We are very excited that Madeline has come back to us as a working student with her talented mare P.S. Ariana, and these two have proven that they've got what it takes to compete at the upper level of the sport. This is their story………………………………….
I have been at Blue Hill Farm since the middle of April 2015 with my Trakehner mare, P.S. Arianna. Prior to that I had made the long trip from Colorado to Florida in the beginning of November to spend the winter at the small farm we have south of Ocala.
I took my A Pony Club rating soon after arriving in Florida, and only failed one section, which I will be retaking. Missy was about 45 minutes away from me in Florida, so I was able to work a couple of days a week once she arrived. I began preparing Ari for our first event, a preliminary at Ocala Horse Properties Winter I to start off the season.
We competed Intermediate at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter II, finishing second before heading to Red Hills in March, where I did my first CIC 2*. Ari was absolutely incredible, and we finished in the top ten in a very competitive division with 58 starters. From there, my plan was to compete at the CCI 2* at Ocala Horse Properties and qualify for Young Riders. Unfortunately we weren’t able to pass the first jogs, so we rerouted to CCI 2* at Jersey Fresh after making the trip up to Blue Hill Farm.
At Jersey Fresh, we had a decent dressage test, and headed out for a phenomenal cross country ride. After such a wonderful cross country day, it was heartbreaking to not pass the jog Sunday morning. My ride on Ari has been a bit of a rollercoaster after her injury in 2011, but I have learned to not give up. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such supportive and wonderful people that help me get through the tough times that all equestrians know too well. Ari is my only upper level horse, and we have a very special bond that I am willing to do anything for to keep riding her. Having that bond is what makes it so amazing to ride her.
I know she will do her absolute best to keep me safe, which is exactly what she did at our first advanced at the Horse Park of New Jersey I. Moving up to Advanced gave me something to look forward to, and it ended up being a great weekend! Ari was a bit tense in dressage, as we are learning to control our new level of fitness. She just knew what was coming and thought we didn’t need to do dressage! We had a great show jumping round with only one rail down, and got around cross country with only time added to our score. I made some mistakes, but Ari was fabulous and kept jumping her heart out for me. We ended up in 8th place out of 18 starters.
Through our training program at Blue Hill Farm, we are now back on track and Ari is in great form! Our summer/fall plan is to compete Advanced at Millbrook Horse Trials before heading to the CIC 2* at Richland. If all goes well there, we will go to the CIC 3* at Plantation (very exciting!) and head to the CCI 2* at Fair Hill.
I am really looking forward to the rest of the show season, and am so grateful to be here at Blue Hill Farm, where I am learning so much from Jessica and Missy.
Thank you! ~Madeline Backus