Monday, August 17, 2020

derbies #4lyfe

Charlie and I finally managed to hit up one of Fair Hill's fun Derby Cross events this week, after having eyed them on the calendar for ages. And guys, these events are hands down my absolute favorite.

my unsuspecting victim 
These are meant to be fun, low key, and inexpensive schooling outings for low level riders, with levels offered from Intro to Novice. The course is set up in Fair Hill's Sawmill field -- the same location where they hold the Young Event Horse Championships and run the national horse show divisions.

return of the leather curb strap
One big difference from the normal horse trials, tho, is that they let competitors park in the adjoining field typically used for the 3*, 4*, and 5* stabling. Which.... is kiiiiinda a big deal haha. Because anyone who's ever competed at Fair Hill before knows that there's a massively long walk between horse trial parking and this field. Seriously brutal haha.

So getting to park right next to where we'd be riding felt like a luxury, tbh.

the squad had other fish to fry this weekend -- don't they look great??
Plus, believe it or not, Charlie actually hasn't been back to Fair Hill since 2017. Considering it's so close to home, it felt like the perfect opportunity! Esp since I'd be going solo. Charlie's barn had another home show this weekend that I was 100% not doing, lol, but all our typical riding buddies were entered (and did ahmazingly!).

fair hill's sawmill field. pink circle around the show jumps, green lines for the xc portion
In a way, tho, I actually appreciated the opportunity to just get out by myself. Charlie and I had a little bit of a score to settle after that disastrous horse show a couple weeks ago lol, so this was our time to shine.

show jumping! water combination is right behind those trees
So anyway. About the derby cross itself. If you watched that YEH video linked above, then you already know the format. It's basically all the best parts of eventing, and none of the fluff (ahem, cough cough, looking at you, dressage!).

actually had little combinations too
The course begins with a small show jumping course - in this case it was 8 fences with three related lines. Throughout which Charlie actually knocked my socks off with how reasonably (and cleanly!!) he approached it all -- zero rails!!

I watched a lot of horses do the add strides and expected we'd probably do the same, but Charlie was actually able to go right on ahead and do the step without getting wild or flat or running. Which.... is exactly what we've been working on in lessons, but was not at all apparent in the show a couple weeks ago. Oh well, whatever, Charlie was perfect for this portion so that's good enough for me!

line of coffins on a surprisingly downhill approach
After the little show jumping course, you proceed directly on to the xc portion. From what I gathered discussing the course with other competitors, basically nobody walked the courses in advance haha -- myself included. Because it's really that low key and informal haha.
 
hunting down the flagged jumps, tho in retrospect you probably could jump anything out there
It just meant tho that everything you came upon on course was cold to horse and rider. Honestly tho that was totally fine. Everything was very straight forward and the jumps were very kind. Tho if the idea of riding xc without walking it first makes you squeamish, obvi it's fine to walk it too.

choo choo!!
For my purposes, not walking didn't really create any issues. I kept my eyes out for the flagged jumps, and then assessed each line we approached to decide which element I wanted to jump. Usually I went with the biggest of the available selected fences.

But sometimes not -- like when I jumped the BN version of the very first set of xc jumps. Mostly bc the N jump looked like too fussy a line, and the jumps were all small enough that the difference in size was negligible for Charlie anyway. I also did the BN ditch line bc it was a super downhill approach and I continue to be terrible at riding downhill to fences LOL.

this N trakehner has been on my "to do" list since the Isabel days. finally knocked it out tho!
In retrospect, there were a couple lines that had T jumps right next to the flagged jumps that I'm sure literally nobody would have cared if I had jumped those instead. It was just hard to make those snap judgement calls in the last moments of approaching a fence. Oh well. At least there was one T fence included in the flags -- the blue train engine!! So that was fun (esp bc we got a FLYER to it haha).

AND, Charlie got more trakehner experience by skipping right on over Fair Hill's N version. These have always struck me as pretty nice and inviting trakehners even tho they're kinda big. Maybe bc the ditch part isn't so dug out and boxy as some others? Idk. I've just always wanted a shot, and was pleased to finally get it.

awwww who remembers charlie's "watery thoughts" from the old days about this water? 
The course finished with a little splash through the water, with all the jumps still set from the recognized HT last week. Charlie hasn't seen a new water since last fall, but still just jumped the jump then cantered right on through to the jump on the other side. What a good boy ;)

"did i win??" - charlie, probably
And that was basically it!! Not a particularly long course, which is a little on purpose since riders are encouraged to take multiple trips if they want. I did not want, tho. That ride was absolutely perfect for what we set out to do: get out and jump some jumps, and have fun while we're at it.

