Thursday, September 22, 2011

Clifton Jade Wins at Plantation!

Well, that's how it was supposed to read anyway. Sadly, Clifton Jade had the winning score at Plantation and then, when it was all said and done, got a big TE for Technically Eliminated, or, totally excellent as we told him. Morris didn't do a thing wrong to deserve the TE, it would be his rider (ahem) who completely messed up the CIC and CNC course and I had no idea I had done so. In fact, I was clean and fast and knew that we had won and was ready to fight when they told me I missed 16B. Morris deserved to win, he was just fantastic. Dressage was freezing, quite literally, it was 41 degrees and just surviving the warm-up was on everyone's mind as cold and tight horses were zinging and leaping all around the show grounds Friday morning. I did a pre-ride not to wear him out as much as I just wanted to literally warm us both up, and when I got on for the second time he was feeling really good. He stayed the same from warm up to around the ring, and then cruised on down the center line like he owned the place. I knew it was going to be a good day! Show jumping went well, I had a rail even though technically it was Morris' hoof that tapped it. Lots of horses were spooking at the in of the combination and even though Morris isn't spooky I didn't want to take any chances as I had seen numerous bad rides. Good news was, there was no spook. Bad news was I got his front legs right up to it and he just didn't have time to snap them cleanly out of the way. However, clean show jumping rounds were very few and far between. We went from winning the dressage to sitting second by barely a point. Cross country day on Saturday started out a little rough. I was walking the course while the riders in the early part of the division were out galloping around, and they were refusing and falling left and right! Not what you want to hear and see as you plan your last approaches and strategies. Morris was none too worried, that's for sure. It was dark and cold and blustery warming up on top of the hill and he was all business and had an excellent warm up in no time. Before I knew it we were flying out of the start box and covering ground like nobody's business. We made it through the coffin which had been - quite literally - a show stopper for most of the division. Morris was excellent, flew thru the bank, the water....and ultimately we flew right by stupid 16B and it cost us the blue! I really have no one to blame other than myself, that doesn't really make me feel any better. It did, however, motivate me to go walk Smarty's CIC** course twice more ha ha ha.
Smarty had a great weekend even if he didn't end up in the Top Ten (he was oh so close). This little Chubby pony was competing at Training Level this past February and now he's qualified for Fair Hill! The dressage is still tough for him, I thought it was one of the best starts we have had and he just got a little tired and I couldn't keep it all together by the end of the test. Had some really super moments, and even performing at less than half of what he is capable of, we were sitting 14th in a super competitive field after the dressage! The cross country course was tough. I had not been to Plantation in years, and the new layout with the arena (the footing is amazing) and the ability to see the entire cross country course from the ridge really makes it an impressive venue. I was a little disappointed in all of the twists and turns in the 2* track. It made some tough questions that much more intense and made you feel like you never had a moment to just let your horse swallow up the ground. That said, Smarty was brilliant. I thought that my round at Richland was like a hunter round at 550 mpm, and this didn't quite match that (I missed like none other to fence 15, the skinny ditch and brush I admit it!). All in all, however, he was a very, very good boy. Some of the biggest bravery questions he has ever faced were on the course, and he was so honest about the skinnies after the coffin (huge vertical log one stride ditch bounce ditch one angled stride skinny eek!). It was the fastest and most efficiently he has ever started a course and he ended with his ears pricked, looking for more fences! He is the only horse that I have ever had that went into the Vet Box and shortly after being assessed by vets was begging for cookies! He really is one of a kind and I really am so lucky to have a horse like that in my barn. Sunday he looked magnificent for the jog, thanks Trisha!, and he put in a lovely jumping round. Had not one but two really cheap rails. That was a really annoying way to end my weekend, knocked him out of a top ribbon. Next time. Well, next time will be Morven Park and maybe we should save it for Fair Hill? Sounds like a plan to me!

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