Norsey Newcomers – Canberra, Bungendore and Berrima.

So, I’m still here having a crack at this eventing business! Took Norsey to Canberra horse trials – newcomers. From what I can remember, as it was back in March, he was pretty good. Coming first after dressage, and it was down in the arena near the roadworks but that didn’t bother him. The showjumping he was good and we cantered the whole way around (wahooo for us!) but knocked one down so that put us down the placings. The cross country was fun, we were clear but slow, with 12.4 penalties. Seriously, it felt like we galloped the whole way around! I felt like the world was flying past! But when I saw some photos, yes it was a very nice safe little canter.
5th overall and all in one piece afterwards and happy to have another go.

Next we went to Bungendore. He was a bit more alive as he’d never been here before, and as I was warming up for dressage I thought Uh oh, should have left more time”. But as soon as we went into the arena he was like “oh yeah I know this stuff” and settled right down and did a nice test. Again, I think we were first after dressage. Our cross country was next and there were a couple of jumps I was worried about spooky wise. Once we got over the first jump, Norsey was like “heyyy I got this!!” and bloody hooned! We were definitely galloping now! I had to haul him to slow down and make a tight left turn and I felt like I was just waterskiing off his mouth the whole way. He hardly hesitated at anything though, he was awesome!!!!
Our showjumping was fine and we actually went clear, although I think I was just lucky that he decided to not just collect the jumps with his legs this time. So, we ended up winning this one!

Berrima – I left early and it was dark and foggy and Norsey didn’t want to go on the float. He is a smart and sensitive horse and I eventually (I’m not so smart and sensitive) realised that because I had the car running (to de-ice it) the vibrations into the floor of the float was upsetting him. He would get onto the tailgate but sniff suspiciously at the floor.
By the time we got going it was half an hr later and a bit of a tough drive concentrating through the fog, so I was not feeling any excitement being there, I just wanted to be at home in bed. I told myself to get over it and off we went to do our dressage. The grass there was amazing! I seriously needed grass reins as Norsey would walk along and then see a big patch of clover and with his mouth wide open just go nuts on it. It was a bit embarrassing really. I do feed my horses!
Our dressage was ok, I was a bit conservative on the grass (slippery) and under rode but he was really well behaved. Got some great photos (thanks Darren!) as the fog had started to lift and the surroundings are lovely.
2nd after dressage and we demolished 2 show jumps so that put us down to 8th going into xc. He did well in the showjumping though, that arena is a bit full on for their first time (and I remember Ding not getting past the 3rd jump when I was last there) so I was very happy that he got around.
Going into xc there was no pressure of being in a placing so I just relaxed and didn’t worry about time etc. I had a xc lesson leading up to Berrima, and just practiced some of the things from that. Norsey can get to focused on me if I start interfering too much, and then sees the jump at the last second. I have to establish the rhythm well out from the jump and then just leave him alone. I must have managed some of this because we went clear and on time.
I think 5th was our final placing.

One year on for Norsey’s dressage.

So another year rolls around and I find myself back at MARC with Norsey having a crack at the Novice tests.
Somehow, despite arriving early enough, I find myself with approx 6 minutes of warm up time and a “she’ll be right” attitude. Norsey was very well behaved, until we get into the arena and I find myself realising the power of a 17hh, 700kg horse!

This is the trying to make a 15m circle face:
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This is my I can’t do sitting trot face:

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For my warm up for the second test, I did a lot less yakking and much more riding so I had more control and serenity for a nicer test (and photos!)

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I think we ended up first in the second test. We have been to another dressage competition since, riding Novice and he was well behaved (better warmup!) but now needs to be more balanced, so we are working on that. We do have Canberra Horse Trials next weekend, doing newcomers. I’m hoping we have plenty of balance for that (and a neck strap)!

Dingaling’s dressage is coming along really well now. We did our first medium level tests the other week. Now medium was my initial dressage goal 8 years ago when I started learning dressage. It’s taken a long time, but to be honest I was only hoping I’d get there, not thinking that I actually would.
I was so nervous riding the first test, that I forgot the test twice. Fortunately, the judge was very kind and patient so I got through it.

