Monday, December 31, 2012

And the year winds down

As always, I wonder where it went. And, as always, I start thinking about my hopes for the coming year. I have goals and dreams and wishes. I have more blessings than I could possibily count, though I try to remember them. So what am I hoping for in 2013? Those plans and goals, promises to myself and hopes for outcomes look something like this:

RIDING - Keegan is entered (knock on wood and thank goodness for my excellent farrier) at training level for Rocking Horse I, my birthday (50th) weekend. We will do a Leslie Law Clinic the weekend before that and see where we are one year later. We will do a couple of other events down in Florida, but I will also do my TD continuing education clinic one of the weekends and am hoping to get some TD gigs this year, so far, I have a couple of SJ judging jobs, but no actual TDing. I am generally hoping for a good season at training level with Keegan. I'm also looking forward to watching Rachel with Solo (they will also be in Florida to do some jumpers at HITS and a little eventing), Caitlin with Remi (I'm not even mentioning their plans, although Caitlin will be bringing the horses down to the developing riders' training sessions in Ocala at the end of January), Keebler with his new girl (more on that to follow as it happens), and Gizmo with Debbie. I also really hope to sell Finn, Tucker and several more dressage saddles.

RUNNING - I have a busy year scheduled. I'm planning to add at least 9 more states to the list (Louisiana, Kansas, Delaware, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Missouri and Maryland). Right now the plan is:
1) Full marathon in Florida February 3
2) Full marathon in New Orleans February 24
3) Half trail marathon in Florida March 9
4) 50 mile flat trail run in Kansas March 24
5) Half marathon in Delaware in May

unmade plans in June - August other than drinking mimosas while watching Rob Colenso run http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=18750

6) Full Marathon in Montana in September
7) Half marathon in Rhode Island in September
8) Full marathon in North Carolina in October
9) Full marathon in Missouri in October
10) Half marathon in Georgia in November
11) Another "run" at the JFK 50 miler in November

WORK - I submitted a PCORI grant in December, am submitting an AHA grant in January and an NINDS grant in February. Hopefully, one will get funded, but I hope to get at least 6 grants submitted by September, along with 12-15 manuscripts. We also have at least 8 open positions including research assistants, associates and investigators (at the BS, MS and PhD levels), plus analysts and operations folks. There will be even more positions if grants get funded and there may well be some grants administration, project management and writing jobs going forward as well, so please pass on the word if you or those you know would be interested in real world health services and outcomes research in a great setting.

OTHERWISE - I need to figure out if I am going to put any more furniture in the family room and finish up the work in my room. I'm hoping to get at least one good consuting gig so I can buy one of these http://mseries.keiser.com/m3.html for our home gym. Henry splurged on this http://www.precor.com/en-us/commercial/products/cardio/precor-products/amt/amt-885-with-open-stride-adaptive-motion-trainer so we have a commercial elliptical trainer that I hope to use when I am too much of a weather weenie to run outdoors. I'm also hoping to continue and expand Barre training, indoor cycling and yoga workouts through the year. I have gotten much less fit over the last 2-3 years and am determined to reverse that trend

THE BEST - through riding, running, the house and work, I will get to spend time with Henry, friends, family, horses, dogs, and colleagues. I hope all of them reach their goals and fulfill their dreams in the year to come

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

adventures of the delinquent blogger

I guess I'm not that delinquent, but for those of you that care, here is the news.

The Las Vegas Half Marathon - I signed up primarily as an excuse to see my friend Michael who lives in Las Vegas and maybe my friend Jon, who also ran. I did the former, which was great. Got to see him ride both of his horses. He has a big hunter, Corsaire and a very sweet stallion who does the jumpers, Jeremiah. I also conveniently timed my visit to overlap with Michael and Noor's holiday party. They throw a fabulous party and, in general, I was totally spoiled all weekend. Yummy food, Noor's homemade toffee, my personal bottle of http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=504770, a suite at the Wynn Encore for my post-race shower followed by dinner at http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Restaurants/FineDining/Bartolotta. Need to check into other opportunties to head to Vegas. I managed to miss Jon, but he had a great race. The half was a bit odd, mostly because the start time was 4:30 pm. Those of you who run know that most races are in the morning, often very early in the morning. I have my morning pre-race routine down pretty well, with slight adjustments for early, very early, and ridiculously early starts. This was odd. Get up, hang out at the barn, have brunch, help a little with the post-party clean up and then head down to the start. With his insiders knowledge, Michael dropped me very close without running into any traffic, really impressive. Hang around at the start getting cold. Chat with some folks, move into the corrals, chat a bit more, get a bit colder and wish the wind would stop, count down the starts of the many corrals in front of me, finally start out into a massive headwind with lots of dust. The first mile was a bit rough. Then we turned around and miles 2-8 were super, down the strip, lots to look at but not *too* crowded. Miles 8-11 a little odd, running around the back streets of the not all that nice part of downtown and then straight back into the headwind, which did let up for the last couple of miles. Through the finish line, slightly annoyed to have to walk almost an additional half mile and then head back to get to the Wynn Encore. Very impressed by my room to shower in, sort of wished I was staying longer than 10 minutes. Fabulous dinner, then up an out early Monday to head home.

