Monday, October 17, 2011

Trevor's XC Helmet Cam with Analysis from Fair Hill CCI***

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...


Sunday, October 2, 2011

I think I might finally be dry and warm...

Morven Park did not make it easy this past weekend... Certainly not to the degree Fair Hill a few years back, but cold and wet none the less.

We had Jess' horse Trevor and Running Order along with us at Morven. It served as both of their last advanced outings prior to Fair Hill. Running Order was a definite go, but Trevor's ticket to Fair Hill was dependent on his results from this past weekend.

Trevor returned with us following the AEC's. Jess, my girlfriend for those out of the loop :), is at Auburn getting her final prerequisites out of the way for her admission to pharmacy school. Physics, Bio-Chem and Organic II has made riding on a consistent basis very difficult. I was elected to be the lucky one to continue for the fall with Trevor. The plan was to see how things went this weekend, and if all was good then continue on to Fair Hill CCI***.

Not often do you get a chance to ride such a great little horse. Little (~15.3) being the operative word here. He's just about 1.5-2 hands smaller than all of my other horses going at the moment. It's funny what 6-8 inches will do to your perspective. The other day I was jumping, and thought to myself. "hmmm that was a big jump." Then I walked over to the standard and realized it was only 3'3", not so much... Jess has done a great job with him, guiding him through the ranks, at this point he's been around Rolex twice. He can jump just about anything, so I found myself thinking. I've got to jump 8 more inches on XC and 10 more in SJ! All you can do is jack the jumps up, and see how it goes. It goes well.

Leading up to the event I'd been riding him for 2 weeks. I squeezed 3 jump schools in, one of which was over a little XC. Nothing quite gets you ready for the real deal until you arrive. Conveniently, Running Order drew a lower number placing him first in the order for my two. His dressage had some very good moments, he was not quite as ridable as at the AEC's but good for him none the less scoring a 31.

Trevor finished up also with a solid test, he's a bit stiffer on the right and following the walk I didn't quite have him in the right canter. Unfortunately, our first change was marred as a result, but he finished up well with a 36.

The sequence at Morven placed dressage on Friday, SJ on Saturday and XC on Sunday. The rain was not a concern on Friday being that we rode in the indoor, Saturday was a different story. The rain came down harder by the minute. It was a balmy 48 degrees when we rode. The ring was soaked, and warm-up a bit treacherous. Running Order jumped well, the first few riders had some time penalties. I shaved a corner tighter than I should have risking a rail at the first of the 1 stride. Unfortunately, I got it! The rest of the course rode and jumped great.

Trevor was next up, again I want to reiterate, he's tiny! AKA the course looked huge as we traveled around it. He jumped like a rock star. Finishing with a clean round. The video is posted on the previous blog post, found here.

The rain continued to fall all day. That afternoon we headed out to check the conditions of the XC course. As expected there were some wet spots, but to out amazement most of it looked great! The hope was of course that the rain would stop over night. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. We woke up in the am to the sound of raindrops.

We got to the barn and fed, the headed directly out to the course. Again it looked to be taking the rain without much trouble. A bunch of us were out inspecting the course and discussing the modifications. We ended up laughing about how if this was England there would be no discussion of the conditions. We'd all be running. A number of people withdrew before XC, Jess and I decided to go for it and if for whatever reason it wasn't going well or the conditions deteriorated I'd pull up mid course. That was not necessary in the end, both horses jumped out of the muck without trouble. I think Running Order enjoys the conditions, like his old racing days in Ireland I'm sure.

As for the course itself, it was a good test as Morven often is...John at Eventing Nation did a great preview of the leaf pit, one of the mainstays at Morven, his valiant efforts still don't do it justice.

Running Order was first out. As I said before, he enjoys the rain. Overall he was excellent, I took his bravery for granted at the leaf pit though. As I've done with all of the drops I've jumped in his past, I figured I'd jump the log and give him his head and neck to see the landing and ease off into the pit. Bad idea, got right up to the log and he's thought better of it! Annoyingly I was forced to circle around and jump the complex again, this time without trouble. Again chalk it up to experience, you're not going to improve standing on the sidelines. Although frustrating at times, the more time in the saddle the better off I'll be in the future. There was a lot to like about the rest of the course, we'll be ready at Fair Hill!

The great thing was I was able to get right on Trevor and jump the entire course again. This time things appeared a bit bigger, but that little horse has rockets in his hind legs. He jumped great around the course. We're officially set for FHI in 2 weeks.

If you missed it Trevor's XC was posted on EN along with most of the other Advanced rides of the day. Click here for the bounce and here for the water. 

Intentionally I went slow with both horses, they finished up looking great and in 5th (Trev) and 7th (RO).

So what's next. We have Princeton Show Jumping this week for Larry and a few others, Radnor HT on Saturday and I'm teaching an XC clinic on Sunday to benefit the Somerset Handicapped Riders at Red Tail farm in Bedminster, NJ. (Info is found here for those interested: or email

I think I'm officially off to bed!