Greetings! We are just back from a cold, soggy trip to Poplar Place HT in Columbus GA. The folks and facility at Poplar Place are absolutely world class, and it is always an honor to get to compete their. Unfortunately, the weather was not as conducive… With days in the 30’s and nights in the 20’s and teens, the frigid weather was only improved upon by the heavy rain that fell over the weekend! But such are eventers…. Wet and soggy and cold, we trudge on with smiles on our faces, simply thrilled and blessed to spend the weekend with the horses and people and sport that we love.
This weekend, true to the fact that we have a 4-horse trailer, we took four horses across the 9 hour drive south to compete in Georgia this weekend.
Saturday dawned cold but dry, and with multiple rides Nemo and I drew the first ride of the day at 9:00am, with the weather a blistery 24 degrees. Thanks to the excellent footing at Poplar, we were still able to compete as the footing was not frozen, but my toes and fingers certainly were! Nemo has taken a hiatus from competing since he was so excellent in his run at Richland Park in August, spending the winter working hard on our homework to look toward the future. Nemo was thrilled to be competing again! So thrilled that, when the loudspeaker came on a few minutes before his test, he became quite the fire breathing dragon! I went in the ring on a very, very excited horse…. Which was disappointing to not be able to show off his hard-earned new skills, but ’tis January! His improvements were still noticeable, and his test was well judged with scores through 8’s, though he earned two 3’s when he decided tempi’s during one counter canter would be an excellent supplement to our test. Even with the 3’s, the rest of the work was improved enough to score a 40. I was dissappointed with the explosion, but happy that the work had improved enough…. We’ll work on for next time!
Hopper competed about an hour later…. By then it was all the way up to 29 degrees. 🙂 I was very proud of Hopper’s rideability, work ethic, and obedience, as we have been working for years to help him in these areas… Though I love him deeply, these are not attributes that come to his personality naturally! I was so proud of him that he was quiet and workmanlike… After all, it was not so many years ago that I bought him from the killers, in good flesh and sound, but was assured that he was too aggressive and too dangerous to be useful to any rider. This weekend he showed substantial improvement in a more elevated frame, and I am hoping over the months of spring to help him become even more powerful and muscularly strong. The division was well-judged, with scores ranging from 28 to 49. Hopper’s test earned a mark of 30, just two points off the lead.
Benny and Case, just now turning 5yo, each did their very first dressage tests on this day! Chelsea did a great job with Benny in the now 34 degree weather (brrrrr!). He is still learning to become more steady in the bridle, but put in a very good effort in a baby’s first outing for a 37 in his first dressage test! Katie and Case were each doing their first dressage test. Case was quiet (if not a little tired from too much warmup), and was a very good boy. He is still green, but he had some excellent moments, was quiet and rideable, and picked up both leads with confidence. He is working well on the bit, and will continue working over the winter to increase his bend and stretch. He scored a 45 in dressage, very respectable for both of their first dressage tests ever!
Nemo was so excited to be eventing again! He was a bit exuberant in show jumping warmup, and proved a bit strong between the fences in his snaffle, but he jumped very well over the rails and did not touch a single fence in the Intermediate/Preliminary Level division, jumping clean despite the rain. On XC, he was the first horse on course and the rain was at it’s peak. The raindrops were pelting us in the face and the footing was becoming very wet… He jumped really excellently and was picturesque at every fence. I took it slow with him, as he has proven that he can make time…. But as I rider I think it is my responsibility to bring back my horse happy, sound, and confident, and Nemo has nothing to prove around an IP course… And perhaps when a rider has spent years developing a horse from scratch to the upper levels, I think it is best understood to protect our investment in our best friend. He was very, very good, and finished 4th with a clear round but 15 time penalties. I was very happy with him!
Hopper has been working very hard this fall on show jumping, which does not come naturally to him…. He is more of a hard-knocking, tough horse who doesn’t mind to touch the rails. I was so proud of him this weekend, as he had perhaps his best show jumping round to date, not judged by score but rather by his style and technical merit. He jumped in the pouring rain just a few minutes before Nemo’s XC, and Hopper was very very good. He was much more rideable between fences, and we have succeeded now at teaching him to jump up and around rather than his natural flat jump. He was soooo good, and jumped clean! On XC, he continued to impress me with his newfound skills. He had a very good XC round, a bit faster than Nemo as I could see much better in the lessened rain. He also has the most incredible stride, and ate up the wet ground. He jumped very very well on XC, and was so happy to be back competing in the sport he loves… He listened really well, and jumped very well everywhere. I was so happy with his clean round with just 5 time. He finished 2nd in his division, the second event in a row for him to finish in 2nd place. I am so proud of his hard work… I think he has become a very competitive horse and I am so proud of him!
Benny and Chelsea were stars… Chelsea did a great job riding her baby, and he was a little green to the first fence, wondering what was going on. Once over the first fence, he had an epiphone that this was indeed the same stuff as at home, and was brilliant! He had a green rail at the first and at the last, but he was very good and this is indeed a very special horse for the future. He LOVED going cross country, and jumped clean with a few time…. Chelsea did a great job, and the instructions were to bring the babies home clean and happy and confident regardless of time. She did just that, and was rewarded with a horse who is absolutely beaming in his own self confidence, and a 7th place ribbon!
Case and Katie are both officially hooked on eventing…. They both had their first outing, as Katie is a very experienced hunter rider, but is a recent convert to our world. They did a great job, not touching a single rail in show jumping, but picking up a few time penalties as they trotted the course. This is what BN is for! They were excellent on XC, jumping clean and Case becoming more and more confident with each fence. They did a great job, and finished their very first weekend in 10th place, both grinning from ear to ear! Congratulations girls on a wonderful weekend!