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We have another dressage comp this weekend, doing medium but at a bigger comp with a lot of good riders in it. I’m just hoping I get at least the same scores (around 65%) as I did last time, and not totally make a mess of it!

What’s the one before Newcomers?

So I’m back to playing with the eventers! After just doing dressage for a while, I really did miss the eventing weekends, they are a lot more fun and people seem a lot more friendlier.

I took Norsey to his first horse trials in Wagga Wagga. We did the Encourager – 45cm. Everyone says ‘Oh, he will just step over them” .. EXACTLY!! I feel he is high enough off the ground without adding much more underneath his feet!

He did an ok dressage test, the flies were in plague proportions and did annoy him so he kept doing his little head flips and ear shakes, might have to get him one of those bonnets if they make them dinosaur sized.

The showjumping was in the indoor and he was so cute, I let him stand and watch the horses before me and he seriously watched them going around the whole time. We demolished a couple of cross rails and had quite a few time faults for too much trotting, but he didn’t stop and he didn’t run out so I was very happy with him.

The xc course was good, nice and small with only the brush that had me a bit worried in case he spooked at it. I had a friend who is much more experienced doing this class with her baby horse, so it was great being able to walk the course and crap my dacks with someone else I knew.
In the xc warmup Norsey was a bit upset and worried about the other horses around him, and when a kid fell off in front of him, he was pretty horrified! I then just stood under a tree and waited for our turn.
I have to say I was very nervous, so much that my legs went all dead and heavy. We started out at a trot and he only had one little spook at the start, but after that never felt like he was going to stop at anything. At the brush he only seemed to realise it was a bit scary when he was half way over, and jumped a bit higher. Jumping in a dressage saddle meant those moments put the cantle where no cantle should go, but I stayed on.
RiderVideo was there, so I was able to buy our video and watch us in all our Encouragers glory!

We had some time faults, but ended up 5th and had a great time. Hoping to get ourselves ready to do newcomers at Canberra in a couple of months time.

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Little Dingaling is doing great at his dressage stuff!! The time I spend at Gindari Park has let me concentrate on the problems we have with our basic work, and now it’s all starting to get a lot easier.

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Well, back to being a wannabe.

So finally, I’ve had to accept that eventing isn’t going to be my thing. At Canberra horse trials (EvA 80) Dingaling put his hooves down and said no thanks.
Great dressage score 82%, 3 refusals in the showjumping for the good old E for elimination. As soon as I rode into the showjumping arena I knew it wasn’t going to be good. He warmed up ok, and as soon as I went through the gate I could feel him thinking “hang on a minute”. His head comes up and I can feel the doubt, he just gets behind my leg and nothing I can do will make him go. It’s not dramatic, and people say “oh, it just looks like you stop riding a few strides out”. Well, I can feel about 5 strides out that he isn’t going to go and anything short of getting off and throwing him over, doesn’t work.

So, I’m very disappointed but I feel I’ve done as much as I can do at this stage so a sandpit pony he will be.

I’ve been doing a bit of dressaging in the mean time. Ding’s still sitting around 65% for elementary, needs more engagement is the general theme.
Norsey is doing quite well. I took him to ACTDA and Young dressage and he really didn’t put a foot wrong. He even had a snooze at the float! He is just getting around a prelim test, actually scored a 70% so that was awesome! Go the big nugget!
I’ve been popping him over trot poles and a 45cm jump on the arena too, and he does not spook at it and just bumbles over. Fingers crossed he might make me an eventer after all!

I’m now on long service leave for 4 months and I’ve started a working student placement with a classical dressage trainer. Yes, I’m old to be doing stuff like this but hey better late than never!! I’ve had to change my way of riding somewhat but so far it’s been a fantastic experience. I look forward to widening my knowledge and hopefully becoming a better rider.

PICS!!!

I had to buy this pic, our last SJ round. My FACE says it all LOLOLOL.

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Norsey dressaging:
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Norsey at the Warwick Schiller clinic

I’ve been following Warwick Schiller’s video’s with Norsey for a while now, and was able to get into a 3 day ‘Intermediate’ clinic at Wagga. I thought I was up to scratch for an intermediate clinic….