Work frantically on grant Monday through Wednesday, turn it in (in draft form)and head off to the USEA convention in Colorado Springs. Fantasize about a yearly vacation at the Broadmoor, which is stunning. http://www.broadmoor.com/. Really enjoy the meeting, the excitement that David O'Connor has brought, the amazingly moving speeches at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, seeing friends, meeting eventers, a run in the Colorado mountains, work on the grant and a couple other things, mountains, flowers, snow, meeting Mary King and hearing her talk about her career as an eventer and how she manages her horses, great travel and training grants to great people, Densey Juvonen PRO owner of the year and Emma Ford, groom of the year, then heading to the airport Sunday morning with Sharon White in the snow. All good, except the flight out of Colorado Springs being late, leading me to miss my connection and have to take the train home for IAD (which wasn't the end of the world).

Get back, work frantically on grant until end of the day yesterday. It is now in the hands of our Office of Sponsored Programs. Hopefully, they will get it successfully through the submission process. Today, plans for the next grants and work on several papers.

Wait, where is the riding. Well, that's where I'm heading now and I did enter the Training Horse Division for Rocking Horse I in January and just sent in my entry for the Area 3 Adult Rider Clinic the prior weekend. Ready for another chapter in the Keegan adventures. Watch this space

Monday, November 19, 2012

Numbers are better than letters

My riding friends know this sentiment well. In eventing, you can end up with the E, the TE, the RF, the MR instead of a score and alphabet soup aside, they are all bad. In running events, there is usually only one set of letters that shows up instead of numbers and that is DNF, the disappointing Did Not Finish. I've had letters here and there during my eventing career, but never a DNF during a running event. Not in 2004 when I ran 3 marathons (only one was planned), not in 2005 when I ran 13 half marathons, not in 2009 when I ran 9 half marathons and a full (the first with stitches still in my wrist), and not in 2010 when I ran back to back weekend marathons. This weekend, I set off on the next adventure, a 50 mile run. Saturday was the 50th running of the JFK 50 miler and since this goal was set due to proximity with my 50th birthday, it seemed appropriate. I trained, I studied about nutrition and hydration, I bought great gear (hey, any excuse to shop) and at 5 am on Saturday morning I set off, the Friday night nerves mostly gone. I had a moment of wondering why I thought running on the Appalachian Trail in the pitch black dark was a good idea (but my lovely headlight was doing very well, so it was ok) and then many moments of wondering why anyone would put in a single track course down rocky switchbacks, but trail run - ok. I came off the Appalachian Trail almost an hour behind my goal. My lungs were really unhappy about the uphill start in subfreezing temperatures and just never really got it back together for me to be able to breathe well. Once on the C&O Towpath trail, I just plugged along. All the hydration and nutrition stuff seemed to be going fine, and here I must give thanks to folks on the runner's world forums as well as to Rob Colenso and Andy Berster, who shared their extensive experience very generously. Unfortunately, my lungs didn't really consider the C&O flat either (I later checked topos, my lungs were right). I plugged along. I ate, I drank, I was truly humbled and amazed by the folks who would finish in under 6 hours or under 7 hours or under 8 hours telling me that I looked strong as they went by. I was thankful for the volunteers who refilled the water bottles and handed out snacks and cheers at the aid stations, I was grateful to the many park folks, police officers and paramedics who kept everything safe. In the end, I didn't quite make it. I felt like I could have easily continued to plug away and complete the 50, but I missed the time cutoff at 41.8 miles by 4 minutes or so and thus ended the 50 mile attempt adventure.

I headed back to my B&B, the lovely and literary www.innboonsboro.com and had a bath and then dinner at Dan's Restaurant and Tap House. I turned on the Stanford Oregon game, but fell asleep three plays in and slept soundly for 9 solid hours. This had me waking a bit early and I found I was intrigued by the idea of trying again, maybe somewhere a little flatter. I talked to Kaiti and Rob about it at brunch (Rob is a multiple ultra finisher, including several much tougher than JFK) and got an internet thumbs up from Andy. So the plan is to continue to train (maybe that's why I entered the Las Vegas half marathon that happens in 2 weeks) and aim for a spring 50 miler that is much flatter (in fact on the prairie) and happens in conjunction with a 100 miler, so there isn't really a time limit for the 50. Maybe it is a feeble way to say I've run an ultra, but it continues along the theme of the weeniest maniac (http://seema-thefloridachronicles.blogspot.com/2010/06/im-maniac.html), and it's my goal, so why not?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Musical horses as we leave the old season into the new

So having less horses doesn't seem to ever happen, but there has been a reasonable amount of recent reconfiguration and I know I've been hearing from others who have recently acquired new horses, have found new jobs for old campaigners and thought it might be fun. In January of 2011, I realized that I somehow had 5 horses http://seema-thefloridachronicles.blogspot.com/2011/01/wait-i-cant-possibly-own-5-horses.html. Somehow, that number has not gone down. Continuing from there:

Realize that Tag doesn't want to be an event horse or jump at all, so May 2011, send him off to a dressage barn. He finds a new owner there and now gets to be a dressage horse, but I still own 4 as of summer 2011 because I have now bought Cole (a lovely small TBish guy). I've taken Tobe off my role because he has been with his new people for 5 years now. So, I have Gizmo (leased through 2011), Finn (still for sale - but still wants to be a h/j not an eventer), Keebler (still with Lynn), and Cole.

