Monday, August 29, 2011

In which Irene pays a visit

Thursday evening, it rained hard enough to cancel the Phillies game, but that was just a rain storm. Still, we had several bouts of significant rain and the rainiest month in the recorded history of Philadelphia and it was only August 25th. Still coming was the hurricane. Her name was Irene and she was touching down first in N. Carolina and then moving Northward. The good news, Aiken was forecast to have lovely weather for Kenzie and Gizmo's recognized eventing debut. Cyndi said they left a perfect dressage test in the warm-up, but since many of us with *much* more experience have done that on Gizmo, I don't think it detracts at all from their 7th place finish adding nothing to that dressage score. And, it leaves some room for improvement, which isn't a bad thing either. In Richland, Michigan, the weather was also cooperating for the Richland Park Horse Trials, including the Pan Am Games selection mandatory outing. Much more on that can be found anywhere eventing is reporting on including; and Gabby Ledger and Franklin finished 2nd in their debut preliminary together. Franklin is a lovely horse, brought up through the ranks by Ralph Holstein, a great Ohio rider. Brett Huard and her Thicket's Ticket also scored a 2nd place finish in their preliminary division on their return to competition following Brett's injury earlier this summer. Others from both Cobblestone and Blue Hill Farm were also there, so check out those results.

Meanwhile, baseball was cancelled in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York for the weekend. Saturday morning, I headed out to Blue Hill and rode Symphony and Cole and lunged JD, then helped get the horses and barn situated for the storm to come. Headed back to the city in a moderate rainfall, which steadily gained into the evening. No power outage in town and altogether uneventful for us. Henry and I ventured out Sunday morning to check the aftermath. The Schuylkill was pretty impressive (picture) and many things were closed, but some (including DiBruno Brothers) open, so we scored breakfast goods and then headed home. Today is a beautiful day, almost perfect, sunny weather as a follow-up. Baseball resumes this evening and Monday night football will be on as well. I'm ready.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Which Keegan jumps with Heath Ryan

So yes, I bought another horse. A lovely Danzig grandson whose JC name is Peyton to Marvin. His USEA/USEF name is VS Pass Play and I've decided that his barn name is Keegan (after English soccer legend Kevin Keegan and also after (keeping up with the alcohol theme started with Meritage and Coleraine). So, I bought Keegan a couple of weeks ago, but left him with Kate Chadderton because Blue Hill is not just full, it is overflowing and the girls are still alternating their summer times off, so they are also shorthanded. So, having not seen him since the vet check, I blithely sign up to ride in a jumping lesson with Heath Ryan (no one said I approach this stuff sanely or systematically). I drove down yesterday and see a horse flinging itself about at the end of the lunge line. Turns out it is Keegan. Kate says, "he was a bit feisty yesterday, so we thought we'd give him a little lunge" I'm wondering what happened to the dead quiet horse I bought, but ok lunging is fine. He got a little bath and turned out and I wandered into the arena to watch some flat lessons. Very impressive. Maat was riding her lovely mare and doing all kinds of stuff that I consider generally impossible, Sally Lofting came with two students and they were doing more what I consider normal these days while getting lots of tips and exercises. The horses all improved visibly in the hour of their lessons. Heath is a very good teacher and uses a lot of short lateral work, transitioning from a few steps of shoulder in to a few steps of half pass to straight, all very correct and precise. He emphasized maintaining the activity of the gaits all the time and the horses all looked great, both when he was riding them and when he was teaching their riders how to do the same.

After watching, fetched Keegan in. Oh, goody, another pigpen. He had rolled and rolled while wet and had dirt over every bit of him. Spent a bit of time brushing and currying feeling thankful that he is another plain bay so the dirt doesn't really show. It was moderately windy and he seemed a bit fresh, so I walked him up to the top arena and then got on (yea, my jumping saddle fits him, though I will need a longer girth). There was a lot of tenseness and a fair amount of leaping sideways, though not too violent and usually triggered by something identifiable, so we took it slow. Heath and our co-lessonees Jacquelyn Dickey and her lovely mare Ke-Ke were very patient ( We started with walking over a set of poles. We then proceeded to trotting over the same poles. Leaping sideways occurred when it was not our turn and Ke-Ke hit a pole or Heath was vehement in his teaching, but during our turn, Keegan was settled and focused.

Next came the real exercise goal of the day, accuracy. We started with a single pole on the ground and Heath showed us where he wanted the front feet to go. We missed some of the time, but Keegan actually listened pretty well and we did OK. After generally sorting the single pole, we headed over to the poles. They were set in-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-twostride-bounce, so 7 efforts in all. The goal was to come to that accurate spot and then adjust as needed through the grid. Both Ke-Ke and Keegan required some whoaing through the grid to get it right, but both got better and better. We did the poles in both directions. Harder with the bounce to two-stride at the start of the line. Then, all but the first and last pole went up to cross-rails. As predicted by Heath, it was actually a bit easier to get the right distances and to know how much to push or whoa while in the line. After getting that, those five crossrails went up to verticals. And who would have thought, my totally clueless boy was quite the star. Keeping the canter around the corner was the most difficult part of the exercise. He clobbered three rails the first time through, but then was foot on the next couple of times. I pretty much couldn't quit smiling. By this time, we had been at it for 95 minutes and the leaping had diminished to a bit of a spin sideways and even that was dissipating. We finished up with a pole bounce to cross rail, 3 strides to little oxer and that was easiest of all. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. I felt like a learned a bunch and also confirmed my choice of the next eventing partner, though Kate agreed that she might need to cut back a bit on the large amounts of grain he was getting to add some weight. Katherine Rizzo was kind enough to come and take photos so there will be pictures to follow. Watch this space.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Horses

I usually ride small horses. I mostly own small horses. I am fairly used to small horses and always think that I could go the pony route. Yesterday, I scheduled lessons at Blue Hill and at Cairn O'Mount and ended up on big horses. Symphony is a lovely mare who belongs to Peter Berk. She is at Blue Hill being a dressage horse for a while and is very good at it, but she is big, really big, big enough that I was feeling the need for a step stool to get the saddle on her. Thank goodness she kindly put her head down for the bridling part of the program. Riding her was great. A looong way down, but there was no fear of falling as she was quiet and sweet and generally easy to ride despite my legs feeling a bit as if they were sticking straight out. We had a very nice time and a fun lesson. Then off to COM for Wednesday evening Ladies' (and Chris) jump. I got to ride Mac, Susie's lovely 4 year old hunt horse. He is also big, not as tall as Symphony, but altogether large and solid. Also a very sweet boy and a good jumper, though he was a bit happy about the whole thing and there was a moderate amount of low level bucking involved, but we had a lot of fun and capped off the evening with dinner at Red Hound with Lesley and Julie (Mac wasn't invited, but I'm sure he didn't mind).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another one

I am now the proud owner of ........ Well, deciding on his name is taking a little work. His JC name is Peyton to Marvin and his current barn name Thunder. Sorry, Kate. That is not happening. I'm leaning toward Pass Play, so it would be VS Pass Play for Victory Sport Horses as I have purchased him from Kate Chadderton. Love it when buying a new horse nets not only the horse, but a new member of my horsey circle. Kate is a great person and I'll be looking back to her for horses in the future (well, maybe not. I should not be buying any more horses anytime in the forseeable future). If anyone can think of an excellent barn name to go with Pass Play, please send it along. Hopefully, you will see us out and about this fall.