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Lived through my little debut at Third Level 3…..Axel crucified me on Saturday but the other two judges were more encouraging, with marks that reflected what I felt I experienced in the test . Yes…first time showing since Spring 2008 and I had to show in front of THREE judges in the indoor. I haven’t ridden in  an indoor in years and never on Rafi…Oh well. My Sunday ride scored about the same {low to mid fifties….have much to learn about show prep!}. But here and there I got some sevens…my flying changes and my turns on the haunches. With the exception of Axel, I felt my judges assessed me fairly and with valuable comments….all in all? A good experience!

Arie was still in first place for high score for the weekend when we left the show….don’t know if he won that or not…..but he was a very good except for his Thursday school. The wind was simply awful and like many horses, he wanted NO part of the flapping tents being used as judging boxes. I always wonder why management puts the lowest level horses in the rings with the more spooky environments??? I mean, the Jim Brandon has an outdoor ring with a permanent structure….shouldn’t beginners and very young horses be given that ring over the flapping tent ring? I know youngsters have to be exposed to all things…..but must they get that exposure all at once in their early days of showing? And what about beginner training level riders? Don’t they deserve the safer ring??? Like they aren’t nervous enough???

I always wonder about these things …..does management even think about this?

We regretfully waved farewell to our working student Kassie Barteau. She returned to Illinois to her home barn. I will always be grateful for the fabulous start she gave Arie in his  competition career! She was a joy to get to know and a wonder on a horse….utterly fearless, totally confident and what talent!!! I’m sending her kisses as I write this.

 I am letting our other working student, Taylor, ride Arie until Cathy’s assistant comes down next week. Taylor is very competent and eager for this chance. I am giving her this opportunity hoping that Arie doesn’t spook and unseat her! Taylor is very petite and Arie is VERY strong and athletic. But we are lunging him before she gets on. So far, so good….if we can keep him on an even keel until Jen arrives, Taylor will get the experience she’s craving. Arie is quite capable of working in a quiet safe way and as long as Taylor doesn’t challenge him too much, we will have agood experience for all!

On the other hand, Jen has brought several babies along for Cathy {Cathy is 68 and doesn’t ride the babies anymore}. She has tremendous tact and kindness, can stick any surprises a young horse can offer and understands Cathy’s system completely! And this is what I want for Arie now that he is more settled….a consistant rider that can work with him this year to get the bugs out and protect his talent! He is a very exciting horse and I cannot wait until he is ready for me to share the ride…This is the most important year and once Jen gets here, she’ll have the ride until Cathy deems him mature enough for us to take over. We lose Taylor in May when we head north, so I’ve decided it’s in Arie’s best interest to bring Jen down. Hope Taylor isn’t too hurt by my decision but I don’t know her riding ability that well and she is new to Cathy’s way of training. Jen has my total confidence! So I am risking hurt feelings because I want the very best for Arie!

Tomorrow I’m going to try Rafi in the double….When I bought her, she was being ridden exclusively in the full bridle. But she tended to be on the fore hand and was insufficiently engaged in her body and not truly through her back. Hampered by her injuries, we only rode her in the snaffle bringing her back. Once she was ready for full work, we kept her in the snaffle until she understood her engagement and throughness. Now we can ride her through the Grand Prix work in the snaffle. So tomorrow both of us will be having an important lesson. I haven’t ridden in the double since maybe 2002….hope I remember how!!!

I’m upping my exercise yet again even though I’m still coughing…ran a mile and a third yesterday and did an hour at the gym tonight! I saw photos of me at the award ceremony at the Derby! I wanted to die! I joke about being a fat athlete….but I really would like to look as fit as I actually am!!!