Wednesday, December 29, 2010


So today, I once again became the proud owner of Special Device, aka Gizmo.

Many of you who know me, know Gizmo. I bought him as a 7 year old in 1999, did my first preliminary level event on him, completed 2 CCI* long formats and generally had a fabulous time with him. He went on from me to Vero St. Maurice, who ended up finishing 4th at the CCI* long format in Virginia and then he was Lexi Rappaport's Hannukah present 4 years ago. They have been eventing at training level (since Lexi isn't old enough for prelim) and doing some of the jumpers. Lexi is getting a new horse, a lovely WB mare to go on with in the jumpers and with Blondie still in the mix, Gizmo needed a new challenge. He is getting a new girl to teach the eventing ropes, Kenzie Baker in Florida, the student of my friend and colleague, Cyndi Kurth (whom many of you know as "super announcer" at events in Florida and beyond).

I'm excited to hear about his new adventures and hope he enjoys being back in the warm lands.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Vegas baby!

Henry and I are spending the weekend in Las Vegas. I ran the half marathon this morning which was fun as always. Best costume was a costume of Sponge Bob in an Elvis costume. Best sign "your feet hurt because you are kicking so much ass". As always, dining opportunities. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire was trying a bit too hard. Atelier Roubchon was very good, including my salad which went beyond food presentation into a work of art. Sadly, Michael had to spend the weekend back in the zoo, so we've missed seeing him. On the upside, Jon is here from Michigan and ran the full marathon. We will be meeting him for dinner at Bradley Ogden this evening. I need to make some running goals for 2011. I am focused on Tag's eventing debut in Aiken so haven't really thought about yhe running. Debi is pleased with Tag and says he is a good boy with only slight ADD tendencies. He has destroyed a turnout sheet already which I have replaced with one of the Bit of Britain 1680D high neck sheets. Tag will be getting a new jumping girth and breastplate formthe holidays. I got myself a new saddle. Total score of a buffalo leather Ryde saddlery Vantage at a great price. Now the Devoucoux I have consigned with Malvern needs to sell and I need to get the 5 extra dressage saddles over to Skylands for their consignment. Yes, I have 6 dressage saddles, but have picked the one I am keeping, althouggh am liking e County I am riding Feivel in enoughnthat I will be keeping an eye out once something sells. The holidays are good as I can focus my shopping on non-horsey gifts for everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010


So, I sent Tag off to Debi Crowley so that he could be in routine work and so that I could focus on getting my riding skills back in order before eventing him in the winter/spring. That plan has been working out pretty well and yesterday, it really came together in two lessons. The first, a dressage lesson with Jessica Ransehousen on the wonderful Feivel. Feivel is for sale, but until he is sold, I am able to take some lessons on him. He is trained through 4th level dressage and is both kind and sensitive, so I feel rather as if I just think about what I want to do and he does it. We worked on walk-canter transitions, shoulder in and half pass during the course of the lesson. Then, a jumping lesson on the wonderful Lucky. Lucky is a school pony at Cairn O'Mount. He is super easy to jump, quite athletic and scopey and it is nice to be jumping around a little course working on distances and rhythm. The two are quite different. Feivel is a 16.2 hand chestnut warmblood and Lucky is a 14.2 hand quarter pony, but each excel at their jobs. To top it off, the weather was nearly perfect and then yesterday night, the Eagles beat the Giants. Happy Sunday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Off to camp

Tag has just headed off to Debi Crowley's place to be in dressage boot camp for a couple of months. I am looking for a trained horse to ride so I can be in dressage boot camp with Missy and Jessica for a couple of months. Meanwhile, baseball is over, football is happening, yeah!!! and I've started doing a little bit of teaching at Cairn O'Mount. This means that I have relinquished my official amateur status with the USEA and USEF (getting free jumping lessons in exchange for the teaching). I really like the teaching, though I probably don't have time to do it.

Tag updates to follow as well as my potential adventures with a horse that knows what it is doing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I was there!!!!

Tuesday, Henry told me he had been offered tix for the Wednesday Phillies game. With a 5 pm start, it seemed a stretch, but I decided the playoffs don't come along every year (although for the past 4 years, they have). Off we went to very good seats along third base line with the bonus of being under the second deck overhang, keeping us perfectly dry during the rain.

Roy Halladay, 2nd no-hitter in post-season baseball history and I was there!! On the radio this morning, they were joking about how the 46,000 fans who were there will expand in the story telling until what you hear in 5 years will lead you to believe that everyone Phildelphia, plus a bunch of people from Delaware and NJ all were there.

It was a really fabulous experience and we have tickets for tomorrow as well.

My WEG experience

So, if you want to hear about WEGs generally, check out, the chronicle of the horse forums or any other eventing blog or publication. Here, I just want to put down a couple of my thoughts and experiences.

The good:
In a rare disagreement with something said by Jimmy Wofford, I totally loved the Kentucky Bourbon Cask Ale.

The KHP hospitality suite was incredible. Great folks, free food and drink, wi-fi, baggage check and even some tickets. I'm really glad to have been a part of supporting the KHP in the run-up to WEG and intend to continue my support.

Far fewer lines, less distance, etc. I personally scored in a major way on the associated reservations, getting a hotel room for $48 per night, a rental car for $22 dollars a day and a round trip flight into the Lexington airport for $178.

Unexpected room mate Lisa Thomas was great and I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with her.

Bumping into friends and acquaintances from all over the country. Practically the first people I saw when I walked in on Thursday were Denis and Bambi Glacum, but also saw many others.

Cross-Country Day!!! need I say more. I was honored to volunteer as an area steward and the team was amazing. Some communications confusion (a scheduled Thursday rehearsal was canceled, leaving the day available for shopping and spectating). Beautiful day, beautiful horses. I was particularly drawn to the Japanese horses.

