Friday, September 19, 2008

The American Eventing Championships

I am way behind on my blogging and I apologize to the huge following this thing seems to have. I am amazed at the reponses we are getting, and I am delighted you all are getting a kick out of this as I am having fun with the stories!

It took a week to pack the trailer for the week's journey to Illinois. Barbie, myself and the Devils finally got into the truck at 4 a.m. on Sunday Sept.7 and headed to HalfShire Farm in Atlanta - our first stop - to teach a clinic.The horses were put to bed in beautiful stables and had a nice, restful day. I taught until about 6.30 p.m. and also had a great day.

After the clinic, Barbie and I were traeted to some DELICIOUS Blueberry martinis that went down very easily.They were JUST the ticket, along with a delicious dinner our hostess gave us.We sang ourselves upstairs chez Jakes, had a wonderful shower, and I was FAST asleep within minutes.

The clock rang at 11.30 pm and we waddled out to the stables, loaded the horses once again and were on our way to Wayne,Illinois. Two Red Bulls,Three cups of coffee and lots of M&M's later we arrived at a VERY WET Lamplight Equestrian Center. It was POURING RAIN and FREEZING COLD!!!!

We unloaded the horses, bedded down all the stalls ect., gave then a short walk and went to bed ourselves in the trailer.Our trip was uneventful and we made it from Atlanta in about 13.5 hours as planned. All was well with the world.

We slept till 6pm or so fed the horses and went out to eat and back to bed. The horses looked well but a bit tired.

Next day we set everything up in the tackroom and had to use my great STEADFAST banner as a rain shield for the tackroom. It worked perfectly.We were very proud to have our sponsor support us in so many ways! The horses were all ridden round Lamplight and were fairly unfazed by the enormity of it all. We were allowed to ride in the competition rings, which I think was a big advantage for us.

I must tell you all what a miracle it is for me to have Barbie Reeser with me as a groom. She is meticulous and thoughtful and knows exactly what to do. All season we have been competing the three devils in the same division.That translates into at least 6 saddles and about 10 bridles to keep up with as well as ALL the other stuff. I have a BIG trailer and it was VERY FULL when we left! Everything bright and sparkling and in its place.Ha ,wait till then end of this blog!

We were ready to compete Peter Pan in his dressage the next day. He went very well. Peter is all business for such a young horse and we were delighted with his test but a bit dissapointed in the score, however I've found that this is usually the case when one is satisfied with a test. (I seem to do better when I come out of the ring moaning about something), which just shows you I still don't know what I am doing! Pickles and Next Dance got to practice another day.

Next day I had a bit of a mad dash to get 2 horses braided and one cross country ride in before 9 am, then zoom back across the road, change gears and get into Dressage clothes and remember the new test.

Pickles warmed up the VERY BEST he had EVER been, but sadly lots his confidence when crossing over to the competition ring and froze up in the ring to get the worst score of his 2008 season and also the worst score of my class. We were, alas...last.

Next Dance came out that afternoon and completed another good test. He had won the week before with a very good score so I was confident. Again, I was disappointed with a 21st place finish. I wanted to go home! But after whining, moaning and kicking myself around for a while, I got over it. Tomorrow was a new day... and we had a lot to do.

The next day Peter Jumped an immaculate cross country and show jumping round to finish on his dresage score in 8th place. It was POURING RAIN again. As I was in the prizes, I felt duty bound to my sponsor, STEADFAST, and to the event itself to stay for the awards but it meant I was an hour late for my cross country rides with Pickles and Harry (Next Dance).

I galloped Peter back to the barn. We had Harry and Pickles tied up for over an hour and quickly stipped off my hunting coat. On went the XC gear and then I zoomed over to the cross country across the road riding Pickles and ponying Harry. Fortunately, I was allowed to go - nearly an hour after my division had finished! All the junior riders were looking at this old granny obviously lost and out of her mind for being in the warm up at this time. :

"Miss Ward, you can go right now!" Oh great. Sure I'm ready. GULP!!!Fortunately, Pickles may be a wreck when it comes to Dressage but he's always ready to go XC. So, after only one warm-up jump we were at the start box. Pickles zoomed around in slick mud like a complete pro. He NEVER missed a beat - inside the time - a star. All was forgiven about the dressage. Any horse that can be that good under those circumstances is worth working with no matter how long it takes. I only wish it had been an advanced track!

"OK Miss Ward, we need you to go right now." This was about 8 horses after my ride on Pickles. We switched saddles.Zoom,jump,jump,jump.Clear,inside the time again.WOW.Harry had never dealt with mud before and handled it like a pro.Keyword...BIG STUDS and OUTSIDE REIN!

Next day Show Jumping.Another 8 inches of rain.Lamplight is a fabulous place and the rain made no difference to the track.Two clear rounds again.Harry (Next Dance) finished 9th and Pickles 22 from 46th or something.

All in all we were pleased with two top 10 finishes.I felt badly for Pickles nerves in the dressage but we have a new plan for next time.Again,any horse that jumps that well is worth the wait in the dressage ring.I shall put the noose away for another time.(the noose is for me ,not Pickles)God has a purpose for giving me Pickles.I suppose it is to teach me to be patient.Something I am not great at.One day,one day I am going to be able to ride him in dressage with a softer hand!Thank God for lady Clairol!

I Knew there would be a lot of very nice horses at the AEC"s and the dressage would be the issue.To be honest ,I wish the cross country had been more was to my great adavantage that the conditions were less than ideal as I have so much experience riding in mud from the UK and hunting.Thank God there were no injuries due to the conditions and I think the organizers were smart to pull the Cross country.I was very glad to be the last horse to go though!

After Show Jumping everything was soaking wet.It took me five minutes to peel the coat from my body back at the stables.Barbie and I cleaned what we could.Took care of the boys and stared to get ready for the ong journey home.

We had a FULL trailer of wet,dirty,stinky stuff.I always say eventing is like going to war.Though we definately felt like we won the didn't look that way in my trailer.It took about a week to get everything washed,folded and put away.The inside of my trailer had to be thoroughly pressurewashed!Barbie was on the go.No day off for her?(Barbie rarely takes any time off).So everything was put back in order and we're ready for the next one.

I must give a huge thanks to my Sponsor STEADFAST.Without their help I could not have gone to the AEC's.I was right on track with my budget.The trip was about Three Thousand Dollars.Hopefully I could do some small good for this great new product as I ceratinly chatted to many about it.If ever anyone gets the opportunity to attend one of their dinners,by all means do so.Not only will you have a great meal but its a terribly imformative evening for our horses sakes.please contact me or visit their website for more imformation.My horses are continuing to improve and I want to give the credit to STEADFAST!

No comments: