Friday, April 13, 2012

XC, Dressage, and XC in Dressage!

Spring is here (but where is the rain???) and it has been a busy week with lots to report - but I'll save the best news for last, so keep on reading...

Last Tuesday, I headed out to Morven Park with a whole gang of riders to knock off some winter dust - the horses definitely reminded us how important it is to take a spin around XC before hitting the first shows of the season - amazing how everything looks a little bigger and scarier after 5 months of riding in the ring!

Friday was my big debut as a "course designer" ... sort of! Over the winter, I joined the board of the Marlborough Horse Trials (I may or may not have been conned into this over a free beer after a long day or riding and teaching!) and as such, I somehow ended up the "responsible party" for the April 7 Jumper Derby course. It actually was a lot of fun, but more work than I expected! Thankfully Diane, and several others from the Board and MHT volunteers, were on hand to help with all the details - I couldn't have done it without them and the TRACTOR! Key lesson learned - moving cross country jumps definitely requires a tractor! So, 5 hours later, Diane and I declared the course ready (see picture above)... and I raced back to the barn to polish up Katchi into a dressage horse.

Saturday morning, Kerry and I were off to play dressage queens at the VADA/NoVA dressage show at Morven Park. Now, recall that Katchi hasn't been properly turned out since January. I haven't had a dressage lesson since early December. And since January, Katchi and I have been walking and walking and walking - with only about 10-15 minutes of trot and canter each day. And there I was, warming up for Second Level Test 1 ... walking and walking and walking. And wouldn't you know it, Katchi pulled off a 60.571 on Saturday!!!! I couldn't have been more thrilled with him! We made a big mistake in the first counter canter, and 3 smaller mistakes - yet still just squeaked into the 60's. Not too shabby for an OTTB. Makes me very excited for what we will do later in the year when we actually have the right preparation!

Unfortunately, late Saturday afternoon, walking Katchi around to eat grass, we ventured a bit too close to the cross country field. And that was it. He saw those jumps. And apparently he hadn't forgotten about them on Sunday morning. When I didn't take Katchi to those jumps, he decided to bring XC to the dressage show. So, there we were, all fancy and polished, standing at the top of the hill overlooking 5 dressage rings, with Katchi threatening to do his best impression of the Lone Ranger's Silver - just what you want to see in the distance of a dressage show - a horse standing on his back legs pawing the air! Luckily, I kept his enthusiasm just in check and we made it down the hill without becoming a full spectacle. He settled down a bit after walking in the warm-up ring for an hour!!!!! And then it was into the ring... with turbo power enthusiasm. Katchi earned a 6 on his first Medium Trot (uuummm, wow! I don't think he's ever gotten above a 5 on a trot lengthening... he was covering some serious ground!). Unfortunatley, his enthusiasm got the best of him in the canter-walk-canter transitions when Katchi channelled his inner Easter Bunny and started bunny hopping across the ring. Fun. And the judge said 3. And the test said coefficient of 2. Ugh. Score sucked. Totally embarrassing. But, really, all things considered, it could have been a whole lot worse! And he pulled out quite a few 6's and even a 7 mixed in with those 3's, so it wasn't all bad!

Meanwhile, Kerry and Atticus had quite a fabulous weekend finishing out their last Training Level tests and endeavoring to take on First Level - coming home with 3 ribbons and some great scores! It was a great set-up for their Training level eventing debut at Fair Hill in just one week!

And now for the best news of the week... Katchi returned to Dr. Allen's on Wednesday for a re-check and Dr. Allen told Katchi to update his facebook status to "sound"!!!! We got permission to progress to more work, including jumping and increasing fitness work. Yeah! It's still a long road until we hit our first horse trial for 2012, but this was a huge step in the right direction! Fingers crossed that he takes well to increased work... we go back in 30 days for another re-check and hopefully approval to RUN KATCHI RUN!

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