By Bonnie Madine
Roshambo “Roe” is my 4 year-old AWS partner (pictured right as a yearling), who found his way into my life three years ago as a yearling. Chianti, my partner for seven years, had colic surgery at age twelve, and was unable to return to work. I talked (he would insist ‘coerced’) my non-horsey husband into buying a new house with enough property so Chianti could retire in comfort at home. Well, after we brought the property, of course, Chianti could not live there alone, he needed a friend! This is how Roe came to be my new partner, he started off as a “cheap friend” for Chianti – it was between him and a goat for the ‘friend’ role. Thankfully the young, attitude-filled, colt won out, as Roe is now a spectacular young horse who this season embarked on his eventing career.
Hard to believe the 2008 ‘season’ is already over. And, wow, what a season it has been!
As Roe is only four, the conundrum to compete or not compete; to clinic or not clinic; was at issue all season. I opted to take Roe down the clinic path for the majority of the season and try a couple of events at the end.
Banner year for clinics in the Colorado Front Range! Photo of Amy Barrington, Roe and Bonnie following a successful clinic at Silo Farms, Longmont, CO.
No one in Colorado could complain about the quantity and quality of clinicians offered this season in Colorado! For me having a youngster, this was the perfect season to come out and play. Since March, I was able to do a high-caliber clinic once a month over quality cross-country courses such as, Silo, Aspen Ridge and Colorado Horse Park. I also schooled at smaller, more niche cross-county courses that have isolated small questions geared towards the beginner horse. A perfect introduction for Roe! Additionally, I took frequent dressage and stadium lessons from a knowledgeable, local trainer.
Roe and I started the season with the fabulous Eric Horgan clinic. We then moved on to such noted clinicians as Frederic Bouland (in the Spring), Amy Barrington, Hawley Bennett, Kim Severson, John Williams, Frederic Bouland (in the Fall), and Eric Horgan (in the Fall). Wow, that line-up, though hard on the pocket-book, was world-class! This gave Roe and I a huge boost in confidence and the foundation with which to start our Eventing career. The biggest thing I noted from the clinics was the consistency in the areas of focus by the instructors. Every instructor emphasized safety and the ability to rate your horse. The Instructor Certification Program has really made a big difference in the quality of the instruction given by the clinicians.
Show Time! Photo of Bonnie and Roe at Northern Colorado Horse Trials. Courtesy of Amii Harmon, Time Well Spent Photography, copyright 2008.
The end of the season came. Time to test out all the knowledge garnered over the spring and summer clinics in a recognized horse trial! Our first trial was at the Northern Colorado Horse Trial in Greeley, Colorado, August 30-31st. Roe and I finished with a whopping score of 100+, with the majority of those penalties being time penalties from both cross-county and stadium. Okay, good to know, Roe and I were too slow. The good news, we obviously took the ability to ‘rate your horse’ a bit too far. Next up, off to Parker, Colorado for the Colorado Horse Park Horse Trials, October 2-6th. Armed with the knowledge from our last horse trial, Roe and I made some adjustments and finished on a respectable 41.5 penalty points – dressage plus a rail! Good enough to finish 5th in the division!
In retrospect, I believe I made the correct decision for Roe and me regarding the clinic route. I started the season with a young horse with limited training and little exposure. I ended the season with a confident, brave horse who happily cantered around a BN course (albeit slowly). The clinics exposed Roe to many eventing questions in a controlled environment with guidance from some of the best trainers/riders in the eventing community. Roe is well on his way to becoming a fabulous eventing partner!
See you all next season!