Southern Pines

The week started very well with Team Training Sessions on Wednesday here in Aiken with Capt. Mark. Burger got to work through the new 4 Star dressage test that we will have to do at Rolex and Arthur and I got to showcase our new show jumping skills. Burger did a great job working on the new test. There is a lot of challenging counter canter work with many lead changes… he was such a good boy. Arthur was most impressive in his jumping. We worked really hard this winter on the right warmup routine for him, how to ride him at home, and how to ride him in competition. Mark was really pleased with what we have accomplished.
Then we were off to Southern Pines early Thursday morning. Burger had another dressage lesson with Mark there and he wasn’t quite as good. He was fairly fussy in the bridle at times, and was a more resistant to the half halts. He finally started being good, but he never really felt thrilled about having another dressage lesson.
Friday – Dressage Competition Day – started out fantastic. Jack (in his first Intermediate) had a beautiful test. He was in a huge division with really good horses and riders & ended up 3rd. Parker was good in his Intermediate class, he broke twice, but overall was very good and ended up sixth. Arthur was fabulous, he ended up winning his Advanced division (in the toughest company). Burger was a booger!!!! He really just didn’t feel like doing dressage anymore and was a bit naughty in the ring — something he has never done to me before. Fortunately he was 2nd to last to go, so we were able to go back into the competition ring and school for a while until he decided to behave.
Saturday – Cross Country Day – had some ups and downs. Arthur, who feels entirely too fit right now, started out on cross country full of beans. He ran down the first fence line acting silly — spooking and entirely too strong. He spooked really hard at a gate that had fallen down in the fence line and shot out into the field. I had to pull him up and loop back to jump fence number two — not really a big deal, except we were wasting a bit of time AND while I was galloping away from the fence I heard the announcer say I had an unfortunate refusal at #2. WHAAAT??? I definitely did not have a refusal and would go to the office and deal with it later. After the first corner question he finally began to settle down some. The course was much too easy for him, but he did everything very well after that. Burger totally redeemed himself from the previous days dressage test. He was a blast xc and made easy work of everything. Yay! Jack started out amazing on his first Intermediate xc course. Whereas the advanced track was entirely too easy, the Intermediate track was very difficult. I like the course designer, John Williams, except his Adv and Int courses seem to have this inconsistent trend — the Adv pretty good, the Intermediate really hard. It seems to me that the courses at a particular event should follow the same trend. The omnibus said all courses are “True representations of their level.” I think It should have read Advanced, good move up course. Intermediate, challenging for the level. Especially with the Intermediate water being soooo much more difficult than the Advanced water. Jack was fantastic. He did so much so well. He made such easy work of most of the course. He did get a bit strong, but because it was his first Intermediate outing I felt it was appropriate to school him and make him gallop slower in areas and listen. He jumped into the last water well, but landed really hard (something that the majority of the Intermediate horses did, many unseating their riders). I got bobbled a bit forward, but after I righted myself, we jumped the second element and landed a bit slow. We ended up getting 4 strides instead of the intended 3 to the third element, which then made getting 3 strides to the last element difficult. We got 3 1/2 putting us very tight to the final element which he tried his hardest to make work out. Some people watching said it looked like he got one of his front boots caught on the top of the final element (which is also what the pictures look like) — which was a very vertical narrow, no ground line and a flat sharp edge at the top. Many riders complained about the appearance of the final element, and the TD was asked to change it and nothing significant was changed (I think they weed-eated around the ground line instead of filling it in as asked). Jack was able to get his front feet back under him and I thought he was going to be able to pick me up, but then he overreached from behind (one of his hind legs stepped on one of his front legs) which made me fall down and him to almost fall down. It was amazing that he saved himself from falling and managed to not step on me as I was on the ground in front of him and then under him. He was the perfect gentleman not to step on me. I banged my ribs up and he cut his front leg, but we both walked away from the incident in great shape considering all else. I am sore , he has a few stitches. We will both be 100% in no time. Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride Parker xc. ALSO the TD never took the stop off of Arthur’s xc results. This REALLY irritated me because I went through all the correct avenues with my inquiry, and she got feedback from other knowledgeable horse people about what they saw (she specifically made the point to me that she wasn’t going to use anyone else’s opinion, but she did anyway and didn’t even listen to what they had to say). I am really sorry if this sounds like sour grapes, but I know I’m right, everyone who saw it knows I’m right, and, frankly, I don’t want a stupid stop like that on his record. I know it probably won’t matter much in the end, but it’s all a bit irritating. Oh well, I guess I have some more official ways to express my concerns than my blog (which I will do), but it’s nice to vent a little!!!
I felt really sore on Sunday, so I couldn’t show jump anything either… bummer. It was really tough to watch how unimpressive most of the advanced horses show jumped — I would have loved to have had the opportunity to show off what me and my horses have been working on all winter. I guess it’s most important to heal up fast and gear up for The Fork!!