Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kiki at the Pirouette Farm Boyd martin Clinic

It's so great to be home! After a whirlwind few days following the Jim Wofford clinic, that involved a grand total of 25 hours driving and 9 hours flying in a 48 hour period (!!), I finally arrived safe and sound back in Carlisle, MA. Of course, one day after arriving, Papa and I piled right back into the car to go up to beautiful Pirouette Farm in Norwich, VT, where my little 5 year old Kiki is in training with Jane Hamlin. Thursday was the second day of a Boyd Martin clinic being held right at the farm, so we went up to watch Kiki take part. She was such a star!! It was, according to Jane, the most continuous xc schooling she's ever done, and she took everything in stride, totally game and bold from start to finish. She got lots of oohs and ahhs from everyone watching (how could she not??) and Boyd, who has ridden her sire and one of her half siblings, was highly complimentary of her quality and attitude. Here are some photos:

What a cute little piggy =D

Trotting to the water under Boyd's careful eye.

Kiki looking, in Jane's words, "wicked Irish"!

Neat and tidy!

Jim Wofford Clinic

Last weekend I got to fulfill a lifelong dream: riding with Jim Wofford!! We snuck into the clinic at the horse park at the last minute, and enjoyed two wonderful days of his instruction. I really liked his teaching style, which was very direct and straight forward, asking us to get our horses into a forward, steady rhythm from which we could approach, jump, and move away from each obstacle without changing a thing. It was really cool to feel how smooth a round could get when performed in this manner. JIm also played with my sight line in approaching the fences, getting me to look at the top of the fence instead of beyond it; it actually made quite a difference! I've always been taught to look up past my fences so it will be interesting to try that out more in future.

The most exciting part of the weekend was Dually himself: he attacked each exercise with incredible exuberance and joy, the likes of which I used to take for granted but which have been lacking from our jumping of late. He was actually pretty strong in the show jumping, and kind of unstoppable at the beginning of the cross country school, but it was such a welcome change from the sucking back, unsure quality our jumping has been having lately. I couldn't have been more thrilled with him!

Jim, of course, loved Dually (who wouldn't?) and complimented us at the end of the weekend by remarking that he was sure he would be seeing our names in the Chronicle before long. What a treat!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Copper Meadows

Well, you can't win them all.

Dually and I made the long trek down to Ramona, CA this weekend for the OI at Copper Meadows. It was my 20th birthday on Saturday and my father was coming out to watch, so I was feeling pretty excited. I had had some not so great schools and then some really excellent schools in preparation too, and Dually had never felt so good on the flat, so I was feeling tentatively positive about our prospects for the event.

We arrived on Thursday night and Dually settled in really well, having a great hack around (and multiple dusty rolls in the attended turn out areas the farm was really nice to provide!) and eating and drinking like a champ on Friday. Saturday was Dressage and Show Jumping; Dually warmed up great on the flat and then put in one of his most consistent and workmanlike tests to date. I couldn't have been more pleased with the dude. We had a quick tack change and then came back for Show Jumping. Dually again warmed up great, jumping right out of stride and feeling really relaxed and confident. Unfortunately, when we went into the ring it quickly became a different story! Both he and I got pretty tense, and though I thought I gave him as good a ride as I could, he definitely didn't feel comfortable over such big square jumps. We swam around to the triple combination (where we had run into trouble at Galway), and very unfortunately had a pretty much identical repeat to last time: we got in awkwardly with Dually backing off really badly before the first, and then weren't able to make the striding in the combination. I was absolutely gutted as, for the second time in as many shows, the bell rang and we had to wait as they reset the triple to let us try again. We barely made it through on the second attempt and then survived around the rest of the course, but I must admit I was pretty devastated. On review afterwards, Bec and I agreed that this might be too much to ask of the dude. He is simply scoped out over show jumping fences this large. It was a very hard moment, realizing that this dream I've had for so long might not be realistic. Dually has given me so so so much over the years; I really can't ask anything more of him. I don't want to ruin his confidence asking him to do something outside of his comfort zone when he excels so greatly at Prelim and below. After talking with Bec, I decided to stay the night and give cross country a go the next morning; I would head out and see how he was feeling, and pull up if he was indicating to me that he wasn't into it.

Cross country dawned in great conditions for galloping and jumping, with cool temperatures and overcast skies. Once again, Dually warmed up great, and charged out of the start box eager and ready to go. He actually left out a stride to the first (which I certainly wasn't expecting!) but then peeked in hard at the second. He jumped the 3rd, a big step table, like a pro, and was actually much stronger than I expected into 4ab, some angled houses, and I didn't get him all the way back. He slobbered over the first and I pulled him off the second, choosing to circle and pick up the 20; on presentation to the jump he jumped it very well, then went on to jump the impressive ditch and wall right out of stride, then barreled down to the big downhill table at 6. As at 4, he was actually much stronger and more keen than I expected, and so I didn't do an adequate job setting him up and ran him right down into the base. He crawled over it, and I realized that I wasn't doing an adequate job with the ride. It was almost the opposite situation as the show jumping, where I had ridden well and he had faltered; here he was all set and ready to go, and I wasn't there to make it happen! I decided to retire, not wanting to rattle his confidence with my shaky piloting. However, I definitely came off course with a better feeling than I had in the show jumping, as clearly this was my issue to work on and not his; he was more than willing to go out and jump the big fences... I just need to be ready to jump them too! Unlike the show jumping, where he may truly be outscoped, this appeared to be no more than my rustiness with galloping and jumping (only having been out on xc three times this year total, including schooling, and only having jumped twice since Galway because of my concussion). However, I will still definitely be reconsidering my plans for the rest of the year with the dude; I think some confidence building shows are in order for the near future, for both of us.

It was still such a treat to be a show on my birthday with my father and my wonderful horse, and I was very thankful that we came out the weekend fit and healthy, even if I was pretty disappointed with how the event itself went.

Dually trying his heart out in the show jumping.

First Halt Salute.

What a star!! Dually has come so far in his flatwork in the past year =).
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