I wanted to give everyone an update of how we are doing as we are gearing up for our first CDE. I checked the omnibus for the event and the marathon course is 11km, nearly 7 miles in translation... The dressage is on the first day, marathon the second and then cones on the third for those not familiar with CDE's. It is similar to 3 day eventing only with a carriage.
Sunday I worked Kat and took him out in the neighborhood for a drive. I have since driven the route in the car and clocked how far we went overall and how much of that was trotting... Nearly 3 miles at the trot and 5.4 miles overall. That was just what was outside the driveway gate, after lunging him before harnessing up and then working a bit in our large front pasture. Now mind you he was not breathing hard at all and barely broke a sweat, only two places under the breeching.
He did keep stopping and stretching out like he had to pee and I would let him stand for a few minutes each time, telling him to go ahead and do it already, guiding him into the dirt to prevent slatter, etc. The things we do for our horses... *shakes head* When we got home I unhooked and unharnessed him quickly and tied him up in the dirt so he could go. He finally did pee and it had to feel better afterwards.
One of the things I found funny was along our 'route' there were these big pipes sticking up out of the ground. They were about 6 feet tall and had a 'hook' on the top where they bent over and down. They were about 6" diameter and black. I think they are attached to the sewer lines as 'breather tube's' but who knows. As we trotted past the first couple of them, Kat looked with interest and 'wobbled' a bit in the lines. He wasn't too sure about going past them until my voice of reason kicked in.
I told Kat, "You have got to be kidding me. We go to these competitions and trot in, around and through stuff, bigger stuff, taller stuff, longer stuff, brightly painted stuff, all with no fuss, no muss and you just blast on through it all without a problem. Yet you are giving these a long, hard, second look? Man up! For gawd sakes already." After that he paid them no attention what so ever. He also didn't pay any attention to the door laying on the one side of the trail, the cactus pieces laying IN the trail or anything on or along our way down the road...
Once we hit the part of the trail where he could trot, I let him go. As long as he kept it at a trot and as long as he wanted to, we trotted. When he did finally stop trotting on the first part of our outing, I had him keep walking. I found a tree a little ways ahead of us and picked that as our place to turn around to go back towards home. We walked to the tree, turned around, walked back to where we made the transition to the walk and I stopped him. I wanted to make a few adjustments on the harness.
One of the issues we have been having is once Kat has been working and maybe sweated a little, he shakes his head and the bridle will slip off. Usually it is one ear, but this time as I was adjusting the harness, he shook his head and slipped it off both ears. The bit was hanging low enough to still be in his mouth and he was playing with it, but at least he still had the bridle on. He stood like a rock and let me fix it without a fuss, but still. WTH! It slipped off one ear about 6 or 7 more times on the way home. Each time we were at a walk, each time I stopped him, jumped out and fixed it and we went on our way, but I am not liking this crap at all.
I am thinking it is an issue with the browband, because everything else fits and is adjusted as it should be, which is as small as things will go and allow, but the browband doesn't lie flat on his forehead like they do on regular bridles. Maybe it's just me, but with the crown slipping off over his ears with the throatlatch still buckled, that just doesn't seem right? It may also involve the blinders and the straps & buckles on top of them helping to hold them up where they should be. They go through the loop on the underside of the browband, but split in a spot where the browband can not go any lower where it should... I am getting way too well versed in fit issues with things. Too. Well. Versed.
Once the harness was adjusted and the bridle back on, I climbed in the cart and off we went again. Kat willingly slipped into a trot and I let him go again. The only corrections to be made was keeping him at a trot and not letting him break into a canter. The whole time we were out, I was not concerning myself (or him) with tipping his nose to the 'inside' or anything else. I just let him go, let him do his job and he did. He was light and responsive as ever with the slightest touch or tug of the rein. Which tells me to just say "Screw it!" as far as worrying about his nose while working at home.
When we got back to the spot where we get on the side of the road and can trot, he was still fresh and willing to go. He kept on trotting so I let him. We got almost all the way down to the corner where my friend Michelle lives and we make our turn into the neighborhood towards home. There were some big sage brush bushes that had been dumped right in the middle of the trail so as we approached them it was a good time to slow things back down to a walk.
Since we had headed out kind of late as we were coming home, the sun had already gone down and we were losing daylight. Thankfully we were already in the neighborhood, on the quieter streets and pretty close to home, because it was getting cold. Or at least I was getting cold. I drove almost all the way home one handed with my other hand in my hoodie pocket. Even though I had gloves on, my hands were cold. I still had to jump out a few times and fix the bridle, but each time Kat was patient and it almost seemed like he was irritated with the bridle slipping off too.
As we came into the driveway I was feeling quite pleased with how things had gone. I knew our outing before had been 3.5 miles and we had walked the whole way, but now we had added a big chunk to our trip and were trotting most of it. I am thinking the CDE in March may be a reality for us. I am hoping so anyways. In the next few weeks I will have a better idea and will be adding more distance to our workouts. Entries close February 20th so I need to make up my mind one way or the other!
The next two parts of the Sticker Shock series will touch on some of the things needed for the CDE's while some of them also carry over to the breed show requirements as well.