Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In which there are so many great things about the weekend

Starting off, it didn't necessarily seem like everything was going to be great. Hilda was planning a dressage show, which I had known from the getgo, but then there were truck troubles.  I needed to figure out how Keegan and I would get to Ocala and whether I needed to stable and whether Missy could coach me. Several phone calls and texts later, there was a plan.  Madison Olesh (who was part of our group in 2012) would pick us up at Oakmore Thursday evening and drive us up to the farm where Missy is based.  It was great thing #1 seeing her and meeting her friend Jermaine, who was eventing BN and volunteering over the weekend. We would stay at Blue Hill South  (Keegan in a stall and me in the lovely available rental house) for the weekend and go back and forth to Ocala with the gang. Weekend bonus great thing #2 - it was visit week.  In addition to the Ocala based working students (Brigitte, Ashton and Katie) and riders (Missy and Megan and her students), Donna Miller, Devon Brown, David Ziegler, Lisa Thomas and Bonnie Kibbie were all spending some time in Ocala (and Bonnie volunteered to drive Keegan back to Oakmore after we finished on Sunday). I also had a brief Lauren Romanelli and Doc sighting as they were in for the weekend running preliminary.

The only not great thing about the weekend was that all levels were each running over 3 days, with dressage on Friday, one jumping phase on Saturday and one on Sunday.  I had stadium on Saturday and xc on Sunday. Missy had very long days, with students starting around 8:30 in the morning and finishing at 5:00 on each of the 3 days.  She was also riding Peter Berk's handsome Romo. Brittany insisted on being held much of the weekend
Missy and the team - Photo Credit Lisa Thomas Midatlantic Equine Services

Friday, I had an 11:30 dressage time, relatively civilized.  The mornings were quite chilly, but it was sunny and great thing #3, warmed up nicely in the afternoons. In the ongoing weekend of musical trailers (it was really very impressive, with multiple trailers going back and forth all day each of the three days as we had at least 10 horses competing, each needing to be there on all three days), David took Ashton and me over on Friday morning. Ashton is from Kentucky and moved from the jumper world over to eventing. She and I were numbers 374 and 377 for the weekend, making at least one of Missy's warm-up duties a bit easier. Missy warmed us up and we did our tests.  Keegan was good, but less forward than ideal. We ended up with a 38.2, in 10th place out of 16 horses in our division. Ashton also was in the division and finished just behind us. The plan was to have Keegan head home and for me to stay and walk my course, maybe watch some of the intermediate show jumping and cross-country (lucky intermediate was a one day). The reality was that I spent 5 hours scribing for novice and beginner novice dressage tests. Great thing #4 was that I got to scribe for Lori Hoos, who is both lovely and very knowledgeable, making for a fun and educational experience, albeit unplanned. The unplanned meant that I was answering emails and doing other work while Lori filled in the collective marks and during each break. I headed back to the farm at the end of the day where David and Devon had made the beer and pizza run. They scored Strongbow cider, which I'll count as great thing #5.

Saturday was a later start as I didn't stadium jump until 4:40. I went back to the horse park and walked my cross country course, then watched several horses jumping in the novice, including Peter who had a very nice round on his Princeton Pride and Tiffany who ended up winner her division on her very nice unraced TB. I went back to the farm and got Keegan loaded and then headed back to the horse park (I had to fill the rental car twice this trip - lucky gas prices are low). Ashton and I watched a couple of round from each edge of the training level (neither of us were there for the course walk, but I was pretty obsessed about making sure I knew the course after last week). It seemed pretty straight forward.  Fence 1 to 2 was a rollback to the right, and then the rest of the course went around to the left, mostly circumnavigating the arena with a left-handed rollback from 6 to 7.  We warmed up fairly well and headed in. The beginning was super.  Toward the end, I chased him a bit, but Keegan jumped terrifically to post a double clear round as had Ashton shortly before. These efforts moved me up to 5th place and her up to 6th. I hung out in the office for a while chatting with Rick Dunkerton, the farrier (whose name I missed) JJ Johnson and Nancy Russell while waiting for Ashton to walk the cross country. Brigitte had brought us over that afternoon and she was good enough to take the horses back while Ashton walked and I hung out to give her a ride back.  Saturday eventing was great thing #6, Mexican food with the whole gang at Pepe's. Plenty of food and a beer for under $15 - score!

