One of the best things about Aiken this year has been the incredible weather. So for me, making the decision to not go to Wellington in January not only saved a lot of money, but also meant I didn’t miss beautiful, warm weather. I did mange to go to Ocala for two days in the middle of the month to do some dressage with Silva Martin and show Syd and Wyatt. It was so cold there it was crazy, but the horses were really good. It was my first time out with Syd in two-and-a-half years, so that was nice.
At the end of January I was lucky enough to be on Boyd Martin’s “A” list and got the chance to ride with Bettina Hoy for three days with Wyatt and Syd. For those of you that haven’t seen Bettina in action I highly recommend it. I think she’s an exceptional teacher and very good at getting her point across. She knows just how much pressure to put on the people and the horses that she’s teaching. I did speak with one rider who thought she was maybe too German for his horses, but for me, she was helpful. For example, anyone can teach me on Why Not—he’s not always easy but he’ll try anything. Syd Kent is a different story—you have to make everything his idea because he would never tolerate someone telling him what to do. Bettina got that in the first few minutes of seeing him, which I think is pretty darn impressive.
The rest of my horses and Surefire crew arrived the first of February, including my Mom for two weeks, and boy, was she great help; it always makes me feel better when I compete if she’s there. Sporting Days in particular was really special for me because Syd did his first event in a long time and won from the dressage on. At this point we’ve gone to five horse trials and had winners at all of them except for Paradise Farm, where Cali (my working student) was second with Colonel Mustard in NR. I picked Paradise weekend to go home and see my boyfriend, Tom, and have a few days off.
It’s nice to have so many great horses, clients, owners and employees here—all the people that all make up the Surefire Eventing team. It’s been really fun to have Po Tatham here with her two horses as well as Victoria Jessop with her horses and clients sharing the barn. I even have two of Danielle Quinn’s jumpers and you might see me in March doing the Welcome Stakes on one of them that just started to do the smaller grand prixs. We also have Nancy Winter and her fox hunting ponies with us, which is always nice, and welcome back Susan Merle-Smith, who had to miss Aiken last year.
There’s a lot going on here with training sessions and some big events coming up. I’ll report on those soon!