Monday, September 24, 2012

In which Plantation makes for a wonderful weekend

The weekend was all Plantation, all the time, although I did get in a couple of yoga practices and a couple of rides on Keegan. Keegan is great fun on the hill work as long as he is by himself or with a horse unclear on the "racing" option. We went out on Saturday morning with Laura Faulkner (whom I learned is also a Stanford alum, Go Cardinal!) on Bouncer. Bouncer trotted up the hill, while Keegan had gallops, increasing in speed and excitement with each go. Even with that, when we turned to walk down the hill, he settled quickly and walked down on the buckle. He has clearly figured out what he thinks the big hill is for and it is so much fun to gallop up it on him that I am not adamant about making him trot all the time. Sunday, we had a trot hack about the hay field and practiced transitions within the gait, which is going quite well.

Back to the happenings at Plantation - Friday morning I went over to watch a bit of dressage in the morning. I was able to watch Caitlin go on Remi, but missed Jeff (because they were at exactly the same time, Caitlin at the top of the hill and Jeff at the bottom). Remi put in a lovely test minus one bobble at the start, but it is clear that this partnership is melding at a rapid pace. Chatted with Sally and my buddy Snuffles, delivered Starbucks to Missy, saw the nifty Theault horsebox that was Remi's ride and then headed over to the stadium.

Marc Donovan designed a lovely course on the grass field. It was a bit challenging for riders, being on the grass and not level, but the course rode very well. No one fell. There were only 2 eliminations and 3 stopages for course rebuilding. Nonetheless, the stadium was very influential for the national divisions. The advanced division posted only 4 double clears, while there were 6 in Intermediate A and 2 in intermediate B. There were a lot of very good jumping horses in there and, as always at Plantation, my crew was the best.

We started with the first horse at 10:30 and finished up at the end of the day around 4:30. I then headed off and walked the cross-country course with Jeff, Bonnie, Missy and Megan (a student of Missy's from Kentucky in to run the intermediate on her Hoosier Daddy). My buddy Jamie (Missy's dog) joined us. We were walking just before sunset, fairly close to the time when Megan and Jeff would run the next day. There were a few shadows, but all in all the course looked great (if rather large since I've been jumping at the novice height for the past 4 years). The vertical rails into the water were likely to cause some funny jumps and hopefully, all horses would be willing to jump the big ditch and hedge, but Denis and Tremaine had put together very nice courses, using the terrain to add challenge, but not running the horses straight up and and down the hills.

We finished up the course walk and enjoyed dinner at Catherine's in Unionville. Megan's mom joined us as did Maxine Preston (a Michigan connection) and Henry with a couple of bottles of very nice wine (a Greenock Shiraz and a Conn Creek Cabernet). It was my first time having dinner at Catherine's and I can highly recommend it. Don't miss the mushroom soup.

Saturday was cross country day. I headed over early for the jump judge briefing, then back to Blue Hill for the aforementioned ride with Bouncer, then back to Plantation in time to stand in for Melissa Wright (volunteer coordinator extraordinaire) as she had to attend a wedding. The new xc course design had the huge added benefit of incredible opportunity for spectators. Hanging out in the perfect weather on the hillside, we could see almost the entire course. Check Eventing Nation and other reports for more details. My highlights were watching Sally Cousins ride Tsunami (Sue) at the Advanced. It was just so what xc should be (they ended up finishing 2nd), watching Caitlin on both Hoku and Remington (she looked phenomenal and went clean on both) and clear intermediate rounds for Jeff, Megan and Chris Talley on the super pony. There were many other great rounds, some I didn't see as I was trying to stay on top of volunteer stuff and chatting with various people, especially the Mahers (Caitlin's grandparents), Jenna (her mom) and the Juvonens (Remi's owners). Being lucky enough to be part of team Remington XXV is a huge honor, but even more, a tremendous amount of fun. It is fun to watch the partnership bloom, fun to get to know his owners, fun to be part of his team in the vet box that includes his future rider (Camilla Grover) and some of her friends, and fun to meet all sorts of great eventing people through the connection.

Cross country day went off very well. The ambulances never rolled and as far as I know the TDs were spared the work of accident/injury reporting. The last 3 horses ran in pouring rain, but all made it around safely. I finished collecting scores, hopefully sufficiently thanked all the volunteers (I'm not sure it is possible to sufficiently thank them, but hope I let them know how appreciated they are), and headed over to the Walker's where Katie and Cuyler kindly hosted riders, sponsors, owners, etc. It was a great party with more opportunities to meet people. It was a truly lovely day marred only by a Phillie's loss to Atlanta, putting them 4 back and a Michigan loss to Notre Dame.

Sunday, I had no job. It is a bit unusual for me to be at an event with no job, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Great stadium jumping (again see Eventing Nation for more detail). After the highlights of Sharon White winning the CIC*, Caitlin jumping clean on Remi for a third place finish and Justine Dutton snagging a ribbon also in the two star, we watched the bareback puissance. Just watching was a little scary, but the riders were great. Caroline Martin won on her Quantum Solace. They looked amazing. But Chris Talley on the borrowed Balmoral Mighty Legend and Dom Schramm on Caitlin Silliman's 6 year old Lux like Fernhill, who may have found a niche for himself if he doesn't want to be an event horse, were also very impressive. After that, the CIC*** fences didn't look too big, but the course was tough enough. Placings moved around a bit, ending up with Will Faudree and Pawlow at the top of the list. Full results here: Then quickly back to Blue Hill for the trot work and home where check the phone revealed that the day had once again been marred by both a Phillies loss and an Eagles loss. I'm sticking to horses!

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