Sunday, October 23, 2011

When it all comes together....

"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen."
-Frank Lloyd Wright

And so, the culmination of my entire competition year has come and gone, and I can't wipe the smile off my face!  Eventers always talk about the show where everything comes together....the show where your horse peaks at the perfect time.....that show that just goes right.  Well, I got to experience that at the CCI** at Fairhill International. 
My horse is amazing, to say the least.  Just over a year before our trip to Fairhill this year, he was at Viriginia Tech having emergency colic surgery for the second time in his life.  Being a poor up and coming professional, I was sure that I was going to have to put down my horse of a lifetime, just because I couldn't afford to pay for the surgery.  As with all things related to insurance, once there's an issue, it's uninsurable.  Therefore, I was looking down the nose of a huge surgery bill with no way to pay it.  Thank God for the awesome vets and surgeons at VA Tech.   They made it happen, and I will be forever grateful to them.  Between the vets and my AMAZING support team of people, we got Bug fixed, home, and paid for.  When I think back to all that my boy has been through, it makes this past weekend even more amazing!!
I also have to send a HUGE "Thank you" to Bonnie Mosser for coming all the way up to Fairhill to coach me for the weekend!  She kept me mentally straight and gave me a plan to stick to.  I am so grateful for all that she has done for me, and I'm looking forward to more!  My riding has improved so much in the short time that I've been riding with her.  She just says things the way that I need to hear them. 
So, the Clif's Notes version of the show.  It was HORRENDOUS weather for the first few days, though, I'm told it was nothing like a few years ago.  For that, I am glad.  Bug's dressage test was done in the rain with about 30 mph winds.  The weights in the tails of my coat kept hitting me in the back of the head!  Normally, this would have been just the thing Bug would have looked for to spook.  However, we both kept it together mentally and put in our best test to date!!  Yes, of course, we have tons to work on and keep improving, but I am THRILLED with how well he went.  Our score was about 12 points better than it was at Jersey in the spring.  That's quite an improvement!  This put us tied for 30th place out of 68.  I will admit...I may have done a happy dance in the stabling area when they announced my score.  My goal was to break 60, and we got a 59.2! :)

The XC course was tough.  It was definitely more of an Advanced test, and I was really excited to see how Bug would jump around it.  I knew if I kept my head on straight, and he saw the fences, we would be good.  However, I knew I needed to be as close to optimum as possible, which I have struggled with in the past.  Mud makes me a bit nervous, as I displayed at Morven, so I was anxious to see if I could pull it off.  I was number 57, so 50 some odd horses were going to run across the sloppy footing before I even got a chance.  Bonnie told me to take it a bit easy in the first field, as the footing was sloppiest there.  After I got over fence 11B, I was to gun it!  haha  Let me tell you, if I doubted that Bug could make time before, I'm certainly sticking my foot in my mouth now.  We were only 15 seconds over time on a 9 minute course!  For us, that is amazing!  I think we were 60 seconds or so over at Jersey.  I've finally figured out how to go fast and still be balanced and jump!  If the footing had been good, I have no doubt that we would have made time.  My little superstar charged around that course and ate it for breakfast.  He never batted an eyelash, just kept saying, "BRING IT ON!"  Our awesome round moved us up to 19th place! 

