Sunday, March 25, 2012

Southern Pines II

So the funny thing is, I had a working student this summer named Marian who was pretty terrified of a ditch-and-anything and it became kind of a joke around Blue Clover Eventing. For fun, we put Trisha in front of the ditch and wall on Friday's course walk and sent it to her. Well, it was a good thing Marian wasn't at Southern Pines this weekend!!! Luckily for me, Smarty thought this fence was fun, hell lucky for me he thought every fence was fun as we just stormed around the Intermediate cross country on Saturday at Southern Pines. I don't think I've ever praised a horse so much after crossing a finish line!!

It started like a normal competition, Bailey and Trisha in the Training and Smarty in the Intermediate. We got there in time on Thursday for a nice dressage session, Smarty thought he saw dead people there for a minute although a few circles on a longe line (God Bless Cat and Megan!) and we were golden. Bailey was primed and ready for an early Friday dressage, and did he make quite an impression on the judge! Marks of '9' and '8' on the first two movements of his dressage test, way to go! The training was a very competitive division, and we were hoping the time would be hard to make over a very fun cross country course. Unfortunately, not exactly the case, although I don't think he had a single bad fence. A momentary trip in the water just to make for some dramatic photos...we will take it! Smarty had a pretty super dressage, tough crowd as we were in 6th on a 26 jeeze. Kudos to dressage judge Lisa Cox, she judged Intermediate from 8 until after 530 and she stayed so positive! A lot of fun to get to ride in front of her and I wish I could say that about more judges! I do want to take the moment however to compliment all of the crew at Southern Pines, it is like they have professional volunteers there that just make all the difference in the atmosphere. I look forward to bringing the barn back again next year!

I say that hoping that a few changes get made to the cross country before next year lol. In all seriousness, however, I feel strongly that Southern Pines II always has a very big and difficult track for the Adv and Int and here it was again this year. I don't think horses were reading the bank correctly so early on, I am so so fortunate to be on the bravest and scopiest horse and he didn't bat an eye, I gave him a strong ride and he soared right over it and got short even to the roll top. I got more wiggles to the bank down at 7 than I thought I would. Smarty was just absolutely full of running and he thought the initial house to the bank down apparently was the only question there, cheeky little monkey, and he saw C as kind of an after thought. He was quite honest when I closed legs and reins and jumped thru the flags we did! I cruised thru the Pond Water where so many were not so fortunate; I think my horse's experience at Intermediate made quite a difference there as I pretty much balanced him halfway down the hill and just kept coming down to it and he was happy to oblige. My excitement came actually dodging trees trying to find my line to the skinny at 12 up on top of the hill afterwards! His stride is so big, you have to be careful what you wish for when you ride him strong like I did to the water, takes a few strides to recover ha! Then it was full on galloping to the double corners, and my fancy little show jumper it starting to be a scrappy cross country pony. He took out the flag on B much to my surprise and excitement, actually, as a year ago that would have been a run out! I liked the 4 and thought I needed to keep coming thru the turn, well I accomplished that and got him there a little tight sorry bud; but that's why the flags pop on and off right?! On to the big water where the goal was to find my line to the very tight angled line of houses, Smarty was all about it and just cracked through it like it was a training exercise. Whew. One last tricky combination to go and I have had some ugly rides there before, the palisade things out in the middle of the track. I was cocky, I was close to making the time, and I went the direct route in 3. And I got it! Smarts came right back, jumped, turned, and pretty much locked on and jumped all at the same time. Goooood poooooony :)

