I decided to take Wyatt Advanced at Fair Hill, I thought it was a good thing to do before I took him to the two-star at Jersey. I was nervous about going Advanced, not scared, just the nerves anyone would have after so long away from the level. I was just hoping that my timing was still available to me! In keeping with the way this wet spring has been, there was a lot of rain at the event, including on cross-country day. The footing was deep and pretty wet, but I decided to run anyway. Wyatt was unbelievable in all three phases. Even with an error we were sixth after dressage, so I was really happy with him. In spite of the weather on cross-country day I felt really good, and it was such a relief to know that I still have it in me, even if we weren’t the fastest around the course it was fun to do. I was lucky because Tom came up to watch and support me. I think he was more nervous for me that I was, but after seeing Wyatt jump he said, “Jan, he’s the best one yet, a really good horse. I’m not scared for you at all!” With just the time on cross-country, we ended up seventh—not bad for my first Advanced in over a year.
Kendyl also had a good weekend at Fair Hill in the two-star with her mare, Ever So Lucky, and finished ninth with some time cross-country and one rail in stadium. Both Kendyl and Helen are headed in the right direction for Young Riders this summer, and the great thing is now Kendyl’s qualified. Helen had twenty penalties on cross-country only because her mare didn’t see the out from the water, but nevertheless I feel like Helen has made great strides since she’s been with me. Unfortunately, it meant she didn’t qualify to do the CCI at Jersey, so we moved her down to the CIC for that event.
My two young horses, Palm Crescent and Kemmerlin both did the Training, the first at that level for both of them. They were great, but I went slowly on cross-country because of the footing.
The bummer is that when I got home the Tuesday after Fair Hill, it was obvious Wyatt had damaged a tendon. It was an acute injury, not something that had been brewing for a while, and he’s out for the time being.
On the Wednesday after Fair Hill I flew to Kentucky to help Jessica Hampf and Kristen Bachman at Rolex. Kentucky was also plagued with all the rain we’ve had this spring and I’ve never seen the Horse Park that wet, with running water through the infield and the sunken road. It was a great weekend for Jess; she had a good dressage and even though she had 20 cross-country, it was the best I’ve seen her ride yet. In show jumping, she had just too little pace and didn’t realize it when she went in, but I’m still so proud of her and all the improvements she’s made. Kristen decided withdraw before cross-country as it was her horse’s first time back at that level. She felt running him on the footing wasn’t in his best interest, which is not an easy decision to make when you’ve put in so much work and time into getting to Kentucky. But, there’s always another day.
One of the best things about Kentucky was that I got to watch a lot of dressage and cross-country—you have to learn something when you watch that many great riders and horses. I think what I learned the most is that Mary King is amazing—she has the best attitude and always has a smile on her face; you can tell she just loves what she does. She’s such a class act and puts a positive spin on everything that happens. I love her expression when things go wrong, “better luck next time”, and her attitude toward competing, “ I’m going to enjoy the moment.” I think that’s one of the things that make her such a great competitor; as she says, “I don’t do pressure, I don’t like it.”
After Rolex, I had to get Inmidair (JR) ready for his first competition after time off. I took him Preliminary at MCTA and had so much fun. He was great in the dressage and show jumping, and slow on cross-country, but it was so exciting to be back on him again. I also rode Kemmerlin in the Training and he ended up fifth, and Meghan took BT Ten Mile (Charly) Training, too. I couldn’t take Palmer because he’d pulled his shoe the day before and was really lame from it.
Both Helen and Meghan left the following Tuesday to go to Jersey Fresh. I was grumpy because I didn’t have a horse there so I told the girls I was feeling sorry for myself but that I would get over it. I was really excited for both of them, though. Meghan had a great warm-up for her test and then got in the ring and pushed Pirate a little bit past his rhythm. I was proud of her, though, because the work she did in the warm up is what we’ve been aiming toward all spring. The fact that she could take everything we’ve talked about and get it in the warm-up is progress. There’s such a fine line between doing enough and doing too much! Meghan’s cross-country was awesome, she had about five time-faults because I think she was worried about how Pirate would handle the nine-minute course as she could see a lot of horses were finishing tired. I knew we had the horse fit enough and he finished really strong, I think he was one of the fittest there and they were fun to watch. She had a beautiful show jumping and finished 13th. It was nice to finally have the two-star on her resume—she’s tried for the last one-and-a-half years to get it done!
Helen, on the other hand, barely got a qualifying score in dressage—it’s definitely a work in progress. Her mare, KC, looked awesome cross-country, the best I’ve seen her go and Helen ride, until three jumps from home when Helen’s stirrup leather broke and KC stopped at the next jump. They just weren’t on the same page with the broken stirrup. I think because Helen had never had a stop with KC in that way, she thought it better to pull up and play another day. It’s a good reminder for everyone to always check your tack.
Kendyl and I decided to drive down to Virginia to compete JR and Ever So Lucky (Megan). It was nice for just the two of us to go and help each other out. Dressage with JR was okay, but after all the work I’ve been doing I was expecting it to be better than it was—I guess that’s horses. My show jumping was clean though not the smoothest round I’ve ever had, I think mostly because I didn’t have quite enough pace and underestimated how much the indoor ring would hold him. I think you always need a little more pace and jump in the canter when riding indoors and my guess is that’s why there were so few clean rounds. Cross-country was great, he’s such a pleasure to ride. JR’s funny horse, he definitely has his own way of going with his head and neck, and the way he jumps is quite unique in that you don’t feel like you ever get the same jump twice. But he jumped great and was pretty fast with only two time faults, so we moved form 15th to third.
Kendyl had good weekend as well, with a better dressage test than mine, but she can still get more points out of it. Show jumping has been her nemesis but was actually pretty good, though she did have two down and four time and I feel both rails were because of her lack of release. I had told her to run for time cross-country just to practice for Young Riders and she was easily inside. She was amazed how much easier her mare goes and how much easier she was to ride when she has to kick. She ended up 11th, but only because of her show jumping. I think she’ll wait and run Megan at Surefire and then Maryland just before Young Riders, which is in Kentucky at the end July.
Life has been bustling at the farm. We’re busy getting ready for our event, plus we have all Melinda and Larry’s Hanovarian babies back in which is really fun. We have six of them, five of which we broke last fall: three, three-year-olds, two, two-year-olds and a yearling. If you want a nice horse, I’m telling you these are some of the best young horses I’ve never worked with in my life and I’ve done a lot of babies.