On the horse side, Maya and I went to Virginia to help some students in the one-star and for Maya to compete before Bromont. I rode Inmidair (JR) in the A/I as a combined test and Duke of Diamond (Dyson) and Why Not in the Preliminary. JR had two weeks off after Kentucky; I walked him for ten days, had a small flat school and a small jump school and thought Virginia would be something fun to do. With all the horses we had a weekend of ups and downs. Maya ended up going first with her horse Doesn’t Play Fair (Cody). They had a fair dressage, but show jumping and cross-country, which we had been working on, really went to plan.
I got my times wrong for my dressage with JR and didn’t have enough warm-up, only about ten minutes of cantering and trotting on a long rein. I didn’t have much of a test, so it wasn’t the best practice, but my main reason for going with him was to work on my show jumping and he jumped beautifully.
I also had my old partner, Why Not, and my own Duke of Diamonds, who ran around in the time—up to that point I’d always had about 18 time faults with him! I’d had a great lesson on Dyson with Phillip before Virginia. I had told him that I didn’t know if Dyson’s balance was ready for the speed to make the time at Preliminary. He told me to make sure keep the balance up, with my leg on, and keep going to the jumps and it would be alright. It’s always easier to pull on the reins than kick the balance up, but after riding two jumps and making myself keep the same gallop it worked to my advantage because I had something to kick up. I tried to do that at Virginia, too, and Dyson jumped even better than he had at Phillip's. I think when you watch Phillip’s round at the Fork and then his round at Kentucky on Trading Aces, you’ll see that the horse got so much better with Phillip riding him the way he taught me to ride Dyson. I’ve been in this sport a long time and I’m always trying to get better, but sometimes you just need someone on the ground telling you what to do and supporting you, just as I do with my students.
Maya won the A/I at Virginia, which was a nice note for her to go to Bromont on. I was so excited for Maya to head to Canada for her first 3-star. She’d tried to get to one six years before, but due to soundness and other reasons it didn’t work out, and several horses later I couldn’t wait for her to actually be there. Maya drove up and I flew up to help her starting on Friday.
She had a nice dressage test and the things we’ve really worked on, like her changes, half-pass and the quality of canter and counter-canter were much improved. With that being said, I felt like the pizazz she normally has in her trot work wasn’t quite there. Her little horse, Cody, is quite competitive on the flat, and anyone who knows Maya Black knows she is, too. We were very pleased with her being in second place after the dressage and thought that Derek’s course suited both Maya and Cody. As always, Derek did a beautiful job and there were some great questions. Maya jumped around with class and was really smart when her horse got tired at the end of course, knowing when to push and when to support, and he jumped really well all the way around. We knew he was a little shy on fitness and they had 12 time, but the run will add a lot to his base.
Cody was quite an easy horse throughout the whole weekend and jogged well Sunday morning, put in a class show jump and ended fifth. I think this horse and Maya will be competitive and win at this level and the next, and if things go right be part of U.S. team, even as soon as Rio.