Well what a great weekend!! We were so excited to be visiting our friends in Wagga for the Riverina Equestrian Association Dressage champs, the actual comp is almost secondary! We had so many laughs and good times that my stomach still hurts! It wasn't all about being social though and all our boys nailed their tests and achieved terrific results. Great to see star pupils and horses doing themselves proud too.
Starbucks kicked off the comp with his trademark foot perfect tests and whilst still needs a bit more time and strength to carry his big impressive frame a bit better, still did a fantastic job coming second to the current State Reserve Advanced Champion. Not bad company to keep and he then received the Reserve Champion Medium award.
As I'd done a freestyle clinic a few weeks earlier it was fantastic to see everyone I'd worked with had taken the ball and run with it and were really having fun. Of course that meant I'd completely run out of time for mine so with the help of super Caitlin Radford I managed to cobble together a medium for Starbucks and an elementary one for Radcliffe. Thanks Cait!
I love riding to music and of course the judge not knowing where you are going or what you'll do next is of course attractive...if say...you might have to make some stuff up on the spot ever...
Anyway onto the Inter A with Toby and after wrongly assuming that he'd in fact gotten much less hot while I was away and completely neglecting to properly prepare for his "quick game is a good game" mentality, we still managed to win the class on his pure talent. I think the best tests are the ones where you learn about your own shortfalls so you can improve your future performances. Ok sometimes it doesn't feel that great at the time, and we all love easy tests that come together seamlessly, but to learn and develop you need to make mistakes and in this test I really had a lot of development opportunities!
I had little time to lament my incompetence however as it was straight into the freestyles. As much as I love these over all tests perhaps doing three horses all in under two hours was a bit ambitious?!
Young Radcliffe was the absolute surprise of the comp, after being quite excited the day before in the arena, the addition of pots, judges, a crowd etc just seem to make him more comfortable. He is aborn showman and just nailed his test, such a forward and flowing bloke, with a real presence and joy for life in everything he does. Still a baby and admittedly a bit of a clown (the first night he picked up his water bucket and cleverly deposited it over his back neighbours head?!) Jack owned his test and received a magnificent score of 75%!!! He even received an 80% for an artistic score!
I had no idea of how well he'd done as I had to get straight onto Starbucks, who then finished off his perfect day with a win in the Medium Freestyle. We were followed closely by my mate Toni Pearce who produced a fantastic harmonious freestyle that I wouldn't have been unhappy to have been beaten by at all. Her test really was beautifully matched to the music and best of all she is not now scared of doing freestyle.
We capped off the big day with a Medium Tour freestyle with Toby who was again a bit overawed by the atmosphere especially at night. He got a bit against my hand and wanting to get a bit quick and nervous but he hung in there as he does and produced some solid work and got a good score for that test.
As we were unpacking the horses and tucking them in we received big surprise when it was announced that little cracker Jack Radcliffe had won the highest freestyle percentage award! He had to make an entrance in white bandages and be presented with his presents and a beautiful big garland donated by generous sponsors Konhkes Own!! Although he'd never seen one, or been in a big atmosphere at night, on his own, he just accepted it all and I've never been prouder.
Peter Shaw then did a well received masterclass for the crowd to finish off the night. Great to see our mate Ebony's Blackwood Tuscany in this class, managing to cope admirably with the big atmosphere though such a young one. We've worked with these guys before and they are coming along in leaps and bounds, in no small part to Eb's easy going nature and commitment to this talented but sometimes hot mare. Gotta love those hot ones, they are made for Grand Prix, you just need to cope along the way!
After a great night we backed up again for the elementary classes with Radcliffe proving he's not just a one hit wonder by winning both his tests and coming away with the Elementary Champion award, Yay for little Jack!
It always seems to catch me unawares when my little mates grow up. It's not long ago that I remember Jack as a foal, taking over a masterclass by running out into the arena and pouncing about without his mother and not caring much, as long as everyone was looking at him! I used to take him to clinics with me, little Jack sprat, getting used to things. And look at him now. So proud of our Callum Park horses.
Don Rubin was let down a little by his pilot's lack of match fitness, I've been overseas for about 6 weeks this winter but I'm getting my coordination back slowly. Poor Toby, he really needs a professional to work with.
Have to thank our always super supportive sponsors Equissentials, and Kohnke's Own, without you guys we would never have been on the map. Thank you to the super Committee who found amazing judges who were so positive.
I can't wait until next year!