Friday Five

Friday Five: Horse Trials Questions

This is how my brain works: have an idea planted (or plant it there myself), go bat shit crazy over all the details all at once even though it is months away, freak out when I don’t know something and do all the research.

Trainer wants me to head to Hickory Top Farms near Columbia, SC for my first HT. They apparently have a very nice and friendly course and offer from amoeba (intro dressage, 18″ stadium and cross country) through Novice. I’m not sure exactly which division I would do. The best bet would probably be to run it amoeba for the first time out, but tadpole is only 2′ with no optimum time and the 18″ jumps were just so tiny at the CT. Wait…who is this typing????

Either way,  my sights are set on this HT. If Trainer says it would be a great first outing, I’m on board. The event is scheduled for December 2 which would give me plenty of time to work on our stuff and prepare, hopefully getting out to a full cross country course a few times in advance.

Here though is where my brain goes a little off the tracks. I did some major stalking of their facebook page and was able to find the information from the HT they held last November. It looks like dressage starts at 8 am, cross country at 10:30 am and stadium at 12 pm. Dusty will be working that day (he has a 24 hour run Dec 9th) and I’ll be going solo and now I have ALL THE QUESTIONS! I am hoping you all can help me with some answers.

5.) When do you walk the cross country course? At the CT, I showed up insanely early (like 4 hours before my ride time early) and walked the stadium course between divisions while they set up. This was easy enough to do and with only 9 jumps it took only 7 minutes or so helped by the fact that I had zero idea what I was doing and just pretended I was gaining some insight while doing it. But I’d imagine cross country takes a whole lot longer to walk and there isn’t any between divisions set up time. So when do you walk it? Before they begin – so for this event before 10:30 am?

4.) It appears very common to go straight from cross country to stadium, so when do you walk the stadium course? You can sense a bit of anxiety on time management. With 4 hours before my ride time in June, I had all the time in the world to watch the others in stadium and memorize the course, plus I actually could have walked it about 4 times before my time to go in. I’m guessing I won’t have any time between cross country and stadium to walk it, so would I need to make sure I have enough time before the entire thing starts to walk both?

3.) Does the next phase not start until the first one is completed? This may be a really stupid question, but looking at the times and knowing that dressage takes all of 2-4 minutes in these divisions it appears that maybe everyone finishes dressage before cross country even begins? If you had the 8 am dressage start time and xc doesn’t go until 10:30 am, you’d have a lot of time between phases. I’d guess that cross country and stadium overlap a bit with us small fries going xc while the novice group is onto stadium. I ask this because again time management concerns. I grew up with 15 minutes early considered being late, so yeah my Type A is strong here. But in all my insanity, if I could figure out a basic roundabout time frame I could more easily plan before the ride times are emailed at the Thursday before the event.

2.)  Can I pitch a tent? Probably more a question for the ride venue. See, with the event 2ish hours away my concern is when I’d have to show up if I go same day. If I can walk cross country before the course opens at 10:30 am and while novice and BN are doing their dressage thing, then it would be an early but not cripplingly so morning. I could get up and plan to leave the house by 6 am to arrive at 8, check in and walk my courses with time to still tack up and warm up. If I’d instead really need to be walking it all before 8 am, then I’d likely just go the night before to save on stress and time. I’m not getting a hotel though, so I’d either be pitching a tent or sleeping in the truck neither of which are the best nights sleep. Ugh. My brain needs to chill out. Ok…maybe this question should really be….any local eventers want to come and babysit me for my first HT??? I might be willing to buy your entry if that sweetens the pot but still allows you to help me out during the event. 

1.) WTF am I doing? Am I insane? Um, yeah…rhetorical…maybe…sorta

23 thoughts on “Friday Five: Horse Trials Questions”

  1. lol the answer to #1: yes you are insane. but so are the rest of us too 😉

    sounds like a blast tho!! usually entries close 2ish weeks before the event so by then you’ll know about 18″ vs 2′. plenty of time to decide! for your actual questions:

    5 – most events post ride times 1-3 days in advance. your posted times will inform when to walk – there is usually a substantial break between dressage and the two back-to-back jumping phases. if i have an hour or less between dressage and jumping, depending on how far away the xc course is, i might plan to arrive early enough to walk my courses before dressage. 1.5-2hrs between phases? that’s plenty of time.

