Wednesday, November 6, 2019

MDHT - Cross Country!

Alright, let's dig into some excellent cross country media paired with brief(ish) commentary on the ride and day and experience etc, shall we?

gosh he's just the handsomest! 
Basically, if you've been reading 'Fraidy Cat Eventing for any length of time, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we pretty much exclusively compete at Loch Moy. Because... Wow yea aside from our home events, Charlie and I haven't successfully completed a horse trial at any other venue since... Fair Hill in 2017... Oops.

total pro chillin at the trailer - we got lucky and parked next to a van so we had way more room than normal to spread out. also look how foggy it was in the morning!!
I promise it's not for lack of trying tho!! We got through 2.5 phases at Plantation before being eliminated on xc for refusals that one time... And have made multiple efforts at Full Moon - once withdrawing after dressage and another time being eliminated by rider fall in show jumping. I've also sent in all manner of entries over the years that ended in scratches, including to Seneca, Fair Hill, and lord knows where else.

It is what it is tho. The Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy are simply wonderful events and we love going to them. And since the venue has become so familiar, we tend to generally have good experiences there. So. Ya know. We keep going back lol.

such pretty decorations on jump 1
One downside to the familiarity tho is that... The novice courses kinda feel a little boring now. Actually, I have a whole post rant spinning around in my head right now about what I perceive to be a widening gap between novice and training xc courses that'll get written eventually.... But now isn't the time for that.

Because let's be real. Maybe on this particular day I needed boring. Just needed to go through the motions, execute my plan, demonstrate our experience and schooling.

homeboy knows how to leave the start box now!! nice long run to jump 2 too
The course got us started off well for those purposes too. A nice inviting profile at jump 1, followed by a loooooong gallop to fence 2 -- perfect for getting Charlie into the zone!

slightly unimpressive table thingy for 2
He's become pretty reliable about leaving the gate these days, but it's still nice to have some time to find a rhythm anyway. Jump 2 was a simple table positioned at the entrance into the "woods" and Charlie handled it easily enough.

we've jumped this literally a million times
Tho wouldn't ya know it, that goofy horse actually tried to run out at jump 3. He didn't really suck back or anything, and he's not particularly subtle or nuanced in his evasions lol. Rather, he just tried to pull out to the left.

charlie tried to run out at it, tho!! what a goon. we jumped it anyway tho
Which... Ya know, No, Sir. Let's not, tho, m'kay? Obvi it's a fairly small jump and Charlie's not a particularly flexible horse so I just held the right rein and he was basically like, "Shit I guess I'm stuck, might as well jump it!" and proceeded to do so.

nice uphill turn to another sorta squat table thingy
Obviously tho that's not really my favorite feeling, ya know? Esp bc he was also feeling kinda strong and unruly. We had a nice bending uphill turn to the above log table thing tho and Charlie took me straight to it so who knows what his deal was at 3...

then a turn back around to this simple pheasant feeder. love the backgrounds in these pictures tho
Same story to the next jump - we made the turn going back toward the barns and Charlie cruised right up to the dead center of this pheasant feeder jumping it in a lovely balance right out of stride. Good boy, sir!

weaving through the trees to another table thing to leave the woods
He definitely wanted to run tho. And obviously I was less accommodating about that considering his attempt at exiting stage left at the log. Our next jump was the same position as some jumps last time we were out here, and sorta heads back to the trailers, which are all off to the left of the above frame.

We already have a pretty strong left drift and Charlie is usually a bit preoccupied with running back home lol so I knew I wanted to be careful about getting to this fence. He was a good boy tho and jumped it well enough.

we've done basically this exact same configuration of water to jump a few times now
Then we sorta careened down the hill to the water, which Charlie just cantered through like the easiest thing in the world, taking a direct line to the roll top on the other side.

charlie has become quite good at it ;)
I have an almost identical picture of Charlie from his last BN run where this same style jump was positioned more or less in the same place. He's definitely got this figured out haha!

Actually this next little portion of the course is included in the "Clips" video footage below, thanks in large part to local volunteer extraordinaire Meredith (thanks!!). Charlie was aces, tho. Good boy!

simple hanging log
From there we turned toward the back half of the cross country fields. Loch Moy introduced a Championships series this year for their starter trials (they offer six STs a year) and ran the championships divisions for the first time at this event. It's actually pretty cool and they made slightly separate xc tracks and everything.

