Dec4colllage.jpgOn August 30 and 31 Kye and Sophie were near Belleville for the Ontario Horse Trials Association Championships (OHTA) at Canterdown. The event started with dressage. Kye did his usual good job, but this time he wasn’t placed in the top four, he was sixteenth. Kye took this news in stride, but his entourage was bewildered. Bill phoned home with the news. I reminded him, “You can tell his fan club that ten years ago when Kye and you were competing, little ole Kye would be first or second following dressage, test after test after test. Then, WHAMO!!! he was twentieth. That’s the world of a subjective sport. If you don’t like it, don’t compete in it. The good news is: we have a video of his test. We can study that and work to improve the next outing.”

Kye moved up to tenth place after the cross country. His dedicated followers were pleased. But, the rapid ascent did not continue during stadium. Almost every horse had a clean round. Kye finished the competition receiving the pale blue tenth place ribbon. The previous year Sophie’s horse, Blue, had scored high on the leader board throughout the summer. However, Blue had a disappointing performance at the 2007 championships. It took the much beloved Kye to get Sophie a ribbon at that prestigious event!

The fan club made sure Kye knew he was the best horse in the world, sighed, loaded him on the trailer and sent him home.

Next on the agenda (in mid-September) was Sophie’s C-2 Pony Club test. Kye’s job was to help her out with the horsey part. The dressage riding component called for leg yielding and riding without stirrups. A few weeks before the Pony Club test, Lynda Southam was scheduled to judge a test riding clinic at Winsong Farm. Sophie signed up and sent Lynda the Pony Club test. Lynda contacted the District Commissioner in her area for feedback on the movements. When the clinic rolled around Lynda was able to school Sophie and Kye to perfection. For the leg yield Lynda pointed out that “you don’t have to start it from the centre line. You can go from the quarterline to the wall.” Next she asked, “Which gait would you like to perform the leg yield in?” Sophie smiled and replied, “I’d like to ride the leg yield at the trot.”

Lynda said, “Good choice. It’s much easier to get a good leg yield at the trot than it is at the walk.”

At the ‘no stirrups’ section Lynda pointed out, “Whenever a rider goes without stirrups, the proper procedure is to cross the stirrups in front of the pommel. This test doesn’t tell you to do that. I asked the District Commissioner in my region what was the correct thing for the rider to do. He said that at the halt (which precedes the ‘no stirrups’) the rider should cross the stirrups in front of the pommel, then perform the required movements. My advice to you is to talk with the Pony Club official at the C-2 test and discuss this point before you ride.”

The day that Sophie was preparing to take Kye to the BIG TEST her father said, “You’re not going to believe this. Kye won some more stuff. We got a phone call last night. At the OTHA Championships there’s a Young Rider division. Sophie and Kye were the bronze medalists in the pre-training individual category. And, there was another award. The riders in each division were arbitrarily put into groups of three. The combined scores were added. Each member of Kye and Sophie’s pre-training team received a cooler and a gold medal. Yes, they were first!”

On that high note Sophie and Kye began yet another successful weekend. Sophie passed the C-2 test. Kye’s dressage test was a gem. His leg yielding superb. The cross country jumping was poetry in motion. Too bad there was that training session over the bounce which grew. The first few times he was asked to go over the three cavaleti he was a perfect gentleman. When the judges added the fourth tiny jump, a button was pushed in Kye’s brain. Perhaps he had a ‘Viet Nam flashback’. Obviously something deep in his past taught him that four small jumps taken in a row was impossible to do. He refused. Sophie quieted him and approached the jumps again. He refused. This went on and on. Finally the 15.1 Quarter Horse/Appaloosa did what he was asked to do. Whew!!! The judges scored Sophie well because of her ability to get Kye bouncing.

One final accolade wrapped up the 2008 season. Kye won the pre-training Central Ontario Region Pony Club Rally Award. The ABC Rally results are combined with the best score obtained at the same level during the same year.

So what’s Kye up to these snowy days? He’s preparing for the Working Equitation Clinic. The biggest challenge is THE GATE. When Bill returned from his ride last night he said, “Kye is much improved. He actually almost let me open and close the gate. Of course the first time I asked, he backed up the length of the arena…” It’ll be interesting to see what he does this Sunday during the obstacle portion of the Working Equitation Clinic.