Sunday morning, I was a bit nervous, so ran off to walk my cross country course again while Bonnie brought Loki (after an early morning lesson) and Keegan over to the horse park. The second walk let me be sure of all of my lines.  The only fence I was a bit worried about was the down bank to slanted table bending line five stride. Once Keegan arrive, Bonnie helped me get him tacked up (great thing #7, so much help all weekend) and we hacked out to cross country warm-up. I went over the course in my head. 1. mulch table - ride a bit as it isn't that friendly for a first fence.  Can't believe they made first fence mulch tables for the novice and beginner novice too. 2. roll top - go straight despite the optical illusion that suggests a bending line. 3. actual bending line to the little green house. Is it really small or is that just me? 4. around the corner to the mushroom table on the right, not the prelim one in the middle.  Yes, 3 is small as 4 is much bigger. 5. continue around the corner past the prelim fence bending left to the cabin to cabin line in 5 then gallop on to 6. the slanted log ramp and turn left to 7. the hanging square log. Make sure to line up to 8abc. The coffin with the chevron in, ditch and pink box out and then right handed to 9. the house/roll top, something brown and ahead to the left-hand side of 10. the yellow house with the hole in the middle, then 90 degrees left through the gully and up the hill to 11. the faux corner - jump it where the 3rd set of flowers are making sure to look up to find the line to 12. a square log fence with pine and immediate bending line up the little dirt ramp to prepare for 13a. the down bank with a log on the edge and that 5 stride line to 13b. another pink slanted box, then gallop turning left and lining up the white tent to jump 14. the roll top with fake brush, a sharp right turn into the sand pit and then jump 15ab. the little up bank two strides to the bench like object and then between the telephone pole and the pink house left handed to 16. the boathouse before the water, through the water and over 17. the log pile and then a right turn to 18. a roll top and straight on to 19. the rather large yellow table, stay focused and make sure to go straight on through the finish flags.  After warming up, we headed out on course, and other than trotting through the coffin, the course rode exactly how I had envisioned. In the end we, finished on our dressage score in 3rd place which was great thing #8 and Ashton finished on hers in 4th. Great thing #9 was Cyndi Kurth texting throughout the weekend to get updates and offer congratulations at every step. 

The Blue Hill Gang had a good show, many finishing on their dressage scores, Missy adding a rail to hers that was so good she still finished in 3rd. Brigitte and Harper looked amazing all weekend and Donna had great gos on both Salty and Dan. Megan was 5th on her students lovely boy and tactfully rode her own youngster finishing on their dressage score. One of my favorites, Nina Gardner's Mixed Blessing (by Partner's Hero, same as Keegan - ridden by Jennie Branningan) won his division and it seemed a good time was had by all. Lisa Thomas took some great pictures  and Bonnie got a super one of Keegan at the boat house before the water. 
Keegan at fence 16. Photo credit Bonnie Kibbie

I bought the full CD from the official photographer, but haven't seen the pictures yet as so far only the intermediate and the beginner novice are posted. Jermaine did end up 4th in beginner novice. 

Nor was Ocala the only event happening over the weekend. The Aiken crew including Caitlin Silliman, Sally Cousins, Erin Sylvester, Ryan Wood and Kate Chadderton were out and about at Pine Top Farm. Caitlin was very psyched about an excellent run on Hoku. There was also a schooling show at  Chatt Hills. Meanwhile Hilda was having a great thing #10 weekend at the dressage show in Clarcona, with Ollie and Amen both raking in the ribbons. 
Amen's and Ollie's ribbons Photo Credit Hilda Donahue
Once Keegan was sponged off and the tack loaded up and I collected my ribbon, Bonnie and I headed back down to Oakmore. She dropped us off and then took poor Loki home. He was very patient about hanging out on the trailer all morning. I had time to get my tack put away and then head back to the townhouse for a shower and quite a bit of work before great think #11 dinner with Hilda, Ken, Rosaleen and Bobbie.  Bobbie made wonderful salmon ceviche and Ken grilled steaks. I contributed guacamole and Rosaleen made a fabulous salad.  I headed for bed a bit later than planned due to the lovely conversation, but didn't have any trouble getting up at 4:00 to head back to the cold lands for a few days prior to our 2015 preliminary try #1 at Rocking Horse II next weekend.

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