Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Last week Plantation sent out a blast email referring to itself as the Best.Event.Ever. Well, close! I may be slightly biased since I was really happy with the way that Fernhill Whatever performed all weekend. That, combined with the fact that he was the only horse I took, made it feel like a bit of a vacation!

Plantation has come a long way in what seems like such a short time. The arena really does have spectacular footing and dresses up nicely with tents, classy dressage arenas, and beautiful show jumping fences like the wall pictured above! Stabling is very user friendly, and the shuttles up the massive hill are life savers (says the person with a dead minibike wah wah). It would be great if they made one truck lane so we felt like we knew we were allowed to drive up and back instead of stealth dashing here there and everywhere waiting to get busted by Dennis ha. The cross country course flowed so much better this year which is of course the reason we all came!

I'm sorry that Winston's owners didn't get a chance to visit the venue, there was a lot going on for spectators (I mean, mechanical bull riding!), a great vendor village, fair food, all the finer things in life. The weather was incredible. This year I packed a jog outfit appropriate for a freezing cold morning! It still didn't stop me from getting trotted off the jog strip. They do need to give the GJ somewhere to stand other than up against the bushes, as I was not the first nor the last combination to take out the mums and leap off the ledge away from the scary judges! Trisha was the main beneficiary of their absence and ate and drank their fair share up at the Sponsors Tent. But she deserved it! She is an amazing worker, a fun person to spend a weekend with, and makes my grey pony sparkle!

Luckily Winston wasn't very scared of the judges in the dressage, he put in a lovely, relaxed test that was fairly accurate. I was SO thankful to have Karen back in my life lol but seriously just knowing that she is there watching and answering important questions for me like Do I go inside or outside of the tree??? is so reassuring! Even if my way of showing it is by crashing thru the 2' oxer in show jumping warm up but we won't really talk about that. Focusing back on the sandbox, if I had it to do all over again I would have liked to pump up my trot a bit more, and I will be working on that tomorrow in my Linda lesson! Feeling confident in my counter cantering skills on the big guy now at least.

Saturday was a beautiful day for cross country and we got to go first yay! I'm starting to think a little like Winston, building a partnership so I know what is going to be the best approach and option for Winston specifically. After the first minute I felt like my steering really clicked in, and it was by far the most positive and forward cross country ride to date. He was great at both waters, and the first water was certainly spooky with the white rails in. He conquered Plantation's world famous elephant trap so we can check that off the list :) I must admit that everything was really quite pleasant. One more round like that to prove it was skills and not luck and I declare us ready for Intermediate!

Show jumping was a bit the same story. I know him well enough now that I was confident about the distances I wanted to do in the lines, and Karen was very helpful with the technicalities of my turns and what shots I needed into the combinations. For the most part, I was very pleased. Winston jumped very straight and was very game without being obnoxious after a fast and clean show jumping round. I was too aggressive getting the forward 6 done in the first line, ended up pulling the last two strides and an inverted horse equals a rail at a square oxer - these things I know! I promise to do better next time!

And I'm very excited that the next time will be the Preliminary Championships at Morven Park, and then it is off to the MidSouth CCI*. Never been there for that and am really looking forward to it, should feel like a proper test. Many thanks again to Greyside for giving me the opportunity to campaign such a lovely animal. I am really looking forward to a strong finish to our first season together, and for all of the fun things to come in 2013!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun at Five Points

Photo credit High Time Photography

Fernhill Whatever was really looking forward to whatever came next on his cross country course! And I am looking forward to a big future with "Winston" to say the least! We had a great time at Five Points last weekend, it was a big Blue Clover Eventing trip since there doesn't appear to be a Fair Hill in our fall wah wah; but I'd say a good time was had by all. Lucky for all of us, Stacy's parents own a condo in Southern Pines and we were living the life of luxury let me tell you. Most excited was the lercher, of course, having an actual floor to sleep on and not reside in the truck for the evening - we all know he prefers the couch but let's not get crazy :)