The less good:

They had run out of uniforms in many sizes so I ended up with a polo shirt I was swimming in, though it is comfy tech fabric.

Getting out of the park after XC Saturday evening.

Maps that only had parts of things on them, making it hard to figure out the overall orientation, despite the fairly large amount of time I have spent at the KHP over the years.

The ridiculous food prices and low quality of the food. Thank goodness for the hospitality suite and great dinners. They fed the volunteers quite well, although thank goodness it wasn't hot as they ran out of water.

All in all, a great opportunity

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tag's first show

I took Tag to his first little show over the weekend. It was one of the DVCTA schooling shows at nearby Springdale Farm. James Dwyer was kind enough to drive me (and serve as my support person for the afternoon). Tag loaded uneventfully (first trip off the farm since arriving in early April). He unloaded quietly and stood while I tacked him up and then warmed up at the end of the indoor totally quietly (in fact, it was hard to get him sufficiently forward. Given that it was over 90 degrees, this may have been unsurprising). We did Intro tests A and B as I still don't trust his canter sufficiently to be willing to exhibit it in public, but he was a star. The judge commented on how obedient and correct he was and he scored a 67.0% on A and a 67.5% on B, gathering a 3rd and a 2nd place ribbon. More impressive, was how quiet and matter of fact he was about the whole thing. No drama at all. In between tests, we went for a hack around the property, during which he was also quiet and happy to go wherever I pointed him. Definitely thinking about more shows with him, need to get the jumping in hand so we can start eventing. What a good boy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tag jumps

Yes, I think it counts even when the fences are all under 14" high. He has jumped two little white cavaletti, a cross rail, a skinny vertical, and a three jump "grid" with the middle fence including two mini-brick-wall blocks. He is quite clever with his feet (until he figures out he doesn't actually need to jump and just trots over the caveletti) and other than an occasional first time seeing the fence spook, seems brave. I'm looking forward to his progress over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm a maniac

Crossed the finish line at the Kona marathon on Sunday with the Flashdance song in my head ( 8 days after Anchorage, I completed the Kona marathon on Sunday. Hanging out in Kona was awesome, running in the heat somewhat less so. It kicked my ass and kicked my asthma into high gear. The expo was outdoors (advantage Hawaii). I met several maniacs there. Also, a big shout out to Jason from Big Island Running, who gave me some great insight into the course and chatted running with me on Saturday afternoon (he finished 3rd in the half). Easy logistics, big plus for the smaller race. Off we set at 5:30. Interesting that a Boston Qualifier does not use timing chips of any kind. I was surprised that the first water station wasn't until almost mile three, but they were frequent thereafter (water and Ultima, which I don't like, but drank anyway). Great volunteer support, Sonja and Kelly had a personal team with all kinds of motivational comments posted and chalked throughout the race, which were fun to read. I met them briefly at the finish. The first 13 miles were great, rolling hills and cool with the sun still generally out of sight. I actually did them 6 minutes faster than Anchorage. After that it went downhill due to the heat and the rolling hills, which I had hardly noticed through the first half. 13 through 15 climbed uphill into the sun and then 15-20 were on the hot highway (I had been warned). 20-21 were downhill and 21-26 along the ocean so some breeze and shade, but by then I was feeling pretty overheated and definitely a bit wall-like, although it seemed more mental than physical to me. Great ocean views though including spinner dolphins jumping. No food at the finish line, which I thought odd, though plenty to drink. While I finished slowly, I finished and the good news was that a) I finished and b) my legs felt great, almost no soreness at all. Went for a Manta snorkel that evening, beyond cool. I had done the Dolphin snorkel on Friday which was also exceptional. If you are ever in Kona, Great crews and great organization. I also spent a bunch of time hanging out in the general vicinity of the beach, selecting places for meals based on proximity to the water, rather than quality of the food, although the food was quite good, especially at Huggos. Found a great yoga place, and did yoga Friday and Saturday. All in all a great finish phase to a wonderful vacation. I need to get into the vacation habit.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fun in the sun in Kona

When I think tropical paradise, it conjures something very close to Kona in my mind. Lots of beaches, ocean views from almost everywhere, balmy breezes and hot sunshine. Yesterday morning, I had the phenomenal experience of swimming with the dophins. These are wild Hawaiian spinner dolphins. We went out in a boat and got dropped into the middle of a swimming pod, hung out until they all swam by, with several swimming within a few feet, then back in the boat to pass them or a different group and repeat. It was truly amazing. Clear, warm, blue water. Dolphins everywhere and bonus green sea turtles. Just really, really excellent

