Monday, March 3, 2008

a weekend in which there is more driving than riding, but still good fun!

Headed down on Wednesday night late this week (the vagaries of airline ticket pricing determined much of my schedule). Thursday, I had to make a quick run to the VW dealer to get a new tire put on (too much road construction on the way from the airport, apparently), then headed to Ashmore to ride. We took Squire over to Class Act, Jennie Jarnstrom’s farm to do some jumping. We had a bit of an issue with a line that we hadn’t realized was set at 5 and ½ strides, but otherwise an excellent school, then headed back and did a dressage lesson on Keebler. In the side reins (ok, don’t tell anyone from pony club, but it seems to work really well and Marina Genn once had me do it, so I don’t think it is totally verboten), he was really good, but as soon as we took them off he got up to his usual tricks. Still the walk work is a lot better and the downward transitions, especially from trot to walk are quite good, even when he is fussing at the trot. Thursday evening, I did a bunch of packing up and then Friday morning did a quick flat school on Keebler and a lesson on Squire, which were both quite good. It was actually chilly (well, in Florida speak) just under 40 degrees when I got on at 7:30. After riding, I packed up some barn stuff and in my loaded up car, headed for Aiken. The drive was uneventful, other than some construction on I-95 that slowed things down a bit. Mapquest took me on an interesting (in a good way) route that included driving through Waynesboro, GA, the hunting dog capital of the United States. Who knew? I arrived in Aiken just before 7:00 and headed over to the Susie/Lesley & Company house. It is quite nice and in a quiet neighborhood close to Whiskey Road. Henry had already done a grocery run and a bunch of unpacking, so Lesley, Henry and I headed for dinner at Cuizine. It included a very nice bottle of wine (no surprise, Henry was with us) and a mixed review on the food. My salad was excellent as was Henry’s steak. The calamari, my risotto and Lesley’s tuna were more on the fine, but uninspired page. Saturday morning, I did yoga at I always like finding new gyms and yoga studios when traveling. We then headed to the house to begin party preparations. With Amanda’s excellent help (Amanda is Susie’s 8 year old daughter and she squeezed all 60 pieces of citrus for the margaritas), we were able to complete pre-party preparations by around 3:30, so repaired to the Wilcox for a nap. The Wilcox is really a lovely old inn, a nice treat for the weekend when Henry is in Aiken. I recommend that you all consider a weekend in Aiken next year. It is great fun. The party appeared to be a success. The margaritas were a lovely shade of red, thanks to the blood oranges in them. Many bottles of red wine also were drunk and especially appreciated by Kevin Keane, Auggie Vettorino, Phillip Dutton and Jenna’s dad, Tom. The food was Henry’s usual spectacular litany of muscovy duck breast, portabella mushrooms with aged gruyere, lamb chops, grilled asparagus, wonderful cheese, etc. We headed back to the Willcox and then Sunday morning, got up (not as early as T, Susie and Lesley had to for T’s advanced cross country at Pine Top) and headed for Philadelphia. Meanwhile, T had a couple of glance-offs, but successfully completed her first advanced horse trial. Caitlin had an excellent intermediate run, and Choo also did well. We reached home without event Sunday evening. I’ll be stuck with a rental car the last two weekends down south, but it was great to be able to break up the drive home. Looking forward to both Squire and Keebler at Rocking Horse Spring next weekend.

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