The new Farm Round Robin Farm – way in the hills of Tunbridge, Vermont and surrounded by incredible views – was the location of this year’s Region 1 Field day. Steve, Pat and Bekki Read, with the help of Jayson and Carolyn, were wonderful hosts. Their lovely barn had plenty of room for pony visitors. Jumps in an outdoor stadium setting were inviting and provided options for some up and down hill jumping. The weather was unbelievably nice. Sunny with a nice breeze.
This year we were very fortunate to welcome Fran O’Reilly back to the fold after a many years’ absence which she has spent living, training, and teaching on Vachon Island, WA. In her prior years in Vermont she was a bright light in Region 1 with her lovely Connemara mares and their equally lovely offspring, both fullbred and an array of halfbreds by Tamarack Hill Farm’s Thoroughbred stallions that carried Fran and her students to successes all over the northeast and beyond.
Linda Haines, Sally Oxnard, Caroline Nesbitt and Bob Butcher, Sally Lacy, Janet Chayes, and Amy Treat were among the contingent for the day. Riders and ponies included Farkleberry Finn and Lisa Divoll Painter, Baobab de Brio & Corinne Kinson, Trout Ranch Whimsey and Julia Latham, Caledonia Lucky Clover and Lisa Divoll Painter, Cybatina Cian O Cham and Ali Kinson, South Ridge Aileen and Emily Franzoni, Cybatina Torranach and Addison Treat, Windy Hollows Tamarack ( age 3) with Tracy Roettiger, Windy Hollows Millie Amy Plavin, and Tricreek Greystone Brielle and Meridian Piper. The non-jumpers enjoyed a lovely trail ride. The jumpers were divided into a beginner groups that moved from crossrails to obstacles no higher than 2’3”, and a more advanced group whose pony and rider combinations already had some experience at beginner and elementary events. Fran had riders put together small courses with different questions to answer. The big emphasis of the day in both groups was control, which was a big issue for excited ponies in a group on a breezy day on a hill, but also clearly a big issue for riders who had gotten used to racing at jumps and tearing off after them without any idea of pace or control. At first there were a few ‘bolts for the rhubarb’ that left spectators holding their breaths for rider safety. Fortunately, nobody came off, no ponies disappeared over the skyline in disarray, and no spectators were run over.
Gradually, as Fran insisted on riders taking charge of their ponies with circles, changes of pace, trotting instead of galloping, and halting after every fence or combination of fences, a new picture emerged. Riders and ponies both gained confidence in the process and in each other. And the more the riders were in control, the more the ponies relaxed and did their jobs. In the afternoon, riders went out to the hills and practiced over the cross country jumps. Riders were asked to manage their ponies’ balance, pace and line. Each pair showed improvement as they practiced the three components of a good cross country run. Those watching gained valuable tips as well, ready to be put in action at home.
Lunch break featured tutoring by Sarah Thrasher giving a very timely In Hand 101 class.
She reminded all of us to pay attention to your pony anytime in the ring, the judge is looking around during the class. Also, trot your pony with no tension on the reins, practice at home until it’s easy. Lunch by Carolyn at the B&B was delicious, and Hannah Reynolds and her mom Angie brought the Region store and offered several new shirts to tempt us all.