Event Cole who really enjoys it http://seema-thefloridachronicles.blogspot.com/2011/07/in-which-i-compete-again-for-first-time.html and in the same month (July 2011), buy Eli for Caitlin to ride. See that the barn manager/assistant at my trainer's barn has to give back the event horse she has been leasing and while she has many nice dressage horses to ride, nothing to event, so I tell her I will be on the lookout for something for her that I will buy and she can ride. Start horse shopping. Oops! Fall madly in love with a just OTTB, not suitable for Rachel, but perferct for me, so I buy him and with RunForIts help, he gets the barn name Keegan, so I own 6. I offer Cole to Rachel and that works out well. Sadly Eli does not as it turns out he has arthritis in his neck. With the help of retreadeventer, Eli finds a fabulous new home. December of 2011, Gizmo comes back to me from his lease and heads to Ashmore to hopefully find a new lessee, meantime I get to ride him while I am down there.

At this time, I hear from Debi Crowley that her working student has sold her horse (who didn't really want to event beyond novice) and they ask me to keep an eye on lease options and inexpensive TBs. Instead, I buy Tucker from Chris Talley, who is now a working student for Ryan Wood and doesn't really have time to ride him. CaitlinM (working student) rides and competes Tucker, doing very well.

So this all goes along until summer of 2012 when I have the opportunity to sponsor Caitlin and Remi (big fun). Obviously Remi isn't mine, but I get to hang with Caitlin and have an occassional (amazing) lesson on Remi, so I'm happy to count him. A few weeks later, I am browsing the classifieds and see this really cute pinto horse for sale. I assume I can't afford him as the ad is private treaty, but I call and find I can (if I stretch it a bit). I talk to Rachel about him and we end up with Solo and manage to sell Cole in less than a week - thanks to Courtney Cooper for her help with that. CaitlinM finishes her working student stint so Tucker comes back to me. I now own Gizmo, Finn, Keegan, Keebler, Solo, and Tucker and have all of them except Solo and Keebler + Remi on my payroll. This is not good.

Relief comes in the form of Dom and Jimmie Schramm who have a working student in need of a horse. Tucker heads to their place and is a great match for their working student http://www.schrammequestrian.com/. Meanwhile, winter approaches in Michigan and Keebler heads to GLEC for some winter training. He needs a job if anyone is interested in a turn with the spotted menace of a jumping machine. And just this week, I heard from old friends from Michigan. Debbie was the barn manager there and her daughter Elena half leased Tempo when I first had him (On the Beat, later sold to Chimene Evans and ridden to the upper levels by her) and then rode a horse of mine (Starry Skye - now with Lara Anderson at Full Gallop Farm) during her working student stint. Debbie wanted to ride again and had heard Gizmo was available and so next week, he will head off on his next adventure in Virginia.

Meanwhile, Hilda and I are thinking a winter project might be fun.....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Smaller fences still come with big fun

I didn't compete this past weekend, but there was still plenty of eventing fun. Venues such as eventing nation covered Galway in great detail. Less detail, but still some coverage here and there of Virginia Horse Trials and Rocking Horse, where they hosted a Training 3 Day Event and a Novice 3 Day event, along with the horse trials. My friend Chris Bradley successfully completed the Novice 3 Day and discovered the joy of the TB on steeplechase. This cannot be overstated. I recommend that all of you who event and haven't had the opportunity, find one as the availability of Training and Novice 3 Days currently is quite high and who knows when they might go away. Blue Hill was also represented at Virginia, with Steph and Diligence finishing 4th in their open preliminary division and Jason Racey piloting the Dodger around the CCI*. But with all of that, I think that the big fun of the area 2 starter trials was overlooked. On Saturday, Plantation ran Elementary through training level. Several upper level riders were on hand, including Sally Cousins on 4 Novice horses (Wall-e won his division); Ryan Wood on 2 (finishing 3rd on the one he wasn't riding HC, the HC one would have had a ribbon as well) and others. Closer to home, Shanyn Fiske got back to eventing and Virginia Frame went training level for the first time in quite a while, and came home with a 2nd place, for which she thanks to St. Paddy (whom she says was a saint). Another horse used to going faster and jumping bigger fences is the wonderful grey beast Loki, most often ridden by Jeff Kibbie. You can read Loki's story here: http://jeffkibbie.com/Equi-Sport_Services/Horses.html. This history and the fact that he was advanced fit less than two months ago make it even more impressive that he stepped up his game as he easily stepped over the novice fences to win the Novice Rider division with Jeff's other half, Bonnie this weekend. She pretty much did not stop smiling all day as witnessed by several pictures and facebook posts. Rachel Gross also headed over from Blue Hill, with Missy's Harry and my Solo. Harry was a star (Harry is pretty much always a star - and he's for sale). They finished 4th on their dressage score in a very competitive Novice Horse division. This was Harry's return to eventing after spending the fall as a superstar in the hunter ring. Solo put in a lovely dressage test to score a 29.1. However, he decided that the windy cold weather and lots of horses galloping around out in the open was too exciting to be calm during the jumping. As always, jumping no issue - calmness, a little tougher, so Rachel took the training view and withdrew him. Lots of schooling shows in his future, until he decides it is boring enough.

