Well I’m back in Pennsylvania after the last few weeks in Aiken and the weekend we just had at The Fork in North Carolina. I have to say, that that place is seriously incredible, and they do an amazing job running such an amazing event with so many great horses.
This was my first event back after breaking my collarbone, and although I think some people think I’m lying, it really didn’t hurt except for when my cross-country vest pushed onto my scar! I think the decision not to run any of my horses at Southern Pines at the end of March with Phillip turned out to be a good one. And it was awesome to be back!
Ping [Cambalda] and Indie felt fresh and ready to go. Will [Walkabout] always feels fresh and ready to go—LOL. He was my first ride on Saturday, and I knew that would be the hardest for me since he can be quite strong. I didn’t set out to run time, more just to go out and have a pleasant go. And after a rail down on Sunday, Will was seventh in the open intermediate class.
Indie was great, and I thought the cross-country course and show jumping was plenty challenging for a young horse. He went well, and although there were some green moments throughout the weekend in all three phases, he came third. But more importantly, I think he came out of the weekend with a greater education.
Then there’s Ping... He is such a great horse. I am so lucky to have the ride on him. I know everyone says that about their own horses, but I owe so much to him. He was lovely in all three phases of the CIC*** throughout the weekend [and won on his dressage score].
On the flat I’ve been getting help from Mara Depuy. She gave me a lot of help leading up to the test. Mark Phillips was great about Mara helping me, and when I came out of the ring it was comical because it was good cop, bad cop with Mara and Mark. I had some small bobbles in the test, and I need to work on really going for it in every movement, but I was thrilled with Ping.
I’d also like to comment that I am impressed with Mark’s fashion advice. He promptly told me upon exiting the arena that my cream gloves, stock tie and breeches were simply not acceptable with my white saddle pad. Oops... I won’t do that next time!
Cross-country went well, and I was a bit nervous until I was in warm-up and started jumping Ping. He made me laugh because he was so happy to be out there, since he hasn’t evented in quite a while. He was jumping out of his skin, and I’ve been running him slow at the warm-up events I did this spring to save his legs.
So since the footing was good and I felt confident in him, I let him gallop on Saturday. He was great, and everything rode well except for my mistake of not getting him back enough in the first water. I ended up long to the bounce bank out, and he really was handy there. I felt like I rode the plan everywhere else, and it was a solid round.
And come Saturday night, Mark, for the first time, told me I did a really good job that day, and it made me feel really good. Ping pulled up great, and after lots of ice he got a good night’s sleep.
I couldn’t sleep Saturday night. I was nervous for Sunday, and I think I was feeling the pressure. There were some fantastic horses in the class right behind me, and a rail would have been costly. Ping jumped great though.
Unfortunately, even though I have good changes in the dressage arena, my ones in the show jumping are not so hot! I definitely have some homework to do there.
The last line was an oxer with five more forward strides to a vertical in-and-out. I planned to take on the oxer so the five would be easy, but as I came around the turn I didn’t see the forward stride and ended up getting really close to it. Thank you Ping for being such a good athlete! He jumped it well and really had to work to get the five after that, but he got there and jumped through the in-and-out clean.
I was a bit in shock to win that class, but I am so thankful to everyone who helped me this weekend. Shannon Kinsley helped me tons, and Mara, Mark and, of course, Phillip were great coaches. My mom and Ping’s owners Tim and Nina Gardner came, which was amazing, and it was great to see Heather Morris as well. Her horse Slate River looks amazing, and I look forward to watching her at Rolex. I bet there will be two brunettes with tattoos from California in the top 10 at Rolex this year. You both rock, Heather and Lainey, and good luck!!!!
I also really enjoyed watching Jessica Phoenix ride this weekend. She’s an amazing rider, and I love her Thoroughbreds who jump like crazy!
On a sidenote, it was interesting to hear Leslie Law and David O’Connor talk about their proposals for the team coaching job in their second presentation to the riders at The Fork. I really enjoy listening to Leslie, but I have to say that David impressed me.
He handled all the tricky questions well, and I feel a lot better about the misconceptions that I had about things, though of course I still wish Phillip was in there too. I think things will work out well now that he is part of the Active Athlete side of the selection process.
I hope everyone is well and thanks for reading!