Five years ago, this blog started with Rocking Horse I, on the weekend of my 45th birthday http://seema-thefloridachronicles.blogspot.com/2008/02/first-event-of-season-in-which-horses-i.html. The horses were much better than I was. As we know, history oft repeats itself, and this weekend, for my 50th birthday, I headed off to Florida for another go at Rocking Horse I. Last year, this was Keegan's first event at the BN. This year, we had a go at the training move-up. The weekend got off to a great start with a very good dressage lesson on Friday. There was a brief flurry of texts to figure out where our Coggins was, but it was in Missy's truck and Missy was headed to Rocking Horse even earlier than I was the next morning. Hilda and Ken, along with Lynn and Johhny headed up to Rocking horse in the lovely motor coaches on Friday evening. I hung at the house listening to basketball.
Saturday, I headed up to Rocking Horse with Keegan fairly early in the morning. I was a little worried that he might not want to load in the dark, but no worries, he marched right on. He remained calm and easy when we arrived at Rocking Horse. I picked up packet, chatted a bit and then hopped on for dressage. The test felt really good except for the first canter transition, which was a bit fussy, but overally quite good. Watching the video later (thanks, Ken!), I saw that I lost his hindquarters at the end of a couple turns (something Missy has been working with us on) and that my arms tended to be a bit too low and straight (an improving, but never-ending issue). Overall, I was really pleased with him and despite his lengthenings still being a work in progress, there was no drop-off from his prior scores at Novice. Still plenty of room for improvement.
After a little time off, I got back on and headed over to the stadium. I got there a little earlier than necessary and so got to watch Grace Carpenter's very nice dressage test on her Isabella. We jumped a few and headed into the stadium, which was really just an amazing experience. It felt totally easy (although others said it was a challenging enough track, with just over half the horses having a double clear). I got a clear round and a happy birthday from the announcer, both of which were fun to hear. Hilda and Cyndi also engineered a lovely happy birthday "advertisement" in the program, very cool.
Sunday morning, same routine. Pop Keegan on the trailer and head up to Rocking Horse, hang out a bit, then tack up for cross country. Keegan was adjustable and listening in the warm-up and I felt we were quite good to go. On the other hand, the cross-country was quite substantial. I heard later from one of the officials that they felt the training level course was the one course that wasn't really a move-up course. 5-4-3-2-1 have fun! and off we went. Keegan jumped brilliantly through the first half of the course, handling the big enough bench, the accuracy question at 3, the turning question at 5 all well. Then we had a stutter at 8, when he got distracted going into the woods, paid no attention to my leg (admittedly weak as I've been battling a pretty grim upper respiratory tract malady) and had a stop to take a look at the in to the half coffin. We regrouped and finished. He was then brillian over another table, through the major terrain question and over the big picnic table, but then just found too much too look at a the water, and I just wasn't riding him well, so our day ended there. It was vaguely disappointing, but mostly I was impressed at how easy the bigger fences felt. He clearly needs a little more trust in me (and to pay attention when stuff gets tougher), but I also thought back and realized that this is his 5th cross country run total (BN at RH 1 last January, N at Ocala last February, N at Fair Hill in May and N at Radnor in October), that other than the clinic last week, he hadn't been on a cross country course since October and that in general, he had never schooled anything as tough as the questions he was being asked on this course. So, back to the drawing board with some more schooling and another novice run at Ocala in a couple weeks, but overall, this horse is a total rockstar. Once I manange to get my act together, we are going to be having even more fun (I think that is possible). The birthday fun continues with dinner with Henry tonight and the city party tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, the training sessions are under way in Ocala. Caitlin is there, so I'm hoping for a report. Jenna posted a lovely facebook picture of Caitlin jumping Hoku earlier today. And further north, Full Gallop took place. Sally had some great finishes on Joule, Oliver and Charm; Erin Sylvester won the training; Kate Chadderton rode her whole string; Ryan Wood had several Courtney Cooper was back in action, and Chris Talley and Super Pony put in an appearance. Up north, basketball was the big news as Villanova beat #3 Syracuse and the Celtics lost Rondo for the season. I returned to an icy mix coating my car this morning, but it has turned to rain since and I hear it is warm in the midwest which means it should be warm here soon. Of course, I am so lucky, I get to head back to the warmlands next weekend.