Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To Fairhill or not to Fairhill? THAT is the question!

Well quite some time has gone by since the AECs and as soon as Al and I returned home, we hit the ground running....literally! The following weekend after the AECs I signed myself up for a local jumper show in order to hone the skills that I ignorantly took for granted the previous weekend. Just as I suspected, Alex jumped two double clear rounds in addition to a beautifully performed jump off leaving us with the top spot amongst the warmbloods!

Jumper land, check. Next stop, DQ land! After Al and I conquered our show jumping demons, we thought it would be a great idea to slip on our ballerina slippers and try our luck at 4th level dressage! The day started off grand as both of my students, Geri Hollander (who scored a 70%) and Bethany Astorino (who was riding in her first show since her summer xc schooling hiccup which resulted in a broken ankle) had personal best dressage tests with both of their talented ponies, Timmy and Scarlett. Shortly thereafter, I tried my hand at some 1st level geometry and rode my student Ann Wilson's Andalusian gelding Diego, who very happily pranced his way to first place. Finally it was Al's turn to strut his stuff. After a quick change of tack, review of a very different and profoundly confusing Fourth One Test, and a sip of the Sugar Free Redbull, we were cantering our way down center line. Aside from two late changes early on in the test, I was pleased overall with Al's relaxation and frame in the test. Although she was away at WEG, Kim's voice seldom lay dormant in the back of my mind...from start to finish I heard her constantly tell me, "more forward" or "ride his withers up Laine!!!" Al's test consequently resulted in a blue ribbon. These warmbloods better start getting nervous!

We arrived at Morven Park Horse Trials full of confidence from the past two weekend's practice sessions in jumper and dressage lands. Saturday morning greeted Al and I with below normal temperatures and plenty of air in Al's gaits. Although there were many "energetic" tests throughout the morning, the cool air actually helped with our impulsion and push from behind. Although we have much more to work on before our fall three day, I was overall satisfied with Al's test which scored a solid 27.7 (tied with a true DQ, Kelli Temple) leaving us in the top position after phase one. Al jumped super in the SJ and finished our first two phases adding zero penalties to our dressage score and therefore maintaining our spot on top of the leader board.

Because of all of the torrential rain a few days leading up to Morven, and because I can always use the extra practice, I decided to run xc on Alex. Although I wasn't planning on going for time, I did want to use the run as a significant part of my fitness regimen for my upcoming fall three day. When we cantered through the finish flags, we were welcomed home by a proud grin and a hug from my father Michael who flew out from CA to provide some moral support throughout the weekend. Making my parents proud is by far one of the most fulfilling feelings a daughter can achieve! Happily enough, Al and my performance over the weekend was rewarded with a shiny blue ribbon, which we proudly display in our tack room at our new wonderful farm at Edgewood!

Which leads me to my final piece of information in this blog. Have I mentioned my fall three day yet? The fact that I do not have an actual name or place for the supposed pinnacle of my fall season is because I have no idea where Al and I are headed to next. The grant for Boekelo was not awarded to Al and I because the selectors were looking for horses who were still at the three star level, rather than those who are seasoned at the level. However, the selectors asked if I would be interested in Pau CCI**** in France this upcoming November which I anxiously answered an exuberant, "YES" (well...duh!). However, the only way Al and I would head across the pond is if one of the WEG short listers turn down the trip leaving an open spot available to yours truly. So...again, we wait. Who knows? This time next month Al and I may be perusing through our French-English translators to find the easiest route to the start box....if not, well, there is always good 'ol Fairhill which has played host the best event horses and riders of all time...a level that Al and I are all too eager to inhabit! Until next time friends, heels down, shoulders back, and be decisive!