Bruce Lamb's Eventing Blog - July 2011

July 24, 2011 Went to the Equus 3D Event today. It was a very early start, with Mom and I leaving the stable at 4:30 am! But we were there and getting tacked up with no rushing around by 7:30. My dressage test was at 8:20. Gamble was good, but quite sluggish at the walk and I lost quite a few marks there. Overall, I got a score of 64.6% which wasn't terrible. Lots of areas that could be improved, though. Dressage Score Sheet

After dressage was Stadium Jumping. The course was fairly well spread out, although there were a couple of broken-line combinations spaced (by my pacing) 63 feet apart, which makes getting striding a bit challenging. The height was about 3' for most of the fences. We knocked a pole at fence #2 and I knew that this was going to be a challenging round. Then Gamble slipped a bit on the (relatively hard) ground going around to the approach into fence #3 and he ended up refusing. I took him back and into it again, but then the next fence was a challenge to get him over. We did it, but knocked another pole. At this point I was in self-preservation mode -- try to get around without being eliminated. We did the next two fences (again, another broken line combination 63' apart) okay and I was feeling better about our chances. I approached fence #7 with lots of space, taking the turn from #6 fairly widely. But it was a wall with bright orange flowers beneath, and Gamble took exception to it. It wasn't a particularly high fence, but I couldn't get him within 15 feet of it at the start -- but then as I got up close, there was no way we'd make it so I pulled him out. We took another approach and same thing -- we could have done it from a stand still, but would have taken out half the fence. Two refusals at the same fence and I was whistled out. I didn't even get to make it to the final combination fence (24' between them, max height).

I tried to get permission from the TD to run the cross-country course, but the Show Secretary couldn't reach her and she had been told in any event that those elminated wouldn't be able to ride in XC because they were tight on time. I don't know how that makes a difference, since they don't move up the start times due to eliminations. Would have made more sense to allow a person to do the course, but that they'd have to leave after one refusal (so they don't slow up other riders or risk getting thrown).

Anyhow, not a great day. It shows that we need to get Gamble lots more experience (including weird looking fences), and must condition him more with jumping. I'm going to look for local hunter/jumper shows and drop back down to Entry for the next event, before moving him back up.

July 23, 2011 Just a very light workout today -- 15 minutes. Enough to get Gamble engaged but not tired. Did the test twice and it went well both times. Not perfect, but not terrible.

July 22, 2011 A light workout today with a very short hack out to Rapport's Water Park.

July 21, 2011 Tracy gave Gamble and me a lesson today. We reinforced the transition work she'd been doing yesterday, and started doing very shallow leg yields. At the end, we did the test for Sunday's event and it went very well -- so well that we only did it once.

In the early evening, Gamble and I went out to Belvoir for a XC jumping lesson with Andrew Pocock. It was excellent -- and I have lots of things on which to practice now -- particularly jumping down banks. Gamble was excellent on the ditch and not bad in the water. Solid fences typically weren't an issue either. One refusal at a solid fence, and a couple going up and down the bank.

A couple of things to remember:

  • After finishing a practice XC fence, let him gallop for at least 5 or 6 strides so that he doesn't get in the habit of coming to a stop after completing a fence.
  • When going down a bank, sit tall to be able to push him off it if necessary. Get your calves pressed up against his side, with the spurs at the ready to move him through the fence if he looks like he is going to quit.
  • Better to chip a fence than go long. You may be able to go long on low fences now, but as they get higher, your ability to do so diminished rapidly -- whereas most horses can get the power to jump a fence from close up.

July 20, 2011 Tracy rode Gamble today and worked on getting smooth transitions. Definite progress.

July 19, 2011 A day off for Gamble!

July 18, 2011 We went out to Highland Green tonight to practice some higher Pre-Training fences in preparation for the coming weekend's event at Equus 3D. We introduced Gamble to ditches and banks, and by the end of the evening he was doing everything in site. Even a "skinny" chevron. To introduce him to the ditch, I got off him, and walked him up to it. Then I jumped over it and encouraged him to come over the ditch as well -- which he did from a standstill. Once he had done it a couple of times, he was fine -- and then even did a ditch later in the session that he'd never seen previously. Lots of new fences -- no issues!

July 17, 2011 Light dressage work and then up and down the field (2k) walk-trot with Tori on Dolly.

