Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Morven Park

The video at the bottom: Freddie Mac's Novice dressage test.

We were so lucky with the weather this past weekend when we competed at Morven Park just outside of Leesburg, and I will be the first to say thank you! for letting the rain stop for 48 hours so we could compete in the cold, and not the cold and wet. Actually, by the afternoon of both Saturday and Sunday the temperatures were very pleasant and my ponies were feeling very good.
Saturday we took Morris to compete in the Intermediate. Lara Gunsmoke Morris and I had the pleasure of an extra helper, Emma, whom we hope to see very shortly in her eventing debut! I think we had an excellent prep for Fair Hill, it was frosty first thing in the morning and Morris was handling the whole situation very well. He was excellent for his pre-ride, and for most of his warm up prior to the test. He stood by his arena, yes, STOOD! which is quite a feat, and he walked quietly back from warm up to the trailer. Lara had him looking beautiful in no time and we went in for the real deal. It wasn't quite as good as the AECs; but certainly better than any of the tests that we were doing in the spring. His walk got a little tense by the end of the diagonal, so guess what we will be doing plenty of this last week before Fair Hill......Also, need to work on my canter-walk transitions. Throwing away a couple of points there, and at Fair Hill a couple of points are really going to make a difference!
Show jumping was out on the grass, which was a little surprising and disappointing as I wanted to practice in the arena...Fair Hill's show jumping will take place in the main arena. Oh well, good practice for the Morris brain as he has a tendency to assume that all jumping out on grass looks and feels a lot like cross country! He was quite good, only got a little tight and flight thru a tricky line in the middle of the course although luckily he kept those rails up. We had an unlucky rail in the triple...the rider before me gave it a good roll and I don't think it was properly reset, because Morris barely tapped it and then several seconds later it fell quietly out of the cups. Oh well. We withdrew before cross country, it was too close to Fair Hill for me to feel comfortable about running as I think it is the dressage and show jumping that need the most focus. We are going to go cross country schooling to practice a couple of exercises and I think that is safer for his health, both physical and mental, than getting to zoom around the course at Morven.
We went back on Sunday with Freddie, however, with every intention of completing all three phases and winning a ribbon! He is really growing up, it was his 3rd event and so cold and windy in the morning he would have had every excuse to act like a green bean. Lots of pats and cookies for Freddie, he really acted like he knew what he was doing for most of the time. He had the unfortunate luck of performing his test in the indoor, which is a small tight place for Mr. Long Legs. He did a really good job of staying relaxed and focused, and throughout the test he just got better and better. We were sitting second after dressage, so obviously the judge thought as highly of his performance as I did! Show jumping was difficult for Freddie with the ups and downs of the terrain; but he tries so very hard to keep the rails up and you could really see him making a real effort. He rubbed one or two and took a flying leap over one or two; but at the end of the day he was double clear and very proud of himself. It wasn't the prettiest round I've ever ridden although it was enough to move us into first. I can only imagine what it is going to feel like when he gets control and coordination lol.
Unfortunately, our being in 1st place only lasted up until fence 13. That would be where Freddie Mac was completely taken by surprise by the ditch at the half coffin. I was disappointed, as he was really having a great round. He acted like a total grown up horse jumping up the bank and 2 strides over the roll top, he cantered quietly thru the woods and had a lovely jump over the stone wall on the way out. Really felt like a big-time horse there. He was pretty brave about jumping the big brush fence, and I thought I had him motoring over the ditch until a half a stride away. And then, it was as though he'd been watching the reining competition at WEG. Front legs out to the side, hind legs somewhere by his elbows, and head straight down looking into the ditch. I did a pretty good job of staying on, I must say, and then he sat there for a second regrouping and I added leg to no avail. He picked his head up and I gave him a stern whack. He got the point and jumped from a standstill, which I consider to be a sign of progress. We didn't stand there for 5 minutes determining whether or not it was safe to cross over the Grand Canyon as it sometimes must appear to Freddie. We more or less poured ourselves over the log that was supposed to be a quiet 3 strides after the ditch; but nonetheless we were back in action. The next fence was the trakehner, a pretty big log with a faux ditch underneath. Freddie was very brave about that, and then continued with a confident gallop the rest of the way around the course.
Next for Morris the the 2* at Fair Hill, HOORAY! Freddie will have a mini-vacay until competing again at Waredaca at the end of the month. Hoping that third time is a charm and he finally brings home the blue!

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