Kalispell, MT
Jul 23, 2010
Today was dressage day for me with both Finian and McCool, and though the week so far has been anything but going to plan, we managed to make it through our tests with minimal collateral damage.

Since Monday I’ve been working to get the horses settled in, rested up, and ready to compete.  Unfortunately, that is not the program they’ve been on.  Finian has been outdoing himself with high strung, ultra naughty, antics and not showing much intent to come back down to earth.  I’ve been riding two or three times a day, with at least one of them being a gallop, and we’ve been spending more time spinning, bucking, and bolting than we’ve spent going the direction I requested.  McCool is far too gentlemanly to pull any of Finian’s tricks, but he’s been just as high and tense and hardly dressage ring ready.  He too has been going out two times a day to try to take the edge off and it didn’t seem to be making a dent in either of them.  I on the other hand, feel like I’ve expended the last twitch of every last muscle fiber in my body from trying to outdo them, and could use about a week just to get rid of this rag doll feeling.  In any case, I guess the horses traveled well and are feeling fit which is always a good start to an event.

When McCool came out to warm up he was completely wired by the fact that the lower levels were running cross country at the same time and right outside the arena we were trying to warm up in.  It didn’t start off well, and it definitely didn’t get any better.  Somehow, when we went in the competition arena with every bit as much tension and nervousness as in warm up, we managed a very good, mistake free, test.  I wasn’t able to push for any of the brilliance I know he can have, but on this day, I believe a correct and accurate test was a huge accomplishment.  He was good enough for 1st with a 49.6 which I’m thrilled with, since moments earlier I would have said forget it!

Finian put on his work hat today (Finally!!!!) and came out beautifully both this morning and again when I came out to warm up.  He was certainly not lazy or super relaxed, but he was there to do his job in his usual brilliant fashion.  I went into the competition ring very happy with him and he didn’t let me down.  His trot work I thought was his best yet with more strength and movement than I’ve ever gotten and his canter was very good except for two bobbles.  He ended up in 4th behind Karen O’Connor, Mara Dean, and Phillip Dutton with a 49.2.  He is very well placed in an impressive field of horses and riders that make up some of the best in America presently.  I really can’t complain since just yesterday I couldn’t get from point A to B without at least two explosive detours.

The cross country courses are challenging but look do-able and there is lots of nice room to gallop along.  I’m hoping to get the horses to settle in early and be rideable.  In Finian’s case, that was our undoing last year so I have a clear feeling of how I want to right our wrongs this time out.  McCool should be well up to the task if I can get him to settle in to his job early enough in the course.  We’re all hoping the predictions of 90* humidity holds off as it has yesterday and today, especially with the 3* horses going around 12:00. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but for today at least, a week’s worth of work has seemed to pay off.

More news tomorrow…