May 31, 2013

Spring has sprung

It has been a busy month to say the least. I kicked off the month of May with a visit from the wonderful Debbie Witty from Trilogy Performance Saddlery who traveled to Pittsburgh with my brand new Trilogy Verago saddle. The new saddle is for Audi and is a half inch larger than my Amadeo saddle. The difference may seem minor, but it's making a significant difference in how I use my leg and seat. I have more room for my thigh and as a consequence feel much more effective with my seat. In addition to delivering the new saddle, Debbie surprised me with a fantastic Trilogy banner and new Trilogy saddle pads to use at shows and clinics. It's an honor to be able to represent the Trilogy brand because I can say with 100% confidence that I would not be the rider I am today without these saddles. I'll never forget the first time I sat in a Trilogy saddle. It was in November 2006 when I was helping Courtney King-Dye for a week in Bedford, NY. The Trilogy saddle's were relatively new and I thought, my goodness, some day I want to own one of these saddles. And then about four years later I finally bought my first Trilogy. It's funny how things work out!

Cooling out after a great lesson with Bent Jensen. (Photograph by Mark T. Donaldson)

Less than a week with my new saddle I rode Audi in a lesson with Bent Jensen at Mike and Jean Bitely's farm. This was my first lesson in 2013 and I was starving for instruction. The session with Bent went very well and he was pleased to see how much progress Audi had made since he saw him in December. The next day I took two of my students to a schooling show at Horse on Course. Riley and Sporty competed in two Training Level classes earning great scores in the 60's for two second place ribbons. Her first class was stellar and the best performance I've seen from the two of them. It put a big smile on my face to see Riley putting all the pieces together in the show ring. Linda rode my twenty-two year old gelding Hootie in two First Level classes. It was Linda's first show with Hootie and man did she ride well! It was fun for me to see Hootie out there competing again after being in semi-retirement for several years. Together they won both of their classes with scores in the 60's.

Riley and Sporty warming up at Horse on Course. (Photograph by Mark T. Donaldson)

Linda and Hootie are all smiles. (Photograph by Mark T. Donaldson)

The following weekend Linda, Hootie, Audi and I shipped down to Morven Park for the PVDA's Spring Dressage competition. Old man Hoots decided that he wasn't going to act like the seasoned pro he really is (leaping, bolting, etc.) for Linda's first class on Saturday and they placed fifth. However, they rebounded, Linda rode her pants off by the way, for their second class of the day and they won first place with a 67.9%! On Sunday Hootie and Linda put in another solid test for a 64% and a fourth place in a competitive class. I'm beyond proud of Linda for how well she rode, especially when Hootie was so challenging. They really do make a lovely pair and they have loads of potential. Audi won his Second Level Test 3 class on Saturday with a 69.6% and finished second place on Sunday riding the same test with a 69.0%. I was fortunate to have great coaching and support from Scott Hassler throughout the weekend. It was fun to feel how much stronger Audi is doing the Second Level work now compared to last year. Even though we still need better half-halts and collection in the canter work, the progress he's made has been significant. 

GREAT first day at Morven Park.

And last, but not least, I finally backed Bunny this month. He was a STAR! Because my schedule is crazy, poor Bunny get's the short end of stick and isn't worked as consistenly as I would like him to be. Nonetheless, he's making progress without even being under saddle more than 10 times. He's doing walk, trot, canter off the lunge line like a pro. Today was the first day I decided to get on him without a ground person. He was so steady and easy, all I could do was smile! I'm super excited to see what Bunny's like 6 months from now. I have a feeling that he's going to have a bright future ahead of him!

Bunny doesn't understand why I'm so happy!

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