Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Stud Update

Ben and I have had a journey with studs together. Last January we had an unfortunate slip into a MIM oxer at Rocking Horse. We pieced together what happened and then got his confidence back with studs. And they became a part of our XC routine every time. Then in September, I discovered that neglecting your stud holes leads to non-functional stud holes. I embarked on a bit of a journey to figure out what method of maintenance led to the best results. Our competitors (all photos from Nunn Finer): 

1. Stud blanks - put in and taken out with an allen wrench
2. Rubber stud plugs - put in and taken out with pointy tool or horse shoe nail. Emma kindly sent me a sample of these to test out. 

3. Greased cotton plugs - put in and taken out with pointy tool or horse shoe nail

To be fair, I haven't put any of these things to the lengthy test of months of benign neglect that my stud holes suffered before becoming non-functional in September. We've been out cross country every 3 weeks or so since then in one way or another. So YMMV depending on your footing conditions and frequency of use. 

The clear loser? The stud blanks. Ben has a currently non-functional left front medial stud hole because there is a blank rusted into place there. And I was trying to keep things functional. I would clean out the hole a day or two post use and then grease it with silicon grease and then put the blank in. But Florida is WET and the blank became one with the shoe around it. My husband might have been able to wrench it out, but Ben doesn't care nearly as much about his front studs, and the left front is the shoe he likes to lose, so I didn't want massive amounts of torque applied to one side of the shoe. So there it lies, still. If I had been around for the farrier appointment, I could have asked him to take it out while resetting the shoe, but I wasn't, and I didn't. 

The cotton plugs have worked well enough, but require some cleaning out before putting the stud in. Little bits of cotton like to work their way into the threads and then sit there, blocking the passage of the stud. The rubber plugs have been excellent and come out easily with shockingly little dirt around their edges that needs to get cleaned out. I will be ordering more of these for sure. 

My compact little kit

After removing whatever device has been plugging the hole, the hole is cleaned with the pointy thing above.

Then this tap, also a suggestion from Emma, and compressed air (be sure to avert face, close eyes and mouth) are used to finish the job. Studs are selected and put into place using zip tied wrench above. I borrowed a wrench from someone briefly at a show that was double headed with the two sizes you need for studs. But alas, I could not find this mythical creature for sale and was stuck zip tieing the two sizes together. Works almost as well. 

Post-stud removal, the holes are plugged, and the studs are tossed in the metal dish

7 studs, cause, y'know, that rusted in stud blank

Then once we're home, I use: 
To soak. They are then dried with a paper towel and plopped back in the dish to be taken back to the horse trailer for the next adventure. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

True Courage

Ben and my husband and I went to Majestic Oaks on Friday. I warmed up over the warm up jumps and then went out and did the training course. We had a couple of slighty sketch wiggly jumps and then he put in many more strides between the roll top and down bank, but he went. I swapped out the training line for the novice line to add in the second down bank on the property and then finished up the course with the modified table instead of the shared N/T table. The last half of the course felt great and like he had fully gotten back into the groove of things as opposed to the unconfident, nervous feeling he had the whole time at FHP. 

My goal going out was two fold - I wanted to make sure that the next time we encountered a down bank on course, neither one of us had doubts about whether or not we were going down it. But I also wanted to get his confidence back up again. Mission accomplished on the second, and deposits made in the confidence bank on the first. 

After we finished the course, my husband looked at me and said "you didn't want to use the dirt I got?" and explained the reason he had borrowed a bucket from the trailer and scooped up some wet mud - to add a visual question to the down bank. It was another grey day, so there were no shadows to play with. Although the Majestic down bank is set up oriented east to west as well, so on a sunny day the shadows might be similar to the horse park. But my husband's aid worked just as well. I untacked Ben, threw him on the lunge, and then we headed back out to the first down bank. We all walked down it, with Ben pausing at the top and looking quite anxious before popping down. Repeat over and over again until he was dropping down and then immediately dropping his head to eat grass. Add some of the wet mud and we got a pause again and then a move a bit sideways so that he didn't contact it on landing. I had jumped down it before him and felt that ominous feeling when you're about to get crashed into by an 1100 pound animal from behind. Fortunately Ben's cautious nature also keeps him from bowling over humans, double edged sword I suppose. He would be so mortified if he had run into me, good boy. I walked him up to it from the down side and let him sniff the wet mud. Then we tried again. This time I kept him straighter and he jumped out past the edge of the mud. Okay, that works. 

