Monday, October 10, 2022

Ocala Fall HT - Training level

Ben and JT were AWESOME this weekend. Lots to work on for Ben out on cross country, but overall a very good boy! 

Wednesday I practiced my braids and decided they were decent enough to be seen out in public. Saturday morning, he had civilized ride times of 11:20 and 2:30. I got started braiding around 7 and was done by 8:15 - woohoo! Which meant we arrived early because I had given myself 2 hours for braiding. We went and cheered JT on for her other dressage rides and then got ready. Ben warmed up super nicely but had some feelings about the banner on the fence by the judge's booth. The judge was really nice as JT made a couple of passes by to try to lessen the offense. Overall it was a really nice test. The offensive banner did lead to a "swinging neck" on the first centerline and an "above the bit" in the canter transition. Final score was a 30.8 which put them in 4th place. 

Then we hung out at the trailer for a bit and I tried to eat my oatmeal. Ben definitely wanted to participate in that. Some people might call it being a pest, but he's just so cute and sweet about it that I let him put his face all the way into my space while I sat in the trailer eating. I tried to let him lick the container, but the first thing he tried to do was take a bite of the glass pyrex. Oops. 

I popped him back onto the trailer into his box stall set up and he settled down to eat some hay. I heard him drinking a few times too, yay! At a past show, JT mentioned cleaning tack between rides to decrease end of day clean up. I brought a small bucket and tack cleaning supplies with me this time and cleaned his dressage tack AND oiled his show bridle which desperately needs it but keeps missing out since it lives at home, not at the barn. It did feel much nicer to just unload his dressage tack into the tack room, all nice and clean, at the end of the day. Then I wandered over and helped set up jumps for a few of JT's other rides and then headed back to the trailer to get Ben ready. 

Didn't just catch him blinking, he legitimately closed his eyes and looked like he was starting a nap after I bridled him

Ben warmed up as Ben does. The first jump he got to a funky spot and did an awkward launch. JT got after him a bit to jump like a real horse and the next couple of times he did over the ascending oxer. When I switched it to a square oxer he knocked the front rail lightly both times. JT made the (correct) decision to go in after the second time and he was quite careful the whole way around.

The stadium course was pretty challenging, twisty turny and then a triple of an oxer, one stride to a vertical, two strides to a vertical. JT got Ben over in that area as soon as the rider before her finished - look dude, three jumps in a row, you gotta jump them ALL! Then they jumped sooooooo well. Ben looked like he was a whole grown up horse in there! He did get bug eyed into the triple, but JT sat back and pushed him forward and he got it done and jumped CLEAR! Good boy Ben!!!! 

He got lots of carrots, a hose down, and then popped on the trailer with ice boots on while we walked cross country. 

Preeeetttty spooky second water combo - large roll top about 1 stride out from the waters edge

Through the water and out over a wedge

Whereas Majestic creates nice inviting move up courses, Ocala generally asks some pretty challenging questions at each level. Even their entry courses include faux painted sharks teeth and a few other challenging questions. 

There was a coffin combo I was too busy staring at with wide eyes to take pictures of, sizeable jump in, two strides downhill to the ditch, two strides uphill to a fairly narrow log that kind of angled towards a clump of trees shortly after it. 

Ben got home right at dinner time and got settled back into his fly sheet with neck cover to stay clean overnight. I bought the fly sheet back in April specifically for overnights before shows. It was $48 on Amazon and does its job beautifully. Haven't been able to really test durability, but so far so good. 

Sunday he went cross country at 1 PM. This meant I didn't need to leave the barn till 10:30 for a noon arrival. When I put him on the trailer, he was spinning from front to back and wacked his face in the trailer. Ooookay dude, you get clipped in till the last second when I will free you to turn around to ride slanted backwards. I did that on the way home, and it seemed to work much better. This cut definitely would've healed without staples, but I'm feeling a little staple happy so it got two. 

Once we arrived he was just hard staring out to the cross country course the whole time. He did wander around a bit and eat some grass, but then would pick his head back up and stare more. Cross country was running early, so JT got him warmed up and then they headed out! I only caught the first three and then the last water complex. He spooked hard core at something coming up to the third, probably the random small tree and post that was nearby if I had to guess. Then looked pretty green through the water, which is fair, he is pretty green. About three strides before the roll top he saw the water and spooked enough that he wacked the roll top on the way over. He powered through the water and did the wedge decently though. The next jump was a sharks tooth that JT said was the only one he thought about stopping at. She didn't let him though and so he flailed over it a bit. 

They finished clear, but he got a "green and pretty spooky" report. We're going to try a few different bit and bridle combos to get him up off the forehand because when he spooks he barrels down into the hand and then continues to run scared for a minute. She recommended she take him out at training one more time. Which... I'm struggling with... for obvious reasons. My husband points out I should take the advice of the person I am paying. I just wanna go play though! 

Since they went clear, they finished 2nd in their division and high point TIP for training level. So he won $50 from TIP. How cool is that program?!?!? There were actually only 4 thoroughbreds registered with TIP for training level, so it isn't a giant pool to compete with for money and a super pretty ribbon. 

Overall a positive show. He jumped all the things and looked super professional in stadium. To be fair to him, he hasn't been out cross country since Majestic either, and especially as we make this move up happen, he is definitely a horse that needs to be going out and doing things. September just was not a month that I could make that work. October is much better work wise, so this week we're going to do a flat lesson, then get him out XC schooling somewhere new the next week. 


  1. this is great --- you must have felt so proud!! and so excited to get your own shot at it!!!

    1. I am very proud! And also excited (and kinda impatient if we're being honest) to get out there myself!

  2. What a good job Ben! I totally feel you on the impatience to get out there. In my case, I was impatient to move up to Novice this season. I never did move up, since trainer wanted us to find the rideability and consistency at BN before we did that. And I have to say, being over-prepared for the level is way more fun than being green to it! Maybe JT is worth listening to ;)

    1. Definitely worth listening too, just having a major case of the "wannas" (what I told JT was my version of the 2 year old gimmes lol)

  3. I love all of the TIP prizes. I do miss having those classes an a option with my last horse!