Sophia Landy - Update

2nd May 2017

It has been another incredibly busy month, to the point that I am struggling to remember what I’ve done! The first weekend of April we headed to Albury Horse Trial with a very big team of 5 horses competing and one extra along for the outing! As well as my own two mares Geisha and Annie, I was competing three of Vanessa Hawkins’ ESB Irish Sport Horses. It was a successful weekend, ESB Irish Autumn jumped double clear in the Pre Novice to finish in 9th place, a solid result which I was very happy with for our first start together. “Naughty Auti who’s not so naughty” as we call him gave me a great feel in all phases, being very rideable cross country and I am excited for his future. ESB Golden Geisha did her first prelim and was an absolute machine in the jumping phases, going double clear. There is still a lot to work on with her dressage, but definite improvements showing all the time although not yet reflected by her scores. Annie (ESB Irish One) was a gem in the Intro, coping well with about 10 kangaroos hopping right through the middle of the dressage warm up arena, and as usual jumped double clear and was a heap of fun – definitely the best pony out! I also competed ESB Irish Flight and ESB Golden Account in their first ever event in the EvA 60. Flight was super with a double clear performance to finish 7th, and Count made a couple of green mistakes but still placed 13th and had a good confidence boosting first event. ESB Golden Sun came along for the outing and we worked on lots of walking around with and without his mates to try and settle his separation anxiety. All in all it was an incredibly busy but successful event, and a big thank you to the my behind the scenes support crew who made it possible, particularly my groom Justine who did a fantastic job at her first event with me.

The event was slightly marred by the fact that when we were finally packed, horses loaded, ready to go (somewhat exhausted) and driving out the gates we realised we had a flat tyre on the truck and had to turn around, unload all the horses and replace the flat tyre with the spare tyre. Thank you so much to the four guys that appeared to save the day because there was no way I would have been able to change the tyre by myself. Luckily I had been paying attention to my Dad’s tyre changing lesson though and I at least knew where everything was kept. We eventually made it home!

A week on with and we were again packing the truck, but this time the girls (Justine and Lou) were staying behind to look after things (primarily Zone!), and it was just my boyfriend Andy and I heading off with four horses on board for a week away at Tooradin Estate. We left on Saturday and headed straight to Lang Lang where I was competing in the Autumn Show. Annie jumped super around her first 110cm track, and I am so proud of her for stepping up to this bigger height. What a superstar! 

Geisha and Autumn both jumped in the 120cm class. Geisha dropped one rail but jumped a super round, and Autumn had two down but also jumped very well, making it a successful day. We headed back to Tooradin Estate for the night and enjoyed catching up with the Tooradin gang for dinner.  Annie was the first horse in the draw for Sunday with a 7.30am start, so despite the pouring rain throughout the night we loaded the horses on the truck first thing Sunday morning. It wasn’t actually raining while we were catching the horses and getting ready to go and being dark I don’t think we really realised just how bad the weather was! We realised pretty quickly when we arrived in the pouring rain, thunder and lightning at Lang Lang. We didn’t even bother getting the horses off the truck, instead making a quick dash to the event office shed where after much consultation the show was called off.  Given the weather it was definitely for the best, and we suddenly found ourselves with a full day without plans which was actually very nice. Back at Tooradin Estate the rain soon eased a bit and Andy and I rode Flight and Autumn out the back for some cross country schooling. As usual the Tooradin Estate sandy soils had held up beautifully to the downpour and it made for great going. After our ride we went out for lunch with Iliana before heading into Melbourne to catch up with my family. So despite the change of plans it ended up being a great day!

I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday coaching at the Tooradin Estate camp and had a great time catching up with all my clients from Tooradin. I also squeezed in heaps of cross country schooling which was great, one morning we even took all four horses out the back, riding one and ponying one each, and then I schooled each horse one at time while Andy kept the others walking – talk about being spoilt! I think we got all 4 horses cross country schooled in about 90 minutes which was a good effort!

