Kirsten Cowan: Waredaca Classic 3-Day Part III

Kirsten Cowan of The Beast Eventer blog has been reporting in from the Waredaca Classic 3-Day, where she is entered in the Novice 3-Day with her mare Keeping It Classy (Ariat) and her friend Christine and Zoe competed in the Training 3-Day.  Today Kirsten shares Christine’s account of the Training level endurance day.  Thanks to Kirsten and Christine for writing, and thank you for reading.  Go long format!   [Read Part I] [Read Part II]  [Waredaca Live Scores]


From Kirsten:

I am going to start off by saying a few very important things right off the bat here:

1) Everyone reading this needs to ride a 3-day IF you are interested in the best experience of your entire life and gaining invaluable knowledge about what it means to be a horseman.
2) Both Christine and I are extremely tired and there is no way we can properly explain to you tonight the amazing-ness that is endurance day at a 3-Day!!  We stay in Maryland until Sunday morning so after we finish up competing tomorrow we will have come down time to reflect.
Without further ado, Endurance day will rock your world!
Training went first this morning and Christine and Zoe were 4th out of start!  Before I turn the “reins” over to her to tell you about her experience I just wanted to say sending your rider off on phase A is the most anti-climatic experience of your life!  There is all this anticipation, the anxiety and excitement is literally palpable.  Then the rider gets called and they are off!!! ….. At a trot………
Christine’s thoughts post-endurance day:Hi Everyone!  So first of all I’d like to say Thank you to Everyone who worked SO hard to put on such a fabulous event!  I can only begin to imagine the time, effort, stress, and cups of coffee that went into the organizing! But I’ll fill you guys in on what happened today with what I like to think as “the fun stuff”.Coming into Endurance day I was quite nervous, especially for phase D.  One might think that was odd given that, that was the only phase I have actually done in a competition setting.  I can get quite nervous for XC especially when I am able to walk the course more than a couple times.  And after the first course walk I was feeling a little green.  Having moved up to Training this Spring the course was very technical.  It had some pretty serious questions.  Contemplating this on the way back to the barn, I realized “Wait…..we did steep angled fences in my lesson two weeks ago….and lots of skinnys with some technicality….and it was fine.”  (And I’d like to give a BIG Thanks to my instructor, Suzi, for all the help she’s given me and Zoe! Couldn’t have gotten this far without her.)The second course walk did not make me feel much better…I couldn’t even pin point a partricular worry because there were more than a few.  (Especially the keyhole skinny brush fence that was the second to last fence….) But then I remembered that I’m riding Zoe.  She’s been around significantly more Training Level courses than I have and generally seems to like to look out for me.  (Cause I definitely need it).This morning, I walked the course again and thought “O…..this is not as daunting as I built up in my head excellent.”  I think the main reason I was feeling better about D was because I was so worried about the other three phases.  I felt like a squirrel on crack trying to make sure I had all the times right, adjust my watches, make sure I had everything I wanted or could possibly need down in the 10 min box, and is Zoe going to spook at the fence judges or think she needs to gallop phase A because we had a countdown.  The list goes on and on.

Thankfully Zoe usually ignores my anxious, high stress energy vibes. (I think she tries to help me stay calm by being calm herself).  And I had an amazing group of people to help get my to the start on time.

So off we went…..trotting. (Well Zoe insisted on some cantering, and then was offended that there were hay bales….and people…..and other horses not exactly where she liked them from yesterday).  So off we went and finally established a rhythm.  I found that trotting along in my two point actually made it easier for both of us to settled into a comfortable steady rhythm.  I was so paranoid I’d forget a flag I tried to make up stupid ways to remember which number i had just passed…which really was a fail.  But I didn’t miss any, which was probably due to the great job the Waredaca team did on labeling the trail.

Then onto phase B, which I was very excited for!  Zoe was also.  She was ready to do some running and jumping.  She really enjoyed this phase!  Our first fence I let her drift a little right (my chronic life struggle) so she jumped a little funny.  But off we went,  she was then fully committed and ready to GO!  If you’ve never done the steeplechase phase and have the opportunity to do it, DO IT!  SO much fun!  It really gets you going!


So right after steeplechase you continue onto phase C.  Second and longer part of roads and tracks.  I was a little more worried about how Zoe would be on this phase for a couple reasons.  The first being we just ran fast and jumped jumps.  So sometimes Zoe thinks we should be doing more of that so I wasn’t sure how settled she would be.  But she surprised me!  We did a little walking within the first couple minutes but she wanted to get right back to trotting (she was really thinking canter but we compromised on a brisk trot).  I was also worried about missing flags!  When I hacked C Zoe decided that we needed to be a little more active and insisted on some very brisk trotting so I cut it short.  And I was running late for steeplechase practice…Whoops!

As we finished through our last flag on C I realized I wasn’t really feeling nervous anymore.  I had been so busy trying to count flags and not get lost I couldn’t think about anything else.  We trotted into the 10 min box (well tried to…Zoe was horrified by all the activity that was NOT how she left it when we started so we danced sideways quite a bit).  I leaped off and Kirsten grabbed her and held her for the vets and we started walking her.

The 10 minute box was crazy!  I tend to be a high stress high energy person already so in the box that felt amplified but I still wasn’t worried about D.  I was worried about Zoe, the Time, my tack, and who was yelling.  Thank God for Kirsten because otherwise I would have fallen apart!  Before I knew it I was back on and headed for the start box.  And that’s when Kirsten said “Ride hard and don’t take any fence for granted.”
And off we went!

Zoe was fabulous!  I honestly could not ask for a better or more forgiving horse.  She is always right there with me and will give 110%.   She was perfect the first three fences.  I then got a little sloppy with my straightness over the 4ab question.  I got lucky and was able to make it work but it was not picture perfect.  This woke me up quite a bit!  I had to jump the angled barrels and the half coffin and some skinnys so straightness was key!

The rest of the course rode really well!  I loved that I sort of learned as I went.  I tend to try to micromanage with my hands and seat to try to find a distance instead of letting the turn or fence do the work of half halting as I rode forward to the fence.  I felt like each fence got better and better and Zoe and I gained confidence from being able to answer all of the questions.  I also knew that if I got Zoe’s eye on the fence and didn’t totally mess her up that she would do her best to get us over the fence safely.  What more could I ask for.

As we continued around the course I was able to keep my speed and pace around to make the time. Making time has been hard for me since I moved up.  I like to micromanage and usually end up to “to much” to set Zoe up for the fence.  I really just need to ride forward and sit up tall to wait for her.  So I tried doing that and it worked!  I made time!!! Which was a huge goal for me!  This was definitely the hardest course I have tackled to date.  We even jumped the key hole skinny brush fence no problem!  I was so proud!

I think the long format really helped us find our pace and that we were able to jump at speed.  I had never had to jump at speed before and I finally realized I can let go and it’s fine!  Anyways the long format was awesome and that was by far the most difficult course I’ve jumped.  So THANKS again to everyone who helped me to get here!  But I’ll pass this back over to Kirsten now that I’ve babbled for days!  But thanks for reading!

Hey everyone, Kirsten again!  It is now Saturday morning and it is with a heavy heart I report that Ariat has not be accepted through the second jog.  She is a big horse with massive muscle groups who is used to 24/7 turnout.  She worked hard yesterday and unfortunately over night became extremely stiff dispite hand walking and hacking.  This is not abnormal for her on the day after a hard work and as always the horse must come first.  We will now go cheer on Christine and Zoe as they jump stadium and Ariat will get some well deserved R&R over the coming weeks.
Keep on kicking on!
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