I spent Saturday afternoon checking out the courses at Waredaca, but as always things were really well organized so there wasn't too much to do. Sunday, Waredaca got an occassionally sunny, less windy and only kind of cold day for their starter event. Once again lots of lovely horses. While Kate Chadderton was off winning an intermediate division at Virginia (and doing well on her other horses - http://victorysporthorses.blogspot.com/2012/11/finishing-year-strongly.html), her Sunset Hills partner Steph Rhodes-Bosche was riding youngsters at Waredaca and taking home a first, a second and a fifth. I stayed, as usual, with Katherine Rizzo. This weekend she was showing and earned ribbons on her own Rocking Valay and Maat van Uitert's Top Gear (for sale if anyone is looking for a cute and talented young TB to event with). There was much cheering for Waredaca horses and riders, Savannah Fulton won the N/T and while there were some falls (especially in SJ), none were serious. Gretchen spent Saturday afternoon shopping and making chili so the volunteers got hot lunch on Sunday. The volunteers were very on their game, despite the cold. The riders were all great sports and there were prizes for costumes and OTTBs, so go eventing at all levels.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life is good

It has been one of those magical few days where life in my little corner of the world is just good. Friday night, I pulled into Sovana to do a couple work things befor heading home? There, I ran into Densey and Ron Juvonen who invited me to join them for dinner. Turned out, dinner also included Bonnie Stedt, Pierre Colin, Denise Lahey and Boyd and Silva. It was a lovely treat. I enjoyed talking with Pierre about our mutual love of thoroughbreds, hearing from Densey about Camilla's lesson on Remington, and all the talk of horses. It was a kick off to a great horse day Saturday.

Rachel and I took Solo and Keegan to the CT at Blue Goose. We were the only riders doing training level, so coming home with ribbons didn't mean much, but the experience did. Both horses wre very well behaved on the showgrounds, although Keegan demonstrated his biggest spook to date (still pretty much a non-event) at the yellow painted SLOW DOWN on the driveway walking to warmup. He was a bit distracted, but very quiet, perhaps too quiet as the judge's comment was that he needed to move more forward. Much of the test was quite good, inclding 7s on both the stretchy trot circle and free walk. He was much more ready for the training level test than when we attempted it in February. Solo also put in a generally good test, despite some bouncy ballness that he still exhibits so that you know he is ready to jump, the jumping was a soft training level course, but Keegan was absolutely perfect. Solo jumped really well when he wasn't arguing with Rachel instead of just jumping. He really doesn't like not being in charge, but he can *really* jump! So, we headed home happy with the excursion. Rachel then headed off to take Harry cross country schooling. They were going with Bonnie Kibbie and Loki. Bonnie will be riding the lovely grey beast at the Plantation starter next weekend, where Solo is slated to make his eventing debut.

Meanwhile, I headed over to Windurra for a lesson on Remington. I totally understand why Densey said Camilla had a big smile after her lesson. It was so great. Caitlin taught and was certainly kinder about my riding than deserved, but Remi is such a star. I got to do all kinds of fun stuff. I will be keeping the feel of the medium canter in mind as I work with Keegan. We also did canter half pass and some transitions. His canter is super comfy. I am incredibly lucky to have access to such a super opportunity. It is incredibly generous of Caitlin to share her 4* horse. Caitlin is also out of her neck brace and able to drive, so only restricted from riding for two more months.

Sunday was rainy in Chester County as hurricane Sandy started in. I ran a half marathon. It was not rainy in Philadelphia. Then, to beat the storm, I flew out Sunday evening. That meant that after working for a few hours this morning, I got to head to Cobblestone and was treated to a lovely hack on Debi Handler's Josie with Cathy who was riding Sherry's lovely young mare, Rosie. They were both very good out in the blustery wind and it was great to hang at Cobblestone for a bit.

Now off to the purpose of the trip, the Value Based Insurance Design Summit. Look for our white paper on V-BID for devices and procedures being released tomorrow and more horses next week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Radnor report

I was thrilled to get back to Radnor for the first time since riding Keebler there in 2007. Wow! hard to believe it has been 5 years. It was a really lovely day (at least once it warmed up a little). I broke out the toe warmers for the morning. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3986676833781&l=182a2221e

After almost needing plan B, when Missy's truck wasn't sure it wanted to start, we got everything sorted and headed out with Ike, Dylan and Keegan aboard (thanks Joe!). Keegan got to graze while Missy and Steph warmed up for and did their dressage tests. I enjoyed chatting with folks while Keegan munched. The Radnor crowd is great, and the event just keeps getting better.

