Kirsten Cowan: Waredaca Classic 3-Day Part I

Kirsten Cowan, author of The Beast Eventer blog, has made it to the Novice 3-Day at Waredaca this weekend with her mare Keeping It Classy (Ariat).  Is your goal to complete a full format 3-day?  Read on as Kirsten explains the details covered yesterday at Day 1 of Waredaca.  Many thanks to Kirsten for writing, and thank you for reading.

From Kirsten:

The “W” Word — Waredaca Classic 3-Day Part I

About a month ago a good friend and I were banned from using the “W” word around friends and fellow riders.  I shouldn’t really include Christine in this… was banned from using the “W” word.  Apparently I said it every other word and brought every conversation  around to it… oppsies.  What is the “W” word you ask?


Back in January/February of this year Christine and I decided we should do a Classic 3day.  Christine and her superstar Connemara/TB mare Zoe would go Training and I and my beast mare Ariat would take on Novice.  It was all planned out!  We would head to VT and run the (best) bay mares at GMHA… Then we found out GMHA decided not to run their 3Day this year.  In a rather heartbroken conversation with my trainer she said we would find another goal, another event, another “big” way to end our season and to not be crazy and truck my mare down to Maryland…………  What did I hear in this conversation? “Hey Kirsten, just so you know, there is a Classic 3Day in Maryland, a state that is totally not that far away!  You should totally enter!”  And we did!
Both Christine and I have been working our Mares all summer in preparation for this event, we have both had set backs, called each other in full blown panic attacks about filled legs, tight backs, that slightly off but not really off feeling we sometimes feel every 4th canter stride, but only to the left…  We have been a bit nuts, we can both admit that… But here we are… At Waredaca!  It is actually happening!!
Tuesday morning we woke up at 3:30am to feed the mares and trucked out around 5am from Massachusetts.  It took us about 10 hours to reach Maryland.  Along the way we discovered there was no diesel to be found along 95 in Mass, E85 is NOT diesel (no worries, we asked first!), and that our mares are really amazing travelers, not one peep out of them the entire trip!
Ariat thinks Zoe’s hay is much yummier! 

Wednesday morning brought the start of official activities here at the 3day and leads me to the other “W” word we have encountered down here… “Welcoming”  The staff and volunteers here at Waredaca have been amazing!  They have clearly done this all before and know exactly how we are all feeling… Overwhelmed!  In theory we both wanted to do this 3day and we both did our research and our preparation, but that doesn’t mean we fully understood what we were supposed to do!
The morning started with a rider briefing and was quickly followed by a talk by Stephen Bradley on the jog.  What is expected from the rider, what is expected from the horse, and what they are looking for in the jog.  For those who may be wondering, the purpose of the jog is so the ground jury can watch each horse entered in the event trot for soundness.  It is also customary and expected for both horse and rider to be turned out buffed and polished.  Christine’s astute mother suggested that if she focused as much on riding as she did her jog outfit her and Zoe wouldn’t have any problems out there this weekend!
After the discussion we actually got a chance to get our horses out and practice the jog under the instruction of some fabulous and knowledgeable volunteers.  This was particularly perfect as I may have *cough* forgot *cough* to practice this at home!  I was mildly concerned that my Girafferator was going to trample me, but my little lesson was extremely helpful in organizing how I held the reins to keep her in that outside rein (just like with riding!).
If you have never jogged before it is easy to become extremely nervous about it.  However, everyone was super welcoming and nice.  The ground jury smiled and even chuckled when Ariat muttered through the entire inspection.  And finally we heard the phrase I have been thinking about since February….
Keeping It Classy — Accepted.”
Presenting Ariat

Accepted AND well behaved!
Zoe and Christine


Nothing felt better then walking back to stabling with both our mares accepted and the event having begun!  Next up Training riders headed up to dressage to talk with our dressage judges while Novice riders got a chance to talk about Phases A and C and also get a chance to get out there and look at it!  Once that was done the groups switched!
The dressage talk was amazing!  A demo rider rode each test twice and the judges scored and commented on the test while it was being ridden.  It was extremely helpful and very interesting to hear what judges at this level were typically looking for and especially perfect to hear it from THE judges who would be scoring you the next day!  The horses willingness to move forward was stressed:  transitions, medium walks, free walks, canters, they all needed to be done in a forward manner.  We were given the opportunities to ask questions about accuracy and what the judges are looking for in different movements.
And finally, we got our first look at the endurance day!  We will go in depth a bit more about the endurance day Friday, but for now just know that again everyone here at the event has been WONDERFUL (another “w” word) on explaining all the phases, doing the math for the kilometer marks, showing us our gates out on A and C, suggesting areas to get a bit of canter in before the steeplechase, etc.  I felt I understood the different phases rather well before I got here, but the discussion followed by the adventure out onto the tracks really cleared everything up!  The best part?  We get to hack them tomorrow if we want!  We actually get to get the mares out on Phases A and C and take a spin around and make sure we KNOW where all our gates are!
And if that wasn’t all enough for one day we were then taken on our first of many course walks for xc!  When we finished walking, both Christine and I took a deep breath and said, “Welcome to Area II”.  We have our work cut out for us over the next few days!  The xc course would be a tough one on fresh horses and our girls will be starting xc (phase D) after running Phase A, B, and C.
And this is where I leave you for tonight!  It is 11pm and sleep is definitely calling my name!  Thursday brings dressage (think supple thoughts for me!  The Girafferator has been wild down here) and STEEPLECHASE PRACTICE!!!
I also hope these are interesting and help to explain the 3day process a bit better!  It is such a wonderful educational opportunity and I hope many more people become interested and decide to give it a try!  Waredaca has around 70 entries for their 3day and there are more than a few Area I eventers down here representing!
If she ends up bronking me off tomorrow in dressage this is most likely why!  Draft beasts do not approve of such things.
Until tomorrow… Go Eventing!
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