Construction on the new farm has begun. So far we have planted a single tree (baby steps)! and put in a driveway culvert. Tomorrow the first run-in shed will be installed (temporary hay barn), and the fields are getting hayed at the end of the week!
Finn and I had a wonderful dressage lesson with Cynthia Sera two weekends ago, which ended on us doing some beautiful lengthenings and a little counter-canter. His flat work keeps improving dramatically each ride and I can't believe I finally have a horse that I LOVE to do dressage on. He's missing a shoe right now and it's killing me that I can't ride him because I am so excited about him.
Finn also made his show debut at in the 2'3"-2'6" and 2'6"-2'9" NWAHJA jumper classes. My intention was just to get him off the property and see how he would do in a full course with a little bit of show atmosphere. He was much more forward and excited than he is at home, but bravely jumped everything on all of his courses. Although we had a lot of green moments, he still placed well and we came home with a lot of ribbons! I think he's definitely ready to run the beginner novice at Heritage Park at the end of October :)
Stromboli has been improving, but most importantly he seems very relaxed and very happy. He's been so calm and good that I let my 8-year old sister who has never done more than a pony ride sit on him today, and she was quickly riding him all by herself practicing steering and doing "whoas"! I couldn't have been more proud of both of them, although I think my Dad is going to kill me for infecting his other daughter with the horse bug!
Stromboli and I headed to Ocala to get in some off-season training with Jonathan Holling and stay with my old friend from middle/high school & Coursebrook Farm, Heather Maytham.
The first weekend I was there, I rode Stromboli in the Rocking Horse schooling show and decided to do one Training level dressage test and two stadium rounds --one at 3'3" and one at 3'6". Stromboli warmed up for dressage much more calmly than usual, but fell apart in the ring and we had a very disappointing test scoring a 43. I had to remind myself that just a couple months earlier, a 43 would have been considered a big relief, and Stromboli really has made huge strides in his flat work.
We then had a really nice and steady 3'3" stadium round and despite a hold for a massive storm, returned to the ring for our 3'6" round and managed to make it even better!
On this trip we were able to accomplish more than I thought was possible and Jon helped me really raise the bar on my riding to a whole new level. Stromboli is enjoying a few days off and I can't wait to get back on him and start practicing for the next event.
Anna and I made the long trek to Baird, Texas (near Abilene) for the Corona Del Sol Horse Trials. We have re-named this event Corona de la Lluvia, as it never stopped raining the entire time. It was quite strange to get in the truck that morning at home in the mountains and get out of the truck later that afternoon surrounded by cacti, Texas themed XC fences, and scrub-brush.
Despite the calm and fun atmosphere, Stromboli went into full-scale dressage melt-down before his test and turned into a monster-truck doing power-slide donuts. I was determined to persevere through his tension, and with a routine of ride, lunge, ride, lunge, ride, break (hose off, de-mud), and ultimately entering the dressage ring with only a walking second-ride warm-up, we actually put in one of our best tests yet. Sadly, the dressage judge did not agree, and we received a 42.9, putting us in last place (although only 10 points from first!). Thought I was disappointed with the score, I actually was quite proud of him for being able to get through the initial tension, and I know a score in the low 40's is vastly preferable to the 50's we have received in the past. We had some really strong trot work with good lengthenings, but still haven't quite nailed the left lead canter transition and the stretching trot and walk movements.
Comanche also put in a very improved dressage test to earn a 42.
The weather made for some slick conditions in all 3-phases, especially show jumping which was run in increasing levels (Starter --> PT) creating some sticky Texas sludge by the time Stromboli had to do his course. Anna and Comanche had a nice double-clear round and quickly headed out onto the XC course.
Due to the really bad warm-up conditions, I elected to only jump Stromboli over three fences and mostly just walk on the dirt-road before stadium. The reins were slipping through my hands badly and I entered the stadium ring just praying to make it through the course without a lost shoe or injury. Stromboli really pulled out his best behavior and was WONDERFUL! We had a slip before fence 7 and tapped the rail down, but I have no doubt he easily would have been able to pull out a nice double clear in some better conditions. Ultimately no one in my division was able to manage a double clear and we moved up to 6th going into XC.
I'll let the photos speak for themselves, but Corona Del Sol had a course that was definitely unlike anything we have done before. One of the most challenging and fun fences was a skinny upright gate with two strides to a down-bank. We also had a water-complex with A-B-C elements, a skinny Texas flag fence combination to an up-bank, and a variety of maxed out tables. I came through the finish flags with 20+ seconds to spare and a huge cheesy grin on my face. The course felt like logs on the ground and Stromboli had energy and scope to spare the entire time. Our double-clear XC trip moved us up to third place, qualifying for the Area V Training Championships!
Stops and time were also plentiful in Anna and Comanche's BN division, and though they had a run-out at fence 2 for 20 penalties, they still ended the weekend in 6th place! The weather was really bad, but this was a very fun event with some super nice people!
Stromboli and I attended Holly Hill Horse Trials in Benton, LA on April 19-20. Somehow he was switched with a horse that looks a lot like him, but is very lazy, slow, and heavy in the dressage ring.
He came out like a raging dragon for XC and we finished well under the optimum time and barely breathing hard. Lack of fitness definitely is not an issue at this point! We also accidently may have put one stride in one of the two stride combinations....oops! I left XC almost mad at myself for being so nervous and maybe chasing him around a bit, when he has clearly proved that he is an absolute XC machine. After this run, I feel like I definitely have an UL prospect on my hands --but I have to learn to ride him better and get control of my nerves.
Overall, we placed 8th and yet again added one pesky rail to our dressage score of 41. Stromboli does not want to touch the rails normally, but if I pull him at the base of the fence, he may hang a back leg. I'm determined to not make this mistake again.
We have a lot to work on this summer and I plan on doing plenty of dressage and jumper schooling shows to really up our game in these phases.
Adventures eventing as a semi-pro in the mid-south.