Monday, October 10, 2022

MCTA Tranquillity CT

Last week was super busy for me, with a couple exciting developments and activities -- including bringing home a very special (and familiar) pony, organizing and riding in another fix-a-test clinic, spending all day at Morven scribing my first FEI dressage tests, AND -- the focus of todays post: riding in another fun CT!

charlie enjoys watching the warm up ring -- esp since so many of his friends were in there!
There's a lot to catch up on, so I'm going to try to keep this brief haha. (Emphasis on "Try")

Anyways. Charlie wasn't even supposed to go to MCTA's annual starter event at Tranquillity. Since this event is low cost, close to home, and double points for year end awards, I usually use it as an opportunity to shuttle over barn mates who can't otherwise go to many off-farm shows. 

speaking of friends --- omg charlie had his favorite spicy little nugget as a trailer mate again!! he and his lease kiddo are legit adorable
Unfortunately, one of the ponies had a coaching conflict and cancelled at the last minute. Nobody else was immediately available to fill the trailer berth and I had enough volunteer bucks for a free entry so.... Ok, Chuck -- on you go! 

We entered the Novice CT bc.... Well. I like CTs and I like Novice and it really is just that simple. None of this really counts for anything anyway, so it hardly made a difference that I wouldn't accrue year end points or be eligible for a ribbon or anything like that. I just wanted to ride a judged test, and execute a show jumping class, and enjoy myself! 
charlie lookin proper heading into the ring. perhaps i should consider sitting up tho? just a thought!
Let's start with the dressage. I rode Novice Test A, which we had just practiced during last week's Fix-a-Test clinic (post for another day). So I felt fairly confident in knowing how to ride it, and what I needed from Charlie. 

just be grateful there are any pictures at all guys, sorry!
The tricky thing with Tranquillity tho is always the warm up area for dressage: It's on a small-ish and decidedly not flat grassy area (part of their hunter trials course). Plus the ground camber means you're kinda always going downhill in one direction, and uphill in another. It's not ideal for horses like Charlie where we're always trying to get that soft longitudinal balance. 

trying to canter as if there were a 1.0m oxer in front of us. not quite succeeding lol
A couple other external factors: Charlie's herd swapped turn out schedules the day before -- meaning they spent the night out (per usual) Friday night, came in for breakfast Saturday morning, but then went right back out again for Saturday daytime - to then spent the night inside, which they'll do all winter. I expected Charlie to be a little tired and maybe stiff from the change, so got on with plenty of time for walking.

d'aww sir, i'm pretty satisfied with his energy in this test
He was honestly very good, tho. The footing went from frosty mush out in warm up, to frosty hard clumps of sand in the dressage court... which he didn't love. But he more or less just went about his test. I'm really trying to stay true to riding in a more forward rhythm in our tests (raise your hand if you've heard THAT before lol...) and am pretty happy with the result in this test. 

canter right is always stronger
That left canter transition is still iffy tho (even tho, yes, I DID canter immediately before entering at A), and Charlie still anticipated canter in our second trot loop.... At least he wasn't negatively anticipating it -- like he wasn't fussy or angry -- he just ... went. Which, ok thank you Sir for volunteering forward. But... Ya gotta wait for me! Still better than a few alternatives tho haha. 

Other areas of opportunity include the free walk.... the first half of which I thought was ok enough, but the second half after the 90* turn at E was a wash. Stretchy trot ain't great either but that's a symptom of just not being super through over his back throughout the test. 

click to embiggen for scores / comments
Last little unfortunate mark was the 10m half circle back onto center line. It's a right turn, and one we've schooled to death. But I think Charlie might just be a little tired and maybe a touch back sore right now, so he's just not stepping through the turn as well as he could. Less a training issue and more just the constant drumbeat of helping Charlie feel his physical best, ya know?

jump time!! in case you weren't aware, we marylanders are obsessed with our flag lol
Anyway. We had a super short break before jumping. They scheduled me at the end of both dressage and SJ phases since I was the only CT entrant, which meant I didn't even bother unsaddling Charlie between rides. It also meant my SJ warm up was very economical. Tho we arrived early enough to walk around and watch the course go.  

gosh check out how confident i am about cantering right past jump 3!!
This course.... Did not play to our strengths lol. With two exceptions, it was just a LOT of back and forth across the arena -- single jump out, single jump back, single jump out, single jump back, again and again and again. Only jumps 2 to 3 rode on a long bending line, then there was one combo at 5AB. Everything else was unrelated.

finished strongly enough on a course that didn't quite suit us
The course was also all almost entirely off the left lead. Naturally, with the shortest sharpest turns going L (compared to the wider sweeping R turns). And that 5AB combo? It walked long to a wide oxer -- whereas in eventing we often see our 2-stride combinations structured as oxer-vertical. 

