1998 was our first season eventing after I had owned and trained dax myself for only six months. we entered fox river valley mini beginner novice in may, tlc stables mini beginner novice in july, oakwood farm mini beginner novice in september, dassenbrook farm mini beginner novice at the end of september and free-n-bold mini novice in october.
dressage has always been a struggle for me but dax and I were in pretty good shape as we were taking regular lessons from klaus visenthal. stadium at mini-events does not pose much of a challenge, so we were mainly focused on successfully navigating cross-country for the season.
our first event, on home territory, went fine. dax was very concerned about the people sitting out in his field near the riding center but otherwise jumped over all of the little bitty jumps just fine. from there on out for 1998, it was downhill as dax's performance became worse and worse. the smaller the jumps, it seemed the more hesitant he was. finally at dassenbrook (beginner novice) and at free-n-bold (novice), he gained a bit more confidence and was able to pop over the smallish novice fences although we required intensive prior schooling in order to approach them at all.
in 1999, we competed in frvpc mini novice in may, frvpc horse trial novice in june, idcta indian hills horse trial novice in july, silverwood horse trial beginner novice in september, and queeny park horse trial novice in october. we missed the silverwood horse trial in august due to the horse illness in northern illinois.
we entered the fox river valley mini-event in may 1999 with trepidation. I had committed to entering as my riding partners were fully committed to doing uscta-sanctioned events all season and I wanted to ride with them. this was the first show of the season and dax's performance would tell me what I could expect when we moved on to the rest of the season's shows.
unbelievably, dax was almost impossible to hold back! he could not wait to attack the jumps and we did very well in novice. stadium was a problem as we had not yet had any instruction over fences so I tired him out by throwing my body forward and generally getting in his way while jumping, such that he was still anxious to run out whenever possible. we were eliminated at the combination fence, which just looked too darn big to both of us.after our first successful outing, I put together a comprehensive plan for the summer.
we also attended a monthly cross-country/stadium jumping clinic (sat=cross-country, sun=stadium) with sonya crampton of the canadien equestrian team, almost weekly lessons with jennifer bazan (a local trainer who has gone preliminary) and we trailered extensively to other cross-country courses for schooling, like argyle creek in marengo, and pratt-wayne woods in wayne-dupage.
at the end of the season, I conclude that my plan worked, that having a regular lesson plan with an instructor is a must, and that real jumps are better than little bumps on the ground for jumping over. dax still needs to get over his initial fear of water and jump in immediately and needs to quit getting so distracted by external items in the stadium ring.
next season we are going to move up to training.
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