Friday, December 10, 2010

Hickory Top Update By Leslie

What a day!  We had a full house for dinner and that night Fri, but we were up by 4 am and to the barn, where grooming and saddling took place and we started loading horses! Mrs. Laurie had thankfully prepared hay nets for us. We were loaded and pulling out by 5:15 and pulled on to the grounds at 8:15. Leah and her family had gone down Fri and camped on the grounds, so Leah had an 8:36 ride time and I warmed her up.  
She rode to a clear plan and had a nice test! S. and Bill rode dressage at 8:42 and the plan was not as clear, but she posted a score. Anna and Cricket at 8:48 were both fairly tense, so they rushed, but Anna has grown up a great deal since her first test and she just kept riding! She stayed on course and kept riding an accurate test and the judge went out of her way to compliment her on her persistence and skill under pressure, and remind her that it has happened to all of us who event! 
I expected to be able to relax a bit with KC. and Dimples at 9:06. Dimples has gone down many times, always Pre-Tadpole and always quiet and dependable. As Kayce. put it later in the day, "This was her evil twin, Pimples..."  She started her dressage test and Dimples roared down centerline and steeplechased out over the arena fence. Kayce. stayed on and stopped her at the gate back to warm-up, We went back in with me jogging and coaching next to her, but reluctant to hold onto the rein. On the last 20 m circle, Dimples left my side and once again steeplechased out of the arena. Poor Kayce. was in tears but we went back and finished the test with me holding onto the rein. The judge commended her persistence and character! And teased her about being well prepared for the two jumping phases!  Eden and Folly were up at 9:12 and started a really beautiful test, nice frame, steady pace, lovely job, but as Folly passed the open area at A, she popped a shoulder and just slid neatly out of the arena...Eden circled back and resumed the test and the rest of it rode as nicely, precisely, rhythmically as the beginning, but leaving the arena is elimination. 
Chris who has been half leasing Truffle had a hard time with him on Thursday and had two falls, the second gave her a pretty big bruise so she withdrew. In eventing, if you withdraw before "Closing day" for entries, you get your entry fee back. But after Closing day the organizer gets to keep the entry. As I was not at all pleased with Truffles, I refunded the entry to Chris' mother. Also after closing day if either the horse or rider is injured and can not compete, you may substitute, so KT. took the ride on Truffle in Pre-Tad and produced a very nice dressage test.  9:54 Emi and Pan produced what may be their best dressage test ever! At 10, Brit and Comet were a little rushed in places but very adequate. 11:10 saw Abby and Wager ride a very pretty dressage test, their first time out at Beginner Novice with all three phases. 
Meanwhile, Leah set off cross country at 10:36. At Pre-Tadpole, Mable furnishes outriders to accompany competitors if they wish. Leah had an outrider, and a plan! She walked off on a good line, did short approach trots and hopped every jump, coming back to walk on a great line to the next jump! Soline and Bill had an outrider, but went a little faster, had a few challenges, and came over the last fence and handgalloped in, but stopped at the gate to the warmup area. Anna and Cricket continued to discuss things across country, but posted a score!
 Kayce was understandably a little worried about cross country, and already eliminated, so I did cross country with her with my hand on Dimples' rein and we posted a clean cross country round!  Eden unfortunately was next up behind Kayce and rode just 6 minutes later - while we were on course. She wisely opted for an outrider, but the outrider's horse pitched a fit at one point and rearing and fussing also kicked Folly and opened up her hind leg so Eden had to quit there.  Katie took Truffle, who has been difficult leaving the group to do a good cross country and Abby broke the barrier and made him last time; Katie improved his education and went clean this time!
Emi and Pan had fun across country, hand galloping rather than galloping off ( they were Special Novice and had to make 240 meters per minute). Brit was clean cross country with Comet.  Abby at Beginner Novice was our most advanced entry and got onto a wrong line across country and that eliminated them although Wager jumped even the jumps that she had worried about and did everything she asked!  She joked that he was going to trade her in!