Back to the trailer and on for dressage. Missy was also riding a novice horse, Ory, that belongs to one of her cients. Ory is hunt horse, dipping his hoof into the eventing world. The wonderful Mary Coldren gave us ride times that were back to back, making it easy for Missy to make sure I didn't do anything too boneheaded. I did remove Keegan from the warm up arena to the grass as neither of us really wanted to deal with the crowds, lack of steering by some crowd members or dust. The grass was great, footing wonderful and Keegan more than balanced enough to be fine.

Both Keegan and Ory put in nice tests. Missy agreed that Keegan didn't score as well as either of us expected, a 38, but I was thrilled with how grown up he was and how smoothly the test went. Jumping ahead all 4 horses finished on their dressage scores. Ike's 29.somthng was good enough for first place. That boy is showing every signs of wanting to be a big time horse. Ory rocked his first event, gettting a 3rd. Dylan was 6th and I'm sure Steph is thrilled to be back eventing after 11 months http://www.skipjackeventing.com/2011/11/journey-is-treasure.html. Keegan didn't get a ribbon, but he skipped around the stadium and loped around the xc and was altogether easy to ride and fun to be with. I'm looking forward to some dressage bootcamp with Missy in preparation for the winter season.

Lots of folks were at Radnor. Gloria Cascarino did a great job announcing for dressage and stadium. We all missed Dick Thompson's voice during the cross country. The Radnor organizing committee and the volunteers did a great job with the courses (Jeff did the xc this year and I loved it. The decorations were in the fall spirit, although I think several people (including Steph) may have preferred fewer corn stalks. Keegan took it all in stride and didn't look at anything. I was able to say hello to the Aliquippa crew, the Cairn O'Mount crew, Courtney Cooper, Molly Rosin, Boyd Martin, Ryan Wood, Lance McCue (who set me up with a mimosa for my xc walk - life is good), the Juvonens and many others. I somehow managed to completely miss Caitlin, who was there schooling Camilla, who rode in the novice on her super pony, Tuesday. I did hear that Caitlin walked the whole novice xc with Camilla, which was great news.

Back to Blue Hill and then yummy lamb and wine for dinner with Henry.

Sunday morning was warmer and really lovely. Keegan and I went for a long hack, accompanied on part of it by Laura and Hobbs (who seems to really enjoy the out and about time, but also looks a bit like he is wondering where the start box is). Altogeher a great weekend with the horses.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creative Cross Country Schooling

I was quite impressed by these pictures of Solo working on his jumping into water skills. He has proved very brave out and about cross country schooling, although he is probably convinced that we are trying to work him to death with all of the hills. This was a bit of creative schooling after all the recent rain. Thanks to Stephanie Cauffman for the pictures.




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

That which is Important

My dad once said, referring to work, “I am so busy doing the urgent things, I have a great difficulty making time for the important things.” This applies to life as well. Certainly, I’m not the only person who has had this thought. I looked to see if my dad was quoting someone famous, but didn’t find any specific quotes. I did discover that the urgency/important matrix is part of a lot of time management programs. On a more personal note, I found this blog quite relevant http://raamdev.com/2012/urgency-vs-importance/.

I had a couple of opportunities over the week to reflect on the important. The first, unfortunately, started when I received a text from Jenna Silliman that Caitlin had fallen off a horse and was en route via ambulance to Christiana Care. A couple of my new colleagues in the Emergency Department were kind enough to go down with me and get instant updates when Caitlin was brought in. Thankfully, she was doing quite well, but there was a skull fracture, so the risk remained. Best guess on cause of injury was the very low probability event that the horse that tripped while Caitlin was riding somehow clipped the back of her head below the helmet (that Caitlin always wears). I spent that evening in the trauma bay and then the SICU with Jenna, Ryan Wood and Caitlin. Rick (Caitlin’s dad), Boyd, and Dom Schramm also all came by and spent some time. Caitlin continued to stay focused with no noticeable neurologic deficit. They repeated the CT scan after 6 hours and things continued to look about the same. After they kicked us out of the ICU, I was able to persuade Jenna to come home to Chadds Ford with me and we spent the night there, and in the morning headed back, finding Caitlin still doing well, although uncomfortable. During the day, she had an MRI and spoke with the neurosurgeon. While still not 100% out of the woods, reasonable optimism was expressed by the neurosurgeon. Since then, Caitlin has continued to improve and will be released to Bryn Mawr rehab later today. The community has rallied around as the eventing community always seems to. Caitlin’s grandparents, Evie Dutton, the Juvonens, Erin Sylvester, Linsey Taylor (from Boyd’s barn) and many, many others have visited and spent substantial time with Caitlin. Jessie (Caitlin’s sister) came down for the weekend, and because she is a trained therapist was able to help with hair washing and all of those things as well as painting Caitlin’s nails bright pink. And in the wake of this, I was reminded again that the important is not that she is a brilliant rider, but that Caitlin is a brilliant human being and I am very proud to have her as a friend. One of her first longer sentences was how badly she felt for poor Felix (the barn worker who was the first on the scene after she fell), and the first phone call she made was to reassure Linsey that she was ok. The important is that through watching and appreciating Caitlin ride, I have a wonderful friend in Jenna. The important is that the eventing community is truly a community, far beyond just a group of people with a common interest and that I have colleagues who care enough to take time from their urgent matters to stand with me by the door to the trauma bay.

