Monday, January 30, 2012
In which being back at Rocking Horse is the best birthday present
This blog started by reporting my kick off event for what was to be a season of preliminary and training level eventing in Florida. The theme was good horses, spastic rider. Isn't it good to know that some things never change? But 4 years and two horses that wanted a life that didn't involve eventing later, Keegan is a superstar and I fail to ride nearly well enough to deserve him. After excellent jumping and dressage lessons and another dressage saddle that didn't work (but I sent it back, so haven't added one to my collection), Saturday morning I headed off to Rocking Horse without Keegan. Not because Keegan wasn't coming, but because I was going to volunteer for a couple of hours and Hilda was going to bring Keegan up later. A primary advantage of the lower levels is much later start times. So, I got to hang out in control with the wonderful Cyndi Kurth and watch a bunch of excellent training level rides. Then headed over to find the Ashmore trailer (which was somehow more complicated than it should have been), but arrived and braided Finn, the most adorable pony ever, who was going to be doing the BN with Grace Carpenter. Grace was also doing the Novice on Eddie and Hilda was doing the BN on Tegan Star. Let me skip ahead here and say that Tegan won and is for sale, http://www.ashmoreequestriancenter.com/teganstar.php. I was quite impressed that Keegan was just hanging out on the trailer with his buds, munching hay as if this was his 50th event instead of his first. After I got little Finn (so called to distinguish him from my Finn, who remains for sale) braided, I braided Keegan standing on my braiding stool in the stall of Hilda's head to head trailer next to him and he stood perfectly quietly through the entire procedure. We then headed off for a short walk, where he was quiet, though attentive and did want to do a meet and greet with every horse we passed. The only one that was permitted was with Lisa Marie Ferguson's very handsome youngster, Honor Me. Both he and Keegan were very gentlemanly about the meeting. We headed back to the trailer and I started thinking about tacking up for dressage, which I eventually got around to doing. I hopped straight on without even a thought about lunging and we headed over. While there was a small amount of screaming on Keegan's part, it was accompanied by excellent behavior - on the way over, in the warm-up and throughout his dressage test. Given OTTB and first event, I failed to push hard enough in the dressage to get the scores Keegan is capable enough and since we were in front of Bill Woods, we totally got called on it. Nonetheless, he scored a 7 on his trot walk transition and an 8 on his free walk, finishing on a 40 overall, smack in the middle of our division, which included horses with training level experience and several pros (OBN-B). I ended up staying on his back as he played couch while I watched Grace and Eddie warm up. Horses running an jumping were no worry at all. We then watched Grace and Eddie jump a clean (though slightly slow) round in the SJ. Hilda had finished her dressage on Tegan and was able to see it as well and Annalise was there for the day, lending a hand throughout. Keegan racked up more points when he stood quietly for me to watch a couple of rounds and learn the course while Tegan and Eddie walked away from him back to the trailer. Once, I knew my course, I headed back as well. Bonnie Kibbie was down for the weekend and Jeff and Bonnie watched Keegan's dressage and later his SJ as well. It was fun to chat with them and hear that Loki had done a super job, adding just one SJ rail (which I heard separately from Jeff and Bonnie was Jeff's rail) to his unworthy of much-improved dressage score. Keegan got a little while to chill, drink most of a bucket of water and go back to munching hay, now while standing quietly tied to the side of the trailer. After about 30 minutes, I tacked him up again and hopped back on for stadium. He once again hacked quietly over, warmed up (over a total of about 8 fences) and put in an easy (for me) and clean show-jumping round despite my spectacularly failing to help him with any distances and absolutely burying him to fence 6. He just jumped better the rest of the course (obvious, his rider wasn't going to help, so he'd better just step up and take care of business, which he did). We headed back to the trailer again, ate a bunch more hay and once Grace finished on Finn, headed back to Ashmore, where Keegan was able to go out for the night with Gizmo. Sunday morning, I went to Ashmore and loaded Keegan after watching Hilda teach Shawnee on her very cute gelding. They will be doing the hunters at HITS coming up. We headed off to Rocking Horse, where I realized I had left my packet with my number in my car (still at Ashmore). I prevailed upon Nancy Russell, who kindly printed me a new set and Hilda loaned me her lovely navy pinney holder. In the two years since I last did a recognized event, the world has moved on to pinney holders and paper numbers, a reasonable innovation, but one I missed dealing with in a timely fashion. Will be acquiring a pinney holder soon. Keegan and I got to hang out again. This time, I didn't even bother to take poor Keegan for a walk, but spent the 3 and a half hours watching a bit, walking my course, schmoozing with friends and vendors, having a great mango-peach-banana smoothie from the coffee connection, finally wandering back to tack him up for xc. Once again, there was a bit of screaming as we headed down the lane, but he was quiet and focused as Hilda helped us warm-up and bold enough to the log jump in the warm-up that Hilda had us do it with a half halt to get a quieter, deeper spot. We headed over to the start box and with about a minute and a half left, I walked him through the start box to make sure he was ok with that - total non-event. Then it was 5-4-3-2-1 have a great ride time and we did. He was easy to ride, super brave to everything except the jump before the water and fun, fun, fun! At the jump before the water, I was worrying so much about what I was going to do at the water, that I failed to ride at all and Keegan got a bit bug-eyed at the water on the other side and had a stop. But popped over it nicely on the second try and headed (albeit, still a bit hesitantly - but hey it was only the 4th time he has ever laid eyes on a water jump) through the water, and then on to complete the rest of the course in fine style. Toward the end, heading back towards the trailers/barns, he got a little strong although was still perfectly manageable in his loose ring snaffle. We were only 14 seconds late even with the stop and the slow tiptoe through the water, so no worries about pace at this point. I'm already looking forward to the schooling show at Rocking Horse and the season to come. Checking the scores, it was good to see that many friends had great weekends, including Justine Dutton's SPUK team, Jeff, Hilda's two other students Jessica and Madison, Leyna's lovely Mr. Binx (Leyna and I are sporting matching "liverpool from Leslie Law clinic" facebook profile pics this week) and others that aren't coming to mind right now. Rocking Horse really does rock!