I missed seeing much of the stadium jumping as I had entered Echo to just do a ride a test in dressage. Judge was very generous about teaching and talking but over the day she ended up running way late on arena times!  Echo gave me a better test than at Jumping Branch two weeks ago, although with my travel and the weather and Bob not feelling well he had gotten only two rides in the two it is a great tribute to a very intelligent horse!
By hearsay and a little observation, Leah rode to her plan again and was second in her division! Soline was eliminated. Anna was eliminated. Kayce did ride Dimples. Folly was still too sore to be asked. Eden ran into some really bad luck, but with three so different tests to ride in one day, eventing involves lots of preparation, which she had certainly done to a "T" and some luck, of which she had none. The tide will turn!
Katie and Truffle won their division! But Katie has a lot of riding experience and a good seat, and the experience of schooling Bill, so she was up to the job of schooling Truffle. Chris rides him well, but had her bad luck on Thursday.
Emi did not warmup adequately and a "cold" Pan is not a happy Pan...refusals resulted. Brit and Comet were clean and won their Special Novice division. I had paid for a schooling round across country and larked Echo around the jumps without a thought of a refusal, even jumping a bigger bank than had terrified him at Jumping Branch!
For Kayce and Eden it was a first time out, for Soline a kind of last minute decision. Cricket has not apparently been out much. Emi stepped up a division, Abby stepped up a division.  And my horses were selected for their role as lesson horses, not competition horses. Generally my horses do behave well enough that kids do get to get out and do so reasonably safely and have the fun of doing and learning.  I was VERY proud of the persistence and dedication. In the truck coming home conversation was "Who can I ride in May?" " I need to work on...""Will I be ready to step up?" In a world of instant gratification, these kids are planning six months ahead and settling in to work hard for long term goals. There was wonderful sportsmanship and accepting responsibility for their performances, not blaming horses or getting tempermental. There was great teamwork and pitching in to help each other all day. We compete as Team Scotsgrove, and that was very evident all day. Caitlyn and Lindsey came to help and worked hard all day as coaches, with Abby and Katie helping whenever and wherever they could around their own competition times.  I certainly could not take this many without my good helpers! And I have not had the opportunity to take a horse myself for a long time and I had a marvelous time with Echo!
Eventing began as a military teams competition to prove the skills of the couriers' horses in battle. The dressage for obedience, the cross country for speed, courage and agility across country to deliver messages to generals in battle, and the stadiumn to prove endurance, soundness, and the ability to continue in service after XC. After the cavalry was disbanded and WWII was over, men continued the sport in civilian life. Women only began eventing in the late '60's because it was "too tough", " too dangerous" for the weaker sex. I don't care how we boil it down to Pre-Tadpole, this is not really a child's game. It is an incredible job to produce three good tests in very different skills in one day.  Mable does a brilliant job of introducing things one dimension at a time - this is the best thought out, safest schooling event I've ever found! Pre- Tad there is no "Unauthorized assistance" - usually, if anyone speaks to a rider during the three tests that eliminates the rider - including "Go, Susie" on XC, because XC is timed and you're conveying that she is not making the time. But Pre-Tad, I can coach through to keep kids safe. If I touch the reins that's too far, but I can accompany without eliminating. Mable provides optional outriders for Pre tads and they are not timed.   At Tadpole, unauthorized assistance is back in play, and the outriders are gone, but they are still not timed.  Special Novice is still producing a walk/ trot dressage test, but they are timed across country - they are to make 240 meters per minute, which is a nice motivated trot! So refusals cost time, and you'd have to do a little cantering to avoid time penalties!  Beginner Novice is the most elementary level at a nationally recognized event ( as opposed to schooling events). It demands a walk/trot/canter dressage test, jumps of 2' 7" with up to 3' spreads and 350 mpm, a nice rolling canter.
We had 27 at the table at Olive Garden for our victory dinner, and it is always a victory dinner for every rider and a time for the group to relax together! After breakfast at 4 am and a long, physical day, a good dinner, even at 3:30,  is a great thing! Most of the kids came back to the barn and helped unload and clean Nick's trailer, take care of and feed horses, and while I'd said tack could wait, all tack was cleaned! Again, great teamwork and persistence - say nothing of work ethic!  Thank you all for a wonderful fun day with the best barn family in the world!