Tuesday, July 5, 2011

South Farm Wrap Up.

I can't believe that South Farm was our FIRST event of the year!  It was also a first in many other ways as well: the  first recognized event for Kyle's little 'red head' Creative Optimism aka Margee, first Training for Forbidden aka Pip, first event for Kevin & Tintin aka Tinners since last Sept, first time Kevin braided his own horse ;o, and the first win for Kevin and Tinners at the Preliminary level!

Sarah, Chris and the whole South Farm crew did an outstanding job providing a wonderful weekend for all who attended.  The farm looked fabulous and the changes on the cross country tracks made by John Williams were well received by all.  I saw a lot of smiling faces cross the finish line on Sat. Mother Nature cooperated pretty well too.  There was a brief thunderstorm on Sat morning that improved the footing, the predicted temps in the 90's never materialized and the nasty thunder storms came overnight on Sat.

Because the forecast was for very high temps on Sat we were told on Fri that coats were waived for the weekend.  Well we got there on Sat and it was relatively cool and decided that coats were in order.  Unfortunately Kevin never packed his coat. It was quite amusing to see him in a coat that probably could have fit around him twice but barely covered his butt.  Fortunately the judge didn't seem to care. Tinners was the first of our three horses to go on Sat.  Kevin and Tinners were having a good warm up when one horse before he was to go all the riders were sent to the barns due to a thunderstorm.  The hold ended up being a half hour and Tinners thought he was done.  It was a little difficult to get him back in gear after the hold but they had steady relaxed test that needed just a little more energy and 'throughness'.  But considering this was their first competition in nearly ten months Kevin was happy with the ride and the score of 35 from judge Sally O'Connor.  It was good enough for a tie for 5th.

Forty minutes later Kevin was the first to go in the Training A riding my horse Pip.  Pip is pretty uncomplicated to ride on the flat but he definitely keeps you honest; it is always leg to the hand and he will tell on you if you go to the hand first.  Kevin managed to remember 'the rules' but Pip had to be reminded to keep coming forward and 'connected' a couple of times.  The horse is capable of a better test but all in all it was a pleasant test that earned a score of 37 which was good enough for third place.

Next up was cross country for Tinners.  Because of the wet spring and Kevin's busy school and work schedule he hasn't been able to do as much conditioning as he would have liked so the plan was not to go for time and take it easy on him.  Well no one told Tintin about the plan and he came out with a full head of steam and ended up the same way.  They skipped around the course and had a great time.  Unfortunately he pulled a shoe just before the Weldon's Wall near the end of the course which explains he was a little sticky on that one.  Thank goodness for the farrier on grounds and some good ol' Magic Cushion ;)

Pip was the next one on course and considering that he only did three Novice events with me last year and Kevin has only done the Lucinda Green clinic with him this spring he was quite good.  The goal was to get a good educational round with NO BUCKING.  At both events last year he would buck on landing in the warm up and after the first fence on course, hence Kevin moving him up instead of me.  I'm getting too old for that.  Success on both counts.  Not a single buck!!  Although he did have to take a second look at the ditch he jumped around very well and his confidence grew as he went around.  A clean round would have been nice, but all in all we were quite pleased with him.

Finally it was time for Margee (Creative Optimism) to get off the trailer. Although a little unsteadiness kept her scores lower than they could have been, she is a fabulous mover with a very elastic and naturally engaged trot, Kyle was  happy with how she behaved in the dressage ring and both canter departs were better than many I saw in the Preliminary tests.  She was a little nervous in the cross country warm up but when she got out on the course she was all business and got better and better as she went around.  No one would have ever imagined that this was her first recognized event.

Sun morning we loaded the horses back up in the trailer for show jumping.  Sometimes it's really difficult to make that 50 mile drive just to show jump, now cross country would be a much different matter.  Anyway when we got to South Farm and opened the horses' windows Margee  couldn't believe that we had gone back up to South Farm and spent the morning hanging her head on the trailer window with her lower lip hanging.

Tinners was the first to go and Kevin was well aware that the scores were really tight, but regardless of the scores and placings he really wanted to give Tintin a good ride and leave all the sticks up.  It seemed that the downhill triple right in front of the spectators was the trouble spot and that the time was rather tight.  After a good warm up Kevin did his job and gave Tinners a good ride, made tight turns where he could and opened him up a little on  the last long canter and ended up with a double clear. He was very pleases with his ride and sat back to watch the last two rides.  Kelly Sult and the Queen of Hearts found that downhill triple rather troublesome and had both the B & C elements down so that moved them up to second.  We never expected the leader Sue Hines and Corporate Crash to have a rail down and before we knew it Kevin and Tinners we atop of the leader board! You kind of feel bad for those who dropped down but then you remember all the times that you were the one to have the rail to allow others to move up and you realize that it all evens out in the end.  Sue and her other horse, Flying Four Shoes did win the other Prelim division.

Pip was the next to show jump and he was a bit tired as he had missed a couple of weeks of riding due to a kick in the stifle.  He did the same thing to Kevin that he did to me at Novice last year; he got in the ring and dropped behind the leg looking at everything.  After a few sticky fences Kevin was able to get him 'in front of his leg' and he started jumping the fences out of stride.  The ended up on a positive note looking ready to do the course again.  Although not pretty, it was a clean and educational ride.

By the time it was Margee's time for show jumping she was well rested and was even more anxious in the warm up than the day before.  She was quite relieved to get into the show jumping arena by herself with jumps that were a little more interesting.  Kyle gave her a quiet confident ride and she had a very nice clean round.  Of all three horses; Margee was the only one to finish on her dressage score.

We're looking forward to the next event.