Monday, January 26, 2015

in which Rocking Horse I induces brain freeze again!!

In many ways, it wasn't the weekend we planned.  Nonetheless, it was a wonderful weekend at Rocking Horse Winter I.  The fulls scores (for a huge number of horses) are here. The weekend started with the flight down - actually the weekend started with the drive to Baltimore to catch the flight down. Because it was a 6 am flight, I left the house at 3:30 - definitely too early. I put my car in the garage based on forecasts for possibilities of real amounts of snow and the rest of the trip was uneventful.  I arrived and worked for the rest of the morning and afternoon before heading to the barn for late afternoon/evening lessons on Keegan and Dublin.  Keegan did a bit of flat work and then a small amount of jumping, most specifically jumping a triple so that I could be sure to get it right, but it felt perfect.  Dublin worked through poles perfecting his footing and was a very good boy.  We then headed home for a late, but yummy as always dinner.

Because of the large number of horses, the Rocking Horse schedule was a little unusual, with Intermediate running as a one day Friday, Preliminary, P/T and OT running Friday and Saturday and the rest running Saturday and Sunday.  I had a 2 p.m. dressage time and 5:10 p.m. SJ time on Friday, very close to Jordan's times as Hilda would be coaching Jordan on Friday. I did a little work in the morning, then headed out to the barn to get everything packed up. As I was heading to the show grounds, I got a call from Cyndi that the only preliminary course walk would be from 12:25 until 12:45.  Since I was on schedule to arrive around 12:50, this wasn't going to work well for me, but I figured I could just watch a few jump. That left finding someone to walk with Jordan as Hilda also wasn't planning to arrive until around 1:00 pm.  Luckily eventers being eventers, it wasn't too hard to get someone to pitch in and help out - in this case Justine Dutton who walked the course with Jordan.

I got there and got Keegan off the trailer, got dressed, got him tacked up and realized I had forgotten to braid him - really I just forgot.  I decided it was more important I get on to warm him up, so just braided his forelock and then got on.  Both Keebler and Keegan were excellent in warm-up, very focused and giving us good work.  I was in the ring first.  Other than posting up center line (sitting trot is required for preliminary) to start the test and badly blowing the second 10m circle, I did ok and other than objecting in upward transition from walk to trot before the canter transition, Keegan did very well indeed, getting us our best dressage score to date of 34.1 and putting us in second place.  The judging seemed pretty generous all weekend, including one very nice Novice ride getting a score of 11.7!

Jordan then went in and started out very nicely, but all of a sudden, when she went into her second 10m circle, Keebler was head-bobbing lame. He had a hot nail on Wednesday, due to farrier truck issues leading to shoeing rescheduling and ultimately ended up with an abscess, ending Jordan's weekend. She was a great sport about it, spending time volunteering and cheering on others and learned some new stuff, having never seen/treated an abscess before. Emily also helped with that and with the volunteering.

Dublin came along for a field trip and was absolutely super.  Hilda rode him and reported that she couldn't find anything that upset him.  He stood in the trailer like a champ, munching hay, drank lots of water and acted as if he's been doing this his whole life.

I spent some time wandering around, then walked my xc course, which looked great, but appropriately soft for a beginning of winter season course.  I then got back on and headed over to stadium.  I watched a few go and made sure I could tell how the lines were riding.  The 3 horses before me all dropped the rail at the final fence, 10B, so I was especially interested in getting that right. Keegan was absolutely super.  I think it was the best stadium round we've ever had together. The footing at Rocking Horse is great, so that helped, but we were very in sync.  I finished, with 10B and was over the moon, until I heard that I missed fence 9.  Honestly I was so focused on the in and out at 10 that I just blanked out 9.  Mmmm.  Remember this Rocking Horse I report from 2008?  Maybe it is just something about the event.  Overall, I was more thrilled than disappointed, although a clean round would have left us in position for our best ribbon ever.  I trailered home and unloaded Keegan and Dublin, heading home for a quick dinner after making sure they had plenty of hay and water as it was still quite warm and humid - though we had missed the forecast rain.  That changed overnight, with Saturday coming around with night time rainstorms and a cooler overcast morning.