On Wednesday afternoon we headed down to the farm, where we spent Thursday morning with the horses at the farm and then had a lovely afternoon on the beach before heading first back to Tooradin, then loading the horses on the truck and heading back home to Euroa. We were finally home at 11pm, and ready to get back to work on Friday morning bright and early (with some fresh horses) after a great week away. 

Saturday the 15th April was the Euroa Horse Park open day and with a mike plugged in and plenty of horses to ride I was set to be the entertainment for the day. Lots of people turned up to see the property – it really is quite amazing what Vanessa Hawkins has achieved with this property in just one year, turning it from a four-paddock sheep farm into a fully functioning horse training facility. I rode 12 horses between 10am and 3.30pm and hardly stopped talking the whole time! I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my training philosophies and demonstrate what I have been working on with a variety of horses. The horses were all great (despite their week off) and I hope everyone watching was able to take something away from the day, it was certainly a new experience for me and a great opportunity which I enjoyed. Again, a big thank you to Justine who managed to have all the horses beautifully presented and out at the arena on time ready for me to hop on.

On Tuesday Zone had his one month ultra sound scan and it was very good news with some major healing progress being made. In just one month it has healed as much as we expected it to heal in 3 months, which is really incredible. We are on track to starting his rehab pretty shortly which is exciting! He has been such a good patient so far, coping amazingly with being locked up in the stable for the last month, I think enjoys all the attention and definitely the constant hay supply!

The following weekend we were off to Heytesbury Horse Trials with Autumn, Flight, Annie and Geisha. It was a weekend of mixed results but overall a good learning experience for all the horses who stepped up a level for the first time and coped very well with the wet conditions.

ESB Irish Autumn did his first CNC 1*, doing a nice dressage test to be placed around midfield and then jumped super. He gave me a great feel cross country, beings very rideable and honest. Unfortunately we did have a stop at a drop which I haven't schooled on him before and it was quite a big drop, but he jumped it nicely on second attempt and continued around the rest of the course without trouble despite the wet conditions. He then went on to jump a great show jumping round, dropping one rail.

ESB Golden Geisha did her first ever Pre Novice, and for a horse that was sent to me exactly one year ago now being just green broken and very cold backed I am so impressed with how far she has come to be at this level. The dressage was in typical Geisha style (picture hot, green and wonky) so not surprisingly didn't mark well at all but overall I felt that she was more relaxed than in past tests. She then show jumped for one rail down, the result of a miscommunication and her being quite hot! She made up for the dressage and show jumping with an amazing cross country round. For such a green horse stepping up to Pre Novice for the first time I couldn't be happier with her. She was so brave and rideable and jumped many things she hasn't really seen before, like just catapulting off the same big drop that Auti stopped at, as well as tackling her first bigger trakhener, ditch and brush and a big apex too. She definitely felt like a future superstar out there!

Annie (ESB Irish One) did her first prelim, doing a sweet dressage test and jumping clear in the show jumping. Unfortunately I ended up retiring her on cross country when things didn't go quite to plan, but still a great experience for her. ESB Irish Flight tackled his first Intro, a big effort for such a green horse. He did a nice test to be placed midfield and then show jumped clean over quite a spooky course which I was very happy with. Our cross country round didn't go to plan but turned out to be great schooling exercise and he jumped that enormous over every jump that it was hang on tight situation! He is definitely going to be a very serious jumping horse!

So all in all a successful weekend with a team of pretty green horses stepping up for the first time.
A massive thank you to Georgia for grooming for me and getting all four horses plaited and looking great despite the rain and mud! Also to Andy for all your help, king of studs, water bucket carrying, and everything in between!

It was straight back to work on Monday with lots of horses to be worked. I did manage a sneaky day off on Tuesday to go to the races which was definitely a nice change! The other thing that has been squeezed into this week is a quick overnight trip to my dressage coach Manolo Mendez’s place with Geisha girl, and I was very pleased to hear that Manolo thinks she has made good progress since he last saw her.

We are now gearing up for a big weekend at Oakland Open HT with all the young horses, followed by Sydney 3DE the following weekend!


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