Winner of the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant, Frankie Thieriot Stutes, Describes Her Very Wet Start to the Season.
Oh, California! This winter has been unlike any other I remember ever eventing, and the start to the 2019 season has been VERY WET. My usually perfect indoor is half full of wet footing and water, and I feel like everything I own is covered in mud. The grass is so green all my older horses who live at home are on grazing time restrictions, and the beautiful place I am lucky to call home has experienced horrific flooding, unlike anything the area has seen in over 20 years. Lucky for me my gallop hill is on footing which gets better with massive amounts of rain. It is on the side of a hill with a gravel base, so I can keep going with my fitness goals as the season continues rain or shine.
I’ve done a few jumper shows to start the year putting my Big Becky Grant to valuable use, in addition to riding in two events. I was able to get a good first cross-country in at the Intermediate level before scratching due to an incredible amount of rain at Fresno County Horse Park because I felt the show jumping footing would be a risk for Chatwin’s best interests and those are always my priority.
This past weekend I was able to get back to the Advanced level for the first time since Fair Hill, and we were fortunate that the organizers changed the schedule to accommodate everyone, making it possible for us to get the event in before yet another storm. After training sessions all week with US Team Coach Erik Duvander, I was able to squeeze out a few more points in the Dressage phase to earn our lowest score to date on the flat. I feel like Erik wants to know each horse and rider in the program and I have the utmost respect for that. The exciting part is that I am confident we still have a lot of work to do in all three phases and that we can continue to get better. This is also the overwhelming part, so I try to focus on working as hard as I can in each moment, each day I am at the barn, with the goal of continuing to get better looming always.
This week I got back to work with my dressage coach Lilo Fore, and Chatwin hit the water treadmill in addition to his gallops with the heart of the season right around the corner. It amazes me every year how I feel like the season is just starting, and before you know it, it is time for shows that require the utmost focus and hard work.
In just a couple of weeks, it will be time to head South to train with Tamie Smith who I affectionately have come to refer to as my Miyagi (for those of you Karate Kid fans out there) and get ready for our first FEI competition of 2019 at Galway Downs. Until then I will be working hard with Chatwin each morning, catching up as much as possible on work, and enjoying every minute with my boys (which includes, of course, my kids, husband, and favorite old Advanced Horse Fric Frac who also luckily for me lives at my house with Chatwin).
With just one horse, I am working this year with a personal trainer who specializes in equestrians, trying to get as strong as I can physically to help my horse as much as I can. It is very different working out in general and working out with riding specifically in mind. I can now be found daily with workout bands around my legs at least once a day and sometimes also while on a horse around my wrists helping to engage my leg and core. Getting better is hard I will say that, but it is nice to start seeing how the added strength I am gaining is helping me be a bit more able physically in the saddle to help my horse be the best we can together.
Here is hoping that at some point soon Mother Nature finally feels like we have had enough rain in Northern California and we can get back to some fun in the saddle.