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Aiken 2011 Recap

April 4, 2011

Flying Horse Farm traveled to Aiken, South Carolina for 2 weeks in March. The horses stayed at Jumping Branch Farm, a fabulous facility with a race track, cross country course, 2 dressage rings and stadium jumping course. We humans rented a cute house close to downtown Aiken.

Lilly and Chance settled right into their new home like pros – Leo and Priscilla took a little while longer. The farm was very active in the mornings with almost every ring and field in use – there was a lot of activity in comparison to our quiet farm in PA.

Over the course of 2 weeks, we took lessons with several trainers including Jane Cory, Sally Cousins, Julie Zapapas and Joy Brown (FEI dressage judge). We took cross country lessons, stadium jumping lessons and dressage lessons and learned so much!!

Some of the things we learned –

  • We’re never going as forward as we think we are when jumping – especially cross country.
  • There are no soft hands – just soft elbows. Practice following your horse’s mouth with your elbows at the walk to start to develop softness
  • Your entry down the center line should be bold, decisive and forward. It sets the stage for the whole test.
  • Accuracy is the foundation of a dressage test. Remember that the letters at the end of the long side are 6m from the corner. A 20m circle should meet the rail 4m past each letter.
  • Don’t compromise your position for a green horse.
  • Have patience and give your aides time to work. Sometimes it takes the horse a while to understand what the correct response is, but if you remain steady and correct they have a better chance of figuring it out.
  • Think more about the quality of the walk.
  • Competitions don’t always have the outcome you expect or desire, but you always learn something. Sometimes you have to get creative about how you interpret what success is.

Becca and Lilly and Alyson and Chance competed at Full Gallop Horse Trials the first weekend. Alyson and Chance completed a very challenging training level course while Lilly looked super confident galloping around the Novice course. Priscilla won her division at the Sporting Days Eventing Derby. Then on the last weekend, Alyson and Becca competed at Training level at Pine Top Horse Trials in Georgia, while Mindy and Leo competed at Beginner Novice.

Needless to say we didn’t like the 12 hours driving down and back from South Carolina, but the experience is always worth it!

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