I had an 8:30 xc time and Hilda was doing dressage on Ollie (High Profile - a really nice horse for sale) at 8:15, so it was an early morning on Saturday.  We arrived and I tacked up, went over the course with the map a couple of times (a double TE would be too embarrassing even for me) and then headed out. Keegan was an absolute rockstar xc!  It really couldn't have been better and we actually made time xc for the first time at training level (I checked with Rick Dunkerton later).  So that was perfect despite the TE costing us that ribbon.  I hung out for a few hours, visiting my buddy Jamie, and chatting with a few folks as well as popping in the xc control to check in with Cyndi and Jordan (who with Emily was volunteering). I than chatted with Morgan (the course designer a bit). I was curious about why the roll top after the double bank up with the sign saying it would be moved for training was still there and Morgan confessed forgetting about it as preliminary xc was scheduled to run after training. He also took the rap for some map transposition errors, all part of knocking the rust off - apparently, I'm not the only one that needs to do this.  I then drove Keegan and Ollie home with Gracie (a working student of Hilda's) and got them settled, then rode Dublin and watched a young rider from Alabama check out a bunch of horses at Oakmore.
The ever fabulous Jamie
Then it was back to the townhouse for Birthday dinner.  Yummy Shepherd's pie along with all kinds of other goodies made for a very excellent dinner.  Hilda as always gave me some lovely gifts, including an excellent warm hat and some very dark chocolate.

Sunday morning was even colder so I bundled up, remembering almost freezing at a prior Rocking Horse where I was volunteering with Cyndi on a Sunday after a warm Saturday. Lucky thing as it was quite chilly, although the wonderful folks at Rocking Horse have built Cyndi a hut to keep the worst of the wind off.  Once we got some sun, it was a great day.  A few highlights to supplement the Eventing Nation coverage.  I loved seeing Jennie Brannigan out on several of Nina Gardner's young TBs.  My favorite, no surprise, is Mixed Blessing a 2009 Partner's Hero who raced 12 times, winning a couple at Penn National, but looking super suited to be an eventer (and my favorite type at that). They finished 3rd in one of the training horse divisions. The funny and interesting moment was John Crowell falling off (apparently sliding backward over the rump of his horse and landing on his feet already chasing his horse.  With the new rule in place, at novice level, he was allowed to remount and finish his run. It did seem that the falls happened in clusters, but I didn't hear of any significant injuries, which always makes the day even better.  Ashley Bruder won her training division on Maripeg's Moose, Missy and Peter Berk's lovely Prince had a great outing and a 3rd place ribbon, there were many trainer's riding for owner's who couldn't make it down.  I especially enjoyed seeing Justine Dutton on both Chequer (formerly Steph Cauffman's) and Merrylegs (adorable pony, about 13.1). Brigitte Aickelin and Harper looked amazing on the xc.  Due to very closely clustered dressage scores, they missed out on a ribbon, but it was a great first run of the season for them.  My only complaint is that there were many horses with Golden in their name, but none were Palominos.  However, there were enough very attractive pintos to make up for it.

I also followed the live scoring from Full Gallop.  Buck and I had a nice conversation about Brevan (the horse he sold to Sally Cousins to help finance the horse Andrea got as a wedding present). He ended up 3rd at Full Gallop.  Sally won the Intermediate on Gus and had a couple others running as well.  Caitlin got 3rd as well on both of the horses she rode.  Full Gallop was a fair bit smaller (and no doubt a large bit colder - thus the smaller) than Rocking Horse.

I ended the day with the drive back and some Pro bowl at the sports bar.  I was a little worried about my flight this morning, given the forecast, but all was good - no travel delays this trip.  We're getting ready to hunker down for the snow that is supposed to come tonight.

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