Friday, March 18, 2016

Florida 2016 - Adventures of Jess Pye and DJ!

Florida 2016: It’s been a while since I’ve wintered in Florida and getting the chance to come south this winter with Blue Hill has turned into my most successful Florida trip to date! Blue Hill Farm South is a lovely place of airy barns, huge turnouts, tons of open riding space and lots of sunshine! I brought Dr. Jo Ellen Krueger’s DeeJay with me this year with the goal of making the move up from preliminary to intermediate.

Ocala 2: I’ve spent my entire eventing career in Area V where hills are unheard of, ground is generally concrete and interval training is the only way. DeeJay has been playing on the hills of Chester County since September and it’s made a tremendous difference in his fitness and strength. Missy has helped take our show jumping and cross-country skills to the next level while Jess Ranshousen has literally taught me how to teach DJ to do dressage. The first event of the season on a young horse is always a bit of an unknown and Ocala is never an easy event but DeeJay clearly wanted to show off all his new tricks and had three great phases to finish in 3rd place in the Open Preliminary C division.

Rocking Horse 2: The big move up! I will start by saying that I’ve never been so proud after finishing with an R next to my name. DeeJay is young and still green. He’s really only been jumping and eventing for two years and although he always aims to please he doesn’t necessarily have the “seek and destroy” mindset when it comes to the sport. His brain operates more like, “Green grass, rainbows, and butterflies and… OH! Jump! More rainbows…” He put in a very steady dressage test, a one rail round in the show jumping that looked much worse thanks to my extra trip through the start flags and then jumped most of the XC course like a complete pro. Sadly, he had a green horse moment, just one wedge and two tables from home, and I chose to retire after two uncharacteristic runouts at the C element of the final combination on course rather then get the big E. As I made the long walk home I smiled. My lovely young horse just jumped like he’d been running intermediate for years. He didn’t understand one question on course. At this point, I can definitely live with that.

Rocking Horse 3: Redemption time. I was ready to redeem myself when Rocking Horse 3 rolled around and after a great dressage lesson with Jess and good jump and XC lessons with Missy I was sure we were ready.

DeeJay didn’t disappoint. He put in a lovely dressage test that still left tons of room for improvement, a beautiful show jumping round to leave all the rails in the cups and I went a bit cautiously around the cross-country to come home with a clear jumping round. DeeJay is an intermediate horse – Mission accomplished!

Ready to go Home: In a few days I’ll be leaving for the return trip home to PA and Blue Hill North and DeeJay and I will compete in the Carolina International as our layover. I’ve never been there before and I’m looking forward to a new event and challenge! I’ve already done several new things in the past six months including living, training and competing om the East coast and at events like Jersey and Plantation Field, ridden with a former US Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe in Jess Ransehousen, survived a real winter (for like a month..), trotted and cantered up some seriously big hills and been part of a wonderful group of eventers who I can call my Blue Hill family. And it’s only been six months!

Jump Schooling With Missy

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