This past weekend, Deszi competed at her second event: The UNH horse trials. The weather was the complete opposite of the warm, sunny Aiken we had left just one week ago. For nearly two decades, there has been some form of precipitation at the UNH event and this weekend did not disappoint. Gray days, rain, and raw temperatures in the low 40s had many horses wound up and tight. Transitioning from 80 degree days, sunshine and a clipped coat, Deszi was no exception.
She warmed up nicely, but felt tight from the chill. The judge’s booths were decorated beautifully, and Deszi was concerned that there were brightly colored flowers there, but no where else to be seen in the early spring New Hampshire landscape. She put in a nice test for her second competition, despite a poor moment in our right lead canter circle. A nice transition upward, and then resistance in the canter led to a flying lead change and poor balance through the correction. The tension carried through into the following down transition to the trot. I am focusing on her connection with the bridle; encouraging her to work into the bit more consistently. She was tied for 4th with a 33.5.
The next day was our show jumping following immediately by cross-country. The stadium course flowed nicely between fences, necessitating accuracy and planning on approach due to tight turns within the space. As the first competition for many, horses were refusing fences more then they were knocking them down. Deszi was a star. She cantered around confidently in a steady rhythm and carefully navigated each fence. Moments of hesitation were shadowed by confidence as she worked off the leg to make light work of the jumps. The biggest change in her jumping work has been the improvement in her strength and balance. Our gymnastics and flat work exercises are paying off, and she is now able to hold the quality of canter within an adjusted stride without losing the power and engagement. She jumped double clear to maintain 4th place, but break the tie.
Deszi Do is living up to her nickname! She cantered around cross country like a child skipping through the playground: happy, confident and relaxed. Despite spooking at puddles on our hack to the XC warm-up, she worked over the course with little concern. She is happy in the open field and was very smart about adjusting her stride, working to the desired distance and maintaining confidence despite questionable assessments of the task at hand. We enjoyed a slight hand gallop on a long stretch and trotted through a muddy area toward the end of the course. She jumped double clear to end on her dressage score and move up to 3rd place. She also won the TIP Champion award for the novice level.
It is hard to believe that most of New Hampshire has been snow-free for only three weeks. Friends have posted photos on Facebook of pesky snow piles, hiding in the shadow of a large oak tree, refusing to dissipate into the spring earth. Our time in Aiken gave us a great start, and we were able to transition back to life at home in New England without disruption to the horses’ training.
Kudos to UNH, their team, and volunteers for bringing this event together!
Thank you for riding alongside us.
Next up: Aiken in the Rearview and Garth goes to Maryland.
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