Gemwood HT Wrapup
With the way late July and early August can roll into this part of the country, I opted to enter just one horse in the Gemwood HT this year, and take two of our working students, Maddy and Chelsea, to each run their horses at the preliminary level. We also took Jane to run one of our youngsters at Novice, and Nikki rode Oliver at Novice.
Of course, I was completely wrong in anticipating the weather, and it wasn’t unbearably hot in late July like it can be. It was terrific fun to just ride one horse at a horse trial and have only four students there…. Like a vacation! I didn’t know what to do with myself!!
Jane did a terrific job with Visa… They had a really terrific dressage test. The show jumping was wet and slick and a little spooky, and they had a bit of a green show jumping round like many other riders in their division. But the pair were spot on during cross country, taking the course in stride and galloping beautifully.
Maddy and Chelsea were each doing their third prelims. Bernie was a bit tense in dressage but Maddy did well to ride him through it. Basil looked amazing in dressage, but Chelsea got distracted by the fact he was being so good and missed two movements–and the judge gave her 2’s rather than blowing the whistle. ERGH! In show jumping, they were both STARS, Maddy with a gorgeous double clean round and Chelsea with a beautiful 4-fault round, both terrific accomplishments at the prelim level. They both jumped beautifully, and I was so proud to show them off!!! For cross country, I was so happy with their confidence level… They each walked the course and asked, albeit humbly, “Um, do you think the course looks really, um, friendly???” I loved it! They both set off like tigers on cross country. They jumped beautifully, galloping and jumping everything out of stride. I could not have been more proud. Maddy had a quick, clear round. Chelsea managed to earn one of only three double clean rounds of the division (filled with pros)! Chelsea placed 8th and Maddy placed 9th. CONGRATS!
Nikki and Oliver had a beautiful dressage test to earn a 35 at Open Novice against the pros. I was so proud of Nikki’s tenacity on cross country, as she rode like a woman on a mission and had a terrific XC round. Unfortunately, one slip in the mud between an A and B element shared with Training meant she needed to circle for his safety, picking up a technical refusal and 20 penalties, but using good judgement and bringing her horse home more confident and experienced than they set off. That is always the job!
I have spent this year devoting all my time to dressage studies, working hard to transform myself from
a cross country rider to a dressage queen. (Especially riding my large collection of off track thoroughbreds!) Strong storms and cold rains moved in during dressage, and the organizers had to put a hold on dressage due to strong storms and lightning, so we waited patiently for my dressage ride. Then the hold suddenly ended and they decided my ring would run on time after all—eeek! We scrambled to throw me on Nightfall, my 5yo homebred stallion, and we went galloping off towards the dressage arena, the 2nd horse to go after the break. Fortunately, he is terrific about not needing much warmup, and he instantly felt terrific and ready to go! Then the judges decided to take a break, and I had to get back off and wait an undisclosed amount of time….. No one’s fault because of the weather, but still nervewrecking when you are about to go in the ring! 🙂 They returned about 15 minutes later, and I jumped back on, without time to re-warmup, and had to go in the ring. Thank goodness that Nightfall is VERY rideable!! I swallowed a big lump in my throat and rode around the arena waiting for the whistle, knowing that I’d had the most odd dressage warmup of my 18 year eventing career. I made the most of the 30 seconds going around the dressage arena, and went in the ring and decided to ride my heart out. He felt so consistent and through and steady and obedient… I loved it. I was VERY happy with the test, and Howard was too. That’s what matters!!! I guess the judges were too, because when we looked at the scores Ryan earned a 23.0…. The lowest score for the entire horse trial, the lowest score of the division, and the lowest score of my career! (Poor Sheldon… It beat out his 24.5’s in his last two outings!) Now the pressure was on…. Showjumping was eating horses left and right, and was very slick because Mother Nature kept pounding us with rain. Ryan is such a cat—he cantered around the course, easily show jumping double clean and not looking at a thing (not that he ever does). Still in first—gulp. The next day, I head out on the XC, which had received still more rain. I was on a mission to ride Ryan double clean…. But little did I know, my five year old had other plans…. He was on a mission to pack me around double clean! He went out of the box and locked onto the first Prelim fence, lol! I love honest horses. He cantered around the entire course, packing me around like a small child, galloping brilliantly and jumping everything out of stride, not needing any help from me. He rode like a 20 year old packer, not like a 5 year old. He was so confident and on-target…. It was a blast! Ryan finished on his dressage score of 23.0, winning the event!!! I couldn’t help that tears came to my eyes…. He is our first homebred, and like a son to me…. How exciting!!!