Okay, anyhow - MY Loch Moy (all 30 jumps of it) was fantastic! But, let me start with how we got there this week. Last Sunday, Katchi and I took 3 students out to an An Otherwise Perfect Farm for XC schooling. What a beautiful day!!! We spent about 3 hours schooling, and then sat around for another hour eating watermelon and chatting. It was a simply lovely day! Katchi didn't jump anything substantial - but jumped everything he likes to look at. His lesson of the day was: Look AND jump! We did it over and over and over again - banks, ditches, all sorts of jumps into the water, and the trakahner too. Over and over and over again. Meanwhile, Kerry took her horse out for his 3rd XC school - I just started helping Kerry a few months ago, and we've spent the past 2 months revamping her dressage work, so it was really fun to see the results on the XC course. She even tackled her first set of steps down - three of them! They were each only about 12 inches tall, but no easy task!! They also really helped Debi who has been struggling with her upper body on the stride after stepping down a bank - those triple steps made her figure out real quick how to stay back! And, Adrianne who was headed to Loch Moy yesterday for her first recognized event, set out to do anything similar to her course (we had the benefit of walking it the week before as the courses would not change between Maryland Horse Trials I and II). It was a great day for all!
On Wednesday, Adrianne and I had dressage lessons with Silva, which were fantastic! I was so pleased to have Silva push Katchi and me in the areas she saw as weaknesses at Ride for Life - Katchi is just getting better and better (and me too, a little anyhow). I've been helping Adrianne with her horse, Tori, a lot the past few weeks after I rode her in a lesson with Silva about 2 months ago - we've really been trying to do our homework. And it paid off! Adrianne had a stellar lesson, and she couldn't be more pleased with her beautiful horse!
And then it got hot again, and we headed off to Loch Moy for the Maryland HT II. Here are a few pictures of "Camp Golightly"... notice Katchi (who I have just let go to take these pictures - I figured there wasn't much risk of him running away) is fully engaged in checking out the 'buffet of goodies' under the tent. HUGE thank you to Adrianne for bringing the tent!!
Katchi's dressage test was good, but stiff - he still has some lingering knots from his fall in the field, and I don't ride him as soft and loose as Silva can! But it was a good test, putting us tied for 4th, out of 20. But, my real test of the weekend was show jumping. I had hoped Boyd Martin would be able to help me warm-up, but our ride times didn't work out. He said next time - you can bet I'll take him up on that! I tried so hard to 1) not critique my ride in the middle of it (thank you Jimmy), and 2) keep Katchi engaged behind and off his forehand (thank you Boyd). Our round was not perfect - but it was so much better! I'm even being brave enough to post the video here. We still have work to do, but I'm confident it's going in the right direction.
Super pleased with my toughest phase, Katchi and I headed out on XC. It was the easiest and best ride I've had on him!!! He was spectacular - back to the horse I expected to start the season off with. There is only one jump I would like to have jumped a little differently - that was the bank out of the last water. Katchi was just starting to get a little tired, and I didn't hold my line as well as I would have liked. It worked out fine, but it is the one I'd do different if I could. Not too bad for 19 numbered fences. And I couldn't have been more proud at his confidence - every fence I pointed him at, he just sorted out the question, and said "yea, okay, check, got it." Even the very tough roll top, 2 strides, to down bank that I watched a number of horses stop at. I let him trot the roll top, but he never even thought about not going. It was as smooth and easy as could be. To be honest, crossing the finish flags, I was a little disappointed - it was too easy. Hum, maybe I can start thinking about the Prelim checklist again. Oh - results... well, we finished in 8th. I couldn't get my watch to start as I headed out on the XC course, and ended up just 5 seconds over the optimum time. Pretty impressive for my ability to gauge pace, but those 2 time penalties cost us 5 places - yes, 5 places!!!! I hate when scores are that close.
Here's poor tired Katchi at the end of the day (who, incidentally, went galloping off into his field at 10 o'clock Saturday night when I let him loose - yea, real tired.)...
Next up was Adrianne - despite one error in her dressage test, she still scored a very respectable 31.5. With a double clear show jumping and XC, she ended up in 4th place!! Not too shabby for her first recognized event! And the best part was that Tori just ate up the cross country course! For a clyde-thoroughbred cross that we normally have to kick on a bit, Tori just tackled the course! Adrianne had to ask her to slow down to make it over the minimum time fault! And Tori just attacked every jump presented at her - she's figured out what XC is all about - and she thinks it's FUN!
Here are a couple pictures of Adrianne and Tori, all braided and posh!
When I started eventing on the East Coast, having evented as a young rider on the Area V circuit (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, etc...), the most disappointing thing for me was the relative lack of camaraderie among the average eventer. Of course, all the big name professionals know each other - but then there's the rest of us. We pull in, ride our 3 phases, and go home. In Texas, it was a 3 day affair - arrive on Friday, ride, hang out, go out to dinner, compete Dressage and Show Jumping on Saturday, hang out, go out to dinner, compete XC on Sunday, cheer all your friends on, then pack up and head home. You almost always had tons of friends cheering for you as you went around XC - and we all knew each other! There would almost never be someone I didn't know in the stables - and if I didn't know them, that didn't last long! Yesterday's event was the first time I really felt eventing camaraderie everywhere I went! I ran into so many people that I have met over the past few years - at clinics, shows, ugly sweater Christmas parties... I even ran into a fellow camper from Phillip Dutton's camp last summer who went back to camp this year - we were in the middle of walking the sj course, and I wanted to start crying when she told me how great camp was this year! It made me SO sad to hear she had gone back and I'd missed it all - next year, I hope. (by the way, thank you to everyone who got my attention to say hello! And sorry that I was off in another world and didn't see you first!). But the very best moment of the weekend was Shane!!! I was walking back from my dressage test, quite frustrated and wondering if Katchi was really okay or if he's just the kindest horse in the world to keep on trying despite knots in his neck. And I hear, "Cherie, Cherie" from across on the other side of Katchi. I'm looking around, not recognizing anyone, and thinking - I know it's hot, but I really shouldn't be hallucinating! Finally, I see where the "Cherie"s are coming from, and then I start thinking - damn, who is she, who is she??? - and Shane says, "Hi, I follow your blog!" WOW!!! How fun is that?!?! Eventers really are the coolest! So great to meet you Shane, and I hope to see much more of you in the future as you get your horse going! And thanks for sacrificing yourself to the heat to jump judge for those of us insane enough to be out there - including those who jumped 382 fences over the weekend! And, while I'm saying thanks - Maryland Horse Trials did something super cool this year - they had about 5 young kids on hand in the cooling tent to help sponge down horses after cross country! Not only did they provide the water and ice (which, didn't stay ice for more than about 2 minutes), they provided people! The numbers dwindled by the end of the day, but there were still 2 loyal kids there when Adrianne came off the XC course at 6:00, and we gladly put them to work. And, two final thank you's - one to Adrianne's great friend Maritza (pictured below), who had no idea what the heck Eventing was - but who came out and went nuts cheering us on!!! She also opened the bottle of the wine at the end of the day, so we will all be eternally grateful. And the final thank you is to my student and great friend Debi, who was groom extraordinaire (and videographer extraordinaire). Debi kept us hydrated, focused, and on time all day - we couldn't have done it without you!