Postcard 3: 2008 Developing Rider Tour, Poland

Developing Rider coach Melanie Smith Taylor sends her final update from the Poland leg of the USEF Show Jumping Developing/Young Rider Tour.

June 8, 2008 — The final day of showing was again successful. Michael on Crelido and Alexa on Nadyleen were fourth and seventh in the big accumulator class in the morning out of 60-plus entries. Both had quick, clear rounds. The footing was a bit slick, as they had watered the grass just before the class, making it difficult to turn tight.

In the same class, Jeanne again was the fastest 4-faulter, with Night and Day. Alexa rode Cruise around with no problem with the Jumbotron today. Tracey had a solid clear on her young horse, Triumph, who hit a slick spot two strides after the final jump and tumbled to the ground. Tracy got up unhurt, and Triumph was up a few seconds later. He was tangled in his reins. They were wrapped around his front legs as if he were hobbled. Having to break the bridle to free himself, he handled the situation calmly and everyone left the arena sound–although a bit stunned.

The grand prix in the afternoon was long and big. The open water was the third jump. The triple was vertical/oxer/vertical, and the double was triple bar to vertical, somewhat technical in places with a very tight time allowed, causing riders to either have time faults or get rushed and have jumping faults.

Tracy went early on Tarco, who had a slight tummy ache in the morning. Cricket diagnosed it as a gas bubble, so he recovered quickly and was deemed good to go. He showed plenty of energy in the ring and had 8 faults, possibly due to over-enthusiasm. He is such a cute horse, and Tracy and he have a great partnership.

Jeanne and Nielson didn’t have their best showing. She said he was a bit difficult to rate in the ring, and she wished she had prepared him better on the flat in the morning. It is a fine balance knowing how much or how little to do.

James was the final rider for us and his Gigi jumped beautifully, although two rails fell as James felt slightly rushed in places to make the time. These difficult courses with tight time allowed are good learning experiences. It is always a fine balance, as I said, to learn how to make the time allowed without feeling hurried.

You have to find places to make up time and know when you need to settle and take a breath in places and be extra careful in the trouble spots. You have to develop a clock in your head and know where you are on time throughout the course without feeling rushed. Everyone knows I hate time faults!

So the show has ended here in Poznan and all our riders feel they gained valuable experience and knowledge, even though we have not padded our bank accounts with prize money!

Speaking of bank accounts: As the day wound down and everyone was settling their individual show accounts and paying for feed and bedding for the horses, we discovered that credit cards were not accepted for most things. It was Sunday afternoon in Poland and no banks were open. We are not talking about just needing pocket change. Horses were not allowed to leave the premises without all bills being totally paid. I asked if we could wire money first thing Monday morning from the States, but that was out of the question. So the riders got creative and found ATM machines at a gas station, getting lost a few times along the way. Thank goodness for ATMs.

So we are “out of jail” in Poznan and headed to a layover facility near Frankfort, then on into Aach, Germany, for the next show. The “big” (Olympic short list) team shows in Aachen but we are showing in Aach. We practice different ways of saying Aach in a sentence with the word “and” after it so it sounds like we are saying Aachen!

I decided to sightsee a bit on my own in lieu of the drive following horses, and I am headed to Warsaw for a day and night. I am so close and figured why not? I will fly from there to Stuttgart and drive 140km to Aach Tuesday afternoon to meet everyone there, hopefully arriving before them to check on stalls etc.

We have heard that Aach is a beautiful show nestled in the Black Forest area just north of the Swiss border. In fact, our hotel is in Switzerland and the show is in Germany. We expect we will need some of the sweaters packed away, as temps are expected to be cooler with a possibility of rain.

I am sorry to leave Poznan for one reason: I have discovered the most beautiful running routes near the hotel. The broad median in the boulevards is lined with giant trees overlapping above a jogging/bike path down the middle that goes forever and intertwines throughout the city. At points, it empties into a park where people are walking their dogs, making me nostalgic for home and my eight dachshunds. It gets light at 4 a.m., so I have plenty of time to run in the morning before heading to the show. It gets dark around 9 p.m.

Hope all is well for all of you. There are more adventures on the way, I am sure. Stay tuned!

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