After a great weekend in North Carolina at the gorgeous “Fork” facility I am home in Maryland and re-capping some of the great moments I had this last winter. It was wonderful for me to once again have a barn of horses in training, something I realize that I had really missed while I was earning my keep as an exercise rider at the track. I wouldn’t give back any of the time I’ve spent with the racehorses; I feel like that has helped me in so many ways as a rider. However, I am excited to push forward and once again have an event horse and rider training and selling operation. I think having multiple horses to jump and compete really hones your skills and helps you become much more at ease on course.
Over the winter I was fortunate enough to work with Boyd and Silva Martin who are both fantastic riders. Watching them compete and school horses has been very beneficial for me. I think it’s important to place yourself around riders and programs that you believe in and that will encourage you to strive for better out of yourself. I was also around Phillip Dutton and his program a substantial amount and am just amazed at the amount of product this business produces in such a short time; I definitely have high regards to Phillip and all that he has created.
I was also part of the developing riders program which I firmly believe helped me raise my standards to a whole new level. Captain Mark Phillips has trained many of America’s best riders and I am very proud to be one of his current pupils. Whenever under Mark’s guidance I felt not only the need to be great but the ability to find that path… Mark is a great coach and gives you the tools you need to find your way. This program is also great as it is helping those of us out that are on our way to the top instead of just the current team members being recognized. The Aiken Horse has some good articles and pictures of the developing riders, you can find them online at www.theaikenhorse.com
Facility and support groups- definite must haves. Peter Barry built a lovely facility in Aiken that gave the horses true comfort which I think was vital to Charly’s happiness! Peter also employs a fabulous rider/manager (Colleen) who was great to be around and work with day in and day out. Yoga yoga yoga. I definitely need to find a yoga facility and get onto a program here in Baltimore! It’s amazing how you can take body awareness in a workout class and apply it to yourself while you are on a horse, I’m a total fan.
My last weekend down south was spent at The Fork with Charly competing in the Advanced division. I had a great warm up and really felt ready to go in an ride a powerful and accurate test; we achieved this at the trot scoring mainly 8’s with a nine and a seven and then had not as great of canter work… All in all I still thought this was our best advanced test to date (only the third one) and we scored a 32 with change which put us tied for 5th place out of a challenging field of great combinations. The cross country was designed by Mark Phillips and had nearly all the same combinations on it as the three star, which made it a challenging course for Charly and I. Having said that I took three long routes, incurring some time faults but had the greatest feeling on course having a brave and honest true advanced competitor. Charly came off of the course really well and on Sunday morning put in a super show jumping round. The show jump course had been proving a difficult one to make the time and keep all the rails up; it was the first time on a show jump course that I really trusted Charly to send him really forward on the open sides knowing he’d come back in time to make a tight turn to a huge fence. It was thrilling to say the least! We ended up in 6th place behind famous pairs such as Stephen Bradly and Brandenburg’s Joshua and Phillip Dutton with Connaught. I still can’t believe I was in the same class as these super stars!