There are times when your goal is solely to stay in the ring. That’s it. Just stay in the ring.
This is not my attempt at modesty. Nor my attempt of crediting the horse for a successful outing. This is the one goal I had for Leo when we left Autumn Hill Farm this morning. The one goal.
Amidst some awkward transitions and tension, he tried earnestly to put his best hoof forward. Despite having a positive warm-up where he slowly relaxed in the stimulating environment, his confidence waned within the frame of the curious white cord. However, he stayed in the ring. Goal achieved! Fortunately for Leo, there was absolutely no pressure moving forward with the day as he tied for last place with a substantial 43.5.
Deszi and Garth were shaking their heads back home.
The heat was starting to set in as we tacked up for cross country. The course was classic Huntington Farm: open, rolling, inviting, natural = perfect for the young 17-hand orangutan. His warm-up was unique: a bit of dancing, sweat glistening in the high sun, and the eager “I don’t know where my feet are, and I left my brain back at the trailer, but by GOD I am going to JUMP!”
At home, Leo is a lovely jumper. Soft to the fences with the occasional quickness at the base, but he has showed huge improvement in his execution to the fence. Today, not so much. I see the perfect distance, then two strides out, he rushes forward. At least he is willing.
As we approached the start box, Leo suddenly realized there was activity out in the field. Head held high and heart pounding, Lucky Lips Louie‘s world just got bigger. He left the start box calmly and slowly moved into the canter. He was confused, but willingly jumped the first fence and cantered into the next field. The drop caught him off guard and a refusal and conversation later, we continued on.
As we made our way around the course, Leo started to get it and was enjoying himself. And I was enjoying the ride. So much, in fact, that we cantered right by the ditch. We were alerted to our technical eliminator at the water and after trotting through the dark splash, we ended our day.
Team Huntington was very generous to offer me a school over the remaining fences and to ride my show jumping. I decided to end our day there. It was a fantastic experience for him and a great place to end his first eventing experience. As far as Leo knew, a woman was just so excited to see him that she had to stop us in our tracks!
Several of The Ladies had a tremendously successful day as well: Jackie Gilbert and ALF Cross My Heart placed 2nd in BN A, and in BN B Erin Cheever and Ballygannon placed 7th, Sarah Adams and Dougal placed 6th, and Missy Alaimo and Fascinating Rhythm WON their first USEA event! I am incredibly humbled to be a part of their journey, and so thrilled for everyone’s success!