It seems just yesterday that I was cheering when the Princess made her way around her first jumping course at a show. But today marks two years of working on the great Project Fiona, and oh, how far the Princess has come.
The first 'after' video is me and Fi at the UNH dressage show. That mare has really developed some serious 'bounce per ounce'. I heard that phrase from a commentator at Rolex and loved it. The second 'after' video is from yesterday where Fiona went for a lovely gallop with her junior rider at the GMHA horse trials, completing their first sanctioned Novice together. They finished on their dressage score and took sixth place in a very competitive Junior Novice division. They have one last Novice next weekend at Huntington before the junior rider is off to college.
It's been a wild year. On the one hand, Fiona has grown by leaps and bounds. Gone is the mare that looked mildly confused at shows and didn't like crowds of people looking at her. There are no more 'overly expressive' comments on her dressage score sheets and we no longer clear the ring while jumping. She's now a confirmed, confident, enthusiastic Novice level horse that's schooling Training level exercises. We're on track to do the long format Novice Three Day next summer, which is a big goal for me. Two qualifying scores down, two to go. We're scheduled to do two more Novices this year so hopefully we'll be all set before the season ends. We also got our first qualifying score at First Level in dressage and got a blue ribbon for her Training Three test. That's progress by leaps and bounds.
On the other hand, it's been the year of the guest riders. A lot of her last year took place with other riders for various reasons. Fiona went from being the horse no one jumped to being a bit of a common place event. Two working students, my trainer, and a friend all jumped the Princess this year. Many riders have ridden her on the flat, including a somewhat nervous senior citizen taking her out for a trail ride. I never, ever would have thought that the slightly nervous, jumpy TB mare I bought would one day be declared so bomb proof on trails that she would be lent out to riders that needed a steady partner.
But that's what I wanted. I don't want Fiona to be a one person horse. I want her to be a horse that many people can enjoy. However, I'm hoping that I can be in the saddle for more of her accomplishments in the coming year. I like being her cheering squad, but I like being with her when she flies over the fences even more.
I baked up a bag of cookies for the Princess to celebrate the occasion. I figured she deserved it after her wonderful performance yesterday. After Huntington, I'll be taking over as primary rider again and gearing up for the Labor Day Three-Phase where we'll be moving up to the Training/Novice division. After that is a trip to GMHA and then a possible trip to New Jersey to try out the Jersey Horsepark. It looks like it's going to be a very exciting year three.