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One down, one to go

I'm in San Francisco, where it is wonderfully sunny. Got here yesterday after my stay in Anchorage for the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon. I left Philadelphia Thursday morning. My original flight was canceled, so I ended up flying to Anchorage via San Francisco and arriving 8 hours later than planned after 11 hours of airport/travel time. My bed and breakfast was conveniently located and had a comfortable bed, but otherwise nothing to recommend it. Friday, I spent in the city of Anchorage, which reminded me surprisingly of Kalamazoo. It pretty much seems like a small town anywhere, although the mountains are lovely and given that it is the north, spring was far behind Philadelphia which meant that the lilacs were blooming and I have never seen so many large and beautiful lilac bushes. Reindeer sausage and birch syrup were included in breakfast at the Snow City Cafe, which I highly recommend, then generally wandering about downtown, a little souvenir shopping and packet pick up at the expo. A fairly early bed time, with the curtains pulled to block out the light (still full light at 9:00 - and as I later discovered, at 10:00 and at 11:00 pm). Saturday morning, had a cup of tea and then headed to the bus pick up for the race. The first bus was full, but the second had some room. I heard from people at the start that some ended up taking taxi cabs to the start line as the buses did not seem to have enough room. The high school gym was open, so it was a very civilized wait, with much shorter lines than last year's big races (around 2000 runners I believe). At 8:00 am we were off. We had chips, but there was no mat at the start. All start times were assumed to be gun time (though I was a few minutes before getting through the start). The route was lovely, with nice scenery. Chunks of it were on gravel road and park trails, so times were not super fast. There were some hills, including the particularly nasty one between mile 25 and 26. After coming back into the city, we saw two moose along the bike/walking trail we were running on. I walked on and off, especially in the second half, but felt pretty good and finished with no trouble, then walked back to the bed and breakfast, showered, and walked into town to check out the solstice festival (which was great, but would have been even better had it not been raining). Dinner at Orso, fresh wild salmon, yummy. Sunday, I had breakfast at Snow City again, walked about 3 miles to a yoga studio and did yoga, Yin yoga, not the traditional 108 sun salutations for the solstice, which I really didn't think I could manage. Then the afternoon was a tour of the area around Anchorage, including the very cool museum and and the Native Heritage Center, more moose and an eagle sighting. And off to the airport for the red-eye, still light as we took off approachng midnight. An uneventful trip (with a plane change in Denver) got me to SF mid-morning Monday.

Here until Thursday and then off to Kona for marathon 2

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eventing in the North

Last Thursday, Tag demonstrated some athleticism and dumped me during our lesson. In his defense, we were 55 minutes into a lesson (25 more minutes than I think he had ever been ridden before) and I smacked him pretty hard with the dressage whip in an attempt to keep him cantering around the corner. I hit the railroad tie that bounds our arena, but other than sore shoulders and a sore point on my hip (that I didn't notice until 3 days later), all is good.

Last weekend, the eventing season got underway here in Pennsylvania as well as in Area 8. While I volunteered at Plantation Field, I got updates of Keebler and Lynn's first event together at Spring Bay. The wonderful Cyndi Kurth actually texted me move by move during his dressage test. Plantation was a lot of fun and Keebler and Lynn finished on their (rather Keebleresque) dressage score.

Events to follow in Florida and volunteering at Fair Hill this coming weekend.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tag hacks out

And is brilliant. Doesn't even look at the big burn pile (a scary thing for most horses). Still doesn't steer perfectly, but it is less noticeable out in the big fields. Walks, trots, walks, trots, as asked. Seems to be getting used to the idea that the bit isn't going away just because he wishes it would. Then tried Steph's saddle. Fits him well, but I can't decide if it is too wide. Need to borrow it for a jumping lesson. This fabulous weather makes it tempting to just stay outside all the time. This is when I wish my office had a window!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tag is hom

Off to see Tag at Missy's. More to follow

Monday, March 22, 2010

My final Florida weekend was March 12-14 at Rocking Horse Spring Horse Trials. I rode Slim Jim training level and Ashmore's Sioux beginner novice. Both horses totally rocked, but to be chronological: Thursday, the weather held for long enough for me to ride Finn, Sioux and Jim, but then as Scott Langton arrived to do the prepurchase exam on the (then) potential new guy, the skies opened up. New guy, whom I have bestowed with the show name Meritage in honor of his very blended heritage, and the barn name Tag, got to stand in the aisle a lot as we waited for lightning to stop, then hoped for rain to stop. We ended up not finishing the flexions or under saddle evaluations, but x-rays were clean and we agreed we would be surprised if physical exam was not also, so I have a new horse. He went with us on Sunday to walk around at Rocking Horse and the wonderful folks at Xpress Foto gave him his own photo shoot: Once I buy some pics, I'll post one on the blog home page. Meanwhile, Friday was only a bit drizzly. I did dressage and SJ on Slim Jim and he was a star. Were it not for my error, I would have gotten a 33.5, but I was happy with both of us. Then back home and a ride on Sioux preparing for Saturday and time to hit Full Circle Yoga one last time for the season. Saturday, Slim Jim xc in the morning and being a total bozo, I buried him to a jump even he couldn't get us out of and popped off landing on my feet standing on the jump. He stood quietly and we walked back in, an
ignominious end to that attempt, but I still really enjoyed him. Sioux did dressage and SJ and was great in both, tied for 7th place at the end of the day. Saturday evening took me back to my last visit at the Cheesecake Factory. Heard that Mary had her baby and had a lovely evening. Sunday was xc on Sioux. She totally rocked and (unlike Hilda :) ) I managed to navigate the course with no speed faults. Hilda ended up 6th on Godsend in the Preliminary and 3rd on Cracker in the OBN. I was right behind her in the OBN, with a 4th. So sad to have the season end. Monday, I headed out and drove as far as Petersburg, VA, where I stayed once more at the Walker-House bed and breakfast. It was lovely once again. Then drove home Tuesday. I parked my car at Maripeg's house where it would be safe full of stuff, which it was other than the minor taillight smashing incident (quickly repaired by Maripeg's dent guy - apparently, he has had some good business in the Bruder driveway). Work at CMTP the remainder of the week and then a really, really first weekend of spring. I took lessons Saturday and Sunday at in the new Radnor location and it was great. I got to ride Mimi, a lovely mare in to become an event horse and eventually be sold. She is fabulous. Sunday, we reinstated the adult jumping and champagne lesson, which we plan to keep on the schedule going forward.

