I think sometimes when you have things go wrong, it’s an opportunity to think about what to fix and how to get better, rather than being devastated. At Red Hills, I was pleased with Inmidair’s (JR’s) dressage. In show jumping, I was last to go and the footing had deteriorated so much that it felt like it was hard for him to get good purchase at the jumps. He jumped the first three jumps well, but got a bit too deep at the oxer at 4, which caused my rail at 5. That, and probably my lack of balance in my upper body didn’t help, either. Then we had a rail at 6a. I might have gotten a bit too much to the inside of the line, but when you watch video it seems he also didn’t have purchase off ground. The rest of our round was not the worst, not the best; JR doesn’t want to have rails, but if he does, it will be behind. Always more to work on!
Having already gone cross-country on Syd Kent, where I had problems at the corner at 5a, I thought I rode 5a well on JR, but I was just too quick in the turn, even though I had been advised not to be, and had a run-out at b. Sometimes you have to make a mistake in order to really learn what someone means when they advise you! From that point on I used Red Hills as a school, and really thought about being able to cover distance, ride each jump with the canter I needed, and work on focus. I was very pleased with what I was able to accomplish.
Syd had the unfortunate draw of going in the worst of the rain for dressage, but still put in a nice test. His show jumping was pretty good until the triple—I think I was a bit too quick for the way he likes to jump. He felt great warming up for cross-country, jumped the first four jumps awesome, but just didn’t understand where to jump at 5a, the corners that caught out more horses than we thought they would. I thought I had the right balance and speed, but Syd’s really careful about brush and saw no clear place to jump, which I feel made him more careful. The brush was so high it didn’t make sense to him, and if a horse wanted to jump all brush it made it a hard thing for them to read.
As it turns out, things happen for a reason. I got home, jumped about ten jumps on Sunday, angling everything, and it became apparent Syd had hurt his left front suspensory, either in the mud at Red Hills or because of the change in mechanics in right front foot, a result of his injury last summer. It may be that the injury which changed the way he goes and put stress on his left front. So once again Syd is on rehab. It’s probably good, I can let the hoof grow out and maybe he’ll be ready by July or August. I have to thank Steve Teichman and Sean Crocker for so diligently helping me out with Syd.
I sold Luminati right after Rocking Horse to Susanne and Harold Lichten for their daughter, Kate. It was a really hard thing to do because I need horses for my career, but trying to financially support my own horses has become difficult so I need to sell horses to keep going. I’m really happy for Kate and know Luminati’s going to be in a great home, and when I go to Gathering Farm in Massachusetts to teach I’ll be able to see them as they’re nearby.
With Luminati gone, I had just Duke of of Diamond (Dyson) and JR for the Carolina International. I just have to say that Carolina really stepped up their game and it was a pleasure to compete there from all aspects, as a rider and an owner. JR was great. I ended going by myself and Jessica Hampf helped me get ready for my dressage. We went out and did our thing. When we went down center and turned left at C, I decided to slow down in my rhythm as we didn’t have the best footing in ring that morning. JR felt easy and was a pleasure to ride. I have to keep working on my hands and my posture, but I can tell how much horse wants to do his job. It was nice to start on top; I was so proud of him. We warmed up for show jumping with Silvio, which was really helpful. We had one down at 4, JR barely hit it behind, but overall it was one of the smoothest trips I’ve had with him. Cross-country was a blast. I never planned to run for time, there was plenty to do on course, and JR felt like he was on it.
My other horse, Dyson, was not his best for his dressage test, but I would say the whole weekend was a big boys weekend for him. There was a lot to do in the show jumping and on cross-country, and even though we had the last jump down in the show jumping, it was more my fault than his. Dyson tried really hard on cross-country and was really fun to ride. I have to give big shout out to Maya Black, who was 2nd in her 2nd Advanced in a tough division.
We’re all home now, unpacking and packing again for the Fork next weekend. The plan is for Maya, Caitlin and I to each have one horse there. I'm so lucky that Tom did such nice job of cleaning the barn and fixing everything that needed to be fixed while we were gone. Thank you, Tom!