Tough Day in the Irons at Fair Hill

Yesterday Armani IV, known around the barn as George, did a reasonably good dressage for a green horse. The trot was good but the canter got a little exciting, especially when we tried to do a flying change, which looked like a rodeo movement! Then he settled and did the test well to the end. We scored a 64, leaving us about three quarters of the way through the field.

The cross-country course was brilliantly built; it’s always a long, grueling course that not only has big, technical fences but the landscape is such that you’re always going up or down a hill which makes it a big physical test of the horse. George is a very big jumping horse and I had a great feel over the first section of the course.

We jumped the first real tough and testing combination, the double corners, and he jumped the first corner brilliantly and then was a little green getting three strides to the next corner. We both misread it a little bit and bumped into the flag. We took the option after that and kept going on course, and started to get to know each other through the middle of the course.

We got through the touch accuracy and turning question in the ring plus the coffin, and then at the water we jumped in well enough but again misread the angling brush out, where he ducked out on me for the second time on course. Even though he was jumping the majority of fences pretty well I decided to throw up the white flag and retire.

It’s a long, lonely walk back from cross-country when you’ve retired but I think this horse has a big future ahead of him. He’s got a good jump but it’s just a bit green for this level at the moment. I think the best plan with him is to give him a little break, regroup and go back to basics for a while with his usual rider Erin Sylvester and hopefully have a promising next year.


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