Well I can't believe it is already September!! Now that the fall is upon us, my other horses who have been on vacation while I focused hard on these past few weeks with Zara will be coming out to play! But first, here is a recap of Zara's last few events.
After deciding at the last minute to re-route from doing our 6th advanced level competition at Richland in Michigan to competing in American Eventing Championships in Georgia, we prepared for a longgg trip! Luckily, Zara is a good traveler, and made the 15 hour trip without incident. She settled in wonderfully, and schooled great the next day. If you've never been to Chattahoochee Hills, it is worth the trip! The facility is incredible, and creates a top-notch atmosphere for this great competition. On dressage day, I unfortunately did not give Zara the warm up she needed to excel in the busy atmosphere. She kept her composure and confidence well through the trot work, but became unsettled in the challenging canter work. We earned an appropriate, but disappointing score to set us up at the end of the group of incredible advanced horses. The cross country was quite complex, and faced us with not just a few, but many questions that we haven't faced before. The tactful use of the terrain became an important component of many of the twisty combinations. With Sally's expert advice, Zara and I took on the cross country on Saturday with impressive power. We worked hard through the combinations, and despite a few minor mistakes, made it around clean and fast to move a big jump up in the placings. On stadium day, Zara seemed in good energy and as it turns out, had a bit too much go remaining! She was a firecracker around the complex course, bringing down three rails on the way around. We decided after this ride it is time for a change in our stadium tack to get her a bit more focused on me in the ring. We ended up placed at 14th of over 20 incredible horse and rider combinations.
The next stop on Zara's schedule was the Plantation Field Horse Trials. We had hoped to enter the CIC3*, but because of our various dressage issues, we did not have the scores we needed. Instead, we ran the advanced, still hoping to get the scores needed. On dressage day, Zara was fairly well behaved up until the last few moments of the test. Now we all know that Zara can be quite an opinionated Big Red Mare, however, this was a bit unusual. After crossing the diagonal where we were supposed to do the left to right flying change, Zara decided that in fact, she would not be changing leads, and she WOULD be leaving the arena; right there at P. Whether it was forward, backwards, or sideways, she was going OUT!! Of course, this idea didn't really fly with me, so we had a bit of a discussion there in that corner of the arena, followed by a quite disorganized extended canter, and a less than great collection, circle and halt. Luckily, her trot work was much improved, and we earned a 44.7 and were not in last, even with the poor scores from her escapade. Bad mare!!! Stadium was Friday in the hilly grass area near the stabling. The course was beautiful, but would prove challenging, as Zara tends to be stronger and a little less confident on her feet in the grass. In our new bridle setup, which I had schooled in less than I would have liked, Zara took on the course with more poise than ever before. She was very attentive and careful. We made it all the way to jump #10 before we had a rail! I didn't have her quite straight to the liverpool, leading to a slightly flat jump. My error there was also reflected in the triple combination, where we had 2 more rails, to keep us in the same standing. Saturday, the cross country footing was very well tended, and the course rode with great flow. Zara really stepped up to the plate and stayed with me the whole time around, taking every single jump in great form and distance! It was definitely one of my very best rides. We made it around with just a few time penalties to end up in 10th place.
Because we did not obtain the qualifier we hoped for at a CIC3* this year, Zara and I will be entering Fairhill at the CCI2* level again, hoping that our hard work on the dressage will shine through to improve upon our performance last year. In addition to Fairhill, I will be competing the other horses who have had some time off while Zara has been working hard. Brilliant Truth will do a training level before returning to do a couple preliminary level events before the close of the year, Aces Zoomin' Dude will be entering a few preliminary level events to determine what his plan will be for the next year. Geoni, now that he has healed from his various ottb ailments... such as getting stuck in a gate, fighting with Zoomer (poor choice) and giving himself an impressive new eyebrow on one side ... and will be beginning his recognized career at the novice level.
Baby and Zoomer will be going to Middleburg, VA this weekend to get started!