Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Raise Your Glass!

As the eventing season comes to a close and things are slowing down, I have precious moments of downtime where I can reflect on the past year. What I accomplished, and where I came up short. This year was a turning point for me, both riding wise and in my life out of the saddle.

My initial goals this year were to complete a CCI** and successfully complete some advanced level horse trials with Willy, while campaigning Deacon at the preliminary/CCI* level. Unfortunately with injuries and minor setbacks I was only able to achieve some of these tremendous feats, but I am still overflowing with pride for my boys.

Willy became a very competitive intermediate horse. Since I am no longer able to compete in young rider divisions, we really had to step up our game to be competitive in the open divisions against the country's best riders and horses. With the help of new trainers Scott Hassler (Hassler Dressage) and Colleen Rutledge we have produced scored consistently in the mid 30s. Another positive - intermediate doesn't look so big anymore! Even on a pony! Willy and I have consistently had very smooth cross country and show jumping rounds, and we are ready for more. While Fair Hill was a bust for the goal of completing a CCI**, we did cross the finish line on cross country day. And our mistakes were mine - which can be fixed! I let the words "Fair Hill" intimidate me along with the mental setback of hearing of my old coach Sharon White falling right as I entered warmup. Hearing of a horrible fall for a veteran rider such as Sharon, made me question my own qualifications. Thankfully it looks like Sharon is recovering well.

While Fair Hill did not end as I would have liked, I have to focus on the perfect weekend that was Plantation CIC** where Willy placed 5th! He had his best dressage score to date in an FEI competition, 58.4, jumped clean and fast cross country, and clean in show jumping on Sunday. It was quite a surreal weekend, I had several long-time friends come and watch Willy and I on cross country day which made the experience all that more enjoyable. So as Willy goes into his month of trail riding and hacking (until Thanksgiving) I am still in disbelief on how far this little pony has come. We had numerous top placings at Intermediate, a top 5 finish at an FEI competition, a 6-page article in Chronicle of the Horse, winning the 2009 USEF McKenna trophy, achieving my HA rating, and overcoming yet another injury.

The hopes for Willy over the winter are to continue working on his flatwork with Scott, getting him ready for his Advanced level debut at the Pine Top Advanced HT in February! We haven't solidified plans for which FEI events we will run, at this point it is one day at a time. We will also continue to take lessons with Jimmy Wofford, and hoping to add the likes of Kim Severson and Sally Cousins in that mix as well.

Poor Deacon. While I thought our problems would be solved with corrective shoeing, it turns out that Deacon tested off the charts positive for lymes! Poor thing! We finally began treating him in September, and just recently he competed in the Waredaca Horse Trials at Training Level and WON! We got to the event with very little warmup time - just enough to canter to warmup and trot around the dressage ring twice - and in we went! He gave me a workmanlike test, if not a WOW test - it was consistent, not fancy like he should be. Regardless he was 5th after dressage (can't complain there) in the open training division, and gave me a fabulous XC run. Sadly we were held for 35 minutes inbetween fences 5AB (the swale) and 6 (the drop). He was such a good boy, i just dropped my reins and kept walking him in a circle, and after our mini-break, he came right back to work over a very tough course! It was really really great to have my old horse back, I haven't had a XC run like that on Deacon since March! I don't think he will be able to get into Rubicon, so I think he will end on Waredaca and continue training through the winter (since he had so much time off during the summer). If he does not sell this winter, it is back up to prelim when the Aiken circuit comes around! And plans are to run a CIC* then a CCI*.

My horse in training, Zoe, has come such a long way in just two short months. She is one of the most difficult horses I have ever ridden, but she is also one of the most talented. She like to curl and brace her neck in a seahorse frame, instead of reaching down to the contact. With each day she is getting more and more consistent in her flatwork...but boy has it been a trying couple of months! Her jumping form is quite good, although she really did not understand how to use her hindend properly, and was just relying on her athletic ability to coast over fences. By making her slow things down to a trot, she has learned the invaluable lesson of rocking back and pushing at the base of fences. She will still have an awkward jump every now and again, but on the whole she really is coming around. But the best thing about this horse is taking her XC. She is fabulous and quite fearless, almost to a fault. She is ready for training level xc, but her flatwork and show jumping need to be solidifed so she will end the season at novice at Rubicon...but coming off of a 3rd place finish at Waredaca! Not too shabby! Her dressage scores have become consistently in the low to mid 30s! We are making progress!

Well it is getting on 10:30, and I haven't gotten on any horses yet...so more news will be coming soon!



Scott said...

Great job what great horses don't you love the shirts.

Scott said...

The comment was from Shelby

Rachel said...

great year couurtney keep it up
good luck next year