Wednesday, December 11, 2019

MDHT Eventing Derby!

This past weekend, Loch Moy Farm hosted their annual Donation Derby! Starting in mid-November, the venue pulls all their cross country fences in from the fields to be placed on the roughly 8 acres of interconnected all weather surface arenas for the winter season.

These arenas then stay open for schooling through March, and the Donation Derby marks the first winter schooling event of the year.

this was literally the only green grass near the trailers. we spent a lot of time right here haha
You might remember that Charlie's first ever sorta-kinda-cross country outing was to this venue back in March 2017, actually.

And we've been going back again and again ever since, including the following spring where Charlie came out swinging at BN after recovering from surgery, and then again last winter when we finally got our first real taste of schooling T fences.

short 1,400m course, started with mini show jump course then moved onto the mostly xc portion
Somewhat amazingly, tho, I've never actually done one of the derbies. They are somewhat unique events. The courses contain a combination of show jumps and xc jumps, and are slightly shorter than a standard xc course with speeds faster than show jumping.

Loch Moy runs the levels such that there's typically about 45 min between divisions dedicated to that level's "schooling session." Meaning, the 45 before Novice starts, all Novice riders are invited out on course to school whatever they want.

this water complex is the friggin coolest. also look at charlie's antlers!!!!!
In the past, I've taken advantage of this schooling session but then skipped out on the derby itself. Figuring the real takeaway from the day was that schooling.

This time tho.... I wanted the run haha.

my favorite parts were the transitions between rings - like this bank up the hill
Charlie's in great form right now - he was amazing for our final two horse trials of the year, plus we had a really nice relaxing but excellent xc school at home with friends the day after Thanksgiving. So. Ya know. I just kinda wanted to keep that party train rollin, lol.

With that in mind, I actually kept our schooling session super low key. Initially I had thought about having trainer K come out and coach me through the schooling to maybe work on some harder stuff... But that ended up not quite working out, and actually I came to sorta feel like maybe that lesson would be more valuable on some other day when we weren't up against a clock or dealing with crowded rings and knowing that I still had a full course to run afterward.

the terrain did an interesting little 'roller coaster' thing here between these two rings too
Because on this day, yea, I wanted to focus on that course haha. So for schooling I mostly treated it as an extra lengthy warm up, and mostly focused on showing Charlie the transition points between rings.

We jumped a couple of the fences, but not all of them. Schooled the bank a little bit, since it would be our first ever time having a jump before a bank (instead of after, which we've seen a few times now). Got our toes wet in the water. Jumped the table going past the ivied wall I'd seen some other horses spook at (Charlie did not care, obvi). But.... honestly, that was kinda it.

this is the normal show jump ring that loch moy recently completely rebuilt - see the ivy covered wall of signage to the left??
We were finished schooling and ready to go with still something like 20min of waiting ahead of us haha, during which time I parked it at the rail to chat with friends and chug a beer lol.

Charlie was AMPED, but honestly felt really good. 

Eventually, tho, it was time. Actually, just in time for Austen to show up too, yay friends!!

ditch in the driveway!
I hadn't warmed up over many of the show jumps bc.... Honestly I basically figured we were just gonna knock them all down anyway and didn't want to make the volunteers have to keep resetting them for us. So I hadn't schooled any of the first part of the course - the mini show jump round.

It looked pretty basic, tho. Again, I totally expected to knock them all down (lol) bc it's really hard to transition from xc gear back to sj gear, and Charlie isn't exactly all that careful to begin with... But actually Charlie was really really lovely! He settled right in to a great rhythm and let me pilot him to each of the first three fences, which were was mostly sweeping turns and bending lines.

cell phone screen shot of the two stride combo, artfully blocked by tree
Next was a two stride combo that looked like it'd be an easy but not-too-tight distance for Charlie.

