This years Thanksgiving Pine Top was the complete opposite of last years weatherwise.It was so cold and rainy last year that we chose not to go cross country and sadly withdrew the devils.Thankfully we were blesed with perfect weather and footing at Glenn and Janet Wilsons fantastic Pine Top Farm.Pine Top has turned into an incredible facility and every time I go there I am fascinated by all the improvements Glenn adds to his property.I am envious of his ability in building and earth moving. I am hopeless at both.
With three horses in the same class,I expected to be drawn number one and ride at eight am.If you enter three in the same class you better be ready to play. Barbie has really got a great system down and we have never been late yet. I had two other helpers as well Cameron age 10 and Lizzie age 15.Team Paradise was on their toes.Cameron was my body gaurd with a copy of the dressage test and a rag and saw me into the ring on Harry (Next Dance) who went first.I got my running orders from her as they called my number and tried to remember all she told me.We had a plan at Pine Top that our dressage tests were going to be about submission and softness,not impulsion .Those were my orders!I was to release my hand on the reins at least once in every movement!
Harry entered a bit tight but felt better as the test progressed. He had a nice go and I was pleased but in seeing his photos I felt he was overbent at times.He had a lovely show jumping nearly jumping me out of the tack. Glenn outdid himself this time in his design. It was SO GREAT. He was a genius at using the ring. A PURE GENIUS!Clearly he has as much fun designing as I do and I thought this course was extremely well planned out.
Peter had a great dressage and none of his antics from Poplar Place were evident .It is impossible not to grin from ear to ear when riding this devil when he tries like that.He has really grown up this past year.Next year I want to get him more from behind but he was right on track last Saturday.Sadly I had a sharp rail in the Show Jumping as he got a bit strong after the double and I didn't react quick enough to Glenn's clever broken line.Precisely the way the course designer planned it! Well done!This rail proved to be the only major mistake I had last weekend.So if I only had one that's pretty good for me!
Pickles was a very good boy in dressage. He was strong in his big fat snaffle ,but maintained his shape again and was fairly obediant.I am hoping to move him into a big ring next year at the intermediate level and can't wait to be able to ride in the double!This year we have accomplished a ton with Pickles who has been a stalwart to my team. Though he is not the most comfortable in the dressage he has only made three jumping mistakes all year and I have extreme confidence in his ability.
Cross Country was fabulous as usual at Pine Top.The course was reversed from the normal direction. In all my years riding over there I had never ridden it that way before. It was grand.Nice questions. Solid ,beefy jumps and great galloping.One can really have a go at Pine Top.
Harry jumped beautifull but I feel he gallops a bit low and strong. So I have to work on getting him a bit more up.When I step on the gas I feel it is hard to get him back up quickly so I am wasting a few seconds here and there. But the quality of his jump,the quickness of his feet and thought process are all very good for this level.Peter is a speed machine that just buzzes around. He is exactly my size and just eats up the courses.Again I had a watch issue while riding him as I thought I was in the time but had a few penalities anyway. Who cares.He is a GAS to ride and if I were in the trenches in a war zone I would definately want him to be my buddy.And Pickles clocked around inside the time again on a loose rein.He actually does it the right way everytime.There is something very reassuring about that complicated devil.It makes all the impossible times on the flat well worth it and I have to remember that when I act like a spolied child because he won't relax in an extension at home.
A great way to finish the season for me and the devils.They have earned themselves a small holiday .The year had a dodgy start with my shattering my leg before their first outing in March.But we ended with a different sort of bang.The kind we like.
I couldn't have had any of this fun without the help of Barbie Reeser.This girl has REALLY hung i there.She has been with me now for two years. Many of you out there will agree ,she has to be made of steel to survive two years with me!She has earned the tiltle of Paradise Farm Super groom.She is the volunteer coodinator at the farms Horse Trials.She gets as many as 7 horses ready back to back during my dressage days here at the farm.She is a tireless individual that always puts the horses first.Anyone that has seen the devils at any outing will agree they are immaculate always at the ring. I am very fussy and very proud of the work that she does. If you see her around tell her from me you read this and I appreciate her because it is not always an easy job I assure you!
Antonio Henandez runs the farm.He is going on 5 years and he is an angel from above.I can finally leave the farm with complete confidence that he is in charge and will handle everything that comes up.
To Linda Hickey my vet. We could not have done the year without you.She is right up there on the five star list and I will NEVER EVER Forget how she saved one of my horses lives over a horrific five day period this year.again an act of complte selflessness that blew me away and makes everything else worthwhile.
To my Blacksmith Antonio Sambrano,who has driven to and from Paradise so many times and never ever argured or been hard to deal with under very trying circumstances. (Peter pulling his shoes off repeatedly in the same day!)
And to all of the clients and clinic organizers that have helped Paradise farm stay afloat. You are the ones that have let me go eventing.You are the ones that have enabled these devils to come up through the ranks.You have paid my entry fees and let me take lessons.So I thankyou all. You are all part of team Paradise and I hope everytime you see these guys fly by you will say to yourselves.I helped with that team!
And last but not least to my sponsor Arenus.This company has been a great pleasure to work with. Not only have their products really helped my horses but they have helped me with their knowlegde and personal support.Everytime I deal with the people from Arenus I have a huge smile. They are like a breath of fresh air to me.I really feel Steadfast has helped my horses stay on track and The Assure system has done absolute miracles for Pickles.I cannot recommend these products to you all out there enough.I belive in them and am going to stay with it.My horses have been in the top ten very consistantly at every outing this year.
I have three great horses to ride at the moment that have given me the confidence to get back out there and do what I used to do.The roller coaster continues. Poplar left me feeling unsure and full of self doubt(nothing to do with the event itself ,just my own riding!),but this weekend it all fit back into place.
We left with a Grand slam Peter on top in 2nd,Pickles moved from 12th after dressage to 3rd and harry finished 4th due to a few XC time penalties.So now it's time for the second string to come up.I have some nice babies at the moment that will be out next year. Stay tuned!