Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NTW Sunrise Ridge HDT 4/11/15

What a weekend. What a perfect weekend! Everything just came together in the right way - the weather, the friends, the mare. The mare! The mare was the best this past weekend. I was so very impressed with her. In our first ever ADS sanctioned HDT, we placed second! 

Note: I highly apologize for the 9582820945869203495 photos in this post. Actually, no I don't. I am MORE than happy to spam the heck out of everyone with my pictures!

Oh yes I am the best worship me humans

I spent the week prepping - cleaning my cart, cleaning my harness, packing hay/grain/etc, organizing clothes, and trying painfully to memorize my courses. Friday arrived, and I had everything ready to go within short order. The showgrounds were about an hour away, quite easy to get to, so I had the mare there and put away in time to make it to the marathon course walk. By 'course walk,' I mean that they tossed us all into a tracter-drawn hay wagon and drove us around the course. Our course was 5k long, with five obstacles (formerly known as hazards but apparently the ADS decided that was too scary sounding recently and changed it). We weren't allowed to dismount and go walk the obstacles, so we had to come back and do that later on our own. We did get a feel for the terrain, which was a mix of wide open pasture land, hills, and wooded paths. The ground was excellent, the scenery was gorgeous, and the longhorns were thankfully pastures far, far away from us.

L and I went and walked the course again after the competitor's meeting. After they deposited us back at the show office, we were debriefed by the TD and the judge, and then sent on our way for the evening. I unloaded my cart and had my wheels measured (required for cones), fed O her dinner and tried to shuffle her hay around so that it would be in a spot where she'd bother to eat it, and headed out with L. O is a tricky horse to maintain at shows, because she doesn't just dive in and eat whatever you put in front of her. You have to figure out the spot she has decided to spend the most time in, and put her hay there - if the hay is on the 'wrong' side of her stall or pen, she won't eat it. She'll freely graze if there is grass, but the hay has to be in a certain spot or else it won't be touched. She'll generally finish her grainfoods if you give her several hours to do it, but sometimes you have to hand feed it to her. She lives on Ulcergard when we go away, and gets dosed with Pro CMC before she gets worked (and I always try to have her belly full of hay). Even at home gets carefully maintained for optimum gut health. I suppose she's not unlike me - whenever I go away from my home base, I don't eat hardly anything. I have to really make an effort to eat and drink enough, and even then I got plenty of raised eyebrows from my comrades at dinnertime as I listlessly shifted my food around on my plate. I guess the mare and I are a good match - got knows the second she got home, she voraciously stuffed her face with hay like she was starving, and I did the same.
Out on the course, we walked around until it was dusk, trying to go over the best routes for all of our hazards on the marathon. For Training, we are only required to go through gates A-B-C, and we are not timed. The time counts towards your total time of course, but it isn't penalty time. We had 23.05 minutes to get through the 5k course and all of the hazards. 

Back at the barn, we checked the horses one last time and crashed for the night. I slept well, but did get up on a whim at 3:30 to check O and her pony friend Bob. Both of them were eating hay (phew) and resting. Thank god for that!

The day dawned misty, cloudy, and grey. It originally called for 90% rain, but we lucked out and didn't get one drop. It stayed nice and cool and cloudy for the entire duration of the day - PERFECT weather for a horse show where you have to play dress up. I bathed O (much to her dismay, but she was filthy), and let her graze under a cooler to dry. I also lunged her for awhile to get the bucks out, but after a few minutes of the zooms, she settled down. Our dressage time was 10:40AM - we were ready to go by 9:45AM, and headed down to the safety check. There, officials check your harness and turnout, take a piece of paper that you have signed saying that everything in your turnout is in good working condition, and then they send you on your way to warm up. I really like that - I think it is super important to be safe, especially when you are in a rattling wooden box behind a prey animal.

Even though she was a little fidgety for the check, O warmed up like a total doll. She was SO good - soft and buttermouthed, compliant and quiet. I wondered if we could possibly hold it together all the way to the dressage ring!

Dressage warm-up:

Me: "Wtf am I wearing"
I think the outfit came out decently. Parts of it look sort of frumpy to me - and I think I need to invest in a wedge seat - but I think with some adjustments I could really make it into something nice.

The warmup went SO well.... but how would the test go? Only one way to find out...

