What a fabulous weekend! Not only were the footing and weather absolutely sublime this weekend, but our crew of horses and riders rode as or more impressively than I’ve ever seen a collection ride before… What a stellar weekend!!
Ali and Alex… Absolutely, without a doubt, gorgeous!
I thought Ali and Alex had an absolutely stellar weekend. Their show jumping round showed a huge improvement in the balance of the canter, and really demonstrated the rideability that Ali has instilled in her horse. As a result, she was able to jump a really rhythmical, smooth, cadenced round where all the jumps simply flowed from the canter. Her XC was much of the same… I was thrilled with her ability to judge each fence individually and adjust Alex’s balance and canter to suit the type of jump they were addressing…. WOW…. Now THAT is cross country riding! They finished a terrific 5th place at Preliminary!!!!!!!!!!!!
If my memory serves me, this puts this 15yo rider and 6yo horse well on their way with their second Preliminary qualifying score and their future goal of a CCI*!
Ashley and Paddy… Moving on up!
When I first met Ashley and Paddy in Aiken, one thing was easy to spot… Ashley was a very determined rider. What was less obvious was that young Paddy was still at an awkward stage, and Ashley’s prior carreer as a very good saddleseat rider was still carried with her. I am amazed at this pair… The more excercises I gave them, the better they looked…. The more I came up with, the harder they worked… I have never seen an individual work harder to accomplish a goal than Ashley has with Paddy. The result? She has TRANSFORMED her riding and her horse, and I am so unbelieveably proud of her! The pair has only been with us since mid March, and yet they are completely unrecognizeable from just eight short weeks ago. They had a soft, swinging, through dressage test to shave TEN points of their prior average score… Their test was gorgeous, scoring three 8’s!!! They scored an excellent 39.0 in dressage!!! Then, when showjumping was pulling rail after rail, they jumped a brilliant, flowing round for a double clean in their very first training HT!!! Then they proceeded to jump brilliantly around the XC round! They were only one of three pairs in their division of 18 to go double clean on XC!!! This moved them up very successfully from 6th to 3rd!!! How’s that for a move up?!!!! I am so thrilled that all of their hard work was paid off by such an outstanding result, and that it is obvious just how well prepared and competent they are…. What a promising future!!!
Buddy… He’s back!
I am thrilled to have the ride on the talented gray gelding Could Be Should Be this summer. His owner, Catherine Fruth, has been instrumental in his development, and we are thrilled that he has returned to work with us. In the summer of 2005, we competed him Novice for Catherine, and I am thrilled to get to ride him once again. Though he can be complicated, it is my nature to love the challenge, and I truly love figuring out his buttons. He and I really enjoy one another, and I was incredibly excited to get to take him out again. The dressage warmup was stellar, though a flaw in the dressage timing meant that my careful planning for just 10 minutes of warmup meant that my ring suddenly ran late… Suddenly, our warmup turned into a 50-minute trot set! By the time we were able to do our test, the patience had run out and Buddy was getting tired, and the quality of the work sadly deteriorated. Still, even with my dissappointment, the test was good enough for a 37 in dressage… Can you imagine how good it could have been??? Oh well—-that’s life! Stadium was a beautiful, smooth, hunter like round… That is, with the exception of one fence, where Buddy decided to peace out and rid himself of me! Hahaha…. I think he may have forgotten that I am far more stubborn than that! I won the battle to reach the other side, but in the meantime had a rail (or all of them), for a 4 fault jump round. Still, the education for the horse was a stellar one….. An education that I think he definitely took to XC, where he jumped double clean (with just a little touch of encouragement)! I thought his round was really fluid and lovely, and I enjoyed it immensely…. What an exciting horse, and one whose quirks I truly enjoy.
Jane and Vaughn… Addicted to eventing!
