Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fair Hill

Bucky and I through the first water (Photo by Gayle Hughes
Fair Hill is the biggest competition of my fall season, and I came into it with a big goal. Coming off of my third place finish in the 3* at Plantation, I aimed to win the 3* at Fair Hill. Bucky has made such progress on the flat, and he can usually turn out a clear cross country. It is disappointing when, despite your best preparation, you make a frustrating error. The cross country course proved very challenging and shook up the standings more than I had expected.

Friday was a big day for me, Bucky and I have been really focusing on becoming more competitive on the flat. I have been tailoring his fitness and diet to give myself the best chance of a relaxed test. After his successful tests at Richland and Plantation, I aimed to score in the low 40's. His test was not as successful as I had hoped it would be. I watched the video after and it looked better than it felt. We had a few unfortunate slip ups in the canter work, but his trot work was improved. I placed further back than I aimed for. I hoped that Bucky and I would be able to turn in a quick and clean cross country and move up the leaderboard.

Derek di Grazia's course really challenge horses and riders while remaining safe. His courses are big and technical and take advantage of the terrain to test both horse and rider. The course got off to a rough start. Bucky was distracted by something around the second and third fence but he was able to jump over them. He was his typical self over the fourth fence but I had to pass the second/third fence to get to the water at five. He must have been focused on something else because he seemed surprised by the fence even though he had a good approach to size it up and understand it. In the past he would have  hopped over the fence but instead he stopped. We managed to get through the rest of the course. he became more focused  as the course went on. Bucky relearned a valuable lesson that if he has a stop his grandmother won't give him treats. I think he will go clear for the treats next time! My disappointing weekend finished on a high note when Bucky and I show jumped double clear. I am really pleased with the progress we have made in show jumping. Bucky is now on vacation after a very busy season. I look forward to what will hopefully be an even more competitive season next year!

I am thrilled that so many of my students and their parents were able to make it to Fair Hill to cheer us on. I am even more pleased that so many of them have helped me freshen up the Baker Barn! While I am not looking forward to the logistics of moving more than twenty horses, I am looking forward to getting everyone settled at the new farm. Also a huge thanks to my parents who have been a huge help. Next up Virginia! Before you leave be sure to watch the videos of Bucky's dressage and show jumping on our Facebook page.

Clearing the log oxen (Photos by J Blair) 

Look at how focused these two are (Photo by Gayle Hughes) 

Friday, October 11, 2013

RRTP/Middleburg Recap

Rasher and I at Pimlico (Thanks Tori for the picture) 

It is a period of transition for Lilybridge Eventing: the leaves are falling, the cool air is coming in, and I am in the process of changing facilities. Since Plantation, my students have had  successful runs at Middleburg Horse Trials and I had a great showing at the Retired Racehorse Training Project at Pimlico.

Lilybridge had a hectic day at Middleburg Horse Trials with my two rides on Gideon and Sweet Rebellion; Julie Henk's ride on Merry Sioux; and a training showdown between Tori Kager, Melissa Carson, and Kaelen Speck.  Julie had a slip-up and got technically eliminated, but I am sure that they will have a great outing at their next show. I was pleased with both Gideon and Sweet Rebellion in the training. Sweet Rebellion finished in seventh on her dressage score of 34.10. I have been thrilled with the progress she has made throughout the season. She is a very careful jumper full of try. I am excited to guide Kaelen as she begins to build a partnership with Sweet Rebellion. I look forward to seeing them compete next year! Gideon was also successful, scoring a 43.60 on the flat and jumping double clear in both show jumping and cross-country to finish in 9th. Meanwhile three of my students went head to head in the junior training, and all three had successful outings. Melissa and her mate Bo Brown came out on top finishing on their dressage score of 34.50. Kaelen and her old friend Regal Dancer finished half a point behind Melissa in fifth after jumping going double clear in both show jumping and cross-country. Tori and her Avi finished in Eighth, only a few points behind Melissa and Kaelen, after dropping a rail in show jumping and jumping  clear on cross country. Congrats on the clear cross-countries!

As soon as we unpacked from Middleburg, it was time to prepare for the Retired Racehorse Training Program's symposium at Pimlico. I am thrilled that I was invited to participate in this project. I have worked with Rasher throughout the summer. He was very well behaved; he managed to stay pretty focused even though there were large crowds. He is a very scopey jumper and got to show off his talent in the demonstration. He really impressed people when he leaped over a cross-country table from a trot. I hope Rasher finds a great rider to bring him along!

Next up for me is Fair Hill next weekend and moving in to my new farm. Hopefully I will see many of you cheering me on at Fair Hill. Thanks for checking in on me and my precious cargo of students and horses!