The Fork

What is the phrase? “A bad dress rehearsal means a perfect performance.” The Fork wasn’t actually all bad, but there were enough annoying things that did go wrong, I almost felt some higher power was just trying to make sure I would have all the bases covered at Rolex!
The week started with training sessions. Tuesday night I got to jump both Arthur and Burger with Mark. Both horses were great, we didn’t do much, but I was happy mostly because I needed to jump. I was still really hurting from my fall at Southern Pines and certainly was not riding at 100%. I hadn’t jumped these horses since they ran xc at Southern Pines, I knew they would be fine, but I would feel a ton more confident if I felt fine too. Mark got on Burger after I was done jumping to flat him a little — Burger jumps in a three ring with a leather chin strap, so we moved the rein up to the snaffle so Mark could flat him **** this becomes an important fact to remember later!***
I then did a dressage lesson on Wed with Mark on Burger. We had a tough lesson and Mark and I had a bit of a discussion about what I was feeling, what he was seeing, & how we were going to improve it. At first we were definitely not on the same page, but by the end of the lesson I think we made some great ground and better understanding.
Thursday was Burgers dressage in the rain! Fortunately my top hat was fitting a bit better after borrowing a hat stretcher (the 6 7/8 was too big — never good w/ top hats as they are very distracting to your ride when they are trying to fall off your head — so I bought one size smaller which was snug, but ended up being too snug giving me a headache!) It was his best test that he’s had. I rode him a bit lower & deeper than what would score well, but that’s where he needed to be for where we are in his training. We also had a couple of silly mistakes, so his score was only OK, but I was still very pleased with his test. I also had 3 other HT dressage tests that day (Parker, Mozart & Folk Lore) all putting in fabulous tests.
Friday was Arthur’s dressage in the whipping wind!!! I unfortunately put the hat stretcher back in the wet from the rain top hat so the too small top hat now turned into the slightly too big top hat. If it wasn’t windy, it wouldn’t have been a problem… but it was windy and that top hat kept trying to take flight. I spent way too much of my warm up distracted by that, taking my hands of the reins to prevent it from flying away etc. I had to stop a couple of other girls’ warm ups and beg them for bobby pins from their hair (thank you Maddie & Helen)!!! I needed to somehow pin that thing down. Thank you Holly Payne as well for going out on a Bobby Pin mission!!! Note to self: make sure I have bobby pins at the Rolex warm up!!!!! Despite our distracted warm up, Arthur was pretty good. He had a couple of fairly big spooks from some moving flowers, but he was right back to work in the next movement, this is a good feeling as last year it would take him a couple of movements to get his head back in gear. I did feel like they scored him a little hard, but oh well…. note to self: make sure I have everything I might possibly need at warm up & make sure Arthur gets my full attention prior to my test!!! (these things I already know, but it’s crazy how quickly you can forget!)
Saturday: XC Day! I started out 1st thing on Parker in the Intermediate at 8:15. He was fabulous. We were a bit slow as it was our first time together at the level and only our second competition. ALSO… the light was terrible!!! I think The Fork & Southern Pines should never send horses out on course before 8:45 (probably (to be safe) as you can hardly see in the morning light. We had one really big whiff of a jump (the water trough before the corner) as I couldn’t even see it!!!! Not safe! I wish the TDs would do a better job of checking this sort of thing out before xc day, as it would’ve been very easy for them to see this was an issue and ask the secretary to change the xc start times. Burger was FULL OF IT!!!! He was sooo strong and so much harder to ride than usual. I had such a hard time slowing him down & getting him in front of my leg, it ended up being pretty darn backwards at times. He did a lot of stuff really well. For instance, my concern with him last year was that he wasn’t really looking for the skinny/technical jumps — he would always jump them when put right in front of him, but not because he saw them from a ways away. He definitely was good to jump the skinnies this time, I just couldn’t understand why he was so tough to slow down & package… definitely not like him!!! When I got to the vet box, Helen, one of the fab working students, asked why my rein was on the snaffle. EEEESSSSHHHH!!!! I am an idiot! I knew we moved the reins when Mark rode him on Tuesday, and I put the bridle on prior to xc…. I can’t believe I never thought to move the rein back. Burger goes in a three ring with a leather chin strap, this bit gives him the right shape to make him really rideable…. with the rein on the snaffle ring, I had no leverage and no lift…. essentially I was missing a ton of his rideablility…. note to self: CHECK EVERYTHING TWICE, have someone else check too!!! These things I know, it’s just crazy how easy it s to forget!!!
Arthur was magnificent! He had been a bit tough to gallop at Southern Pines – he was spooky and running like a mad man. I really wanted him to gallop well and go all the direct routes. And he did just that. I could’ve been much faster if I had wanted, but what was most important was producing him for the xc at Rolex. He is such an amazing xc horse, everything was so easy and fun!! What a gift!
Mozart and Folk Lore had fabulous rounds in the Prelim. They are both green young horses, so the course was definitely a huge step up from what they did at Sporting Days and they handled it so well.
Sunday: Show Jumping. I am exhausted by Sunday. I think my injury, lack of sleep, packing, traveling and competing a bunch of horses has finally caught up to me. I jumped Parker first thing and he went quite well. He had one rail down at a fence where the pole wasn’t even resting in the cup — it was up on the high edge of it!!! I noticed it on my approach to the jump, and told the ground jury when I was done with the round, but they gave it to me anyway. Oh well, he was still fabulous! By the time I got on Burger I was a walking Zombie. I was sooo tired I couldn’t think straight! I never got him properly in front of my leg and I made some bad striding decisions, we had 2 stops and were eliminated!!!! On Burger – my easiest horse to show jump!!! I near enough cried! I got on Arthur and fortunately my dear friend Jan Byyny came to my assistance. She got my butt back in gear and he jumped well. He started out really well and then our breastplate broke at the chestpiece so he had a piece of leather attached at the girth slapping him in the belly (and taking a couple of rails down) UGGGHHHHH!! Note to self: get breastplate properly fixed… CANNOT HAVE ANYMORE EQUIPMENT FAILURES!!!!! Are you beginning to understand why I felt there was some sort of higher power testing the system readiness of Allison Springer Eventing?!?!?! Later on (after a much needed nap) Folk Lore jumped a beautiful clear round and ended up in 7th… too bad we didn’t go faster xc!! Mozart had to sit out as he had a big knee (he is totally fine now).
I think all in all The Fork was a great lesson. It wasn’t the greatest event result-wise for me, but it put EVERYTHING in perspective for me. I am really looking forward to being home and getting ready for Kentucky!


  1. Brenda Ramsell says

    Though trying times for you … understand that I appreciate the opportunity to hear and feel your frustration. We think it only happens to us! The truth is those days happen to everyone but not many speak of it! I have been there myself, feeling like where is my head today? Should I even be here? Am I honestly ready for this event? OR is this presented to learn from. Glad to hear you took the high road and translated it as a positive experience. So NOW …BE READY for ROLEX! I will be at Rolex this year …being my first year. Not competing but someday… oh and BTW … thank you for your answer to my Q on Eventing Radio Show a couple weeks ago…. regarding timeline for ROLEX and my horse. I knew the answer but its nice to hear it come from the people in the eventing world. Now that I am currently unemployed and making a go of my business, I have more time to train… kind of a blessing, and hoping that it will pay off in the years to come. Taking the time to do more clinics, now that I am not working every weekend, and doing everything in my power to gain the knowledge I will need to finally progress.

    Good luck preparing in the coming weeks and I hope to see you there to get your autograph!
    May the force be with you and may you have no tack malfunctions!
    Brenda from Maine.