Thursday, Jun. 6, 2024

VADA/Nova June, Day 2 and 3

I believe that everything happens for a reason, so for some reason, the Powers That Be did not want Fender to go to Illinois.

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I believe that everything happens for a reason, so for some reason, the Powers That Be did not want Fender to go to Illinois.

He was a super good boy in our 4-Year-Old qualifier Friday. He was steadier than the last show (though still miles and miles from steady—par for the course). He had good upward transitions; maybe the downwards were a little on the forehand, and we did throw in one lovely, balanced flying change that, alas, there are no bonus points for. The walk was crappy, but he made a nice stretchy circle, was balanced around all of his turns, made good changes of bend in the serpentine, and he was pleasant, obedient and nicely forward.

The canter, which was an 8.5 two weeks ago, was given a 7.3. The end result was a 7.1, down more than .6 from two weeks ago. And that was the end of that.

I was annoyed on Friday, especially since I think it’d be far fairer to the horses of this age group to let them have a “warm-up” class before the qualifier, but them’s the breaks. I’m at peace with it now. And I didn’t buy this horse to be a superstar 4-Year-Old. I bought him to take to the senior FEI ranks, and stellar scores at first level, test 1, backwards are not a prerequisite.

Fender continued his good boy ways Saturday, though, to break 70 for the first time at training level, test 4. Steadiness is still the name of the game, but he received a few 8s, including impulsion (yay!) and his first centerline (YAY!), and demonstrated very nice changes of bend at trot, something I’ve been slaving over. The walk was also better; he doesn’t have a bad walk at all, I just can’t figure out how to get him to swing and relax in the test like he does when I drop the reins in warm-up. Time and patience.

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Ella, unfortunately, succumbed to her three-consecutive-weekends, and while we had some nice-enough work, she just had nothing to offer me in the Young Rider Grand Prix. She has so much try that she’d never dream of putting her foot down and saying “ENOUGH ALREADY!” but I heard her loud and clear. I’ve scratched her out of her Brentina Cup test for Sunday (we don’t need it), and I’m planning a few days of fluffy work for her. She feels good in her body, not sore, just whooped, and mentally tired, too. I have to tell myself she’s only 9! A baby at this. Time and patience, again. (And some more fitness training, particularly in 90*+ temperatures, though I don’t think that was a factor.)

It was Midge who made my day. The judges are tough here, big time “S,” “I” and “O-level” judges, so a Prix St. Georges score of 65.5 percent may not seem like a big deal, but it was a pretty commanding lead over most of the rest of the pack. JJ Tate on Liz Guarisco’s Faberge (last year’s Reserve National Champions at the 6-year-old level) tied us, and we were both early in the VERY big class, but held it the rest of the day, until the very end when they split the tie based on collective marks.

She won, and we got second, but I’m pleased as punch, especially with 3 8s on walk pirouettes, and with the nicest 4s he’s ever given me in the ring. He’s still got some miles to go in the balance in the canter, but Kyra’s work opened some big doors for us. Mostly, he was a GOOD BOY and let me ride him even when he got a little spooky at the C end of the ring.

We need a pretty astronomical mark in today’s Developing Test to make the cut for Illinois, which with an international judging panel I’m not terribly optimistic about, but again, I believe the world works in mysterious ways. If we don’t qualify, I’m excited about the prospects of confirming the Intermediaire I work, and starting work on our freestyle for next year’s small tour. It’s a Pan Am year, and Midge is getting more and more dependable and reliable in the work. Amazing!

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