Postcard 2: 2008 Developing Rider Tour, Poland

Developing Rider coach Melanie Smith Taylor reports on the activities on day three of the USEF Show Jumping Developing/Young Rider Tour in Poland.

Melanie Smith Taylor offers some tips to Developing Riders Michael Morrissey and Alexa Lowe. | © 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

June 7, 2008 — Day three in Poznan went well. Tracy was fifth in a big speed class on Tarco. It was the final qualifier for the grand prix, so it assured her a spot. Getting any ribbon here is terrific. This turned out to be a huge show with lots of quality horses and riders.

Michael jumped a slow clear on Scarabaras and Jeanne had just 4 faults on Night and Day. Alexa’s new horse, Credit Cruise, was stunned by the Jumbotron at the far end of the ring and was a bit shy of that end.

James’ other good mare, Trulli, is recovering from a stone bruise on the day we arrived, and he decided not to show her this week to be safe. The footing around the stabling is dicey in places. You have to watch for stones and glass and this was just unfortunate for them.

That is why it is so nice to have our own vet, Cricket DiScala, with us to advise us on these occasions. We are taking advantage of her expertise by having her give us clinics on pertinent issues. Cricket has gone over each of the horses with their riders and shown them what to check each day and changes to be most aware of as a general rule. We have discussions of proper medication when needed, nutrition and other issues that develop us as better horsemen. Everyone asks questions and has things to offer from their experience. We are really enjoying sharing knowledge.

The six-bar class was the final of the day and we only had Jeanne entered. She had 4 faults in the first round. The funniest and most memorable moment of the day was when Alexa came back to the barn after walking the course, purely out of interest. She casually said to me that she wished she had entered this class because the six-bar was actually two triple combinations. Three plus three equals six is the way they do it here. The first triple was headed right to the Jumbotron that her horse was afraid of and it would have been a perfect school for him.

So I said, “Let me see if you can go. I will run up to the office, as the class is always light on entries, and you go put on your boots.”

I darted to the office and they said she could go, but she would have to go first! I sent her a text message, which would be more fleet than my feet, and told her she had seven minutes. Meanwhile, Cruise was quietly sleeping in his stall with bandages on and straw in his tail. Four riders and four grooms leapt to attention to help Alexa as I flew to the schooling area to prepare a jump for her.

In seven minutes, Cruise went from being in his stall in his pajamas to entering the ring in formal attire.

This turned out to be such a good idea, as Alexa, with another strong ride, was able to jump the fences toward the Jumbotron and be relieved that she had conquered that issue. It was truly amazing and gave us another fond memory of this week. Tina Lund ended up winning the class. I don’t know the final height but it looked like a puissance wall.

We have three entries qualified for the grand prix: Tracy on Tarco, James on Gigi and Jeanne on Nielson. Unfortunately, because of the way the qualifying system worked, Michael and Crelido and Alexa and Nadyleen can’t start. They limit the number to 38 and those horses didn’t do well enough in the right classes. Major bummer, as they are both so ready to go for the win, too, along with our other good shots. But they will most likely show in another class in the morning.

We have been told by other riders that this was the biggest grand prix they jumped all year in the past. This is definitely a big-time show, no question about it. We thought we might be big fish in a little pond, but it is quite the opposite, and we are working on our fishing skills.

Tonight we will attend a party to meet the president of Poznan (not Poland). All the horse show officials have been so nice to us.

Weather is still beautiful, mid-80s with a slight breeze and no humidity. Team spirit and morale is high, even though Nations’ Cup day was disappointing. This is a very competitive group and they are not happy about not being at the top of the leader board. I predict things are about to change there, fingers crossed.