morag_badminton.jpgI have been a bit remiss on the blog lately as several of you have made a point of mentioning ;-) Well, to be honest, cross country day at Badminton was such a NA fiasco that the STRUGGLE to get online at Badminton didn’t even enter our minds. All you can say at the end of it was that it was a learning experience that had to happen and that the problems encountered were related to being at Badminton and not because all the NA horses had suddenly fallen apart.

Firstly, not the Olympics, Kentucky or WEG prepared either the horses or the riders for the density and numbers of spectators ALL the way along the gallop tracks and of course at every fence. I heard on the radio that it tickets approx quarter of a million spectators, making it the second biggest ticketed outing in the world, number one is some Formula One thing somewhere.

There is no doubt in my mind that the density of the spectators took away some of Colombo’s usual aggressive gallop and jump on the first half of the course although he was still jumping well. After he stopped at the sunken road, he seemed to get it together and the second half was usual Colombo, whizzing along and picking up the jumps en route. He did great in show jumping, which is something that he and Selena always work at. He had one rail, which was just bad luck.

Gin and Juice had an uncharacteristic run out on a skinny. Hawley said that she (Ginny) just didn’t seem to focus on it. Again, I think the depth and breadth of spectators just took Ginny’s eye off the game for a second. However, Hawley had an absolutely spectacular cross country round other than that bobble, Ginny really IS the most beautiful cross country machine.

Out of six outstanding NA horses, three US and three CDN, only one got around clean and only three in total made it through the finish flags…..UGH. My own personal ten cents worth???  The horses went over to England too close to Badminton was part of the issue….just my own thoughts.

Since then life has gone ahead fast and furious. I stayed in the UK to introduce our very own Canadian Omega Alpha horse supplements to the Europeans. They were very well received, especially ‘Chill’, Omega Alpha’s ‘calmer’, which the Brits can’t seem to get enough of.  I don’t know if it’s the infusion process or just what they put in it but the OA products actually work.  eah Canadian!

Colombo meanwhile flew to New York and Selena and Anne Marie flew to Toronto. I had left our car in Toronto airport when I flew over and Selena picked it up and drove back. She had to drive to NY a couple of days later to pick Mr C up from quarantine. He arrived back in good fettle, none the worse for his European adventure. The day I got back Selena left for Jersey Fresh to do the CIC** with Foxwood High. I was flying down on the Thursday to groom for her on the weekend and help with the drive home on the Sunday night. While I was driving to Syracuse airport, I got the phone call from Selena saying she had been disqualified for being unlevel in the dressage ring…ARRGGGHHH! Selena said he seemed to tread on himself behind just before she halted at X and she felt him unlevel in her shoulder in and her lengthenings.  We needed that CIC to qualify for Bromont CCI** as Foxwood High (Woody) had not done a CCI* and needed to do one or the other. I turned my car around, no point in flying anywhere now, and Selena drove home that afternoon. 

After a quick brainstorm we decided to take Woody to Virginia the following week and do the one star there, thus qualifying him to do Bromont CCI**. This was a very unplanned trip and we were lucky that the VA organiser, Brian Ross was kind enough to take our late entry by email so that Woody could compete. I think David O’Connor (course designer) might have had something to do with the smooth path our late entry took. We added Solo to the trip and entered him in the OI. I won’t bore you with all the details, suffice it to say we had a great weekend, Solo won the OI and Woody won the CCI*. The CCI* was particularly gratifying as they played the Canadian anthem for the ribbon ceremony, something that always makes me very proud.

Home for a few days then the whole team went to Ottawa horse trials and the Ladies Dressage Group went to their own first show of the season. Everyone had a great time and the barn is knee deep in ribbons and enthusiastic focused horses and riders in both disciplines.  

Last week was Bromont and we went in feeling pretty good after the double win with the two boys. They were both entered in the CCI** and we were particularly excited about Solo. However…..horses are there to make you humble. Here we had success and disappointment. Dealing with the disappointment first. Solo has been doing great in his dressage. All has been going well and he has been a good boy for months…literally. Since his xc and sj and always fabulous, we have been working and waiting for the dressage to catch up and it seemed like all was finally falling into place. On dressage day at Bromont, as soon as Selena tried to pick up canter…any canter…he turned into a rodeo horse. She bronco’d her way through the canter sequences in the dressage test and ended up with a 74.7  just .3 into being a qualifying mark. Needless to say, we were heartbroken especially when we went back to the stall and took the saddle off and his back was very obviously sore. We had Dr Ober, the Canadian team vet look at it and she diagnosed saddle problems. Our brand new (one month old) beautiful made to measure saddle that Selena had made to fit him was pinching his withers. Possibly his suddenly ‘going well’ this Spring after he had his last fitting caused his back to change shape and while Selena had been using the saddle it had been pinching.

Unfortunately, matters came to a head at Bromont and he was unable to tolerate the discomfort….ugh. To make matters worse – Dr Ober having said that his jumping saddle was not irritating the inflamed area, Selena took him out across country the next day. He galloped up the mountain with his usual fervor, got to the coffin, was playing around spooking at the jump judges and suddenly realised he was too close to the third element to jump it. He turned around and hopped straight over, very embarrassed with himself and paid serious attention to the rest of the course. He was one of the few clear rounds in the stadium, making it look easy, however his terrible dressage and his stupid runout in the xc had blown his CCI** and he just squeaked by with a qualifying score.

The good news was Foxwood High, John Rumble’s lovely hanovarian cross tb that Selena is lucky enough to be riding.  He has skipped up the levels this year with cheerful confidence and did a beautiful XC round and had one unlucky rail in the stadium.  His dressage was good enough for him to finish in eleventh place, just outside the ribbons.  We were incredibly proud of him and amazed at the way he takes it all in his stride.  He is really enjoying himself!

Well that is us up to date.  Things at Balsam Hall are slowly taking shape.  The barn has a nice feel to it and the horses are relaxed and maybe a bit too fat.  I had to bite the bullet and go and buy a very elderly John Deere…..don’t ask how elderly, it’s elderly enough that it would be rude to ask.   Poor little tractor took one look at the waist high grass and fainted.  I had to go bush hog it all before we even showed the poor little thing the lawn!  My dreams of JD whipping around the outside of the paddocks are fading into mist.  Maybe next year we can buy a younger and more resilient version.  There are acres of grass here, all just waiting to be cut and then the stupid stuff grows again ….overnight!

So….with being on the road and cleaning and clearing 100 acres, life is rushing along at it’s usual merry pace.  I have to go cut grass…..