Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homeward Bound

Today, as I was slowly meandering over to the jump field to audit Buck's lessons, I suddenly realized that it was the first day down in Florida that I was able to wear a tank top...heck I may even jump off a ledge here by noticing my skin turn a few shades darker!!! Truth be told, the weather in Ocala, along with the rest of the world it seems, has been unseasonably chilly, so needless to say I certainly appreciated having to shield my eyes from the glaring sun as I watched those beautiful four legged creatures jump fluidly across the field. I was jolted into reality when I remembered that I am going to headed home within the week and suddenly felt the need to bask in the sun's warmth even longer.
The week of Red Hills came and went like the warm weather in Ocala. I always look forward to Red Hills every year, as the volunteers and staff that run the show are always so hospitable, and of course, mom and I cherish honoring our country by singing our national anthem annually for the event. This year, however, had a different feel for me. Because Al is uncharacteristically naughty in the dressage every year at Red Hills due to it being the first time stabling away from home with his friends, I decided to take Al alone. My plan certainly paid off as he was brilliant in the dressage, placing third behind two very competitive and seasoned four star horses in the advanced division. The cross country course was nothing short of difficult, but granted a more inviting appeal as the first seven fences were "gallopy" and really encouraged both horse and rider to settle into the undulating terrain of the course...and boy did Al settle! Al galloped around the course with ease, showing his four star capability and answering all of the questions that Hugh's course demanded. I must say, that when I crossed the finish line and cooled my horse, I beamed with pride as that day was the very first time I started to feel "comfortable in the uncomfortable;" that I finally started to believe in myself again. The faith in Al has always existed, however, it was the faith in myself that wavered...up until that Saturday. Al shot up to the top spot of the Advanced class adding only 11.2 time penalties to his dressage score. The final day of show jumping gave me a reality check as Al had an uncharacteristic rail, which dropped us into the second spot, behind fellow barn mate and Buck Davidson student, Andrea Leatherman. Although show jumping is usually Al's best phase, it was good for me to have the pressure of being the last one to enter the ring, and being able to actually RIDE the course without succumbing to nerves. Al's unlucky rail gave me that extra inspiration to have a double clear round come the final Sunday in April.
When Al returned home from Tallahassee, he was greeted by the friendly cheers of his buddies and fellow Crow's Ear ponies, Guppy and Bob, along with the thumbs up from our vet, Brendan Furlong after watching him trot down the cement. As of now, all engines go...
This week will be spent prepping Guppy and Bob for their preliminary event at Rocking Horse Spring Horse Trials. At the end of the weekend, I will have to start packing and planning for our long trip due north. Until then, heels down, thumbs up, and "ride em like you stole em!!!" (my favorite quote from good friend and esteemed rider, Ralph Hill)