This past weekend was back to Rocking Horse, this weekend the Rocking Horse Winter III Horse Trials. Keegan and I were making another run at training level. Our dressage test was right where it has been, despite what I consider the much more difficult (and not very sensible to my brain) Training Level Test B. I had an error, but without it we would have been right in the same ballpark where we have been. He did get a 7 on his second canter lengthening. We've been working hard on that with Hilda's help. The trot lengthenings are apparent, but not super organized. He seems to lose track of his legs, but we'll keep working on that. Free walk less stretchy than usual, but still good for a 7 and stretchy trot good although apparently lacking bend (something that it has never even occurred to me to work on, I love the endless learning opportunities in dressage). Got off and swapped tack to get right back on for SJ. Short warm-up and then in. Hilda was concerned that I would be too
So there it was 10 am and I was done riding for the day. Loaded Keegan up in the trailer (he has a slight aversion to the two horse, which is amusing given how good he has been about all other trailers) and Hilda kindly took him back to hang out in his pasture at Ashmore. I got to spend the afternoon hanging out in control with the fabulous Cyndi Kurth Turk. It was much colder than it is supposed to be in Florida. The wind was especially cutting. There were lots of really lovely rides, but also a couple of tough falls. Rowdie Adams reported being ok, but grounded and stuck in a neck brace for several weeks. I didn't hear any follow up report of the other rider that was transported, but it was a long hold. Marley Stone and Lauren Keiffer get props for coming off the hour plus hold and jumping clean through the rest of the course (only the final fence in Marley's case), both of them ending up in the ribbons. I got to see Abby the dog (as opposed to last weekend's Abby the cat) and as always enjoyed the close up view of what was happening around the cross country course that being in control provides. Forrest Nymph and Lauren DeNeve looked great, very cute and good jumping pony there. A couple of Mike Huber's students were completing their first preliminary or intermediate horse trials and Olivia Cliver recovered from having to chase down her My Mitch (who escaped while in warm up) to take first place. There are always a hundred little stories going on at a horse trial. We finished fairly early and I headed back to do some day job work and wash off the sand that the wind had blown everywhere.
Sunday morning we headed off again (earlier than anticipated due to compressed xc ride times for the training, novice and bn). We got tacked up and headed out to the cross country warm up. The event had kindly provided a whole row of actual cross country fences to warm up over. I think there were at least 6 available even when the bigger ones from the upper levels were removed. We jumped several of them, working on some turning and keeping a good tempo and then headed out of the start box. The first four fences were perfect, although Keegan had to help out to 4B, which he did. Then Keegan found another gear and a bit of willfulness. Fence 5 (big green bench) went well, the training corner/table at 6 was a non-issue, and although I had been worried about it, the Trakhner didn't warrant a look from him. He did hit the ground really running though, so in line with my actual plan, I slowed him down significantly before heading to the half coffin (which was a very kind question at this event) and he jumped it very well, then pretty much totally blew me off on landing. The next table was jumped from a far too flat open stride and had me actually saying to my horse, "D**it, listen to me! Do you want to get a DR penalty??" I actually halted him there and then trotted 10 and 11 (which were angled ramps at two strides), no trouble. We then cantered off to the big picnic table, which jumped beautifully and then to the banks area. I jumped him over 13 in a direction to land on the flat ground, then brought hime to a trot to make the quite sharp turn to head down the steep slope before jumping up the double banks. That also cost time, but what we've been noticing is that sometimes if he sees too much, it makes him doubt. This way, he was able to focus on the single obstacle and then turn and go slowly enough to understand the banks. We made the turn and picked up speed to the next table and the chevron and then I trotted again as we approached the water combination. I may not have needed to. He was very bold over the roll top, down the log drop into the water and out over the (pretty big) chevron - despite my having overslipped my reins and having little steering to that last. He then took off again, but I got him slowed down and turned to the final two fences, a cabin and a table. So we finished very slowly, but with no jumping penalties and I felt a great learning experience for both of us. I also discovered that my rubberized web reins have lost all their rubberization, so new reins before the next event. We ended up last in our division (8th), but I was incredible happy with the weekend and with my rockstar OTTB! Cyndi said that she was so thrilled for us that she called Keegan, Keebler - twice! We are eagerly awaiting the eventing debut of Jordan and the menace.