For those of you who are new to EN, I wrote a series of articles last year about the progress of my horse, Win the War (Jitterbug/Bug), and I through our first year at Advanced together. There were some amazing ups and some not so amazing downs, but we came through 2012 a lot stronger and more knowledgeable. My coach is the amazing Bonnie Mosser, and I couldn’t have done it all without her.
It has been awhile since I have written any real updates on Bug and I, so I thought it might be appropriate, now that 2013 is in full swing. Due to Bug’s minor stone bruise at Fair Hill, thus sending us home before we ever got started, we got a jump on our winter training. I feel like we are the most ahead that we have ever been in the spring. We spent a lot of time just working on our dressage, and I think it is really starting to pay off. Any jumping issues that we have had have all been my fault, so I have been working hard to stay disciplined.
Bonnie knows exactly how hard to push me without pushing me over the edge. She is so insightful and sees the small things that make big results. She is not only teaching me how to ride, but she is teaching me about our sport. There is so much more to eventing than just riding. As riders, we tend to just focus on our riding, but we need to be watching and absorbing and learning. “Knowing is half the battle.” (My husband’s favorite G.I. Joe quote, and since we’re on war theme, I found it appropriate.)
Bug and I started the season off by running the Intermediate at Full Gallop the end of January. He was quite fresh for the dressage, but he jumped well in both show jumping and cross country. At that point, I was still really trying to find a good rhythm and riding style on the cross country. For that round, I really tried to let him gallop around happily without having to take a tug. We had some time penalties, but on the whole, it was a nice round. We finished 2nd, and I was very pleased with my boy.
Our next outing took us back to Full Gallop to run the Advanced/Intermediate for their Wednesday show. Again, Bug was quite fresh for his dressage. Both shows, our dressage was before 8 am and the temperature was below freezing. He went on to jump a lovely double clear show jump round. Our cross country had some ups and downs. I couldn’t seem to find my rhythm for a lot of it, so we had some fences that I would have liked to do over. We got around clean and with less time than the show before, but I was kicking myself for not really finding my mojo. However, we did end up winning the division, which always brings a smile to Bug’s face. He didn’t care how badly I rode, he got the job done with or without me.
In mid-February, I got to ride with David O’Connor in the ICP Symposium. The morning that I left Ocala, I had a dressage lesson with the amazing Linda Zang. She gave me some great tips for getting Bug more up in front of me, and I couldn’t wait to try it out at Pine Top that weekend.
Pine Top was to be our first Advanced of the season. It would be the first time I had run Advanced since the Bromont debacle of last year. I knew that we were more prepared than we have ever been, and with my amazing coach there to keep me focused, I was ready to get to the big stuff. Bug felt great in the dressage, even with the rain and muck. He was listening to me and quite obedient. Did I leave points on the table? Yes. Did I feel like it was the best test we have had? Yes. We had some very lovely moments, even scoring a few 8’s! I don’t think I had one comment of “on the forehand” in the whole test. There is still much work to be done to be competitive, but I was very happy with our progress.
The cross country looked like a great course, and I was excited to try out my new galloping position from DOC. I normally struggle with the gallop fences, as I slow down too much and then rush his last few steps. However, this time, I felt my fly fences all rode really straight (one of my issues is to let Bug drift in the air) and fluid. I was thrilled with how much more balanced I was. Bug was even jumping better! (As if he needed to get more air than he already does.) I had really great rides at some of the combinations as well, but there were a few that I just didn’t attack enough. I sat there as a passenger instead of telling him what I wanted. Again, my fail. But, Bug answered the questions with or without me. Due to this, we had more time penalties than we should have. It was not a horrible round, it just had some places where I should have been more aggressive.
The show jumping was a big course with terrain, and a lot of rails were flying. Bonnie stressed to me that I needed to attack the course the way I should have attacked some of my combinations the day before on cross-country. The course rode forward, and I needed to keep going. It was one of the best show jump rounds I have ever ridden. Bonnie was very happy with how I rode. Unfortunately, Bug barely touched the front rail of fence 3, and we had one down. This is very uncharacteristic of him, but a lot of people were having that rail, and he just wasn’t quite snappy enough with his front end. Of course, this meant that he jumped extra high for the rest of the round. We finished in 9th out of a pretty big division, and I am very happy with our first Advanced outing of 2013.
We were supposed to head back to Full Gallop this weekend to run the Advanced/Intermediate again, but poor Bug has popped a small abscess (it’s no wonder with all of the mud!). I am going to focus on getting him back to 100% and then, hopefully, we’ll be headed to Southern Pines II for the Advanced.
Our theme for 2013 is “Forget the Battle, Win the War.” Our big goal is to be on the gold medal team for the WEG 2014. I say “gold medal team” because: A. Assuming our country will do any less is already losing the war, and B. One shouldn’t just want to make the team, they should want to bring home the gold. That being said, we have A LOT of work to do before then. I know there are some amazing horses and riders in this country. I also know that I am sitting on one of the best horses in the country.
Each season is a stepping stone toward our big goal in 2014. This spring season our goal is the CCI*** at Jersey Fresh in May. Being an up and coming rider that owns all of my own horses, I am constantly struggling to make ends meet and getting Bug everything he needs to be 110% happy. With this in mind, I have decided to continue my t-shirt fundraising each season. Also, I have been asked to add a bumper sticker to the works. If anyone is interested in buying a t-shirt or bumper sticker, you can do so by ordering through PayPal on my website or you can send me a check or money order to my farm address. I will be taking orders through April 15th, and the items will be shipped after that. Bumper stickers will actually be “Buy One, Get One” as we could not figure out how to make the PayPal button charge you $5 shipping for every sticker. I GREATLY APPRECIATE any orders. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at [email protected].
I want to thank everyone for all of the support and kind words that I have gotten over the past year. It boggles my mind just how many fans my amazing horse has! Bug is truly a once in a lifetime horse, and I am so blessed to have him. If you ever see us at an event, don’t hesitate to come up and say hello and give him a pat! He would expect no less.