We then moved on to the other down banks. My husband threw his jacket on the landing side of one. Ben jumped out past it. Good boy. Insert another crumble of a german horse muffin.

Based on his response in hand, he went down the banks while we were on course not because he was confident in them, but because he knew he was supposed to and got what I was asking. What a dude. It is an interesting thought that most of Ben's life is doing things that he is afraid of. Which would make him truly courageous. 

The day was another deposit in the confidence bank. I plan to head out with Ms. GY and/or my husband once a week or so over the next few weeks to different venues in the area with the same plan, approach for the first time like we're on course, and the correct answer is to GO DOWN IT DUDE. But then revisit and break it down so that he truly becomes confident. Based on his XC trip at Stable View, he CAN generalize, but I do think he is one of the 33% of horses who are near-sided and so he struggles with visual changes in the ground (he's never met a patch of dead grass he doesn't jump and/or squirt sideways to go around). If we give him enough positive experiences at slightly different questions, maybe he can stretch that generalization out even more broadly.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

WW: Goggles (and a monkey)

 Canoeing on the Withlacoochee and we saw a monkey. There are three species in Florida now (hooray invasives), but to my knowledge they'd been closer to Ocala in the Silver River area. They were released there in the 1930s on an island. Rumors say that the person who released them didn't know they could swim. Anyways, I guess they're spreading pretty far. When we paddled back by, crows were mobbing it. I wonder if it was stealing eggs or baby crows. 

Anyways, back to horses. Goggles had some time off this week because he unfortunately decided he needs hind shoes to be comfy (my bank account is sad). So we hung out some and he ate grass/made a pest of himself.

And, much to both their delights, he met, and bit, Presto

"My turn to hold your face" - Goggles

Now Presto's turn

Monday, December 18, 2023

On the Therapist's Couch

Saturday morning, Ben and I got to return to the bottomless pit of doom

Actual image of the landing side of the down bank

We loaded up quite early to go to the POP schooling day at the horse park. Quite early for three reasons: repeat light from last weekend, less chaos in open schooling day, and weather. 

Given the above weather, we didn't get to replicate the lighting conditions, but no matter, it was plenty scary for Ben. We headed straight over there to make sure we had the time to sort it out correctly. 

The green is the slope up/down from the mound, the grey is the novice, blue is prelim, and black is the training line. First we did green to green and then the novice table after. I could feel him tense even just being up there though I gave him a clear route across. Then we did green to grey at a soft trot. He slammed on the brakes and tried going sideways and backwards. JT led him to the edge of it and then recruited her working student on a sales horse who is a bank mistress to come over and lead us down. He thought harder about going while following her, but still said no. She circled around 3-4 times until he finally decided she wasn't dying and so he could do it too. Then we trotted around and around and around until his hesitation was gone and he was starting to relax. Then we took a break so he could process and everyone else went and did a few things. 

When I picked the reins back up we did green to grey again to confirm it still wasn't shocking, then we did green to down the training one that we had gone up before. And repeat. Soft reins going down, but starting to move with a bit more purpose. I think we took another break and then headed from green to the ferocious training down. He stopped and I could feel his heart pounding still. Enter working student again and this time it only took two loops around before he followed her down. Then we put it all together, up the training bank and then down the training bank. Then we added in the brushy roll top after. The first time I was far too casual about the whole thing and we did the four strides in five and then had a flop of a jump over the roll top. The next time I still was too casual to the up, but got the four down. So we did it one more time, treating the up bank like a 3'6" vertical as JT said. It felt much better that way. 

I definitely had a hard time transitioning from so so soft and relaxed to creating the oomph that the up bank and roll top required and getting the striding done. But with JT's help, we got it sorted. 

We moved on to other things on the property, but added the bank set in one more time with no issue. He very unimpressively jumped a table down into the pit elsewhere on the property, so we had to repeat that. Overall he was definitely back to his former stare, chip, and squat. I found this quite frustrating because he had felt SO GOOD before the bank on the course last weekend. I knew the bank was going to be a thing, but I didn't realize it was going to translate to a knock to his confidence over everything else. 

We ended with the T/P/I ditches in a different part of the property. We tritty-trotted down to one and Ben acted like he had never in his life seen a ditch before. UGH!!! He went after a little bit of debating, and then we circled back and forth and back and forth over those until he was casual again.  

