Jodhpurs and baseball caps. There are literally people in jodhpurs and baseball caps EVERYWHERE. And I love it. This is the first time I have been or competed in Aiken. We used to hit Southern Pines in March when I was younger, but that was the extent of our Southern travels. So I was very excited to see what it’s all about!
Before we left, on Thursday Eddie had an exciting visit from his old yearling manager and breeder from Hinkle Farms. She had last seen him 7 years ago, and I picked her up from the airport so she could greet and ride Eddie in his new home since being adopted from New Vocations back in May 2014. You can read more about that experience on her blog here.
We arrived in Aiken last Friday around 4pm, and it has been a whirlwind ever since. Today is the first day I have really been able to sit down and take things in. I am telecommuting for work while down here, so I have been able to enjoy a more relaxing schedule this Monday. I don’t mind having to work on this trip, because it will keep me busy and keep me from overworking myself around the barn!
So here is a recap of what went down this weekend, and my first impressions of Aiken, land of equestrians.
Friday, we embarked for the long haul down here. We took alternative routes to 95, so it took us a bit longer, but it was a much more enjoyable and scenic ride. I was most impressed with how Eddie took the ride. He was patient and relaxed. He even walked off the trailer like a gentleman after being stuck still for 10 hours.
We were greeted by our lovely hosts in Bridle Creek. (I will forfeit the named location for privacy). They had Eddie’s arrangements all set out before we even got here. They were so welcoming to both Eddie, my mom and I. Eddie has his own stall with free access to a nice sized paddock. He settled right in. And our room is adjoined to his paddock! So, I can conveniently check on him.
Saturday, we decided to journey into town to see the happenings and what was available for us to do. I also walked my courses for Sporting Days HT where Eddie ran Training. In the afternoon, our hosts took Eddie and I for a hack around our equestrian community. It was a blast! Eddie thoroughly enjoyed himself, and was eagerly marching along… much to his company’s dismay. We were accompanied by a small Quarter Horse, and even smaller Arabian. I think Eddie had a foot on each of them, they had to trot to keep up with him! The trails here are very nice, and the footing is great. They are wide enough to walk side by side. While they were great fun, I prefer Maryland’s more colorful scenery.
Sunday, it was finally time for Eddie to compete at his first event of 2017! It was a short journey to Sporting Days Horse Trials, so I had a relaxing morning getting him prepared. It’s much easier to clean and braid your horse, when he is just a quick step outside of your room. I didn’t have set expectations for the day considering his last competition was in October. My biggest goal was to have a confident introductory round to the season. I was hoping to break 30 in the dressage again, but we closed out at a 30.7. In hindsight, I should have allowed for a longer warm-up for Eddie in the dressage since it was his first time out. He is a very relaxed horse per usual. But the busy warm-up and deeper footing made him quite tense. He has been going superbly at home, and I barely got an ounce of that at the show due to nerves. Nothing to blame on his part. I am impressed we can score so well, considering. Stadium and XC were a blast. Horses were easily making the time in SJ, so I took it slow and steady like my trainer and I had planned. He jumped clean, one second under time 😊 We like to live on the edge… XC on the other hand, we were much quicker. I was so impressed how he just galloped each jump in stride. It did take him the first few fences to take hold of the bit. It was the first time we rode in the elevator gag since last season. But he quickly settled in to a nice pace. We finished on our dressage score to hold 6th place.
Overall, I am impressed so far with the happenings down here in Aiken, SC. If I had to lodge one complaint, it would be that the footing in warm-up easily gets torn up since it’s base is sand. But there are more pros than cons to that aspect of the footing. Because, the footing will stay soft without rain. I also am impressed with how smoothly the event ran. They must get a lot of practice organizing all year round! The officials and volunteers were wonderful!
Eddie gets a rest day today. Then we will train and hack the rest of the week. Next stop Full Gallop Horse Trials!