Monday, April 11, 2011

Chatt Hills updates!

Writing this while in the RV on the way home, so I apologize in advance for any lack of making sense or spelling errors. Kinda getting thrown around currently, haha.
Chatt Hills is one of the most gorgeous facilities in the country. We got permanent stabling and everything was an easy walk from the stabling area, even the camper spots. There are so many things to like about this event, from the amazingly good footing (it’s basically shredded carpet) to the brand new state of the art facilities to the well organized show itself. We never had a problem with the officials, we were always aware of what was going on thanks to the announcer who could be heard clearly everywhere on the show grounds, and the weather was picture perfect (if a bit muggy from the location near the river). We had a super weekend, I’ll write a brief recap for each horse rather than doing it by day 

Monkee: Monkee did the Intermediate this weekend. On Friday, he was asked to participate in a judge’s seminar (performing movements from the Intermediate tests). He was quite nervous during the session (he’s not a start/stop kind of horse, he likes to keep moving and working) but I felt the judges gave some helpful hints for relaxing him and we went back to the barn hoping this would only aid him in his real test on Saturday morning. It seemed to. Monkee was a little tight going into the arena but once he settled into his test, he was workmanlike and I felt it was a very, very nice test for him. His canter lengthening were beautiful, his halts were perfectly square and immobile, he was obedient and correct in most of his trot work, and his walk was lovely and swinging. He ended up with a 40.8, a fair score.
After a brief break it was cross-country time. When the big horse runs xc, everyone holds their breath until he comes home safe and sound. The course was fairly doable with a few tight questions (like a bounce right on top of a steep hill three strides to another fence on an angle). I was back at the barn getting Gup ready but from what Hayley said, he ATE it up. He was a total machine and had a clear round AND made the time. He was a little beat afterwards, as this was quite a hilly course and we really don’t have hills at home so it was a little challenging for their fitness levels this early in the season. He got a nice bath, wrapped and poulticed, and was all set for show jumping on Sunday. The course looked big but nothing like what he mastered at SP II. He warmed up BEAUTIFULLY and went in the ring calm and relaxed. Jumped super, had one unlucky rail in the triple, and…drum roll please…WON! So proud of him! He was so good all weekend and really rocked it. We won an easter basket full of goodies (monetary and culinary). So proud of the little man!

Guppy: Gup had a less than stellar dressage…he has this thing about the letters in the dressage ring, in that they fry his little guppy mind. (No pun intended). He’s the kind of horse who should win the dressage every time, but little spooks and goof-offs sometimes prevent that. He was a monster on cross-country, even encouraging C to say “Well, he’s definitely ready to move up [to Prelim]!” Again, the course was tiring and it showed on Sunday when he did his stadium. The warm-up couldn’t have been better, even getting a “Wow, that’s a really nice horse!” from Peter Gray, a high compliment indeed. He went into the ring and had two rails, mostly because he was jumping flat and lackluster. He was so tired afterwards that I literally had to drag him to get his bath, so he will be getting a lot more fitness work before Longleaf in 2 weeks!

Ardy: The big horse once again proved that he’s the real deal. The dressage was MUCH better than before, very little resistance on his part and he got a good enough score to be in the top 8 after dressage. Cross-country (his favorite phase, naturally) went well, he attacked every jump on course and finished up wondering where the REAL fences were. He’s got such a natural talent for jumping that Training level is way too easy for him…so once he gets his dressage skills a bit more honed, he’ll be moving up. Stadium was like watching the Grand Prix horses go on TV…he was dead on to every fence and just made it look SO easy. He came home with a 6th place ribbon and lots of cookies and pats. Such a fun and exciting horse to be around. His future is looking so bright 

Flaggles: We are SO very proud of Flaggles. He had an incredible dressage test (32) that put him in 3rd place. He rock and rolled on cross-country, his weakest phase, going clean and within the time. He was quite proud of himself and didn’t show how tired he was until after his bath. He was pooped. Sunday morning his legs looked fantastic and he went and jumped a double clean in stadium…and ended up WINNING his novice division! He is just such a neat horse and so much fun to watch show jump. He takes each fence as a personal challenge and really gives it his full effort. He wasn’t even close to touching any rails and we got another easter basket to enjoy!

Val: The little horse drew a lot of looks this weekend, and he was pretty darn good for his very first Novice. He was a bit of a dweeb in dressage…he had a lovely warm-up and then decided to kill his forward gear right before he went in the ring. C rode him very well and they ended up not having any major mistakes but the test just wasn’t forward and through enough. He was brilliant on cross-country, having a few good rubs before he realized these jumps were a bit bigger than BN and then he clocked around. C’s comments coming home were that he was a “tough little guy, I’ll give him that”. His stadium was pretty good, C tried to ride him in a more forward stride and it backfired a bit in the double, he had the 2nd element down, but other than that was clean and brave. He ended up just out of the ribbons in 8th. Not bad for his first Novice, and he’ll go again at Longleaf.

And in addition to all THAT excitement, I discovered on Friday that a horse I used to work with at Churchill was competing. After some expert stalking I found that he was not only stabled RIGHT behind us, but being ridden by one of C’s friends. I didn’t get to see Vilas go all weekend but he ended up 6th in Open Training and looked great just in the stall. SUCH a special horse. I talked to his rider and he said he adores him, and thinks he’ll be a very nice upper level horse one day. It just made me smile ear to ear to see him all grown up and kicking butt. I hope we’ll run into each other at future events, but I’ll definitely be following him from now on. I always knew he’d be a rockstar event horse, and I’m so thrilled that he has the chance.

Also got to see Theodore Al Coda, the famous Theodore O’Connor’s little brother, and meet his rider, Mary Bess. What a cute little booger he is. Looks a lot like Teddy, 14.2hh, huge mover and had clean xc and stadiums rounds. Mary Bess said she has his little brother too, and that both ponies are joys to ride and train. I loved seeing Coda go and can’t wait to see him in the future as he progresses.
All in all, a fabulous weekend at a fabulous venue. I am so blessed to get to travel with these amazing horses and people and see parts of the East Coast that I’d otherwise never see. Now back to my day job, and 2 weeks til Longleaf!
God Bless,

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