Bruce Lamb's Eventing Blog - May 2013

May 30, 2013: Short jumping practice with Tracy

Gamble got Monday (May 27) off -- I'm sure he couldn't believe that he had zero work.

We've decided that Tracy is going to take Gamble in the schooling Event at Highland Green on Saturday at the Pre-Training level. It lets us support the event -- which is how I got back into Eventing in the first place -- and yet Tracy showing instead of me means that other participants don't have to put up with a "ribbon hog", "cherry picker", "ringer", etc. Since she hasn't evented in about 25 years (?), she is definitely no ringer!

So, Tuesday, Tracy and I did jumping practice -- with Tracy on Gamble. She hadn't jumped seriously in several years, but before we were done, she was going over a 3' vertical with no problems.

Yesterday (May 29) was speed work - 6 x 1 km repeats with a 2 minute rest in between. I was looking for 1:40 per km, although we took it easy on the first of the repeats. It was a muggy day, and the ground was really wet, so we had to take it easy on the turns. But on the straightaways, Gamble was able to pick up some pretty good speed, so we made the splits for which I was looking. Here are our splits:


I was quite happy with these times. We would have been faster if the ground hadn't been so slick. I would have looked for 1:30 per km (our pace, including jumps, is 1:55 at Prelim level).

Today, Tracy took Gamble into Rapport's Water Park (just through the ramps) and then over to the valley. I setup some 1 and 2-stride combinations -- culminating in a 1 stride combination of verticals, then 2 strides to the angled coop, and then 3 strides to the cedar rails.

After that, we did the ditch and then log-ditch combination.

Finally, the bottom 2 small steps / drops, just in case they throw something like that at her on Saturday.

She's ready!

May 26, 2013: Hack Just a half-hour hack today, to let Gamble loosen up after yesterday's Event -- not to mention the 4 hour trailer ride back home! One thing that I forgot to mention about my post yesterday, was my post-Event regimen with Gamble. I've tried bandaging his legs to keep him from stocking up -- and while I've looked for cheap "cottons", I've found a source for very absorbent material in cloth diapers in order to keep him from stocking up. There is a (relatively) local company that sells them in Ontario -- just visit Not exactly the market they were expecting, but they work!

May 25, 2013: Glen Oro Event Today was the the Event at Glen Oro Stable, located north of Barrie, Ontario.

Dressage went okay -- for me. I had a score of 61.5% which translated to 57.8 penalty points. Fairly typical. I was 8th out of 14 riders, so middle-of-the-pack. (Tracy reminded me that, really, I've only been working on dressage for 4 years -- and I've come a very long way in that period of time).

Next was Stadium Jumping. I hate it when they do Stadium Jumping before XC -- which is why I'm looking at doing more Events in Michigan where they do things in the right order. But, in any event, it had the potential to be a rocky situation again. I had a couple of refusals (!!!) in warm up. It was all due to us not seeing the right distance, which in turn was a result of not quite enough impulsion in his hindquarters going into the fence. We finally were seeing the distances properly when we went into the ring -- but Gamble kept looking at each fence like there was a bogey-man hiding somewhere. I dragged him over Fence 1. Fence 2 went well, but he took a long look at Fence 3 for some reason, which made the 1-stride combination at Fence 4A & B a challenge. Fortunately, we lengthened out in between 3 and 4a to make the distance. Fence 5 was okay as we now had a quality canter (gallop?) going into the fence and he attacked fences 6 and 7 (5 strides). Fence 8 was a Liverpool which provided little issues, and Fence 9 was a triple bar that he attacked. We were finally in the groove -- by the end of the round! Fence 10A-B-C was a one-stride then two-stride combination that provided surprisingly little difficulty. Wow -- it was much tougher than it needed to be.

I get a lot of push back from everyone when I plan to jump Gamble -- "He only has so many jumps in him." -- but he also needs to get around the course and see the distances. And the only way that happens is with regular practice, in my mind. I need to do jumping and gymnastics at least twice a week -- including verticals, oxers and combinations similar to what we just faced at Glen Oro. Anyhow, enough of my rant -- we made it to XC, which is where I wanted to be.

