It has been a very busy past couple of days! We got home from the AECs around 2:30 this morning and then a pretty busy day back at Kaleidescape getting ready for an exciting week. I anticipate finishing this blog and some other computer work and then dinner shower bed. Let's do a quick recap of the highlights:
SATURDAY was of course cross country day at the AECs. The advanced went first which was helpful because it gave me time to walk my own course one more time and watch how the course was riding. We shared several fences and had several similar questions (the intermediate would be next to the advanced, or share the first two parts, etc.) and it is always an advantage to get to compare how it walked with how it is actually riding. The advanced was a little unusual...the footing really hadn't been prepared the way we were all expecting, and although the facility is amazing the cross country certainly wasn't the biggest, most beautiful course I've ridden this year. A lot of the WEG horses either withdrew or did a modified course, or were told to go very easy with their pace. That was a little disappointing and I would hate to be a selector; but nonetheless I got to watch lots of good rides and lots of nice ponies cruising along doing what they do best! Before I knew it, Morris and I were hacking over to the start. We had a super warm up, they provided us tons of portables, skinnies, it was really well done in that department. I was going for time for sure, it was a championship and I could easily be Top 10 with a quick and clear round. He handled the early questions well, was really listening and by the middle of the course (particularly in one stretch after the big drop question) I was just absolutely flying in between my fences and I knew that Morris and I both were having a great time. The coffin caught him by surprise, which did not catch me be surprise lol; but we got thru it leaving only a little bit of stifle fur on the brush on the way in :) The water was big and set on a really forward step and I really had to ride to get the distances; but Morris answered, just kept drifting left. Didn't think a whole ton about it until I am on my way to the next combination, third from home, the bounce bank, where I really lost his left shoulder galloping up the ramp to get onto the mid-level of the bank. I was trying to stuff him back into straightness as he was hopping up the bank and hard to say what really happened (I bought the DVD so I will know when it comes in the mail lol) it all happened so fast. He kinda ran out of room, didn't understand that he had to bounce over the log? Wasn't straight enough, or didn't have enough power because of the drift? Either way, in less than a second my beautiful double clear round came to an abrupt halt while I sat there trying to figure how exactly one gets off of a bounce bank in order to re-approach. There were no options, so I recreated the entire combination, and galloped down the backside of the bank and made the right handed turn to the corner. It was a very frustrating afternoon and I had my fair share of margaritas at dinner, not going to lie. I'm just a competitive person. But Morris really was a star, jumped around a big tough track like a horse that deserved to be an Intermediate champion, and I have some stellar pictures to prove it! I also learned a valuable lesson, the left shoulder is going to be the focus of my paranoia forever more in cross country rounds of the Mor-ris.
SUNDAY was kind of a game of hurry up and wait. Because we were so close to the time on cross country I was afraid of warming Morris up too much for show jumping. So I sat around and watched a LOT of jumping. It was interesting, the Team had a pre-warm up warm up and I basically got a lesson watching the Capt and Katie et al working on the horses getting ready for WEG. In hindsight, I wish that I had been riding Morris because when I finally did get on yikes did I have a firecracker! The arena was packed around 3 sides with spectators, the VIP tent, flags, the Landrover driving course...really just a ton of stuff going on and Morris just wouldn't particularly settle. The horse before me gave the jump crew a lot of work, and I took advantage of this trotting and cantering Morris around the arena before I heard the judge sound the buzzer. We had a better round than Richland, certainly; but nothing like we have been getting at home and at Karen's. Morris just didn't want to exhale and I tried numerous different things around the course to encourage him to do so! It didn't much matter in the scheme of things, even with my rails I moved up a couple of placings and a clear round would have only resulted in me moving up another 2 or 3. I'm glad that I got a chance to jump around all the atmosphere; you can't recreate that at home and Morris obviously needs more work staying focused and relaxed when he sees a giant jump-filled arena after cross country day!
MONDAY came way too fast, mainly because we were up all night driving home! I slept for a few hours when I got home; but I was up early on Event Entries getting Morris and Freddie all entered in Morven and....drum roll please.....the Fair Hill CCI2* for Morris, obviously as the baby is just attempting his second novice. I am really excited to get to end my first year with Clifton Jade on home turf more or less, at the Fair Hill CCI2*. So much work to do until then!