Monday, February 20, 2012

First Event of 2012!

Tatanka was so excited to go to Paradise Farm Horse Trials this
past weekend! Smarty, although excited, was the recipient of a pep talk from Trisha before dressage as it appears he had put himself to sleep!
Luckily, both put in quite the performance as we got our 2012 recognized eventing season under way. We are so lucky to be based out of Hatchaway Bridge Farms, an unbelievable place just minutes from the Paradise venue. It made traveling and scheduling easy, and with two great horses, Trisha and I had quite an easy time if I dare say so! Smarty started things Friday morning with a super dressage test. Even though he scored a '9' on gaits, I felt like the judge was a bit hard on him and he was siting 5th after 30 horses went in the open preliminary division. Tatanka scored in the cute department and ended up tied for 4th in a very competitive beginner novice division. It was a real pleasure competing in the sun and warmth, which I think has eluded Paradise for the past several competitions!
Saturday was a fun day with Smarty going early out on the cross country. I had a new plan for him this year, running the prelim here at Paradise and then back again next weekend intermediate at Pine Top. I think I like it! The rolling hills, and the use of that terrain, made for a great first outing back for him. I love the new flow of the course and there were some very good questions. Early on some angled downhill houses, and he was taking it easy and listening good boy! The bounce bank to the skinny, and the new coffin made of single chevrons was certainly a tough preliminary question. The new sunken road complex rode great, and Smarty was so very smart there jumping quietly down the drop - I dare say he is starting to learn! I ended up well over the time although that was my plan, starting very easy and just cruising around the course, by the end he was up in full galloping mode taking everything beautifully out of stride and coming right back when he felt me just sit up and stretch open my shoulders as I have practiced a gazillion times in my lessons with Karen! Tatanka had a busy day on Saturday as well, shortly after show jumping a clear round he went home and pulled triple lesson duty as his owner was in town! Because of a yucky Sunday forecast, Tatanka and Nicholas went through their dressage test, jumped a show jumping course, and went out to the woods and had a cross country school all in several hours Saturday afternoon. And then Nicholas came back first thing Sunday morning to practice more dressage in the rain! If that is not the spirit of a future eventing superstar, I don't know what is!
Sunday we were very good with scheduling and luckily the weather wasn't nearly as awful as the worthless news people made it sound. The footing on cross country held up just fine for Tatanka's round, although I think the warm up really took a beating. It was a great confidence building beginner novice track with the exceptions of having to navigate around a bunch of preliminary jumps to get up and down the banks. That was the most wiggly part of my weekend! Luckily he didn't wiggle around anything out on course and he finished in 3rd place yay! Show jumping was clocking right along and I hopped on Smarty, jumped a few oxers, and into the arena we went. The footing in warm up there, too, was a bit trashed and I wasn't sure how he would jump in the heavy footing in the ring. I love him so, he was foot perfect! Smarty cruised around the jumping track effortlessly and jumped everything with his million dollar style. Hard to believe it was just a year ago that we started working together, he is a completely different animal now and he is just the highlight of my day. I get to go in and ride my plan and even when it doesn't quite work out he makes it look beautiful.
Many thanks to the owners of Paradise Farm for hosting so many horses and people! We look forward to going back on Wednesday with Trisha and Bailey for the jumping derby. And then it is off to the Advanced Pine Top at the end of the week. Get the party started!

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