The Glen Oro XC course is always challenging. Maybe not as tough as Cedar Run in some ways (virtually everything at Cedar Run seemed to be max height/width) -- but certainly tougher than Woodwind. I knew I'd be facing corner fences, a 4'6" drop, jumps into water, a skinny in water, corner fences and combinations over a coffin. But we have ALL OF THE ABOVE at home -- similar or identical to what was there. So, while one doesn't necessarily expect everything to go without a hitch, it was almost that good. Gamble was a star! Here is the video:

Watch how well he does the coffin combination (1:58 into the video), the triple drop (2:26), the drop into water (2:48), the skinny in the water (3:40) and the big drop fence (4:30). No hesitation on anything. He was amazing.

What was incredible with all of this was that we still weren't fast enough. I held up a bit at the start, and clearly that was a mistake. We were 18 seconds over the time allowed. We need to attack the course from the start box. Now that we have a couple of clear rounds under our belt, we have a bit more confidence to 'go for it'. To make the time allowed, I need to average 1:55 per kilometre. Here are our splits:

1 km: 2:02
2 km: 2:05
500 m.: 2:06 pace

One minor hiccup was that I was marked for a refusal at Fence 2 (0:43 in the video). When the TD checked with the jump judge, she said she wasn't 100% sure that I had stopped forward motion. I know it wasn't a pretty fence, but you can tell from the video that there was no stop of forward motion. So, based on the fact that the jump judge wasn't 100% sure, the judgement goes to the rider, so the refusal was removed. I ended up in 4th out of 14 riders -- 1 second off 3rd, actually -- so I was very pleased with the result today.

Gamble got lots of mints on the drive home!

May 24, 2013: Travel to Glen Oro Just rode for about 15 minutes once we got to Glen Oro (near one of my new cliens in Orillia, actually) to let Gamble loosen up after the 4 hour trailer ride.

May 23, 2013: Dressage Lesson Tracy had me do a bunch of exercises to improve the little things with our test. At the end, we practiced Preliminary Test 2 twice -- and the second time I could see Gamble carrying me with his back better in the mirrors (and it was much easier to sit). I think a lot of the 'supporting-the-rider-with-his-back' thing comes when I'm doing a lot of sitting trot. He has to support me with his back or it is far too uncomfortable for him. So that last test was a lot more 'bouncy' with him lifting his feet and with him supporting me with his back muscles. I may actually be starting to see what they're looking for!

May 22, 2013: Rest DayI'm sure Gamble couldn't believe he didn't get ridden today. Just gave him a break to allow his muscles to recover in time for Saturday's Event at Glen Oro.

May 21, 2013: Tracy working himTracy worked Gamble today. I popped by the barn as she was working him and he is really looking like a dressage horse. Naturally, he looks much better in that respect with Tracy riding him than with me -- because she actually knows what she's doing. But I'm getting there!

May 20, 2013: Did the Prelim max-sized Table Fence: Today we did a 2.5 hour hack in the morning -- just at a walk. And later in the day, I brought Gamble back out and did a few warm up fences (including the gymnastic where we topped out at 4' x 4'), and then we tackled the new table fence for the first time. This fence is a maximum sized fence for Prelim division (3'7" high x 4'7" wide at the top, 6'10" at the base). Here is how it went:

May 19, 2013: Speed Work: We did 5 repeats of 1 km each, with a 2 minute break between. The first repeat was slow (Training Level speed), but the rest were faster than Prelim speed (1:55/km). Here are my splits:

May 18, 2013: Hack Just a hack today. Nice and easy. Did Rapport's Water Park at the high level and he practically dove into it!

May 17, 2013: Gymnastic Jumps Did the fences in the valley, other than the new Table fence. But it included a gymnastic line that I ended up doing with a 4' x 4' oxer at the end. Gamble sailed over it.

May 16, 2013: Dressage Lesson with Tracy: We're working on details now. I have to remember to sit back on my canter departures. I tend to lower my hands a bit and lean forward. Instead, I should sit back, keep my hands steady and gently give him the aide to tell him to canter.

May 15, 2013: 4k Pace Gallop: Tracy worked Gamble on dressage yesterday. I popped by while she was working him and he looked good. Today, though, it was all about working on his endurance. The most I'll need to do at Prelim level is 3.5 km at 520 metres per minute (1:55 per km.). But, that speed includes time taken to jump between 18 and 30 obstacles, and could include some significant hills. So one needs to be prepared to go harder than the distance and time would indicate. Since we don't have a lot in the way of long hills in our area, I'm working on getting his endurance up with a 4K "pace gallop" -- aiming for 1:55 per km. Here are my splits:


He had no problem making the time, although he was working hard by the time we made it into the 3rd kilometre.