July 16, 2011 We worked on transitions tonight, as well as changing diagonals from B to E and E to B. The latter exercises went fairly well, but Gambles transitions were, well, challenging. He'd keep raising his head after getting into an "up" transition -- whether it be from walk to trot or trot to canter. I was getting quite frustrated with him. Then Mom suggested doing a circle ever time he raises his head on an up transition, and then try the up transition again. So now that is what I'm doing. I finally got a couple of reasonable up transitions, so I moved onto jumping. We started at 2'2" (it wasn't long ago we were _stopping_ at 2'2"!) and we moved up to 3'3". We had a couple of bad fences where we knocked the rail -- but it never fazed him. He'd just step right up and do it again. I wore my helmetCam for the jumping, so you can see the video below:

July 15, 2011 We had a lesson with Tracy today. Lots of work on transitions (walk-trot, trot-canter), both up and and down. He came to accept the bit quite quickly, which is nice, and we're now working on the more minor stuff -- particularly his head bobbing as he goes into an "up" transition. We did the Pre-Training Test 1 dressage test twice -- the second one went much better than the first. Things on which I need to work include:

  • B-E and E-B change of direction across the centre.
  • Transitions up and down.
  • Keep the support on the outside rein.
  • Work on individual elements of the test, and then run the entire test once or twice at the end of the session.

July 14, 2011 Tracy worked him today. She was running into an issue (that I'm sure I wouldn't have seen) where he was running out at the shoulder during circles. By the end, though, he was going well. Then, later in the day, Tori and I took Gamble out to the Grays for some exposure to polo. Tori and I each had a chukker on Dolly -- but Gamble was certainly "bouncy" watching the game at the start. We each got to run him a bit to see what he could do for speed. NO ISSUES with speed. I'm quite sure he'll be able to handle whatever the eventing circuit throws at us!

July 13, 2011 Jumped tonight. Started off at something less than 2' -- including a pole on either side of the vertical fence, spaced 10' apart. No sweat. Then worked a course with a cavaletti and a jump on an angle in the centre of the ring. We eventually worked it up to 3'3", which he did without any issue -- although I think he was a bit surprised the first time he went over.

July 12, 2011 Practiced dressage some more.

July 11, 2011 Practiced dressage. Not for very long -- probably just a half hour. But he seemed to be bending well.

July 10, 2011 Just a hack tonight. Went halfway up the field with Tori/Joey and Mom/Meisha -- and then across the river to the house. Bugs were bad beside the woods, but not bad going across the river.

July 8, 2011 Did a dressage lesson with Tracy. It went quite well. I learned a bunch of things:
* When doing that cowboy stretchy thing, do it while halted, at least to begin with.
* Transitions: Stop with your seat. Give him the signal, then use your seat to complete the action.
* On shallow loops, steer with the legs, but get the bend with a combination of inside rein and inside leg.
* To BLOCK him when he drifts on a turn, do a sharp up-and-back with the outside rein, combined with outside leg -- then work on the bend. Very effective -- particularly when it becomes second nature.

We did the Entry dressage test a couple of times -- the best he's done, in my view. Transitions we not perfect, but much improved.

July 7, 2011 Tracy worked Gamble today. I wasn't able to watch, but she said he was stiff on one side at the beginning (going to the left). She worked on down transitions and got some decent ones.

July 6, 2011 Another easy dressage day today. Good progress on bends.

July 5, 2011 Day off for Gamble today!

July 4, 2011 Just an easy dressage day today. 25 minutes or so.

July 3, 2011 Did the Highland Green Stables spring schooling Event today (which had been postponed from early June due to the wet weather). Considering it was Gamble's first event, went quite well. We scored 65% on our dressage test -- good enough for 5th out of 14 riders. He went double-clear in both Stadium Jumping and Cross Country -- although these clear rounds were by no means an assured. We knocked two poles in the Stadium Jumping -- but they stayed up. And we zigzagged into a few fences on Cross Country as Gamble tried to figure out how to jump them (and whether I was serious). Ended up 2nd out of 14, so I was pretty happy. Watch video.

July 2, 2011 There is a schooling event tomorrow, so we just did enough work to practice our dressage test 2 times, and I setup a vertical that we jumped at 2' and then 2'-6". Gamble went well. I had challenges getting my correct lead on the canter transitions -- and the problem was that Gamble was looking at the hay wagon at the end of the arena (and which we came quite close to) and so as I was trying to get him to bend to the inside, he was resisting to the outside and kept picking up the incorrect lead.

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