Do you know the feeling when you pour your heart and soul into something, and it finally pays off? Well, quite a few of us got to experience that feeling this weekend.
(TOP PHOTO: Expedition, the day he arrived from the racetrack. MIDDLE PHOTO: Ex this weekend, all grown up!)
Starting off… Three years ago I bought a 3yo TB off the track, and named him Expedition (an abbreviation of his race name). I saw him and loved him at first sight… My wonderful WS Maddie gamely hopped on him, and he was a lunatic. I screamed, “Jump off!” and grabbed him and she hopped off. I bought him on the spot. He spent his 3yo year turned out being a horse, and as a 4yo he was still really young. So we rode him lightly on the flat, and turned him out again. As a 5yo, I did a starter and a BN on him, but he was still mentally so young… So we worked him on the flat over fences, but no other competitions… He just needed time, you know?
Well, this year, he’s 6. All that time and faith paid off this weekend… My eccentric, beloved little TB ran his first training. All this time, I’ve LOVED this horse, but he’s hot, goofy, silly, and more than a little odd… He does things his own way, on his own terms. He can’t be ridden like other horses, he can’t think like other horses… He’s unique, that’s for sure. But I LOVE him.
So he did his first Training… He was wonderful in dressage in the trotwork—I was thrilled. Unfortunately he exploded in the canter work, sending our dressage scores plummeting. He learned a lot, but the canter work didn’t reflect his level this weekend. On XC, the first fence was huge, and very odd. He came down to it and took a hard peek, not understanding why a dozen ferns were protruding from the center of this pile of lumber. I kicked him over it… Then he got in gear, and clocked around the training. I just wanted a positive ride, so I didn’t look at my watch the whole way ’round. At the second, he felt a little trepidation. By the sixth, he had it figured out. By the 14th, the very big coffin, he was loving it! He came across the finish line a whole different horse… More mature, more confident, more confirmed in his career choice. He was SAILING over the fences on XC, clearing them by a ton and loving his pats and good boys.
SJ was Sunday… He still has some strength work to go in the canter, so he goes in a more open step in SJ than I’ll ultimately want… But he makes you ride really subtly, as he’s very opinionated. We had him on the right page today, and he jumped double clean in SJ. It was so neat to go in the ring and feel him carry all that confidence from xc.
So three years of patience and coddling of my favorite little eccentric baby has finally paid off. He finished on his dressage score at his first training! He finished 7th. I was so proud of him and all the promise he shows for the future, I am just as proud of him as if he’d won! I think he became a real event horse today, and proved that he wants to play… I am so excited for him for the future!
I also had the pleasure of catch-riding That’s Amore for The Simon Family. He was brilliant in dressage… I was so happy with him! He scored a 37 which I was quite dissappointed with, but sometimes those are the breaks. He was so good! On XC, he was brilliant and jumped a double clean XC round, being very well behaved everywhere. In SJ sunday, he jumped a great SJ round, with just one super cheap rail at the last. I was really happy with him, and think he gained loads of confidence this weekend… By Sunday, he was packing me around! He finished 8th.
I was really happy with both horses… They grew up so much this weekend! I’m thrilled to have Ex running training, and to know that he felt so happy around a big course. He absolutely LOVED his job this weekend… Isn’t it nice to have all your faith validated in a horse? I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Thanks to Michael Goodwin for the photo of Ravioli, and Howard Moore for the photo of Ex.
Advanced level event rider and instructor at Team CEO Eventing in Lexington KY.