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June 17, 2011

Nat Varcoe-Cocks Still Hasn't Packed For Cross-Country Day

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda were able to keep their composure for their first CCI**** dressage test amid distractions.

Another day of dressage, and it was a good one. It started off with Jennie’s dressage. Given that just before they rang the bell for her to enter, a billboard and half the dressage arena blew down, I thought Jennie was amazing. She is a true showman/woman. Ping was quite lit up starting his test but managed to control himself, and Jennie looked almost to be smiling as she went into canter. She and Ping are in 17th after the dressage.

I wish I could do that—clearly this is the reason I choose not to compete at the upper levels. Well, that and I get scared jumping anything over 3’6" in the show jump arena.

For Will, today consisted of course walking with Mark Phillips, taking Missie (his princess) out for a trot and quick pipe-opener, and then Ernie’s dressage. I’m going to have to admit that I got nervous for him today—a rare occurance for me. Usually I’m just fine—what will be will be.

This time, however, I think I wanted it to go as well as Will wanted it to. His test was at 2:40, and as Ernie doesn’t need to be exhausted, Will got on at 2:20. He met Sandy down at the warm-up and they put it together. The improvement since Jersey Fresh was amazing, and as he was trotting into the arena Sandy and I glanced at each other each with a look of anxiety hoping it would all stay together.

Will did a fabulous job and even scored a 9 on one movement. I was so excited that I could barely contain myself! We were all smiles when Will came out of the arena, as was he. He was disappointed that he fluffed three of his changes but delighted in Ernie overall. He is placed 13th going into the XC, and Missie 18th, so having one in the top 20 in each class is quite nice.

As a groom and friend it is a really rewarding two days. I am very competitive, almost to the point that I can be quite tough on Will, but as I said, the improvement in both the horses’ dressage since Jersey Fresh is substantial, and there is still room for improvement, so smiles all around.

After Ernie’s test I took him back to the barn to change tack for him to go on a quick pipe-opener as well. All was good there, no pulled shoes, no boot rubs, phew! Dr. Christiana Ober arrived this morning, so after both of them having had a canter—combined with our paranoia—I had her have a quick feel of both their legs, and then we went and jogged them so she could have a baseline before cross-country.

Let me tell you, when Dr. Ober looks at your horse, you have to be prepared for a very critical eye. When you jog away, you pray that when you jog back you don’t have a discerning frown. Today I got a smile for both. YAY!!!

Missie runs at 9:57 tomorrow morning and Ernie at 3:33 p.m. These are fabulous times, as I will be able to give both horses my full attention tacking up and caring for them afterwards. We have a pit crew of myself, Shannon Kinsley, Lillian Heard, Kelley and Tiana. Nothing like having pros at the end of cross-country to help you cool down the horses and keep you entertained at the same time.

Of course being me, short of cleaning my tack, I haven’t packed anything up yet, but Shannon and I do have a plan for the morning. I don’t ever do it the night before because I like to be kept busy the morning of, even if I do cut it fine sometimes. I don’t ever mind putting in studs and just like to stay out of Will’s way, mentally as much as anything. But I’m there for him if he needs some words of encouragement like, “You are going out there to get it done, aren’t you?”

That was my question to him before he went out at Boekelo last year. I found out later that it really lit a fire under him, although that had always been his plan. He couldn’t believe that I had asked him that. (Like I said, I’m just a touch competitive.)

Well hopefully I will be able to get something to you tomorrow night, but till then send some good vibes for team USA over here in Germany!

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