Monday, February 18, 2008

Ocala II - in which I decide 4 out of 6 still makes for a great weekend

This weekend was Ocala II at the Florida Horse Park. Always having enjoyed the Kentucky and Virginia Horse Parks, I headed down looking forward to the weekend. Thursday was more dressage lessons on Keebler and Squire. They seemed to go fairly well, especially on Squire. I enjoyed heading back to places I’ve come to know in Winter Park on Thursday evening, yoga at Full Circle –; the FedEx Kinko’s to check my email and then the bar at Urban Flats for dinner and a little basketball viewing. Our Friday ride times were late in the day, so we headed down at noon Friday. While I was getting to ride, Hilda was talking to someone who had a previous Penn connection, then when she introduced her friend, it was Chris Machin (no introduction needed for the Michigan gang – for the rest of you, Chris and her daughter Maggie rode at Cathy’s barn in Michigan with me until they moved to Utah – where we stayed at their home for the USEA annual meeting when it was in Salt Lake City. Chris and Bernie (president of UF) are now based in Gainesville and Maggie is in her 3rd year of vet school). Very cool to see her and another excellent small world story. Warming up for dressage on Squire, the rider before me was Holly Johnson. She is down from Michigan with a few of her horses and we had several chances to chat through the weekend. Jeff Kibbie was also there competing and had a good weekend on his horse, Loki. Dressage on Squire went fairly well, though it appears that spurs may be called for to get full throughness. Dressage on Keebler was disaster city. He really had no interest whatsoever in playing (although he did get an 8 on his free walk – especially impressive as the score was a 52). The judge commented “interesting that horse stops fussing when you drop the reins. Check bit, bridle etc.” Hilda and I pretty much fell about laughing. When you drop the reins, he no longer has to work, so there is nothing to fuss about, pretty sure all the tack is in good order. The current plan is very little eventing and lots of dressage shows for Keebler this summer, along with extra lessons for both of us. Saturday, Keebler redeemed himself cross country, jumping clean over a fairly challenging course (though the water was easier than last event). There was a full coffin, a log on a lump (off a 90 degree turn immediately following the full coffin), and several big tables and a scary in to a down bank. He was great with only the starting problem getting in the way of a double clear. Time faults were incurred as he left the start box and immediately whipped around and headed back to the warmup. We made quite a large circle before I got him pointed at the first fence. Once he saw there were jumps, all was good. Disaster number 2 occurred in Squire’s stadium round. I came off Keebler’s xc, quickly got on Squire and headed to warm up (only about 35 minutes between rides). In warm-up, Hilda reminded me it wasn’t xc. I unfortunately took this way too far to the extreme and came to the one stride off a tight turn with no canter at all, then leaned forward as Squire slowed in confusion. When he stopped (appropriately and safely), I popped off, so that was the end of SJ (elimination, for those of you who don’t event). I received permission to go XC (with the requirement of an EMT check). Since I had landed on my feet and was out running when I asked for permission, it seemed a bit overkill, but definitely better safe than sorry. EMT check ended up being conducted on the dance floor at the competitors’ party. I was able to keep up with the line dance, therefore ready to head out on cross country the next day. The competitor’s party was a lot of fun, good food (though they ran out and had to make an emergency barbeque run), karaoke (some of the best was by little kids), and a chance to talk with several of the competitors, staff and volunteers. I got to meet Jennie Jarnstrom who had Keebler for a short time. She competed on Keebler’s half sister Yoshi and on another horse of hers. Sunday, Keebler had SJ in the late morning and was an absolute star. In this case, double clear jumping was not enough to move up with the horrible dressage and the XC time faults, but it was a lot of fun. Here is a link to an Xpress Foto picture: Last of the weekend was Squire’s XC. We headed out to warm-up and Hilda came over with Duke (wearing his 4th place ribbon) to warm us up. There was a table in the warm-up which was nice. Warm up was good and we headed over to the start box. There was about a 5 minute hold and Squire kept asking “is it time yet??” but he was very polite and quiet about continuing to walk until it really was time. The starters asked Hilda if she was setting a new fashion standard for cross country as she hung out with us by the start box in her stadium gear. Duke was even braided. Once the course was ready, we headed out and everything was golden. It felt to be a virtually perfect cross-country round. Everything felt smooth and easy and this was not a small course, though nothing felt very big as Squire jumped it. Despite no ribbons and some pretty big problems, I think the weekend was once again a success. Next weekend, Keebler does training with me again and Squire’s owner, Zoe, rides him at Rocking Horse III.

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