A Great First Day At The Dover Saddlery/USEF Medal Final

Oct 11, 2020 - 1:23 PM

It wasn’t a crazy early day because my student Annalise “Ally” Manoog was in the third course walk [management did four different course walks to allow for social distancing]. We walked at her assigned time, 7:24, so I arrived around 7. Then right after she walked I had her get on to ride Carollo because I figured everybody else was going to be trying to watch.

It was misty in the morning, and I think it started raining heavily around 10 until about 2ish. I had a raincoat with me but that was it. All I had were nice shoes and sneakers. I literally went to Wal-Mart and bought a pair of cheap shoes and a pair of rain pants there.

She rode him in the morning and we jumped a few jumps and he seemed quiet and in a good spot. He handwalked once and he stretched his legs on the longe line for like 10 minutes. I try not to overdo the prep with my horses.

The footing was great despite the torrential rain, so kudos to show management.

When [groom] Nicole Lindquist let Rollo jog on the longe she said the area had just been dragged and it was good. He literally just had to get out of his stall. My horses are used to a lot of turnout so it is more about getting him out of his stall that longing to get him quiet.

We’ve had Carollo since he was 6. We developed him just like [my daughter] Emma’s horse [Bournedale, who won the Dover Saddlery/USEF Medal Finals last year]. Carollo is 9 now. She took her time with him and did the 3’3” finals last year because he needed more time before graduating, so she was really patient with him which was awesome.

Then we watched from three different places along the rail, standing six feet apart, like the announcer kept reminding everyone. Then I watched a bunch online—you couldn’t stand there [next to the ring] because it was wind-driven rain. It was really awful.

Right before Ally got on we watched a couple more to finalize our plan. The rain had let up about 10 minutes before she got on (she got on 16 out). She had a nice flat and we jumped some, practicing some short turns keeping him in front of her leg. She went into the ring and nailed it, ending up 10th on the standby at the end of the day.

She was really good I was really proud of her. We had watched the video of her warm-up class yesterday and talked about a couple things we wanted to improve on. The biggest thing was to establish her pace before Fence 1 and not have to change it much, and she did it.

I thought it was a good course. They had one line that was about track [Fences 5-6AB-7] and you had to ride your track correctly for it to work out, but if you didn’t do it correctly it wasn’t a tragedy. That’s what I liked about the course. You could do it and feel successful but not be a contender. That’s a good course. I think it sorted it out nicely and it was an equitation class, not a scope test.

As soon as Annalise went I climbed in my car and went to the airport to go pick up Emma from the Charlotte airport. [As the reigning Medal Finals champion Emma Fletcher will be doing the commentary for the second round of competition and awarding the trophy.]

We have such a supportive group at home; between her mom and I we got so many texts from people who had watched her online at home. They’re very excited for her. I have a lot of adult riders [who all watched]. One of my trainers at home and two of the others kids watched it on an iPad at home. Everyone was cheering her on.

I know my horses and I know my kids and I feel confident. Each of my horses has a different prep. Tomorrow Ally will get on to ride at 7:15. We will jump a couple and see if he needs to jog on the longe for a few minutes while we walk the course at 8 and watch the first few go.  The goal is to keep Ally and Rollo calm so they can focus on their job in the ring.

Kathy Fletcher runs Grazing Fields Farm in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, where she trains students in the hunters, jumpers and equitation. She’s been attending the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunt Seat Medal Final for 35 years. Last year her daughter Emma Fletcher won the Medal Final, and she’s had other students earn top ribbons at equitation finals over the years.

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