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January 26, 2010

It's Time To Jump Back Into IHSA After A Long Vacation

Katie Christiansen (right) and her co-captain Cecilia Pontoriero.

Two-point without stirrups can only mean one thing: It’s Tournament of Champions time!

This week TUEQ will head to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., to give the IHSA the ol’ one-two (or at the very least keep our heels down, execute lead changes where appropriate and find eight jumps stylishly).

While we had a blast at the last Tournament at Centenary College in New Jersey, we’re hungry for some better placings and more confident outings this time around.

With this Tournament only a week after we get back to school from a relaxing and fattening winter break, we don’t have much time to get back in top form. But Katie Schaaf is once again proving to be an excellent torturer. Each lesson I’ve had since coming back has been chock-full of no stirrups, two-point and downward transitions from the canter to the sitting trot (the bane of my open career). The courses have been twisty and ask lots of questions of us as riders: Do we do the three or the four in the line that walks 49 feet? If we pick three, do we take the inside turn to the line and risk coming in on too short a stride? How do you make a chip out of a 49-foot line look pretty?

I’ve been lucky enough to ride Andy twice since I’ve been back (jackpot). He’s so much fun to ride and is really comfy, which allows me to focus on my equitation. I do have to check from time to time that he is off my leg, as he does get a bit heavy and has a rather significant outside bulge. But both of my lessons on him have been really, really positive and some of my best lessons on the flat yet.

At this TOC I will be doing both the Medal, where the first phase is flatting, and open flat in addition to my usual open fences. I may not have legs by the end of the day, but I am DETERMINED to come back with some sort of ribbon on the flat—red, brown, yellow, hot pink, consolation-colored, I don’t care. Well, a primary-colored ribbon would be nice. Or just blue.

My lesson last week on Cardinal, my longtime favorite horse at August Farm, was a little more difficult. He is built very downhill, unlike Andy who travels in a more uphill manner and is easier to sit to and hold still on. The lesson with my little chestnut friend was successful overall, but it definitely tested my ability to sit motionless while keeping the horse moving from his hind end and not letting him get overflexed at the poll.

This is going to be my busiest semester at Tufts. Between five classes (Latin American Civilizations, Portuguese 2, French Enlightenment, Les Poètes Maudits, and Native Peoples and Indigenous Rights in South America), co-captaining the team with Cecilia, cello lessons and maintaining my editorship at the Tufts Observer, I won’t have much time to breathe.

Four of my classes are conducted in a foreign langue: one in Spanish, one in Portuguese and two in French. Speaking IHSA is like speaking a fifth language, and I’m having enough trouble stringing English sentences together as it is. This weekend will undoubtedly be a great jump-start to the semester and our quest to catch up to the region leaders. I just have to keep my head straight on my shoulders. After all, Katie Schaaf says I look too hard into the turns.

Wish us luck!