Afterwards, we walked into the valley and across the river and I did our biggest drop fence without any warm-up down the smaller drops. He popped down it without hesitation. We also did the wide ditch from a trot with no issues. Finally, we cantered up the steep hill from the valley to the farm and over to Rapport's Water Park. He jumped off the low drop into the water without hesitation. In fact, I think he enjoyed it!

It was a good workout -- and it only took 20 minutes!

May 13, 2013: Speed Work - 1 km repeats: We took it easy yesterday -- just a short hack around the river, mostly at a walk. Gamble had lots of energy, so I'm now 99% sure that our issue on Saturday at Cedar Run was nothing more than him not liking the footing. We'll solve that issue eventually, but now my focus is on the Event at Glen Oro in 2 weeks.

I know that I'll face that 4'6" drop fence, and I know that we need to improve our cardio. So today was all about getting into a cardio and speed muscle building program. As a runner, I know that cardio and speed comes with working out for short distances but at a speed faster than "race pace". Race pace for us is 520 metres per minute (1:55 per km). So for today's speed work, we did 4 repeats of 1 km, and we targeted a pace of 600 mpm (1:40 per km) with a 2:30 trot rest break in between. Here are our splits:


Gamble had no problem whatsoever hitting these paces. In fact, by the last repeat, I was purposely slowing him down to get into a nice, steady rhythm throughout the lap.

After doing the repeats, we trotted over to the valley to do the drop fences. We know we'll face a fairly large one (4'-6") at Glen Oro, so I want to ensure he is 100% confident doing these relatively large drops. We first did my largest drop last week, and while he looked at it the first time, he had no issues doing it the second time. Today, there was no issue at all -- he just walked/trotted up to it, quickly looked, and popped down.

Here is how it looked from my Contour helmetCam when we did it the first time, last week:

May 11, 2013: Cedar Run Horse Trials : Today we attempted our second Preliminary Level event.

This time, it was me who messed up on the dressage test being used. I didn't realize that they could use CIC/CCI One *Star tests, so when I saw "Test A" I was thinking "Test 1". Anyhow, I noticed it at the early part of the week, so we had time to practice. It wasn't a complicated test, but I still needed to practice the movements and memorize it. REMEMBER: RECORD THE TEST BEING USED WELL IN ADVANCE AND PRACTICE IT FOR 2 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT. (The next test at Glen Oro is Prelim Test 2).

We walked the course on Friday night. The jumps at Cedar Run were really nice -- all brand new, it appeared. And most of them we were maximum width (6' at the base) and almost all were max height (3.7). So this is definitely a course being put together for the Championships near the end of the season. Still, I was pretty confident that if we got over the first 4 fences, the rest would be pretty straightforward.

So, after my typical less-than-stellar dressage test (including doing one movement too early thereby going off course), I made my way over to the Stadium ring. We had deliberately _not_ worked Gamble too hard before dressage so that we could save energy for XC. My only goal was to get the chance to ride XC and hopefully make it through without getting eliminated. He was high-strung when I rode him over he the Stadium area -- which was perfect. I figured I'd need that energy later on.

What I hadn't counted on was the footing in the Stadium ring. I'd ridden at Cedar Run before in less-than-ideal conditions, but this was awful. 4 inches of soupy mud/sand to work my way through for each fence.

Gamble didn't like the footing at all. During warm up, he refused (!) fences several times -- which he _never_ does. I finally got him over some half-decent warm-up fences. But when I took him into the ring, he stopped dead in his tracks in front of the first fence. Twice. Eliminated. Not happy. I'm pretty sure all the other riders made it through -- some with knock-downs, however. So the footing isn't an excuse. But Gamble not being comfortable jumping with the muddy footing is obviously an issue I'll have to work on.

One of the problems with the way a lot of events are run in Ontario is that XC is run after Stadium. So by not making it through Stadium, I wasn't able to continue and even attempt the XC. I could ask to go Hors Concours, but I knew what the answer would be. So, I'm either going to work to see if we can change the rules to force the organizers to allow us to run XC if they put that element last, or I'm going to start showing in Michigan -- which is closer for me anyhow.

Its a shame -- but I can't keep spending the time and money going to events when there is a chance that I won't be able to do the one element -- XC -- that I really love to do.

