I’ve taken my horses to Silva twice, including my new horse Dyson, or Duke of Diamond. She’s really happy with Syd and JR and loved Dyson; she told me he can probably be a pure dressage horse. It’s always good to have an out, because as we know, young horses don’t always end up top event horses. I’ve also had one jump school with Phillip right before he went to Wellington, and he was really happy with what I had done with my horses since the last time he visited me in Virginia. Then, we’d discussed that I really needed to work on the details, that my horses stay with me through all my turns and that I can’t let the canter get away from me during the whole ride. He said my next project was to make sure that I stayed relaxed when I had a mistake rather than panic and change what I’m doing. Of course I’m trying to teach all my students that as well, the trickle down effect is always nice! This year, we have Erika and Cinthy Carson, Chase Shipka, Kaylin Dines, Caitlin Calder (who works for me), Kendyl Tracy, Hannah and Ann Kreuger and Susan Merle-Smith, who have all been hard at work show jumping and practicing their circles. It’s a really fun group.
We had our first competition at Full Gallop on the 26th. I did straight dressage with the big boys Syd and JR, which was great practice, and rode the 4-star test A to see where they were. Young Dyson did his first eventing dressage test and show ever. Syd got a 68.67%, JR a 67.66% and Dyson a 22.5. The judge had some really good comments that were helpful for me and my students. On the 27th we all did the horse trials at Full Gallop and were joined as well by McKenzie Regan and my homebred, Surefire Anwar. Most had a great day and we all gave ourselves a starting point for the year. The afternoon was topped off by Dyson doing his first horse trials ever and winning. I know it was not a perfect day for everyone, but as Ryan Wood said to me later that night when I saw him at dinner, it was good to be out and to knock off some of the cobwebs. I think the most important thing about horses and competing is to make sure you always keep it in perspective, concentrate on what went well, examine what didn’t and figure out how to make it better next time—without getting your knickers in a knot!