I’m at Red Hills, but I’m going to back up a bit and write about how my horses have been going. I had a great training session with David on the flat before Pine Top, in spite of a lack of power and awful weather. Mother nature sure is wreaking havoc on us this year! David gave me some great tips, which were simple. He talked about how we get so familiar with our horses, we become satisfied with what they do even if it’s not the best work they’re capable of. I had not really been preparing Syd well enough to do a dressage test. He doesn’t feel like he can fit in a dressage ring and David’s tips were helpful as far as really preparing and reminding me that dressage is all about precision. He likened it to being a figure skater and knowing which side of blade you’re on before doing a triple toe loop. I have to be that aware of where I am in the ring, and how to prepare my horse to get the best movements. It was a good reminder for me. Half the battle is to be precise. William Fox-Pitt made the same point when I did the clinic with him last fall—if you get all 7s on your test, you’re going for the clean round. David really helped me with some tools to do that.
I also got to jump with our new show jump coach, Silvio, who seems like a nice guy. It wasn’t an ideal prep for me because I hadn’t jumped JR since Pine Top, but it was more him getting to know the horses so it was okay. It was fun to watch Doug Payne and Will Faudree in the group before me, and both horses got better with Silvio’s help.
At Pine Top I was pleased with all four horses. JR’s dressage test was one of best we’ve had, although I missed all four changes. He was so rideable that I didn’t put him together and that’s why I missed them. The test itself was fun! He warmed up well for show jumping, then went in and stopped at the first jump!. I never felt coming; Philip and David didn’t either. I was shocked, then hit him hard, twice. Then we had one of the best rounds ever. Cross-country was flat out fun.
Syd ran in the Intermediate because he hadn’t been out since Millbrook, where he injured himself. His dressage was really lovely, consistent and rideable. Unfortunately, I had an error because I posted the medium trot; I forgot to look at the test beforehand, and often you can post the first medium so I thought I was okay. He was awesome show jumping, and cross-country with Syd was fun, fun, fun.
Luminati was much better in the dressage at Pine Top. I’ve been working to have some tools with him and took ten points off my score. His show jumping was really nice and so was his Preliminary cross-country.
Dukey did his first Preliminary at Pine Top. He was second in the dressage, had one rail show jumping, and was a bit lookey on the cross-country. It was a lot of course for him, but he has such a good attitude and got better as we went.
I have to give a big shout out to Maya Black, who did her first Advanced. She’s been waiting six years for that, and though it wasn’t an ideal competition for her, it was awesome for her to do it and I’m so proud of her. And Caitlin Calder rode the best yet in all three phases. We’re keeping it simple; back to basics is always important.
I was lucky to do the George Morris clinic on Monday and Tuesday. Boyd Martin invited me to ride and hosted. The whole clinic was about simple basics and classic riding. For me, it was all about my arms, trying to carry my hands a bit and keep my arms a bit looser. The one exercise George told me practice on a daily basis is to move my arms from my shoulder at the walk for a softer, more supple arm. Anyone who watches me ride would probably agree I need to do that! It was fun to watch every horse in the clinic jump better under his instruction. He had Doug just drop his horse, giving at every jump and following the horse’s mouth, to stop managing so much, and the results were visible. What an honor to ride with George, who is a master, plus he rode Kaylin Dines horse, who I was lucky to have there, and commented on how beautiful to ride and how well broke he is, which made Kaylin smile. The group was so fun because they were really good riders—Phillip, Boyd, Doug, Ryan, Will Coleman, Colleen Loach—and though there weren’t a lot of big changes, George added something to every person to make them better.
Full Gallop and Sporting Days
Maya had a good, successful Wednesday event on the babies and then again on the weekend, including second in Preliminary at Full Gallop on Edmonton Affair over a really difficult show jump course and quite a hard cross-country. Roundhouse Red went to his first event ever and was second in Beginner Novice. Call to Order, who’s not great on the flat yet, had good week at both Full Gallop and Sporting Days, in spite of the warm-up at Sporting Days when Novice was going cross-country nearby while he was warming up for dressage—quite exciting for a young horse! I decided to ride Luminati and Dyson at Sporting Days and got in at the last minute. Both were really good on the flat, and had beautiful show jumps, though Dyson had one rail. Luminati was quite quick cross-country and ended third. I took my time with Dyson and he was even more grown up than the weekend before.