Enschede, Netherlands 
Oct 15, 2010

Competition is well underway and I have lots to be happy about.  Yesterday dressage got off to a dismal start with the judges giving stingy scores throughout most of the day.  Michael Jung (recently crowned world champion) got a blistering score of 37.8, but otherwise marks were being withheld even for those riders that usually have a bit of “star power” added to their score.  I guess in the Netherlands, you’d better be the world champion if you want to have any clout.  Mark Todd, William Fox Pitt… who are they?  Doug and Will rode yesterday and both had good, correct tests, without too much brilliance, but also no mistakes.  Doug was given a very harshly judged 62.6 which put him in 76th, and Will got a 57 for 51st place.  I didn’t get to watch Will’s test so I can’t say for sure, but the trend of the day was all test’s being about 10 points too high in the scores.

Finian has been getting closer and closer to show ring ready with each ride and we’ve been trying to put all the pieces into place without actually tipping the first domino.  Yesterday I had a good dressage lesson with Mark and I felt pretty good that I hadn’t used up all the good stuff in practice but that he was ready to pull it out when we went in the ring.  Today I had a pre-sunrise ride with Mark just getting all the slow, long and stretching part of my warm up out of the way so that when I brought him out for my test at 11:00 we could go straight to work.  In a strange way that can only be because Finn understands the meaning of “It’s Showtime”, he came out for our second warm up with a completely different posture all together.  He felt super through everything and I was finally confident that I had the horse I wanted for going into the ring.  When we did enter the grandstand for our test, he was relatively good about all the surroundings, but still he got a little tense.  When I picked up the canter to enter the ring however, he got to work and produced a typically lovely test.  I once again lost him in the halt, rein-back movement which is an irritating few scores to throw away, but most of the test was very good and the judges agreed.  We got a 46.2 which put us into 6th place out of 107 horses.

After my ride I walked the course again with Mark which was especially nice because he just walked along and watched which lines I was planning to ride and how I was planning to make my turns.  Often he walked behind me, pulling me slightly right or left to the perfect line.  It was really great to have such specific guidance about every aspect of the course, not just how to jump the jumps.  Sinead rode this afternoon and again I was not able to watch her test but she got a 55.4 for 39th place.  I believe she was pretty disappointed about her test, although she said she learned a lot about her horse and how to prepare him for a big competition next time.  With mine and her scores added in, our team moved up into 3rd place out of 11 teams.  Germany is in 1st and we’re only 1 point behind the Netherlands in 2nd

This evening I took Finn out for a little gallop and to jump a few jumps and he was perfectly fresh and yet still attentive.  I couldn’t have asked for more… other than it maybe not have been pouring rain.  Tomorrow I have a later ride time, going at 2:00, so I will have most of the day to watch how the course is riding and see where the footing is deep, slick, or otherwise troublesome.  Hopefully none of that will be too much of a problem.

It’s past my bed time and the others are all asleep already, so that’s all for tonight.