It was a hot 3 days. 37 on the first day and 40 degrees and windy on the last. Norsey floated down really well, and I arrived at CSU Wagga the day before and stashed in him his covered yard. No other horses were there, but luckily he wasn’t too fussed. I left him for a while to check into the caravan park nearby and get some supplies, and when I went back to have a sneaky ride in the indoor before the clinic while no one was there, bloody Warwick was standing right there, outside Norsey’s yard!! I nearly shit myself!!
My friend Vish came with me and we looked sideways at each other and said “that’s Warwick!” and went all nervous silly for a while, then I remembered my age and went up and said hi, and that I was in his clinic. It was a bit surreal after seeing someone only on a video to real life. They look the same, just in 3D and better colour than my toshiba laptop monitor!
So up to the indoor I went only to find Warwick and Meagan riding around in there. Holy crap, I was really nervous. Norsey has never been in an indoor and I wanted NO witnesses, especially Warwick!!!
Instead of slinking away, I thought I’ll just do what I normally do but keep away from them, so started off on a loose rein to see what Norsey would do. Fortunately he was only a bit nervous and settled down, and I was able to trot and canter on a loose rein, then take up the contact and he tolerated all of that. All the while I was keeping an eye on Warwick, and he seemed to just be on his phone wandering around not paying me the slightest attention.. phew.

However, as I was finishing up Warwick comes up to me and says something I couldn’t quite hear, so I’m just smiling nervously at him with a dumb arse look on my face. I thought he was saying “I’m officially your friend” and I”m thinking WTF, that’s weird and maybe he’s going to tell me something on a ‘friend’ level, not a clinician level about how shit we are!! He asked me a few things about Norsey and I told him my main issue with him was anxiety, and he said we can do a few things to help with that in the clinic and that was that.
Vish, who was in earshot and caught it on video, told me he said “I’m officially impressed” !!! Not sure about what, but I’ll take it 😀

Day 1 – Well at first I thought omg we are just crap, beginner level not intermediate. Norsey was uptight with the other horses in the arena, the fence sitters and the speaker but in hindsight that was great. We did lateral flexion and disengaging to get relaxation. I didn’t realise that once I let go, I should retake the rein if he was the slightest bit snatchy and not relaxed. He eventually dropped his head all the way to the ground, sighed and relaxed. It was so good I nearly had tears! But there’s no crying in clinics!
The idea for our disengaging was to get him up and back down again. He was able to relax pretty quickly once we had the lateral flexion relaxation sorted.
What also was discovered in the disengaging was Norsey grounding his inside foreleg. Warwick asked if my downward transitions were abrupt and they most certainly are!
This stuff finds things out so early on.

Day 2 – Destination addiction. Norsey was attracted to the top end of the arena. Warwick had already picked this up from our sneaky ride in the indoor because he noticed that our circles bulged out towards the top end of the arena. And I thought he wasn’t paying attention hey…
We trotted and then cantered on the buckle waiting for him to find a better place to rest than the top end, and he was quite fast in working this out. In fact he was ‘self circling’ in previous rest spots. While I’m not uncomfortable riding on a loose rein, riding without any input into steering is a little unnerving. I had to hang on to the front of the saddle and sit in the middle of the horse, because even though he’s no quarter horse, some of his turns are sharp and once or twice my potty mouth let rip as I found myself more to one side than the other!
I found all of this really interesting and I need to work more on this at home.
We didn’t work much on forward, it was easy to get him responsive in the disengaging and he is quite responsive forward, taking a nice big step with his hindleg.

Day 3 – Norsey became a little attracted to the other horses this day. I was like what the hell, he is dive bombing the other horses! Warwick said “no this is great! He is looking for answers elsewhere now, and maybe it’s at the other horses”. It’s a very different attitude to have, and one I need to embrace. Norsey was particularly attracted to a little mare, who was scared of him and running away, which just caused Norsey to chase more. To solve that, Warwick got the rider to wave a flag at Norsey when he came near. Worked a treat.
Warwick told me to go off and do the collection exercises and talk to him if I had any problems. Great I thought, we are all over this, I can be an intermediate level!! I pick up the reins, and Norsey promptly stuck out his nose and began chewing the shit out of the bit and leaning on my hands. So I waited, and waited and nothing. Just a mule faced camel head. I wandered over to Warwick and asked what to do and he had me close my hands slowly, then pull back hard (but slowly) to get him off his shoulders and my hands. We also did backwards/forwards transitions and it resulted in a very engaged, very responsive and light Norsey. It felt amazing!

