water in this heat :) YAY. Bless him...he is doing so great though!! :)

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    3. srsly. the messed up thing is that the last time he saw water was at loch moy - they have a new little complex in the all weather arena where stadium warmed up for intro/elem. and he DRAGGED ME TO IT so he could get into it and drink up. like. ok buddy, nvm that you've been surrounded by water buckets all day long....

      so maybe i just need to make sure he's really thirsty at fair hill???

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  4. Gaaahhh, damn water, damn over-zealous jump judges, ugh. Charlie is badass brave with all those very cool jumps though! You should be very proud!! :) Speaking of Elisa Wallace, did you see her latest blog vid with water schooling technique? Loved the concept of the water being the spot of relaxation.

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    1. thanks! and actually yes i did see that! it's a very cool technique and one that might be worth revisiting if i think charlie's issue with the water progress to anything beyond simply being green. every time he's met water, he's needed a little bit of a re-introduction to it, but then once he's through he can go in and out and all around like nbd. so i'm not totally worried that he won't figure it out. we just need to spend a little more time on schooling it (i hope!).

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  5. That water is super disgusting. I wouldn't get in it either, Charles.

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    1. ha yea... he was not impressed!

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  6. I've been on both the rider and the official side of that, and it is really hard. But Charlie was a genius for the rest of it!

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    1. yea i mean. i obviously most easily see things from my side, which naturally is the best and most correct side and i'm always right and never wrong. but yea. it is a gray area.

      thanks tho - charlie was so good, i couldn't ask for better!

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    2. I mean, duh. I just came back to this post for fun and am struck by how handsome Charlie looks in that last pic. So dreamy.

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  7. I have to say, watching what you and Charlie do, regardless of the E's and other penalties is impressive to say the least. We all work hard with our thousand pound fur babies, and being critiqued bites! That said, the comment about not knowing what your horse is doing would be tough for anyone to swallow. Thanks for sharing your experiences, though. I have learned so much by reading your blog. Best of luck weekend and rock on!

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    1. aw thanks, that's really nice! and i'm trying really hard to keep it in mind that charlie's really truly doing super well even the stuff on 'paper' doesn't always look great.

      and yea that comment from the TD really grated. like, there's nooooo way they would ever say some shit like that to a boyd martin of the world. "sorry boyd but you probably just weren't aware of what your horse was doing!" i mean, obvi i'm not a pro... but it's kinda not the coolest thing to just assume that we're all just kicking and praying and hoping to survive either, ya know?

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  8. Bummer it ended that way, but sounds like a great learning experience nonetheless!

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    1. thanks - i'm definitely thrilled with how much we got out of the experience. at this point, everything we do is basically schooling anyway. like i would like to win ribbons, and maybe get points for year end awards. but.... that's hardly the priority. from the horse's perspective i think it was a really positive event!

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  9. chock one up to learning, but yay BN completed without much fuss, just need to work on the water aerobics!

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    1. thanks! and yup - that's basically it! there are so many little pieces to eventing, gotta practice 'em all!

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  10. Now I see what you mean with going outside the flags! Makes total sense. But, um, wow. Not a fan of what that TD said - if caught up in the moment means we're aware of the horse not doing the thing so we're trying to get them to do the thing..... That's just not logical to me. Oh well. Charlie doesn't know he got an E, and while it's not fun to have a letter, the important thing is that he went through the water at the end! He's so funny; once he's stepping through the water his ears look like "Oh, well this is nbd" lol Horses logic right?

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    1. yep! and yea he'll figure the water out, just needs more schooling!

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  11. I love how y'alls schooling shows give you so many options. Ours just use the same courses as the recognized shows. It would be nice to be able to add or take things away depending on how the horse is going or what kind of experience you're looking to give them.

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    1. yea the events around here that host recognized recycle those courses for the starters. this particular venue doesn't do recognized tho. but it does have a of <3' cross country jumps of every style imaginable. way more jumps than they can reasonably fit into a single course. so. the options abound and it's pretty freakin sweet!

      being able to make those game-time decisions on what to jump based on how the horse is going has been really useful, both at this event and the other MCTA starter that also had lots of options (bc the fences were from this place anyway haha)

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  12. On the plus side he's is looking mighty fine in body condition lately!

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    1. man that spring grass has just done wonders for him. it's pretty amazing actually. now if only his feet would catch up.... lol

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  13. Look at you guys go! Those are some pretty legit BN jumps and it's awesome you felt confident to go for the bigger/wider/different looking jumps when given the option. Charlie is so cool, what a good boy, I'm sure the water will get ironed out in no time!

