Whitney Weston

Whitney Weston Eventing

Monday, March 26, 2012

March is "Mare Madness" at Poplar Place

A short week and a half after finishing Red Hills, Team Weston found ourselves back on the road, this time heading to Hamilton, Georgia to compete at Poplar Place. Once again we brought the mares Fizzy and Lusty for another practice at Prelim and Advanced. If it is possible to be more hilly and grassy than Red Hills, Poplar accomplished this! So beautiful, crazy hills with three water complexes, and the grounds absolutely gorgeous. We were settled in late Weds pm, ready for a good day of dressage and walking the courses on thursday.

The girls both did a beautiful dressage school in the warmup ring, then I went to begin my several hours of course walking. It was a very warm day, with all the hills I am starting to feel quite fit!
The "Drop of Doom" as my friend, Siobhain O'Conner and I aptly named 17b. This ABCD combo came off a tight turn after a long gallop, one stride over a log to this drop, three strides down a steep hill, over a coffin, then one stride up hill to a skinny chevron. Guess I better sit up and keep  my leg on, huh ;)

My mermaid jump has a tramp stamp???
This was a fun combo: big log, one stride, over the mermaid then out to the red bridge on right
Couldn't resist: Sio getting cozy with mermaid
Needless to say, the course was fantastic, challenging, and intense. I thought Red Hills was going to be the most intense advanced of the season....I was wrong! While the spectator presence was not as prevalent at Poplar, the course was certainly more technical. Well, after having this preview of the courses (AKA fright-fest), I returned my focus to the dressage I would be attempting the next day.

Lusty had a 9am dressage time, so I took her out for her hack and graze at 730. She was very relaxed despite the xc course being visible close to her ring. Around 8:58 I got on Lusty just as the rider in front of me was saluting at the end of their test. Lusty refused to trot toward the ring. When I asked, she stopped, did a little rear and shook her head. I was thinking "oh boy....we are in for an epic dressage test..." So I allowed her to wander towards the arena at the walk. As soon as we rode through the gates, she happily broke into a relaxed swinging trot. Such a silly girl! She did not want to be rushed ;) We got a nice canter around the ring before the judge blew the whistle. I am pleased to announce that Lusty did the best test we have ever done, and actually the best scoring advanced test of her career! Samantha Clark at Eventing Nation (www.eventingnation.com) is quite the fan of Lusty and has been posting coverage of us for almost a year now. She was kind enough to post all weekend about Lusty, this was my favorite!!!

"Rock on Rose and Whitney Weston did a very nice test this morning in the Advanced - so pretty and delicate it's funny to see this little chestnut mare daintily skipping around the dressage like a ballerina, and then watch her the next day devour the cross country courses like a monster! Let's hope she does the same tomorrow. "

Lusty was sitting pretty in 5th after her test, I was so proud!! Fizzy had a great test later on that put her in 11th. But saturday was the real question.....

After walking each course 4 times (uggghhh....again) I felt certain about my lines and distances, of which there were many. And did I mention it POURED most of friday? I was lucky not to have done dressage in the worst of it, but the stalls were all flooded, mud everywhere. We had to lay down straw in the aisles so there was a place to walk! This gave some concerns to the footing saturday, but the ground had been nicely aerated, and absorbed the rain well. Even so....we had maaaasssive studs in. 

Fizzy was early in the day, and only slipped around a turn once, foot perfect everywhere else! This was a real test in her ability to keep a technical line while still being bold and she passed with flying colors. This little mare feels ready for her one star in a few weeks!

Okay, deep breath, now on to advanced! Always intimidating to be in the middle of seasoned four star riders like Leslie Law. Lusty was "up" but jumping like a pro in warmup as we practiced some gallop oxars and angled verticals. She certainly didn't want to calmly walk around the start box, she was ready to go!!! And just as Samantha predicted, Lusty devoured the course like a monster! ( though I will argue, a really cute and adorable one) She felt effortless over the larger jumps, and really listened to me and came back for the technical obstacles. The "drop of doom" felt so easy, she sweetly jumped off it for me like it was nothing. I made a "green" mistake by having her too forward to a technical line, so we had a drive-by there, but circled right back around and did it perfectly. Even with a stop, we finished with only 11 time penalties. There were so many problems on the course with other riders (in fact, a riderless horse chased lusty and I after we crossed the finish line. I jumped off and hid her behind a truck so the horse wouldn't run into us!), we only dropped to 7th place! I'm not usually one to brag, but Buck said we were one of the best rides out there that day ;)

Lusty giving her input on stud choice for my friends in the intermediate
Show jumping began the next morning with Advanced. Lusty had her usual hack around 730, then we were on around 840 to warmup. It was tricky keeping her calm because the lower levels were finishing cross country literally right next the the warmup ring (yikes). Lusty stayed focused and calm and jumped like a pro both in the warmup and in the ring. We had one of the few double clear rounds in Advanced!

Fizzy was a very good girl later on in the prelim. We had 2 down and dropped to 7th, but I am so happy with how she is coming along, such a fantastic girl.

When I checked the placings on my phone a few hours later, found out that Lusty and I moved up to 4th with that double clear! I must admit my eyes got a little misty. I feel truly honored and lucky to have such a wonderful partner and amazing people around me who have supported us to get to this level. We are competing with the best and being competitive. With more to learn and more to see, I know it won't be easy, but I am eager to continue on this grand adventure and can't wait to try the next advanced!!!

Jump like you mean it-

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