Because moving up to Advanced isn’t nerve-wracking enough, Jessica Bortner-Harris volunteered to do it with the world–or at least the Eventing Nation–watching. Here’s her latest update.
From Visionaire: Jessica Bortner-Harris has been kind enough to give us insights into her journey moving up to advanced this season and progressing towards Bromont CCI***. Last week, she wrote about her harrowing turn of events at Chattahoochee Hills, and today she checks back in after re-routing to the Virginia Horse Trials. For more info on Jessica check out her website here. If you have a story to share, send it to [email protected]
Redemption is Sweet
by Jessica Bortner-Harris
This weekend at VAHT was to be my big confidence builder leading up to Bromont. I was originally just taking my stallion to do his first Prelim and a sales horse to run around the Novice. With the last minute addition of Bug in the Adv/Int, I realized that my weekend was about to get exciting. Riding multiple horses at a show is something I am still getting accustomed to, and with the temperatures being pretty high, I was going to need my Wheaties to get me through. Luckily, Bug’s dressage and show jumping were on Friday and his cross country was on Saturday, which lightened the load a bit.
I have been working very hard on Bug’s dressage. He is a good mover, and I know he can put in a good test. However, he does not always like to be told what to do (he’s a superstar that can jump high and run fast, why should he have to perform this boring stuff?), and he can get pretty tense. He is a pretty bulky guy, so it isn’t always easy for him to be supple. Taking all of that into consideration, when Penny Ross asked me to be the test ride for the CIC**, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be an excellent way to get Bug into the arena to work on our nemesis without riding our test yet another time. Mr. Smarty Pants tends to learn the tests if we practice them too many times. J I was also very excited to learn that they were using the Three Star Test B for my division, as it is the test we are riding at Bromont.
The plan was to ride my Three Star test first, then head to the main dressage arena to perform the test ride. Bug warmed up great and went in to perform, by far, the best test at Advanced that we’ve done. Yes, we still have a lot to work on to get those scores lower, but we scored a 37 point something, which is a ton better than we have been doing. Not only did we break 40, but we broke it by a good bit! We even got an 8 in there somewhere! I was THRILLED with him. To make it even more exciting, he went on to put on an even better test for the Two Star test ride! We scored a 48.9!!! That’s in FEI scoring. We got a bunch of 8’s from one of the judges. He was just so great. I was grinning from ear to ear.
The coliseum at the Virginia Horse Center tends to eat a lot of horses alive. The courses are tight and the atmosphere can be very distracting for them. Bug has always jumped well in it, but I have never competed him at there over the Prelim level. I was near the end of my division to jump, and I was not able to watch anyone’s round, as it was a smaller division. This was the first time that I had jumped Bug since our crash and burn at Chatt. The weather had been pretty rainy here last week, so I didn’t want to risk jumping Bug in bad footing, and I was anxious to see how he felt. Bug warmed up great. He was being extra careful, and I felt like I was riding well. He sure hadn’t lost any of his mojo. In fact, I think he felt better and more confident than ever.
Bug jumped an amazing round! He made the tough course feel effortless. No matter what the challenge, he seems to think it’s easy. We jumped a great clear, fluid round with just one time penalty. When we finished, the crowd went crazy. Bug’s head was so big when we left the arena, I wasn’t sure it would fit through the door. I asked my friend Jordan, “Did you hear the crowd? I know I don’t know THAT many people here.” She said, “Didn’t you know? You were the only clear round of the division.” That brought an even bigger grin to my face. My division had a few of the bigger Olympic guns from the US and Canada in it. I believe they were using it as a combined test to get ready for Bromont. I must say, I was feeling pretty pleased with my amazing horse at that point. Our clear round put us into 2nd place!
Most everyone withdrew from the division, as they did not want to run the Intermediate XC before Bromont. However, I needed to run to be sure I was confident and ready for our big CCI*** debut. Bug jumped around the Intermediate like it was a walk in the park, though I didn’t run him fast, as I wanted to save his legs for bigger things! We did end up taking home a lovely red 2nd place ribbon!! I am so happy with my boy, and I think this was just what we needed to boost us into Bromont.
We will be leaving on Sunday, the third at about midnight to start our trek to Quebec. We still need to raise some money to get everything paid for, but I am doing a lot of praying and hoping. T-shirts are still available if anyone is interested! Also, all good thoughts and prayers for us are very much appreciated as well! We will check back in after Bromont! Thanks again to everyone who has supported us. I greatly appreciate it.