Monday, May 21, 2012

In Which Keegan makes his Area 2 debut

Fair Hill was this weekend and the weather couldn't have been lovelier. Such an excellent way to spend the weekend outdoors. Saturday, I volunteered as dressage steward. It was a smaller show than often at Fair Hill, so the intermediate and training dressage ran from 8 until about 1 pm. Lots of nice horses. Sally won another intermediate division, as did Boyd. Phillip was there on Jennie Brannigan's Vamor, finishing 2nd in their division and Kate Chadderton and her Cole had a great run to finish 4th. The early finish time allowed me to head up Saw Mill road and watch Bouncer and my Cole jump. Rachel has Cole going really well. This was his first recognized training level outing and her first run around the training on a green horse. They were great, just adding some time to their dressage score. Bouncer apparently had a plan that did not correspond well with Missy's so they had one stop cross country while Ike took home a red ribbon and Emily and Khoi also successfully moved up with only time added to their dressage score. Caitlin Silliman and Ballyneety finished 3rd. We headed back to Blue Hill and had a dressage lesson with Missy, which was super helpful as always, Missy putting in a long day teaching 3 lessons after showing and coaching at Fair Hill.

Sunday, I actually got to sleep later on competition day than I had on volunteer day. Steph Cauffman broke out the showmobile to trailer Ben and Keegan. It is a very nice rig to work out of. Cindi and I had ride times quite close together, which made for fairly easy logistics. Missy had another long day, as Jason Racey managed the first dressage time of the morning and she again taught lessons after coaching all of us. They had a great morning, finishing in third. Another preliminary shout out to Chris Talley (from whom I bought Gin and Tonic). He and his super pony made their preliminary debut and finished in 8th place, with a couple show jumping rails, but a clean cross-country round. Bruce Davidson, Boyd Martin, Ryan Wood and Allison Spring also had top 3 preliminary finishes. I managed to arrive at the show with all the appropriate gear and clothing, although I completely forgot to braid. No this was not, it's just novice, I don't really need to braid. This was head over, get bit check, see Kate on the lovely Lightning with both mane and tail braided and realize I've forgotten that part of the program. Need to kick off the show prep rust, obviously. Keegan was a bit up on the ground. He wasn't happy when Ben left for warm-up and danced around looking for a friend. I attempted to lunge him, but he was distracted and didn't really want to do that, so I just got on. And like magic, I had an attentive, focused pony. He did want to look up at each horse coming into the warm-up area, but was otherwise quiet and very workmanlike in both the warm-up and the show arena. We ended up with a 37.4 and judges comments of "very nice and consistent, work toward more spring and elasticity in step" and I even got a 7 for rider collective mark with the comment, "organized and thinking rider." I was really pleased. The left canter depart is still rough, but the right was very good and his free-walk was a little distracted (though he still got a 7). Doing dresage on this boy is actually a lot of fun.

Next, we headed up to walk the cross-country and watch a couple jump the stadium. Missy did a great course walk with us (Jamie also joined us) and I felt quite ready. The course was a hard enough novice with a 90 degree turn to a bench in the shadows for fence 2, a bank down at fence 3, roll top to ditch half coffin at 5 (with a bigger ditch than anything we have ever schooled), brand new house of bright yellow cedar right before the water, bank up out of the water and another bank up onto the mound. So, I planned my riding, knowing I have a very brave horse, the main thing is being organized and giving him time to see the questions. We tacked up and then hacked back up, taking advantage of the little creek crossing on the trail there to get their feet wet. We warmed up for stadium. Keegan did leap once when a horse coming toward him hit the oxer pretty hard at the same time we were going past the (for some odd reason) scary yellow flower boxes sitting along the edge of the sj roping, but was jumping great and listening well. We headed in (thanks to Alex Maskowski, who did the flip and had a great training level outing Saturday, then stewarded the SJ on Sunday) and suddenly, I had quite a bit more horse. He was brave and forward to everything, but jumping and galloping enthusiastically enough that tidy turns just weren't happening, so we jumped clean, but added 4 time in the SJ. That will be something to work on. Headed straight out to cross-country where it was rockstar time! Keegan totally ate up the course. There were a few steering issues as he was quite strong, but I was able to get him turned in sufficient time to all the jumps. Turn to park bench? No worries. Bank down? Careful look and off we go. Half coffin? Was there something there I was supposed to look at, I'm galloping. Picked up speed through the next 4 galloping fences, leading to a rather interesting line to the barrels at 10 and then he suddenly settled (maybe it was being further away and heading away from the warm-up or maybe he just got a little tired). Jumped the roll top at 11 and the flower box at 12 perfectly. I gave him a strong ride to the water. He didn't get a perfect spot to the house, but popped over (it was quite small, though bright. Missy said it probably provided a bit of an optical illusion). Very bold through the water and up the bank with a great take-off spot, then around toward home and no trouble at all through the last 4. I wasn't sure where we would be on time (we ended up 29 seconds under, with the time set at 350 m/m), but could not have been happier with the day and with my horse. We ended up in 9th place, but everyone ahead of us was a 4* rider (2 Boyd Martin, 3 Ryan Wood, 2 Allison Springer and 1 Kate Chadderton). Kate Chadderton was also riding VS Lightning (the other horse she got off the track when she got Keegan. She called them Thunder and lightning, but if you go back to the Keegan naming blog, you will remember that Thunder was a no go from the start). Lightning ended up not doing xc, so hopefully he is ok. Cindi had a rough go, unfortunately ending up in the ditch rather than over it, but she and Ben are both ok and have a plan to compete another day.

Meanwhile, at Chatt Hills, Natalie Bouckaert Pollard was scoring a 15.2 in the dressage. Keebler was having a very good weekend as well, getting a 34.5 in the dressage and a clean sj. He was assigned two stops at a drop for foot shuffling, but Lynn said he was jumping all the way, just wiggly. He was also galloping like a goofball and so barely avoided speed faults even with circling. I believe his next two outings will be IEA and Encore. Look for Keegan at the Plantation unrecognized on June 10th.

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