Ashlynn Meuchel is a Montana pony clubber turned professional event rider. She is headed to Grand Prix Eventing in Aiken, SC, this weekend on "Emporium," a horse she produced personally from novice to the 4* level. We are so proud to claim her as an assistant trainer here at Jeanie Clarke Equestrian.
I'm getting excited to head to the Grand Prix Eventing as Bruce's Field this weekend! My preparations really began last weekend in the intermediate at Rocking Horse HT. This event being our first run of the season, I entered the intermediate instead of the advanced so Emporium could go step around and have it be fun, easy, and confidence-building for him.
He was rideable and attentive in all three phases, which is confidence building for us both heading into a more technically challenging competition.
It is ideal to prep within your program, which means no crazy changes last minute before a big competition, so his program since Rocking Horse has remained largely the same as every other week.
Most people would jump right before the show to practice, but I feel my horse is best if he doesn't see jumps for a few days before any given competition because then jumping is very fun! So instead of jumping this week, we had our last jump school with my showjumping coach at the end of last week. He advised that although it would be fun to jump giant jumps, it wasn't really necessary as we prepared for the Grand Prix. We could work on technicality while saving his big jumps for show day.
I did a 30-minute trot set for fitness Tuesday, and I have dressage lessons to finesse my test with the outstanding Christian Schatt from Germany two days this week. That leaves one day this week before we head to the show for a bit of practice over poles.
Poles on the ground are a great tool that I frequently use in my program to sharpen up my eye and practice challenging, technical exercises with almost no impact on my horses' legs.
About once per week, I set up a course of poles, similar to a jump course. I work on placing the horses' feet exactly where I want them over the pole and riding an accurate distance.
A simple exercise is to set up two poles five strides apart (20 average size steps) and work to get five perfect same size strides every time. After you can reproduce five strides consistently, try lengthening the stride for four, then shortening the stride for six, noting the different sizes of canter steps required for each number of strides between poles. This helps improve the rider's ability to influence the canter, which helps both horse and rider navigate jump courses of any kind.
Packing for the competition is next, that's the fun part!