Mettraise, otherwise known as Missy in the barn, is a 14 year old, 16.3 OTTB mare with the most beautiful dapples. Erin can't keep Missy sound for 3-star and 4-star level competitions anymore and wanted to see her workload soften a bit. Packing me around prelim and intermediate seemed to all of us like the a good job for Missy.
Erin and Missy at Rolex 207
I had to decide: Do I start all over with a young horse and learn to train an event horse properly from the beginning under Dan & Kaitlin's tutelage or do I learn to jump big fences and ride xc under the tutelage of a 4-star horse? It was a harder decision than I thought because I liked Jenny's horse but Dan said good young prospects are always out there. A 4-star horse available for lease is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So in an amazing turn of events, we worked out a 4-month lease arrangement and I went from lightly riding my retired event horse to sitting on a 4-star horse for the first time in my life.
Missy has been in the barn for almost 3 weeks and we're slowly getting to know each other. I can't get her on the bit at all for dressage. You'd think a horse of her caliber would have the same buttons as other horses with similar training but she is a special ride. Erin does a brilliant job with her on the flat. I literally have no idea how she does it.
After two weeks of riding her on the flat and feeling pretty miserable (how can I not get a horse on the bit?!), we did our first horse trial together at Fair Hill. We just went training which was great because there was no pressure at all. It was the first time I would ride her xc and really the first time I would ride her around a course of stadium jumps.
Dressage and stadium was highly educational. In dressage, she was pretty good in warm-up and I expected to have a semi-decent test. But then she went into the dressage ring and turned into a wild beast. Hot, spooking, her whole body carriage changed. Totally different horse than I knew up until then. She was dull in warm-up by comparison. Her response to the dressage ring was surprising because she doesn't even get hot for the jumping. In stadium, we comfortably left out strides in the related lines and the combinations got very tight. We did 6 in a 7 and a 4 in a 5. Learning how to ride her on a more compressed stride will be important for me.
Cross country was hands down the most fun I have ever had riding a horse in my entire life. Even now, a couple of days later, I close my eyes and remember what it felt like. There was no struggle, no doubt, no worry. Just the pure thrill and fun of galloping and jumping.
I literally just steered to the fences and after a couple of flyers, made a point of controlling the length of stride a bit more. She's a blast to gallop - doesn't change her head carriage at all going into and out of fences. Isn't fussy in her mouth. At the fences she is just a beast. Gappy distance or short distance, she was unphased and powers through everything with total command. Total Pro. Her first stride away from the fence is so powerful. She's right back into a full gallop with no delay. We finished with speed faults. It was training and she has been going advanced / intermediate all year up until me so the course was insanely easy for her.
Leo is on the stall right next to Missy in the barn and she squeals at him whenever he tries to say hello. I'm still riding Leo and getting extra saddle time thanks to him. He's happily jumping novice height fences in the ring with no martingale or flash and his mouth wide open!
I am incredibly grateful to Dan, Kaitlin and Erin. I'm only in this lucky position because of the three of them. It's going to be a fun fall!