From July 14-16 the renowned young horse competition ‘Euroyoungsters’ was held in Oisnitz, Styria (AUT) and I was very excited to compete as it was Bofi’s first outdoor event.
On the beautiful showgrounds of the Reitsportzentrum Süd in Oisnitz the Euroyoungsters 2017 took place. This is a competition especially for young horses (3-5yo). On day one there is a commanded test, which means 2-4 young horses are in the arena and you follow the commands, basically showing all 3 gaits. After the test horses are presented in hand so that the judges can examine the exterior. On the second day a young horse test is to be ridden.
I love young horse competitions and I believe it the most exciting thing to show a young horse. I also love all the preparations, getting the horses to get used to -well mainly everything: from being stabled in a tent, to being with all the other horses, seeing hundreds of new things, training in heavy traffic, coping with the excitement before the test or leaving all the other ‘friends’ in the preparation to be all alone in the competition arena… I think I have said it before, but I think these very first experiences are the most important ones for a young horse and they will make the difference, if you will have a loyal and trusting partner or if going to shows will be a permanent fight.
We prepared Bofi very carefully and slowly, starting in February with some training experiences on the showgrounds at Magna Racino, followed by his first indoors tournament in March and again regular training units at my trainer’s place near Vienna getting him used to transport, change of scenery, etc. A few days before the Euroyoungsters we again moved to my trainer’s place as there are beautiful outdoor facilities.
And all this preparation, which is for me -I have to confess- quite a challenge as I have to organise everything in a way that at home there is business as usual with all the other horses (and dogs, and sheep, and everything…) really paid off. My 5yo stallion behaved as if he had been to hundred shows already. This is a rider’s dream when your horse not only behaves well but seems to honestly enjoy being in all this turmoil. And turmoil it was: holding not only the Euroyoungsters but also the Styrian regional championships for individuals (big, small and medium tour) and for teams the 4 arenas and all space in between was absolutely crowded. But again Bofi seemed to enjoy everything whilst being super concentrated and giving such a good feeling -as so often he left me speechless (and quite excited for our first test…)
On day 1 we competed in the very first group, which was the group for the young stallions and Bofi just did a super job. Again he was totally focused and not a bit distracted, neither by the other stallions nor the audience, he presented himself in hand like a pro and I was proud to bits as we finished 2nd place scoring 8.2
Day 2 was an individual young horses test and I had a (minor) dilemma: on one hand I really wanted to try to win the tournament but on the other hand I also wanted Bofi in no case to get too much pressure. When I chose this special competition I did it, so that he would have a nice first outdoors experience and that he would learn to trust me throughout all new experiences and impressions. My trainer (as always) had the solution in one simple sentence: ‘He has so much quality and potential so just do as usual.’ what he meant was to just try to show a correct round without trying something exceptional or fancy, and so I did.
When entering the arena on the centerline it was not as straight as usual and I knew at this point that this young stallion felt the excitement and that this was somehow important but he kept his nerve and even better he totally listened to me. On our first lines in rising trot I really had to concentrate to breathe normally because I could not believe how Bofi behaved and what a wonderful feeling he gave. Our canter could have been a bit more ‘young horse’ style and forward and the second transition from canter to trot was not good, on the other hand I am really proud how much he relaxed in extended walk (a thing we have been working on throughout the last months).
Again we finished with a score of 8.2 and in total became 2nd. What makes me most proud is that the judges extra positive commented on his rideability and perspective and on the way he was presented 🙂
During the prize giving ceremony the horses were once again presented and commented by the judges, which is a beautiful idea because it gives the audience some insight and also you have the possibility to see all horses once again. Bofi and me had so much fun showing off a bit…
And about our next plans? As I really want to build up Bofi very carefully and slowly we will have one more competition in autumn but mainly focusing on training as the step from 5yo to 6yo (which means flying changes, half passes etc) is quite a big one.
ps. I have uploaded both days on my Youtube