I had a second opportunity in the happy event of my friend Steve Baker’s 50th birthday party in Provincetown. It was a gala weekend, meticulously and impressively planned by Steve’s partner, Gavin. We had a lovely dinner Friday evening, a super brunch Saturday morning and a terrific party with amazing food, drink and cakes.

It was great to see Provincetown for the first time, meet Gavin and Steve’s family and reconnect with old friends. As the blog linked above concluded, “the urgent stuff will always be running away from us, but the important stuff — the stuff that gives our life meaning — is waiting patiently with open arms.” And I found this with the weekend. Steve and I have been friends for 23 years, but I haven’t found time to spend with him in the past couple of years. It was great to be able to reconnect and to realize and appreciate that a friendship like this is there, waiting, strong and special as ever, even after recently not nurturing it as well as deserved.
As life stays busy and the to do list stays full of urgent things, I hope that this week keeps front and center in my mind the value of making time and taking time for the important.

Monday, September 24, 2012

In which Plantation makes for a wonderful weekend

The weekend was all Plantation, all the time, although I did get in a couple of yoga practices and a couple of rides on Keegan. Keegan is great fun on the hill work as long as he is by himself or with a horse unclear on the "racing" option. We went out on Saturday morning with Laura Faulkner (whom I learned is also a Stanford alum, Go Cardinal!) on Bouncer. Bouncer trotted up the hill, while Keegan had gallops, increasing in speed and excitement with each go. Even with that, when we turned to walk down the hill, he settled quickly and walked down on the buckle. He has clearly figured out what he thinks the big hill is for and it is so much fun to gallop up it on him that I am not adamant about making him trot all the time. Sunday, we had a trot hack about the hay field and practiced transitions within the gait, which is going quite well.

Back to the happenings at Plantation - Friday morning I went over to watch a bit of dressage in the morning. I was able to watch Caitlin go on Remi, but missed Jeff (because they were at exactly the same time, Caitlin at the top of the hill and Jeff at the bottom). Remi put in a lovely test minus one bobble at the start, but it is clear that this partnership is melding at a rapid pace. Chatted with Sally and my buddy Snuffles, delivered Starbucks to Missy, saw the nifty Theault horsebox that was Remi's ride and then headed over to the stadium.

Marc Donovan designed a lovely course on the grass field. It was a bit challenging for riders, being on the grass and not level, but the course rode very well. No one fell. There were only 2 eliminations and 3 stopages for course rebuilding. Nonetheless, the stadium was very influential for the national divisions. The advanced division posted only 4 double clears, while there were 6 in Intermediate A and 2 in intermediate B. There were a lot of very good jumping horses in there and, as always at Plantation, my crew was the best.

We started with the first horse at 10:30 and finished up at the end of the day around 4:30. I then headed off and walked the cross-country course with Jeff, Bonnie, Missy and Megan (a student of Missy's from Kentucky in to run the intermediate on her Hoosier Daddy). My buddy Jamie (Missy's dog) joined us. We were walking just before sunset, fairly close to the time when Megan and Jeff would run the next day. There were a few shadows, but all in all the course looked great (if rather large since I've been jumping at the novice height for the past 4 years). The vertical rails into the water were likely to cause some funny jumps and hopefully, all horses would be willing to jump the big ditch and hedge, but Denis and Tremaine had put together very nice courses, using the terrain to add challenge, but not running the horses straight up and and down the hills.

We finished up the course walk and enjoyed dinner at Catherine's in Unionville. Megan's mom joined us as did Maxine Preston (a Michigan connection) and Henry with a couple of bottles of very nice wine (a Greenock Shiraz and a Conn Creek Cabernet). It was my first time having dinner at Catherine's and I can highly recommend it. Don't miss the mushroom soup.

Saturday was cross country day. I headed over early for the jump judge briefing, then back to Blue Hill for the aforementioned ride with Bouncer, then back to Plantation in time to stand in for Melissa Wright (volunteer coordinator extraordinaire) as she had to attend a wedding. The new xc course design had the huge added benefit of incredible opportunity for spectators. Hanging out in the perfect weather on the hillside, we could see almost the entire course. Check Eventing Nation and other reports for more details. My highlights were watching Sally Cousins ride Tsunami (Sue) at the Advanced. It was just so what xc should be (they ended up finishing 2nd), watching Caitlin on both Hoku and Remington (she looked phenomenal and went clean on both) and clear intermediate rounds for Jeff, Megan and Chris Talley on the super pony. There were many other great rounds, some I didn't see as I was trying to stay on top of volunteer stuff and chatting with various people, especially the Mahers (Caitlin's grandparents), Jenna (her mom) and the Juvonens (Remi's owners). Being lucky enough to be part of team Remington XXV is a huge honor, but even more, a tremendous amount of fun. It is fun to watch the partnership bloom, fun to get to know his owners, fun to be part of his team in the vet box that includes his future rider (Camilla Grover) and some of her friends, and fun to meet all sorts of great eventing people through the connection.



