Well the allergies are starting to hit and cobwebs have been dusted off the dreaded torture machine in the basement (elliptical machine). SPRING is coming and the let down time of winter is over. Time to get myself and my horses back into work.
This time of year is the hardest for me. It is still dark and cold outside when I get up to ride and dark and cold when I get home from work at night. It is very hard to get motivated. So to help put the fear of God into me and get my behind in gear, I helped co-organize a series of clinics here in Unionville, PA with one of the Kings of eventing--Jimmy Wofford.
Jimmy, being ever so kind (yes I can be a kiss a$$), agreed to help me with my youngster during the lunch break of the clinic so that has been my motivation in the dark hours of the mornings to get two horses ridden..well, most mornings.
My young horse Prince (aka Muggle) was started under saddle last summer and spent most of the fall hacking through the country side in lovely Chester County, Pennsylvania. After his win at the FEH championships in October, Prince had some down time during Nov/Dec. and spent his energy growing one of the hairiest coats I've ever seen. To see his pictures in the Eventing Magazine and then look at him the barn, it was hard to believe that it was the same horse. He would have made a yak jealous with his coat. In mid January, he was clipped for the first time (very uneventful) and started back into work.
Before meeting the King (Jimmy), Prince had played over a couple little fences two or three times. Enough times for me to know that there is some talent here and that I wanted Jimmy's advice before I ran into trouble! So I begged Jimmy to fit him in instead of eating lunch at our clinics on Feb 27 and March 6. After watching us, Jimmy agreed that I was right to ride him in the mini lesson and to seek his help at this time. Not sure if that means he thinks Prince has talent or that I might screw him up - probably means both!
Our two lessons were not a high jump contest by any means. Even at this stage of his training, there is obviously a lot of scope and power with Prince; but he needs to learn where his legs are and his footwork first so that we have hope of harnessing that power. Being young and big (about 17 hands and 4 years old), I do not want to be pounding on his legs. But Prince likes a challenge and Jimmy's lessons challenged his brain not his body. In both lessons, we worked up to jumping from a SLOW trot over a placing pole, 9' to a small vertical, 18' to another vertical, 19' to another vertical. Prince made some mistakes as he sorted out how to fit his body and one stride in the little grid but he didn't make the same mistake twice. He was very bold, willing and improved with each lesson, which is the most I can expect from him at this point (I can't wait to see what he is doing after some consistent work!).
Turning to the fences and getting straight was probably the hardest thing for the two of us. At one point, Jimmy stepped slightly in front of the first vertical to help us from drifting to the right. Prince stepped over the placing pole and almost stopped as he turned his head to look directly at Jimmy (clearly not focusing on the jump right in front of him). Not afraid of Jimmy, Prince obviously wanted to check him out and see if he had any cookies in his pocket. (No, Prince is not spoiled..not at all. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). Once he realized that he wasn't getting a quick cookie, he turned his attention back to the jumps and stepped right over them without missing a beat. At the end of each lesson, I could feel Prince saying, "Man, Jim, that is a lot to think about!" Jimmy asked if Prince was as much of a character as he appeared to be and the resounding answer from all who know him: YES! I'm so looking forward to what Prince does to express his character at shows! I suspect there will be some fun on his part at my expense!
All indications are that Prince is a nice youngster with potential. We are hoping to do the 4 year old YEH class at Waredaca HT end of May if we are ready. But watch out, Prince says he hopes to become a King someday - just not sure King of what yet. If you see us at events, Prince says to come say "hi" and requests that you bring cookies (or peppermints).
The West Coast's sole CCI4*-L will take place this weekend at the Galway Downs International Event in Temecula, California, kicking off this afternoon with the first horse inspection for the FEI levels. The only other CCI4*-L in the United States will be held in two weeks at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina.
Top 10-ranked U.S. eventers are among the 420 entries for the Galway Downs International starting Thursday in the heart of Southern California's Temecula wine country.
Last week, young horses on the West Coast took their turn in The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California. This week, attention moves to the East Coast, where the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Virginia will host The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships over two days - Wednesday, October 28 and Thursday, October 29.
This week's USEA Podcast is about all things Galway! The Galway Downs International Event is taking place this weekend starting on Wednesday, October 28 with the first horse inspection for the FEI levels. Nicole Brown is joined on the show by Galway Downs's cross-country course designer Clayton Fredericks for a chat about what riders can expect at Galway this weekend before she and Diarm Byrne of Equiratings discuss which pairs to watch this weekend.