What a beautiful week we had at Fair Hill! Not only was the weather absolutely perfect, I was also very grateful to have my parents fly in to spend the weekend with me. Last year I completed my first CCI 2* there, and this year I completed my second CCI 3*. Both years I’ve been lucky to have great weather at Fair Hill. There is a lot of atmosphere at Fair Hill, and the courses were all very nice this year. Ari and I had a great prep run at Plantation Field International a few weeks prior to Fair Hill, where we ran the CIC 3*.
Ari and I arrived on Tuesday for the first horse inspection, and prepared for the jog outs Wednesday afternoon. Then we competed Dressage on Thursday, where we put in a pretty good test for Ari. I was quite pleased with her since dressage has been our toughest phase. We didn’t score quite as well as we did at Plantation, but I am still happy with the improving relaxation thanks to all the help I have received from Blue Hill. Jessica has really been working with me to focus on every stride and ride extremely steady to keep Ari consistent, and it is really coming along. Ari is an incredible horse, but is also a bit challenging in the dressage, so she’s really teaching me how to ride. Moving on to the second phase, I walked the cross country course with Missy after Dressage. Walking the course was intimidating at first, but Missy thoroughly went through it with me and we came up with a solid plan. I also walked the course with the U25 coach, Leslie Law. It was great to see the other girls on the U25 list, and discuss our plans for the course. I walked my course a total of four times to really feel confident about the line I was going to take coming to each and every fence. Ari and I had a free day on Friday, so I just did a light flat school to keep her happy. I was also able to have Patti Gillen work on my County jump saddle right then and there to make sure everything was set and ready for Saturday, which was very nice of her and extremely helpful. By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I walked my course one last time, and began getting ready. I got more nervous as our ride time approached, but as soon as we headed out of the box, we were ready to tackle the course. Ari is an amazing cross country horse, and made it around the course brilliantly. I made a couple of mistakes, but she took care of me and we crossed the finish line with just a bit of time. I was absolutely thrilled. Then began the post Cross Country care, with icing, poulticing, liniment baths, wrapping, and hoof packing. Horses are so tolerant with all we do to them, especially since they don’t understand why we make them stand in buckets of ice and wait patiently while we fuss over their legs. Ari is a pro when it comes to all of this, and let us take care of her. Sunday morning came along, and it was an early morning to prepare for the final horse inspection. I was so grateful for the help of Todd and Stacey to make Ari feel her best after the great effort she put in the day before, and we passed jogs and continued to the final phase. Missy helped me warm up for Show Jumping and then we entered the ring. Ari was phenomenal and jumped so carefully around the whole course, even when I put her on a difficult stride into a combination. She pulled one rail due to my mistake, but finished the course wonderfully. She tried her heart out for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better run at my second CCI3*. Completing Fair Hill with a clean cross country run qualified me for Rolex next April, which is very exciting. Ari and I will continue to move forward in our training and see what next year brings! As always, a huge thanks to all of the people who always cheer me on. It is truly an amazing team here at Blue Hill, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone. I am also so fortunate to have wonderful sponsors who support me and my goals and dreams. It was great to have my parents at the show as well. What an unforgettable week!