Keegan made the move up to Novice at Ocala Horse Trials this weekend on a rather cold weekend (especially by Florida standards, though we did not have the ice they had at Pine Top in Aiken). He got very high marks for staying quiet and focused in the big atmosphere at Ocala and for being relatively blase about stabling at a show. Of course, he is a race horse. He seems to have fallen in love with Teegan and will call to her, but it doesn't affect his work. And the work was quite good. We improved our dressage score to a 37, very acceptable and the main issue was insufficient engagement, which we need to work on. Next weekend, spurs and maybe a whip. Stadium jumping was brilliant, a double clear round over the biggest course he has ever jumped, with some significant turns. Not everyone made time even at the Novice. Keegan was a bit jumpy in the warm-up, in part because they were running 15 minutes late which I did not know and he is not that good at just hanging out. But as soon as he got into the 2nd warmup ring (the one on footing), he settled and I could feel him focus. He went into the arena and while he jumped the first one a bit big, all in all, he did not feel like a green horse. We had a lovely dinner Saturday night with the Olesh's, Grace Carpenter and Chris Bradley. Grace was riding the lovely Finnglebridge Fearless (Little Finn) and Eddie and had very good days on both of them, although she was one who didn't quite make the time in the SJ. Chris had a great day on his lovely Lucas. Although there is still work to be done in the dressage (and for all of is that is a never-ending truth), they got 7s on the canter work and had a much more relaxed test, as well as a lovely, clear stadium round. Madison and her mare Kelly were also making the move up to Novice and had a very good day, despite a tumble in the SJ (luckily before starting and related to Kelly having a bit of a spook on the way into the arena). Madison climbed back on and jumped like a champ, only taking the last rail in her concern to make time, which they just did. Hilda was riding Teegan and they ended up the weekend on their dressage score as usual. John is quite the gourmet camp cook. Roast, vegetables, potatoes, cherry crumble, all yummy. Then to the first night in the new small coach. Hilda asked if 69 was ok for the temperature. Liking it cold, I thought it might be a little warm, but I was sleeping in one of the pullouts, so figured proximity to the edge would probably keep my bed cooler anyway. Grace was also spending the night with us. At about 3 am, I woke up feeling very cold. This is odd for me, so I groped around and found my travel alarm clock (with built in thermometer). 47 degrees! Oops. This is not good. So I got up and attempted to inspect the thermostat, discovering that it was still switched to cool. I flipped it to heat and the heater kicked on (thank goodness) and things got steadily warmer until wake up time around 6. Hilda was kind enough to brave the cold for morning feeding, so I had the luxury of hanging in the (now lovely) warmth until 7.
Sunday was cross country day. We all headed out more or less together. Keegan warmed up well, if enthusiastically. It was about 50 degrees with a biting wind, so the fact that he was focused and attentive was fairly impressive. We did our figure 8 exercise and jumped the warm-up cross-country fences several times and then headed out on course. Fence 1 excellent, fence two lovely and then Keegan discovered some other gear or confused cross-country and racing and I lost most semblance of steering and braking - except (and this is an important except) in the last 3-4 strides toward the fences, when he settled and focused on both me and the fence. Still, we had a drive by when I couldn't get him turned to a fence in time and a circle after a jump that he absolutely launched, leading me to completely drop one rein. But he was brave and keen and it was really, really, really fun. Have I mentioned that I love this horse? Madison had a similar issue, not so much due to Kelly running off as miscalculating a line and doing the smart thing in not jumping at a crazy angle. Chris and Lucas had a clean fast run (their first clear at the novice), with everything clicking. Grace had a great ride on Eddie despite a blonde moment leading to a TE (missed fence 7). This is the tough thing when you are doing two different levels. It is easy to mix up the courses. Well, we've all done it and everything else went well. Little Finn had a whole cheering squad, and made it around, showing off his new level of fitness. All in all a really lovely weekend, despite the colder than ideal for Florida weather. Next weekend, we'll add a touch of bit for brakes and steering, continue with the no alfalfa feeding program (which made all the difference between last weekend and this) and continue to enjoy the eventing boy.