I was messaging JT after asking if I should have done anything differently. She said no, he was lacking confidence and we did a lot to restore it. She continued on to say "He's the sort of person who'd be on his therapists couch three days a week" which is the most true thing I've ever heard

He even trailered like an idjit and sat so hard on the ramp while we were traveling that he bent the latch. WTF dude. He had a friend so was back in the straight load configuration, but he usually likes having a friend enough he doesn't freak out. But I could feel the trailer rocking on the drive down. He loosened up the screws for the latch into the frame, so it is not an at home job. I can't wait to find out how much that is going to cost to repair. The butt bar was up so it is just his height letting him slam enough of his butt over the bar to put this much pressure on the ramp itself. Horses, man. 

It seems it will work out well that my schedule doesn't line up with any January events. We can keep rebuilding confidence with frequent trips to school that month. 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Dry, dry, dry

Ben Cross Country: The Monday before the Thoroughbred Expo, we headed back to Magnolia Sands. Ben acted like he had never left the property before and was very wowed by the grassy area full of new stadium jumps. To be fair to him, there were miniature Scottish highland cows, a donkey braying, baby horses cavorting, and two barking dogs all within the first 5 minutes of arrival with the dogs arriving just as I had his hind feet up to stud him. Once we got out to the field he was fantastic over the jumps. We had one very generous mess up at a wedge where he would have been well within his right to slip by it, but he looked out for me and went even with our crooked approach. In my defense the approach was somewhat crooked because he was spooking like crazy at a jump to the left hand side. In his defense, I knew the spook was coming and didn't change anything about my ride. Pretty cool that we're at the point where he is sometimes generous with me. We did the novice and training ditch wall and then the full BN/N coffin. We moved on to the water and did a jump in the water as well as two jumps at the water's edge, including a two stride line where the second jump was right at the edge. We returned to their incredibly spooky half coffin where the ditch is at the bottom of a large slope up and down. We definitely broke this down piece by piece last winter, so we went straight for the ditch to wedge. He went, but required a lot of encouragement. We did that a few more times to smooth it out and then did the up bank to a wedge and then down bank. 

Magnolia Sands - Jan 2023, no photos this go round

Overall, a great, confidence building go. JT's working student observing remarked on the nice shape he makes over fences. More and more I'm looking at pictures and am just in awe of this horse I get to have as my partner. He seems like a horse way out of my price range at this point. Knocking furiously on wood, things are going so well with him. His feet are looking better and better too. There was a lot of crumbling at the end of the summer, but his farrier feels like next summer we're going to be in a much better situation. 

Goggles Jump: 

Where did this whole adult horse come from?? 

The next day was a jump lesson for Goggles in the morning. He was really super. The flat portion was a lot of getting him up off his right shoulder and then releasing the second he did did and then praising. When we moved on to jumping he was very exuberant. We spent a while trotting across rail back and forth. Similar to the attitude that keeps the last rail of the course up, things went better when I started pretending we were headed to another jump afterwards. This helped me get/keep ourselves together. Otherwise he was landing and partying and I was landing and... Something? Something not super productive, but it got a lot more productive once I started focusing on directing his exuberance somewhere.

Getting broad across that chest too, sir

Ben Dressage Pt 1: 

That same afternoon, Ben and I had a lesson with a dressage trainer at the GY's farm. She really liked Ben, which already biases me towards her. We mostly focused on test riding tips this go round, so I'm interested to get into the weeds of things more. I think she really wants to improve his canter - she had us playing a little bit with a "collected" canter and wanted me to work on developing three canters - the working, "collected", and extended. We have a much better extended than we do collected at this point. Asking for collection led to a lot of breaking to trot, but she said to just keep trying and keep the canter in my hips and leg position so he understands. She also recommended that at least for now I allow my reins to slip a tiny bit when we do the trot to walk. While it isn't really ideal and will be addressed eventually if we work on a true collected walk, this simply helps him keep his shoulders up and the motion forward for the time being.

When it gets cold out, she simply CANNOT face the world and covers her face with her paw, sometimes her tail as well

As far as test riding tips, we worked on leg yields, simple change through the trot, and one loop canter serpentines. First level test three has leg yields off the rail to the center line that I was a bit fussed about. She recommended NOT keeping a huge inside bend through the corner of the short side before starting. Think about having him straight with the outside of his outside eye almost in view. Then give myself the full 12m (they start at V and P) to go straight and then exhale and start the lateral movement. The straightness through the corner made a HUGE difference. I told her I struggled with leg yielding left (and have on every horse...) and then the first one I tried to show her was probably the best leg yield left I have ever done. LOL. Sooo she couldn't help me a lot there since it was magically a really nice leg yield. 

