Meghan and Pirate had a good test for them, another personal best, and their dressage is improving by leaps and bounds. They were good in the show jumping and cross-country, too. Kendyl and Megan (Ever So Lucky) had an okay dressage, she suffered from a fresh horse as well, but went on to better show jumping and cross-country. Helen and KC’s dressage is definitely a work in progress, so is show jumping, but they were double clear cross-country, which was great. The rest is going to just take time.
After Pine Top, I asked Mark Phillips if I could have a lesson on the flat before I went to Sporting Days because I felt I needed to re-confirm my half-halt. It felt like I haven’t really had enough time to get to Sylva’s and Mark was kind enough to teach me. He watched Wyatt go for a bit and then got on him. Mark just told me to really keep Wyatt over his neck, and to remember there’s only one answer when I put my leg on: he has to move his hind legs to the bit. It’s amazing how well Mark rides and how much feeling he has. You could see as he went that Wyatt got better and better and happier and happier. When I got back on him we did a little re-confirming of the half-halt, then shoulder-in, counter-canter, half-pass and lead changes and all of them were great. It was really fun to have Mark’s help again.
So on to Sporting Days. Wyatt was really good until we got to the water on cross-country and had a stop. I was so mad—even though I may not have ridden the best, I still felt he should have gone. I know I need to do my homework now because that water had been a problem before. Bebe was good all day with just one rail in show jumping. Allie won the dressage on a 20.4 and also had one rail down in show jumping. Both young horses were really good cross-country. I’m excited for Ashley Worrell, who has bought both Allie and Bebe. She wanted me to do Sporting Days and Southern Pines with them before sending them on to her in Colorado.
Charlie (BT Ten Mile) moved up to Training at Sporting Days with Meghan and had a better dressage test, though it’s hard to relate because the test is harder than Novice, and his cross-country and show jumping were good. Mark my words, Charlie’s going to be the dressage winner in the next few months. He’s a really nice horse, such a good mover and a great brain. Courtney Carson and Sunny had some trouble in both the cross-country and show jumping, but it was better than their last event at Paradise. Ashlyn Dorsey ran Culcairn 14 in JOT for his first event and was second, and JYOP with Cosmic Girl, finishing ninth.
After Sporting Days I took Wyatt to have a jump school with Phillip. I also wanted to have him watch me into the water. Wyatt was great for the school, but when we went practice the water, I got him in the first time but it took everything I had to make it happen. He was really naughty! Phillip said he was so glad we did this, hopped on Wyatt and told him, very politely, to never stop with me again!
I decided to take my horses to Southern Pines I because I really love that facility and the cross-country—the whole event is so well done. Also wanted another run in Preliminary with Wyatt, and a more difficult water. I also took Allie and Bebe for new owner, Ashley, plus I brought a horse I’d just bought from Patricia Vos and Jen Simmons. His name is Palm Crescent and they’d bought him through the Canter program. Jen had him entered at Southern Pines anyway, and even though I only had about five days with him, I decided to take him along and see what parts of the event I’d do. We also decided to take Kendyl’s mare in the Preliminary for more practice and to really work on galloping cross-country and the show jumping. Sometimes it’s a good idea to go down a level to practice some of the finer points before you go back up to the level you’ve been competing. Since Kendyl’s aiming Megan for the two-star at Young Riders this summer, we thought it would be a good time to work on technique.
Wyatt was second after dressage on a 23.5 and finished the event on that score for second place. I was the most confident I’ve felt cross-country as far as having my eye back into the gallop. Plus, the course was a great course for Wyatt in terms of being a good fitness run and having some great exercises on it—they had skinny house then two strides to a down bank with a left turn to another skinny, up a bank then a bounce over a roll-top. As always, Southern Pines had great water complexes and Wyatt didn’t bat an eye, though he did jump in huge!
Bebe was the first horse in the ring at 8:00 in a big Novice division, won the dressage on a 21.5, was great on cross-country and in show jumping, and won her division. Allie was tied for 7th after the dressage and was the best she’s ever felt in the jumping, finishing ninth in a 3-way tie. I’m so excited for Ashley because she’s getting two of the nicest horses in Allie and Bebe, and I’m also really excited for Melinda Walton and Larry Smith, who bred Bebe and have more horses coming along.
My new horse, Palmer was in the other Novice and ended up fifth after the dressage, was amazing in show jumping and cross-country and finished fourth overall. Let me tell you, the Novice course felt like the novice Olympics, we even had to jump a trakehner! It was only Palmer’s second event, and his first was Beginner Novice, and I had no idea what to expect. I was so sad to sell both Allie and Bebe because I think so much of them and was really hoping to keep Bebe for myself. But that’s not the way things work out, so I spoiled myself and bought a horse!
Meanwhile, we had Helen and Courtney both run Full Gallop as well as my friend Vicky Jessop, who I’ve been helping on the flat with her horse, Desert Mystery. Vickey’s a great professional, and is helped by Stephen Bradley over fences. It was really fun to have her with us for two weeks, culminating with a win in OTB on a 25 in the dressage. Vickey rides beautifully on the flat and has done a great job with her thoroughbred, and it’s fun to be with her and see her do so well. Both Helen and Courtney had weekends where in some ways things were better, but the two ended with stops cross-country and I know they were disappointed. As we all know, that happens in eventing—we have to just keep working on what needs improving.
The great news is we got home from Southern Pines to learn that Vicky Jessop’s client, Sue Southard, had tried Tazzmania and on Monday she decided to buy him, so we have another one sold. I think Meghan, Kendyl and I are all looking forward to Southern Pines II, and Helen is looking forward to other events, and then will be happy to head home to Surefire north. It is amazing how quickly time flies when you’re in Aiken!