Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RECAP of 2009 Spring Season

A huge thank you to all of the Team's supporters! Without your help, this spring would not have been such a complete success! Unfortunately things have been so crazy that I have not been able to keep an updated blog... believe it or not it is quite difficult keeping up 2 horses (in 100% competition mode), starting a training business, and going to a university with the academic prestige as Wake Forest (to which my professors must be thanked since they were very understanding of my countless 'horse show' absences). Thankfully I only have one more year to balance the horses and grades. Now on to the recap :)

This is my last year as a young rider. Competing on the 2006 NAYRC CCI* team was a huge opportunity for Willy and I, a perfect way for us to mature in our riding and improve our performance in the competition arena. Needless to say our silver medal was a great confidence booster as well. Not many ponies have competed at the Intermediate level, so I was very careful with our training and preparations before actual competing at the level. Though Willy and I made several mistakes (it is both of our first times as this level) it has been an incredible journey, and the 2009 season has been our greatest yet...though I'm beginning to think that this super pony will go all the way.

Willy cleaned up in the IP and Preliminary events he entered, I couldn't have asked for better performances. Unfortunately Mother Nature had some input on our competition schedule, and because several events were canceled I had to enter Willy in several additional competitions because I wanted to make sure he was prepared for the challenges of our first CIC** event in late March. After great performances at Pine Top (finishing 5th) and Southern Pines (finishing 8th) we made the journey down to Hamilton, GA for our first CIC**. Again, we were met with a complete downpour... so much so that the organizers were forced to reschedule an entire day of competition. Unfortunately some difficulties in scheduling I was on Willy for far too long in the dressage warm-up, and the test was rather tense. However this 14.3 hand pony put all the horses to shame with a clean show jumping and cross country round, adding only time faults due to my caution with the wet ground finishing in 11th place. After a short vacation, Willy placed 2nd in the Fork Preliminary competition, and then went on to complete the Fair Hill CIC**… again finishing only with a couple time penalties. With these two completions Willy and I are qualified for the Area II NAYRC CCI** team for 2009…. Our last opportunity to compete in what is regarded as the Junior Olympics.

For the summer, our goal is to keep Willy happy and healthy. His schedule will be filled with conditioning trot sets, gallops, lots of dressage, and a gymnastics school once a week. You can come watch him compete in Maryland this summer at Waredaca (May), Seneca (June), and Surefire (July) before leaving for the Junior Olympic training camp in Southern Pines, NC!

My other horse, Deacon is using this year as a learning experience. Initially I thought he would be ready to compete at the preliminary level by the summer, but upon re-evaluation I think Deacon has much to learn about the sport at the lower levels (since he moved up to training so quickly). He continues to blow the competition away in the dressage, always placing in the top 4 after this first phase. The jumping phases are coming slowly but surely for him, though unfortunately brief ‘green’ moments continue to hamper what should be a stellar record. This year I will be working on instilling a solid foundation for this horse… making sure the basics are there, and working on his jumping style. He will also be making his Pony Club debut, competing in the Maryland Region Show Jumping Rally. I have high hopes for this horse, but like most things, he needs time to fully mature. I hope to end his year with the Training level 3-day at the Florida Horse Park in November.

Team plans for the summer include testing for both the HA and A in Pony Club (the two highest ratings), creating a syndicate for Willy (in hopes of funding his journey towards Advanced), and last but surely not least YOUNG RIDERS in Lexington, KY.

I am qualified and on the team, with Willy - but I need your help!!!! Please help me raise enough funds for this competition ($1500) …. PAYPAL is on the website… and checks made out to Area II Young Riders are tax-deductable! Just put my name (Courtney Sendak) somewhere on the check! It’s time to bring home the GOLD MEDAL !

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