The simple change through the trot she cautioned to do more half-halting. He does them like we're out in the jumper ring, so not as balanced and uphill as they want to see in the test. 

We also played with the one loop canter serpentines - keep the inside bend and even allow a little haunches in on the first half of the loop, then once you reach X, straighten and just allow them to head straight back to the next letter. She said it is technically a serpentine and riding it that way makes it a bit of a V on the second half, but no one notices or cares. This helped because in our right one loops, it has felt like he is diving/I am allowing him to fall through his left shoulder really badly once we reach X. 

Was absolutely WILD a few days later in the cold and wind

In spite of cross tie impatience, was an absolute GEM on the same cold, windy day

Ben Dressage Pt 2: 

We had another lesson on Tuesday. This one I told her I wanted to work on whatever holes she saw in our foundation. She watched us again for a while and then commented that he makes a beautiful snapshot, but she noticed some tension in the base of his neck and loss of balance every time we changed direction. She pinpointed that was mostly when he slipped behind was in the change of direction. We did several exercises, all with the same sort of focus. After a w/t/c warmup, she had us do a three loop serpentine. First we did it all with right bend, making sure the bend was true and I was kicking his shoulders into it with my inside leg forward. We did that twice and then switched to left bend. Then we switched to all counter bend. Partway through the first one of those she said "There, he actually let go and lifted his shoulders and gave". 

She's got a slightly different teaching style than I have historically loved - there is less riding each movement with you, giving in the second aids. Instead she watches, thinks, directs an exercise, and then discusses. My beloved dressage trainer rode every stride with you, correcting, rewarding, essentially guiding each part of your body to shape the horse in the best way possible. But I often had a difficult time replicating that beautiful response on my own without his constant direction. I think NDT (New Dressage Trainer - I'm so original) will create results that are easier to replicate on my own, which is awesome. 

A rarely seen sulky Ben face - I dewormed him and he was SO offended and hurt 

We then moved this idea into leg yields. She said each part of his body needs to be accessible to me. We started leg yielding off the rail and then played a bit with a change of bend in the leg yield, essentially turning it slightly into half pass for a few strides. Then we would leg yield back towards the rail. This was helpful at the trot, but even more so at the canter. I had done canter leg yields with him before, but quarter line to rail, not rail to quarter line. She made me hold both of us accountable and the leg yield back to the rail had to be deliberate, NOT a falling through his outside shoulder. This exercise made a HUGE difference to his canter. He softened and suppled and didn't get any of the nasty lateral movement he can sometimes slip into. This is certainly an exercise I'm going to keep using. 

Finally we played with shoulder-in. Here again she held me accountable. MORE angle so his sternum (and mine) are actually angled in, especially tracking right. Then a deliberate return to straight before the corner. No just falling into the corner. I KNOW this. BUT I still treat him like I did over the summer - he's new at learning these movements, and I can do just a "baby" shoulder-in. NO. He's better than that if I hold him and myself accountable. 

She discussed that all the movements we did this lesson are with the bend, she distinguished them from movements in the opposite direction of bend (which are haunches in, true half pass, turn on the haunches). She said mostly these movements with the bend are tricks that are taught. She said they are helpful but don't give you the same suppling and push from behind that the movements opposite the bend do. She said that next time we will play with some of those. She did say that the opposite the bend movements can be very challenging so if I play with things and he starts to shut down or say no, we have done way too much and need to back off. He's definitely got a good work ethic, so I hope to never get to the point where he is saying NO. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Thoroughbred Transformation Expo - Day 3 and final thoughts

Saturday evening we got the tentative schedule for Sunday- stadium 930-1130 and then dressage 1-230. The stadium course was VERY straight forward. No related distances, the closest was a bending 9 stride line from 5-6. There was a roll back from 4-5, but plenty of space to make it a casual roll back. 