Plus they positioned it right up against some banks where spectators were sitting, making it jusssssst spooky enough that Charlie stood off ever so slightly, enough for me to keep supporting him through with leg. Yay for no smashies!!!

oooh hey i got actual pro photos too!
I kinda biffed my turn to the final show jump tho, so we ended up slicing that oxer and taking a fairly direct route to the first xc fence. The oxer on an angle was fine, but our distance to the next coop ended up being a little icky, esp considering it was a small jump that did nothing to back Charlie off... Oh well, it was ugly but basically fine.

It's kinda our way anyway to have at least one spectacularly ugly jump haha...

gosh this horse is the most handsomest <3
From there tho, Charlie was GOING haha. Actually, all the fences were kinda small which didn't really help, but Charlie mostly listened and came back to me when I needed him to.

He rocketed through the water, was obscenely bold through the bank combination, raced across the second arena and through the cut point up to the final arena, smashed through a show jump up there, launched over the table, careened back across the driveway and over the ditch, then swooped through the final tour of the middle arena before crossing the finish flags.

doin it for fun!!!
All in all, clocking in at 3:34 haha, 15 seconds under optimum time and the second fastest round of the day lol. And guys, it was so fun omg.

For as much as I love pushing myself, and trying out bigger and badder things... A day like this was honestly really really great. It was so nice to go into a jumping test feeling like all we had to worry about was having a good time.

The jumps themselves were easy, the course was uncomplicated yet exciting with rapid-fire jumps, and we didn't have to fuss around with any dressage tests or anything like that. Yessss. Sign. Me. Up.

charlie's stalkin some dogs!!
Honestly I just wish Loch Moy was closer to home haha, bc otherwise we'd probably be here every weekend doing this!

My only real regret is not planning out my outfit far enough in advance -- everyone always dresses up in Christmas themed outfits and costumes for the Donation Derby. Sadly we were extremely boring and grinchy in my basic schooling outfit. Tho at least Charlie wore his antlers haha <3

good boy, sir. that was fun!
So yea. Not really a day of learnings or takeaways or deep thoughts or foundation laying or anything like that. Just a good ol' fashioned romp around on my game thoroughbred.

And I definitely wanna do it again haha, hopefully soon!!


  1. ooo i've always wanted to do a derby here. I'll have to try and plan one for when spicy is actually jumping. I saw some other people on my IG feed went and they were DECKED. OUT.

    Charlie looks soooo great and handsome. I loff him.

    1. i so so so deeply regret *NOT* being decked out.... it's totally unlike us, but somehow i just completely dropped the ball. womp womp! but yes, omg these derbies - you must go to one!

  2. That looked like so much fun! I love the little bow on his bridle that was constantly in the helmet cam. He was certainly on fire!!

    1. it's actually a little set of plaid antlers!!! the cutest <3 i die lol

  3. This sounds SO FUN. What an incredible facility!! Glad Charlie was his stellar self. And I can't believe you didn't dress up! Next year!!

    1. omg i was almost embarrassed about not dressing up haha.... we were definitely in the minority!!! i won't make the same mistake again ;)

  4. This looks like so much freaking FUN.

    1. the derby courses are set up alllllllll winter long if you ever felt compelled to come north again ;) (hint hint!)

  5. Replies
    1. oh man, true story, i was quite a bit nervous about that while looking at the map. but somehow tho, once in the actual arenas themselves it was all quite intuitive and the course flowed pretty seamlessly. only issues were a few riders missing fence 5 (the final show jump that required a sorta counter intuitive loop), and riders not realizing the second cut thru from arena 2 to arena 3. mostly tho it was all pretty smooth!

  6. That looks like a blast. You are so lucky to be close to amazing facilties

    1. oh man, we are SO LUCKY in this area! this particular venue is a pretty unpleasant drive (esp the drive home tends to hit really nasty traffic patterns) but generally it's still so so so worth the haul!!

  7. Looks like you two had a blast- what an awesome event!

    1. such a great event, it's really designed to help folks get that positive experience!

  8. That looks really fun!! Glad you and Charlie had a good round/run/zoom around the course!

  9. A few of my friends went to this and I was wondering if you were there and if we'd see a post :) Great photos <3

  10. Such a cool facility and what a fun event! You both had a blast, obviously!


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