Monday, October 24, 2016

Madeline's Reflections on Fair Hill International's 3*!

What a beautiful week we had at Fair Hill! Not only was the weather absolutely perfect,  but I was  also very grateful to have my parents fly into spend the weekend with me.  Last year I completed my first CCI 2* at Fair Hill and this year I completed my second CCI 3*. 

Both years I’ve been lucky to have great weather at Fair Hill.  There is a lot of atmosphere at Fair Hill and the courses were all very nice this year.  Ari and I had a great prep run at Plantation Field International a few weeks prior to Fair Hill, where we ran the CIC 3* as well.

Ari and I arrived on Tuesday for the first horse inspection, in preparation for the jog Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday we put in a pretty good dressage test for Ari and I was quite pleased with her since dressage has been our toughest phase. We didn’t score quite as well as we did at Plantation, but I am still happy with the improving relaxation thanks to all the help I have received from Blue Hill. Jessica has really been working with me to focus on every stride and ride extremely steady to keep Ari consistent, and it is really coming along. Ari is an incredible horse, but she is also a bit challenging in the dressage, so she’s really teaching me how to ride.

I walked the cross country course with Missy after Dressage, which was intimidating at first, but Missy thoroughly went through it with me and we came up with a solid plan.  I walked my course a total of four times to really feel confident about the lines I was going to take coming to each and every fence.  Ari and I had a free day on Friday, so I just did a light flat school to keep her happy.  I was also able to have Patti Gillen from County Saddlery  fit my jump saddle for XC on Saturday, which was very nice and extremely helpful of her! 

By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I walked my course one last time, and began getting ready.  I got more nervous as our ride time approached, but as soon as we headed out of the box, we were ready to tackle the course.  Ari is an amazing cross country horse and made it around the course brilliantly.  I made a couple of mistakes, but she took care of me and we crossed the finish line with just a bit of time. I was absolutely thrilled.

You can check out several photos from XC day on Facebook.

Then began the post Cross Country care, with icing, poulticing, liniment baths, wrapping, and hoof packing. Horses are so tolerant with all we do to them, especially since they don’t understand why we make them stand in buckets of ice and wait patiently while we fuss over their legs.  Ari is a pro when it comes to all of this, and lets us take care of her. 

Sunday morning came along, and it was an early morning to prepare for the final horse inspection. I was so grateful for the help of Todd and Stacey to make Ari feel her best after the great effort she put in the day before on XC.   We passed jogs and continued onto the final phase with Missy's help warming up for Show Jumping.  Ari was phenomenal and jumped so carefully around the entire course, even when I put her on a difficult stride into a combination. She pulled one rail due to my mistake, but finished the course wonderfully. She tried her heart out for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better run at my second CCI3*. 

The big news is that with a successful completion at Fair Hill with a clean cross country run, we are qualified next April for Rolex!  Ari and I will continue to move forward in our training and see what next year may bring!

As always, a huge thanks to all of the people who always cheer me on,  including my wonderful sponsors who support my goals and dreams.  It is truly an amazing team here at Blue Hill, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone involved.   Thank you to my parents and their friends who gave their support as well.  What an unforgettable week!    ~ Madeline

Photo Credits Lisa Thomas, Mid-Atlantic Equestrian