Meanwhile, Hilda and Extravagance finished 5th at Poplar. The Michigan gang had a great time at Southern Pines running over Jeff and Tremaine's great new courses. The only sad note was that Missy's Critical Decision injured himself, although I hear the prognosis is good. Missy will be heading home next week with Tag, so stay tuned for more green pony updates.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

running, yoga, a little riding

The Florida part of the weekend started late due to an NIH SBIR study section in DC on Thursday and Friday. There were a lot of grants to review. The good part was that we got to stay at the Hotel Palomar in Dupont Circle, a very nice Kimpton Hotel. The bad part was that there were a lot of grants to review (which isn’t really fair as many of them were quite interesting and the study section is a great group). During the day, I checked in on Red Hills Live Scores, for the dressage outcomes. Friday evening, I headed down to Orlando, arriving fairly late, so going straight to the condo and sleep. Saturday morning, I started the day with some work and then yoga at Full Circle. It was a really beautiful day, bright sunny and promising to be genuinely warm. After yoga, off to Disney’s ESPN Sports Complex for the Disney Princess Half Marathon expo, Got my number, goodie bag etc and then headed to Ashmore. I heard from Hilda that she decided not to run Extravagance, so would be home on Sunday, leaving me looking forward to lessons and meeting the trial pony that she was kind enough to pick up for me, since he was conveniently near Red Hills. Saturday evening back to the usual spot at the bar at the Cheesecake Factory for a light dinner, then early to bed because Sunday morning was very early. No, that isn’t even correct. Sunday morning was still night. I got up at 3:10 am and I’m pretty sure that more people consider that hour Saturday night than consider it Sunday morning. Put on cute pink running skirt (it is the Princess Half Marathon after all), other gear and headed off to Epcot. The start line stuff went smoothly, but it was pretty chilly (38 degrees and damp). After an hour of milling around, using the porta-potties, and standing in the corral, I was seriously shivering when our start gun (accompanied by lovely pink fireworks) went off, but figured, “running now – I’ll warm up” Well, not so much. At mile 3, my toes were still cold. At mile 6, my fingers were still blue, although by then, the sun was working on coming out. Didn’t toss the throwaway sweater until mile 10, but really enjoyed miles 8-12 of the run. Apparently, the “alternate exercise training for the half marathon program” is working out ok because I ran a reverse split and finished in my pretty usual time frame feeling quite fine. Headed back to Winter Park, had a shower, bagel and tea and then back to Full Circle for a lovely yoga class. It is true that savasana at the end of class was not relaxation or meditation in the yogic sense, but rather a very nice nap. Then off to the barn where shortly after I arrived, so did Hilda and the trial pony. He is a cute little bay package and a lovely mover. He is a total mix including Trakehner, Thoroughbred, Paint, Russian Warmblood, and Dutch Warmblood. He also needs a name as I don’t like the one he came with. Considering Perfect Mix for a show name, but then need a barn name. Alternately Tres Melange for show name, Trey for barn name or Pick a Mix for show name, Pico for barn name. I also like the idea of Meritage (wine) for the show name, but can’t figure out the barn name to go with it (Vino?). All suggestions gladly accepted. Need to get him named by Thursday as he is getting vetted then and want to put a name on the coggins. After he got to hang out in the pasture for about 30 minutes with Extravagance (and let me just say, they were really cute together. I hope Extravagance is imparting all kinds of Advanced Event Horse wisdom to the new kid), I tacked him up and put him on the lunge. He was very quiet despite a jumping lesson going on in the arena, so I hopped on. No worries, other than pretty much total lack of steering or a clue, but he remained quiet and we were able to walk and trot around the arena, trot over 3 poles on the ground and pop over a tiny vertical, all with no concerns (and no steering). He remained quiet and easy throughout. I’m looking forward to playing with him this coming weekend, sadly the last Florida weekend of the season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Derby take 2

I am late to blog this week, but had quite a good weekend. It started with uncertainty about the trip as there was another storm forecast. My flight was cancelled and I was rescheduled twice, but did make it down in the end. Once there, it was a laid back and enjoyable weekend. Hilda was up in Georgia for Pine Top, where she and Extravagance had a good run preparatory for Red Hills. Susie and Isabella ended up with a ribbon and I heard reports that Isabella jumped like a million bucks. Thoughts and jingles to those recovering from falls at Pine Top. There were several over the weekend. Meanwhile, in Florida, it was Derby Time again. I rode both Slim Jim and Godsend novice over Morgan Rowsell’s fun derby course. The weather was a bit not fun, cold and rainy, but both horses jumped brilliantly and politely around the course. I was a bit slow on each as it was my first time ever riding Godsend cross-country and I also elected to trot into the water as it was a drop and too cold to want to risk a “splash landing” Genny Christianson rode the Carpenter horses, Cracker and Tribute at the beginner novice level and was 2nd with Tribute. Dominique accompanied us to help and it was great having another pair of competent hands along, as we loaded and unloaded and transferred tack, all while trying to stay vaguely dry (no success there). We finished up and headed out just after 2 in the afternoon, with me thinking I could probably make it to 4:30 yoga, but no such luck as the Ashmore truck decided it was having a little issue. It coasted to a dead stop on the ramp between State Road 19 and State Road 441 in Eustis. I managed to get it off to the side and the Eustis police showed up in short order, so all was safe. Calls went in to AAA and we tried to reach service at the Ford dealership just down the road, but ended up rescued by a good Samaritan passer-by who happened to be a service advisor at an alternate Ford dealership, who was able to show us how to get the truck restarted by bypassing the starter system. Off we set again and all was good until the corner of Keene road, where we had the same occurrence, but this time only a matter of minutes to get it restarted. Got back to Ashmore not much worse for the wear although everything was soaked. By this point, the sun came out and it was quite a pleasant afternoon to play with Finn and then head for dinner. Sunday, I had the fun of giving Dominique and Jackie a lesson. We did a bit of flat work and a bit of jumping. There was a fair bit of two-point work and I think both felt a bit tortured, but they did a great job with Sioux and Slim Jim (really buy this horse, he is the best). I then headed for the airport for a drama free flight home. Only 2 weeks left.