Cross country day went off very well. The ambulances never rolled and as far as I know the TDs were spared the work of accident/injury reporting. The last 3 horses ran in pouring rain, but all made it around safely. I finished collecting scores, hopefully sufficiently thanked all the volunteers (I'm not sure it is possible to sufficiently thank them, but hope I let them know how appreciated they are), and headed over to the Walker's where Katie and Cuyler kindly hosted riders, sponsors, owners, etc. It was a great party with more opportunities to meet people. It was a truly lovely day marred only by a Phillie's loss to Atlanta, putting them 4 back and a Michigan loss to Notre Dame.

Sunday, I had no job. It is a bit unusual for me to be at an event with no job, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Great stadium jumping (again see Eventing Nation for more detail). After the highlights of Sharon White winning the CIC*, Caitlin jumping clean on Remi for a third place finish and Justine Dutton snagging a ribbon also in the two star, we watched the bareback puissance. Just watching was a little scary, but the riders were great. Caroline Martin won on her Quantum Solace. They looked amazing. But Chris Talley on the borrowed Balmoral Mighty Legend and Dom Schramm on Caitlin Silliman's 6 year old Lux like Fernhill, who may have found a niche for himself if he doesn't want to be an event horse, were also very impressive. After that, the CIC*** fences didn't look too big, but the course was tough enough. Placings moved around a bit, ending up with Will Faudree and Pawlow at the top of the list. Full results here: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15101.html. Then quickly back to Blue Hill for the trot work and home where check the phone revealed that the day had once again been marred by both a Phillies loss and an Eagles loss. I'm sticking to horses!

Monday, September 17, 2012

in which I feel very busy

Busy week.
THE NEW JOB
I started work at Christiana Care on Monday the 10th and was mostly able to plunge right in. It was easy to set up the office and even though the window looks out over the parking lot, I continue to gloat about it. I also have a personal thermostat, and while it requires constant fiddling, having an office at a consistent temperature is priceless. But, I didn’t accept the job for the office. I didn’t even know about the office when I accepted. The job is going to be developing, evolving and discovering its definition for some time, but the process is shaping up to be a lot of fun. There are a lot of people interested in health services research, an institution well poised to be a focus of such research, a leadership willing to put resources into leveraging the ambitions of the researchers and the positioning of the health system, and free parking (this last from my great amusement with the statement – and if anyone knows the attribution, please let me know – “a faculty is a group of highly intelligent and superbly trained individuals who come together in an institution to argue over parking”).
Sandy Schwartz is serving as a consultant to the development of the Value Institute so I get to meet with him on an ongoing basis. I’m also still in contact with Penn colleagues about our ongoing work on the role of the Electronic Health Record in patient communication and how we might improve that. I’m trying to decide if I can get all of my ducks in a row to submit an October 15th PCORI (patient centered outcomes research institute) letter of intent and I’m looking forward to ongoing meetings with colleagues here, including attending the Department of Emergency Medicine Research Retreat next week. I’m also determined to write my writing book this year.

THE NEW HORSE
Solo SWF has joined the Blue Hill Team as anticipated in last week’s blog. Rachel jumped him in a lesson with me on Sunday morning and he looked great. We’re pretty sure that he thinks he has gone to boot camp (wait he says, I didn’t enlist). Lots of hills and trot sets and the like that haven’t been previously part of his life, but he seems in good spirits about all of it and has settled in after seeming a little anxious the first couple of days. Yesterday, he joined us as we headed to Carousel Park for a cross country school. He really is a jumping machine. Banks, good. Ditches, no worries. Coops, tables, logs (including log on a lump) totally sailed over. Water, not really interested. He didn’t seem terribly worried, just thought it was a stupid idea to go in the (admittedly pretty mucky looking) water, so we’ll be working on that with more preparation on the next schooling outing, but all in all, he was super and is going to be great fun for Rachel riding him and for me getting to watch his development as an eventer.

NEW WORKOUTS
Being in the new house at least part of the time and with the new job means figuring out where/when/how to fit in workouts. One real plus in that Christiana Care has a decent fitness center onsite. They even have classes including spinning, step and yoga. I’ve also found a yoga studio that is conveniently in Wilmington, a good place to stop for an hour on the mat while traffic chills out. I’m hoping to continue with yoga at Yoga Secrets in Kennett and am considering whether Focus Fitness of the Brandywine Valley might be a useful addition. I’m also scoping out running options. Bonnie Kibbie went for a run in the Cheslen preserve and reported back that as long as you don’t get lost getting from the parking area to the trail, it is a good option. I’ve also run some on the roads and am hoping to get to the Laurels for some hill work soon.

