My mare, Bella, and I participated in our first eventing derby over the weekend. We SURVIVED and we had a lot of fun! I found myself more nervous than I expected before the dressage test. I knew it would be our biggest challenge as we had only started working on dressage two months ago. In our test, some things went very well, like the start and the finish when I was supposed to go walk down the middle of the arena and halt at X. Changes of direction across the diagonal at the trot and the walk were straight across the diagonal! I felt really good about those parts of the text. As for the rest of it . . . well, it didn’t help that Bella was a little scared of the pipe that formed the arena boundary. We probably spent more time off the rail than on it. The most common word on my test comment sheet is “braced.” If I can relax next time and get Bella on the rail, I know we will do much better. Our final score was 44, and I think the judge was very generous. I think it helped that she knew it was our first time.
Although I was a bit more nervous than I anticipated, our stadium round went well. We’ve been riding in hunter and equitation primarily, so I rode stadium it like it was equitation. We went clean and our round felt very smooth.
We had a bit of trouble on cross country (it was only our second time on a cross-country course, save for a few jumps out in the field at our barn). I took a hard look at almost all of the jumps as we approached them and that didn’t help Bella, at all. The XC judge told me that because this event was designed to encourage beginners, she judged by the jump and not the course. That was a good thing for us, as it took us two tries to get over almost every jump (er . . . question) and we had an especially difficult time with the “ditch.”
After we jumped the last question (water), the judge requested I do the entire cross-country course again. (In this derby the organizers let you sign up to rider the course a second time, which was particularly beneficial for beginners like us.) We were more prepared on our second go and we did SO MUCH better. In fact, we went clean through the seven questions, including the water and the ditch. The judge was so pleased she counted the second round as our official round. As a result, we got 4th place overall.
I highly recommend the Coyote Springs Schooling Show for anyone who is new to or nervous about eventing. The judges were super nice and very supportive. Bella and I had a lot of fun! What can I say, I think I’m going to like the dark side!