Nike and I have had a very busy couple of weeks since our last post. He has continued to get fitter and we are both working on our flatwork, which is really getting fun (hard to believe I’m saying this…) and he’s really jumping great.
Last week was busy to say the least…Karen had signed us up for a ICP symposium with Lauren Huff but she got injured and couldn’t teach so Lauren Kieffer and I were surprised to meet the Captain (Mark Phillips) in the arena for our jumping lesson. I was sweating a bit because I was expecting him to see me jump for the first time (officially) at our training sesh on Friday…and I wasn’t feeling quite prepared mentally. Luckily, Nike’s a pretty freakin’ good jumper and Captain Phillips was pretty impressed with him. Lauren rode Allstar for Karen in the lesson and rocked it (on a horse she hasn’t sat on in about 4 months!!)
The next day on Tuesday, we did the ICP Intermediate dressage test for Linda Zang and it wasn’t really up to our potential but it was my fault because I didn’t get Nike enough warm-up before the test. Still figuring out how much warm-up is enough and not too much to produce a solid test.
Wednesday I rode in the Spalding Lab’s Young Event Horse competition on Ms. Mars 5 year old mare Landmark’s Miss Liberty and she won! She had a very classy jumping round and the judges loved her. It’s great to start the youngsters and have them rewarded for stepping up and trying so hard.
Thursday was my training session with Capt. Phillips on the flat. We did a lot of trot-canter-trot transitions and he really drilled me on my basics. Wow, wasn’t expecting that at all! It was a really good lesson, even though I was pretty humbled and reminded to take things back to a simple level and make sure I don’t accept mediocrity. Since the Captain had already seen us jump on Monday, we had to do another dressage lesson on Friday. We had worked out a lot of our transition issues from the day before and got to work on more upper-level movements. Mark really improved my half-halts in the canter work and counter-canter. Overall my first experience with training sessions was a very good one. Hopefully I will be picked to keep working with the High Performance Team throughout the year.
The weather for the Ocala II event started out pretty crappy on Friday (especially for Florida!) with lots of rain and temps in the low 40s. Nike was pretty fresh with this being our first outing since Fair Hill and also quite cold. Our dressage test had some good moments but overall not good enough to get a good score. I was feeling a lot of pressure to have a good test and I rode a bit negatively. On Saturday, it had stopped raining but was bitterly cold and windy, and Nike and I were literally shaking before our round. I felt so badly for him! He jumped around with one rail down. I talked to Karen and decided that Nike wasn’t up for the run on Sunday so we scratched him from the cross-country and are entering him in the OI next weekend at Rocking Horse III. Huge thanks to Annie Yager for all her help last weekend–she’s an amazing worker and great rider–I wouldn’t have gotten through the weekend without her help. Also props to Shauna Riley for holding down the fort at home and taking great care of the horses all by herself. Awesome people make all the stress and pressure of eventing so much easier!
Horses are constantly teaching us to listen to them. To feel what they’re feeling, whether it be that they’re in pain somewhere or just not confident in some part of their work. It’s so easy to miss one of the intricate details that keep our horses comfortable and self- assured. I’m so blessed to be apart of a program that has such amazing teamwork and really cares about each other’s progress and success. From Dr. Ober and Randy Pawlak discussing shoeing and overall soundness to Karen and David working out the best show schedule and training and Max Corcoran keeping an eye on Nike and all my horses’ physical fitness and overall wellbeing; it’s hard to miss anything. I’m still learning to always spend extra time with my horse, getting to know him and take in things that aren’t quite right that no one else will notice. That is the real teamwork–the core of Eventing and what makes such a cool bond between horse and rider. Anyways…I should stop rambling and get back to work. Until next time–keep checking out the sweetest site in Eventing 🙂