Wow! Time completely flew by while in Aiken. The trip, though a lot of work, was definitely worth it. The sand footing makes such a huge difference. All you need in Aiken is a clear space and, voila!, you have an arena! The farm where we stayed, The Aiken Complex, had some extra amenities including a small track for conditioning and an exercise walker.
The horses are all back to their respective barns (that was quite the adventure in and of itself!) and getting ready for the spring season in Area II. I can confidently say that each horse came away a better, more educated horse after a month in Aiken. I know this blog is supposed to be about Trip and Texas, but the other horses were all so great, I thought they deserved a little time in the spotlight as well.
Mr. Indiscretion ("Trip") schooled really well while in Aiken. We were able to take lessons from Stephen Bradley and Phillip Dutton while there. I used to ride more regularly with Phillip when I had Jeffery [my old 2* horse) competing, so it was nice to catch up with him and get his opinion on Trip. It was also great to be able to stay on track with Stephen, as he's getting to know my horses rather well at this point. And it was just an added bonus to have Beth Barritt travel down for a day of lessons. We were able to compete at Pine Top Horse Trials in an Open Intermediate division. Trip still needs some fine-tuning in the dressage and stadium jumping phases, but was beyond perfect on cross-country. You can see his photos here: http://www.hoofclix.com/Pine-Top-Farm/2012-02-26-USEA-Horse-Trial/KatieWherleysittingMr/21608396_6ZFnC4#!i=1725520958&k=mbDW7qB. He'll compete next at Southern Pines II, again at Intermediate. So far, we’re right on track for Jersey Fresh in May.
Miss Texas also schooled well in her lessons with Stephen and Beth. All the hard work was showing at Sporting Days where she earned her best dressage score to date with a 32.3 ... go Texas! She showed a bit of her inexperience at the Preliminary level in stadium, but tackled cross-country like a pro. Unfortunately she had a green moment at the coffin and, in an effort to take an extra peek at the ditch, she ended up putting a foot in it, and we both hit the dirt. Thankfully we're both ok, but we'll have to go cross-country school before Southern Pines II. You can see her photos here: http://www.photostockplus.com/home.php?s=1&user_id=41021&tmpl=127&event=997603&album_id=997675. We’ll have to see how Southern Pines II goes, as we might delay Texas’ one-star debut until later in the summer or fall.
Constant Sorrow ("Connor")(owned by Lisa Warnock) probably learned the most in Aiken. He ran his first Preliminary at Sporting Days. Dressage was a good effort for the first time at this level. Stadium was just superb--he jumped clean, which is a huge accomplishment for him! Unfortunately, he didn't feel like jumping the corner on cross-country that day, but I feel that he is on his way to becoming a nice Preliminary horse for Lisa.
Don't Blink ("Luther") (owned by Mary Anne Steele) learned a lot about being an event horse while in Aiken. I also discovered just how talented this horse is, and am hoping to have him join the Rock Solid Eventing Team as one of my competition horses. Luther had a great showing at Sporting Days and finished 3rd in his Novice Horse division.
Ensign Crusher ("Wesley") (owned by Mike Hillman) had a great time in Aiken and schooled really well with Stephen and Beth. Unfortunately, Wesley coliced the last week we were there. Thanks to the vets at Performance Equine Vet Specialists and the staff at our farm, he pulled through and made a full recovery. While this forced us to scratch him from Sporting Days, I am sure he is ready to tackle this season at Training.
Toby Ciegos (owned by Suzannah Evans) came down for three weeks to prep for his first Novice at Sporting Days. Suzannah got to make a quick trip down and was able to fit in a few lessons before having to go back home. Toby was quite good at Sporting Days to finish 7th.
Gus (owned by Neil and Yenisey Yanes) is the newest racehorse that I found at Penn National. Neil and Yenisey purchased him as a re-sale project, but this horse just blew us away in Aiken, and I'm hoping to make him a part of the Rock Solid Eventing Team for a long time to come. Gus is still green, but was an absolute star while cross-country schooling. Stephen was quite impressed with him, and told me to do whatever I had to keep him in my barn. He's definitely a star in the making!
Demery Schriver's Athena, Troy George's Juliet, Jessie Eisold's Distributor, and Allison Kavey's Fun all enjoyed their time in the south, working hard prepping for their competition season or for sale.
So, if you're interested in becoming an owner, let me know! I'm working on putting together small syndicates for both Luther and Gus. And with Gus being so green, shares will only be $1,000 each with a minimal maintenance fee.