Halt, salute, breathe!

I tried REALLY hard to narrow it down to my favorite pictures. But there were so many to choose from! And so many more I didn't post. They were ALL so good!

The test was a 56.39, which apparently is a pretty decent score. The best score of the entire weekend was a 47.67. I'm not completely clear on how this translates to eventing type scoring - in eventing it is quite common for everyone in top few placings to score in the upper 20's or low 30's. As far as I can tell, scoring in the 40's is about the same as scoring in the 30's in eventing. Or maybe that's not being generous enough... I can't really tell. Everyone gushed over O and raved about her score, so it must have been a decent one!

We were only one point behind the leader, a lady who has been showing Training level for literally 20 years. I'm not kidding, 20 years! Her mare is super, super experienced and mine is still quite green (and I am quite green too). Out of my test of solid 7s and 6.5s, there was one glaringly lonely 5 staring out at me from the final comments. Like in every other kind of dressage, you get scored (on a double coefficient for some of them) for the horse's gaits, impulsion, submission, and driver position, as well as on your presentation (your outfit, condition of vehicle/harness/horse, etc). We got a 9 on presentation! We also got a 7 for my position, a 7 for her impulsion, and a 7 for her gaits. I know you're all just shocked to hear that the lone 5 - which was a double coefficient, so technically two 5s - was for submission. Who, O? Never!

5 for submission? Can't imagine why!

Right from the dressage, we headed to the cones, which was running back-to-back. I really liked that format - that way, your horse was already warmed up and ready to roll. They remeasured the course for us, and we were on our way! I though for sure that she would spook at the judge's box, but she didn't. She also didn't spook at the giant Eiffel tower, the mules, or anything else going on.

The skinnies - the blue cones were set 5cm tighter than the regular cones! Made it!
Element A of number 17 - it was set on a very tight zig zag, and we had a knockdown on element D

Turning towards 6

The Eiffel Tower!
Trying not to knock over element C in the second of two very tight zig zag combinations

The course was super tough. 20 elements, two of which were combinations of four in a zig zag, and two skinnies. That's a LOT of stuff for a noob like me! In the end, I had 3 knockdowns. All of them were completely driver error, rookie mistakes from just not having done this enough. I knew every time I was about to hit one, but of course it is always too late by that time to save it! I was not the only one - literally every single person in my division had at least one knockdown. The leader of our division had two, I had three, and the person in 3rd place had one knockdown. Technically that made the 3rd place person the winner of the cones, but it did not change our overall placings.


We unhitched O, put her back in her pen to rest and eat hay, and headed out to walk the marathon one more time. My awesome navigator B had showed up right before dressage, and I conned her got her to come with me out on the course walk. It ended up being a total laugh - we caught up with some others who let us bounce around in the back of their golf cart with them. The obstacles this years had the theme of "Into The Woods," presumably because they just made it into a movie recently. There was a Cinderella obstacle, a Little Red Riding Hood one, a Rapunzel one, a Jack and the Beanstalk one, one with the Big Bad Wolf in it, and another one with maypoles that had a theme that I can't remember. I got one look at the Cinderella carriage and thought O was probably going to have a heartattack and die when she saw it:

L and I actually thought the horses were going to be having total panic attacks over the entire course. We had Spookerella, Little Red Spooky Hood with her billow red cape, the Big Bad Spook which was a terrifying werewolf in a nightgown, and a bunch of other scary looking things on course. As we hitched and prepped for the marathon, I instructed my navigator B to HOLD ON in case of any massive spooks. W assured us that the horses weren't going to spook, but we didn't believe her.

After another safety check, we were off on course! We got to the first hazard, Spookerella, and waited for the spooks.... and.... they didn't come! B and I looked at each other briefly as we passed right by the carriage several times with no problem. She didn't even look at it.

That grin says "oh my god she didn't spook at anything!"

The longer we were on course, the bigger our grins got. O got her Hauling Ass trot on, and all I had to do was vaguely steer her. I didn't have to speed her up, slow her down, or redirect any massive spooks. All we had to do was follow our directional arrows, make it through all of our compulsory turning flags, and enjoy the scenery.

