Where to begin? The first Pine Top was an absolute whirlwind. We moved the horses there Thursday night, with the Intermediate set to run a one day horse trial on Friday.
Hopper was running the Intermediate as his first run of the year. I’m super conservative with his legs, so he actually hasn’t run cross country since last September. I’ve missed this! Despite his vacation, 30 degree weather and a fit, body clipped TB, Hopper was all business for dressage. He is such a professional—he knows his job and always shows up to work. What an incredible horse! I was really pleased with him in the test. He was relaxed, confident, and focused. The Judge was Brian Ross, terrific judge who I really respect and I was excited to get his comments, learn, and improve. Hopper was great in the test, though I unfortunately gave away a few points that I shouldn’t have…. Had an error for the medium trot ending at the wrong letter, halt not quite square, that sort of thing. He scored a 39, which he can go much lower but for the quality of the company I was quite pleased, and I know where to shave off the extra few points.
Show Jumping was next… My show jumping coach has been out of town for a few weeks, and to pinch pennies we don’t actually have any show jumps at our winter base, so Hopper actually hadn’t jumped in three weeks. He was terrific—warmed up brilliantly and confidently, and we were very in sync. I was really happy with the show jumping round… It was big, but rode well. Hopper was enormously confident and had a great (if not a little enthusiastic) round for a double clean.
Finally, cross country. Having three phases in one day when you’ve just travelled from the north is tough, because even though KY has had a mild winter, that translates to far too much mud to get out in the field and gallop much. I chose to take it slow on Hop on XC to be responsible with fitness and have a good round his first out of the year… I can’t tell you how tempting it is to want to make time on him! He’s the fastest horse I’ve ever ridden xc, but I was a good girl and came home with a comfortable handful of time penalties. Hopper had an absolutely brilliant round… He was so confident everywhere, and answered every single question happily. I am still smiling…. He was stellar! And then his xc video made it onto Eventing Nation—WOW! J He finished 9th with the time penalties (had I let him make time as he desired, he would have been 2nd) and had a great opening show for the 2012 season!
Hopper completed his day on Friday, but Nemo was set to show in the Preliminary on Saturday and Sunday. Traditionally I run him one prelim at the beginning of the year just to give him a really positive outing, then he runs Intermediate. Nemo let me know that this tradition needs to be put on the back burner, as he came out this year brimming with confidence and wanting to go play! Unfortunately in dressage, the 20mph wind gusts and 30 degree weather meant the dressage letters were blowing over, Nemo’s greatest fear. So the redhead had a few unnecessary spooks to mar an otherwise nice test, for 41. He consistently has one nervous test for his first outing of the year, so with Nemo it’s about learning to smile through it and know he’ll be an adult next time. =) Oh those red headed TB’s!
Nemo was great in SJ, not touching a rail for a double clean round. I managed to drop one rein after the first jump—something I’ve never done in competition in my career! We recovered quickly, but that was extremely humbling! UGH. Other than that, he had a great round and jumped his heart out.
On cross country, Nemo was a machine. I rode very efficient lines and he was stellar to each and every fence, being one of only a handful of horses to make time. He was brimming with confidence and I was shaking my head that I didn’t put him in the OI to start! Oh well, always better to have an overly confident horse. Nemo finished 6th in a very quality division on his dressage score.
I chose to run the first Pine Top as our goal is to run the 2nd one in a few weeks, so this was our practice run!
Next up—Pine Top Fe 24!