This past Sunday, Eva did her very first dressage test as part of the Beginner Novice class at the Santa Rosa Equestrian Center's Combined Test. There's a bumper sticker I saw on Facebook that states: "Ride an OTTB, and finish your dressage test faster!". I actually thought about that while riding the test and couldn't help but smile as I was kicking Eva along as she obviously was enjoying being in the spotlight and did not need to speed through the proceedings. In all seriousness, I am thrilled with having an OTTB who I HAVE TO KICK! For TB's in general, their downfall with the dressage court is that they get tense and when they do, their performance suffers. Classic Eva (who still maintains that she is retired from racing doesn't need to do ANYTHING fast) just gracefully flowed around the arena, practically half-asleep so was so relaxed. Our upward canter transitions are still quite "expressive" as she is still learning what exactly to do with her feet during the transition but she comes right back and got her best scores on the canter work.
A fairly good score put after dressage put us in 2nd going into show jumping and she kept her place with a stellar double clear round. I am especially proud of her as the fences were up to height at 2'7", which is quite a bit bigger than anything we had done previously. She actually seemed to enjoy having a bit more to jump and knew exactly what she needed to do to negotiate the twisting course and keep all the rails up. I have started quite a few young horses over the years to say the least, and I have never found one to be so game and straightforward to the fences (of course without being fast!). This is a really special horse and am very much looking forward to showing some more this fall.
Today is the one year anniversary of Jumpin Janet's last win. She has experienced and accomplished so many new things in such a short amount of time and clearly, once a winner, always a winner!
The most wonderful thing about taking race horses and developing them into Event horses is that they really are designed for the job of running and jumping. Time and again they make the transition into our sport so effortlessly proving that the track really can be a terrific source for Event prospects and a good OTTB is hard to beat when it comes to finding a quality, affordable performance horse.
Last weekend, my friend and I were able to get our OTTB girls out onto a cross-country course and officially introduce them to the best (and most exciting) part of our sport. Not surprisingly, both horses took to it immediately and showed quite a bit of bravery and intelligence as they negotiated terrain, fixed jumps, ditches, banks, and water.
I was thrilled with how well Eva took to the job and really seemed to enjoy herself. She still feels that there is no need to overly exert herself, yet is quite tidy, making sure everything is jumped cleanly and with fairly good technique. For her first attempt, I am so excited by her performance and cannot wait to see what she is capable of once she gets to a level that challenges her a bit more, but for now, it's important that she understands she can pop down a bank or over a ditch quietly on the buckle :)