Sep 17, 2014

Texas, Here We Come!

Cindy DePorter and Drop the Buck preparing for the ATC in a lesson with Holly Hudspeth. Photo courtesy of DePorter.

Cindy DePorter fit all the pieces together to make it possible to take her horse, Drop the Buck, to the USEA Adult Team Championship in September. DePorter is the Co-Chair of the USEA Adult Riders’ Committee, and while she plays a big role in making the ATC happen for adult riders across the country, she decided to take part in the fun for herself this year.

The time is drawing nigh, as the old saying goes. In just a few days I will hit the road with my traveling mate to head to the USEA Adult Team Championships in Tyler, Texas! My teammate Adele “Sugar” Baker and I will intersect our paths at a designated location near I-85 (USEA President Diane Pitts suggested the southern route to Tyler), so I will stop and get her on Tuesday night. We will drive through the night and hopefully get into Tyler midday Wednesday!

Buck and I have had an interesting preparation for the ATCs. We used one of my favorite events, the Five Points Horse Trials at the Carolina Horse Park, as a preparatory event for Texas. Dressage went well; a 38 put us in third place. It would probably have been higher but the silly horse bucked through his medium canter. He was on the muscle! Show Jumping was tough and we dropped one cheap rail, but the majority of the division had a rail too so I stayed in third place.

Cross-country had a lot of big questions but Buck and I were rocking and rolling along. We came down to the coffin and I just didn’t sit up and ride. You actually have to have some pace to jump (a novel concept!) and he just quietly stopped. I gave him a smack, turned around and he said, “Oh, you wanted me to jump it?” Yeah silly, I did.

He had been jumping great until that point and eating up the course, but it taught me not to take anything on course for granted. He had an old abscess blow two weeks prior and I really think that contributed to the stop at the first element of the coffin as it was downhill and a little hard. But it was a good wake-up call and he will be soaked and re-soaked. The blacksmith is taking a look to cover all my bases.

The weather at Five Points was brutal - in the upper nineties with the most oppressive humidity I have ever dealt with. By the end of each, ride my clothes were dripping as was the horse, and I had been deliberately riding in the heat in order to acclimate us both. We are ready for Texas heat!

Last week for conditioning I did four trot sets with five minute walk intervals, and this week I’ll do 25 minutes straight of trotting on Friday before we ship, which should tighten him down. I have upped his grain to 4.5 pounds two times a day with all the hay and grass he wants.

My trainer Holly Hudspeth has been working our butts off and it did pay off at Five Points. Our stadium was really fab-o. We have been doing bending lines, roll backs (these seem to be the “thing” this year), liver pools, long gallops to big oxers, one stride in-and-outs, two stride in-and-outs and big oxers off of turns. Marc Donovan, one of my favorite course designers, had covered all the bases that I mentioned; his first two turns were roll backs, and he ended with two more roll backs! I took all the short routes as Holly planned, it was like driving a sports car! GO BUCK!

For cross-country, we have schooled drops into water, sunken roads, oxers, gallops and related distances. Holly’s preparation is fabulous and Buck and I are lucky to have her! The second drop we jumped on cross-country [at Five Points], he just bounded off and we both felt the line and the distance to the big mushroom jump. I looked and he went! YEHAW Buck! It was just so sweet! We will have at least one more jump school before we ship and I have to officiate a couple of times before I head to the ATC, so Holly is going to ride him some for me while I am gone. Personally I am now trying to run at least four days a week instead of three as I need to up own fitness, so that would put me up to at least six miles a week!

Are the ATCs just another horse show? Hell no! They are the championships and I intend to go down and be as competitive as possible! This week served as a reminder that I better have my game on. Buck always does but I have to really ride him to step up and do the job! I hate that I didn’t ride that coffin better but it reminded me that I can’t just sit up there and hope he jumps. So the pressure is on for us to do the job and not let my teammates down! Watch out Texas, here we come!

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