Movin’ on Up

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    After taking Jester to three events at Beginner Novice level, I decided he was ready to move up to Novice. The jumps are only 4” higher, but that can seem like a mile sometimes. But he had been progressing well in all three phases, so it was time to take the plunge.

    Dressage warm-up was rather interesting, as it had rained almost all day, every day in the week leading up to the show. Saturday morning was misty and cool, but none of the water had dried from the footing in the warm-up area. It was seemingly a foot deep in very soupy mud. I was worried about cantering through that, so I just trotted a bit and used a tiny, drier corner normally used for longeing to do a couple canter circles. And then we were off!

    Thankfully the competition ring was in much better shape. Jester felt just a little extra proud of himself compared to at home, which was great. I could hear the judge repeatedly saying “6” though, oh well! Our score was a 38 (62% to the dressage folk), putting us in a three-way tie for 9th with the scores very closely grouped in my division.

    Five hours later, the sun had dried out the grass and it was time for cross-country. It was probably the best footing I have ever ridden on! Nice and soft, but not deep or torn up. The first half of the course was up some pretty steep hills, so Jester was pretty tired by the end, but he tried very hard and even jumped the scary log into the water that I could tell he was thinking twice about!

    Sunday we had an early morning for stadium jumping, but the sun came out and we got to ride on the fabulous Otto Sport footing (synthetic footing made of wax, fibers and sand). It drains water much better than the sand arena where the Prelim and Training riders had to ride. The turns were tighter in our small arena, which can be tough on a nearly 17-hand horse. Other than deciding he really needs to learn a flying lead change, I was extremely happy with his jumping—just one unlucky rail.

    We managed to win a ribbon (10th place out of 16), which was a nice sky blue color. It always feels better to take home a little piece of satin if you can! We have one more show this year, and I’m very excited to end Jester’s first competition season on another good note. He’s been so wonderful to ride that I’m excited to see what the years ahead will bring.

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