Charlie was good tho. Our warm up was excellent, but I probably spent too much time standing around waiting before going in. So he was a tad sluggish to the jumps. Nothing chippy, per se, just not really carrying me forward. 

Which also meant every single lead change was simple. Considering we always land right, and this course was almost entirely left.... it meant we would jump, land, trot our lead change, rinse repeat, the whole way around lol. 

link to full helmet cam here -- suggest low or muted volume LOL

There was also much clucking and verbal encouragement, since it became very apparent that we were jumping just a little too quietly for that long ass 2-stride with a big oxer out haha. Charlie made it happen tho, good boy. 

He just chugged right on around this kinda-crappy course like a good boy, not even knocking a rail! Tho. Uh. Hilariously.... It wasn't until I got home and watched the helmet camera that I realized, OMG WE MISSED 3! Wtf -- did nobody else notice? Or like... Did they just figure that since I wasn't technically really competing, it didn't really matter anyway??? LOL.....

Go figure, the one nice line on the course, and I flew right past it haha.... I think I was too preoccupied with trying to get Charlie going? Who knows... 

the long and the short of it
So... Uh... In the real world, it would have been a Technical Elimination. But. In Charlieland, it was another job well done <3 

charlie loves his pony tho
Not our best performance in either phase, but solidly workmanlike. A day well spent at our local riding association's last show of the year, at one of our favorite venues, surrounded by a Who's Who of all our local friends and competitors. Srsly, the parking area at this show is like a block party where almost everyone knows each other and everyone is there for a good time.

So I'm glad we ended up riding in it and having a good time. Hopefully there may be some pro pics forthcoming too! Tho... even tho it's my favorite show photographer, I'm not super optimistic about how we'll look in the pics LOL! 

In any case, Charlie will get some downtime this week while I'm doing all things Maryland 5* (omg hit me up if you're going!), then some TLC with a few of his favorite practitioners. Then it's full steam ahead going into our favorite fall riding season! 

Hope you all had a good weekend too :) 


  1. You are BRAVE scribing FEI tests. I am so worried I'd be too slow for that.

    1. i was a little worried, not gonna lie -- but the 2* test is essentially a reworked version 1-3, as far as i can tell. i actually think charlie could do a decent version of it (not me tho bc ain't nobody gotta see my try to sit the trot in public!)

  2. Sounds like a fun day even if it wasn't the best day ever. Good boy Charlie!
    That's funny you missed jump three and no one noticed... not even you! Ha!

    1. oh my god i cannot believe we missed that jump haha... it's crazy tho bc i saw the video and at first was like... idk, a little disappointed. but then again... it quite literally does not matter LOL so i'm still gonna chalk it up as a win haha

  3. Sounds like a fun day! Glad having the oxer as the b part of a combination isn't legal for horse trials below training haha. I think I would die every time.

    1. ha yea i did not love that combination... esp since it walked so long! but ya know, vertical to oxer combos are de rigueur in hunter/jumperlandia and while some riders squeezed in a 3rd stride, everybody made it through just fine! and actually, it probably worked in Charlie's favor since we almost always have the rail in oxer-2-vert combos (like at OF a couple weeks ago, and Plantation earlier this summer...). that nice big oxer with giant box fill really gave me something to push toward without worrying so much about charlie feeling casual!

  4. I'm glad that you both had a fun time!

  5. Oooh, what a good way to take advantage of that empty spot in your trailer!

  6. I'll be at the 5* this weekend! It's my first time.

    1. find our tailgate in Sawmill --- or hmu at fraidycat.eventing at gmail !!


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