Monday, February 22, 2010

horse shuffling

Another competition weekend in the south, which as a change was southernly in the temperature department, a lovely warm sunny weekend. Thursday, I arrived at Ashmore after an early morning flight (though not as early as I had thought, so I got to spend an extra 35 minutes in the airport - note to self: read the boarding pass upon printing it out). Drove up to Rocking Horse with Andre and two horses behind the coach, then back down in the 4 horse trailer with Chris Bradley. Chris took the last two of the 9 Ashmore horses up to Rocking Horse, which I waited for Dr. Scott Langton to take a look at Finn's stifles. A little lunging and blocking and diagnostic x-rays later and the verdict was Finn could continue in work. Apparently, all is good as there has been no stifle stiffness the past several days. There has been a plan for a career change. Finn has made it pretty clear to us that he would much rather do the hunter/jumpers than eventing. He quite prefers the pretty colored poles. So if you know anyone looking for a super cute, almost unbelievably quiet 5 year old, bay TB gelding, you now know where to find one

So Finn did not come to Rocking Horse this weekend. Instead, I rode Isabelle at Novice and another sale horse, Slim Jim at Beginner Novice. Now Slim Jim has done a few preliminary level events, so beginner novice a piece of cake. The only interesting aspect was laying eyes on him for the first time on Friday and then riding down center line approximately 24 hours later after one ride. Friday evening, Andre made wonderful salmon pasta for us at the coach. Stadium Saturday afternoon after popping him over 7 fences in the warmup. Both practically perfect. He did offer a somewhat enthusiastic canter lengthening in the dressage arena - the downside of beginner novice on the preliminary horse, but we scored 36.2 not too bad for my having no idea how to ride him. Presumably after the slightly lazy Ms Bella, I was a tad too enthusiastic about that canter cue. A nice dressage test with a decent score under the always tough Bill Woods for Isabella in the morning and then a spot perfect stadium round in the afternoon. Isabelle needs to do the jumpers. She is so scopey and easy in the Stadium.

This thought was enthusiastically supported by Isabelle on Sunday. Sunday morning, we left the start box quite nicely, no bucking and locked on to fence number 1. Fence two went similarly well, but at random points throughout the rest of the course (none associated with any jumping efforts), Isabelle announced that she would rather go back to the sand box and jump the pretty colored jumps as she slid to a stop and stood in the middle of the field. I felt rather silly having a time getting her going again, but all the jumping was brilliant. The only problem - that 1 minute and 54 seconds spent at a stand still tacked on to optimum time, oops. Slim Jim had no such issues. Not only was he a superstar, he was a polite and gentlemanly superstar. He asked once or twice if we were going to go faster and jump the real jumps, but was totally polite when my response was, "no, not today" If you are looking for an adorable, cuddly, well behaved, scopey, easy, super event packer, buy this horse!! Or if you aren't looking, but need to get rid of some cash, feel free to buy him for me :)

Hilda had a very busy weekend, riding 5 horses. Extravagance won the preliminary dressage with a score of 29.6, looking brilliant both in his dressage performance and his glowing overall condition. Extravagance and Vinny finished 7th and 8th in their preliminary division. Godsend had a good go, although Hilda made a wrong turn before fence 17, resulting in a few time penalties. It is easier than it seems take a wrong turn at Rocking Horse. I went through the wrong path to fence 9 on the beginner novice. Luckily, it just involved a somewhat short approach not retracing any steps and Slim Jim didn't mind at all. Shenandoah had a good outing in tough company and Cracker actually managed to lose Hilda having a pony spook at an equipment cart out in the field. Our other BN riders also parted company with their mounts, again due to spooking, not fences, but no harm done. Eddie's Point Two Air Jacket inflated on his fall and we are all thinking that these may be a good thing if you can't guarantee staying in the saddle, which no one can. Buck Davidson had a fall and commented that he didn't think he would have been riding his remaining horses were it not for his Point Two.

After finishing up at Rocking Horse, we headed back to Ashmore and I had lessons on Finn (who was very, very good), Sioux who was a lot of fun, and Godsend who made it very clear when I was riding properly and when I was not. All three are great jumpers, though possibly cover the entire spectrum of jumping and riding style, so it was great for me to ride them all. Finished the evening back at the Cheesecake Factory, which has become this year's hangout.

Meanwhile, in Aiken, the Cairn O'Mount gang was competing at Paradise. Lesley and Hannah each finished fourth and Morgan and Merlin snagged another blue to add to their collection. Aiken seemed to have warmed up a bit as well.

The season feels like it is going fast. Hilda will head up to Pine Top next weekend where Susie also will be running, so I'll have to keep an eye on the scores in addition to hitting the Derby at Rocking Horse.

