Rain, Rain, and More Rain
The Area 3 Championships at Poplar Place Farm May 4-5, 2013
Team Wallace South traveled to Hamilton, Georgia to participate in the Area 3 Championships May 4 – 5, 2013 with 4 combinations competing in the Championships and 2 combinations in the national horse trials division. The preparation getting to this point in TWS competition schedule has been very successful but has had couple of ups and downs for all of us.
Parker Miller and Jos Baco – Jr. Novice, Taylor Dileo and Rebel’s Legacy – Jr. Training and Briggs Surratt and Hat Trick – Jr. Training made the trip up to compete in their first Area Championships. My group of talented riders, have been working diligently this spring to polish their rides and prepare for competing over this exciting weekend.
The rain at Poplar Place Farm proved to be challenging not only for the riders and the horses, but for the parents as well. The competition started on Saturday and the rain began Friday night and did not let up until early Sunday morning. The question asked from the parents, “Do they (horse show management) postpone because of rain?”, and my answer was, “Only if nature provides us with lightning or tornadoes. The decision to continue in the competition under the wet conditions, are totally up to the competitors and their coaches.”
While the conditions were very, very miserable, it was good learning process for my young riders. Considering the factors which may affect the safety of both horse and riders must be weighed against the determination and hard work to compete. Understanding the factors of safety such as footing, visibility and the overall health and welfare of both horse and riders should be considered.
During this competition schedule, I had to compete Ultimate Victory (Cody) in the OI and Ultimate Decision (Mark) in the Novice Horse Championship division. The only way to get the day done with two phases happening in the same day for 6 horses is an excel spreadsheet which dictates where I have to be for each rider and horse from a warm-up time to a competition time. Calculating 12 rides including 4 which are my own is a challenge but I have managed this Spring to make it to most if not all of my TWS students warm-ups and actual competition times.
The decision to compete in the dressage was considered a was a ”given” in the rain. Good footing in the warm-up area and the competition rings allowed each of TWS riders to begin the competition in the first phase – some more wet than the others.
The cross-country for the championships was on Saturday as well and we had to consider the footing aspects of the cross country course and the warm-up. None of the TWS junior rider’s horses have been drilled and tapped yet and so based on the review of the footing, I discussed the safety of turns on course and the speed around the championship course. We moved forward.
The warm-up proved to be a more challenging and so we kept the warm-up to a minimum and headed out on the cross country for all 4 TWS riders (including Mark)
Taylor and her talented, Rebel’s Legacy headed out first on the Training Championship cross-country course in first place after dressage. Her outing at Poplar in an earlier event caused some problems at a combination in the woods that included the introduction to a chevron jump. This same combination was on the Championship course and Taylor had prepared well to make this combination a successful attempt in her ride this time.
Taylor and Rebel cruised around the course and stuck with our plan for safe riding throughout the course which resulted in some time penalties and moved her to 4th with a very beautiful ride over the fences.
Briggs and Hat Trick where up next in the Jr. Training Championship division. After a blip in his dressage, an error for going off course, he started out further down the pack than he is used too. Briggs and Hat Trick have had a very successful spring season and as he seemed to be doing very well on the Championship course, he had another blip in which he passed by fence 5 which resulted in being pulled up for a technical elimination.
I was on course watching when he was pulled up and to say he was disappointed is an under statement. No words needed to be said from me back at the barn other than, “This is a humbling sport and no one around you can tell you this has not happened to them. Just be sure to learn from it and know it is easily solved!!!”
During all of this, I had competed both of my horses in dressage and show jumped Cody in the OI stadium on the grass. The warm-up for this was a no go for me but I managed two jumps before I headed in to the stadium. OI was the first to go on the grass in the rain so the footing at that time was holding up – barely. Cody managed a beautiful clean round and moved from 3rd to 2nd.
Mark had another beautiful dressage and his first in the rain to land in first place in the NHC division. We were the first to head out for TWS in the novice division and Mark proved to handle the footing well and cruised around with only two slips on course. He maintained his lead into stadium and in fact, had a rail in hand.
Parker and her incredible Jos Baco headed out on the JNC division cross country in the pouring rain. She was placed 11th after dressage which is a little further down for her based on the results during the Spring but again the rain made for a tense Baco. Marcie and Pete Miller were nervous about the run cross country in the rain but because they knew the long search for a the right horse for 12 year old Parker resulted in the purchase of Jon Holling’s, Jos Baco, they held on to some relief that the experienced Baco would help Parker around the course safety, and that he did.
I was able to watch Parker and Baco and I was impressed with the way this young girl rides. She did her job as a rider to bring Baco around the course safely and with just a couple of time penalties, they moved up to 6th place. While Baco is an experienced event horse, she truly piloted him around the slippery course with finesse and safe determination.
The rain stopped!!!! Yes, Sunday came and with it came that big orange thing in the sky….. The Sun. To say I was happy is an understatement. I can not tell you how many times I had to change on Saturday but it was several. The final day for the Championships had the stadium in the all weather footing ring and the warm-up as well.
I had to make a decision on whether to run Cody in the OI cross country and had not walked the course until early Sunday. I was impressed with the way the cross country footing felt and other than noting turns would be a factor, I decided to gallop him around one last time before the CIC 3 Star at Chatt Hills in couple of weeks.
Cody bounded around the course and I opted for a slow ride around turns and down the steep hill on the backside of the course. He finished nicely and ended up 6th.
Taylor and Rebel were competing in the stadium pretty close to my cross country time but I had time to warm her up and watch from a distance as they put in a faultless round to remain in 4th place in the JRC Division. Great Job.
Mark was the next to go and I was scrabbling to get out of the cross country gear and get down to stadium. Briggs, my right hand man, was in the barn not dwelling on his mishaps from the day before, working hard to have me prepared to get down to warm-up with just one in front of me. I warmed-up Mark in a hurry in what has been his weakest phase and he performed beautifully to maintained his lead and the win in the NHC Division. I am very excited about this one’s future and will be moving up to training at Chatt Hills.
Parker and Jos Baco were the last to compete for TWS in the final phase of stadium. She and Baco warmed up terrific and went into the ring very confident. Their round was forward and clean and Parker and Baco finished in 6th in the JNC Division.
Wet and cold in May with the lows in the upper 40’s?????? TWS had a successful Area Championship which resulted in a very good learning experience for all of my riders. I feel each of them are my own child and I can tell you I certainly know the feeling of having your child find success and experience loss. I am proud of all of these dedicated and talented young riders and look forward to the many competitions in the future.