Well, it’s the early morning of the big trip to Luhmuhlen ... I realize I haven’t checked in in quite awhile, and it’s really shocking how quickly the past few weeks have flown by.
I’ve had a few exciting things happen since my post-Jersey Fresh check in . I had six rides at the Fair Hill Horse Trials , where all the horses went quite well, including Tim and Nina Gardner’s Right Above It winning his training class. Susan Foly’s Mister Mowgli also won his novice division, while Annie Jones’ Mansfield Park came second in his training level class in prep for his one-star run with the boss. Beth Battel’s As Cool As Ice came fourth in her training division, and Cheryl Gamboney’s Gambado was fifth in his.
I was very excited for Tim and Nina’s I Bella to be moving up to preliminary for the first time, and she jumped clean and slow to come sixth after being a little green in the dressage. I also had two students do their first preliminary outings there, and I was really proud to see Emma Hartley and Paige Hurley jump around like champs.
I also recently got a really cool new horse in for sale that I’m hoping I’ll get to compete a bit before he gets sold. His name is Crimson Tide, and he’s done quite a few preliminaries and a one-star, so I’m hoping he’ll be running intermediate this summer once I get back from Germany and get to know him a bit more.
Galloping out the race horses for Michael Matz has really been a highlight for me in the past few weeks. I’ve truly enjoyed learning a completely different way to ride, and I think very highly of Michael and Peter (his assistant). I’ve gotten to leave a gate, breeze, and for the first time yesterday, I got to breeze out of the gate!
Some people have asked me why I’m galloping race horses right before a big event, but to be honest, I feel more fit, and it’s made me quite happy to learn and have a new aspect to my life. David, Phillip and my owners have been very supportive of me doing it, and I’ve had a blast so far.
In Luhmuhlen news, Ping and Jackie get picked up today to head to New York, while Kelley Merette and I will be leaving from Philadelphia. I’ve been keeping myself quite busy this past month, and between galloping at the track, keeping all the horses going, teaching at home and traveling to Footlight Farm and Erin Hurley’s farm to teach, I’ve been able to keep my mind quite settled going into this event.
I will definitely say that the lead-up to Rolex can get anyone wound up… I was shocked at the amount of support but also found all the extra media coverage really exciting and thought it definitely added to the pressure. I’d be lying if I said Jackie and I haven’t been holding our breaths for the past three weeks, and to be fairly honest, I think we’ve both not let ourselves get too caught up in the excitement.
What happened at Rolex was such a freak thing and an unreal disappointment... but in the end, I’ve thought about it quite a bit, and that, truly, is horses. I can look back now and laugh at how I thought, back when I had Cooper, that I had this sport figured out. You really have two choices when dealing with the disappointment that horse sports can bring: You either let it all affect you, or you push on and get a bit tougher.
I, ironically, seem to always feel the strongest about pushing myself right after a huge disappointment. I’ve always liked a comeback, so I’m hoping Luhmuhlen will be no exception!
One thing that’s been huge is the support I’ve gotten from our eventing community... I really would like to thank everyone who reached out to me during Kentucky, after, and in prep for this event. You wouldn’t believe how uplifiting all of your messages have been, and to know I’m going to an event with so much support from the eventing community means a lot to me.
In the end, I know that Ping is currently training the best he ever has... I have to think that’s for a reason! Between some amazing lessons with Phillip and the extra gallops I’ve gotten in here in the Unionville area, I think he’s more ready for a four-star now than ever.
My friend Bec Braitling said at Kentucky, “I don’t know anyone who could write such a comprehensive book of the unreal highs and the terrible lows in this sport at such a young age...” But here’s to hoping that this chapter of my book will be the prior and not the later!
Thanks for taking the time to read, and I’ll check in soon!
Brannigan Eventing