I am so pleased to be reporting on Greater Dayton HT this weekend… While the weekend was a turbulent one from a weather standpoint, I was thrilled to see dramatic improvements in both our horses and riders at this show. What a great omen for the rest of the show year!
I chose to skip the Jersey Fresh CCI’s this year under much duress on the topic, finally chosing to pass them by in order to stay home and focus on homework with my very young 7yo and 8yo upper level horses. So this spring we have been dilligently grinding away at improving the core for each of the upper level horses, with some stellar help from European eventing legend Lucinda Green, grand prix dressage rider Reese Koffler, and many-time Rolex champion Kim Severson. I feel so lucky to have had such great help, and Nemo and Hopper have been working long and hard on what they have to teach! Nemo showed great improvement from all of this help, as he has always been a good jumper but a typical hot, nervous TB on the flat. This weekend was extremely rewarding for him, as he has been working so hard on the dressage! Nemo was horse #1 for the day, getting the difficult job of going first in front of a judge, which typically means they will be much less generous with the scoring. Nonetheless, Nemo WON the dressage with a 34, three points less than the second place horse, who was also ridden by an advanced rider. Nemo was STELLAR, with a very quiet, obedient, accurrate test. I was very, very happy with his improvement!!! Hopper was also great for his test, until the end when he did a flying change in his counter canter. Because we had planned this event simply for a schooling for this pair, I went ahead and schooled him in the ring to correct the issue (which will be much more important at his next Intermediate run). Because of this, we butchered our score to 45, but I stuck to the gameplan and got a great schooling and made a great point to Hopper. The scores to that point were quite good, and I was very happy with him as well. (The GREAT accomplishment for him this weekend is his newfound jumping style–he is using himself really well and has learned to jump up and around in a lovely form–hooray!)
The torrential rain recieved by Ohio in the last few weeks made for very, very wet going on the low, flatlands of the Twin Towers Park in Dayton OH. Unfortunately, we were even plagued with more rain on Saturday night, making the footing even deeper. I was very happy that the ground jury took me up on all of our suggestions for the course, and two jumps had to be removed due to very wet footing. Special thanks to the officials and organizers at Greater Dayton for doing such a great job in listening to the riders to improve the safety of the course!! Still, the footing was very deep for much of the course (as the preliminary went first thing in the morning). With a heavy heart, we decided that safety was a paramount concern. Thus, rather than making time on both boys who are very fast XC anyway, I decided the footing was too dangerous to gallop on and instead loped them around the course at Novice speed. It is quite a difficult decision after being 1st in dressage, but an important one that I hope all riders will be able to make to benefit their horses. Thus, after jumping clean in SJ on both horses, the boys finished 8th and 10th with copious amounts of time penalties, something I was very proud of and something I hope all our riders will learn from… STICK TO THE GAME PLAN, no matter what. Safety for the horse and rider is paramount in this sport.
I was very happy with my decision when we went to take a look at the course just after the preliminary ran… The divots from the horses running on the fastest section of the track (also the wettest) were 8 to 12 inches deep! Very concerning for the soundness of the horses. I was very happy that my slower footprints that I moved to dryer ground were only 2 inches deep, and I believe that will make a big difference in my horses’ soundness this summer.
And I almost forgot Basil!! I rode Basil BN this weekend, our first outing together. He was great! His dressage test was really nice and very warmblood-like, only to strongly dissappoint me by scoring a 43. Well, it turns out that the judge must have been just a tad “conservative”, because in the entire BN Horse division (the division where the Pros ride!) the leading score was a 41… ha… so he was only off the lead by 2 points. He jumped a beautiful stadium round, with just one green rail in the in and out. Even better, the course was highlighted by a plastic bag BLOWING throrugh the arena during our round! It was rolling slowly on the landing of jump 7 as I was approaching that jump, so Basil had to school a little canter-in-place to give it time to blow away from the landing! Then, upon jumping the fence, it blew under his legs–what a brave boy! haha He was good on XC, though we are still developing bravery so I got the opportunity to ride–alot! The tall grass surrounding the galloping paths were very, very scary for poor Basil, and he was far more frightened for the grass blowing in the 25 mile per hour winds than he was of the jumps! Haha! Passing spectators was also a very frightening activity. 🙂 At the end of the day, he ended in a tie for 3rd place! Unfortunately, I was 3 seconds faster on the clock that the other rider we tied with, so Basil finished 4th…. haha…. A GREAT finish that I was very, very happy with! We’ll be running quite a few more BN’s until our warmblood brain gets a little braver, but I am very excited to be adding this talented youngster to my string!
Now on to the fun stuff!!! I was incredibly impressed by Mike and Hannah this weekend!!!!! Both have been working very hard, taking lots of lessons, and really pouring over their homework. Both are pretty new to riding, yet each has been working so hard that they tacked their respective courses–Mike and Spud at Starter, Hannah and Pongo at BN–with ease, confidence, and poise.
Both showed SUBSTANTIAL improvements in all three phases. Hannah maintained a great connection with Pongo in her test, while developing an excellent rythym and tempo throughout the entire ride. She guided Pongo to be much straighter, and really looked like a classy, talented pair. Wow at the work she’s done!! Mike also did a stellar job riding a much improved test, developing a very accurate test with good rythym and improved balance. In show jumping, poor Hannah yet again had the misfortune of having the rider before Hannah come to grief on the course, only to be eliminated. That is a very tough thing for any of us to watch before we go in the ring, but at 12yo, that is VERY tough!!! Despite this, the pair went in and had a great round. They were much more balanced and composed for the first half of the course… Then, of course, the kid/pony idea kicked in, and we all saw a grin from ear to ear on Hannah’s face…. She finished the course a little speedy, giggling all the way and loving it. Apparently we thought it was a pony jumper round! Hahah. Pongo had jus one uncharacteristic rail. Spud had a great show jumping round… Mike and Spud have a really increased sense of balance, and Spud is responding brilliantly… They jumped CLEAN around a very big starter course… WOW!
The real story for Mike and Hannah was XC… Hannah very wisely chose a very, very good speed for cross country, and left out all possibilities of trotting or galloping. Instead, she picked a lovely BN-appropriate canter, and maintained that tempo around the whole course. What a great epiphone! Her XC course was FABULOUS, and every jump just happened in stride. The BN course at Greater Dayton is interesting, as all other levels are very, very friendly… Yet the BN is quite large, and has many maxed efforts as well as a DITCH!! Hannah made it all look easy, and was very poised and balanced throughout. A BEAUTIFUL cross country round!!!!! Not to be left in his daughter’s footprints, Mike continued the clean cross country riding for the day by jumping clear around his first USEA-test Starter course!! They did a great job of cantering forward to the fences, and Spud was jumping HUGE with his knees tight and square. Mike’s balance was fabulous, and the pair looked really, really solid around the whole course… what a huge weekend for them!!!!!!
And best yet, Hannah finished 5th in her division of Beginner Novice Rider with her DOUBLE CLEAN cross country round! Then, a few minutes later, Mike and Spud finished 5th in his division of Starter Rider by finishing ON HIS DRESSAGE SCORE!!! WOW!!!! (Now I bet that was a pleasant car ride home! I’m sure they’ll both be grinning for weeks!)
Special thanks to Ashley for her great grooming of all the boys this weekend! And thanks to Howard Moore for all of the great photos! You can see more photos from the weekend at http://teamceoeventing.snapfish.com