When we arrived in Wellington we wondered why you’d want to be anywhere else that time of year because the weather is so nice! We decided to ride with Katie Prudent for jumping and Linda Zang on the flat We started out on Tuesday morning with two lessons with Linda and then had three lessons with Katie in the afternoon. I feel that, even if you’re not starting back from a long period of no competing as I am, immersing yourself in focused lessons is a great thing to do. It really gets your mind and your horse’s head around your jobs right away.
The first week in Florida we alternated lessons with Katie and Linda. The second week Linda was gone the first four days, which was perfect because we were able to get all the horses ready for a jumper show on the weekend. Kendyl and I rode in about 15 classes and the horses were all great, especially that little Bebe La Rue. She’s a fantastic jumper and has a great mind. The only class that wasn’t really great was when I took Wyatt in the High Schooling. He only had one rail, but he was so hard to ride and so spooky that day, I decided to put him back in the Medium Jumpers. I think he was a little bit off his game and didn’t really have his mind on his job. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you’re riding, you still have to have your partner participating!
Kendyl’s original plan was to be in Wellington for just a week, but she decided to skip the first week of school and show instead, which turned out fine—because of all the snow in D.C., her classes were cancelled anyway. She had a great round on her mare, Ever So Lucky (Megan), every time out that week and finished up on a good note. On Friday, Kendyl and I took Megan and Wyatt for flat lessons with Linda and then went to a dressage show on Saturday. We both showed Second Level and Bebe did Training. Wyatt won with a 74 percent, Bebe won her test with a 69.14, and Kendyl was respectful with a 65. I think Kendyl was suffering a bit from trying to take her horse to the next level. She has a really good First Level frame but it’s time for a little more collection and little higher carriage. Sometimes she gets it and sometimes she doesn’t, but that’s riding.
Mo, Kendyl and I all drove to Aiken on Sunday and the girls were happy to see us and ready for lessons of their own. We had one week to get all the horses and us ready to do our first event. We took everyone cross-country schooling on Tuesday. When you’ve had the winter off and are feeling rusty, that’s hard enough, but when you’ve had a whole year off it’s even worse! If you haven’t done something for a while it takes a bit to get rid of the cobwebs, no matter how good you might have been before. We went to Silva Martin for a dressage lesson on Wednesday and she was so pleased at Wyatt and Kendyl’s horse’s progress and couldn’t believe the difference since she’d last seen them.
Phillip was gone and didn’t come back until Thursday. He wanted me to school with him so I did that on Wyatt. We worked on me lengthening my reins when I needed to (my right hand is still not 100%), so that I didn’t get pulled on landing. We jumped a lot of Preliminary and Intermediate questions so I felt like I was really prepared to do Training at Sporting Days.
For the most part everyone had great first event. Meghan on Pirate and Helen on Casey had personal bests in dressage. Kendyl won her division and Bebe did her first event ever and amazed me with how smart she is. She and Allie ended up second in their divisions. I should have been second with all my horses, but I had a bit of an equipment malfunction on cross-country with Wyatt. Phillip was nice enough to come to the event and warm me up. We had a great show jumping and I headed out to cross-country. Wyatt’s last event was the two-star at Fairhill and I could tell Phillip had been competing him by the way he came out of the start box ready to run! About three-quarters of way around we had to jump off a bank and turn to the water. Right before the bank, I suddenly had no right rein, it wasn’t even attached to the bit! We jumped off the bank and then I turned hard to the left, pulling Wyatt in smaller and smaller circles to slow him. Anyone who knows Wyatt knows that he’s a little quirky, and you have to be careful what you do with him or he thinks you’re going to kill him or something! So I finally got him pulled up and then carefully got off, forgetting to unhook my vest, which luckily didn’t go off because Wyatt is short enough that the cord didn’t get stretched too tight. I’ve never seen Phillip run so fast—he thought something had happened to Wyatt or me. I showed him what had happened, that my rein had come unbuckled, and believe me, that’s the last time I don’t tape my reins for cross-country! Anyway, I had to fix my pinney and get back on and start with the water, which isn’t exactly Wyatt’s favorite jump, but he was good and he finished the course fine. So if you were wondering why I had 28.8 time penalties, it was because it took a while to get all that sorted out.
All in all we came out with a good weekend, except for Meghan’s horse, Pirate. She had to wait a long time to go cross-country, and then when Megan picked him back up he seemed lame, so she scratched. I think maybe a stud was pushing on his foot and made him uncomfortable, but in any case he’s fine now.
We took Charlie, Bebe and Allie to Full Gallop on Wednesday. They’ve made some nice changes, such as moving show jumping to a better ring and dressage to a better field. The changes were necessary and make for a nicer event. Charlie was quite good for Meghan all the way around, he’s going to be really fancy on the flat. Allie was good on the flat but I decided that the show jumping course was just a bit too much for her as she’s still green, so it was better to wait for another day, keep working at home and maybe move her back to Novice for her next event. I’ll probably do some horse shows with her, too. She’ll get it all together at some point, but it’s in her best interest to take it slow. Bebe did her first Novice at Full Gallop and she was third after dressage, and beautiful in show jumping and on cross-country. Unfortunately, I didn’t wear a watch so had time penalties. Meghan had told me that the time was hard to make on Novice and I think I didn’t really clue into just how hard it was. I felt I was pretty efficient in galloping and my turns and thought I would be fine. It’s not everyday you ride a Novice course that’s wheeled tight. I think the terrain at this event is not really gallop-y, so of course making the time is harder.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m on my way to Pinetop. It seems as though the week has gone flying by. I’m a bit nervous about being back at this event because less than a year ago, that’s where I got hurt. I’m prepared for the weekend, but I’m apprehensive about how I’m going to feel about being there. It’s been a really long recovery process and there have been so many changes in my life since my accident, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the support I’ve had from my good friends and family and that’s pretty amazing.