I did the hunter thing and walked him to the arena in his halter. When the first two novice horses had gone, I put on his bridle. I then rapidly found myself in an empty arena, I think there were a couple of scratches because there were supposed to be about 10 novice horses going. A bystander was kind enough to set an oxer for me. He knocked it the first time, but pulled out his measuring stick for the second go. Then we went in and did the thing. He tried to pull his Stable View move of acting like he'd never done this before, so I wacked him at the base of 1. After that he got himself together and it was pretty lovely. He spooked at 6 as we were headed to 8, so we pulled the last rail. I just didn't get him focused with his shoulders up quickly enough. Still, it felt like a confident, fun round. The kind person who had set jumps for us commented on what a lovely shape he made over the fences. Good boy, Ben. 

Then he got sponged and tied to the trailer to dry while I cleaned tack. He can't be trusted not to wallow when he's wet, and I had braided, so I wasn't interested in trying to fix rubbed braids full of shavings. After he was dry, he got to eat his lunch and chill in his stall for a little while. They posted dressage times and we went in the middle of the pack. 

He warmed up soft and lovely again. And then they started playing polo during the rider before me. I don't have a picture, but the polo fields are quite some distance away, but not far enough for the horses to not notice like crazy. He gawked a bit in warm up, but went back to work. But the warm-up ring was slightly further from the polo than the dressage arena. He balked and hopped some having to go into the arena area at all, and then was totally on fire the whole test. Our free walk straight up was not (the score was generous) - he made it 3/4 of the way of the first loop and then lifted his head and turned to stare straight over at the polo fields. Then he jigged during the second half of the loop, twice. Our canter depart was exuberant and our canter lengthening was really a hand gallop. But this did push us squarely into the category of MORE shown. And we actually ended up with a 68%; scores were markedly less consistent, but we did have a few 8s sprinkled in this time, including for the canter lengthening I called a hand gallop. I guess that is a good metric of what the judges actually want to see vs. what it feels like on his back! The 68% set us in 4th in the open division, sadly juuuussstt out of the prize money. But we got a pretty neck ribbon and gigantic wall ribbon for our trouble as well as a gift certificate to ACE. 

The dressage judges were encouraging and understanding of his tongue habit the whole weekend, and I am so grateful. We got some great feedback to take to our dressage lessons (YAY! Someone has been coming to the farm, I just am behind in writing!) and to move forward with. 

Staged photo the next day since it was starting to drizzle as they were handing out ribbons on Sunday

Overall, we had a great experience at the Thoroughbred Transformation Expo and, schedule allowing, I'll be back next year, potentially with both boys. It was a lot of fun to hang out and watch all the disciplines, especially the freestyle. They have great sponsors and prizes, and being able to win prize money is pretty awesome. One downside is that the levels are a bit limiting - ideally next year Ben would be solidly doing second level work and toying with the idea of modified, although let's be real, we'll never be too good for training level and they do offer 3'6" show jumping if we wanted to go that route. It was also run a lot more like a hunter show (I think) in that ride times were not necessarily available days before hand (we got Friday dressage times on Wednesday evening) and sometimes (ie show jumping part of eventing) you just got a general gist of when you might go. It was small enough though that this flowed pretty well and just required a bit of paying attention. Everyone was super friendly and helpful and it was great to meet a few more people with TBs. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Thoroughbred Transformation Expo - a short day 2

I would walk the course in photos like usual, but sadly we didn't get to do it all. He warmed up great, was jumping fantastically, had not done a single chip and squat, and then we got to the up and down bank, #8. 

The up bank went fine. But the down bank landed in the shadow from the mound itself. And Ben thought he was jumping into a black hole and stopped. The judge in the chase cart let us school down another but then told me to "ride at it like your pants are on fire" and yelled at me that of course it wasn't going to work when I didn't do that strongly enough. The attempt led to him running backwards rapidly, which is really not great on a raised mound. It's also 100% not the way JT has us ride down banks. You don't need momentum to drop down a bank, so we do them in a super relaxed fashion, go off on a loose rein. According to her, and I believe it, this is how you keep them from doing dramatic launches. Sure, if I'd approached it with spurs DUG in the first time, we might've gotten off it, but after that riding it aggressively wasn't going to fix it. 

Sadly then, that is where our day ended. Unlike our run out in April our first year together, this was a legitimate fear. Dude had been DOING IT until that point. He knew his job and was out there doing what we've worked so hard to train him to do. This was just... A spooky horse, an amateur rider, and some tricky shadows. I was half bummed about our score and half bummed that we didn't get to play on the rest of the course! 

