Although we had 4 horses entered in the Fresno County Horse Park Horse Trials event, this dedication and article goes entirely to TF Kriesler aka Brad. Oh Brad. Never in my life have I ever met a horse quite like Brad. He is large in size and personality; and his ability to passively get whatever he wants in the end is truly amazing.
He can sometimes drive me crazy on the ground. He loves all his horse friends and really does not want to go anywhere without them. He doesn't see anything wrong with a few ripped out braids 15 mins before dressage. Or a nap on a "poo pillow" the night before an 8 am trot up.
Although Brad has a quiet look about him, his mind is always working. He can pick up any sort of trick or habit incredibly fast. Tonight's feat was escaping out of his stall - THREE TIMES... yes, that was me in my socks and pj's out of my bed in a flash all night long. However, there isn't a mean bone in his body, and he has a heart of gold. He has moved from Training to Advanced in just a few short years and he is proving to all that he loves the sport and is only getting started.
The Advanced level of eventing has always been something foreign to me. I have only been involved in this sport a few years now, and as I watched Brad and Sara racing across the countryside and flying over huge obstacles, I have to remind myself what a huge deal this is. They made it look so easy!
There is no other horse like that big grey gelding. Exasperating as he can be, anyone who has the privilege to know him personally can't help but feel lucky and blessed. Without even trying, this big boy has us all brimming with excitement about this year's show schedule . The upcoming trip back down to Californis; a trip across Canada to Quebec for Bromont in June (www.bromontcci.com) and our declaration for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
This show was not only Brad's first Advanced start, but Saras as well. A lifelong dream for any eventer that only a few have the honour to acheive. Not only does it take time and money. It takes that special horse that are few and far between. Against all odds they tackled it will all the gumption and grit only true Canadians possess!
We are so proud of our a 2nd place finish and thank you to everyone for all their ongoing support! We can't do this without you!...#GoBradGo
So the first event of the year is past us..... The first show of the season, no matter where the location or what level you compete at, is always a huge reality check. You quickly learn what you have as a team of horse and rider and what you need to work on.
No problem, that's why we love the sport of Eventing. With 3 separate disciplines there is always something to improve on!
First and foremost, our Canadian horses are super FIT!! I guess there is something to be said for running around in a snow bank... literally! All the horses were ready to go! The length of the cross-country course was easily attainable for each horse and they all came to the finish feeling great and cooling out quickly. Yay!!!!
Stadium jumping was a great demonstration of the effectiveness of all the technical exercises we have been doing in the compact space of our indoor arena. The horses were confident and ready for anything tricky that may show up.
Dressage day, however, was a different story... dressage is often considered a necessary evil to eventers everywhere. Lets face it the cross-country is where our hearts are at. We all make sure to do a few mins of flat work each day; go through the paces... was it good? It was great! Good enough!
Sigh...not so much. ...our incredibly fit horses were quite finished with the strictness of dressage by the time we finished warm up and had plenty of exuberant energy to release once in the "white fences". The pressure of the dressage ring was very apparent in our performance - so what have we been doing in our week "off" in the scorching heat of California while waiting for the next event? Dressage, every single day, without fail and for longer sessions each and every day.
Stay tuned on startbox at the Fresno County Horse park to see if all our dedication has paid off. Not quite the vacation we were picturing, but at least our farmers tan is well under way!
Sunny California here we come....who would have thought it would be cold and raining the entire way!!! I packed sunglasses and shorts! This horse girl planned for an early tan!
Day 1 started off with our beautiful black beast of a truck "Rowanda" protesting against the length of our trip.....a full tank of fuel and some lovin' we were on our way! Good girl 😊 By 8 am on we (Sara, TJ, Femika, Ari, Brad and the stowaway Rubicon) are officially in the truck , loaded and on our way. A snowfall on the Coquihalla made us choose the Fraser canyon - but we were en route! We ended the day at our favorite layover Roseburg Fairgrounds (http://www.co.douglas.or.us/dcfair/arenas.html) in Oregon. By 1:00 am the horses were settled and we moved enough "stuff " to crash for a few hours. After a full day of rain it wasn't too shocking that the trailer had a wee leak... or 2.
Day 2 is a 6:30am start. The constant snowfall warning along the Oregon mountain passes started to make us a bit apprehensive. But we were prepared (and appreciative) with a new set of tire chains for the trailer. However winter in Oregon is no quite the same as ol' BC ..so we were fine. We reached our second layover in Fresno California around 7 pm. A quick dinner of pizza and wine and we were DONE!
Day 3 started off a bit more exciting. Fresno offers a great opportunity for schooling cross country so we took full advantage! For us girls living in the "tundra", this is the first time our horses have seen a cross-country fence since last fall. A perfect opportunity to dust off the cobwebs, build some confidence and start the season off with a bang!
After a great school on all horses we hit the very straight, very boring 3 lane traffic of California. This is the ONLY stretch of the 2437 km that I (TJ) can't stand! It's sooooo boring! This is where Sara steps in as the driver for a few hours. When we hit the grid lock traffic of Sacramento, 5 Lanes going 120 km /hrs, I take over again.
Through the beautiful Tejon pass followed by the incredibly barren landscape of the desert we hit the 4 lane gridlock traffic of LA...we are almost there! I swear anyone who repair brakes would make a fortune in this country!
By 6:00 that evening we were finding stalls and settling our beautiful horses in for the night. Galaway Downs (galwaydowns.net) in Temecula California hosts big beautiful cement stalls, hooks for our buckets and a welcoming atmosphere. We all slept well!
Tomorrow is the start of a new season of opportunity ....