This is my second blog since partnering with Furlong’s Healthy Horse and in it I am going to recap everything that went on during March and the first part of April. For starters, the Aiken season has come to an end. The whole crew made the trek back to Pennsylvania at the beginning of April and I have to say it was little bit too cold when we first got back. But now the grass is coming in, it is starting to warm up, and dare I say that we may only have a few more weeks of having to put blankets on?!
Anyways, all of the horses traveled well and are all settled into the training regimen. The competition schedule has been really busy but has been very successful. Early March, Forty and I made the trek to Tallahassee, FL to compete in the advanced division at Red Hills International Horse Trials. Red Hills is known for being a tough event mostly because there are always crowds of spectators that come to watch. When your horse isn’t used to seeing so many people it can be very distracting to them. So, to be honest, I was very nervous going into Red Hills because it was only my second Advanced with Forty and it is in a different league than the advanced I did at Pine Top earlier in the year.
We did dressage Friday afternoon, so I did a pre-ride Friday morning. I spent the pre ride getting Forty really supple and obedient in hopes that when I got on for my test I could just pick up where we left off. When I got back on him to do the test in the afternoon, he felt even better than he did that morning. I spent most of my warm up going through parts of the test trying to get them as good as I could. Forty put in the most consistent test he has ever done. I was really happy with him! He just went in the ring and did his job. I was able to ride him forward and we didn’t have any bobbles. Our test was good enough to put us in second place after dressage.
Cross country was Saturday and the course was technical but not overly big. Forty was really honest and understood all of the questions but the course did not leave me with the best feeling at the end. The fact that the galloping tables weren’t that big ended up not being a good thing because Forty did not hold on them very well. That made it really difficult for me to get a good rhythm going throughout the course. I ended up only picking up a few time penalties but I managed to get all the jumps jumped the first time which I was happy about because sometimes you just have to get it done!
The fact that I didn’t have the most rhythmical round on cross country affected my show jumping round the next day. The warm up arena was really hectic and I let it frazzle me. I went into the arena to do my round and I let my nerves get to me. I had the second and the fourth jump down. After the fourth fence, I kicked myself into gear and put in a really good round to finish strong. Because of the time penalties I picked up on cross country and the two rails in show jumping, I ended up finishing in 8th place. I spent the two weeks after Red Hills focusing on all of my training being positive. I wanted Forty to be as relaxed as possible going into our next event.
Our next competition was Carolina International, which takes place in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Even though Southern Pines was our first three star, I had a great feeling going into the event. I knew that all I had to do was trust the training that we had been working on at home. Again, this event was over three days, so we did dressage on Friday. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable to say the least. It was cold, windy, and to top it off, it was pouring rain all morning. Not the kind of weather anyone wants to do dressage in, but all the competitors put a smile on their face and went in the arena ready to show the judges what they could do. I have to say that the judges were scoring really tough, but they were being consistent. There were some really lovely, rhythmical and accurate tests that did not score very well. I did not have very high expectations for the dressage phase because the test is more difficult than the advanced tests and the standard of the competition was much higher than any other event I have been in. A little bit to my surprise, Forty delivered the best test he has done to date. He stayed relaxed and obedient the entire time we were in the arena. There are a few movements that I still need to make more solid, but it was the best test we were capable of preforming on that day. It was good enough to sit us in the middle of the pack in a fifty horse division.
The next day was show jumping, and the course was riding tough. In the warm up I tried to give Forty a lot of different rides to the jumps so he would be ready to cope with the difficult course. I went in the ring after having some down time because a few of the professionals slid in front of me because of conflicting ride times. I gave Forty a really good ride to the first fence, but got off my line to the second fence, which was a vertical. Forty chipped in and we had the rail down. Through the middle of the course I was very accurate and Forty was jumping out of his skin. Coming into the last line, I cut my turn too much, which didn’t allow me to get straight enough to the in and out, and I had the rail down as I was jumping in. It was a beneficial round because I learned that I don’t have to protect Forty too much. I can allow him to take on the course more, so overall I was happy and learned more about my horse!
The cross country course was big and technical, but overall pretty galloping. Walking around it the first time was pretty intimidating, but it seemed more doable after walking around it a few more times. Forty and I went out on course in the middle of the day and the weather was ideal! I galloped out of the start box trying to make the time. I was riding really tight lines and was being really accurate. I had the most fun on that course that I have ever had! Forty was making all the difficult combinations feel easy and I galloped home inside the time at our first three star! Our next event will be Fair Hill CIC3 star, and then we will be off to the Jersey Fresh CIC 3 Star! Until next time, here’s to healthy horses and more good times!!