It’s not very often a working student can say they get to go on vacation, rarely to Aiken, SC, and unheard of WITH their own horse. Therefore, I feel extremely lucky to have had such an amazing opportunity this past week with Team CEO and all the great horses. It was cutting it close on whether or not Molson would be fit enough to bring on this adventure due to a long period of stall rest for an injury, but fortunately with Megan’s help planning a training schedule, we made it!
The beginning of the week started off rather colorful, as Molson hasn’t had regular turn out since…. October…. SO he was very excited with all of the other horses when we hacked through Hitchcock Woods. I thought for sure that once we started jumping in the woods I would be half way to Canada, but he was in fact very well behaved and extremely happy. My favorite part of this trip was the steeplechase track, where Megan and I got to gallop around together, trying to time it so Molson and Ex jumped at the same time. We got it done a couple of times!
The second day was very relaxing, as we all hacked around PSJ farms and basked in the sun. I did some flatwork on Molson and he felt absolutely wonderful! Afterwards Meghan Towle, Kelly and I hacked around the grounds and explored. We also attempted to do the ‘cupid shuffle’ on our horses… I’ll tell you right now it’s a masterpiece in the making, coming Summer 2011.
Tuesday was supposed to be a rainy day but turned out to be quite beautiful, so Megan planned a mock CT at PSJ where we got to jump around their beautiful show jumps. I was happy to be able to play with my new camera and take some photos of everyone’s rides before I got on Molson to give it a try. We started off a little rusty over the Novice course, since we haven’t done a course in about 5 months, but after a few tries we got into our rhythm and it felt great to be back on my pony again! I was very impressed at how bold and confident he was to every jump, not once did I have to give an ‘encouragement kick’! We ended up raising the bar a little and even then he took everything in stride. My favorite part of the day was after our rides when Holly and Nikki both joined in on a poetry reading session at a Cuban restaurant we happened to be eating dinner at. It was so fun to relax and have a good laugh with everyone, and eat some good food!
On Wednesday we headed over to Jumping Branch Farm for what was Molson’s first xc schooling of the year! I have to admit a part of me was a little nervous about whether or not Molson actually remembered that he is an event horse, and is supposed to go over the solid objects I present to him, but I quickly learned I had nothing to worry about as he was about as excited as he could be to be back out schooling again! Even with keeping the jumps to a minimum due to his fitness, we had a blast schooling everything from a ski jump to a training coffin.
Thursday was all about dressage. In the morning we attended the training sessions and were all inspired after watching numerous dressage lessons with some of the best riders in the country. In the afternoon Megan taught dressage lessons, but Molson and I sat out so that he could have a rest. Therefore, I had ample opportunity to play with my camera again and snap some great photos of everyone (to be posted soon!) My favorite meal of the week was Thursday night at Tacosushi, where we all got to try new adventurous things!
Friday was round 2 for watching the training sessions, where Phillip and Kim jumped around the stadium jumps making it look oh so easy (insert sigh here). It was also round 2 for xc-schooling, this time at Full Gallop Farm. This was the hardest schooling on the trip, at least for Molson and I, as there were lots of technical things rather than plain roll tops, coups, etc. In fact, we only jumped one actual fence, and worked on ditches, banks, water, and steps for the rest of the day. He was a good boy, even though I was not riding my best, and we learned lots from their amazing course.
Today is sadly our last day, but we started it the best way possible with one final xc school at Sporting Days Farm. I originally planned to sit this one out to take pictures and give Molson a rest, but since we took it easy at the other schoolings this week and he was still feeling great, I decided to take him after all, and boy am I glad I did! He was a superstar and did everything I asked of him. We started off trying to come to an agreement on tempo and *listening* to mom’s half halts, but we got into our rhythm and tackled a lot of the novice and some training questions with no problem. My proudest moment was when he bravely charged through the water like he owned it, as it is one of our weak areas. We also did the training log drop into the water without a problem!
Tonight is our last dinner together as a group before our voyage back to the motherland begins. I can’t believe it’s already over, but looking back at our week, we have done and learned so much! Everyone has progressed so much this past week with their horses, and I can’t wait until the season to begin! Lastly, a BIG thank you to Megan for planning and running this trip and teaching us some great lessons, and to Quin and Howard for holding down the fort at home while we got to have some fun in the sun!
See you all this week!