Friday, April 24, 2009

Hot Times!

When you’re hot, you’re hot….and sitting in the front row just inches from that lovely new footing—which reflected the sun’s warmth tenfold—was sweltering. We could only take it in short bursts.

I was eager to see home town (well, Texas, anyway!) local Bonner Carpenter here on Acapulco Jazz, the Mexican QH. She had a solid test, with some very nice lead changes. A stumble in the corner sent up some “oohs!” from the crowd, but overall it was a good test.

The announcer asked the spectators NOT to applaud after Kyle Carter of Canada’s test, or “he might exit the arena faster than he’s supposed to”!

Watching Amy Tryon’s warmup, there was some excitement; Leyland was definitely “up”! He threatened to do some aires above ground, and Amy wisely made him move around the cameras and judge’s box. She noted that he was very green earlier, and I think she was making sure that he calmed down and still stayed up.

That’s something I’m learning—and that’s being reinforced—lately: GOOD dressage is both constrained and free, supple and controlled. You can’t get it by being lazy, or by allowing your horse to be lazy. You both have to be energetic yet relaxed. The line between these is often delicate, as I’m seeing here more and more. In Amy and Leyland’s case, it was a fine one indeed. They had a good, solid test with some really nice lateral work. Bravo for Amy for keeping her focus!

Several of the horses went in a double bridle. I have to learn more about when the double bridle is necessary/appropriate, but in some horses’ cases—like, for instance, Chaos Theory—the horse seemed tight and constrained without being relaxed and flexible.

John Nunn picked Nicolas Touzaint and Hildago De L’ile to win this year, because “the French ‘go for it’!” That was made clear as he did his extended trot—he pushed so hard he broke into a canter, but like Amy, he didn’t dwell on it and went on to have a lovely, relaxed test with nice bend.

But it was Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo who stole the moment. The pair came in looking polished and ready, and while they weren’t the “floatiest” nor did they have the biggest movement, the two had a beautiful, tranquil, supple test with really, really nice bends in their circles and their halfpasses. Accurate and Obedient, and very, very elastic and connected. The pair were together.

Headley Britannia was a close second, with Lucinda Fredricks aboard! The crowd actually “ooooh”ed when she did her changes, they were so buoyant and light.

Another strong performer was Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe and The Good Witch. They had a good, consistent test going, and the horse simply didn’t want to do the reinback. Rather than fighting and worrying, she simply went on. Did the score hurt her? Of course….but less so than poor scores down the line.

Philip Dutton had flying “leap” changes instead of “lead” changes on Connaught! Other than that, though, his test, too, was accurate and smooth, putting him in the top ten.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Buck Davidson on My Boy Bobby. First, the horse is a TANK! Reminds me of when Karen O’Connor met Dylan…”you mean S.S. Dylan!” I know the horse is relatively young/inexperienced, by the pair make it look easy. Just proves that a big horse can be graceful and supple and relaxed….!

It was a joy to see Bruce Davidson at the end on Cruise Lion. The pair walked in OWNING the place. He rode with long reins, and they didn’t score particularly well, but there was an obvious connection between the two.

William Fox-Pitt cut an imposing figure on Seacookie. What a balanced, TALL man he is!

Several of the horses here are getting up in years. I wonder if that portends anything?

All in all, a really good day two. We ended up with two women in the lead: Bettina Hoy and Lucinda Fredericks. Let’s go ladies!

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