Returning to the barn all smiles, I realized that now, my nemesis of the year, show jumping was staring me in the face.  Yikes!  Could I pull off a good round with a huge crowd?  I tend to let my brain shut down.  Show jumping has been MY nemesis all year.  My horse is an AMAZING jumper, and he is very adjustable.  He can and will jump from ANYWHERE.  People say...what's the problem??  Well, the problem is, that makes it very hard to get your eye tuned to what's correct.  However, I knew that I had put in many hours with Bonnie, and I COULD do it.  I just had to step up my mental game and get it done.
After walking the course with Bonnie on Sunday morning, I knew it was tough, but I also knew that my horse could make it look like a child's game.  I bucked up my brain and put my big girl pants on.  Let me tell you, as I jumped the last fence, I definitely threw my fist in the air!  It was the BEST round of my LIFE!  Foot perfect.  Amazing.  I sooo wish I had it on video!  The cheer from the crowd was amazing!  The announced commented on the fact that I must be a crowd favorite, and that I was thrilled with how my horse went.  I guess he could tell because I was grinning from ear to ear. 
We finished 16th out of 68.  That isn't too shabby for Fairhill! Our entire score was still 5 points better than my dressage score at Fairhill! I am still grinning.  I love my special pony.  He is definitely my once in a lifetime horse.  I cherish him every day.  Just watching him in the field as he bosses around his pasture buddy makes me happy. 
Bonnie says to start studying the Advanced and 3 star tests, as we're going big next year!  Bug says, "I really belong at Rolex, but Advanced will do for now, I guess."  :) 

In other news, baby Renn is doing his first Preliminary this coming weekend at the Virginia Horse Trials!  Wish us luck! :)
Also, I have gotten a sponsor!!!  Snider's Elevator ( has graciously offered to sponsor myself and my ponies!  I'm so excited!  I worked there through college, and they carry a large selection of riding supplies.  Check out their website!  Sending out a big "Thank you" to them!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mud, Sweat,!

Hello, hello!

Things have been super busy since I last posted.  Bug, Renn, and I made the trip up to Morven Park last weekend.  Let's just say, I'm very glad that my mom got me a set of Frog Togs for Christmas last year, as I got to put them to good use there!  The weather was abysmal.  Cold, pouring rain, and wind were in abundance on Saturday.  Renn competed in the Open Training division A in a field of 15.  With the horrible weather and the cross country running right by his dressage arena, I was worried that Renn might be less than attentive.  However, I must say, he was very strong, but he was willing and listening for the most part.  He ended up with a 35.9 which put him in a 4 way tie for 5th place.  The weather only got worse as his jumping phases were upon us.  I am soooo proud of my boy for the way he went in the horrendous conditions.  He jumped double clear around a tough show jumping course and went on to put in another double clear in the XC around a tough course with very slippery footing.  Baby stallion ended up 4th in that huge division that included a lot of big names!!  After talking with Bonnie, we have decided that Renn has earned his way to a move up to Preliminary at the Virginia Horse Trials!!  Yay!!
Bug was in the Open Intermediate A division with a field of 16.  He put in his best dressage test to date in the indoor arena with a 39.6!  We finally broke 40!  That was even with an accidental flying change.  He was quiet and relaxed.  What we really lacked was brilliance in the trot for better scores.  I was THRILLED with him.  All of the hard work that we've been doing with Bonnie is paying off!  He went on to jump a double clear round in the show jumping.  The footing had gotten even worse by the time that we went, and Bug felt it was neccessary to overjump everything by 3', so I was a bit discombobulated, and I didn't ride as well as I would have liked.  There were some great fences, and there were some not so great fences. 
Bug's XC was on Sunday, and the rain had let up some, but the footing was still horrendous.  The weather was very cold, though the wind wasn't as bad.  I decided upon walking the course that I wouldn't be trying to make time.  The footing was horrible, and with it being so close to Fairhill, I didn't want to risk him.  During the warmup, Bug was jumping huge, and upon jumping a big warmup rolltop, he landed hard and got his feet stuck in the mud.  We almost had a tumble.  I think it rattled both of us, as we just weren't ourselves out on course.  I wasn't going forward enough to the fences, and Bug was being extra careful in the mud.  He was all about adding the stride. 
We ended up in 7th place in the division, which made me really happy.  We made it around, and even though there are still things to work on, I feel like we're making progress. 
Fairhill is upon us, and we leave on Tuesday at 5 am!  The jog up is on Wednesday, and the dressage fun begins on Thursday.  We won't find out any of our times until after the first jog. 
I hope people will come out to watch us!!! 

I will try to keep everyone updated as much as possible at Fairhill.
All thoughts and prayers are much appreciated! :)