Monday, March 28, 2011

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

I want to start this by extending my deepest condolences to everyone close to Mandar and Dekorum, eventing lost two great horses this weekend...
This weekend Blazer and I went to one of my all time favorite events, Southern Pines. Mondays after an event normally bring reflection for me. Reflection of the good and the bad and the looking forward to what is next. This week I had a six hour drive home to Virginia from Southern Pines to reflect on more than just a weekend but the last four years.

This winter Blazer has felt sounder and fitter than ever before. He had two confident outings at Prelim and I thought that our problems at Young Riders had been summed up to an unfortunate bad weekend. We entered the Intermediate at Southern Pines with a strong partnership and great confidence. On Saturday we warmed up great for cross country and then set off on course. When we reached the sunken road at fence 7 Blazer made it clear to me that his heart is just not in it enough for the Intermediate level anymore. I made the tough decision to retire and walk home from there.

I'm pretty sure every rider has taken the long walk home before. Whether it be from an elimination, a fall, a retirement, or a finished upsetting round. We've all been there and probably shed a few tears along the way, even if we make sure they're out of sight from everyone around. This weekend my long walk home didn't bring me tears of disappointment or anger. My long walk home brought the end of a chapter and tears for the great partner I will miss. I have a great relationship and trust in my horse and I have to trust my feeling of what Blazer is trying to tell me.
While I drove home Sunday I thought back to four years ago when I tried Blazer in Courtney Cooper's ring in Pennsylvania. I remember the smile I couldn't keep off my face when I asked for the canter or first jumped him. I knew that day there was no question about it I had to have that horse. Over the past four years he has taught me more than I could ever imagine. He taught me how to ride, how to handle stress, how to handle upsets, how to be gracious for good times, he taught me to be who I am now.
Five years ago if you told me I would have won the CCI* at Young Riders and placed 6th at the Jersey Fresh CCI** I would have laughed and not thought any more of it. Blazer has given me more than I could have ever imagined I would accomplish in life. Like the title of this post, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” This weekend brought the end of my story with Blazer. While we didn't come off the course crossing the finish line we came off the course with a happy ending. I could not have asked for a better partner to have over the last four years and I know he will be happy with a lower level retirement.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pine Top

I know I'm a bit delayed but better late than never, right?
Pine Top was a great weekend all around.  I haven't seen my parents in over two months now and my dad drove down for the weekend. Saturday we loaded up and headed to Georgia for my dressage and show jumping. 
My dressage test wasn't until 3:15 so we had all the time in the world to get prepped. Blazer's warm up went well and he seemed to peak right where I wanted him about 10 minutes before I went to the ring. Unfortunately once I have him where I want him it's hard to get that back if I let him take a break so we had to keep ourselves busy for that time. When it was finally our turn to go in the ring he seemed a little tired (it was about 10 degrees warmer than it had been lately and Blazer is not a fan of warm weather). Going around the ring I kept thinking to myself, ok whatever you do remember stretch your leg down and don't let your reins get long!!! (These are two things that I have been working very hard to improve). I came out of the ring feeling I had a relaxed and consistent test. However, I know that there could have been a little more energy and ease in our movements. I guess the judge didn't agree with me because we received a 25.2! After watching my videos and looking at the pictures I was proud that I kept my reins a consistent length throughout the test, I just wish they had been about 4 inches shorter so my hands weren't in my lap, but one thing at a time and for now we've accomplished a consistent connection.
Show jumping was next and after a very long wait (due to some very poor organizing and communication on ride times). All prelim riders were given a show jump time of 3:00 which led to many horses having to wait for an unreasonable amount of time tacked up (because you couldn't put your number in if they didn't see the horse and tack). But anyway once I was on Blazer and warmed up he felt great. The weather had cooled down as the sun started to set so the wait worked in our favor. Blazer went in the ring and put in a great round. Things are really starting to come back together for us and things really fell into place on the cross country course Sunday. We came in one second under optimum and finished in first.
It's a great feeling to have my horse back. I think the best advice that Jenn has given me through this whole thing is to just go back to what I know and go back to having fun with my horse. Blazer has had all the work he needs done and I feel like he's feeling happier and fitter than ever. So far this season is looking good. Next up in Southern Pines, where we'll move back up to Intermediate and then it's back to Virginia!