I’ve gotten a chance to do some fun horsey things too. In October, my friends Julie, Susan, Diane and I traveled to Elkton, Maryland to spectate at Fair Hill International CCI ** and CCI***. I grew up in Northern Delaware, only a few miles from Fair Hill, so watching the event has been a tradition for me even though I’m not an eventer. My friends on the other hand, are all eventers. They competed in a starter trial at Fair Hill in the fall, although they had never been to the three star competition. We had a great time. I saw the event from a new perspective this year having learned much more about eventing after supporting my friends at their competitions. I even jump judged at the Marlborough Horse Trials this year. I also found myself studying the “questions” on the course more strategically this year, thinking about and comparing the tracks and striding chosen over the obstacles by each rider. I’m pretty sure that this was from Holly’s influence on my riding. We watched the cross country and the stadium jumping. My respect for the triathletes of the equine world was renewed watching these horses. Their versatility, conditioning, and boldness is remarkable. The cross country and stadium courses were demanding and nearly everyone made mistakes in one or both stages. There were some gasps from the crowd in stadium when a couple of horses bungled the “in jump” of combinations and struggled to make the “out.” It was impressive to watch the horses and riders extricate themselves from these sticky situations. The phrase “getting it done” comes to mind. While the audience was holding it’s collective breath, the riders kept on riding, stayed on and got away. They typically did this with only four jump faults for the debacle, even though the jump was demolished. Although the cross country courses for the two star and three star looked challenging and two or three riders came off in the two star, nobody got seriously hurt this year, which was great. In the end Boyd Martin won the three star for the second time on Ying Yang Yo. Boyd Martin trains out of Philip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm in West Grove, PA which is near Fair Hill. He and Dutton are local heroes of sorts. Martin, a member of the US Equestrian Team, recently suffered a personal and professional tragedy when 6 of 11 horses residing in his barn were killed in a massive fire. It was great to witness another career high for Martin on his home turf.
Also at Fair Hill, there were Shetland pony races as well as a championship Pony Club games rally, which were almost as exciting as the advanced eventing! After having some wine, a few of my friends took great pleasure in harassing the cute Irish Dubarry rep. It was great fun for us (not sure about for him). At least in the end one of them bought some boots.
A week later, we also hosted our first in barn show of the season at Woodbury Equestrian Center in Leonardtown, Maryland. We are hosting a winter series of three schooling shows this year complete with end of year prizes. We worked very hard to paint and repair all of the jumps prior to the show. Our barn owner, Ricky, worked tirelessly to improve the footing in our outdoor ring. The ring and courses looked great and the show was a great success. We hope that it continues to grow in size.
Patrick and I competed successfully in the 2’6” hunter and equitation divisions and then Julie took him in a couple of 3’ rounds. He was on all day. He missed maybe three spots out of about 50 jumps for the day and got down the lines every time. He was great and showed his butt off.
The only issue we had was when the costume class entered the ring. I was holding Patrick at the rail as horses marched in dressed as a panda, a giraffe, and a carousel horse, to name a few. Patrick watched with interest. The trouble started when my friend Diane’s horse, Lincoln, entered the ring dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Let me paint the picture for you; 17h paint draft cross with a 3’ top hat, a beard and a blanket bearing the presidential seal, while being led by a woman dressed as a secret service agent as the audience hummed “Hail to the Chief.”
This was all a bit much for Patrick. His heart started beating so hard that I could see it pounding through his chest. I had to take him 100’ away and try to distract him while the class finished up. He managed not to panic, but he was very concerned and pranced in circles uncharacteristically. I am so glad I didn’t try to dress him up as a Leprechaun or something. He probably could have caused quite a scene in the class!
This past weekend, Diane, Julie, Julie’s sister, Kate, and I went on a trail ride. Julie and Diane insisted that we “go fast.” So it was agreed that Diane would ride Patrick who is somewhat green for out-of-ring activities while I rode her confirmed eventer/fox hunter Lincoln (of costume class fame). Julie rode a training project, and a former fox hunter was borrowed for Kate, who hadn’t been on a horse in a while. Kate and I noticed, once we got going, that we had both been strapped into protective vests, placed on reliable “granny horses” and give “the big bits.” I had Mr. Pelham while she had Mr. Gag. Touché.