Ryker is a rock star, there are no two ways about it. He has put his best foot forward in the last three outings we've had and I hope we can continue forward with fewer and fewer green-y mistakes!
The DerbyCross was both a major success and a learning experience! We had two stops in the beginning of the course, at brightly colored stadium fences with planks (I don't blame him! He hasn't seen very many of those!) From there he jumped everything in front of him, and the XC jumps were the least of our worries. We finish in 6th, which was more than I could ever ask for, and did the course a second time just to gain more experience.
The Jumper show at Tamarack Hill was wonderful, exactly what we needed. Just another outing with lots of new horses an a ton of new jumps. He was certainly green throughout the three courses we did, from 2'3" - 2'9", but he never balked at a single one, he only took a rail down in each course, mostly from not paying enough attention! He was also getting a little careless with his front end, solution = jumping with no boots for a while.
From there we went to the GMHA starter trial, where he absolutely rocked. He was tense in the beginning of his dressage warm up, but then slowly relaxed throughout his test, enough to earn an 8 on his free walk ( to everyone who says race horses are just too tense to mark well on dressage, especially in the walk, TAKE THAT!). We scored a 34.8, which is pretty darn good for a first test! I was just hoping we were going to stay in the ring, and somehow manage to complete the movements, I'd say we far surpassed my expectation! Stadium was immediately before XC so we warmed up for both. He was great in warm up, responsive, bold, and jumping well. Our stadium round went pretty well, he didn't look at any of the fences until fence 4A,B, which was a 24' one stride, vertical to 0xer. Now if you've been reading since the beginning, you'll know that Ryker's only real nemesis in the jump ring is the one-stride. Not because he can't do it but because that is where he finds himself less confident about where he should put his feet. He simply pays attention to the second element, and when he has an awkward jump in, does not have enough time and space to figure out what he should be doing with his feet. The placement of 4A,B in the ring just made it that much trickier for us, as the judges booth was right on the landing side of the oxer, and the 24 feet (which is LONG for a 2'6" one-stride, and especially long for a starter trials) gave him just enough space to get lost with his feet and try to duck out. Now for a more schooled horse, this would've been no big deal on the first approach, but it threw Ryker for a loop. He did however buck-up and jump the whole thing upon re-approach (What a good racehorse!). Our next jump was wonderful, and the oxer that was number 6, simply came up quicker than I think he expected and he deer hopped it, taking down the back rail. All in all I am very proud of him, every mistake he made was simply a green mistake and will hopefully happen less and less as time goes on and his footwork improves (lots of grids for the boy!). Our Cross Country course was, however, spectacular. He was a little wiggly and not 100% sure over most of the fences, but he listened to direction and tried oh, so very hard! He jumped everything clean, including the unmarked water crossing which he jumped so big I lost my stirrup upon landing! The easiest jump on course was the ditch! (so nice to not have that as an issue!). He is becoming a XC machine, and finished the event in 6th place, ready for more.
This coming weekend is the Hitching Post Schooling Trials, which will hopefully be just as successful. We're running Novice, so a little tougher but certainly not out of his ability, and at this point it will be a good preparation event for Stuart. The key with him is to keep his confidence up, and to do so by allow him to make the mistakes while offering soft, but proper guidance so that he learns to be quick on his feet and not 100% dependent on me to get him out of situations. He is well on his way to being a pretty cool event horse, fingers crossed!