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Reflecting on the Kentucky Classic

I’m currently driving home to Pennsylvania after a very successful trip to Lexington, Kentucky.  I took a small group of horses down to a jumper show called the Kentucky Classic.  This is the first time I’ve done this sort of trip, and looking back it was well worth the effort.  My Olympic teammates Phillip Dutton and Will Coleman also made the pilgrimage down to Kentucky with their event horses to get some mileage in teh show ring. We are all good friends and train with our English jumping coach Richard Picken, who happens to live right around the corner.
On the first two days I competed Crackerjack and Kyra in the main Rolex Stadium, which happens to be the same ring that we jump in for the CCI4**** in April.  Both days Richard had me compete the horses in the 1.30m jumpers, which is about 5 centimetres higher and wider than we are used to competing in eventing.  This was a great exercise because it really took me out of my comfort zone and made me feel and deal with the pressure.  Warming up and jumping against professional jump riders also was a bit unique.  I did notice a few unusual looks from the jumpers at the 3-day eventing boys having a crack!  I’m proud to say that the three of us got in there and held our own even though we were in deep water.
Bonito, Long Island T, and On Cue are definitely three horses for the future for me.  To be honest, I wouldn’t call show jumping their strongest phase in eventing. I did five rounds on each horse over the three days in the 1.15m, 1.20m, and high schooling jumpers.  Richard is a sensational coach; he’s been working with these horses for a long time now and has really perfected their warm up.  The other positive of this trip was figuring out what sort of ride to give each horse in the ring to get them to jump their best.
I also would like to give a big thank you to Sophie Middlebrook, who came down to groom for me, and Young Rider sensation Alex Baugh whom just stepped off a plane from a very successful trip to Montana to groom for us.  I was so impressed with the work ethic from this young rider. Most kids would be having a vacation after the NAJYRC and she was out their grinding away all day, soaking up information.
I must give a special thanks to Alex and Tricia Boone.  They hosted me at their beautiful Kentucky farm for a couple of nights, which made this trip especially luxurious.  They also had all the eventers over for dinner one evening for a sensational meal.
Our next outing will be at the Millbrook Horse Trials in a week’s time.
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