Prepping for Willow Draw
Yesterday was the official opening date for the Willow Draw Charity Show, which is the kick-off to the Stephanie and Moe reunion tour. The show is just over a month away, but I’m already trying to make sure we’re prepared. I’m vacillating between extreme anxiety and extreme excitement.
Let’s start with the entry form. I had to look up the referenced USEF rule on trainers. (It turns out that yes, you can be your own trainer! Good thing, or my barn owner would have been surprised to learn of her new position in my life.) And let’s not talk about how embarrassingly old the “Horse and Rider Experience” section made me feel. Turns out I haven’t been to a USEA-sanctioned horse trial since 2007. 2007. That is nine years ago! In addition to feeling very old and very feeble, I felt very stupid for having to look up what the USEA Starter Fees were for; I thought they might be for people competing in the Starter division. I was wrong. Per the rulebook, “Competition Starter Fees are a tariff imposed by the USEA on each starter in USEA recognized competitions.” I had no idea we eventers were fancy enough for tariffs.
Of course, all this digging around in rulebook made me
paranoid curious about the rules regarding dressage apparel. You may recall that I bought a Kerrits Competitors Koat in the lovely jasper green shade a few months ago in anticipation of going to real shows this year. I’m very familiar with rules regarding apparel at dressage competitions thanks to my job and had kind of assumed they were the same for eventing dressage. Surely eventers aren’t more conservative than dressage queens. The USEF’s eventing rulebook states “Coat- dark color or tweed, tail coats are not permitted;” which isn’t very helpful. WHAT’S A DARK COLOR? Like, can I wear dark purple? Dark red? I’m going to wear the green coat anyway, because a) there’s no way I’m sweating to death in my black wool hunt coat and b) it’s going to look freaking fabulous on my chestnut horse.
Lots of technological advancements have been made since I last competed nine years ago, one of which is the development of MyCourseWalk.com, a delightful website where you can browse user-uploaded cross country courses from around the nation. The prizelist described Willow Draw’s course as “Average, for horses with some experience at these levels,” so I thought I’d take a look at what we’ll be facing. I don’t particularly worry about Moe, since cross country is his strong point, but it’s nice to be prepared, right? Turns out there are no courses from Willow Draw on MyCourseWalk (is this the inaugural year for it?) and the place’s website and Facebook page have zero photos of cross country jumps. Fortunately, I’m planning on trekking out to Feather Creek this weekend for schooling, so we’ll just jump every possible thing there and hope for the best.
Moving on to our worst phase, in the interest of thoroughness, I thought I’d do some homework on the dressage judge. Through Dressage Detective, I discovered this judge scores an average of 62.995% on tests and is ranked 140th in generosity. (This data is a couple of years old, though.) If we end up with something sub-40, I will be completely happy. If we improve on our last USEA recorded dressage score of 43.0, I will be happy. Hell, if we score one 7 and don’t get disqualified for wearing an inappropriate jacket, I’ll be happy. The test is USEF Novice Test B. This test mercifully has only one coefficient (for the free walk), one halt, and a generous margin for picking up the canter. It’s also short compared to the First Level tests I’ve been doing on Gina, so I ought be able to memorize it without a problem.
Various other preparations I’m making include waffling on buying Moe his very own dressage bridle (he wears Gina’s on the very last holes when he needs to look like a dressage horse), waffling on buying Moe a breastplate (because he needs to look cool, amiright), and scheduling a haircut so my helmet will fit again.
While I’m definitely a little nervous at the thought of going to a USEA horse trial again after nearly a decade, I think I’m more excited than anxious. After all, I haven’t been doing nothing for the last nine years. I’ve played polo, foxhunted, work hard on dressage, and even competed in a few schooling events! I’m looking forward to seeing a new course from my favorite old perspective.