Cyndi Kurth was kind enough to send this report of Jordan and Keebler's day at Ocala November 16th to Lynn Cronin and me. I know Lynn is as thrilled as I am to hear of their progress and the fabulous weekend. We hope you enjoy the guest blog and that there are more to come.
After their great run at Rocking Horse, Jordan and Keebler had one weekend before the one day recognized HT at Ocala. The hunt was on to find someone to coach them, as I was announcing. I was not even sure I would see them at all during the show, which again brought up our never ending quest to find someone to coach Jordan and Keebler in dressage. Anyone can coach them for the jumping phases; it is the dressage which gets tricky.
Jordan has reached the point in her eventing education that she knows what a good dressage score should be, and gets nervous before dressage. Most people we have found to coach are terrific, but they are used to a 20 minute warm-up for dressage, and Jordan and Keebler need some "settle down" time before going to work. This time the plan was for some warm up on their own before heading to real warm up with a coach.
Anyway, Marcea Funk of Market Street Eventing was available. Marcea teaches once a month at the barn where I board Bitsy. Of course these lessons are on Sundays, when I am rarely at home. Nevertheless, I have managed to take 2 lessons over the summer and watch her teaching methods. She was available, and as a bonus, Keebler could be stabled with her group so that Jordan familiar faces around her.
We trailered over on a grey and drizzly Friday afternoon. Keebler loaded well into Emily's trailer, and we arrived with no trouble to the showgrounds. The sky was dark and foreboding, so after settling Keebler in his stall we went to walk XC.
The Novice course was Very Solid. There was a 1/2 coffin with a max wide and max deep ditch to a black brush, a "real" drop with a small log on a bank, a Very Scary Liverpool to the water, and several combinations. It was definitely an "end of the year" course, exactly what I would want as we prepare to move Jordan up to Training at schooling shows. I knew that whatever the dressage score was, she and Keebler could be confident on XC .
A quick schooling ride in the hard drizzle was next, and I worried because there were no "bobbles" or difficulties. Isn't the dress rehearsal supposed to be difficult?
We had planned on trimming up Keebler's tail after the ride, as it resembled an addlepated hedgehog on the top. However, even I am not so stupid as to attempt this in the pouring rain outside a temporary stall which for some reason has the outlet plugs on TOP of one stall with a strange horse inside.Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me.
Saturday morning was promising, with no rain as we arrived at the showgrounds. A quick check on Keebler and then I was off to announce and Jordan was "on her own". Of course she had my "down to the last minute" schedule to follow, which does not allow for much free time. About an hour later, I received panicked texts. "I pulled his mane too short" and "No one else is braiding"! After mulling it over , I decided that it was better to have a calm Jordan on an unbraided horse than a braided horse with an unsettled Jordan. Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me again.
But Something had to be done about That Tail. Leyna Merrill from Rocking Horse was passing by, and was recruited to help Jordan trim up Keebler's hedgehog tail. Then I watched as Jordan joined Marcea and her riders to walk the Show Jumping course. Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me again.
The arrival of Jordan's mom Billie, as well as Emily and her dad Scott was comforting, and I went to the jump judge briefing, resisting the urge to go do a quick check of Jordan's warm up with Marcea. Emily was again doing the role of checking "the list". I came out of the briefing just in time to see Keebler head to the ring for dressage. I stood and watched from the corner between H and C, along with 2 "BNT"s . Compliments from both on Jordan's equitation and steadiness in her ride.
The test was good. A few Keebler head tosses to remind us all that he is doing this because he wants to, not because he HAS to, but Jordan has learned to ignore them and carry on. When you coach someone from their first cross rail to showing in recognized events, nothing makes your heart swell with joy more than the rider being able to function "on their own" without you. That way you know that the knowledge is truly there, not just parroted back to you during a lesson.
Unbeknownst to me, Hilda Donahue was watching from a different place, and took a short video to send to Seema. One of the wonderful things about having Keebler is that those from his past know how much hard work has gone into the dressage phase. Hilda has been nothing but kind to Jordan when we run into her at events, and for Jordan, the approval of an adult who knows Seema makes her day.
Nancy Russell called me on the radio as I headed to XC; Jordan and Keebler had a 34.8 Every show has brought a lower dressage score than the previous show. They were in a 3 way tie for 7th out of 17 after dressage. I know the 2 riders they were tied with, both experienced adults on nice horses.
I was not able to watch any of Jordan's warm up or show jumping, but Billie texted me that they were double clear. The 3 way tie still stood, now in 6th.
Jordan and Emily came to see me after SJ, and they got to see some of the Open Novice riders on XC. Jordan was really concerned about the down bank, so we talked again about firmly trotting it. In lessons, we have been making Keebler trot during course work, as well as adjusting strides. It has been a Learning Curve for both of them - Jordan learning to occasionally be Very Firm on what she wants, and Keebler accepting that she is now a Partner with him instead of a passenger.
Jordan also wanted to talk about XC time. I had picked a time (4:45) for her to finish on; it was 10 seconds past the Speed Faults (4:35) and 23 seconds ahead of OT (5:08). However, Jordan knew that "closest to optimum time" breaks a tie. She wanted to try to get closer to the OT. We discussed it, and I gave her my blessing with the caveat that her watch might not match up to the Seikos, and that she risked time penalties. No inward sigh this time, just a "let it go" moment with an acknowledgement that Jordan is learning to be a competitor.
Emily came to sit with me in the truck for XC. By the time Jordan and Keebler got to XC warm up, it was raining steadily. I could barely see them in warmup, which was about 50 yards away from me. I could see them periodically, and each fence judge report of "clear" reassured me that they were having a smooth ride. Only 7 riders out of the 17 in her division had double clear rounds - the rain making some go slowly, and the ditch and the liverpool weeding out others. The photos (thank you Palmer Photo) from the drop show the story Jordan told after; she lost her right rein debating whether to give him a tap on the hindquarters, so tapped and held to the left one.
As they approached the Liverpool, I could only watch out of the corner of my eye. Jordan had made the decision to canter it, and we know how Keebler can duck out. Emily watched for me and "Clear"! was music to my ears. Then, they were over the last 3 and finished.
Jordan's gamble with the time had paid off. The rain was so hard that Caroline Mandeville had lost one or both contacts during the rain, and so had time penalties. Robin Barr had also ridden for time, but Jordan's time was closer. So a 4th place finish was the icing on the cake!
As always, this could not happen without the generosity of you two, without Marcea to coach, Scott to give up his Saturday to bring Emily and trailer Jordan and Keebler home, Billie to financially support and more importantly attend and cheer her daughter, Emily to make sure the "grooming bucket" is supplied and to make sure the little things are done - bell boots off for dressage, numbers on correctly, etc. To Hilda for her generous comments, to Jennie Jarnstrom for her constant "I do not know how you are getting this dressage out of that cheeky guy", to Nancy for making sure stabling was correct as well as calling Jordan's scores to me, to Marcea's other riders for making Jordan feel welcome...the list goes on!
The PLAN is now to do Training at the Rocking Horse schooling show Dec 7, hopefully the Poplar schooling show Jan 4, the Leslie Law clinic in January, and we will pick Rocking Horse or Ocala in Jan and/or Feb. Recognized will still be at Novice, with an eye at moving up to Training maybe in March.