Reed Kessler: Showing in Chantilly, Day Three

Olympic show jumping team member Reed Kessler blogs about her rounds on Grey Goose and Mika in the first two days at GCT Chantilly 5* in Chantilly, France.

July 18, 2012–Hooray, we made it to Chantilly!

This morning we woke up extra early to get all the horses done before they shipped to Chantilly. First, I had a lesson on Mika with Wilton on Pal. Katie set some difficult bending lines off the turns. There was a tight double vertical one stride that could be a bending five or direct four to a skinny gate oxer or, if you turned the other way, a wide eight to a plain oxer. You could also jump the water straight on tight five to the double verticals. So basically it was a series of bending lines with difficult striding.


Mika has a pretty strong right drift, so fitting in the curving five from the skinny to the double was really difficult as it bent right. However, the wide eight was not so hard from the oxer to the double because it was going left. I always have to think ahead before I do courses with him to plan how his drift will help or hurt my course plan. He always normally adds anyway, so it was easier for him than it was for Wilton’s horse Pal. Pal is the opposite of Mika. He likes to bid and he goes left. So the eight was much more difficult for him than the five was. It’s really interesting to see different horses doing the same lines! We jumped big as it was Mika’s last school before this week’s 5 star. He jumped really really well–perfect little Wuby!

Next I had what felt like an extremely long flat lesson with Henri on Onisha without stirrups. If I had to choose any horse at the farm in Rosiers to ride without stirrups, the last one would be Onisha. My grooms all find it hilarious because the last time I rode her without stirrups was a very long time ago, and it was very funny for all who watched. Squishy is a hot and sensitive type and does not like to really be sat on, much less bounced repeatedly on. So she pretty much makes her back like piece of plywood causing me to only bounce harder. It is a vicious cycle. After I felt like my legs were about to fall off and Squishy’s back was about to cave in, Henri finally decided I had been tortured enough and I could move on to my last jumping lesson.

We jumped Cylana over the same lines as Mika. One mistake I made during the trials was in Kentucky on the last day from the water to the double liverpools. It was either a huntery five or a very tight six, I believe. I should have done the five but going second I decided the six was safer. Now someone going to the Olympics should be able to do BOTH well, and so needless so say I have jumped this line many, many, many, many, MANY times since then. I probably will until my dying day. That includes today. Cylana is a big girl and I’m pretty small so it is important in our training that she stays extremely adjustable and responsive to me. Obviously, though I try to build up my strength in my own training, I am not as strong as big Bertha! So I practiced and practiced until she was like an accordion. Her mouth and jump were absolutely perfect today and it was a great, great, great school.

While the girls loaded up the equipment and the horses, I ran home and finished up my packing. Tracey, my barn manager, picked me up and we hit the road! Tracey is my absolute favorite driving companion. Even the longest drives fly by with her in the car. What is hilarious about Tracey is her favorite songs always have lots of “oohs aaahs” and “nahnahnahs” in them so it is very fun to sing along in the car together. She loves Britney Spears, Alphabeat, Lilly Allen, Kelly Clarkson, and more. The five hours went by fairly quickly and we soon arrived in Chantilly!

I showed here last year and it has the most beautiful backdrop of the chateau and the stables. I was super excited to meet my mom and together we bedded up stalls for the horses to arrive. Cylana and Onisha are stabling near by at my friend Dalma Mahlas’ farm while Mika and Goose are at the show working hard! It was a fun reunion arriving. We got to see Lee (McLain’s manager), Katie Dinan, Cassie Holmes and Catherine Pasmore who I hadn’t seen in ages!

Mom and I headed to the very nice rider’s hotel, the Dolce and got all settled in. Tomorrow morning is the jog and there’s a warm up class in the afternoon. I’m excited to get showing again!

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