Monday, February 15, 2010

In which snow precludes the weekend trip

I was pretty worried on Tuesday, but as of 8 am Wednesday morning, the claim was still that evening flights would be heading out only slightly delayed. Boy, was that ever a bait and switch moment. By 2 pm, the flight was cancelled. I got on the phone with the airlines to find out that there were no flights available until Saturday afternoon and those were multi-stop flights that would result in more time in the air than if Florida. Decided Wednesday was a snow day and sent out the invitation for folks to join us for wine and cheese. Several took us up on the invitation and we had a lovely time and drank quite a lot. I headed out to shovel (again) after the guests left and think the wine might have been equally to blame with the ice for my lack of stability, but got the sidewalk well-cleared. Thursday morning, called the airlines bright and early to see if anything had changed, but not, so talked to Hilda and the final plan was that she would take Sioux in Finn’s place and that Jenny would ride Tribute. Thursday was another work from home day. We (mostly Henry, but I helped for a while) shoveled out the cars, then headed off for yoga (me, not Henry) before working at home. Thursday evening, we enjoyed wine and dinner at Salt & Pepper, one of our favorite Philadelphia BYOs after trekking the two miles from our house to the restaurant. Friday, back to work as usual for me, though many had still not dug out cars and the smaller roads were still a bit questionable. Friday evening, no traffic at all as we headed up to Lambertville NJ to see David Fraser’s most recent showing of his interesting twining art (a version of basket weaving Amazing all the things to do when not heading for Florida. The remainder of the weekend included work, yoga, the movie From Paris with Love and plenty of basketball watching. Susie had a good run at Pine Top after the snow delay! Amazing that there were 6 inches of snow on the ground there, but the super crew at PTF made it happen and the folks at hoofclix documented it In Ocala, it was sufficiently cold and rainy that even Hilda abandoned propriety and rode in rain gear and half chaps. Isabella put in a lovely test, prompting the judges’ comment “very good test in very bad weather” at the bottom of the dressage test. At the end of the weekend there, the Carpenter’s Cracker won his first event with Hilda aboard at Intro. Eddie Wideman and Duke were 6th at Eddie’s BN move-up after an unlucky rail moved them down from the dressage and XC second place. Isabella wasn’t so sure about going on in the conditions and Hilda retired her on cross-country. Godsend and Extravagance jumped like pros, although the weather was apparently distracting enough that Hilda had a TE on Extravagance. All in all a good and busy weekend, but I’m looking forward to being back in Florida for Rocking Horse III next weekend.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In which we have derby fun

So here we are waiting for the next round of snow. I just beat the last round, heading down to Florida before it really started on Friday and returning after it ended on Sunday, so a shorter weekend. Friday, I had lessons on both horses and then yoga at Full Circle, very fun "happy hour" practice. Saturday, off to Rocking Horse for the Derby and "Ride a Test" We were running a bit late again, so Finn didn't get to lunge before I got on and when we went over to warm up, there were kids bashing bushes with sticks, which provoked some jumping about even from Finn. It was once again cold and windy and this time it seemed to affect him (more later) as I couldn't really get him to stretch down and go forward. I went into the dressage arena, where things improved to some extent and then had a little lesson with Gretchen Butts, where things improved some more, but he never really stretched down or moved forward. Next came the Derby on Isabelle, a nice novice course. On our first round, we had a stop at the Chevron (yes, the same one she jumped last week). But our second round was spot on. In fact, it was so spot on that we ended up winning both the blue ribbon and the prize money!! Go Isabelle. Next out for the derby with Finn. He warmed up fairly well, though still seemed more distracted than usual. First round eliminated for refusing to jump the second fence (same as fence 7 from the schooling event). Hilda came out and put a pole beside it. After doing that a few times, he then jumped it and finished the course. Second round, perfect, though not good enough to win. Hilda rode Sioux, who was lovely, but too fast at BN to win. Then Grace and Justin Carpenter rode, first time xc (other than schooling for both of them). Grace got jumped loose on the second last fence, unlucky, as it had looked great until them. Finglebridge Fearless (or little Finn as we must call him to distinguish from big Finn) wasn't sure about the whole thing. Hilda ended up keeping him company around the course the first time, then Justin went out on his own and all the way around by himself the second time. We finished up the day with some footage of team Finn and the Monteverde coach and trainer, Jennifer on Tribute. Sunday morning, I had a dressage lesson on Isabelle, working on transitions. Eventually, I will figure out this whole dressage thing. Then I got on Finn, but it quickly became apparent that he was not quite right. All that tightness Saturday, not the wind and greeness, but left hind soreness. Hilda and I were both feeling pretty badly that we had kept pushing him Saturday, but as always, he seemed happy enough to keep trying so hard to tell given the conditions that there was something wrong. We think it is the stifle as he has just had another growth spurt. New shoes yesterday and a couple days off are helping. We will see if he feels ready to compete on the weekend. Meanwhile, I'm missing the nice hills in PA, not that they are usable at present, but rather a dearth of hill work opportunities in Florida, so will have to figure out other approaches to loading the hind end for fitness work. Hoping I will not be prevented from returning this week by the approaching storm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Back to recognized eventing for the first time since August 2008