We did walk through sections of every hazard, which we can do at this level with no problems. I figured it was smarter to steer well and not smash into anything. She really impressed me in every hazard, powering up the little hills, carefully balancing with the breeching down them again, and steering on a dime (as best she could with the giant lumbering cart, anyway). B and I were laughing our way along as we cruised, just enjoying ourselves because we literally didn't have to do anything but sit there as we went along the kilometers between the hazards.

Super cool Rapunzel!

She's a good sweater, that's for sure! She worked hard!
We did come in over the time, because I walked in the hazards, but we weren't very far over it. We ended up with 9.75 time penalties. The leader had no time penalties, but remember she's been doing it for 20 years, so I felt like that was pretty good on my part! Both B and I were super impressed with O - she didn't spook at anything, trotted along easily, and then pulsed right down in the vetbox when we were done. She wasn't even winded! She did get good and lathered, but she always does - she is a profuse sweater. Which in the Texas heat is a good thing!

About to go wash off The Sweatball

We finished with a total score of 75.14, which landed us a solid second, miles ahead of the 3rd place person. Yeahhhh mare!

O has had the past few days off - a well deserved little vacation. She really earned it - what a mare!


  1. Congratulations! That looks (and sounds) fun.

  2. Woot Woot! I'm cheering for you guys! That sounds like a very successful outing, and also like a lot of fun!! Yay!

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  3. Great to see the hard work paying off. Go you super mare!

  4. She's just so awesome! Congrats!!!

  5. Oh, so excited for you both! Nicely done!!!

  6. Great pictures! You tow look great out there. Big congrats!

  7. I remember long, long ago, back when you had Gogo, when you said you'd love to try this sport. And I remember all of the reasons why you thought it would be difficult to do, which you did consider again when making the decision to try it out with O.

    It makes me so incredibly happy for you to see how the stars have aligned for you so you could get to this point with your Red Mare. You look like pros in those photos!

    Many, many congratulations! <3

  8. This is so cool - no such thing as too many pictures! Congratulations to you both, well-deserved.

  9. yay congratulations!!!! you guys looks great out there - and O looks like she's eating that marathon course for breakfast and enjoying every bit! also - the 'submission' factor in dressage isn't really my red arab mare's strong suit either haha. anyways nicely done!!!

  10. Congratulations! You have worked hard to get here and it shows! And GREAT pictures!

  11. Gosh, I am just so impressed with you guys!! O is so sexy. On a scale of "admiration" to "stage 5 clinger" I am pathetically close to using one of these photos as my desktop background image....
    Congratulations to you both!

  12. Things I never in a million years thought I would say:

    You make me want to try driving. That looks like so much fun! Love your classy outfits and all the pretty things.

  13. How fun! Makes me want to take up driving.

  14. this looks so cool! Especially the last part. Congrats!

  15. That sounds so awesome! Great pictures too.

  16. So amazing! I LOVE that pic of O with her ribbon, she is totally grinning. Her dressage looked gorgeous. I am so happy for you guys, what an incredible show!

  17. Wow, I am so impressed! I figured you guys would do well, but that turned out to be a fantastic weekend. Nice job!

  18. Awesome!! So happy for you - wow, what an outing! Great photos, snazzy outfits, and just so so pleased it went so swimmingly!!

  19. Huge congratulations!!!! That's so impressive :)

  20. I will still call them hazards. Because any other sport has "obstacles," makes the driving sound even harder than it is! That and I tend to think of going over obstacles and around/through hazards.

    Congratulations on your placing! It sounds like O did just perfect for her first DT!

  21. Congratulations, you both look fantastic! I am amazed by how relaxed she looks, too. Sticking with her is paying off for both of you.

  22. Woohooo! That is so, so awesome. You can totally tell this is O's jam -- she just LOVES the driving!

    P.S. My horse totally would have spooked at all of those obstacles.

  23. She is so gorgeous and your whole set up is great!! I can't get over these amazing photos!!! I'm so glad someone was able to take them for you. Congrats on your placing and your super successful first ADS show. So proud of you both!!

  24. I am B...and I LOVE THIS MARE. I glowed for days after that marathon, and I had no idea what to expect. Andrea promised that I *probably* wouldn't die, but I didn't think that I would have so damn much fun.
    O was all business under harness, but all sweetness and love once we were out of the cart. I can't say enough about that mare!