Moving On Up–Lacy’s big step-up to Beginner Novice!

Nautica has been following his training schedule to a T, complete with progress at all the expected intervals, milestones reached and setbacks encountered that come along with his breed and previous training style. I promise to write a post just for him is very soon!

My original intent with this blog was to document Nautica’s progress as he transforms into a dressage horse as well as to highlight his accomplishments at various levels. I am lucky to own two horses though, and I very much like talking about each of their specific talents, my goals for them and promoting them both individually. I figure the name “Show Horse Sport Horse” can apply to both Nautica and Lacy. (Just don’t tell Nautica; he still thinks he is an only child.)

Anyway, back to Lacy!

Lacy in the pre-stadium warmup at Poplar Place

After a successful first three-phase event in the starter division at our April horse trial, Lacy and I entered the May Day Classic at Poplar Place Farm in Hamilton, Georgia. River Glen’s starter division was a piece of cake for my game and athletic thoroughbred, with only a few minor technical bobbles on my part, so we planned for a slight move-up to beginner novice at Poplar.

Two out of three phases went beautifully.

Dressage, as is the case with most thoroughbreds, is our most difficult phase. Unfortunately, this is the phase in which the fastest ride does not in fact, win. Or, at least, that has not been our experience thus far. Lacy is still debating the subject. Thankfully, beginner novice evening test A includes only one halt at the end of the pattern. Hallelujah! Contrastingly, the two-halt USDF dressage test format always provides the perfect opportunity for my thoroughbred to lose her nice, rhythmic, forward motion and allows her to promptly transform back into her giraffe-demon “true form”. I’m glad we could skip that part this go around.

Lacy offered a pleasant and polite test complete with all of her gaits at appropriate times, correct geometry and about 60% roundness. The judge scored us a brutal 43.3 and I have to say I was kind of disappointed. I felt that this was a much improved test than our River Glen test from earlier. Anyway, on to the next phase.

Our stadium jumping was a complete cluster. Lacy somehow got her tongue over the bit in the walk between the warmup and the stadium ring. She blasted around the ring at warp speed, tongue out, nose to the sky, and chipping in at literally every single fence. I mean literally. She added where I didn’t even think it was possible to add and jumped over her shoulder like an absolute moose at every fence, taking off and landing on all fours each time. I’m convinced Debi no longer claimed me by that point. I’m not even sure how Lacy saw any one single fence because her head was entirely nose-up, perpendicular to the ground. Somehow we still only managed one rail down. Beginner novice may not be one of the more challenging divisions for horses, but I’m thankful Lacy is athletic enough to get us around as clear as she did despite the circumstances.

By cross country, Lacy and I had all of our tack in order, confidence only slightly shaken and ego in check. She rocked it! Cross country is definitely her element. I think she likes the more open space to move around and I like that the hills tend to work in my favor. There were one or two fences I could tell she was a little unsure of, jumping them tense with her front end, but she never thought twice about going over anything and put herself in the right place every time to make it over safely.

Making easy work of the bench early on in the course
Photo by Forever Photo co.

At our level of training, I don’t really spend much time on conditioning Lacy. At the beginner novice level, we’re primarily focused on our flatwork since we need to raise our dressage scores—or lower them as is the case in eventing. Jumps at this level are pretty low for an already-athletic thoroughbred and time limits are so generous we don’t yet have to worry too much about faults other than the possible speed penalty on XC.

By the end of our cross country trip and completing our one-day event, Lacy was still jig-walking back to the stables. Debi joked about if we wanted to run XC again to tire Lacy out! I still don’t believe that mare ever runs out of energy.

Offering a lovely trot lengthening through the water complex
Photo by Forever Photo co.

By the end of the day, we ended up moving from our initial dressage placing of 6th to a lovely and entirely unexpected 3rd place! Not bad at all for our first step-up to beginner novice. I continue to be impressed with my cheap little thoroughbred and I’m so glad I stuck her out after all of the time taken and setbacks along the way. This little mare is proving she is worth my time and money and will make someone a nice event horse one day.

My unassuming little mare is becoming a brave and athletic event horse!
Photo by Forever Photo Co.

It’s looking like our next “big” event will be the River Glen June horse trials on the 8th and 9th. We’re aiming to hit a few of the smaller shows as well, including the Huntsville Pony Club “Jumper Nights” stadium competition at the end of May and possibly a few one-day mini-trials at local barns nearby.


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