Friday, April 26, 2013

Contemplating Dressage

Another fantastic day, weather-wise (even though it was a bit chilly in the morning and clouded up late in the day).  We arrived at the Horse Park a bit later than we wanted to, entering the arena to a huge roar:  the local Paris, KY rider, Allie Knowles, had just put in a fantastic dressage test to move into second place.  I'm really sorry that I missed it!

Several of the horses were quite fresh-poor Erin Sylvester's horse barely stayed in the ring--her horse, No Boundaries, wanted the boundaries of the dressage ring removed!

Several of the riders put in fantastic tests:  Marilyn Little's test was very accurate and consistent; Boyd Martin's Trading Aces was a lovely mover, and he rode the test well, showing the horse off; James Alliston and Tivoli were super to watch--very light and obedient, if slightly crooked a few times.  Mary King's test was fantastic as well--the woman was PLUGGED IN to her saddle, and she and and her horse were in tune.  He had some pretty movement, but she USED it in good ways.

And then there was William Fox Pitt.

The man was relaxation in motion.  His horse, a youngish stallion who's relatively inexperienced compared to his other horses, had one of the most lilting, lovely tests I've seen.  Every movement planned and executed carefully--but not so carefully that the horse couldn't shine!  I think even William was surprised that the test went so well, as he shrugged at the judges in the E box as he left the arena.

I missed the last two riders in an effort to make a course walk with Ralph Hill, but it looks as though Andrew Nicholson had a fantastic test, being the only rider other than WFP to break the 40 barrier for a 38 (Fox-Pitt scored a 33.3).

WHY is it that the Brits (and NZL riders) are doing so much better than we are?  They are systematic, careful, and relaxed--yet demanding.  What is it we're not doing right??  Not taking anything from the fantastic riders from USA who are in the top 10--but William Fox-Pitt's horse WASN'T the best mover of the bunch--but he WAS the most relaxed and obedient.  What gives?

I only got to do part of the coursewalk with Ralph Hill and Eric Dierks (who are a brilliant team--they play off each other well, and they both are witty and knowledgeable) because I had to go to the Fence Judge briefing.  It looks like a fun course, and I'll be at Fence 6, the curved brushes.

The day was eventful for a couple more reasons:  First, I ran into God (aka Jimmy Wofford) in front of the Dressage arena....and he remembered me!  He asked me if I was going to be there in June (he's doing a clinic in OK then).  I told him I'd try--that my wonderful Irish horse tore his high rear suspensory, but that he was coming back and that I had a couple new horses I might be able to bring.  I was walking on air for a while after than encounter.  :)

Then I got a blast from the past:  during the lunch break, I wandered into Bit of Britain to try on some helmets (and, as it turned out, a Kan-Teq vest, which I really liked).  While walking back, I stopped to enter the Smart Pak contest, and one of the nice ladies encouraged me to "ask the expert farrier a question" (poor guy was standing next to a sign all by himself).  You know me:  I can never pass up an opportunity to pick an expert's brain, so I asked this guy, Danvers Child, about dry feet.  We traded small talk--turns out he's from West TX, but now lives in IN.  I used to live in IN, and now am in West TX--I told him I got my PhD at Ball State, and he told me he got his at Purdue.  When I told him what my degree was in--Rhetoric--he gaped and said his was in Rhetoric and Composition.  I told him I knew a Purdue guy who fit his description, but his name was Bob--and it turns out Robert Danvers Child used to go by Bob.  I have been out drinking and conferencing with this man, who stopped practicing Rhetoric and Composition and now is a full time farrier (who is an expert, giving clinics and representing Smart Pak).

How cool is that?

Spent a lovely evening with the extended Rickly clan:  nieces, grand nephews, the works.  I have a fine family.

Looking forward to an exciting (and perhaps soggy) XC tomorrow!

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