Temecula, CA
Mar 28, 2009

Galway Downs CIC***  Yesterday Finian came out wonderfully and continued to get better and better as we warmed up.  Since I am in the Developing Riders Program, Captain Mark Phillips was coaching me which added a little extra pressure to do well.  Mark had a few little comments about how exactly to ride a movement but otherwise told me not to change a thing.  He was very pleased with the homework we have been doing.  Finian went into the ring and stayed exactly the same as he had been in warm up.  There was no tension, no rushing.  He was relaxed, obedient and pretty near perfect.  He scored solid 8’s and 9’s.  It was hands down the best test of our lives and scored a 37.2!!!!!  I couldn’t believe it when they announced the score.  We ended up in the lead by a whole two points, ahead of Amy Tryon with Leland and many other excellent horse/ rider combinations.  The most important thing was that Captain Phillips was thrilled and said he’s so excited to see what we can do with another month of training.  That was confirmation enough for me that we’re on the right track. 

Today I set out on cross country with one and only one thing in mind.  I wanted to get a qualifying score (no jumping penalties) so that we can run the CCI*** at Jersey Fresh.  I knew that I had to sacrifice my place on the leaderboard for the sake of a slower, safer trip around cross country.   As Mark said, “don’t be a hero, just go slow and get qualified.”  Anyone who knows how competitive I am knows how much maturity that decision took!  In any case, I set out steady and took several longer routes at the option fences.  I wasn’t taking any chances of a silly mistake.  Finn was running and jumping really well all through the first half of the course and just started to get a little difficult to package as we made the turn to come home.  He jumped a little awkwardly into the infield of the racetrack, and on the way out got to a little bit of a bad stride.  It was an angled jump straight into a wall of trees that required an immediate turn to the right, but as you approached it looked like you were going to jump directly into the trees.  Because I didn’t have him quite where I wanted him, he just slipped down the face of the fence and ran out.  I circled him around and jumped it, but he still didn’t understand the question and jumped awkwardly again.  I went on to the next fence, a big oxer, and had a good bold jump there.  At that point, with Finn feeling confident about his job, I pulled up and retired.  Because of our run-out we did not get our qualifying score so I saw no reason to continue running him and potentially having something bad happen to him.

We made the very long walk back to the finish without a doubt in my mind that I had made the right decision.  I was greeted with praise for looking after my horse’s well being and how well the first half of the course had gone.  I am irritated with myself that I didn’t ride that combination at the racetrack better and hopefully will never make that mistake again…doubtful, but one can hope!  I am just looking at the fact that this horse is too good to take any chances with.  He is young and has a big future in front of him so I’d rather do right by him than kick on around the course.  Mark was pleased and said to keep doing what we’re doing, and Ian Stark came up to me to say that I was sitting on a “Team Horse” for the future.  That was pretty cool to hear, and again, confirmation that we’re on the right track.  We will go home and re-evaluate Finn’s competition schedule, hopefully still getting a CCI*** in sometime soon.

I also have Kelso and Regan here in the Training level and they are both going great.  On Friday they each had good tests putting them in 2nd and 4th respectively.  Today they both jumped clean rounds in Show Jumping.  Tomorrow I will go cross country on them early and then get on the road.