We went to Rocking Horse 3 last weekend with Zephyr in the prelim one day on Friday, then Benny in the novice and Chesterlands Jersey Girl (aka Jersey Girl) doing her first event ever (beginner novice) on the weekend.
It was such a treat to compete Zephyr again. He and I are old friends thanks to his wonderful owner Kelly Damp, who allows me to compete him when she can’t. I was pleased with our dressage. He can sometimes be a bit keen especially the first show of the year. He was super obedient, perhaps even a little lazy towards the end due to the hot weather. We did stumble briefly cantering through the corner right before our counter canter loop (grass ring), which caused us to break to trot for a step or two but he recovered well and didn’t let it effect the next movement.
Show jumping was so fun. Zephyr makes me feel like I can ride and it’s a wonderful feeling! He was absolutely foot perfect. The last line was a triple combo seven bending strides to a Swedish oxer. I had watched many of the intermediate horses do it and the seven stride looked fine. It walked a little short but because I could bend the line to make room I wasn’t worried. We were a little strong landing off the triple and as Jimmy Wofford says “You’re landing three strides are you deciding three strides?” Therefore we ended up VERY tight to the base of the Swedish and Zephyr rocked back and jumped it clear with a great effort. GOOD BOY Mr. Z!!
Cross country was a blast as always with Zephyr the jumping machine. Having said that my eye was terrible and I couldn’t see a distance to save my soul. Poor Zephyr. I would gallop him towards the fence not seeing anything, panic the last few strides and tug, tug, tug until the poor guy was underneath it. Luckily he is a phenomenal cross country horse and he would pop up into the air like a jack in the box. I did ride the sunken road well but that was about it until the last fence when I finally saw a nice take off spot out of stride. I apologized to him the whole way around the course. Only having babies and Woody makes it hard for me to keep my eye in at speed. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. We finished up fourth with a few time faults xc.
Benny did dressage and show jumping on Saturday, then xc on Sunday. See his dressage video below.
Our dressage was much lighter on the forehand and forward. However Benny’s little spook came into play again. It was a 20×60 ring made into a 20×40 so there were little concrete platforms around the outside edge where the letters R,S,V,P would normally be. Trust Benny to notice them and shy inwards during his test. Once he did it and swapped leads in our left canter circle. I pulled him up picked up left canter and rode him quite a bit stronger. By the time we were done he finished up well with a square halt. I made sure to walk him very close to the outside edge of the ring on the way out to make my point. Benny didn’t care anymore. He was over it. I needn’t have bothered. Sigh! Still there is potential we were sxsth after dressage even with the spook so the rest was pretty good.
Show jumping he was SO MUCH better than at Three Lakes. He had a great canter rhythm and we stayed organized throughout our clear round. The first few fences he jumped a little unorthodox but his style was very impressive as the course continued. Some of his pictures are beautiful.
Cross country was better too despite a run out left at fence #3 coming out of the woods. It caused trouble all day as it was at an awkward angle begging for a left hand run out coming out of the shade of the woods. It was a box filled with loose hay with a log on top so big enough and early on in the course. I didn’t tap him with the whip and just circled around and presented straight he hopped right over. He was REALLY good round the rest of the course including the water and coffin. Too bad about our blip because we would have placed well without it.
Jersey Girl did dressage on Saturday and both jumping phases on Sunday. See the video below.
She is Miss Perfection for everything we’ve ever asked her to do. We walked over to the dressage rings and the loud speaker was blaring out over the warm up. JG lifted her head tilting it and looking around with her pretty eyes looking quite surprised. She could not figure out where the super loud voice was coming from. Luckily our ring was further away from the speaker so we headed over to warm up. She was excellent! When I circled at the bottom of the ring waiting for the bell she also noticed the concrete platforms for the missing letters. So I halted her next to one and tapped her with the dressage whip and said “No jersey Girl, no you do not spook at those!” I swear she said “Ok Selena sorry no problem I won’t.” and away she went into the ring to do a fantastic test to place second after dressage.
Show jumping was where the speaker was the loudest blaring out directly into the ring. JG has never been to a show before of any kind so the small ring with all its decorations, brightly colored jumps and this incredibly loud voice coming from above was a lot to take in. I walked her around the outside of the ring while people where jumping so she could see other horses going. I went into the ring before the other horse came out so she knew it was horse safe. I walked her between two jumps with hanging plants on the standards blowing in the wind and one of them was a wall jump. She was very suspicious but with a little encouragement from my voice and leg she squeaked through the gap. The buzzer that starts you startled her a little as we preparing for the first fence which was a purple oxer with planks and rails. She came cantering around to it and slowed and slowed and slowed till we were almost in halt. Here is where “If in doubt kick and shout” comes into play. No I didn’t shout but I kicked and tapped and clucked my little heart out till she hopped. Sadly we bumped the back rail of the oxer on landing to knock it down but who cares we were on our way! She had a good look at fence #2 (a blue and red gate) but jumped it. I just kept telling her she was a good girl on landings. We broke to trot for fence #3 (the wall jump) but other then that I think we cantered the rest and she finished up strong and confident.
Cross country she was a super star. Relaxed and taking it all in we went out of the box peaked a little at the first two fences and then we were on a roll. She pranced right into the water with great confidence and popped over the ditch without hesitation. I couldn’t be happier with her. We finished up fifth. Jersey Girl is a big kid now (did I mention she’s not even 5yrs old yet). What a horse❤🐴🏆
Last but most important on my list for this event was Ann Heuckendorff or her own Louis (aka Alouette) in the novice division. This pair came to me for the first time this winter in Ocala. I know Ann well enough, as we are both from Ontario and have many of the same friends but I had never taught her before. Louis has some experience at the prelim level with a former rider but has been Ann’s mount for about four years. He lost his confidence a bit last year when Ann was unknowingly quite ill and competing him here in Florida. If you know Ann you will understand how she could be ill and not believe it or submit to it. However it did effect her breathing very badly and therefore she couldn’t help Louis around the whole xc course at the training level Rocking Horse 2017. They have been repairing the issues with my good friend Frankie back in Ontario all last summer.
So Louis and Ann have done three shows so far this year and had parted ways in all three. The last of three being Rocking Horse 2, where they were tied for first and Louis jumped so damn big into the water he unseated her which was a heartbreaker considering how well they were going. We fixed that problem by getting her a super cross country saddle from Voltaire design. Therefore Rocking Horse 3 was a happy ending! This lady is so dedicated, hard working, persevering and all with an incredibly positive mental attitude and huge smile on her face she’s right up there with my teammate Jessica Phoenix.😍
Louis is a gorgeous, talented scopey, gentle giant but he doesn’t do much for free. I told Ann she will be a super well rounded rider by the time she’s learned everything she can from this one. 😉 Their performance has improved vastly over the short time we’ve had together due to her hard work and determination. They now are in the top two after dressage each time out with a beautiful double clear show jumping all we had to do was get around xc. Ann tried a different approach to fence #3 (the one Benny and I ran out at) and still had trouble there. It was the bogie fence of the day. However she circled around kicked his butt and away they went to ROCK around the rest of the course making it look easy. I jumped up and down and cheered and was so proud of them as they galloped through the finish line. I know this pair will go on to do great things and more importantly have mega fun in the upcoming competitions wherever they go.