Grand Times Eventing

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A few weekends ago, Gunner and I went to our first Horse Trials at the Carolina Horse Park.  We did maiden at the War Horse Event Series.  A bunch of friends from my barn went too and we schooled the stadium and XC courses. It was a very good experience before the event the next day, Gunner and I liked galloping through the water the best.

Before dressage I was a little nervous, Gunner was the one in charge but by the time we entered for our Intro C test, I got my act together!  Gunner was very good and I was so proud.  A few times his head was too low and one canter transition was a hard, but otherwise we did really well.  We got a 31.5 and were in fourth place! After dressage, we went and got our jumping tack on and went to warm up for stadium. During warm up, I kept saying “Whoa” to Gunner, but instead of just slowing down, he stopped a few times at a big oxer.  Lisa worked with me and my team was there too so we got everything figured out. We went into stadium and went double clear!  We were SO fast!  We rushed from stadium to XC.

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On XC, we had 2 faults. The first fault was my steering, I brought Gunner in crooked to a coop. When we were coming to the 8th fence, I thought we looked great and Gunner felt good and suddenly we just didn’t go over the jump! We came at it perfectly, nice strides and speed.  I turned him around and he popped right over it.  We galloped through the water and headed home!  We ended up in 12th place because of the XC faults, but we had so much fun.

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We are going to the War Horse June event this weekend and I am very excited to take on all the three phases again, especially XC.  For having such good grades all year, my parents bought us a new royal blue eventers saddle pad. We are going to use it for the first time this weekend!  We are ready to go!

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This is my friend, Morgan Fenrick and her mare, Roseville, walking home after our XC runs! We have a lot of fun together. Morgan is very funny, but also a great rider and helps me a lot.

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Last weekend my barn – 3D Horsemanship – and I went to the Spring Fling Horse Show in Camden.  It was my first Training One test at a rated show, so I was super nervous!  On the way to Camden, some of my barn friends – Morgan, Lilli and Madison –  drove down with our trainer, Lisa.  We made up funny stories and learned about different jobs, we thought probation officers were an exciting profession!

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The first show day, Gunner and I did Intro C first.  Gunner was really good in the warm up, but I was still kind of nervous.  As I did my test, I realized that things that seem easy at home, were more challenging at a rated show.  We got the right leads, but when transitioning into the canter Gunner put his head up for a few seconds. I just stayed calm and followed with my arms, and he came round. We ended up winning with a 68.  The next day I also won Intro C with almost the same test, scoring a 65. Training 1 came second the first day.  The test was good, but on the last canter, Gunner broke too early, and when I tried to pick the canter back up, I didn’t pick up my inside rein and Gunner picked up the wrong lead.

I was still so proud, especially for Gunner.  After that, I watched all my amazing barn friends ride, and everyone did great. I love watching them and seeing how I can do things differently. That night, we all had a cookout at my friend Lily’s camper at the showgrounds, which was so fun.  We laughed a ton and ran around the barn, talking and playing with the horses. My mom always talks about growing up with “barn rat” friends at Cedarhill Farm and I know what she’s talking about now – we have so much fun!

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The next day I did my Intro C test, then Training 1. Gunner was really good, but was tired from the weekend. I feel great about our test, even the part where Gunner took a canter stride in our trot circle.  We ended up winning with a 63! I am so proud of Gunner and me!  We have become a great team and learned a lot, and at every show, Gunner proves even more how loyal and caring he is.  Everyone says he watches me and is always waiting to see what I will do next.

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This past weekend, some friends and my mom and I went to the cross country day at the most recent Fork Horse Trials. It was so cool to see how hard top eventers work and to see how hard I need to work. There are very difficult jumps as you get higher in the sport, I can’t imagine the concentration and ability it takes.  At the top of a hill, there was a giant log square oxer, then they gallop downhill into a water complex!  I watched how all the riders prepared for it and how fast they went! Gunner and I have worked in water before, but it was nothing like these teams – I cant wait till I can do that! My mom kept saying “I just want to walk down hill!”  Not me though, it was amazing.

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A few weeks ago, I took Gunner to a combined test and jumper show at TTC Mocksville. We did the USEF Beginner Novice A combined test.  Dressage went really well, for stadium the jumps were 2 ft.  We placed 2nd.  On the jump course, I was a little timid but still got over every jump clear on the first try! I wouldn’t give Gunner the speed he wanted, so we chipped almost every jump, but they stayed up!!  We also did the USDF Intro C combined test with 2ft 3in stadium jumps, and I was still a little nervous.  We actually won, despite my worries. On that course I wasn’t as timid and let Gunner go a little faster, we only chipped, like, 2 jumps.

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But then in the afternoon, we also did our first 2 jumper courses, 2ft and 2ft 3in.  We went super-fast, it was so exciting and I was not scared at all! I could feel the wind in my face and that made me just want to gallop.  Gunner’s years of cutting really showed as he flew around the jumps with no fear and lots of speed!  In the 2ft class we came in 2nd and in the 2ft 3in class, we came in 1st!  I am so proud of Gunner!  It was awesome spending time with my friend at the barn and Gunner!  We sat around the ring and watched the bigger horses go and they were so fun to watch, each one faster than the last.

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A few weeks ago, I applied for an NCDCTA Grant and last night , we found out I received one of their grants!  I was so excited!  I can’t wait to use it at my first show in the War Horse series!  I plan to ride in the maiden division.  I’ve never really had to fill out application before so it felt amazing to hear I won!  I always pay for one of my show classes, so this will help me reach my goal.

We have a USDF rated show in Camden over spring break, April 3-4, and are doing 2 Training One tests, and 2 Intro C tests.  We are working on coming round at the canter, which is easy on some days and others Gunner decides he wants to be a giraffe.  We are a “work in progress” some days.  Gunner is doing really well though, he trusts me so much and works very hard to do what I want him to do.  I am also working on making my signals clear to him so he knows each ride what we need to do and why I want to do it.  We progress every day and can’t wait to hit the road this show season!

If you want to follow our journey, check us out on Instagram and Twitter at Grand Times Eventing!  As my mom says, “If you aren’t having a Grand Time, why do it!”