    4 – i walk stadium at the same time i walk xc. if i only have time to walk one, tho, i will skip stadium with the hope that i’ll get to watch a few riders go before me.

    3 – it depends how many entries there are at each level. dressage can switch from one level to the next seamlessly, but stadium needs to be reset between levels and jump judges on xc need time to relocate to their new fence assignment. there’s no set rule for scheduling, some venues start with the low levels and go up (like Loch Moy) and others start with the high levels and go down (like Fair Hill). organizers just schedule things as optimally as they can. the jumping phases are usually set at the same levels if stadium and xc run concurrently – i have never personally seen one level in stadium while another level is on xc.

    2 – definitely a question for the show secretary. but again, your answers to some of these questions will be better understood after times are posted. for your own peace of mind, maybe ask the show secretary in advance whether they typically run the lowest levels first or last.

    anyway, lmk if you wanna talk at all about it – but i think you guys will be great! there’s plenty of time between now and then to settle the details 😀


    1. I may take you up on your offer and you may regret that 🙂 The entry forms say that ride times are available Thursday before which is fine but make sit a bit hard to make plans for Friday with regards to work. I don’t want to take the day off (December is my busiest month doing surgery due to deductibles starting over in Jan and Friday is my operating day) and find out I won’t even go until Saturday but can’t make that decision the day before.

      I’ll shoot you a text sometime soon/give you a call to see if you can walk me through a typical HT days flow and how you make it work


  2. Yes, rely on Emma- she’s a good resource.
    I wouldn’t worry about the insanity part. You are not alone in that. However, I am one of those who needs details and a plan. Once you get more experience under your belt you will a paradigm to use. But for your first time it makes sense.


  3. ohh found your blog and love it, lots to catch up on but yes it all flows pretty well once you are on site and it is not as confusing as it seems. Usually after dressage you have anywhere from an hour to 3 hours (LOOKING AT YOU FAIR HILL) to go back and walk the course. I live near FH and a lot of other venues so often go the night before if i can to walk the courses. If you arent nearby you do what Emma does 🙂 How exciting. Just from what I have read already, I would sign up for the next level up from the 18 inches. Sometimes those are just poles and once you are on course you are going to wish you went with the 2 feet ones (TRUST ME)! Thanks for following me! 🙂


  4. I hope Emma can help you, but if she can’t don’t worry. You can do this! As someone who has done this without a trainer/team for a few years now, I know it can be really intimidating to go to your first event without any idea what you’re doing, but it’s not that bad. And people will want to help you. Just ask. I personally hate asking for help, but I am always so excited when people ask me for help and whenever I do ask for help, people have been very happy to do so.
    1. All eventers are.
    2. Ask in advance about the tent, but your times might make it so you can go the day of without getting up to early.
    3. Really depends on the event. I have seen some run everything simultaneously, others one at a time. It usually depends on the facility, entries, and volunteers. You’ll know when they post times.
    4. I walk stadium whenever I have a break. If there’s not enough time, I skip stadium and just walk XC. I can look at a posted course and memorize it, but I’ve had some experience doing that at h/j schooling shows. At 18″ or 2′ you don’t need to worry about tight lines or getting strides so don’t freak out if you can’t walk stadium.
    5. Depends on your times. Don’t worry about it until then. You might need to walk it in the morning before anything if you don’t have time between. I’ve had to do morning and in between classes, it just depends. I also plan my time around changing my boots to sneakers to walk XC since I can’t walk in my show boots without getting blisters. ymmv.


    1. Yeah, it’s annoying when nothing is up to date. I ended up messaging them on Facebook and got an email address and they responded to that pretty quickly. It is Saturday December 2nd with the same divisions as on the old forms.


      1. No clue but I can email. From what I gathered there is limited stalls on site but a lot “within 10 minutes” whatever that means so I’m guessing they don’t have hook ups. I’ll email and ask!


      2. Yeah, probably not. Well, I’ll most likely go down there Friday night so I don’t have a 3 AM wakeup call (yikes). There are a couple of different sleeping options: 1) GN of the trailer, 2) Truck bed tent on the air mattress. Both can fit 2 people easily if you can come on Friday. I personally love camping at horse shows, though I’ve never done it in December!


      3. I don’t mind anything. Just having someone there to make sure I don’t do something incredibly stupid is wonderful. My email is agemofahorse at gmail dot com. Shoot me a message and I’ll send you my cell!


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