Except... Well, it only furthered my perception that our own novice track was too watered down lol. The championship class got to drop down the bank while normal N just did this hanging log thing. It's not my favorite style xc jump - I prefer something with a little more mass, but Charlie was fine.

have also jumped this a million times. and charlie also tried to run out, wtf sir?
Tho go figure, he was a complete squirrel to this garden gate that he's seen at almost all levels lol. We jumped it kinda weirdly... But hey, we jumped it. And that's what counts, right?

we took no chances to the chevron tho, followed by that up bank in the background! 
He got really strong after that tho, and combined with his attempted run out at the garden gate and the fact that our next jump was skinny, I came reeeeeally close to doing a circle.

But dammit, right at the last minute I put my foot down and decided that, no mother fucker. We are not circling. You're gonna whoa and you're gonna jump this chevron directly in the center and proceed like a schooled animal lol.

gosh i love his face tho <3
Which, obviously, he did haha. Just on the backside of the chevron was a microscopic little up bank, but I still made sure to really bring him back into balance for it anyway considering the last time we went up a bank he kinda splatted into it and pulled a shoe lol. He was fine tho, good boy!!

probably the biggest jump on our course - these log oxers are pretty great
From there we cruised on directly to the log oxer - another jump we've seen at multiple levels. Personally I really like this jump and maybe Charlie does too bc he was perfect over it. Kinda wish the next photographer had been shooting this one instead of the next one....

followed by the smallest jump on course lol... this little tootsie roll shared with BN. 
Considering the next jump was, erm, tiny. Like, seriously, there were three photographers on course and the one who took the above shot ONLY shot this one fence. I'm sure there's all manner of factors that go into how they choose their spot - like lighting and background... But c'mon. Riders want pictures from the most impressive jumps lol, right? Or like... The water, or something. Ya know??

next was the ditch! regular N just did it alone, but the championship class added a coop at B. obvi charlie and i went for it too ;)
Anyway, Charlie was feeling good so I decided to get a little creative with the next section of course. Again, the championship course seemed to kinda cannibalize regular N's options, so they got a bending line half coffin and regular N got a standalone ditch. Bo-ring! So I jumped the coop anyway haha (you can kinda see it in the top left of the above pic).

we jumped that blue roofed house in our clinic with martin a couple weeks ago...
From there we had a nice little uphill pull where I let Charlie run a bit more before getting to a nice big red house, which he jumped more or less just fine.

second water was just a crossing, no jumps
The end of the course was kinda anti-climactic, with a long uninterrupted run to the water, where we just passed through. Then another long run back to the finish line.

final jump was another tootsie roll -- kinda unfortunate bc it's not something you really wanna just gallop at lol
Tho they didn't exactly give us something substantial to run at for the finish haha -- rather instead it was another one of these ugly tootsie roll jumps with a false ground line. Not.... Not my favorite. Oh well tho. Charlie was pretty gung ho running for the finish and took a slightly awkward flier to it, but did it all the same. Good boy!

Yay for running through the finish line tho!! Honestly at a certain point, that was kinda what I really really needed, I think.

Like... There were things I didn't love about my ride. Like I didn't really want to let Charlie run after his squirrely moments early on course. And generally I still felt like maybe the ride wasn't as smooth as I wanted. There were also a couple funny moments where I struggled to keep my hands/reins/neck strap/crop all organized lol.

But ya know, those are just kinda the details, right? The stuff that I can only really work on and address by actually getting out and running these courses.

grass is always greener on the other side!! literally lol, bc they watered the course all summer haha
Plus, apparently it proved to be a tough day for a lot of riders. I can't even begin to tell you how many crying kids and teenagers I saw!! A giant wind storm and cold front blew in the night before and I'm guessing a lot of horses were just a touch frisky. A lot of riders had trouble in show jumping (including multiple falls at jump 1) and more than a few walked home from xc without completions.

So it's all relative, right? It's easy to get wrapped up in dissecting what I didn't like about the ride, but honestly at this point I'm focusing instead on the importance of getting it done at all. Plus enough riders had enough little bobbles that we moved up a couple places after jumping to finish jusssst inside the ribbons in 7th place. I'll take it, haha!

And now, a couple days later, I feel increasingly glad to have another run in the books for this year. We really needed it. If everything goes to plan, there are still a couple more entries on the 2019 calendar too, so fingers crossed there lol and hopefully more fun updates to come!


  1. Aw man, I totally hear you on the disappointing nature of that N course for their final event of the year. That final tootsie roll...bleh. Would have been so much more fun to end with a more impressive jump! All the same, congrats to you and Charles for getting out there and accomplishing the thing. =)

    1. More fun and also a bit easier after such a long run lol - usually they have something nice and big like a roll top or ramped produce stand or something lol! Oh well tho - it was a ton of fun anyway ;)

  2. The weather was brutal. I was with a friend at the hunter trials at TMF. I saw TONS of runaways and falls! Sometimes when I go to stuff like that it makes me sad I'm not riding, but Sunday I was more than happy to remain on the ground - ha ha!

