Kirsten Cowan: Waredaca Classic 3-Day Part II

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 reports on dressage, hacking R&T, and steeplechase practice yesterday at Day 2 of Waredaca.  Many thanks to Kirsten for writing, and thank you for reading.  [Read Part I]  [Waredaca Live Scores]

From Kirsten:

We are not in Area I anymore! — Waredaca Classic 3-Day Part II

Part of the stunning xc course!

Why hello there!  Today was another jam packed day at the Waredaca Classic 3-Day!  There were some pretty major things that everyone had to accomplish today:
1) Hack the track for Phases A & C to make sure you know where you are going out there tomorrow and to locate all of your gates!  For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about out there on Phases A and C there are a bunch of gates that you must pass between while you are trotting the Roads and Tracks phases of the long format.  Yesterday we were taken out in trucks to get a look at it, but it was SO important to hack it and actually see where you have to go on horseback.  I felt like I knew the course so I used hacking C as my warm up for the steeplechase practice and suddenly I found myself back out in the corn field because I had missed the turn to continue on the track for Phase C.  I also decided to trot out a kilometer and see where my mare paces compared to the desired 4-minute kilometer.  Of course, being me I chose to practice on the kilometer that involved some rougher terrain that made it necessary to walk a bit bringing us in at 4:45.  But I figure that’s not horrid for a rougher section of trail!  Best part?  The beast mare was thrilled to be trotting along the trails!  There is not much to complain about when you are trotting a forward happy horse around a property that looks something like this:
Hacking A out on Phase A first thing this morning!  It’s a shame the scenery is so horrid.  😉
2) Steeplechase Practice!!!  The organizers designed today to again be split between the Novice and Training riders.  So while the Novice riders went and played dressage in the sandbox the Training riders got to go gallop down some brush fences!  Unfortunately I was attempting to create a dressage horse at the time my partner in crime, Christine and Erin’s Shenanigans (Zoe), had a go at them but she reports the Zoe-Zoe was thrilled to be out running and jumping.  After dressage Ariat and I had our turn to practice.  Our first go wasn’t pretty… I have this horrible habit of forgetting how to ride, taking my leg off, and looking down at the fence.  Take it from me, this is NOT a smart life decision!  So when it was time to get Ariat out over the ‘chase fence we had a deep chip over the first attempt and when we landed I wanted to “Gibbs Slap” myself.  I KNOW how to ride this horse!  I should probably do it now!  So on our second trip around I kept her in front of my leg and we still found a deeper distance than most, but it was solid and powerful.  Ariat and I are still not extremely confident with the longer spots and continue to work on this through practice and strengthening exercises!  But you really don’t need to hear about our winter homework, you are reading this for the 3-Day info!
Practice Steeplechase fence!
3)  XC Course Walk!  This evening after the bay mares were fed and bundled up against this wind Waredaca is experiencing Christine and I had a chance to walk our steeplechase course and then also our separate Phase D’s.  Once we did this we met back at start and headed out with our official course walk with the experts!  This evening Novice walked with Stephen Bradley and he was great at chatting a bit about each fence, how he might ride it, what he would be looking for in the horse, where the rider should be focusing, etc.  This means that the competitors have now had the opportunity to walk our Phase D’s with two extremely experienced professionals and who have done a great job answering about a million and a half questions.
One of two steeplechase fences

Course walking!!
….. I feel like there was something else going on today…. something important………. OH!  Dressage!
4) Dressage Test!  Today was also the dressage day!  Novice went first in the morning and Training went in the afternoon.  It was pretty different for Ariat and I to not only ride in the standard size dressage ring (do you KNOW how long that long side is?  My trainer swears it is 60m, but I am rather certain it is actually 7 miles long) but to also ride for a judge at B.  The tricky part about this, at least for Ariat and I, is that we have apparently become really good at hiding our flaws from the judge at C!  The Beast put in a solid test despite some minor issues of her bracing against me.  The Novice 3-Day dressage test is a tricky one in that through the way it is designed really demonstrates if your horse is soft, bending, and on the bit.  For those of you who know my horse we are typically none of those things!  So I left the ring feeling a bit disappointed as Ariat had warmed up incredibly well and was super bendy-flexy before heading up for our test, but we got it done and earned a respectable 32.  We received a 28 from the judge at C and a 36 from the judge at B and these scores were then averaged together to arrive at a 32.  I *believe* this has us tied for something like 24th place?  There were some simply lovely dressage tests out there today and sincere congratulations to all of those riders who I may or may not have silently cursed out as scores of “21” and “22.5” echoed back into the stabling area….
Beast Mare getting ready to leave Warm up!

Christine and Zoe after their test!

And lastly ladies and gentlemen I am going to leave you with some thoughts about tomorrow.  Tomorrow is endurance day!  The day that we take our horses and instead of galloping around a  normal xc course for 5-6 minutes we compete in 4 different phases.
Phase A: Roads and Tracks — 14 minutes of trotting around a track just over 3 km
Phase B: Steeplechase — Galloping at 470 (N) and 520 (T) mpm over 5 (N) and 6 (T) steeplechase fences
Phase C: Roads and Tracks — 20 minutes of trotting around a track just over 4km
Phase D: The traditional xc phase
Phase D is what is starting to make my stomach churn.  Both the Novice and the Training courses are solid for the level.  I in no way want to say anything negative about Area I as I love it and have loved competing and learning there, but all I have to say is, we are not in Area I anymore!  Between the 2 black flag options at Novice to the angle barrels and owl hole at Training, we have our work cut out for us!
This evening at the educational lectures during dinner the following quote as said and it rang so very true to me and is something I want everyone to think about as you continue your careers as horseback riders and horse enthusiasts…
 “The Classic Format is first and foremost about horsemanship.  Take care of your horse.
My goal tomorrow is simple… Finish.  I want to get my mare home through those finish flags safe and sound!
To all riders competing tomorrow, stay safe and kick on!
Some pictures of a handful of Novice and Training XC jumps and the grounds we get to go run and jump around tomorrow!  Thank you again Waredaca, it is absolutely beautiful and we are beyond excited to get out there tomorrow!!
A corner?!  At Novice?!
Training 6 & 7  Numbered so you could jump 6, track left, circle around, and jump 7 straight… OR take the angled line!  GET IT!

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