May 5, 2013: Woodwind Horse Trials : Today we did our first Preliminary Level event.

We got notification 3 days before the event that the Dressage test was changing from Test 1 to Test 2, so I had just a couple of days to practice it and the different movements. So that's my excuse for having a less than stellar dressage test! (It wasn't terrible, but everyone else's was much better).
We ended up with a score of 62.5, which translates to 56.30 penalty points. Good enough for 3rd out of 3! The other two riders in my division had stellar dressage marks -- 7s and 8s -- leaving them with scores of 30 and 36 penalty points, which is amazing.

So, I was already behind by a full 20 penalty points going into the 2nd phase of this event, which was Stadium Jumping.

In Stadium Jumping, one of the riders in my division was thrown from her horse, so she was disqualified. I'm not sure what happened to the other rider, but since I make it a habit to NOT check the standings after each element, as far as I knew was still competing against 3 other people because that was what was listed in the Order of Go. After watching this rider before me fall, Gamble went into the ring and did very well -- until he came to the fence where the previous rider fell. He either saw the same thing that the other horse did, or he remembered the fence that the other rider fell -- but in any event, he planted his feet as we approached the fence. I could have made him do the fence from a standstill, but I decided not to. We went around and did jump fine the second attempt. But between the refusal's 4 faults and the time penalties because of the extra time it took to attempt the fence a second time, I was now down by an additional 12 penalty points.

But there are 3 elements to Eventing for a reason, and all 3 can cause an elimination. I still had to get around the challenging XC course.

We hadn't competed at the Prelim level before so the XC jumps were all much bigger than the Training level fences we'd done previously. I really wasn't sure how Gamble would react to them -- but I figured if I got over the first 4 fences without a hiccup, we'd be okay. Here are the first 4 fences:

He attacked them with confidence, which allowed me to relax immensely. But there were still lots of challenging fences ahead, including a significant drop fence at #11. But, he was a star and kept doing the fences without hesitation. So by the time we made it back into the first field, we were well beyond the halfway point in the course (#17 out of 22 fences):

Last 3 fences:

2 of the 3 final fences were among the most challenging. #20 was a 4'-2" panel fence. But because the take-off point was uphill, the measured "height" from take-off to max. was 3'-7" -- which was just barely the maximum allowed. Next was a half-decent sided fence within water. We have jumped into water and out of water, but never a jump within water. So I wasn't sure how he'd handle it. Finally, there was a low simple fence at the end just before the finish markers, that I knew we could gallop over.

He was a star -- doing everything in his path. Our time was 5:11 -- which was 11 seconds over the "optimum time". BUT, we were the fastest Prelim round of the day AND I wasn't pushing him to make time until we were approaching the very last fence. If we had wanted to, we could have definitely made time.

Here is a link to the event results for everyone on that day:

Woodwind Spring 2013 Event Results

In summary, it was an amazing day and Gamble was a superstar!

April 22, 2013: Visit from. Dr. Tara Foy: In advance of this year's Eventing season, Dr. Tara came out and did a bunch of things to Gamble and Joey, which included the following vaccinations:
Flu Rhino
West Nile
WEE EEE (Western Eastern Equine Encephalitis)

She did a bit of floating of Gambles teeth (without a sedative). Joey's were fine.

She suggested that we don't inject Gamble's hocks at this time, but rather put him on Adequan -- and get it up from the U.S.

She will have the Coggins tests done for both Gamble and Joey. Gamble needs it for stabling overnight, and it gives us a baseline for both horses should there be an outbreak in the region. That being said, there hasn't been an outbreak in Ontario in 15+ years.

Tara had a brief look at his bog spavin and said its probably bothering us more than its bothering him. In hindsight, I think the issues we were having earlier were with his saddle, not his hock.

Mary-Anne was chatting with us about acupuncture -- more as a means of knowing where he might be sore so that we can put in place a physiotherapy or exercise regimen rather than as an ongoing therapy. I'll consider it -- although I have to get my head wrapped around the concept of what we're going to do/change once we discover where he is sore (which appears to be everywhere).

Margaret mentioned the Performance One supplement that she gets from Sprucewood. It has "everything" in it -- so, again, I'm going to look at it and its ingredients. He's already getting the Grand Prix which has "everything" (including Biotin, which is what I really wanted) so I want to come up with a decision here that makes sense in the long term.

All in all, both horses are healthy and happy.

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