    1. Oh man yea Sunday was definitely more chilly than Saturday, altho I kinda love this weather. Saturday was freakin perfect tho - finally we got a great day for a show!!

  3. Yeah! Charlie is such a hunk! lol And what, no ribbon pic? Sheesh.

    I'm assuming you are using your studs on these courses? I was wondering if you were concerned about the leaves being extra slippery? It seemed like there were a lot of leaves on around the pheasant feeder (look at me learning xc jump names lol) and that would make me hesitate a bit!

    Beautiful pics and I'm happy that you guys got a completion and a nice day out!

    1. Lol I almost didn’t even pick up the ribbon...

      regarding the leaves on the ground - generally the bigger factor in whether the ground is slippery is how soft or dry it is. Very hard ground can become suuuuper slippery, or hard ground with a slightly wet top layer can become almost greasy. And obviously pure mud can be slick and not at all grippy. On this day tho the ground was perfect. Soft enough for horses to dig a toe in to push off. So something like a surface layer of leaves doesn’t really make a difference with that ground when it’s a 1,400lb animal. I did use studs tho bc Charlie has proven to be more comfortable and confident in them esp going down hill. Some folks I know tho say you don’t really need studs until higher levels like prelim where the speeds are much faster and you might need to make tighter turns. Really tho it’s all relative to that days ground conditions and we got super lucky with perfect ground !!

  4. um 7th place is purple so excellent job there.

    these pictures are all gorgeous though, I'm totally obsessed. Especially the head on shots of the pheasant feeder. he is gorg.

    1. ha the ribbon *IS* very pretty tho ;) weirdly we actually have a bunch of 7th place ribbons it turns out!

      and yessss i was so happy with a lot of these shots! i don't feel like it's the best selection i've ever gotten from GRC but there are definitely some REALLY nice ones in there <3

  5. Omfg that first photo makes Charlie look like 5 MILLION DOLLARS! He's such a pretty boy but he looks jacked AF there! As always, wish I could've beeb there to chase you with a flail and cheers with champagne! ♥️

    1. ha he is definitely big boi <3 <3

      we wish you could have been there too, it was kinda weird not having the same normal group -- and esp weird not tailgating after lol (tho we still stuck around for hours while amy rode...). next time!!

  6. Love those photos. They capture Sir Charles perfectly! I hear you about wanting a tougher course, but then at the same time realizing it may have been something you needed lol. I've certainly had that happen! I'm glad that you guys still did well. Loch Moy always seems to be such a good venue for you two :)

    1. thanks! and yea the course thing frustrates me a bit. obvi at a starter trial you're gonna get what you're gonna get... but it's not so much about it being easy vs tough as it is about the size of the skills gap between what's needed at N vs what's needed at T even at the same event. theoretically, imo the courses should progressively build on each other from one level to the next, but i've increasingly felt that at least in my area, the N courses aren't really doing the job of helping prepare for T. they're more just like.... bigger BNs, if that makes sense haha

  7. Congrats! Even snagged a little satin! Sounds like a fun ride overall, even if not as smooth as you might like. That's horses though right? Always more to work on.

    1. definitely! i think i spent so long this summer feeling a bit paralyzed or daunted by how much we need to work on... but realistically these events are the perfect way to actually do that work. so... i'm trying to just get out and do it now lol. so far so good! ;)

  8. Yay Team Emma & Charlie! Well done. Did you notice how you were talking about wee little nitpicking things to fix? That’s progress! I loved that you didn’t circle- you just took charge! And I’m glad you picked up the ribbon. You earned it!

  9. 1. Autumn is so pretty there. All those colours, they don't exist here!
    2. it sounds like you nailed it!

    It sucks a bit that the course wasn't challenging but also it sounds like it was perfect for what you needed in the moment. Well done for getting the job done when Charlie needed you to, and he looks like such a beef cake in those pics.

  10. Sounds like a good end of the show season run! Charlie looks really great!!

  11. I loved competing at Loch Moy, I don't blame you for continuing to go back there again and again! I'm the same way with Carolina Horse Park. Hope you get one more outing to go and kill it at!

  12. Holy crap! Long time no read and Charlie got beefy!

  13. Managing to snag some satin after bobbles is always my favorite!


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