What a great weekend at Jumpstart HT! The weekend dawned cold and rainy, with an amazing amount of rain pouring down on the Kentucky Horse Park’s already saturated grounds. We are so lucky to have such amazing turf in this area, and that’s a big reason why I chose to buy our farm just 2 miles from KHP…. At any other venue, I’m sure I would have found myself—a majorly overprotective footing wimp—withdrawing all of our horses before XC, just to play it safe. But the XC footing held up much better than expected… It was wet, indeed, but then again so were the riders!! I was so proud of everyone this weekend…. Competing at KHP is always a VERY competitive venture, with very good horses and riders in divisions that are chocked full. I was so proud of the very good results our riders achieved this weekend.
And on a special note, I’d like to add that between 9 horses and riders this weekend, we only had ONE RAIL. Rails were falling everywhere, especially in the T and P, and yet 9 of our riders only had a combined total of one rail in show jumping… CONGRATULATIONS!!
Zephyr and Holly: Running in the Sr Novice Rider division, Holly had a much improved dressage test with some really inspiring moments! Holly and Emily were riding simultaneously in two different rings doing the novice test–they were movement by movement in stride, like a divided pas de deux! Lol. They easily galloped around the XC course double clean, making light work of the course. While Zephyr was a little fresh in the colder temps this weekend, it was so exciting to see him be so brave and honest on XC…. Speaking worlds to what Holly has been working so hard to achieve! They had just one rail in SJ. Holly rode so well all weekend, and they finished in the ribbons in 9th place in her division of Novice this weekend.
Trooper and Kim: In the Training Rider division, this terrific pair ran their second training level event. They had such an improved dressage test—check out the photo! They looked terrific and are really on the edge of a major dressage breakthrough. Kim had her typically textbook show jumping round, and pulled off one of very few double clean SJ in Training. Trooper jumped so well—I don’t think he touched a single rail! They had a terrific XC round, jumping everything right out of stride and looking gorgeous! The course was very wet in places and the ground jury did an outstanding job of removing fences that were unsafe to jump, including one log that was pretty much swallowed by floodwater! Kim and Trooper did a terrific job around the whole course. Just one peek at the troublesome teepee trakehner (which eliminated many riders this weekend) in an otherwise faultless, gorgeous round. Congrats!
Vaughn and Hannah: Hannah has come so very far in the last year…. She has evolved from a little kid on a pony into such a beautiful, talented rider!! I am so proud of her. She and Vaughn had such a very, very good cross country round. They had a beautiful rythym and all of the fences came beautifully out of stride. Their tempo was terrific, and even without a watch (I don’t want a 12yo kid thinking about a watch on XC), she knew her gallop well enough to come in under time, without any speed faults or time faults. Their round was beautiful! Hannah returned Sunday to perform equally well in showjumping, with a lovely, rhythmical round to jump double clean in show jumping. They finished 5th in Beg Novice JR, Division 2, finishing on their dressage score!
Taz and Emily: Emily borrowed our 4yo TB gelding Sur Les Tas this weekend for her Novice level entry, and had about three days to learn to ride a brand new horse! Emily is a young rider and one of our working students. She was accidently placed in Open Novice against all the pros! Still, in the POURING rain, in an arena that was 4” under water, on a borrowed horse and with an error in dressage, they still managed a gorgeous, steady, accurate test. They scored a 38 (with an error), placing them in a tie for 6th after dressage against the pros!!! Their XC round was the things dreams are made of…. So smooth and steady and easy, they looked like they had been competing together for ten years and looked like novice veterans. A nice rider on the way back from XC even complimented the pair on their rounds, saying how good Taz was and how easy they made everything look. They jumped double clean on XC! On Sunday, they came into show jumping for only their second time jumping showjumps together. Taz is a quiet, easy going fellow, and I reminded Emily to go forward…. Forward she did go! J They had a lovely, forward round. Taz is really careful, so he didn’t touch a single pole, including the pink triple bar for the final fence. They jumped double clean in show jumping, finishing on a dressage score of 38, finishing in a tie for 4th! They were unfortunately a few seconds faster than the other rider, so they finished a fantastic 5th place in a big division of great professionals at Novice!!
Alex and Ali: Alex and Ali had a terrific weekend… They ‘ve worked hard on their dressage, and have proved all fall that they are doing well after being consistently at the top of the dressage leaderboard! They were riding in the professional division of Training this weekend, so some VERY tough competition and some VERY good horses and riders. They scored a 34 in dressage with a great test!! I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with Ali last week on Alex’s show jumping, and her hard work paid off with a double clean show jumping round! (An elusive accomplishment in the training divisions this weekend!). Even in the mud, they managed a lovely, even-paced cross country round, well ridden and smooth. They earned a double clean XC score. Ali finished on her dressage score of 34!!! They finished a terrific 4th place! This weekend, they also qualified to compete at the 2010 USEA Area 8 Training Level Championships!
Gretchen and Jubilee: Gretchen was competing this weekend in the Beg Novice Jr Division. Hannah and Gretchen, 12yo and 13yo respectively, are absolutely adoreable together and are the best of friends. It was so fun for them to ride together all weekend!! Gretchen and jubilee jumped really well all weekend, with a double clean on XC and double clean in show jumping! I was so excited for her that she finished on her dressage score in 2nd place in her division!! (And with that placement she qualifies for the 2010 Area 8 Beg Novice Championships! And puts her half way to qualified for the AEC’s in 2010!)
