Monday, September 26, 2011

GAIG Region 2 Championships

The beautiful thing about attending a Regional Championship is the opportunity to watch some of the best trainers in the area compete their best horses, and witness the stellar riding and development from the warm-up to the show ring.  I always find it fascinating to observe people like George Williams, Jochen Hippenstiel, Kathy Priest, and others start the horses in the warm up and see how each progresses as they prepare to go in the ring.  To have the ability to see the "system" they employ and how it develops to competition level is very valuable in one's own skill set.  I should say that this also carries over to several AA I watched, as well as coaching by trainers such as Charlotte Bayley-Schindelholz, who I had the pleasure to work with over the course of the weekend.

Mary and I were lucky enough to have two horses with us; Buenos Noches (aka Goodman) competing at Fourth Level owned by Angela Hambrick, and Tsjesse owned by Marian Shaughnessy competing in the Prix St. George.  I really owe both of these ladies a huge heartfelt thank you, as they have been long time supporters of mine, and have given me the opportunity to ride fabulous horses.  They constantly help me add to my training arsenal through sending their horses to clinics with me, training in Aiken, and the countless other things that make competing on a regular basis possible.  Thank you for being stewards of the sport!

Goodman did a good test on Thursday in the 4th 3, garnering himself a 5th place in the Majestic Farm Championship, and then an even better test on Fri to earn a 7th place finish in the Region Final.  The class on Friday was extremely competetive, with just 4.25 points seperating first to seventh.  I am so proud of this little horse who has overcome so many obstacles and is becoming a true blue competitor.  He had his game face on the whole weekend and never gave a spook or startle in the show ring, and was very rideable.  We unfortunately had technical difficulties with our video camera, so I should have a video of his final ride posting soon from "Another Point of View" the videographer once I get the disk.  We did post some cute pictures of him being very proud during the awards ceremony to Facebook.

Tsjesse, despite some shoeing problems, was also very competitive, finishing fourth and fifth on the first two days, and then a respectable 11th in the final.  I must give a big thank you to Charlotte, who helped me develop the horse through the weekend, enabling us to put in our best test on Sunday.  Unfortunately I was a bit late in asking for the first change in the line of fours, and subsequently had two counting mistakes due to bad timing.  We nailed our threes though, and had we not had the previous mistake, probably would have been in the ribbons in a super tough class of 19 top professionals. 

While I would have liked to finish in the top five on both horses, I am going home with a good sense of where to go in our training so that we come out closer to the top.  Mary and I had a great time watching and hanging out with our friends Cindy Bank (Reserve CH Training Level), Marlene Knopsnider (Champion AA I1), Jennifer Kick, Holly & Jeff Taylor, and Jamie Gunyula, who had top finishes with their horses as well. 

This picture was taken by Mary... As I was coming out of the indoor, this little one was carrying her stuffed horse and with big eyes told me "Congratulations, I like your horse!"  It was so sweet I asked her if she would like to pat Tsjesse.  With huge eyes and a wider smile she reached up and gently touched his shoulder.  She stepped back and said, "I have a horse shoe at home from a Clydedale that's almost as big as his."  It was so cute, and made me think of when I was a little girl.
So now its a little vacation for the dressage boys, and time to switch gears as we have two horse trials left for the event horses, and also need to start firming up our plans in Aiken.  Off to do some trot sets, jump schools, and set our sights on the Maryland at Loch Moy HT the second weekend in October, hopefully giving these eventers a good last couple runs of the season! Until then....

Aiken anyone?