We can’t really call it bad luck, but this past weekend, the minor mishaps followed the “comes in threes” format. I set out to the airport Thursday morning, boarded the plane and after a short time, the captain announced that he had been told by maintenance that said plane would be going nowhere. Good news, another plane was coming in and we’d be making off with that one. Even better news, same plane so no need to rejigger seat assignments. So off one, on the other and on the ground in Orlando about an hour and a half later than planned. I did a bit of work, including a productive call with Heather Gold that may revive the percutaneous breast biopsy diffusion grant and then had a fun lesson with Susan Straub, doing some flatwork and some jumping on Isabelle, while Susan rode her Dutch (both horses for sale should anyone be looking). Finished in time for yoga at Full Circle, wonderful practice with Lewis. Friday morning, I worked for 6 hours, starting at surgeons’ time (6 am) and then heading back to Full Circle for Hatha Yoga. I had always thought Hatha an easier practice than Vinyasa/Ashtanga type power yoga, but this class totally belied that thought. It was a marvelous, super tough class that was a lot of fun. Then off to Ashmore, where I discovered minor mishap 2. Finn had managed to pull off a shoe and then bury it in the sand in his paddock so I couldn’t find it. We called Ashmore’s farrier John May, who offered to come out Saturday to fix this problem (I have been blessed with wonderful farriers at many barns and here is another example. John hadn’t even put the original shoe on). Meanwhile Hilda was off at Rocking Horse having a wonderful dressage test on Extravagance, completing dressage and SJ on Extravagance and Godsend. When she returned to Ashmore (so nice that Rocking Horse is so close), I had a dressage lesson on Isabelle, which went very well. Then Isabelle had her bath (followed by rolling in the sand). Saturday morning, after sleeping in until 6:30 (quite the late morning for a horseshow), headed off to Ashmore where I cleaned up and braided Isabelle. Then off to Rocking Horse with Isabelle, Extravagance and Godsend after a bit of trailer drama with Isabelle. You wouldn’t expect such a handy and compact horse to be even a little worried about the tightness of the trailer space. Saturday was quite successful. Hilda elected to run both of hers slowly, Godsend because he is practicing slowly as a life concept and Extravagance as there was no need to run him fast at this level. Isabelle put in a lovely dressage test – she even got to warm up this time. We ended up with a 34.4, my very best dressage score ever, though just shy of my 2010 dressage score goal of 34. Then, after plenty of time as a break and enough for the rain to start, back on for stadium jumping. It was an absolutely rhythmic, lovely round, though apparently a bit too much on the hunter plan as we were 4 seconds slow. I think I was so enjoying the lovely rhythmical aspect that I forgot to get a bit of step there, but it was a clean round and Hilda was pleased by the steadiness. The rain continued and as seems to be the trend, the skies opened up significantly twice through the afternoon. Once when Hilda was on course with Godsend and the really wild time when she was on course with Extravagance. The wind was blowing and it was raining sideways. Extravagance is well enough behaved that she was at one point, holding a hand up at the side of her face to block the rain and riding with only one hand on the reins (excellent opportunity to use homonyms in a sentence). At the end of the day, sans rain, we walked the cross country. It looked fairly straight forward, although the first two fences were less inviting than some of the later ones. There was no ditch, but water and a significant terrain feature, both of which Hilda said Isabelle might want to take a peek at before heading through. Sunday (more on this later). With us, were Marianna and her mom, Yitka. Marianna was riding at training level and is one of the up and coming area 3 young riders. Very nice young lady and I enjoyed meeting Yitka as well. Sunday morning dawned cloudy with a forecast high around 56. Had this happened, it would have been excellent. What we actually got was wind and about 45 degrees, brrr! Not appropriately Florida-like. And how do the weather-guessers mess up so badly? There was only xc with Isabelle, so we loaded Finn up as well. Finn, who hadn’t been ridden for two days (just got his shoe on Saturday afternoon. Yeah to Jackie for finding the shoe – she credits Vinny – after John May and I had the entire discussion about how to match a new shoe to the one Finn was wearing that had a tiny drive in stud, borium nails seemed to be missing, maybe drill and tap so I could thread in a tiny stud, or file off or drive out the other, all moot – Thanks Jackie!!). So, Finn who hadn’t been ridden in 2 days gets loaded up to head off in the cold and windy day. Those of you who have worked with OTTBs know what I was expecting, but it was not what I got. In fact, most of Hilda’s comments through our little dressage lesson and tour around the facility were of the ilk, “more leg” “go forward” “more canter” “go faster” Apparently, I have in my older years, become the queen of slowness, a very odd thought for those of you who have known me a while. But more extra points for Finn (he is really hoping all these points translate into cookies!). He then loaded back onto the trailer and stood there by himself for an hour while I tacked up, got on, warmed up and went xc on Isabelle. This time period was lengthened by minor mishap number 3. We set off from the start box, some minor bucking (perhaps my saddle doesn’t fit her or she is just excited to be on xc. I didn’t hit her this time, really). Jumps 1-6 went perfectly. 7 was the chevron before the water and she wanted to take a little look so we did and trotted through the water, all very nice, then back to the canter. Trying to be a bit more forward, I got up off her back and off we went to 9 and 10. 11 was the terrain feature. My plan, to put my butt back in the saddle 3-4 strides away so I could push her forward as she took her peek. Plan thwarted when she decided to take her peek 6 strides away while negotiating a stop that would do a roping horse proud. I stepped off over her shoulder, none the worse for the wear, actually thinking during the period between saddle and ground, “drat! Despite being far from the jump, that was definitely caused by jump, we need penalty zones.” We were in the exact middle of the field geographically and so the walk back was a bit long. Finn was waiting patiently when we got back and we put Isabelle back on the trailer (no problems) and headed back to Ashmore. We were back early and had time for me to do some work, chat with some Ashmore riders and get things cleaned up while Hilda went off for a long hack on Extravagance with Eddie Wiedmann and Duke. Then, to Hilda and Andres’ house for a great meal prepared by Andre for which Lynn and Johnny Merlet joined us. We watched video (of Pau and this event), ate yummy food, drank the Ferrari Carrano Siena (an excellent low price option) and I got yet more birthday presents!! All in all a great weekend, despite that trio of mishaps. That will teach me to keep my shoulders up and my tush nearer the tack. Next week is the Derby. I will get to work on maintaining forward speed, without losing the smoothness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Totally cool

So cool. Our young friend Charlotte, a lovely rider in her own right, made this video of Hilda Donahue to help support her WEG aspirations. Teenagers are so technically talented!

