Oh, California! This winter has been unlike any other I remember ever eventing, and the start to the 2019 season has been VERY WET. My usually perfect indoor is half full of wet footing and water, and I feel like everything I own is covered in mud. The grass is so green all my older horses who live at home are on grazing time restrictions, and the beautiful place I am lucky to call home has experienced horrific flooding, unlike anything the area has seen in over 20 years. Lucky for me, my gallop hill is on footing which gets better with massive amounts of rain. It is on the side of a hill with a gravel base, so I can keep going with my fitness goals as the season continues, rain or shine.
I’ve done a few jumper shows to start the year, putting my Big Becky Grant to valuable use, in addition to riding in two events. I was able to get a good first cross-country in at the Intermediate level before scratching due to an incredible amount of rain at Fresno County Horse Park because I felt the show jumping footing would be a risk for Chatwin’s best interests and those are always my priority.
This past weekend I was able to get back to the Advanced level for the first time since Fair Hill, and we were fortunate that the organizers changed the schedule to accommodate everyone, making it possible for us to get the event in before yet another storm. After training sessions all week with US Team Coach Erik Duvander, I was able to squeeze out a few more points in the dressage phase to earn our lowest score to date on the flat. I feel like Erik wants to know each horse and rider in the program and I have the utmost respect for that. The exciting part is that I am confident we still have a lot of work to do in all three phases and that we can continue to get better. This is also the overwhelming part, so I try to focus on working as hard as I can in each moment, each day I am at the barn, with the goal of continuing to get better looming always.
This week I got back to work with my dressage coach Lilo Fore, and Chatwin hit the water treadmill in addition to his gallops with the heart of the season right around the corner. It amazes me every year how I feel like the season is just starting, and before you know it, it is time for shows that require the utmost focus and hard work.
In just a couple of weeks, it will be time to head South to train with Tamie Smith, who I affectionately have come to refer to as my Miyagi (for those of you Karate Kid fans out there) and get ready for our first FEI competition of 2019 at Galway Downs. Until then I will be working hard with Chatwin each morning, catching up as much as possible on work, and enjoying every minute with my boys (which includes, of course, my kids, husband, and favorite old Advanced Horse Fric Frac, who also luckily for me lives at my house with Chatwin).
With just one horse, I am working this year with a personal trainer who specializes in equestrians, trying to get as strong as I can physically to help my horse as much as I can. It is very different working out in general and working out with riding specifically in mind. I can now be found daily with workout bands around my legs at least once a day and sometimes also while on a horse around my wrists helping to engage my leg and core. Getting better is hard, I will say that, but it is nice to start seeing how the added strength I am gaining is helping me be a bit more able physically in the saddle to help my horse be the best we can together.
Here is hoping that at some point soon Mother Nature finally feels like we have had enough rain in Northern California and we can get back to some fun in the saddle.
Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels. You can access this guide by logging into your online services account.
I’m not one for the spotlight. As the voice of the Association, you don’t need to know my personal views, political, eventing, or otherwise. So despite my byline appearing on thousands of articles on the USEA website and magazine, this is probably only the second time I’m writing about myself (the first was about my love for lessons, and reading it now makes me laugh as I am still 100% addicted). But as I am now just a USEA member I thought I would share a bit of my journey to add to our member spotlight series, Now on Course.
You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.
US Equestrian is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, from July 1-2, 2022. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello.