Friday, March 20, 2015

in which I realize there is a lot to catch up on

So, somehow, I've failed to blog for weeks. This blog will likely be long and certainly will be somewhat random as I pick out stuff from the weeks since Ocala II.

Rocking Horse II
We did the prelminary and Keegan was great.  I took pictures of all but the first fence if you are interested in seeing the Rocking Horse II Preliminary xc course.  I also got the CD of pictures of Keegan at Rocking Horse II where he was a complete rock star as usual.

Rocking Horse III
My breathing had not been behaving well that week, so we did the training.  Keegan finished on his dressage score, which put us in 14th place out of 26 in the competitive open division.

Continues to do amazingly with Jordan.  Cyndi sent a great picture of them schooling at Longwood and half a blog about their P/T outing at Pine Top

From Cyndi - For those of you who have been keeping up with the Spotted Menace, aka Keebler,  here is your latest update.
The plan was for Keebler and Jordan to compete at the Rocking Horse Winter 1 horse trials in the P/T division for their 4th qualifying score at Training (4th Sporting Days 2014,  3rd Rocking Horse 2014, 1st Poplar 2014) before moving up.  They had a good winter break, finishing 2nd at the FL Horse Park P/T schooling show in Dec,  then having a great time at the Leslie Law clinic at Rocking Horse on Jan 17.
Unfortunately, a hot nail and abscess resulted in the big E in dressage in January. No use regurgitating that debacle, except to mention that there is nothing more irritating than a farrier who doesn't respond to phone calls/emails/texts.
Anyhow, I wanted Jordan to do one more P/T before the planned move up, and Pine Top was offering one at their Feb show.  After the initial whining about not being able to find a Florida show,  I realized that this in fact was a good thing, because the courses would be tough; what better way to check that all of their skills were up to par?
Jordan had the good sense to research which dressage test would be used at Pine Top, and a good thing that she did this early.  Pine Top would be using Prelim test B, which is ridden in the Large Ring and includes a lovely halt-rein back right at C.
Two  dressage lessons at Rocking Horse in a large ring (thank you Scott and Billie for transport!) were held. Oh happy day, you've never ridden a test in a large ring, but here you are, and oh, there are new letters to learn, the geography of your circles are now 1/3 of the ring,  and there is a halt! in the beginning of the test. Enjoy!
The Sunday before Pine Top, Jordan was practicing at home.  The ground was wet and Keebler slipped on a turn...and had his first stop ever at a fence w/Jordan.  They regrouped and jumped, but she reported that he was not his usual confident self.  So off to Rocking Horse we went on Monday, and they confidently jumped around the Prelim show jumping course left over from the obscenely large event held the previous weekend.  Long lines to verticals continue to be their challenge. Hike an oxer up to max height and width = no problem.   A simple long side to a vertical?  Still their nemesis.
So at tooearlydarkthirty Friday morning we ventured off:  Billie (who provided wonderful coffee and pastries), supergroom Emily, Jordan, Keebler, and Ana (Cindy Deporter's horse who was traveling from Steph Butts/new name care back to Cindy).   Travel was uneventful -unless you count the fact that as the sun rose higher in the sky, the temps went steadily downward. Oh, and let's forget the weird KFC in GA that did not have any grilled food, but provided me with a smashed  chicken" sandwich, complete with bacon and spicy weird mayonnaise that even I could not eat.
Arrived at Pine Top in early afternoon, passed the delightful Ana off to Cindy D.,  and set Keebler up in his stall.  Said hello to Leslie and Lesley Grant Law (who was on her way to coming in 2nd in the 2**), walked XC (first impression: BIG and gallopy, a perfect last Training before the move up to Prelim),  watched some show jumping, and sent Jordan and Keebler out for a hack (Jordan's remark after - "I hope he settles; he is BOUNCY!").  The girls had their first experience in "why we carry water", as the water was turned off due to the freezingarsecold temps.   Keebler was fed and blanketed,  and we went off in search of hotel and dinner.  Returned from dinner to put a third blankie on Mr Wimpy Keebler, as he was cold and cranky. 

Cyndi hasn't had a chance to finish the report, but the upshot was a 5th place finish and feeling ready for their preliminary debut next weekend at Rocking Horse Spring. 

I had a lovely visit with Jen and Andy in Sarasota in conjunction with running the Manasota Track Club 25k trail race on February 21st and a lovely weekend with Henry in Washington DC for our anniversary which included running the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon on ultimate pi day in the cold and rain.  The dinner wine was most excellent and like our marriage was sweet and rich and better for the years

Other Events
I volunteered at Red Hills and this weekend am following, not one but two FEI + national events as both Poplar and the Carolinas are running. 

Meanwhile, Kat took Astro to his first event at home at Copper Meadows where he was a good boy given that he didn't fully approve of the invasion at his home farm.  

Keegan is home (thanks to Bonnie) and I'm looking forward to riding him (as soon as it stops snowing - this is a very poor start to spring

My next goal
I have many runs planned, although I need to get an echo and see where things are as the breathing isn't great.  Meanwhile, tomorrow starts my personal challenge, 100 days of cardio and core.  My goal is to do at least 20 minutes of cardio (running, swimming, elliptical, hiking, walking) and 20 minutes of core like training (barre, yoga, pilates, ab work) every day for 100 days.  Follow my Facebook for the hashtag #100daysC&C

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In which there are so many great things about the weekend

Starting off, it didn't necessarily seem like everything was going to be great. Hilda was planning a dressage show, which I had known from the getgo, but then there were truck troubles.  I needed to figure out how Keegan and I would get to Ocala and whether I needed to stable and whether Missy could coach me. Several phone calls and texts later, there was a plan.  Madison Olesh (who was part of our group in 2012) would pick us up at Oakmore Thursday evening and drive us up to the farm where Missy is based.  It was great thing #1 seeing her and meeting her friend Jermaine, who was eventing BN and volunteering over the weekend. We would stay at Blue Hill South  (Keegan in a stall and me in the lovely available rental house) for the weekend and go back and forth to Ocala with the gang. Weekend bonus great thing #2 - it was visit week.  In addition to the Ocala based working students (Brigitte, Ashton and Katie) and riders (Missy and Megan and her students), Donna Miller, Devon Brown, David Ziegler, Lisa Thomas and Bonnie Kibbie were all spending some time in Ocala (and Bonnie volunteered to drive Keegan back to Oakmore after we finished on Sunday). I also had a brief Lauren Romanelli and Doc sighting as they were in for the weekend running preliminary.

The only not great thing about the weekend was that all levels were each running over 3 days, with dressage on Friday, one jumping phase on Saturday and one on Sunday.  I had stadium on Saturday and xc on Sunday. Missy had very long days, with students starting around 8:30 in the morning and finishing at 5:00 on each of the 3 days.  She was also riding Peter Berk's handsome Romo. Brittany insisted on being held much of the weekend
Missy and the team - Photo Credit Lisa Thomas Midatlantic Equine Services

Friday, I had an 11:30 dressage time, relatively civilized.  The mornings were quite chilly, but it was sunny and great thing #3, warmed up nicely in the afternoons. In the ongoing weekend of musical trailers (it was really very impressive, with multiple trailers going back and forth all day each of the three days as we had at least 10 horses competing, each needing to be there on all three days), David took Ashton and me over on Friday morning. Ashton is from Kentucky and moved from the jumper world over to eventing. She and I were numbers 374 and 377 for the weekend, making at least one of Missy's warm-up duties a bit easier. Missy warmed us up and we did our tests.  Keegan was good, but less forward than ideal. We ended up with a 38.2, in 10th place out of 16 horses in our division. Ashton also was in the division and finished just behind us. The plan was to have Keegan head home and for me to stay and walk my course, maybe watch some of the intermediate show jumping and cross-country (lucky intermediate was a one day). The reality was that I spent 5 hours scribing for novice and beginner novice dressage tests. Great thing #4 was that I got to scribe for Lori Hoos, who is both lovely and very knowledgeable, making for a fun and educational experience, albeit unplanned. The unplanned meant that I was answering emails and doing other work while Lori filled in the collective marks and during each break. I headed back to the farm at the end of the day where David and Devon had made the beer and pizza run. They scored Strongbow cider, which I'll count as great thing #5.

Saturday was a later start as I didn't stadium jump until 4:40. I went back to the horse park and walked my cross country course, then watched several horses jumping in the novice, including Peter who had a very nice round on his Princeton Pride and Tiffany who ended up winner her division on her very nice unraced TB. I went back to the farm and got Keegan loaded and then headed back to the horse park (I had to fill the rental car twice this trip - lucky gas prices are low). Ashton and I watched a couple of round from each edge of the training level (neither of us were there for the course walk, but I was pretty obsessed about making sure I knew the course after last week). It seemed pretty straight forward.  Fence 1 to 2 was a rollback to the right, and then the rest of the course went around to the left, mostly circumnavigating the arena with a left-handed rollback from 6 to 7.  We warmed up fairly well and headed in. The beginning was super.  Toward the end, I chased him a bit, but Keegan jumped terrifically to post a double clear round as had Ashton shortly before. These efforts moved me up to 5th place and her up to 6th. I hung out in the office for a while chatting with Rick Dunkerton, the farrier (whose name I missed) JJ Johnson and Nancy Russell while waiting for Ashton to walk the cross country. Brigitte had brought us over that afternoon and she was good enough to take the horses back while Ashton walked and I hung out to give her a ride back.  Saturday eventing was great thing #6, Mexican food with the whole gang at Pepe's. Plenty of food and a beer for under $15 - score!

Sunday morning, I was a bit nervous, so ran off to walk my cross country course again while Bonnie brought Loki (after an early morning lesson) and Keegan over to the horse park. The second walk let me be sure of all of my lines.  The only fence I was a bit worried about was the down bank to slanted table bending line five stride. Once Keegan arrive, Bonnie helped me get him tacked up (great thing #7, so much help all weekend) and we hacked out to cross country warm-up. I went over the course in my head. 1. mulch table - ride a bit as it isn't that friendly for a first fence.  Can't believe they made first fence mulch tables for the novice and beginner novice too. 2. roll top - go straight despite the optical illusion that suggests a bending line. 3. actual bending line to the little green house. Is it really small or is that just me? 4. around the corner to the mushroom table on the right, not the prelim one in the middle.  Yes, 3 is small as 4 is much bigger. 5. continue around the corner past the prelim fence bending left to the cabin to cabin line in 5 then gallop on to 6. the slanted log ramp and turn left to 7. the hanging square log. Make sure to line up to 8abc. The coffin with the chevron in, ditch and pink box out and then right handed to 9. the house/roll top, something brown and ahead to the left-hand side of 10. the yellow house with the hole in the middle, then 90 degrees left through the gully and up the hill to 11. the faux corner - jump it where the 3rd set of flowers are making sure to look up to find the line to 12. a square log fence with pine and immediate bending line up the little dirt ramp to prepare for 13a. the down bank with a log on the edge and that 5 stride line to 13b. another pink slanted box, then gallop turning left and lining up the white tent to jump 14. the roll top with fake brush, a sharp right turn into the sand pit and then jump 15ab. the little up bank two strides to the bench like object and then between the telephone pole and the pink house left handed to 16. the boathouse before the water, through the water and over 17. the log pile and then a right turn to 18. a roll top and straight on to 19. the rather large yellow table, stay focused and make sure to go straight on through the finish flags.  After warming up, we headed out on course, and other than trotting through the coffin, the course rode exactly how I had envisioned. In the end we, finished on our dressage score in 3rd place which was great thing #8 and Ashton finished on hers in 4th. Great thing #9 was Cyndi Kurth texting throughout the weekend to get updates and offer congratulations at every step. 

The Blue Hill Gang had a good show, many finishing on their dressage scores, Missy adding a rail to hers that was so good she still finished in 3rd. Brigitte and Harper looked amazing all weekend and Donna had great gos on both Salty and Dan. Megan was 5th on her students lovely boy and tactfully rode her own youngster finishing on their dressage score. One of my favorites, Nina Gardner's Mixed Blessing (by Partner's Hero, same as Keegan - ridden by Jennie Branningan) won his division and it seemed a good time was had by all. Lisa Thomas took some great pictures  and Bonnie got a super one of Keegan at the boat house before the water. 
Keegan at fence 16. Photo credit Bonnie Kibbie

I bought the full CD from the official photographer, but haven't seen the pictures yet as so far only the intermediate and the beginner novice are posted. Jermaine did end up 4th in beginner novice. 

Nor was Ocala the only event happening over the weekend. The Aiken crew including Caitlin Silliman, Sally Cousins, Erin Sylvester, Ryan Wood and Kate Chadderton were out and about at Pine Top Farm. Caitlin was very psyched about an excellent run on Hoku. There was also a schooling show at  Chatt Hills. Meanwhile Hilda was having a great thing #10 weekend at the dressage show in Clarcona, with Ollie and Amen both raking in the ribbons. 
Amen's and Ollie's ribbons Photo Credit Hilda Donahue
Once Keegan was sponged off and the tack loaded up and I collected my ribbon, Bonnie and I headed back down to Oakmore. She dropped us off and then took poor Loki home. He was very patient about hanging out on the trailer all morning. I had time to get my tack put away and then head back to the townhouse for a shower and quite a bit of work before great think #11 dinner with Hilda, Ken, Rosaleen and Bobbie.  Bobbie made wonderful salmon ceviche and Ken grilled steaks. I contributed guacamole and Rosaleen made a fabulous salad.  I headed for bed a bit later than planned due to the lovely conversation, but didn't have any trouble getting up at 4:00 to head back to the cold lands for a few days prior to our 2015 preliminary try #1 at Rocking Horse II next weekend.

Monday, January 26, 2015

in which Rocking Horse I induces brain freeze again!!

In many ways, it wasn't the weekend we planned.  Nonetheless, it was a wonderful weekend at Rocking Horse Winter I.  The fulls scores (for a huge number of horses) are here. The weekend started with the flight down - actually the weekend started with the drive to Baltimore to catch the flight down. Because it was a 6 am flight, I left the house at 3:30 - definitely too early. I put my car in the garage based on forecasts for possibilities of real amounts of snow and the rest of the trip was uneventful.  I arrived and worked for the rest of the morning and afternoon before heading to the barn for late afternoon/evening lessons on Keegan and Dublin.  Keegan did a bit of flat work and then a small amount of jumping, most specifically jumping a triple so that I could be sure to get it right, but it felt perfect.  Dublin worked through poles perfecting his footing and was a very good boy.  We then headed home for a late, but yummy as always dinner.

Because of the large number of horses, the Rocking Horse schedule was a little unusual, with Intermediate running as a one day Friday, Preliminary, P/T and OT running Friday and Saturday and the rest running Saturday and Sunday.  I had a 2 p.m. dressage time and 5:10 p.m. SJ time on Friday, very close to Jordan's times as Hilda would be coaching Jordan on Friday. I did a little work in the morning, then headed out to the barn to get everything packed up. As I was heading to the show grounds, I got a call from Cyndi that the only preliminary course walk would be from 12:25 until 12:45.  Since I was on schedule to arrive around 12:50, this wasn't going to work well for me, but I figured I could just watch a few jump. That left finding someone to walk with Jordan as Hilda also wasn't planning to arrive until around 1:00 pm.  Luckily eventers being eventers, it wasn't too hard to get someone to pitch in and help out - in this case Justine Dutton who walked the course with Jordan.

I got there and got Keegan off the trailer, got dressed, got him tacked up and realized I had forgotten to braid him - really I just forgot.  I decided it was more important I get on to warm him up, so just braided his forelock and then got on.  Both Keebler and Keegan were excellent in warm-up, very focused and giving us good work.  I was in the ring first.  Other than posting up center line (sitting trot is required for preliminary) to start the test and badly blowing the second 10m circle, I did ok and other than objecting in upward transition from walk to trot before the canter transition, Keegan did very well indeed, getting us our best dressage score to date of 34.1 and putting us in second place.  The judging seemed pretty generous all weekend, including one very nice Novice ride getting a score of 11.7!

Jordan then went in and started out very nicely, but all of a sudden, when she went into her second 10m circle, Keebler was head-bobbing lame. He had a hot nail on Wednesday, due to farrier truck issues leading to shoeing rescheduling and ultimately ended up with an abscess, ending Jordan's weekend. She was a great sport about it, spending time volunteering and cheering on others and learned some new stuff, having never seen/treated an abscess before. Emily also helped with that and with the volunteering.

Dublin came along for a field trip and was absolutely super.  Hilda rode him and reported that she couldn't find anything that upset him.  He stood in the trailer like a champ, munching hay, drank lots of water and acted as if he's been doing this his whole life.

I spent some time wandering around, then walked my xc course, which looked great, but appropriately soft for a beginning of winter season course.  I then got back on and headed over to stadium.  I watched a few go and made sure I could tell how the lines were riding.  The 3 horses before me all dropped the rail at the final fence, 10B, so I was especially interested in getting that right. Keegan was absolutely super.  I think it was the best stadium round we've ever had together. The footing at Rocking Horse is great, so that helped, but we were very in sync.  I finished, with 10B and was over the moon, until I heard that I missed fence 9.  Honestly I was so focused on the in and out at 10 that I just blanked out 9.  Mmmm.  Remember this Rocking Horse I report from 2008?  Maybe it is just something about the event.  Overall, I was more thrilled than disappointed, although a clean round would have left us in position for our best ribbon ever.  I trailered home and unloaded Keegan and Dublin, heading home for a quick dinner after making sure they had plenty of hay and water as it was still quite warm and humid - though we had missed the forecast rain.  That changed overnight, with Saturday coming around with night time rainstorms and a cooler overcast morning.

I had an 8:30 xc time and Hilda was doing dressage on Ollie (High Profile - a really nice horse for sale) at 8:15, so it was an early morning on Saturday.  We arrived and I tacked up, went over the course with the map a couple of times (a double TE would be too embarrassing even for me) and then headed out. Keegan was an absolute rockstar xc!  It really couldn't have been better and we actually made time xc for the first time at training level (I checked with Rick Dunkerton later).  So that was perfect despite the TE costing us that ribbon.  I hung out for a few hours, visiting my buddy Jamie, and chatting with a few folks as well as popping in the xc control to check in with Cyndi and Jordan (who with Emily was volunteering). I than chatted with Morgan (the course designer a bit). I was curious about why the roll top after the double bank up with the sign saying it would be moved for training was still there and Morgan confessed forgetting about it as preliminary xc was scheduled to run after training. He also took the rap for some map transposition errors, all part of knocking the rust off - apparently, I'm not the only one that needs to do this.  I then drove Keegan and Ollie home with Gracie (a working student of Hilda's) and got them settled, then rode Dublin and watched a young rider from Alabama check out a bunch of horses at Oakmore.
The ever fabulous Jamie
Then it was back to the townhouse for Birthday dinner.  Yummy Shepherd's pie along with all kinds of other goodies made for a very excellent dinner.  Hilda as always gave me some lovely gifts, including an excellent warm hat and some very dark chocolate.

Sunday morning was even colder so I bundled up, remembering almost freezing at a prior Rocking Horse where I was volunteering with Cyndi on a Sunday after a warm Saturday. Lucky thing as it was quite chilly, although the wonderful folks at Rocking Horse have built Cyndi a hut to keep the worst of the wind off.  Once we got some sun, it was a great day.  A few highlights to supplement the Eventing Nation coverage.  I loved seeing Jennie Brannigan out on several of Nina Gardner's young TBs.  My favorite, no surprise, is Mixed Blessing a 2009 Partner's Hero who raced 12 times, winning a couple at Penn National, but looking super suited to be an eventer (and my favorite type at that). They finished 3rd in one of the training horse divisions. The funny and interesting moment was John Crowell falling off (apparently sliding backward over the rump of his horse and landing on his feet already chasing his horse.  With the new rule in place, at novice level, he was allowed to remount and finish his run. It did seem that the falls happened in clusters, but I didn't hear of any significant injuries, which always makes the day even better.  Ashley Bruder won her training division on Maripeg's Moose, Missy and Peter Berk's lovely Prince had a great outing and a 3rd place ribbon, there were many trainer's riding for owner's who couldn't make it down.  I especially enjoyed seeing Justine Dutton on both Chequer (formerly Steph Cauffman's) and Merrylegs (adorable pony, about 13.1). Brigitte Aickelin and Harper looked amazing on the xc.  Due to very closely clustered dressage scores, they missed out on a ribbon, but it was a great first run of the season for them.  My only complaint is that there were many horses with Golden in their name, but none were Palominos.  However, there were enough very attractive pintos to make up for it.

I also followed the live scoring from Full Gallop.  Buck and I had a nice conversation about Brevan (the horse he sold to Sally Cousins to help finance the horse Andrea got as a wedding present). He ended up 3rd at Full Gallop.  Sally won the Intermediate on Gus and had a couple others running as well.  Caitlin got 3rd as well on both of the horses she rode.  Full Gallop was a fair bit smaller (and no doubt a large bit colder - thus the smaller) than Rocking Horse.

I ended the day with the drive back and some Pro bowl at the sports bar.  I was a little worried about my flight this morning, given the forecast, but all was good - no travel delays this trip.  We're getting ready to hunker down for the snow that is supposed to come tonight.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which we return to Florida once more

I kicked off my Florida season last weekend with some great lessons on Keegan and Dublin with Hilda.  This weekend was the Leslie Law clinic and Keegan, Keebler and Dublin were all there.  It was also great to see Cyndi Kurth actually riding Bitsy (who was a star). Extra bonus that Cathy Henderson was out from Michigan to spend the weekend enjoying some warm weather and then auditing the Chris Bartles ICP clinic today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday).

Saturday was SJ day.  Cathy and I got up in the dark and headed to Oakmore/Ashmore where we loaded Keegan and Dublin, who were both very good. We arrived at Rocking Horse in good time and put them in stalls that Rocking Horse Stables was kind enough to provide for the clinic.  Lauren DeNeve is preparing for an intermediate move-up so she got to have the early morning cold lesson, while Cathy helped me get Keegan tacked (amazing how nice it is having such good help). Jordan was also getting on Keebler as we were both in the P/T group.

The theme of the SJ was control within a stable position.  The idea was to get your horse at the right pace and balance while in a half seat position, avoiding the urge to sit heavy/behind (except in the rare case you thought your horse would stop). We started with exercises that included halting after the fence - first after a single fence going straight and halting, right and halting and left and halting and then after two fences in a straight line, a bending line to the right and a bending line to the left.  The idea was to get the horses listening and to give us practice in making those transitions from a light/half seat position effectively. There was also discussion of the appropriate release, most often a short release in the stadium jumping and for me, softening and dropping my hands in the last strides before the fence. In addition to Keegan and Keebler, Dr. Kimberly Keeton was riding a lovely young mare, an adult rider Tawn Edwards had a very forward thinking mare, and a young rider Ashley was on her TB gelding. There was improvement for all the horses and riders. Leslie got on Ashley's horse and rode him in the position, getting him increasingly balanced and listening.  It is great clinicing with Leslie as there is a great mix of theory and riding practice. He gives the whys of the things he is asking and points out that what he is proposing may or may not work for everyone, but he knows it works for him and tells you how and why.

Seema and Jordan listening to Leslie explain the exercise

Being able to make forward or balancing changes from the half seat means the horse always knows where your body is and doesn't have to think about that allowing more focus on the fence.  The best metaphor of the day - "if you're carrying a monkey in a rucksack on your back, it is much easier to climb a mountain if the monkey is asleep than if it is awake and jumping around."  Or as Missy says to Keegan, "we need to get your mom to quit doing the crazy monkey dance up there."

Cathy headed back to the farm after our group and had a lesson on Ashmore's Amen, a very nice upper level horse that Hilda has for the season. I watched parts of the training level and novice group, which were very similar in their goals and in the exercises.  With the training group, he had them work on awareness of how many strides they were getting in the line and then being able to adjust that - again while remaining in a half seat position. Scott Campbell also fed us lunch. Cyndi was saying how great it is to have Scott (Emily's dad) and Billie (Jordan's mom) at the clinics and events keeping everyone fed and organized. I felt lukcy to be "adopted" for the weekend.

I then got Dublin tacked up, again with Cathy's help as she drove back up following her lesson on Amen. Dublin remained his amazingly quiet self. He hacked over from the barn to the ring, warmed up a little and then stood calmly waiting for the novice group to finish, and then went into the ring and did everything he was asked.  Our lesson was very much the same, but not asking for the level of nuance. For example, we were asked to count our strides, but not to make any goal of a specific number of strides in the lines. Dublin executed 20 meter canter circles going around one fence and between another close together without minding it, he jumped and quietly halted, he jumped bending lines, he jumped the two-stride.  He doesn't always jump clean at this point, as some of his super laid back attitude, includes not being too worried about hitting stuff, but he never says no and he stays completely calm and unflappable.  The other green horses also were good and Bitsy showed them all how it was meant to be done.

After jumping everything, Dublin was much more accepting of glove antlers than Bitsy
Cathy and I loaded the boys up (both were super about drinking water, eating hay and standing quietly in their stalls all day) and headed back to the farm where we turned them out and gave them dinner. We then got dinner for ourselves at the Carmel Kitchen, a new to me and very good retaurant close to Hilda's townhouse and the new Trader Joe's. I also noticed a new sports bar - where I may go for the pro bowl next weekend.

Sunday morning repeated the up early and head to the farm, although we only loaded Keegan this time. My flight home was before the BN novice group would be jumping xc. We arrived and got tacked up and then headed out to cross country.  It was warmer than it had been on Saturday (early at least, it got warmer later). We warmed up over some smaller fences and then moved to a table to table bending line, working on the right line, lots of use of the eye (which was part of Saturday as well) and for me, keeping the hand down and keeping Keegan moving forward so he wouldn't chip to the fences. After that we moved on to the banks.  Keegan stalled (but then went) on the first try and was perfect on the second.  He was also really good going up.  Some of the other horses had some work to do with the up or the down and Lauren joined our group and also schooled the sunken road. We did the training corner (while Lauren did the intermediate), which Leslie deemed as very well done by everyone and then headed to the water. Leslie did say that the two jumps everyone should have in their jump field at home are a corner and a triple brush skinny. He also pointed out that the corner should always be flagged, and put a branch in the bracket to simulate a flag for us. Once at the wather, we walked them through then started jumpming. Lauren's mare has some concerns about jumping up out of the water, so we got to watch and learn as she worked through that.  Leslie pointed out that this is one of those things you can't do much about as a rider.  You need to stay straight and confident, but she probably also needs to try the question broken down in different ways, for example a cross-rail in the water to jump over and understand how to do the footwork in the water. Keegan stalled again at the first drop, but then remembered his job (neither of us had seen a xc fence since Radnor on October 11th). He was super jumping down the preliminary drop (thanks to Billie and Koi Duffet for the video - hopefully, I've loaded it properly). If you can't see the video, he was a star and Leslie even proclaimed it "very good"

We finished up doing the one stride skinny in and out to the corner.  I missed my line the first time, resulting in a drive-by (Keegan had no idea he was supposed to jump something) but then he was very good when I came around the second time and actually pointed him at the fence. Keebler looked fabulous throughout the morning and completely ready for the preliminary move-up later this season. In fact, Cathy said watching him that she assumed he already had preliminary experience, he looked so strong and Jordan had a big smile through the whole thing.

Hopefully, the other groups had a good cross country day. It was a great opportunity for me to knock off the rust and feel ready for the start of our show season next week. Cathy and I loaded Keegan and headed back to the farm, where she got on Maxx (a lovely young horse Hilda has), while I packed up and headed for the airport.  An easy flight and then the slightly long drive home from BWI, but in time for yummy pasta dinner with Henry.  Unfortunately both the Packers and the Colts lost their championship games so the Superbowl will be Seahawks vs Patriots.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What happened to the moratorium??

So, in theory there was a horse moratorium starting this spring.  In reality - not so much.  So what does my herd look like now.

Some things haven't changed

Gizmo continues to hang out with Debbie and Elena in Virginia. Elena did compete him a little bit this summer and is looking forward to a more active season with him in the coming year.  Meanwhile, both Debbie and Elena are spending time in the tack.

Keebler remains lucky and has nearly grown out of his "menace" moniker.  He and Jordan had a very successful fall season, finishing 4th, 3rd and 1st in their three events at training level.  Cyndi failed to blog. I'm looking forward to seeing them down in Florida.

Keegan will head to Florida at the end of the month and I'll be there on weekends to ride with Hilda Donahue.  I'm definitely hoping that Florida is warmer than Aiken last year and looking forward to seeing if I can continue to ride Keegan as well as he deserves at the preliminary level.

Finn is still (yes, really!) for sale.  He's with J.F. Gagne in Aiken and while everyone loves him, so far he is still mine.

Some things have

Solo was sold in March to a lovely adult jumper rider in NY (not too far from where I bought him).

Astro is leased to Kat Drake at Copper Meadows Farm in California.  They are getting on wonderfully and Kat is pretty good about sending updates.  I'm looking forward to hearing about their competition season and hoping that before another year passes, Astro will have his own person (possibly Kat).

Copper is now for sale.  She is another who has said dressage is good, jumpers are great, but eventing is only meh.  We've just started marketing her, so contact me or Rachel Gross at Blue Hill Farm if you are looking for a really lovely dressage or jumping horse.

And, then I defied the moratorium, not waiting for June, Finn or Astro to sell before jumping in and committing to buy a new one.  More on him to follow.  He is a 4 year old OTTB who looks surprisingly like Keegan.  Minimal racing and very well bred, plus ridiculously cute.

And in the not my horse news -

It is fabulous to be part of Caitlin Silliman's team as one of Hoku's syndicate members and as a syndicate owner of her new horse, the winner of the YEH 5 year old championship, Vagabon de Champdoux - although I hear that name may change. Super exciting to see what she does with this very cool youngster.  I find it even more exciting as he is an OTTB - although the track was in France.

Remi has moved on and is having quite an impressive career with Camilla, winning four training level events and then finishing 4th in the very competitive area 2 championship.

I remain part of the Ideal Contini Syndicate. Sally is fabulous about updates and really making her owners feel like part of the team

Jollybo also is moving along and doing well.

While there isn't a specific horse named, I also recently joined the David Ziegler Equestrian team. David not only had a fabulous year, winning eventing gold and dressage silver at NAJYRC and sweeping the young rider division at Dressage at Devon, he is also a super young person, exactly the type of horseperson and human that we hope to see excel in the sport (even if he does compete for the wrong country).

So, I'm looking forward to enjoying my two guys this winter and following the exploits of the rest of them. May everyone enjoy their ponies and their riding in the new year and if you need a horse to help you do that, I've got at least three great ones for sale.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Events everywhere

So last weekend, the first weekend of November was a huge eventing weekend.  On the east coast the Virginia Horse Trials and CIC was taking place while on the west coast, the United States FEI season was wrapping up with Galway. In Virginia, Ryan Wood had a great weekend.  The EN coverage is here and the scores here Out west, both East Coast and West Coast riders showed there stuff at both the big tracks and the YEH championships.  Those results are here

On a smaller scale, my biggest thrill of the weekend was Jordan and Keebler's third place finish at the Rocking Horse training It was especially impressive that they were tied for first after dressage (we're hoping for a Keebler guest blog soon!).

And going even smaller, there were starter trials at both Plantation (Saturday) and Waredaca (Sunday) over the weekend. Several Blue Hill riders headed to Plantation, but all wisely elected to not go cross country in the sleet! Others did stick it out and those scores are here  At Waredaca, I judged the SJ with Nancy Seybold scribing and announcing.  In between, we had many enjoyable discussions about here horse, my horse, horses in general, etc. We didn't get rain (or sleet), but it was cold and windy through the whole day.  We were actually a bit surprised that the horses were so well behaved given the wind (the jumps blew over several times - even those weighted down with cinder blocks). 

In between stalking all the eventing results and being at Waredaca, it was an excellent social weekend.  Saturday evening, Henry and I hosted a post-wedding party for Andy and Jen (who you will remember got married on the beach in Florida Plantation weekend). It was great fun with friends, colleagues and family members toasting the happy couple.  Vee St. Maurice, David Ziegler and Rachel Gross all came and helped Henry stay on top of all of the food and wine, making the larger party less stressful.  They also helped clean up, especially nice as I had the early morning Waredaca deparature and Henry would head to Glasgow on Sunday to teach. 

Sunday evening, I headed back from Waredaca and was lucky enough to attend a lovely gathering that the Gardners hosted to celebrate particularly Jennie Brannigan's Fair Hill win (and yes, I completely failed to blog about Fair Hill which had not only Jennie's win, but Caitlin's 4th place finish and Sally and Tsunami skipping around another big track making it look easy), but also Nina's great success with her breeding program in both race and sport.  The Gardner's have been great supporters of eventing and I particularly applaud them for making the decision to support Jennie, a well-mentored, well-positioned up and coming rider.  This is something that I wish more owners would do.  While the excitement of being part of a Boyd, or Phillip or Buck team is a great opportunity, there is so much possibility for impact by supporting one of our up and coming riders to be able to succeed in the sport.  So congrats to Jennie and kudos to the Gardners and I had a great time at the party, getting to chat with both Caitlin and Jenna Silliman, with Mary Hazzard, Sally and Nat Cousins and meeting for the first time 3 of the Gardners' 4 kids, all of whom are interesting people in their own rights (as well as passing on some nice stories).

Go eventing everywhere all at once!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Come for the Cross Country, Stay for the people (thanks for the title Brena!)

OK, this is a really lazy blog, but find below a copy of the short feature I wrote for the Area II Newsletter and a link to Eventing Nation's post of my PRO Faces of Eventing interview.

Come for the cross country …. Stay for the people (originally published in the Area II Newsletter August 2014)

I’m not the only one who feels this way about eventing.  We all love running and jumping cross country.  If we didn’t, we would pick another sport, but beyond the cross country, what makes eventing special are the people.  The riders, the organizers, the volunteers, the officials are all welcoming and willing to go out of their way to help each other.  Here in Area II, we are incredibly lucky to have or to have recently lost many people who made making our weekends better and helping us enjoy eventing even more a major part of their lives. Since this is a “shout out”, it seems appropriate to start with the voices behind the events, our super announcers and controllers.  We recently lost two of the best, Dick Thompson and Jim Lignon, but they were fixtures at Maryland, Waredaca, Plantation, Fair Hill and Radnor long before I came to Area II.  I had the privilege of working with Dick fairly often and loved his stories of eventers from back in the day to the present time. He also taught me how to set up and work the electronic scoring system at Fair Hill and several tricks about positioning speakers to cover a course. Still carrying on is Brian O’Connor, who is not only a great announcer and controller, but could have a second career as a stand-up comic.  He has announced at major venues everywhere, including the 2008 Olympic Games and has ridden both real and imaginary horses as part of fundraising efforts for eventers. How often have we all heard these voices announcing, not only where we are on course, but something special for us. How many times has some special moment on course been announced by them becoming a part of our eventing memory?  I don’t think I can count.
We are also blessed to have in Area II, secretary extraordinaire, Mary Coldren. Mary somehow manages to assign functional ride times even when there are 4 riders each riding 5 horses at the same level and remains unflustered through horse changes, rider changes, monsoon storms requiring event rescheduling…She does all this calmly and cheerfully and always makes the riders feel that she is on their side.  She really knows most of the riders and what works best for each of them. She is willing to help organize your ride times so it is not too early for your grandmother to drive in and watch or early enough that your trainer can help you before they have to ride their own horses. In addition to being the best secretary ever, Mary is a USEF ‘r’ TD and works behind the scenes in multiple roles at Fair Hill and Plantation after getting her start in the eventing world working for Judy Thayer and volunteering at Radnor. Judy is another long-time person that we’ve recently lost. Her work at Radnor and Fair Hill events as well as her teaching and training have touched many in Area II and she will be missed. XC at Fair Hill won’t feel the same without Judy there putting the final touches on the courses and assisting through the event. The upper level riders will particularly miss her introduction of the pumpkin path, an addition she brought to Fair Hill to help the riders make the long hack from stabling to the start without getting lost.
Fair Hill is one of several Area II venues that run multiple events every year and several of their organizers also play many other roles in eventing. Brian Ross, the co-organizer (with his wife Penny) of the Virginia Horse Trials, recently retired as a judge and TD. I was lucky enough to apprentice with Brian at an event that had more than its share of “special occurrences” and was deeply impressed by how he handled them. Brian always said something along the lines of there being enough ways to get eliminated and the role of officials being to help riders avoid them. For example, at one event, where the stadium jumping map was posted a bit late, one professional who had ridden preliminary, then missed a fence on the Intermediate course. Brian talked with the rider and gave them four faults.  He said, “had the map been posted on time, I have no doubt you would have jumped that fence, but we can’t know that you would have jumped it clean.” Brian’s thoughtful decisions on the side of the rider were a great boon to the sport and while we don’t begrudge him more time at home and with the grandkids, we will miss him at the venues.

There are many more I haven’t mentioned and probably many I don’t know. But the past couple years have been a reminder that time is not always our friend.  So say thanks, share a moment (and a great eventing story) with one of the people for whom you stay in eventing.