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out and watching. Ben is such a pleasant horse to hang out with, he's a bit like a golden retriever. I did tidy up his mane a bit as well to make Sunday's braiding job easier than Thursday's.

I put Ben up and sat in the bleachers for the freestyles. There were some truly incredible performances. One fire fighter themed performance complete with fake smoke, rescuing a dog, pulling a stretcher, and jumping through a "ring of fire" (colored sparkly streamers around a small picture frame jump). Another drove and did flying changes and crossed a teeter totter and sliding plank that rolled forward (in a controlled fashion) as the horse stepped onto it. Overall incredibly impressive. I joked with JT that Goggles would do one next year that featured him as a barber. He's been doing some... Trimming of Waffles' forelock and tail (Sorry Libby!!). We're still not sure how Waffles is letting Goggles get this close...

Monday, December 11, 2023

Thoroughbred Transformation Expo - Day 1

The Thoroughbred Transformation Expo is kind of a local version of Retired Racehorse Project. It is open to all thoroughbreds though and is divided into open and restricted divisions. Open is horses >3 years from their last race. You could enter two of the following disciplines: Hunter, jumper, eventing, dressage, working ranch, or freestyle. It was a reasonable price ($400 for two disciplines and stabling the whole weekend) and there were promises of prize money and division prizes. Ben and I entered eventing and dressage. 

Friday morning Ben and I hauled down to the Horse Park, mostly in the dark. It was a chilly start but by the time I was tacking up it was warm enough I swapped the long sleeve show shirt for the short. I had braided him the night before and tested out his slinky and fly sheet combo overnight for the first time. It worked quite well. My braids left a little to be desired because I slacked on pulling his mane, but the slinky held what was there in place well.

Wonky braids and Christmas lights. We listened to Bach piano inventions while I braided this time.

Pretty sunrise

Ben warmed up really, really well. I felt a bit like he was maybe too relaxed and soft and maybe a smidge lacking in power. However, with how our lengthenings had gone on Thursday in the cold and wind (very little trot lengthening shown, lots of other things though!), I was okay with that (I was also correct). 

We did first level test 2 first. Man are straight dressage tests LOOOOOONG!! We were doing first 2 & 3, but I just ran through first 3 twice at home and then tried to dump it from my brain until I needed it again Sunday. We were supposed to have a 30 minute break between first 2 and training B, and I was going to refresh myself on the training test at that point. But the dressage ring was late and the eventing ring was on time, so we went straight from one to the other. I'm happy to report I did not go off course and only had one moment in training B where I thought "What the fuck am I supposed to do next??"

The first level test was overall super nice. He was soft and pleasant and accurate. We got some great feedback and things to work on in the comments. 

I wanted to hug her for the comments

Then we moved on to training B. Other than one lengthening that just plumb didn't happen, it was lovely as well. Ben, bless his heart, felt a bit confused going from one dressage test into another, but never got nappy or cranky. But that might've also contributed to the lengthening that wasn't. I also didn't set him up in the corner well at all.

The judge said to me at the end "I'm sure you know, but I have to take a point off each movement for his tongue. But he is absolutely lovely". I thanked her and thanked her for commenting on other things. 

We are nothing if not consistent, a 67% equivalent in both rings. 

Then we (Ben) set up Ben's stall by spreading shavings. He got some hay and water and his braids pulled and then got to chill for a while. 

Loves to wallow 

And rehydrate his hay 

I took him for a walk in the afternoon, and he spent a solid 3 minutes staring around. Not in a spooky way, I think just trying to figure out what TF came next. This was already weird, two dressage tests then a stall. But there's cross country in the distance...

Frozen mid step trying to sort it out

More pondering

Other than getting a little freaked by the trail horse obstacles, he was much more mellow at the horse park than he was at Rocking Horse when we stabled there. I caught him mid nap in the middle of the day when I got back from walking the cross country course. 

We ended up with a 3rd in the open dressage division for the day, which was good enough to move us along to the finale class on Sunday. The top six horses in each division (restricted and open) got to go on. For dressage all the open horses did first level and the restricted horses did training level. For eventing, only open horses could do training level, but otherwise it was a mix of starter through training with all horses doing all three phases unless there was an elimination. Ben and I were actually the sole training pair though. We got a fifth place for our eventing dressage test in the open division. I could really get to like this ribbon for each phase thing.