FGF Starter HT: The Elimination, Part 1

So….yeah. That didn’t go according to plan. But you know what? It all boiled down to a wrong decision I made on Saturday compounded by a few things Sunday and well, I can fix that easily enough.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed because I am. Who wants to be eliminated at the first fence of cross country? Eeyore was a good honest boy though and I’m proud of him for what he did and I know we can tweak some things and come back and try again.

He felt really great during the dressage test and had some moments of looking really lovely.

The original plan was for Trainer AB to meet me at the show around 8 am Sunday morning. We’d do a xc school while the course was still available and then she’d help me during the show. Unfortunately she realized the next day that she already had some lessons scheduled on Sunday and wouldn’t be able to make the show. Which was fine. It was very last minute planning.

We discussed the best plan B. The working data we had was that he had been a psycho the day before and morning of Jumping Branch and it had taken nearly an hour to get him listening and still he blew through me for most of the dressage and stadium. That was after a pre ride the day before and another one the morning of. Add to that the fact that every single ride since then has been dedicated to slowing his roll. Then add to that the fact he had been inside the prior 24 hours due to the freezing rain conditions and well we both thought it wouldn’t be terrible if Trainer AB came to my place Saturday to ride him. Get him off his forehand a bit. Get him tuned back in. Wear him out a little.

He spent the first 10 minutes in his show stall making faces. Not sure what he disapproved of so badly. Probably the day in general.

She worked on flat work for about an hour and came away with a ton of good advice, tips and future ideas. It was a great experience for all. Except…..

Sunday morning Eeyore was exhausted and muscle sore. I never would have guessed it but I suppose she had him really working his butt and abs and he had earned those sore muscles. He was malleable and easy to ride at the show but I had zero horse under me the entire day. He was half asleep and sore and then I made some more wrong decisions.

I had extra time so I sat in front of Eeyore’s stall to hang with him. He did this. Thanks Buddy.

The xc course was still open when I pulled in at 830am but when I checked in I was told I needed a grounds person which I didn’t have. Dusty and the kiddos were coming closer to my ride time, so I spent the extra time walking my courses a few times and getting the lay of the land. It was a really chill atmosphere with only maybe 20-30 or so riders the entire day and a lot of room to warm up.

Since I hadn’t gotten the xc school in I had planned, and still working off my prior experiences with him where it usually takes a solid 40 minutes to get him to stop breaking into a canter and chill out, I got on him to warm up at 1130 for a 1237 start time.

Yeah. Not a good idea.

He also managed to make a huge mess in his stall again even splashing water in his forehead. He doesn’t do this at home.

I worked him w/t/c at large and on a 20 m circle until he relaxed and was listening both directions and then looked at my watch and it was 12. Womp.

He was done. More than done in fact. I hopped off him and chilled by the dressage court until they told me I could go early at which point I mounted again, did a few more trot/canter/trot transitions to make sure he was tuned in and then headed into the dressage ring 15 minutes before my scheduled time with an easy to ride horse under me who was running on 1/4 tank of gas at this point.

I felt bad knowing he was over worked from the day before and my insanely long warm up ride. Nothing I could do at that point though except enter at A and get going with the day.

25 thoughts on “FGF Starter HT: The Elimination, Part 1”

  1. It’s a good learning lesson. And, as he gains more endurance, you probably won’t have this particular issue again. Just think, it could have been so much worse.

    I’m trying so hard to be positive these days because otherwise I’ll just be sad and disappointed all the time. Take the good and just let go of the bad. Otherwise the expectations or comparisons are impossible. For me, I’m trying to take all of what Nay Nay accomplished this weekend and just be happy with it. He was anxious and lost his mind a couple times on the ground, but he didn’t do anything wrong while I was on his back. I could talk about how much better Batty was on the trailer (that horse was AMAZING on trailers) and how incredible he was every new place he went (he was never stressed in any new place, but that was Batty, and this is Nay Nay. Comparisons do no one any good. Expectations don’t help either. You went out, you were trying something VERY new to both of you, without your trainer there with you. And you know what? No one died. You now know that he has issues when he is really tired and has no gas left and is body sore from using muscles he doesn’t use often. So you can make a plan for the future. So can I. We’ll figure out our horses! We’d better, right?


    1. Some days I miss the simplicity of endurance. Get on. Ride down a trail. Repeat. Eventing is so hard for a lot of reasons that you can’t put on paper or take a lesson for. One show he is too amped up and I didn’t give us enough time even with riding twice before my actual warm up and the next one ride the day before was too much. I may figure it out before he is old and retired. May.


  2. Yeah we definitely all go through that! Amber many times has a go-go-go mentality when we get somewhere that gets her amped, and it took a year of showing (with 6 two-day shows that year) for me to get the balance between when she’s come down enough to get good rides without then losing the horse underneath me. And then even that changed because we upped the intensity of the classes that next year. I definitely felt like I let Amber down those days that I made the wrong decisions, so I feel you. I’m glad he was still good for dressage though, and that there were still positives about the ride 🙂


  3. I’m pretty sure you’re not a real eventer until you’ve been eliminated at least once, so just consider this getting it out of the way early! 😉


  4. It took a good long time to figure out what kind of energy conservation vs warmup we needed for Frankie, it’s definitely not a simple thing to learn about your horse! Like L said, we all go through the (sometimes annoyingly tumultuous) learning process so don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂


  5. You are quickly becoming an eventer and checking off all the “oops” things that everyone has done or will do at some point! It’s just a part of the learning process and as much as it sucks now you have a better idea about Eeyore for the future and can plan accordingly. Also welcome to the eliminated at jump 1 club- I’m a member too 🙂


  6. I’m sorry there’s an eventual elimination in this story. I know how that goes, especially with the disappointment. I like to look at everything as a learning experience so I can adjust and make changes for next time!


  7. aw i’m sorry about the elimination, ugh. for real tho, i got E’d at my second ever HT too. there’s so much we have to learn about the process of preparing for, going to, and actually riding in shows. like. so so so much, and none of it can really be ‘practiced’ at home. i think that’s part of what makes it so hard, tbh. like, stuff we’ve never thought about in terms of warm up or course walking or whatever, but that can end up making a huge difference during our actual rides.

    sounds like you got some good experiences out of this tho, i’m looking forward to reading the rest. and, as one of my coaches told me after getting a bad result at one of my earliest HTs…. “experience is that thing you get right after you needed it.” 😉


    1. That’s the thing. I’m learning that a chunk of this eventing thing can only be learned/practiced at a show. I can’t practice my warm up or replicate the atmosphere or so much else at home or even in a lesson. It’s an expensive lesson to learn though.


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