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Virginia HT as a Move-Up?

Hi all!

My old man (18yo Hanoverian) and I have been messing around at BN for about two years now, though we missed most of this season due to a mystery lameness that wasn’t resolved until august. We’re both bored at BN (but neither of us have shown above it) and consistently in the top three at local shows, usually jumping up the leaderboard after fun, fast, and consistently clear jumping rounds. We’ve now schooled Novice xc without issues and some Training too, and plan to show in the 0.9m jumpers over the winter and maybe go to a CT.

Our first show of 2017 will be an event derby in early May at Novice (our first time!) but my university’s eventing team is planning on competing in VA at the Intercollegiate Championships at VA Horse Trials. I’d love to go Novice at it but have never been to that facility or even shown outside of Area VIII. Is this a decent move-up course or could it ruin our confidence?

Note: My horse is bold and honest, will jump any brush, corner, banks, drop into water, all the scary stuff with ease. BUT he HATES ditches. He will go over them on course and when he is first presented with them because he’s surprised, but if you try to school them and he figures out what you’re asking…it’s game over.

Any tips on the ditch issue, notes on how the courses there ride, and information about the venue is much appreciated! We aren’t looking to win, just have a nice move-up.

It honestly depends on the course. My recollection is that they do typically have a pretty decent sized open ditch. But I generally don’t think of their courses as unfair but typically just true to the level.

I know several people who have used the fall Virginia HT as a move-up for both Novice and Training with success…no idea if the spring event is any more difficult. I do know VAHT is very hilly so make sure your horse is fit on hills!

As far as the ditch issue, not sure I have any advice except to school it a lot. Go to as many different venues as you can. My horse hated ditches at first, but after a season of schooling at pretty much every venue in Area 2, he’s completely over it. We also introduced trakehners and other ditch+ questions this year, so he’s learned not to worry about them. (We introduced trakehners by putting up a tiny vertical over a tiny ditch to school. It helped him understand the question and I believe it helped him not care about ditches as much).

I would recommend solving the ditch issue before you campaign too much at novice, though. Most novice courses I’ve ridden have half coffins on them, and several (in our area, at least) have trakehners at novice. I even had a ditch and brush at my last event.