Sunshine and Blue Skies…. At Spring Bay?????!!!!

Thanks to Howard for all of the wonderful photos below!   Click on any photo for a larger view!

Okay, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Spring Bay Horse Trials nearly every year since 1992….    It is fairly consistently cold, cold, cold!  But this weekend was warm (hot even) and sunny and lovely…. What a weekend!  I remember one year it snowed during my dressage test years ago at this event….

With the decreased amount of horse trials at the KHP this year, it was imperative that I try to get several of the guys out and about this weekend, and with my later eventing start this year….    But YIKES that made for a busy weekend!!!   I entered four horses, and we had a ton of students there!   Needless to say, it’s 8pm Sunday and I’ve just arrived back home, and we’re all super tired!
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Color Treatment (Boscoe): I ran Boscoe in what I hope will be his final novice before the big move up to training.   He was everything I could have hoped for and more!   He is a very special horse—brave and fun as can be, but quite perky to the fences and really likes to elevate.   He is the most unique horse I’ve ever known.   He was very, very good in dressage, and I was so happy with his test.   He was in a big, tough division of Open Novice, and I was a little disappointed in his score of 37, but he was truly terrific regardless of the score.  He is going in a hackmore in showjumping now, and let me tell you—that is a VERY different way to learn to ride!!   He was excellent and jumped double clean.  On cross country, he was spot on…  Just one silly jump at the tiny oxer in the trailer parking where he got distracted, but every other fence I was thrilled with.  He finished on his dressage score of 37 to finish in 10th place. He’s definitely ready to move up!   I am so excited to be aiming him for a Training in May!!

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Probable Cause (Basil): This weekend was my first outing on Basil in two years…. Last year, I gave the ride to our darling working student Chelsea, and the pair was tremendously successful through the CCI* level.    Chelsea has now moved on to a terrific job as a vet tech, and this was my first one back on him.   I ran him in the Open Training to have one outing to figure him out…   He was good in dressage, not as good as he will be very shortly, but it was a nice test with so much more potential yet to come.   In a very good division against many pros I highly respect, he was 5th after dressage on 35.   Basil was bred to be a showjumper, and he was really good in SJ and easily jumped double clean.   We spent XC figuring one another out, as Chelsea has done a terrific job preparing him, but the two of us are still working on forming a partnership…   We were debating who was driving the ship a bit, but overall he’s a very good cross country horse and he has so much talent…. He really has a great future.    We’ll be doing preliminary next outing.    He finished on his dressage score of 35 to finish 3rd in a big, impressive division!!!
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Widespread Panic (Nemo): Nemo ran the OP this weekend…  He had a week off a little while ago for a bruised foot when he pulled a shoe, so I wasn’t sure if he would be running this weekend.  But we’ve been monitoring it closely with our very terrific vet, and watching it carefully.  Nothing is more important than his well being!    He has been looking great and is super sound, so the decision was made to run the dressage and SJ, and see how the footing was on XC.   Being a horse who loves a schedule, and having had a big change in his routine, he was REALLY excited to be competing….  He was far perkier in dressage than usual, and I was a little sad to feel that he was quite keen in the dressage!    I felt like the test was tense, and could have been so much better (and the work lately has been so much better), but he still was 3rd after dressage on a 35.  The work must be getting better if he can get that score during a disappointing test!  He was quite keen in show jumping too, and really happy for his work….  The Prelim fences don’t back him off much, since he’s run around a couple of CIC***’s now!  He jumped double clean like a good boy though.    The footing on XC was terrific, so we made the decision to run him slowly.   I love him and always want to look out for him, so I set out deciding that if he wasn’t feeling 100% in his gallop at any point, I’d just walk him home.   Out of the box the footing felt great, and Nemo was so happy to be on course.  He is a great XC horse and can easily make time, and is very very handy, but I wanted to save him and give him a light run… So despite his good placing, I took it easy and went slowly to give him an easy run.    We took very tight lines from fence to fence to shave off as much distance and time off without just going faster.   He was good but a little keen, and I took him slow and safe.     He picked up just a couple of time penalties thanks to the tight lines…. He would have finished 2nd if I had let him make time as he’d like, but I wanted to take good care of him instead…. Always stick to the plan, no matter what the ribbon!     We were rewarded after XC with a good, sound, confident horse with gorgeous tight clean legs…. He looks great!   It was just a bruise, but always better to do everything you can to keep your horse as happy and sound as possible.    He loved his weekend, and is ready to do bigger and better things.    Even with the time penalties, he placed 3rd in Open Preliminary against a really, really good field of horses and riders.
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The Grasshopper: And I save my favorite for last….     It was the first run of the year for Grasshopper as well.    It was terrific to catch up with my wonderful dressage coach Reese on Friday at the KHP before the event, where Grasshopper felt better than ever.    On Saturday for Dressage, it was the first run of the year and he was just a little tense—unusual for him, and dissappointing.  Nonetheless, we know each other really well, so I tried to ride him quietly and calm him as much as possible in the test.    He was true in his walk work and relaxed there, and the trot and canter was good and flowing, but not as dramatically powerful as Reese has recently helped us achieve.   I was happy with him, but the test was 10 points worse than what he is ready to achieve.    In show jumping, his weakest phase, he tried really really hard…. He is starting to try to clear the colored poles—something not natural to Grasshopper— and his power makes him a little difficult to ride, but I love him nonetheless.  He had just one rub in the center of the triple, and jumped double clean in SJ and tried his hardest.   When I looked at the scores afterwards, in a division against many professionals who I really respect on very nice horses, I saw that he won the dressage and was still in the lead!  No pressure.     He is fit, confident, and the footing was excellent…. I decided that I would ride as forward as I could on XC while trying to jump all the fences right out of stride, and giving him a good season opener.    He has such an amazing gallop, and is so much physically stronger this year that he balance is much better, and we argue less about speed on XC.    I really galloped out, and the jumps came up right out of stride.    It was a really smooth round, and he was so mature!  I felt like we were really on the same page, and I enjoyed him so much.    I just let him gallop and jump at the pace that was comfortable for him, and tried to ride as efficiently as possible without arguing and pulling…. We were so much on the same page!   When I crossed the finish line, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was easily under time.   Only a few horses managed to make the time…    It makes me so proud of him, as he really deserves it, to say that he led from start to finish to win the Open Preliminary this weekend! He is my baby, along with Nemo, and I couldn’t be more proud!
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The students were, of course, amazing this weekend…

