Sunday, February 26, 2012
Playtime at Pine Top
What a difference a year makes! At this time last year I can't describe to you the time and effort it would've taken me to get Smarty to jump straight over this little fella pictured above. And now, fast forward to Pine Top this past weekend. Smarty had a super jump up the bounce bank (and let me tell you it was even more of an effort than I was anticipating to get up there!) landed waiting for instructions, and absolutely straight on galloped to the skinny and split the uprights we did!
All sorts of stellar moments just like this helped us end a great week in Aiken. We've had a little excitement...some barn drama could have landed us on "Real Working Students of Aiken, SC" this past week. Really looking forward to the 1st when back-ups from home arrive!! Trisha had a great week, somehow in between making all of my horses, the barn, oh yeah and me look fantastic, she and her very own Final Statement won the Training Derby at Paradise on Wednesday! She and "Bailey" looked great out there, should be all primed for victory next weekend when they compete at Sporting Days. I am proud to have both of them as part of the program, well Trisha is an integral part as I can't imagine being here without her! We snuck out this morning to the Track Kitchen to celebrate surviving last week. It can't be all work and no play ;)
But, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, the real highlight of the week was getting to ride Playtime at the Advanced Pine Top this weekend. As most of you know, sadly he is for sale, and I consider every ride on him to be a bonus at this point. We worked incredibly hard all winter with Linda on his dressage and I was sorry that the conditions this weekend didn't allow us to showcase our new and improved flatwork! The thunderstorms were severe and scattered, and so after hours of delay we finally got word to tack up and get into the ring before the next round started. I thought Smarty handled this pretty well; but at the end of the day a huge squall interrupted our test and although he kept it together, a few mistakes here and there plagued our score. I rode in front of Charlie Musco, a judge whom I think very highly of and in fact I wish more venues would use him! I hope next time I see him the weather is a little kinder on us all, it is no fun to ride or judge or volunteer in weather like that - thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting our sport.
Saturday was a brand new day, with a new time schedule that the organizers somehow got to work out perfectly! I was thankful to get to show jump before cross country, actually, so I guess all the wet and disgusting tack and equipment was totally worth it?! Show jumping was actually quite tricky, lots of roll backs, use of terrain, a spooky skinny oxer, and my ultimate nemesis, a Swedish oxer to end the course on a bending line. I fell victim to the course designer's evil plan, Smarty was a little flat and stiff by the end of the course and I wasn't able to keep him straight enough...onto the high side we drifted and down went the very last rail on an otherwise well jumped course. He was even easily inside the time, in hindsight I would have insisted on adding up, getting him bending and supple again. Smarty does NOT like to touch rails, he apologized and swore it wouldn't happen again :) I promised him the same thing!
The brisk temperatures and wind helped ensure that I had plenty left in the tank that afternoon for cross country. I took advantage of all of the cross country fences in warm up (they even had a ditch flagged - amazing!) and angled a skinny or two just to make sure. I was a little worried about the out of the 2nd water. It was basically the same angled brush question that caught Smarty off guard at Fair Hill, and I didn't want to end up making the same mistake twice. Smarty has such a giant step, I found myself debating the numbers on a few of the other options. But by the time I left the box I had quite the plan in my head. And luckily, I was able to execute said plan out there! Smarty was so adjustable, the right amount of listening but still game to run and jump. He is such a powerful jumper, he makes my job easy most of the time. I took it easy galloping around; but you can just feel him learning each time he heads out on course. Very, very cool. The hardest and saddest thing is that I only get to ride him around the course once! I need 10 Smarty's, please, because it is really hard to think that I have to wait 3 weeks until Southern Pines to get to go run around another 6 minutes worth of Intermediate cross country! If only I had a barn full....and I know I'm the only person out there saying that, right?!