Horses traveled well and we went straight to dressage-ing on Friday afternoon. I wish I was a bit more prepared, the past few years I've gotten there via Aiken and so I didn't have my food and diesel stops mapped out along the way ha we arrived hungry and without Diet Coke egads! I have only been to the Carolina Horse Park for Southern Pines II and the dressage pad looked so big, only having to hold 3 arenas instead of the crazy 7 or 8 that I'm used to seeing. The atmosphere however was still apparent and all but Tanner had to get ridden down a bit. Good old Tanner, that's precisely why he was Alex's Beginner Novice Rider super star:
There really wasn't much time to dwell on our dressage on Saturday, which is too bad because we were all great! Bailey and Trisha put in the best performance they have had yet, from the moment she stepped in warm up you knew it was going to be good and it was, had them second by the smallest of margins. I was also pleased with Brew, he had a bit of a nervous breakdown at the dressage pad at Richland. And now, after one away show, he is obviously the seasoned competitor because he put it a very relaxed and steady test. Unfortunately it was a bit like the AECs, if you don't get in the teens at Training you aren't in the top ten poor guy! I don't suppose that Brew much cares, however, and he was the first to go of our crew around the cross country course. Half way around I was telling myself that he really needs to move up to Prelim because this was too easy for him. Then I realized what I was saying and I started to focus on what the bleep I was doing before I buried us at a table or something ha. Really though, he cruised thru the water which I think was by far the hardest part of the training, felt like SP II and he cruised in and out and grabbed the bit and took off for the infield. Good pony! Also grabbing the bit was Winston, not always in a great way lol but I did need to be speedy because we were tied for 3rd after dressage. He is such a lovely horse; but I was afraid to do too much with him as he is still lacking fitness after his trip over here and he ran cross country barely an hour after his dressage. I was a little disappointed in the Prelim cross country, I thought the course had some punishing, random turns to it and it lacked the flow that I'm used to feeling there. At least we had our straightness down, he was locked on to the middle of every combination which was my goal. I'm sorry that I didn't meet more of my fences in a positive way and so at Prelim we will stay and do the 1* at Plantation. Trisha and Bailey did an excellent job of  being positive their entire way around, this was a  big course for The B and we didn't know what to expect out of him having to gallop thru and jump out of the barn! He was great and they were the fastest of the Prelim Riders and gave themselves a rail in hand going into the jumping, always a great feeling. We ended Saturday on a super note, Alex and Tanner put in a lovely, boring BN run and managed to get us all finished and on our way to dinner before a massive storm rolled in!

Sunday was a bit hit or miss I'm not gonna lie. Good news was, Stacy and Trisha were packing genius' and we were outta there like a well oiled machine. Good news was my round on Winston, which I declare our best to date by far, it was a lovely double clear well inside the time and every time I looked for a fence there it was. Second weekend in a row he's been 3rd, means he's been saving his win for the CIC* at Plantation! Good news was Alex's double clear on Tanner let her secure a second place! Good news was I managed to stay on Brew when I fell asleep at the wheel at the combination and ran his poor little grey legs right thru it. Good news was Trisha managed to fall next to and not in to the cactus when Bailey jumped her out of the tack at fence 8. 

Good news is, we are off to Plantation and then Morven and then who knows where the rest of the season is going to take us!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Richland Recap

How can you not love Richland Park?? One of my favorite events of the year, totally worth the 11 hour drive thru the nite with a very stinky lercher in the truck. Not sure that everyone else in the truck agreed since it was, after all, my lercher lol. Nonetheless, I do declare a good time was had by all! A huge thanks to Richard who had the yick shift of driving from 11 - 3, and Trisha had such mad packing and unpacking skills (or was it the numerous lattes??) that we were in and out of there in record time. I am one lucky girl! And a big thanks to everyone involved with that horse trials. I learned that they had been watering the grounds for 8 weeks prior to our arrival - unreal. And the corn was once again a highlight of the competitor's party :)

We spent some of that 11 hour drive coming up with a barn name for Fernhill Whatever, now officially referred to unofficially as Winston. I guess it was the moment he was waiting for, having a name and all, as it was his best competition to date here in the US, finishing a strong 3rd in a very big, very tough OP division. For a moment I thought disaster was upon us as soon as the counter canter practice began in warm up. Starting to learn his changes, he really does not appreciate the loops in Prelim Test B! He managed to put in a lovely, relaxed test and was rewarded by the judge. So nice when that happens! Cross country the pressure was on to go clean and fast, which means we had to steer! I had a lesson - FINALLY -  with Karen lol and it was just the kick in the you know what that I needed to start making him my horse. I got to jump a few oxers with David once there to make sure I didn't leave any skills back in MD. Luckily, not the case! He was super and finished well under the time looking for more. I was especially pleased with the water, as a run out at the corner had plagued me the weekend before at Waredaca. This time, we were picture perfect! I do hope, speaking of which, that the photographers were at the Key Hole - Winston ducked his head and pinned his ears back to make sure he was going to fit. So cute! Show jumping was challenging as always out on the rolling hills. I had a rail, I repeat I had a rail, placings didn't change luckily and we finished the weekend feeling very excited about the future. I will be ready for a clean round this weekend at Five Points and hopefully a blue as well!

Brew would like to take this moment to remind everyone that he did finish 4th in a very tough Training Horse division! He absolutely fought his way up from an undeserved dressage score, it is what we love about that little guy. Quite the spirit that one has! Unfortunately it did get him a little rattled in the dressage; but this was a huge trip in the world of Brew. It is a great feeling in show jumping to know that you are going to leave up all of the rails, I don't know how he does it; but you can get the Brewster to a vertical upside down and backwards and he still jumps it with room to spare. (Knock wood prior to my jumping round this weekend at Five Points, please, that I haven't gotten him upside down and backwards too many times.) Cross country was a pretty similar feeling. I thought the training level was big but fair and inviting, and Brew flew around, certainly rising to the occasion of being in company of 3* horses! Let's hope he has an even better finish this weekend at Southern Pines!