Saturday, June 14, 2014

Prepping for Plantation

It’s always hard to know exactly how much to do and how hard you should push when prepping for an event. I like to do my hard schools at least a week before the event so the last week is fairly easy and the horses is fresh and ready for the competition. I feel like we gave Union the best jumping prep we could have before Plantation.
A few week before the event, there was a jumper schooling day at GMHA, you could go in the ring and jump a round, come out and do it again! It was pretty low key, but I hadn’t done a 3’9” or bigger round with Union in public since last September. I did a 3’6” round and then they very nicely put them up (it was technically only supposed to go up to 3’6” but they were awesome and put them up for me!). My 3’9” round was much better, it was smoother and Union was jumping amazingly well. I was happy to have gotten a bigger round out of the way so I could focus on the more technical questions in the ring at home.
The next time we jumped, I set up a skinny corner; turning left was three strides to a skinny, turning right was four strides to a different skinny. The skinnies could also be jumped in a straight, five stride line. I also set up very off set one and two stride lines. Today height wasn’t the main focus, rideabililty and holding the line were. I have discovered that what I need to most work on is knowing and counting my striding between related distances (4-8 strides mostly). I usually land, reorganize and then see my distance but I rarely land thinking, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. I believe in today’s courses this is a necessary skill, I am very happy I can ride off my eye but I need to become better at riding the line and distance the course designer is looking for. So the arena is full of set distances and I have been practicing with all the horses.
Once I was warmed up I started with the skinny to skinny line, it was a nice five as long as I didn’t land whoaing too much (another bad habit of mine!).  I then did the two off set lines which were no problem, as long as Union can see where he is going and I set him up properly he is good about these kind of lines. I then did the much harder 3 and 4 stride bending lines. Union gets aggressive so everything always seems to come up in a hurry. The four stride rode well but the first time I did the three stride I ended up pulling up in a straight line because he was starting to get too frantic. I re-approached and rode the line, it was a little quick but he was good. We quit after that, these kinds of schools really get his blood pumping, it’s best to do them more than a week before the event; this lets me do one more straightforward school, so he isn’t still in attack mode/ feels quietly confident when we get there.
My last school was almost a week before the event and we just jumped a few straight forward fences. After I warmed up I jumped a couple pretty big (4’-4’6”) jumps. We didn’t’ do much, he was jumping very well and was being very rideable, so we quit while we were ahead. It is always nice to jump a couple fences much bigger than anything you will have to jump at the competition. I always find it’s a bit of a confidence boost for myself and the horse.
The next week I hacked and did light flatwork, when I got to the event I was very happy with the courses. They were fairly straightforward for Intermediate, this was our first one of the year and it couldn’t have been better. There were a few things we hadn’t jumped before, a key hole and a log bounce down a drop but Union jumped beautifully. We were clear in stadium and cross country, with some time xc. I was over the moon with Union, he was so good and positive without being too aggressive.

I really think the preparation leading up to the event made for such a successful weekend. My next event is in three weeks and I won’t need to do anything as technical to get ready since we are coming off such a good weekend. He’d had about two months between his last event and Plantation and it was his first Intermediate of the year, so the prep was a little more specific than this next one will be.

Below is a link to the pictures from the weekend: