Monday, April 30, 2012

Rolex Wrap Up!!


I'm just off the phone with Erin, who is already packed up & driving home with Bucky, the wonder horse, after an unbelievable first trip to Rolex.  Needless to say, her first trip to Rolex must have far exceeded her expectations, and Bucky proved to be a top contender for the future in this sport.

Josh Sylvester was kind enough to send me clips from the USEF network of her 3 phases, and it's well worth the time to revisit their action packed weekend.  Sally O'Connor did the dressage commentary, and Erin and I discussed how "dead on" she was about their dressage test.  We actually did not find it too critical, but actually quite an accurate description of their first entry into the big stage.  I personally feel that Erin did a phenomenal job holding him together under all that pressure.

Dressage Photo Album Lisa Thomas

Dressage Video Courtesy USEF

XC day was exhilarating!  After watching the pair crank around all the questions on XC with a double clear, it's so apparent what heart Bucky puts into his efforts jumping.  Every time the load speaker announced that Erin & Bucky were one of a few pairs to make it around double clear, I broke out into a grin like a little kid.  I know all of Team Lily felt the same way.
Photo Credit Cindy Lawler
Xcountry Video Courtesy USEF

Personally, I was really nervous for this pair as they entered the stadium for the final leg of the Rolex journey.  Bucky was so tense during his dressage in this ring, and stadium has (in the past) been their challenge.  I held my breath as they perfectly negotiated the entire course flawlessly, with only 1 rail down at the last fence!  Erin's form and focus was so impressive.  She said that Boyd made the comment after her round that the last fence can be the toughest, due to the temptation to throw your body in front of the horse out of pure adrenaline.  This picture says it all........because if you look closely, you can catch the timing of the rolling rail.  Personally I can't detect Erin throwing herself forward over the fence,  I think it was due to a shift in the wind :)

Photo Credits Lisa Thomas
Sunday Photos (Thank You Cindy Lawler)

Stadium Video Courtesy USEF
Photo Credit Lisa Thomas
A huge THANKS goes out to Wyn, Erin's family and all of Team Lily who have supported her in the quest for Rolex.  Needless to say, everyone at Team Lily must be so proud of Erin & anxious to see what next challenge she has on the horizon.  To see her in the victory gallop with the top riders internationally was quite a thrill, and a memory which will stick with her for a lifetime!
Photo Credit Cindy Lawler

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Congrats Erin & Bucky

I'm in a rush to catch a plane back to Pa, but wanted to put up a quick post about Erin & Bucky's spectacular performance this weekend.  There is no question that they showed the world that they have evolved into world class riders.  To think that they were making their maiden voyage to Rolex, jumped a double clear XC and  rode a beautiful stadium round under so much pressure to join the VICTORY GALLOP, is simply unbelievable!!  A heart felt congratulations to Team Lily!!

I promise to get an update from Erin tomorrow & will post all the photos.......but for now, I'm signing off from Rolex!!  LT

Double Clear XC!!!

Photo Credit Cynthia Lawler
Needless to say, the ride for Erin and Bucky here at the Rolex Ky Horse Park has been a thrilling one.  Standing in 15th after a double clear round on XC yesterday proved an enormous feat, considering that over half the field was eliminate or retired on course.  They both looked like serious professionals when they passed me at the water complex!

Many thanks go out to Cynthia Lawler for her fantastic close up shots from the head of the lake.
Other photo credits are mine!!  View Slide Show

Checking the scores this morning, they've thus far moved up 2 places to 13th after several more withdrawals prior to the horse inspection.  Fingers and toes crossed that Bucky is feeling fit & ready this morning!!

We also had some fun this weekend doing some videos of Erin for Theault-America, the company that produces beautiful horse boxes from France.  Boyd & Silva are sponsored riders for Theault-America and I work with them on their PR & marketing efforts here in the US, so we felt that Erin's perspective as a first time Rolex competitor would give us a great perspective on this great event!  We hope you enjoy the video......more to come after Rolex!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Greetings from Kentucky!  We have just wrapped the first day of dressage and it proved exciting for many, myself included. The first half of the 58 competitors rode the dressage today, and the remaining half will compete tomorrow.  