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    1. yea he's just so good. he's definitely feeling prepared and confident for anything size-wise that BN has to offer. now i just gotta do my job in preparing him for all the other 'xc' stuff that isn't just plain jumping lol

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  14. You are totally right that as long as there is no backward motion and you do not reproach an obstacle of zero height it is not a refusal. Also, "schooling" the water is allowed so you are correct there. I dealt with this at a show I worked at, and the rider even declared it out loud but I still had to reassure the JJ it was allowed.

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    1. Also, big no no for the judge to offer advice!

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    2. well the judge can say whatever she wants after she's eliminated a rider. there's no rules saying you can't speak once you're not technically competing anymore! i personally simply have an extreme aversion to *anyone* offering me unsolicited advice. like, anyone haha.

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  15. Look how brave he is!! You two look like you were having fun, well minus the water but as you said that will come.

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    1. He is SO BRAVE!! And it's making me brave again too! Definitely a fun day :D

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  16. It's obvious to me that there were crocodiles hiding under that water and Charlie ws just trying to save you. Carmen is in agreement with his analysis. :D
    But what a good boy for going in - it's obvious that he trusts you.

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    1. Thanks! Charlie is glad Carmen agrees haha, that water was highly suspicious! We will figure that part out tho, all in good time

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  17. Sorry about the "E." At least the rest of the day was successful. I love all the jump options; so many choices and opportunities to pick what works best for your horse. I would have skipped that triple bar too, though it would be fun to school.

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    1. Yea the triple bar option definitely looked super tempting and fun - perfect for schooling. I think Charlie is really close to being able to do something like that too, but considering he's seen very few down banks in his life and none before in competition, playing it safe felt like the better choice. Next time tho!!

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  18. Wooooow. I am twitching in annoyance just reading about that comment by the TD. That pushes one or two of my personal mental buttons.

    Aside from that - sounds like you had a great time, and go Charlie!

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    1. thanks it really was super fun!!!

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  19. Sounds frustrating with the refusals and the E, but I'm happy you enjoyed the experience and that you're making progress with him at least. Good luck for next time!

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    1. thanks! i hope next time goes a little better haha, tho we'll probably still have trouble at the water. oh well! he'll figure it out eventually!

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  20. "riders are often so caught up in the moment that they don't actually know what their horses are doing"

    Wow. That line gets me all kind of hot under the collar.

    I'm going to agree that the bank was totally trying to trick you into thinking it was NBD even though it was hiding a pretty good downhill grade.

    Does seem like it was an awesome show regardless of the judge/TD/water refusal. For what it's worth, Aria would be refusing all over the place too.

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    1. yea that bank definitely seemed like it deserved a little respect. like, it wasn't big, and there were ways to kinda "cheat" on it.... but at the same time, banks are one of the holy trinity of cross country distinguishing it from all the other jumping sports. so i felt it deserved some care and proper riding. if we have enough "easy" bank experiences like the above, he'll be ready to tackle combos in no time!

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  21. Not a fan of that TD at all! But all in all, it looked like great course and so glad you 2 had another positive experience!

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    1. thanks! definitely a positive experience all things considered!

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  22. I jump judged at a local event last weekend and we were encouraged to be lenient with our EV60 (2') riders. It's not 1*, jump judge, stopping at water isn't a cardinal sin. Chillax already.

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    1. lol right? like, the first time i jump judged was actually at the MCTA's recognized event. and when they explained to volunteers what was expected, and what were the rules, they were pretty clear that ultimately it's the competitor's sport. and that we need to keep that in mind, especially if it's going to come down to a 'he said / she said' thing. exceptions being safety and abuse of horse, but otherwise keep the competitor in mind above all else.

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  23. Frustrating. This is why I love event derbies. Judges are like "if you're safe you can continue." It's great for learning. Stupid jump judge.

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    1. yea it was annoying. i actually don't know if they would have let me continue or not had that not been the end of the course (so we did in fact finish the entire course) - i tend to think they would have tho. the horse was safe, just green at the water. most starters around here are pretty great about letting E'd riders continue on so long as you're safe.

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  24. Just now catching up. Sorry to hear about the water, water issues are super sucky because they are so hard to train for. You can try covering a (bigger) depression in the ground with a tarp and filling it with water for training. And aiming for every puddle you can find when riding. Ugh, he will get his education soon enough. Congrats on finishing though, he thinks he did great and that is all that matters. (His drama though, HA!)

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  25. Just catching up now. I've learned to not take many things to heart when it comes to volunteers and judges. Ya, sometimes they give good solid advice, but sometimes they can be really catty and make assumptions based off of how they see you ride/handle your horse in a short amount of time. I am sorry it didn't go as planned, but at the same time am proud of you both!! HE DID THE THING.

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