WinnieSept9.jpgTen days after the training session at Cantercall with Mike Charters, Sophie and Kye headed for Checkmate. This was the site of the ABC Pony Club Rally. The riders were assigned to teams of three and judged throughout the weekend on their horsemanship, tidiness, cleanliness, and anything else the “powers that be” could think of.

Friday evening began with each horse and rider turned out perfectly for the trot-up and vet check. Kye and Sophie sparkled. They took their turn in the vet check. Kye had developed a cough a week or so prior to the rally and, of course, he coughed in the trot up. The vet checked his lungs, listened to his heart and quizzed Sophie about the cough. The vet asked Kye’s age (eighteen) and pointed out that he has a slight heart murmur, but not to worry, “that’s typical of a horse his age.” Kye’s lungs were clear and the vet decided, “We’ll keep an eye on him.”

As the weekend progressed, the cough went from: one or two coughs during warm-up, to no cough at all. Kye’s been to a few events this summer and probably picked up “something” in his travels.

Sophie and Kye placed second in their pre-training dressage test on Saturday morning. Their clear round under the time limit in stadium Saturday afternoon moved them into first place. Sunday Kye maintained that position during “roads and track” and Cross-Country.

During Stadium, Sophie put the pointers she’d learned from Mike Charters to good use. She maintained a steady pace, didn’t speed up, took some jumps at an angle instead of straight on and was able to make tight turns. She received a “clear round” ribbon and announced, “This ribbon is very special to me because we were the only ones in our division who had a clear round with no time faults.”

During Kye’s first event (over a month ago) he did have time faults in Stadium, but not Cross-Country. Kye is barely 15.2 hands high and doesn’t have the speed of some of the taller horses. However, Bill can tell quite a story about Kye taking off on a 600 metre track ten years ago. That little Quarter Horse/Appaloosa rounded the first turn, then sunk lower. The wind generated by Kye brought tears to Bill’s eyes!

Back at that first event Bill, Sophie, her father (Allen) and I were all pleased with the result. At that point a clear round was the goal, mainly because nine years ago Bill and Kye ended their eventing “career” with refusals in both jumping phases of eventing. However, all of us realized that Kye had the dressage skills to come out of the ring with no time faults. The challenge was to bring Sophie and Kye closer together so they could stay under the time limit. The session with Mike Charters helped them cement their partnership. Mike presented the pair with one new thing after another and you could see Kye and Sophie developing their trust in each other.

The weather was perfect for the ABC Pony Club Rally. The sun shone, the temperature was just right and horses and humans felt Checkmate was Heaven on Earth. The Rally ribbons were big and plentiful. Kye’s door is ablaze with colour! And, Bill says, “If you ever want really clean tack, lend it to a Pony Clubber!”