Early in the morning on Tuesday February 9th, the Freedom Woods crew hit the road with two trucks and trailers and eleven horses. After a six hour drive we all arrived safely at the National Equestrian Center in Lake Saint Louis. Our team of two trainers and grooms, quickly settled in the horses, bedding their stalls and giving them hay and water. We efficiently set up the curtains and grooming stalls while the horses settled in. The rest of Tuesday consisted of preparing the horses for the week. This involved lunging the horses and working the horses in their respective show rings. After a long day of travel and preparing for the week, we all got a good nights rest.
Wednesday morning was an early start for our team. The show started at 8am and prior to that time we prepared the horses respectively again with lunging and light flatwork in the show rings to ensure they were comfortable and ready to show. It is also important that every morning we organize and clean the equipment and bathe the horses to look their very best in the show ring. When 8am came, professional rider Ashleen Lee suited up to start showing. The first to show was Bel Ami. This is a new horse of Lauren Robishaw's which we acquired just a few weeks prior to the show. This adorable little Hanoverian gelding made his debut in the Baby Green Hunters. He was victorious the first day winning the first class and ribboning third in the under saddle class. Next to show was Bon Vivant, another horse owned by Lauren Robishaw who showed in the 3'3" Performance Hunters. He had two successful trips, and ribboned and jogged in both. The day continued with Cazzuta. A beautiful young mare showing in the Pre Green Hunter division. She had a successful day ribboning in both classes and winning the under saddle. MTM UP2U, another recent addition to the FW family in the late summer or last year was next up. He showed in the Low Hunter Division to prepare him to show with his owner on the weekend. MTM UP2U owned by Alyssa Pak (known around the barn as Romeo) ribboned in both over fence classes 2nd and 7th out of about 30 entries and won the under saddle class. In the middle of the day, it was now time for jumpers! The first two to show were Kingston, a lease horse of Kara Weinstein's ridden by new professional Alexandra Veleris and Chateau Blue owned by Freedom Woods, both horses had clear rounds in the .85m class and earned a blue ribbon. Frankie B owned by David Waimon was next to show in the 1.15m class and ended up 5th with a double clear round. This young horse was originally imported from Great Britain and has been with us for just over a year. The last two horses to show were Peter Pan owned by Alexandra Veleris and Compis owned by Lauren Robishaw. They both competed in a 1.15m class and a 1.2m class respectively to warm them up for the big classes on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Both had successful trips. After the competition is completed, the day is far from over. We spend quite a bit of time caring for the animals after a day or intense work. They all have a bath and a good rub down linement used to help rest their sore muscles. We then finish the day cleaning and putting away the equipment to prepare for the following day.
Thursday, was just as successful as Wednesday. All of the horses finished their divisions from the previous day with great results. In the middle of the day the Welcome Stake took place. This is the opener for the big class that occurs on Saturday evening. The class was set at 1.3m, approximately 4'3". Young professional Alexandra Veleris, the newest addition to our team competed in the class for her first time. She had a successful first outing with her horse Peter Pan, finishing the course with just two rails and finishing up in 6th place. Compis, a horse recently purchased in Wellington by Lauren Robishaw just two weeks prior to the show competed with trainer Ashleen Lee as well. Upon coming to Saint Louis, we did not plan on competing in the class, but rather getting to know the horse. After a clean round in the 1.15m on Wednesday, we went out on whim and competed in the Welcome. The result was fantastic, Compis and Ashleen Lee ended up winning the Welcome Stake. This was a great confidence boost for our entire team.
Most of the professional classes finished up on Thursday. Friday morning started with the amateur divisions. Lauren Robishaw and Bon Vivant was one of the first to go in the morning in the Amateur Adult Hunters. She ribboned second in both over fences and first in the under saddle. Kara Weinstein and her horse Kingston were double clear in their first round and had just one knock down in the speed phase of the second class. All of our pony kids and children came out after the show to practice and prepare for the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday both proved to be great days. Riley Malina and Mirror Image won the 11 and under over fence class, as well as being chosen for the Best Performance by a Pony rider out of everyone at the show. Aidan Madan and Little Miss Sunshine ended up Reserve Champion in he Children's Hunter Pony Division. Kara Weinstein and Kingston had multiple double clear rounds and good ribbons in the Novice Jumper Division. Lauren Robishaw and Bel Ami ended up Reserve Champion in the Child/Adult I division. MTM UP2U and Alyssa Pak took Champion in the Child/Adult II division winning four out of the five classes. Ashleen Lee and Compis, and Alexandra Veleris and Peter Pan ended up 5th and 6th in the $5,000 Open Jumper Classic on Saturday night with just four and eight faults respectively in the first round. We also had a great surprise at the end of the day on Sunday when Ashleen Lee won Best Performance by a professional.
The long drive home on Sunday evening was completely worth it after a very successful week. We had to drive slow and safe due to the winter storm and arrived home around 1:30am safe and sound. We are so proud of everyones success this week and are looking forward to going to Wellington in two weeks!