Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Fair Hill Experience

I've been fortunate enough to have good luck at Fair Hill, it's courses are always well designed and a true test for the level. So as you would expect I was looking forward to this week.

Where to begin...

I had initially planned to leave mid day Tuesday to make it to FHI with enough time to complete the in-barn inspections before the vets left for the evening. I had some unexpected developments at the barn that made my departure less than timely. I then found out out that the vets would be leaving shortly after 6pm. I decided to leave very early Wednesday morning. The plan was to leave just after 4:30 am to get to FHI, complete the in-barn inspections with enough time to drive down to the BWI airport and pick up Steph who was helping us out this weekend.

This plan worked reasonably well, aside from the fact it forced me to wake up in the 3's. I hate that. I arrived without trouble, got the horses done and picked up Steph returning by 1. This left us just enough time to get ready for the Jogs scheduled to start at 3. Not to get into every minute detail of the day, but I don't think Trev is a detail, it was not missed by anyone here this weekend that he is minute. Even the Chronicle of the Horse commented on it for Sunday's Jog's, Chronicle Jog Photos

Being that the two big (or 1 big, 1 small) horses, RO (owned by Patti Springsteen) and Trevor (owned by Jess, Joan and Carl Hampf) were in the 3* I was placed at either end of the order. I was indifferent as to who should be first, Trevor ended up being the first of mine to go, 2nd out, and RO was just a few before the end.

I figured that this was good in that Trevor has a lot of expereince, but our partnership is about 4 weeks young. Having jumped him a handful of times you just don't know what to expect 100% of the time, adding to the apprehension. Of course I know RO much, much better, but he is greener and less predictable when it comes to new combinations or jump complexes. I was just about as indifferent as you can get as to who should go first.

Dressage for Trevor was thoroughly underwhelming. I felt as if we made great strides at Morven, and I was hoping to build on them. It didn't happen for this weekend. There were parts that had improved, but overall he was fussing and just generally not consistent. Running Order in contrast had his best test to date. He finished tied for 8th just a few points back with a 47. We were dumped on by the rain.

Chronicle of the Horse - Lisa Slade

XC was next. Due to the rain, Trevor had a distinct advantage. He was 2nd out on course and would have the best ground anyone would see all day. The only downside, being 2nd out you don't have any feedback on the course. You don't have opportunity to see what lines etc work best. Trevor jumped great, we finished up with a bit of time but clean! He recovered very quickly, and was dragging Steph back to the barn.

Running Order was next up. He couldn't have had a better round. Granted there were a few spots where I could have been more aggressive with my line etc, but he jumped great. I think it's finally all falling into place. He finished up very strong. In hindsight, I could have probably started off at a slightly stronger pace. But as Bruce Davidson told me this morning, better to have started off too conservatively that to have gone out to fast returning with nothing in the tank or worse yet on the floor after a fall. I spoke to him for a while about relative fitness between here and Kentucky. He figures due to the conditions they'd be on par. Great news!

Both horses jogged up well and felt great Sunday morning. Trevor was first to jump, his video is below. He jumped great, twice I couldn't get the right lead! You'd think that shouldn't be a problem at this point, Trevor was convinced it wasn't one. I did have one rail down, it was totally my fault. I sent him on the far green oxer and didn't re-organize quick enough for the natural combination. Such is life, it's an easy problem to fix, so next time...

Running Order was last to jump of mine in the 3*. He jumped well, we did have the 3rd fence down. I'm still not sure exactly why. For whatever reason, it came down. He finished the rest of the course strong and clean. We ended in 6th place in the CCI***. Running Order was also asked to stick around for the USET vet evaluations. This was done for several of the top finishers, it allows the team to track the soundness of all of the potential team horses. RO couldn't have looked better, our exam couldn't have lasted longer than 10 mins!

Chronicle of the Horse - Lisa Slade
As with anything to get better you just need to be out there doing whatever skill it is you're looking to improve. It was a great help to have Trevor along with RO this weekend. The dressage wasn't what I'd hoped, but his jumping was excellent. Jess has done a great job bring him along, I just got to enjoy the ride this weekend! I did have the helmet cam on for Trev's XC. Hopefully I'll be able to get it up tomorrow. My computer is quite slow processing the 1080p footage, but I can tell you it's pretty damn cool! He is tiny (15.3 on a very good day with 4" withers) hence the jumps look huge!

Last but not least was Tribute's exciting weekend. The Prodigy as he's known around the barn had a spectacular final outing for the year. He continued his winning ways taking the USEA Young Event Horse 5 yr old class title with the highest score ever received in the program! They have a great series of videos on it here: at

He is one of the most talented horses I've ever had the pleasure of riding. Kristin Burgers and I have some very exciting plans for him in the near future. So make sure to check back for more details, but it's probably a ride you don't want to miss!

What's up next?! The next big thing is the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto with Larry owned by Melanie Nasser. For anyone who hasn't yet seen or heard of the Royal watch the video's unlike anything you've seen before. Until then enjoy this video...


1 comment:

  1. Doug, somehow you did all this and still managed to find two hours of free time to walk the cross country course with a bunch of Pony Club kids. Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time for them. They had a blast!