Bucky warmed up very well with Silva prior to entering the stadium and we had a great start to his test during his trot work.  Understandably, he was more keyed up than normal, but we staying somewhat relaxed despite the atmosphere.  Unfortunately as we approached our canter work, he took in the scenery of the Rolex arena and suddenly became very nervous.  The second half of our test was extremely tense and nervous as it became clear that Bucky and I were very green to the crowds and atmosphere in the Rolex stadium.  We finished the day with a score of 65 to carry into the cross country.  

Although I had much higher expectations for today, I was pleased with many parts of my test.  We are both not only green at the 4* level but also inexperienced with the intimidating atmosphere. I am confident the next time out will be much improved!  

Photo Credits Lisa Thomas

Now on to the fun stuff!  I had to opportunity to take all our Team on a course walk this afternoon, and the track looks great!  There are many questions on the course that we have not seen before, but all of the combinations look rideable if executed properly.  The ground is perfect and the weather should hold out well through the weekend.  I'm excited to get out there and do what we do best on Saturday!

I would like to say a special thanks to my parents and the MANY Team Lily supporters who traveled to cheer me on today and to join me in this experience.  

I would like to say a special thanks to my parents and the MANY Team Lily supporters that were there to cheer me on today.

We're Off to A Good Start!

Erin & Bucky looked stunning yesterday at the jog up.
Now it's time to concentrate on today.  Dressage test at 1:24!!
Many thanks to my friend Cindy Lawler for all the great jog photos.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fair Hill Wrap-Up and Greetings from Kentucky!

Team Lily has wrapped up another great weekend, this time at Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland.  Four riders competed in the Intermediate, CIC* and training levels on the weekend.  We experienced very inclement weather on Sunday, but that did not hinder any of our girls from riding their best.  

The outstanding performance of the weekend was that of Andi Lawrence and Armani IV.  Andi rode George in her first CIC* on the weekend, and their performance finished as well as it started.  They began the weekend with a great effort in the dressage to score a 52.  She went on to have a great day on Saturday, jumping around the majority of the one-star course with just one stirrup!  She and George kept their standard of performance high on Sunday, as they jumped the only double-clear show jumping ride in her division to slide into second place in the one-star.  I could not have been more pleased with Andi's riding on the weekend, and she is looking very ready for the CCI* at Virginia in a month's time.

Our other competitors on the weekend all had great performances as well.  Abigail Wilson  rode Fernhill Flag in the Intermediate, and despite a struggle in the dressage, they had great jump rounds and finished the weekend well.  Wyn Maling had a great weekend on her own Stellar's Run, finishing second on her dressage score of 25.  Julie had another great weekend on her mare Merry Sioux, finishing fourth on her dressage score as well.  

Bucky and I safely arrived to the Kentucky Horse Park late yesterday afternoon, and we had some time today to settle in.  The first FEI is tomorrow afternoon, followed by the first cross-country coursewalk.  I will keep the blog updated as the week progresses!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great to Be Home at Planation Field!

The Crew at Plantation
Photo Credit Gayle Hughes
My junior riders seriously impressed this weekend at Plantation Field with many double clear rounds and top placings!  The ground has been hard in the area, but the weather worked in our favor to soften up the ground a bit after a Saturday evening rain. We had six students in the Training and Novice, and two that completed a combined test in the Intermediate and Preliminary.

For our Training riders, Julie Henk had a great performance on her new mare, Merry Sioux.  She added just one rail to a great dressage score to finish the weekend in second place in the JOT.  Annelise Aurillo competed Lisa Kane's Cobbler's Son, having a good dressage and one rail down on Saturday.  Unfortunately, Annelise and her mount parted company at the coffin complex on cross-country, but had a great ride up until that point.  Morris is a new mount for her and I'm confident with a bit of schooling they will be right back on track. 

We had a great weekend in the Novice divisions as well.  Miranda Webb rode Judi Wilson's Expresso to a great second place finish on her dressage score of 32 in the Open Novice, while Kaelen Speck brought home another second place on her own Rosenharly Romello in the JON division.  Jenn Cain rode her young horse In Jest in his first recognized competition of his career, and while finding some details to work on in the dressage and show-jumping, had a great cross-country ride to finish up the weekend.  Lucie Hughes also had her first Novice for her mare Kitty's Topaz and finished on her dressage score in 7th.  With four clear rounds for these girls, I'd say it was a pretty good weekend!

