I'm safe and secure in Aiken, SC! After 36 hours of no sleep, then 14 hours of sleep, I was ready to go play my role as an owner, rather than a rider. That's no mean feat. I swear, I was more tense and nervous on the side lines than I would have been in the saddle.
So first up I got to watch Fiona have a dressage lesson with a dressage specialist. She described her as 'not an easy ride', but also said she had the talent to do FEI level dressage. I almost burst into tears right there next to the ring. Not bad for a Craigslist purchase! Fiona has certainly muscled up quite a bit and looks every inch the show horse these days.
On Saturday we went to spectate for dressage and stadium. Here is the dressage test. Who is that calm, dignifed mare? It can't possibly be the princess!
Her stadium was considerably less dignified. She's started to protest turning again and she ended up with 20 time penalties when my trainer had to get creative to keep her on course. This is why she was bumped back down to beginner novice. Her steering seems to have temporarily vacated the premises.
After that, and a very harsh score from the dressage judge (I didn't think that test warranted a 40, I really didn't), ribbons were not a concern on cross country day. I stood on top of a preliminary fence with my heart in my throat to watch her go. And she looked amazing! There was never a doubt, her ears were pricked the whole way, and she looked very, very civilized. No, there were no ribbons this weekend, but Pine Top is a maxed out beginner novice course and she bounced around it like it was nothing. Hopefully, if her steering in stadium can be repaired again, we'll be able to move back to Novice.
It seems to be the opinion of everyone down here. She's very talented, but man, is she a tough ride.