Monday, July 22, 2013

Champagne Run Horse Trials

***This post is a report from the 2013 Champagne Run Horse Trials (July 12-14) at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, attended by Katharine, Moxie's Social Media Director, and her super pony, Tristan. The competed in Senior Training Rider A and finished with a penalty score of 54.8 and a 7th place ribbon.***

It's very important to keep a show horse fit between venues, however Mother Nature conspired against us the three weeks prior to Champagne Run. This led to some very creative workouts; walking and trotting on the blacktop roads around the barn, walking on trails as much as the mud allowed, and one evening even a quick spin around the gravel circle driveway during a 10 minute span between thunderstorms. We did have the opportunity to take a dressage lesson with the renowned dressage instructor and Aussie, Ilse Schwarz as she visited Cross Creek Farm in Columbus, NC, the weekend before the show. Ilse was absolutely wonderful, and really helped me manage my fine tuning and worked through Tristan's amazing array of tricks that he uses to avoid actually working the correct muscles. She got us working very well together, and my goal the last week of show prep was to maintain that feeling all the way to Lexington.

Ilse working her magic on Tristan becoming light in the bridle.

This show allowed for a more relaxed feel at the beginning; my dressage time wasn't until 1:46 pm on Friday with Stadium following at 4:20 pm. We arrived at the showgrounds Thursday evening with plenty of time to settle Tristan in and go for a nice relaxing hack around the dressage rings. We managed to get a wider stable aisle this show which was really nice. My mom came prepared with an awesome weekend set-up complete with; 12x12 tent, crock pot to cook lunches, and coolers full of water, Gatorade and chocolate milk!

Horse show moms (and boyfriends) are the best!
Friday started out as a very casual show morning, compared to waking up at 4:30 am to make sure everything is ready to go for an 8:00 am ride time. We arrived at the Park around 8:00 am to feed and take Tristan for a nice morning walk and hand graze. Next was braiding and last minute grooming to make sure he was spic and span. Then waiting. Lots of waiting for 1:45.

Getting our Kentucky Bluegrass fix!
Dressage time finally came and we headed to our warm up. Tristan wanted to be a little snarky with me when we got started, but thanks to Ilse's lesson, I had several tricks up my sleeve. Tristan wants to be heavy? Time for medium trot! Tristan wants to be against the bridle and fighting? Time to go sideways. We really had things together by about 10 minutes before our ride. Then he started getting hyper. Tristan is so fit, tiring him out in warm up is no longer an option. We headed in for our test a couple degrees hotter than I would like, fortunately for us judges find his gaits more appealing when he has a little extra gas in the tank. We ended up scoring fairly well with a 36.8. It would have been much better if not for our giraffe impression at the right-lead canter depart. (I'm thinking about petitioning the removal of that part of the test if anyone wants to join me!)

Not too shabby.
A quick two and a half hour break between phases was just enough to find out we were in 2nd Place in our division (wow!) and cleaning tack before warming up for Stadium. The course was beautiful and colorful in true Champagne Run style. We had a fairly good round, but gained one uncharacteristic rail in a one-stride combination. However, we still managed to hang onto our placing as we entered into the final phase.

Jumping beautifully at Fence #8

Cross Country day turned out to be pleasant and breezy with a slight threat of storms that managed to hold off for most of the day. The advantage of the slightly cooler weather was that it really revives the horses before they gallop off among the rolling hill of the Kentucky Horse Park. Our Training course was fairly difficult, even for someone comfortable at the level. The fences started up very small, and then suddenly became very large and wide with some tricky combinations including a rolltop to a drop, a ramped sunken road, and some maxed out wide ramps in a dark hollow. Tristan warmed up beautifully and had plenty of energy to spare as we headed to the start box!

A nice stair step at #15

The out of our half-coffin at #17
We jumped the entire course clear, using my new gallop-trot-crop-gallop method for difficult fences, but unfortunately wracked up 14 time faults because I was so busy having fun running around the course, I forgot to keep track of time! As a rider, I was slightly nervous about some of the jumps, but Tristan proved to me, yet again, that he has nerves of steel and lives to jump! For your viewing pleasure, my lovely boyfriend Nathan uploaded a helmet camera video compiled with RNS Videomedia's footage of the event to offer two viewpoints on YouTube!

We ended the show with a 54.8, a purple ribbon, sound horse, healthy rider, and 3 of 4 qualifying rounds towards moving up to Prelim! To top all that great news off, Eventing Nation, the top blog for all things eventing featured my video as their Monday video! All great things! Tristan is back to enjoying some vacation time following the show with about six weeks before our next events. I'm so glad to be able to spend this amazing time with my incredible pony, my dedicated show team (mom, boyfriend and dog are possibly the best cheering squad ever), amazing coaches, and of course the support of my family at Moxie!