I had my young horses out this weekend as well, and they all proved needing a bit more cross-country schooling before the next event . . . Fortunately, Fair Hill will be opening their course up starting next week.  

Count down is just seven days before Bucky and I head to Kentucky,  so stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Fantastic Fork CIC***!

I have just arrived home from an exciting and successful weekend at The Fork Horse Trials and CIC***.    The weekend started with more than sixty competitors in the CIC*** division; the competition was stiff and the cross-country track was tough.   No Boundaries had his final competition for the lead-up to Kentucky,  and I am pleased to say that the weekend could not have been better!

When we arrived to the Fork on Wednesday, I was able to catch up with Silva Martin for some dressage training.  Life has been incredibly hectic through the move to Farideh Farm, so I was feeling very unprepared for the three-star test.  Luckily, Silva got me right back on track, and we were able to put in a good test on Thursday.  We scored a 51 to round out the dressage phase in the top twenty.  Having my dressage on Thursday gave me plenty of time to focus on the cross-country.  It was one of the toughest tracks I have seen thus far, so I am glad I had the extra time to size it up.  

The Fork is notorious for tough CIC*** tracks, and this year was no exception to the rule.  Mark Phillips designed the three-star course with pre-Rolex type questions for those horses as well as some easier options for the greener rides.  Riders had the opportunity to walk the cross-country course with Mark on Friday afternoon, and this helped us all have a good plan of attack for Saturday.  I continue to train with Boyd Martin, and his insight into this course walk and my lead up to Rolex has been invaluable to me.

Bucky jumped around the course with ease on Saturday morning,  coming in with just a few time faults.  More than half of the CIC*** division experienced trouble on the cross-country, so we cruised into 8th place with our clean ride. He looked great on Saturday evening, and jogged very well for the ground jury on Sunday morning as well. 

Sunday was the highlight of my weekend, as the pressure to produce a clean show-jumping round rolled out in front of me. This was the first time since last year's Jersey Fresh CCI***  that I felt the pressure of sitting in a competitive placing going into show-jumping.  The scores were very tight and not many rails were falling.  My round was not the smoothest I have ridden, but that did not hold Bucky back from jumping a great clear round.  We finished the competition in 8th place, enjoying a victory gallop surrounded by some of the best 3 and 4 star horse and rider combinations in the country!  

Bucky will enjoy a day of rest before heading back to our fitness and training for Kentucky.  We are almost two weeks away from the start of competition and the pressure is on!  I will keep up frequent updates in these crucial next few weeks!

I would like to take a moment to thank each and every follower who watched the Fork online and knew my results through the weekend often before I did!  Its so fun to experience this success and know that all of you are right there following me.  

Countdown is 14 days . . . 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Success at Morven!

Lucie Hughes on Kitty's Topaz
Photo credit Sumner Crosby
Team Lily had another successful outing at Morven Park this weekend in Leesburg, Virginia. This was the first outing of the season for many riders who wintered in PA, so I was excited to get them out competing. Kate Hicks has been teaching them for the duration of my stay in Aiken, and their progress showed at Morven with their great performances!

Lucie Hughes (pictured here) brought home the win for the weekend on her mare, Kitty's Topaz.  This was a well deserved result for Lucie, as she has been sidelined for the past nine months by an injury.  She has spent the past few months rehabilitating Kitty, and it was great to see them out in top form at Morven.

We had three other riders in the Beginner Novice this weekend and one riding in the Training.  Eliza Crosby rode her new mount, Woodstock Rawley, in his first event and had a great start to his career to finish 7th.  Miranda Webb rode Expresso to a 6th place finish, adding just a few time faults to a great dressage score.  Kaelen Speck finished just ahead in 4th on Rosenharley Romello.  These girls all rode so well and are looking ready for Novice at Plantation Field in a few weeks time.

We are fully moved in to our new location at Farideh Farm, and I want to express my deep appreciation for all the helping hands in the past week.  It was a huge task to embark upon, so thank you all for your efforts!

Bucky is off to the Fork CIC*** on Wednesday, stay tuned for updates!