Training Level Horses and Riders…. Ali and Alex had a breakthrough performance this weekend.    They have been working so hard, with massive improvements in all three phases in this outing….  The dressage is really improving, and the cross country was fluid and rhythmic.    For showjumping, they ran in a hackamore, and the rhythm and balance was really terrific.   It was a learning experience to figure out how to show in the hack, and Ali really got a feel for the buttons…. I think they are really ready to make some big strides next time!   Chelsea ran her Benny in his first Training, where they scored 8’s in dressage and had just one rail in SJ.  They had a terrific XC round, with just one peek at the water jump, but he is just 6yo and still learning, and a really exciting horse for the future.  I’m sorry—I’m not sure how the Training riders ended up….. Forgot to look!  Most importantly, they really improved this weekend!
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Novice Level Horses and Riders….. Working student Jen nearly had a fairytale weekend in her first HT with us, transforming her challenging TB into a dressage machine, 2nd after dressage on 31!    DCSJ put them into the lead, and they nearly won their division finishing under time XC with a good round, but unfortunately just one cheap runout….  But they’ve worked so hard and it’s really paying off, and I’m sure it will all come together for next time… Most importantly, I think they learned a lot this weekend and showed a lot of promise!       Holly W and her terrific Trevor had a great weekend, FODS of course—-their trademark—and finishing in 8th place.  Most importantly, they earned a moveup to the Training Level for next time, as they are looking terrific (and bored) at Novice!   Nikki and Oliver have really come into their own last fall, and they finished on their 35 in dressage to finish 8th in the tough Open division.   Most importantly, they were extremely competent in all three phases and did a terrific technical performance, and will run T  next time!   Hannah and Vaughn did their first Novice this weekend.   They were tense in the dressage and just too nervous to perform their best, but learned alot and returned to the warmup to show me some really brilliant work.   They were terrific in showjumping with just 1 rail, and had an easy breezy XC course.     LOL, our 13yo rider picked up a technical stop, though, when she decided to stop on course to allow the spectators who were standing in front of a fence to pass by…. Perhaps too polite there, Hannah!  🙂     LOL That’s why we love her!   It was a great course, though!
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Beginner Novice Level Horses and Riders….Working student Emily did her first horse trial with her new OTTB that we picked out last November…  They rode in the OBN against the pros, and scored a terrific 37 in dressage for their first time out, double clean SJ, double clean XC to finish 5th in their first outing against the professionals!    Riddle and Quin did their first USEA Beginner Novice where they were excellent….  41 in dressage, a great start since we’ve just learned to go on the bit this winter.   They finished on their dressage score with beautiful rounds on XC and SJ to finish 5th their first time out!!!     Holly C and Roofie were paired up at the last minute, due to an abscess to Holly’s horse….  Even though they’d only been together for 1 week prior to the horse trial on a catch ride, they had a good dressage test… Their real moments to shine came in the SJ and XC, where they finished on their dressage score with foot perfect rounds.    The smile on Holly’s face could be seen all the way back at the trailering when she crossed the finish line—It was a wonderful weekend for the pair, who finished 10th.
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Thanks to all the wonderful helpers this weekend….. Thanks to all who trailered, and to Jen, Emily, Chelsea, Meghan, and Becca for the grooming help…. Thanks of course, as always, to Howard, for all things wonderful…  And thanks to whomever arranged the wonderful weather!!

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About widespreadpanic

Advanced level event rider and instructor at Team CEO Eventing in Lexington KY.
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2 Responses to Sunshine and Blue Skies…. At Spring Bay?????!!!!

  1. hfmoore says:

    What a spectacular day, and I saw a lot of riders who are ready to STAR this year!! I’m very proud of each of you.

    For Megan, I think she’s showing her heritage – as an old Walking Horse guy, I have to say that her walk movements in dressage were simply the best I’ve ever seen her do. Walk can be the most difficult thing that TB’s do, and a straight, clean, relaxed, swinging walk can set the tone for the entire test.

  2. bevyc says:

    Congrats to everyone! I’m still working through the pictures, but everyone looks so GOOD and I can see why the weekend went so well!

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