Monday, January 25, 2010

In which we tour farms and more

A short trip to Florida this week as there was no competition, but enhanced by a visit from Cathy Henderson. Cathy came down to do the ICP clinic that was held in Ocala (which it turned out Hilda was doing as well) and then stayed to hang out at Ashmore for a couple of days. After successfully dealing with the “possessed” Garmin GPS system, Cathy arrived in Winter Park and settled into the townhouse. Friday morning, I got up very early and headed off in the pouring rain for yoga at Winter Park Health and Fitness. By the time class was over, the rain had thankfully stopped. Off we went to Ocala to see Iron Springs South and Amy Lacey. Cathy gave Amy a lesson on a lovely young mare and we got a tour of the property. Beautiful place, especially the varnished wood ceiling with recessed can lights in the stallion barn
From there, we headed back to Ashmore, but change of plans, ended up going over to HighLife (, another breeding facility, where we watched Hilda ride several sales horses and Cathy took a look at some stallions that would be high on the list were she to do any breeding. Then back to Ashmore, where we had a jumping lesson. Cathy rode Vinny and I rode Isabelle. We jumped in several of the fields and got to do exercises to improve our eye, steering and sense of pace. Then, following hurried showers at Ashmore – isn’t it lovely that there is a full bath there- we went off to dinner with the Carpenters. They had very kindly included us in their invitation to Hilda and AndrĂ© at the last minute. We had dinner at the Bella Collina clubhouse where Todd indulged my preference for Shiraz and the mushroom soup was incredibly good. We made some plans for Grace to make some forays into eventing, starting with the Rocking Horse Derby and then the Intro level at Ocala. No doubt, she will totally show me up. Pumpkin cake and Earl Grey tea for dessert, total Seema food. Saturday morning, I ran the Seasons 52 (a restaurant) 5.2 kilometer run in Winter Park. Very nice, although the brick roads were a bit odd to run on. Then off to Ashmore again. In the morning, Cathy had another lesson on Vinny, while I worked with Finn on the lunge line, convincing him that all those odd things are, in fact, jumps. It worked very well with the possible exception of the down bank, which still leaves him concerned. Then we had a flat lesson. I got to watch Cathy ride Finn and I rode Isabelle. Both were very good. Another quick shower and off to the airport and home. Last night, Henry had my birthday dinner and we went deep into the wine cellar, complimented by wonderful Henry food and sneak peeks at the football games throughout. Go Saints.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting the groove (and/or getting it back)

Just finished the first weekend of the year in Florida. Nice warm weather (not like last weekend, when I was glad enough that I wasn't eventing in the sleet at the horse park). Headed off to dinner on Thursday evening, only to discover that Urban Flats is closed. Very sad. Did dinner at the bar at the Cheesecake Factory, which has a large menu and great bartenders, but too crowded. Will be searching for alternatives. Lessons on both Isabelle (dressage) and Finn (combo lesson). Finn has settled well into Ashmore life and Isabelle might prefer not to be back to work, but is very lovely. Friday Finn got to go off to the jump field with Extravagance as a lead horse. He was very good over the alligator, scary though it is and jumped through little cavalletti. Next, we decided he might try stepping off the little bank. He stood at the edge unable to figure out what to do even when Extravagance gave him a lead a couple times. Then finally, he gathered his courage and *leaped* really, Hilda estimated a good 20 foot from the bank landing. Jumping Isabelle was anticlimatic and I jumped the biggest fence I have been over since August 2008 on Keebler. Saturday was the event. Prior to the event, we had some delays with horse loading. Finn was a star, getting on the four horse trailer, hanging out for a bit, then getting unloaded from the four horse trailer, walking over and hopping on the 2 horse despite a grouchy Isabelle in the other slot. Off we went (running late) to the show, arriving 2 minutes before Finn's scheduled dressage time - oops!! Alice (organizer/owner at Rocking Horse) being a truly wonderful person (which any one who knows her is already aware of), gave us a later time that would allow me to only get on Finn once. Checked the stadium course, (literally) ran around the xc and then got on him for dressage and he was very good (ended up with a 36.5, despite an error on my part). Grabbed a drink, shortened stirrups, added vest and armband and off to SJ, where we had a clean round (this being the first time I had ever jumped more than about 5 fences in a row on him). It was quite smooth and easy. Then off to xc. The first fence on course was a log and Finn clearly had no idea what it was doing there. We were eliminated, but he jumped it on the 4th try and in the wonderful spirit of the schooling event, they let us go on and he totally got it as we went along (though he was sure there were alligators under fence 7 and the final fence - go here to xpress foto and we had a stop at the scary boathouse at 8, but he was rideable, quiet and, I think, off to a great start. I finished with him about an hour and a quarter after getting on. Switched tack onto Isabelle, went out and they were calling my number for dressage. Who needs warm-up? Luckily not Isabelle, who put in a nicely consistent test (didn't score well as she needed more impulsion and suppleness - easier to get with warmup). I then headed out to cross-country with Grace Carpenter, Samantha and Debbie and walked (in an abbreviated fashion) Isabelle's course. Headed back, hopped back on, did SJ and then XC and other than the little buck when I hit her coming out of the start box ("what, I have this, you do *not* need to hit me"), she was spot perfect and I had great fun. She finished up in 6th place overall, though we zoomed off before I fetched her ribbon. Everyone else did well also. Extravagance scored better on his CIC*** test than on the advanced test. Quizz and Sioux both got dressage ribbons and Dutch won his jumping class. It is so great to be back in Florida and back to eventing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Finn went xc schooling with Hilda

He went to rocking horse and was a good boy. Grown up Isabelle gave him a lead over most things and he went through the water, jumped his first ditch (Hilda said he jumped it every time like a Rolex ditch, never quite trusted in no alligators), and several other fences. He is now signed up to do dressage and SJ at the RH schooling show and school XC with me there and then do his first event at Ocala 2. I head down with my car this week. Yeah!