Nikki and Oliver: Nikki has had a BREAKTHROUGH month with her challenging but talented horse Oliver. They scored a 35 in dressage with a really good test, and have become very consistent in scoring well in that phase. They show jumped really well in the Training, scoring another double clean round…. I know I sound redundant here, but really , there were MANY rails at this level and very few double cleans—our girls just snatched up more than their fair share of them! The biggest accomplishment, though, was that this terrific pair jumped double clean around the XC, not only jumping clean but also easily coming within the time despite the wet footing. Nikki finished a terrific 2nd place this weekend!!! (I believe she finished second only to the pair who just won the AEC’s at this level!) With their terrific finish, they qualify for so much—-qualifying for a Training Three Day, qualifying for the Area championships at Training next year, and already qualifying for the AEC’s a year from now!!!!
Demi and Blake: Blake completed the Summer Working Student program in 2009, and will always be a part of our Team CEO Family!!! We loved cheering Blake on all weekend, and she had a terrific dressage with a 33.5 for 2nd place. This warmblood mare has been a challenging but worthwhile addition to Blake’s life, and Blake has had to work very hard to get the best out of the mare. On cross country, Blake rode very, very well, to earn a double clean cross country round, moving her into the lead in her Beg Novice JR division! She rode the pants off of her horse on Sunday, winning her division by 3 points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That earns them a half-qualification for the AEC’s next year, as well as the area champs next year!)
Nightfall and Megan: This weekend was a bit of a fairytale moment for Nightfall. Nightfall, our 5yo Trakehner/TB stallion, is our very first homebred, out of my Young Rider’s horse and by Windfall, the four star eventing stallion. Ryan and I were competing in the Area 8 Beginner Novice Championships! Ryan was so good all weekend… In dressage, in the pouring rain, he simply could not have been better!! Dressage whips aren’t allowed in championship divisions, which is really fun when you’re riding a stallion in a big group of horses at the horse park!! Thank goodness nightfall is super easy and well behaved. He was so steady and easy and through and submissive in dressage. Riding Ryan in slop is like riding a cougar in the best footing possible. He is so sure footed, and so naturally balanced. I was so happy with his test… I didn’t look at the score and didn’t want to know, as all that matters was that he was as good as he could possibly be at such a young age. Cross country was terrific… The footing was pretty wet, yet he didn’t slip a time. He galloped really well and found all the jumps to be simple. He was a little playful a couple of times…. We were galloping past the prelim fences, and on multiple occurances his highness was convinced that was our jump! Pulling him off of them was quite a chore, and he was very disappointed in my selection of smaller fences… Boring! Ryan was so interested in going down to the Prelim fences… I think it’s definitely time to move up! He finished double clean on the XC. The show posted the order of go for show jumping for the Championships…. I casually looked for my name, and noticed I was last to go… Then I saw the small note at the bottom that said, “Reverse order of placing.” Yikes! No pressure—that meant that Ryan was in the lead, and I knew that I’d have to jump double clean the next day… Something to stew on all night. I usually handle my nerves pretty easily, but Sunday morning, with just one horse to ride, I was pretty nervous. The championship division was a very good one, and the pressure was on. I had already done all the walks with my students, but I decided to rewalk the SJ course by myself, as I was pretty nervous. I had just won the Prelim Championships the week before with Grasshopper…. Surely there was no chance I could pull that off two weekends in a row!! I was walking the sj course when a little hand grabbed mine…. One of my young students, Hannah, had come running into the ring to walk with me. She said, “I know what place you’re in and I’m not telling you!” I responded, “I accidently found out, too, and I’m a little nervous!” Hannah is so sweet and was so touching… She said, “Don’t be nervous! I’m going to walk this course with you and coach you through it!” And sure enough, my 12 year old kid walked my course with me, giving me adoreable instructions. It was so touching. I went into the ring later, having to wait till about 2 o’clock in the afternoon to show jump. Right before I went in the ring, a loose horse went galloping past me (on my stallion)…. Thank goodness he’s well behaved!!! Aaack! He went in the ring and was good… He has recently decided he’s VERY bored with Beg Novice fences, and he’ll move up and do much more in the spring…. So he was a little cocky in show jumping. I knew the time had been kind of difficult to make, so I galloped between fences, then set him up to each jump, trying to make sure I came in under time and clean. He is a brilliant jumper and very careful at 3’6”, but he’s bored with 2’7” and wants to do so much more… I’m just trying not to do too much with such a young horse, but it’s SOOO tempting! He was great and didn’t touch a single fence! With tears in my eyes (and my dad’s), our little homebred boy won the 2009 USEA Area 8 Championships at Beginner Novice!!!!!!!!!!!!! He led start to finish, winning the dressage and finishing on his dressage score to win the entire outing. It was so touching…. HOW EXCITING!!!!
I’m so blessed…. This was the first time I’d ever entered the championships, and I had one entry at Prelim (last weekend) and one entry at Beg Novice (this weekend). And both of the boys WON the championships!!! Both are boys I’ve had from the very beginning, and I feel so blessed to have them. What a special ending to their season to win such a big outing!!!!!!! I’m so excited for them!!!!!!!!!!!