Boom. Mission accomplished haha.


So these events are super straight forward. There were volunteers out there to "jump judge" but honestly I think they were there mostly just to ensure safety. Because as far as I can tell, nobody was scoring or keeping track of rails or time or whatever, or noting what level jumps you rode. There's no leaderboard, no ribbons, none of that haha.

obligatory #covidstyle mask pic
It's essentially just glorified schooling, with a predetermined course set up and ready to go. Which, wow, I really loved that haha. And I think Charlie did, too. He was super for all the jumps even when we didn't get perfect striding. Wasn't rude at all in the bridle, and definitely not running away from me. Like, he got strong in places -- but in his normal Charlie way. And was polite about adjusting.

good boy winding down with some grazing before going home
So that's all super reassuring haha. I mean, I'd hedged my bets a little by adding flash and curb straps onto the bridle -- both of which he'd previously gone in regularly. Ooh, and obviously I changed my fucking reins out lol.... And I think it made a difference, definitely had working brakes, huzzah.

def wanna go back with friends!
It honestly felt like a criminally short "show" day haha. We arrived about an hour ahead of our ride time, spent something like 25min actually in the saddle, and only just hung out to graze for a little bit before heading back home again. All to the tune of a $40 entry fee, plus perfectly cool and slightly sprinkling weather.

100% will be back for more of this action lol, bc that was perfect. Next time, tho, I definitely want to bring friends. Bc this is definitely the perfect option for riders at basically all levels and interests. Hopefully there are more chances coming soon! Anyone else want to meet up at a Fair Hill derby too???






27 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great activity to shake the feelings from your last outing!

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  2. That sounds like a perfect schooling day!

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  3. That sounds like such a fun set up!

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    1. I honestly really loved it. Esp since the whole thing was on grass, it was really great experience

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  4. Oooh...I wish I lived closer. That sounds amazing.

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  5. Man i miss those Derbies! so glad you got to do one. And of course when I did it it was July and hot. UGH. Much better to do it on a coolish rainy type of day!

    I miss the NE and the eventing...:)

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    1. aw we miss you too!! for real tho i can't believe it's taken me this long to actually get to one of these derbies, or why we haven't made it to fair hill since 2017 wtf haha. such a great place tho!

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  6. Sounds like the best redemption course ever! I even loved the extra video at the end of you taking care of Charlie- it was like a glimpse into the Life of Emma (more so than what you write on this blog)

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    1. aw haha thanks! i kinda enjoyed seeing all that footage too, but wasn't sure anybody would stick around long enough on the video to watch it. glad you liked it tho! i always kinda feel like there's so much more to riding than what happens in the saddle anyway, ya know?? lol

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  7. Yay new reins! That looked super fun, glad you guys enjoyed yourselves!

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    1. thanks -- and agreed, so glad to just get out there and enjoy the simple things with horses ;)

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  8. awesome - sounds like a great confidence builder!1 I hope you can get back soon,

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  9. Redemption rides are great and the derby sounds awesome. Charlie probably really appreciated your grazing muzzle, lol. :)

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    1. i think i'm just going to do derby rides and hunter paces forever haha, forget everything else ;)

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  10. That looks like just the PERFECT day!

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  11. That sounds like so much fun! Definitely wish we could have something here, but alas! So glad it was a positive outing!

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    1. dude i feel like these style events should be everywhere. they seem way easier (in theory) to organize, don't require quite as many resources in terms of number of jumps and stuff as a full event, fewer volunteers etc.... plus probably if you market it well enough seems like they should be money makers. idk why there aren't more of them!!! kinda not-so-secretly want to get some going at charlie's farm too haha...

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  12. Sounds like a great day! And yay for having a rideable Chuck!

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    1. lol he came out for this like, 'my dear madam, this is indeed a fair number of straps encircling my face, and i am but a humble civilized gentleman! i do protest!!' like. excuse me sir, but where was all that refinement when you were running around like jaws at the show that actually cost $$$$ ?!?! sigh...

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  13. How fun, I'm glad you got the halo version of Charlie not devil horns today =)

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    1. lol the devil horns don't come out very often at all, but damn he makes it count when they do!!! grrr haha

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  14. That sounds like a really fun way to go get experience!

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