I think we should all take a moment to acknowledge all of our friends in the east who did not catch Air Horse One out to Rebecca and are tortured by the weather out there. Not to rub it in, but today is a breezy 70 degree day. It is perfect spectating weather, as well as riding weather. My long suffering friend in Virginia just sent me an instant update to say that the heat index has risen to 106 from 105 this morning. My heart breaks for her. I think that all the east coast riders will go back and report that USEA needs to relocate to Montana.
The competition has been great this year! Dressage scores were very very tight and there were so many fancy, talented horses in all the divisions. I was riding Max Factor for his owner, Lori Golitzin, as well as my own, Cochlear. Both of them were great, although Lear was a tad bit argumentative about his new and improved “uphill” dressage position. I think it will be another year before it is easy for him, and then the bar only gets higher as he learns more. But he was sensible and accurate anyway in the test. Max was lovely, as usual, and it was a joy to ride him. Shauna had a quiet test on her hot potato, China Silk, that we were both pleased with. Annika struggled with an inattentive Ringo who seemed to hear every flag snapping as he entered the arena. The good news was that his test improved as he went through it, rather than following a spiral downward. Annika will get better at riding the ups and downs of her horse as she gets to know him better.
Cross country for the lower levels was yesterday, Friday. And it was mostly successful for our gang. Both Lear and Max went clear and I had a blast on them. The course was super fun and not only were there a few jump complexes that caused problems for all divisions, but also horses needed to deal with the atmosphere at Rebecca. We dont get to feel this much excitement at most courses, and that is what makes this event so special to us. Even riding around novice makes you feel special.
Shauna had a green let-me-look moment at the first water jump, and then she sailed around the course with confidence after that. Shauna was very pleased with Silky’s round, especially since it is only her second novice. Annika had trouble on the prelim course, and she is learning about her own personal nerves. Riding cross country can appear to be so easy when you watch an experienced rider do it, but there is a lot of years of mistakes that go into that smooth ride. I think one of the biggest surprises for Annika is knowing how very little time there is to do what you need to do. That sounds complicated, but at the upper levels you need to ride in “real time” and deal instantly with loss of balance, lack of speed, too much speed, direction, spooks… you name it. All of those elements combine on every single jump to make it happen, and the rider is the sole captain of the ship. Add the fact that Ringo can have a neck and jaw like an aligator, and the supple, obedient ride can disappear in a heartbeat. We will go home and practice, practice, practice. Its all we can do to make those internal butterflies all fly in formation.