Not too much time to celebrate however as we had to run back over for Trisha's show jumping.
I don't think poor Trisha had any nerves left after getting me thru the cross country ha ha ha every 3 seconds someone was falling off, retiring, or her phone was ringing full of more bad news about how the course was riding. Maybe that was the secret to her show jumping round, she rode great, executed her plan, and Bailey got through the combinations with room to spare yippee! I must admit she did a better job than I at executing show jumping plans this weekend. I had costly time penalties in the OI-A to drop to 4th :( Smarty was jumping quite well, in fact I don't recall even a rub during his round, however we had a major discussion over a lead change after the oxer at 7. In the midst of all of this, I kind of slowly see us going to the outside of the first fence to get to the planks at 8, and realize that is NOT where I needed to be oh no! Do I rip his face off for the inside turn and probably get a rail because I've thrown everything out of whack? Didn't seem like a good idea, so I casually boogied around the long way, continued to leave up all the rails (and he jumped like dynamite through the triple!) and knew as I crossed the finish line after a beautifully clean jumping round that I really screwed up. There will be lead change boot camp this week I guarantee you so we can finish in the Top Three at The Fork in two weeks :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brew's Been Busy!

Brew is so excited to tell you all about his first two weeks with us at Blue Clover Eventing! I am so happy to have this little guy in my program, and he has had an action packed two weeks leading up to his first competition at Pine Top this weekend. In fact, everyone has been leaping into action the past two weeks. We are happy to have Kristen here for the month helping out, I'm sure she was lonely at home without us and man oh man were we happy to see her upon her arrival! She and Delilah didn't waste any time, either, they were the big winners on Wednesday at the Derby at Sporting Days!!

Brew and Bailey got to be the big horses this weekend heading to Pine Top, and they came home like big horses with a 5th and 4th respectively. Great ribbons and great results and it doesn't just happen. Congrats to Brew and Trisha and Bailey for busting their tails every day! And speaking of tails, Trisha has Brew's fancy little white tail glittering, I think it scored us an extra 2 points on our dressage lol. Everyone that has met Brew for even a second recognizes how cute and special he is, and he had quite a few moments this weekend that confirmed these feelings. He is the most laid back little fellow on and off the trailer, makes it that much more fun when the ones you like are actually easy to work around. I am sure that will change once he gets to be an Intermediate horse, his list of demands will multiply exponentially. So for the time being, we will enjoy it! Bailey is another one with very few demands right now, and we really appreciate that. We also really appreciate his effort in show jumping to leave up the rails, especially in the combinations! It was by far the best round I have seen Trisha and Bailey jump together. Looking forward to watching them cruise around the track at Southern Pines. It will be the most atmosphere that they have had to compete in thus far, and I'm anticipating a great dressage score - and finishing on it!

These two weren't the only stars of the week however. As I mentioned previously, Delilah and Kristen won the Derby at Sporting Days. We also had Antolin showing there in the straight dressage, he broke into the 70s at Training Level and got some really flattering remarks from the judge. The last time I took him out, he got '9s' on gaits, so he really has something to be proud of! This week he makes the move up to First Level. I would really love to find him a great dressage home down here in Aiken. Getting nervous, can't believe how much time has gone by already.....we leave the first of April and that will be here before we know it. So sad! We have such an unbelievable set up at Hatchaway Bridge Farms, and Aiken is such a special place for me. The weather couldn't be nicer, everything is bright green and in full bloom. I keep trying to take pictures with my phone and it doesn't do the landscape justice. I know, adios BlackBerry and time for the iPhone, although I'm just not there yet.

Smarty would like to remind everyone that he is still the big horse in the barn. He's going to do some dressage-ing at Sporting Days as well on Wednesday to tune up for Southern Pines this weekend. Looking forward to the kick off of the PRO Tour for 2012 at Southern Pines II, always one of my favorite events of the year. Tomorrow I'm taking all of my guys to Gibbs, Smarty will be so happy I know. He hasn't been there yet this year and there are just so many fun things to do. The possibilities are endless at Gibbs and it will be good to wear him out! He needs to set a good example for the youngsters (Brew and Felix) and I hope he takes that job seriously. They are impressionable at their young age ha. I sent in the entry for the 2* at The Fork, so I do hope Smarty is on his 'A' game because I'm certainly showing up to win! I'm certain I'm sitting on the best mover and jumper in the field and I think he's getting strong enough and rideable enough now that we can make it all look easy. Confident; but touching wood right now lol. I guess we will have to wait and see, check live scoring and as always read Eventing Nation and I will be back with the report soon!