Jane is the newest Team CEO working student, and hails from Illinois where she has a background as a jumper rider. This weekend was her first event, where she competed Vaughn at novice. She did a beautiful job this weekend, and works brilliantly with Vaughn… She has some great advice for him, and he’s absorbing it like a sponge! The most hilarious moment of the weekend goes to Jane… She missed out on the information that she should salute at the end of the test, so her dressage test had “No salute???????” as the major comment….. hahaahaa!! It was hilarious, and she took it like the champ she is… How funny! Of course, this didn’t help the dressage judge be impressed, but Jane did a great job. lol She did an especially brilliant job with him in Show Jumping, where they jumped double clean!!!! Their XC round was brilliant… On the bit, controlled, gorgeous distances, great balance. And this is one addictive sport!! Jane jumped a beautiful clear XC round for her first time out, and the pair looked absolutely stunning! They were quite the picture, with the big, gorgeous dapple gray Vaughn wearing a lovely hew of lavendar galloping on the bit across the horizon… The beautiful Kentucky skyline behind them, the bluegrass beneath them, and his gorgeous white tail flowing behind. They had a great round, and Jane came across the finish line with the biggest grin ever on her face!! They had a brilliant time, and looked fabulous and were very successful in their first outing together! I think she’s hooked!
Belinda and Beefcake….Beef becomes the old pro!
This weekend, Beef and Belinda did their first HT together. What a great weekend!! They performed brilliantly, with a really good dressage test. Unfortunately, because I gave Belinda the ride on Beef at the last minute, she was forced to ride in my slot of Open BN with the professionals… And yet, in just her second horse trial ever, she pulled of a terrific finish and was even competitive in a BIG class of 20 open BN horses…. The pair finished in the ribbons, with a 9th place!! Their ability to finish on their dressage score is impressive, and this really shone throughout the weekend, as they picked up 0 jumping or time faults in either jumping phase. Beef’s natural rhythm is uncanny–I always joke that he is our little metronome! Their jump rounds were gorgeous, and I was very proud of how competent they were and how lovely, especially when things can get hairy at that level of competition for some horses… Beef, at his young age of 5yo, has decided that he’s a seasoned competitor, that he’s done this 100,000 times, and that he adores his job… And he looks great doing it! Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy!
Ziggy… The one and only!
Boy have I missed riding my darling spotted one!!! Ziggy has taken to eventing like a fish out of water. This will be only his 3rd year of eventing, and he’s just turning 7 this year. What a special guy–after being yanked out of the stall and tossed into this weekend’s entry, he performed a steady test to score a very respectable 38 in dressage. The really exciting thing is that the test was steady and accurate, but lacked alot of the pizzazz that I know he has developed, so I think it will be very realistic to expect to knock off quite a few points off that score. Show Jumping has always been a challenge to make the distance on such a small horse, but the Steeplechase at the CCI* last fall was an incredible education for him. Through all of the showjumping lines, he made the distances incredibly easily and took me to the fences. With a little preparation for the next event, I think this will be stellar. Cross country was amazing… Since he was not tremendously fit, I chose instead to ride the most direct line possible between jumps, and cut off as much distance as I could. (Shown here with my left leg back, cueing him for a rollback IN the water… See that log behind him? We turned INSIDE of that!!) Ha! This resulted in four of the craziest, best turns you can ever imagine, cutting off dozens of strides around the course. He was able to do this because he is such a clever jumper combined with such an obedient, responsive ride that he is able to jump beautifully, then turn and be to the next fence before a big TB would even begin turning. As a result, even though I loped the speed, he had the 5th fastest round out of 18 Open Preliminary Horses, and received only 3 time penalties. Good boy! He finished 8th in the OP, and I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to be back on my pony.
Ashley and Roofie… Roofie and her growing collection of ribbons!
These two had a great weekend and are at the beginning of their partnership, yet I think their time together has been very bright indeed! Their dressage test was good but not as stellar as usual, and Roofie’s typical 30’s score slipped just a touch for a 42 in dressage, still very respectable–especially at the young, promising age of 6yo. But Roofie is happily a very 3-phase kind of horse, and she absolutely adores collecting ribbons for us. Indeed, she has ribboned at every event and show of any kind that she has ever done except one… What a good girl! They jumped double clean in show jumping. Most importantly, their XC round was one of absolute poetry… The level of balance, preparation, and organization here was divine, and she and Jane–both of which were on course at almost the same time–turned in two of the most harmonic, well-planned cross country rounds I’ve ever seen. True to typical Roofie fashion, they finished ON THEIR DRESSAGE SCORE for an excellent 6th place finish!!! Congrats!
Special thanks to Quin for her outstanding help and morale this weekend!!! We are sooo glad to have you back in town!! Overall, with the USEA’s new importance placed on safety and preparation, I was thrilled with our riders and horses… I think they all showed a great level of preparation and competancy, making all of the courses look easy! Well done to all—-I am SOOOO proud!