I started doing this stuff with Ding today, and interestingly found quite a bit of worry in him. While he was much faster to lower his head and relax once we were standing still, he spent a long time circling and circling after getting him ‘up’ with the disengaging. I’m going to spend the time with him now to get him relaxed and responsive, because once you do it’s like sprinkling magic amazing horse dust on them.

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Newcomers … again!!!

So this happened at jump club the other week:

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80cm oxer, no go. He did eventually go over it when the nice man dropped one end of the back rail down but not without enough stops to get me eliminated if it was a competition day.

So with this, I decided to do newcomers at Silver Hills horse trials. BORING! But safe, I hoped. I was a bit disappointed to be doing newcomers again, but I knew I’d be more shitty if I got another of those big fat E’s. Which has happened to me at Newcomers (twice) so really I should be used to it!!

I decided to drive up the Saturday morning, there had been stacks of rain so one of my friends scratched and I couldn’t decide whether to go or not on the Friday. I woke up at 430 am and it wasn’t raining so I went.

Found a good parking spot right next to people I know so that was handy! Except it seemed to be a spot about 100 other people wanted and they kept coming up and squeezing behind Ding, who was tied up to the float. Even though there was a WHOLE PADDOCK empty a bit further down. Then discovering there was no room and had to turn around in the mud, right when I’m trying to do a hurried job plaiting up.
I tried doing the ‘cobra’ plaits that seem to be popular in dressage, where you only do about 6 and make them look nestled in some hair either side, but they just looked like fat messy golf balls nestled in hair.

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Dressage – did ok, except that we’ve started flying changes so when I dug him with the spur with my leg too far back, he did a lovely flying change onto the wrong lead and left me fluffing around trying to fix it. That’ll teach me!

Showjumping – it was a bit muddy and slippery and a horse before us slipped and fell right over, so much to Ding’s delight we trotted most of it. I nearly forgot the course and couldn’t find jump 5 (right in front of us). We made it clear and bang on the time, so got a bit lucky there.

Cross Country – only one jump and the water had me a bit worried. He did stop at the water’s edge but then sauntered through it, sniffing. He did a big sliding stop before one of the jumps, at the muddy ground just in front of it. Was sure he was going to give me a refusal but once he looked, he went through the mud and over the jump. It was a shorter course being 3mins 30 as the optimum time. I was up the back and headed towards home and I thought I must have left out a heap of jumps, how could I be almost finished when we’d only just got going!! Would have loved another round.

So, clear for xc and he won a rug and $$ for fuel home. Definitely the eternal newcomers.

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Norsey update:

Had the farrier out to fix up his feet, he had some abscessy looking cracks, so he cut them out and put on some front shoes. Much better! Horsey goes now.
Trotted him over a little jump.. was hanging on to his mane and quietly shitting myself… the first time he smashed through it and sent poles everywhere but it didn’t upset him.. second time no hesitation, straight over! At this stage he doesn’t seem spooky like Ding was/is. Fingers crossed I could have an eventer in the making!

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Newhorse/Norsey/Sheldon/Needs a name update

Thought I’d add a quick update on the Newhorse. Well, he’s turned out to be one that’s certainly not like the others! So much in fact that I’ll keep him for one year, and then make the decision to keep or sell him. So, we’ve got until December. He’s very sensitive, and big.
I found Warwick Schiller’s video’s online and went about training him more thoroughly with his methods.
So far it has worked really well. He’s improved a lot, and we even had our first dressage lesson at my instructor’s place the other day.
We’ve had some setbacks with injuries, saddle fit problems, he’s currently decided to be really footsore and a trim from the farrier made him think his legs had been chopped off. What did I say about him being sensitive?? I’m sure if he treads on a bindy he thinks his foot has exploded.
However, the setbacks have meant that it’s been easy to give him time off, as he is only a 4yo.

While some people think he is ugly, and have said as much, I think he’s starting to look damn impressive.
Pics!!

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