Hannah Burnett: From Red Hills Onwards

Hannah Burnett has been a close friend of EN from its inception, and graciously agreed once again to be a guest blogger this spring. Hannah’s rise to being one of the country’s best young professionals started from a young age and relatively small means. Hannah had a great partnership with her first ‘big time’ horse, Keep The Faith, spanning from the Young Rider ranks all the way to a trip around Rolex Kentucky in 2007. Currently, Hannah’s top horse is St. Barths, together they’ve won the 2009 Fair Hill CCI** and the 2010 Fair Hill CCI***, and they have big plans for the upcoming year. Thanks to Hannah for writing once again; be sure to check back for later installments of this pair’s exciting adventures!
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Although I would rather move on from the majority of my performance at Red Hills last weekend, I think it’s a good exercise to write it out in a somewhat organized manner. Eventing, and horses in general, have a way of humbling us. I really thought I was ready to have a great weekend on Nike (St. Barths). Things started unraveling when, for some unknown reason, my shadbelly tails started bouncing and basically beating Nike behind the saddle. I have worn these tails for the last 5 years and they have never done this. Obviously Nike didn’t appreciate the extra encouragement from my coat. We unsuccessfully tried to safety pin them to my saddle pad, which didn’t work and then they were flying around with open pins (a bit scary). I eventually cantered back to the barn and grabbed Karen’s hunt coat but by then they were announcing me to go into the arena. I had to canter all the way back and straight into the ring with an extremely frazzled and he would tell you abused red head. So our test was less than stellar. I’m proud of him that he held it together in those circumstances and stayed in the ring. He could have been a lot worse. Still, a 60 in the Dressage was not what I was looking for. 
Harbour Pilot was fantastic all weekend. Mr. Consistency. He put in a good test (even with the beatings of my tails) and jumped around the biggest and toughest course he has ever seen like a champ. Nike had a great run around cross-country also. He was very good technically and felt great over the galloping fences. He gives me such a cool feeling; he’s completely fearless and quick on his feet. My new ride, Galactic also had a great weekend. He was more confident on the flat and jumped around the twisty Preliminary with his eyes closed. We’ve been working on his show jumping and he jumped a clear round so I am psyched about him. I rode the Preliminary show jumping just before the 3* and the course was different. 
It’s slightly humbling to write this, but I don’t have a ton of experience with multiple upper-level horses at the same event. I also have always had a very good memory when it comes to dressage tests/show jumping courses. It’s something I’ve done since I was 4 years old so I had always been a bit over-confident about it. Not anymore!! Nike warmed up great, but I cantered right by number 3 (just like we did for the preliminary) and jumped 4&5. So my weekend on him ended a bit too quickly. Luckily, Nike thinks he was just such a super star that he only had to jump 4 fences in the show jumping!! He was very proud of himself and he should be.  I took a lot of time memorizing the 2* course after that mishap. I will take learning the courses more seriously from now on. David also suggested to canter into the ring and halt, look around at the whole course and then pick up the canter and start instead of just going right away. That gives you just a minute to collect your thoughts and see all the jumps before starting. I took his advice on William and had one of the best show jumping rounds of my career. I love that the horse can be perfect in show jumping, unlike cross country where you more than likely will have one bad jump or a stumble or something wrong with the course. William finished 3rd in his first CIC** and I couldn’t be prouder of all of my horses. 
I’m staying home Poplar/Southern Pines weekend to give my horses a break and be mentally fresh for the Fork. Until then–I’ll be practicing memorizing show jumping courses!! 
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