Monday, March 28, 2011

Southern Pines II

I admit that Lara and I packed as fast as possible to leave Southern Pines II and we couldn't wait to hop in the truck and drive the 4 hours back to Aiken. Not because we didn't have a good time; but because it was absolutely dark and freezing! The weather, however, couldn't really dampen our spirits about a good weekend overall. Great job to the CHP and the the Southern Pines II crew who really put on a top notch event. The vendor village on the lane of cross country was a great addition, and I am sorry that the weather didn't cooperate more to bring in more spectators. Hopefully next year!
We brought Morris and Smarty, and I was feeling like both were well prepared for this first event on the PRO Tour. Morris and I were making our advanced debut together, hooray, and that certainly made the weekend meaningful and luckily memorable for most of the right reasons! Smarty was there as well and handled that atmosphere like a big horse. The bucking in the canter during his dressage happens all the time, don't think it had much to do with 6 rings running simultaneously lol. We are working on that, and he still scored great. Better yet, he finished on his dressage score. The cross country he was focused and rideable the entire way around. He needs to continue to get more adjustable especially to be ready for the preliminary combinations and skinnies, although I felt like we are really on the right track. His huge stride just swallows up the ground and he is so brave about the ditches banks and water. He did, actually, trot a few steps up to the ditch at the sunken road complex; but I think it had more to do with him needing a moment to understand the whole area. Once he realized I was riding him towards a ditch he locked right on and still made an easy 2 strides to the house on the way out. Good boy! His show jumping was pretty perfect, if I don't say so myself! Did a clean flying change it like was part of the course not part of a disobedience, made all the inside turns and kept a pretty regular and round stride. Lara had him looking like a winner, and he almost was! Even busted out the quarter marks for the first time this year. Stood proudly with his parents for a picture after a fairly exciting victory gallop. He wanted to make it very exciting, and I had to keep that a little bit more under the controlled/boring side of things.....
Morris was far from boring the entire weekend. He had some super moments in the dressage and some moments when the judge was pretty hard on him. He did score an 8 x2 on his extended walk go Morris go! Maybe he thought/hoped he was done? lol. The half pass still needs some work. Well, a lot of work, and 50% of our changes were stellar. In general, however, he is such a stronger, more supple horse than a year ago. Hell, than a week ago! Cross country, it was really his day to shine. He was fantastic at the combinations, my ride through the big water still gets me all giddy just thinking about it. I had a great forward ride to the bounce and it gave me all the time in the world to get a safe jump up the bank and over the corner in a neat and tidy 2 strides. At the turning skinny brush question Morris proved he was a game advanced horse cross country, because he got the job done which is about what you could hope for there. He had a couple of beautiful galloping fences with some serious air time (I could really feel a difference on the width sometimes versus intermediate that is for sure!) and he finished strong, full of gallop, and looking for more fences! Unfortunately, he did a little fancy footwork at the first trakehner on the course, before the pond water. It looked better to me in years past, still though he is a touch ditchy and I thought I had him outsmarted by jumping far left where the angled log was hiding the ditch for the most part. I didn't have the best move up spot to it, should have held his head up a little bit more, and he kinda snuck/glanced off to the left. Jumped it the second time still not so thrilled, and you better believe I gave him a huge ride to the mammoth sized new trakehner at fence 20. This one's neighbor had wiped out the Intermediate earlier in the day and it was probably the most worrisome jump on the course for me. And that was before I had a stop! A couple of good cracks on the way up to it and some good old fashioned cross country get the job done riding and I found a perfect forward distance (aka I kinda flew over it) and I hope that the photographers were there because that was really something. I have a new plan for the trakehner after the water at The Fork if the course runs like it usually does there....
Show jumping was an improvement over last year because Morris was far more focused and relaxed jumping out on the grass in the cross country field. The course was beautiful and asked a lot of tough questions. Unfortunately Morris and I each had a rail, I will work on my turns and Morris will work on being more careful behind in combinations, we each promised one another ha ha ha. Sorry to Lara in advanced for the jump crewing and pole placement she will have to help me with for the next two weeks!
Everybody looks great today, they have a good day off in the rain getting dirty and doing absolutely nothing productive. Looking forward to The Fork where Morris is back again at the Big A and Smarty makes his move up to Prelim. Can't wait!

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