Aug 7, 2013

There is a song by Imagine Dragons called 'On top of the World' that pretty much describes my outlook at the moment. The refrain goes like this:

I'm on top of the world, 'ay
'Waiting for this for a while now,
Paying my dues to the dirt
I've been waiting to smile, 'ay
Been holding it in for awhile, 'ay
Take it with me if I can,
Been dreaming of this since a child
I'm on top of the world

We've been up in MA for exactly a month today, and it has been quite a trip. Poor Betsy fell off and broke her tail bone day three of our trip so I know she has been feeling a little low and frustrated, but Smellie and I have made great progress in this short time!

We have had a chance to work with Stephie Baer and Bobby Costello. We've done some great galloping on the terrain up here. We've had some good competition, ran around some super courses, and generally got more education and confidence. These are all the things you hope to get from a training session!

Millbrook was the culmination of it all, and Smellie was a star! I'm happy to say we are not officially qualified for the CCI2 at Fair Hill! This was the ultimate goal. We came, we saw, we conquered!

Dressage went well. Elliot was very rideable. The lateral work and counter canters are getting much stronger. I, in what seems to be becoming a habit, forgot the last movement in the test thus incurring an error. Even still, we finished with an even 40. It would have been nice to have another intermediate test in the 30s (I think I calculated it being a 39.something without the error), but serves me right for being kind of casual about learning the test. Need more practice in the large arena. Must set on up at home!

Cross country was glorious. I'm very glad we got the chance to run around another big course, especially on with a lot of terrain. We don't have many hills down south so it's good education to play up here. The intermediate course was actually causing significant trouble. The water in particular caught out a number of combinations. It was a brush log/drop in, six strides to a narrow/low beaver, two strides to a big brushed out chevron. If you didn't jump in pretty much lined up the chevron and pushing for the out, it was easy to glance off and there wasn't really a good way to get back at it, nor was there an option. I was lucky Elliot is as honest as he is because I jumped in a little too settled and he had to reach for the chevron to make it work.

The course had some other good questions too: a big, right pointed corner turning to a log, a proper coffin, and a serious slide that made me stomach drop every time I came to the edge of it on foot. The pictures do not do it justice. Think Man From Snowy River.

Elliot ran around like it was a pony trials. I still feel like we're new to the level, but I he's actually pretty educated now with four intermediates and a CIC2 under his belt.

Show jump, which is often my difficult phase, was great! I had a super warm up, and went into the ring with a lot of confidence. I had two rails because I was a little slow with rebalancing at the end of the course, but I am still extremely happy. Elliot jumped the snot out of everything, and I rode instead of just leaving it up to chance!

Bobby Costello came up to me after my round and said that Elliot was spectacular and if I can just chill out in there I would never had a rail. He's right. Elliot didn't have any rails. They were all mine. Still, I'm flattered. Bobby didn't have to say that and he certainly wasn't handing out compliments to some of the other riders he watched.

I cannot believe the month has gone by so quickly. I'm sad to be heading back to Mississippi, though it will be nice to be home and see everyone we've been missing down there. And of course there won't be much time for being sad. The next couple months are going to be full of preparing for AECs and Fair Hills. Bring it on!


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