Yesterday Charly and I arrived home from the long journey to the lovely Lamplight Equestrian center in Wayne, Illinois. This is the site of the 2007 AEC’s, and for anyone thinking of going, spectator or rider, I highly suggest it. Fabulous footing, excellent show management and beautiful fences on both the cross country and show jump courses.

This show was Charly’s second Intermediate run and it was held under international guidelines (therefore called a CIC **); here are some of the differences…

*In barn inspection on Wed or Thursday to check the horses passports and make sure that we brought the correct horse
*Internationally designed dressage test, mandatorily held in a large dressage court and top hat and tails required. (Double bridle still optional)
*Longer cross country course and generally more difficult questions asked than a regular horse trials Intermediate
*Veterinary inspection after cross country to check TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration)
*Trot ups in front of a ground jury on Sunday morning to check for soundness

Charly’s two star division consisted of 26 competitors; competing against the master himself Mr. Bruce Davidson (on two horses), Sara Dierks (a top US competitor), Heather Morris, Allison Springer and many other “big” names.

Just as I was about to get on Charly for his dressage warm-up I heard that there was a long hold in my dressage arena. Word got to me that a horse from my good friends barn (Gold Chip Stables) had an aneurism in the court (apparently reared up backed over the railing and died instantly upon landing). This may be the most horrific news, the only good part of the story is that the girl riding (even though pinned under the horse) was able to walk away physically un-hurt. Although I’m sure mentally devastated. The delay ended up not being all that long and Charly’s warm-up went really well. However things were a bit confusing for the gate steward and I got sent over a whole horse ahead of my time, therefore having to walk Charly back and forth in between hundreds of spectators for a whole 7 minutes! Charly doesn’t get nervous like you would see of that of a TB BUT he really likes to compete and he gets all puffed up like a stallion and very light on his toes, I definitely could not get him to stand for the seven minutes but he was a decently good boy walking back and forth! Then I entered the white fenced arena with the big grandstand on one side and flowers laid out everywhere and he (on his own) threw out the biggest extended trot I have ever sat on, I luckily got him back before the corner where he proceeded to spook at the flowers (becoming his signature mark before going into the dressage ring); after that he was all business. Charly performed very well; this test called for shoulders in, travers in, medium trot, collected canter, counter canter, simple change of lead (through walk), rein-back, extended walk, and a canter halt. For his level of training, he was great; I made the mistake of practicing the counter canter to a simple change in the warm-up and he anticipated them in the ring on both sides (coming down to the walk a few letters early on both leads); this was obviously given a very low mark by both judges. It was still a test that had me smiling the whole time and we walked out to a loud section of cheering…Charly and I were both very proud. The test put us in seventh place 3 points away from second.

The cross country course was fabulous. It gave you four big good gallop fences to start with before asking any questions (this is a plus for Charly as he has lately been leaving the box on a mission of going somewhere in a big hurry!) The path was often marked with white ropes as there were so many spectators that they needed to be kept off of the galloping lanes. Charly was absolutely phenomenal, the bigger fences and all the spectators didn’t cause him any stress, it was a truely exciting ride. Him and I have one problem area, turning questions that start with a big table. He jumps so big over the table and lands ready for a gallop…this was our jump 4AB, a maximum sized square table 4 turning strides to a corner. Let’s just say I had to represent to the corner of which he jumped great, and that we’ll be doing some practice with this at home! After this Charly and I were completely together as a team; the water jump was a highlight of the course, it had a log max drop into the water to an up bank with a bounce to a jump out…it jumped so perfectly it felt like a gymnastic grid. We also had two bounce up-banks that jumped great which was a huge relief to me as up-banks were our other nemesis. Luckily that one seems to be behind us now 🙂 Just before the last water complex Charly and I were flagged to a stop, I have never been held on course before but I was assuming that this must be what was happening as all my jumps seemed to have been going great…So thus the bittersweet story of Charly’s weekend . After the bounce banks we turned to the left and jumped a hedge immediately followed by a “blind” turn to a corner, there was also the Intermediate hedge (which was the exact same fence but just placed to the left of ours; I landed from the up banks saw my line to the hedge and corner and never thought twice, the line jumped perfectly… problem is I looked too soon and saw the first hedge, the Intermediate hedge NOT the two star hedge so therefore I had jumped the wrong fence.

The next day was especially hard when I walked to 2 star show jumping course to see what we would have been doing. Words can’t describe how amazing that arena was; it gave you the feeling of walking into a big grand prix ring each fence was completely decorated with it’s own theme and I KNOW that Charly would have just done a great job in there! Errrrrr.

Looking ahead I know what we need to improve upon in each of the phases and I have 3 weeks to work on all of that before our next competition. Charly jogged up sound and happy on Sunday morning and shipped home safely. Next destination… Millbrook, New York August 9-12th…