Rock on Rose in Top 3 at The Fork

Amber Heintzberger Photo

The Fork CIC*** and Horse Trials was a fantastic lead-up to the Kentucky three-day event for me. All three had strong performances this weekend and I feel like they had a little bit left in the tank to improve when we go to Kentucky in three weeks’ time.

In the CIC*** I rode Neville Bardos who put in a good dressage test which would have been a score of 49 except I made a course error in the canter work near the end of the test, adding a penalty of two marks to finish not far off the pace on a score of 51. He cruised around the cross-country, I held him back and didn’t put the hammer down and he jumped brilliantly. We had one nasty fence at the first water but he managed to bail me out on that one. I felt he’s plenty fit enough and I was pretty happy with the way he ran cross-country. He show jumped better than he did at Southern Pines; I was bit unlucky to have the back rail of the triple bar down. I enjoyed being warmed up by American show jumping coach Katie Prudent for the first time.

Rock on Rose, better known around the barn as Lusty, had the best weekend that she’s had this year. I finally figured out how to get a relaxed dressage test out of her and it’s definitely not pushing her and forcing her through moments of tension. This time I went completely the opposite way and when she got tense and nervous I simply hopped off, loosened the girth and gave her a bit of grass to eat until she completely calmed down.

She felt very strong and confident in the cross-country and show jumping phases and it was a nice feeling to finally give Bruce Davidson a ring to tell him how successful his homebred mare had gone, especially as he’s recovering from back surgery right now.

I feel like this mare’s primed for Kentucky. She feels a million dollars and more importantly I feel her attitude and personality is upbeat and happy.

It was great to be back on my old mate Remington after the depression and worry of thinking he might have to have some time off. We had concerns over the past couple of weeks that he had sustained an injury but for one of the first times in my life it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. It was not an ideal preparation for The Fork advanced, not riding or jumping the horse much in the last fortnight but he taught me a good lesson on the weekend: that he actually competes better without me over training him. He was fantastic in all three phases and I was most impressed by the way he show jumped. I had a rail which I can blame to myself right at the end of the course, for not giving him an ideal approach to the fence.

The big relief is the way the horses all jogged up on Monday morning. All of them look fit and sound, their legs are nice and tight, and my gut feeling is that I have three good rides for Kentucky in a fortnight.

For the next couple weeks I’ll be fine-tuning their dressage tests, will probably be able to fit in three or four more gallops, and basically will be priming them up for the biggest event of their lives.

I was really impressed with my working pupil Lillian Heard who competed in and completed her first CIC*** on Share Option. She rode beautifully all weekend and this is definitely a horse and rider for the future. I was most relieved that I managed to beat her by one point to keep the upper hand.


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  1. Boyd, I’ve known Lusty for a few years now and even thought my riding is not so hot, I do consider myself a good horsewoman. I have never seen Lusty look so content in her work. Honestly, the relaxation on her face and body is much prettier than any ribbon.

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