SOME OTHER HORSES
Saturday, I had the super fun of being the cross-country starter at the Fair Hill unrecognized event. I hear we ran over 200 horses through. The ambulance never rolled, although Tom was kept busy enough making sure that everyone who popped off was ok. There were lots of green horses and riders, so it happened with some frequency, but no injuries. In addition, lots of really cute ponies, some lovely horses, Erin Sylvester back out there with her gang, Molly Rosin on a succession of some of those cute ponies, and many others. I am forced to admit that there are two or three trainers I know through volunteering, but am embarrassed to say I don’t know their names. One of these weekends, I’ll need to put the embarrassment away and just say, “I know we’ve been chatting in warm-up for 5 years, would you mind reminding me who you are?” The weather was lovely, although the wind was quite fierce. I had my fleece vest on through the entire day, until it finally warmed up around 4:30 pm. It is possible that the chilly wind contributed to some of the pop-offs as we have had warm, muggy weather for so long.

Meanwhile, other events were happening all over the place. Lynn Cronin took her lovely mare Bonnie to a local Michigan event and won the blue ribbon with her best dressage score ever! Lots of Area 2 folks were showing at Seneca. Karen O'Connor won 2 intermediate divisions and Sally Cousins was 2nd in both and also 3rd in one of them. Kaiti Saunders lovely boys were both there. Fugitive, who is super cool (anyone need a great upper level prospect http://eventingnation.com/sporthorsenation/fugitive-fancy-young-horse-super-mover-and-jumper-upper-level-potential.html) brought home a pretty ribbon, hoping it could be traded for treats and/or cuddles. The cute pony, Gloria that boards at Blue Hill went to her first event with Sarah Connell and took 5th place. Many others there as well, results here: http://www.senecavalleyponyclub.org/html/horse_trials.html. Meanwhile, in area 8, Flying Cross was happening. There don't seem to be results yet, http://kyevents.net/shows/info/flycross but I know some of the Ann Arbor Crowd was there and "Riderboy" posted a great helmet cam on the Chronicle Forums http://youtu.be/V8kIrv6VLqY. So many events, so little time to stalk follow results.

Saturday evening, I had dinner with Caitlin Silliman and got to talk horses, specifically about Remington . I have been entrusted with the first ribbon earned by the partnership, the first place from the preliminary at Maryland Horse Trials. I also somehow scored the saddle pad. Have to love it when other people are giving me their hard earned swag.

Sunday, I put in a few hours at the new job then headed off to go cross country schooling. In addition to Solo (see above), we took Keegan, Dylan (Steph Cauffman) and Ike (Missy). It was a great outing, complemented by really lovely weather. Keegan earned extra gold stars, for not only being really, really good about everything, but also playing lead horse over the ditch for all of the other horses and for standing patiently and trying to help Solo go in the water, occasioning about 20 trips through the water for Keegan. He was quiet, focused and jumping brilliantly throughout the afternoon. I am ever more impressed by this boy, and given how much I liked him to start, the scale is going to run out of space soon. The only bad part of the day was at the very end when both Dylan and Keegan were morons about getting off the trailer at Blue Hill Farm, but no permanent damage.
Jeff Kibbie and Loki are back at Blue Hill. Bonnie Kibbie had her first jumping lesson in some time, on a lovely (but very big) sales horse - http://bluehillfarmpa.com/Pages/SalesHorses.html. We also have visiting dressage horses, and a travelling student and her horse in to prepare for Plantation.

Looking forward to continuing to explore the new job and continue working out ways to fit in the riding and gym time along with the totally new to me concept of commuting to work. I’m trying the train tonight.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Selling, Buying and being robbed

Just to make it crystal clear, horses were sold and bought and there was no robbery involved whatsoever. On the other hand, our house was robbed. Only jewelry was taken, and predominately only gold jewelry at that. Both bedrooms were pretty well trashed in the process, although no permanent damage or breakage, just lots of stuff pulled out of drawers and cupboards and dumped on the ground. We reported it to the police, but there is little hope of finding the jewelry, with the current plethora of options for selling gold, including mailing it off to various venues all over the country. We believe the robbery was done by some connection to one of the various contractors and movers we have had in the house over the past year, as there was no evidence of break-in. We have changed the locks and only we now have keys and are installing an alarm system. We discovered this upon arriving home late last night, called the police around 11pm and ended up going to bed around 1:30.

This made the 5:30 am alarm clock seem very early, but it was worth it as the day ended with me owning a new horse. His name is Solo SWF, bred by Silverwood Farm http://www.silverwoodfarm.com/solo.html and owned and loved since he was a weanling by Nicolle Madonna http://cnyeq.com/?page_id=63. I feel incredibly honored that she trusts me with her boy and am really looking forward to seeing him turn into an event pony under the excellent ridership of Rachel Gross.

For those of you that are thinking, oh no - another horse! Never fear. I actually sold one. With the expert help of Courtney Cooper, www.csquarefarm.com, Cole sold within a week of my decision to sell him to the first person to try him (which happened at CSquare Farm). Many thanks to Rachel and to Blaine Henderson, for helping get him there - and incidentally being on hand to help with loading a nervous foal into the trailer to accompany his Momma on a trip. Cole will be living at Full Moon Farm in Maryland http://www.fullmoonfarm.com/index.htm, which means I will be able to follow his progress. The young woman that he is lucky enough to have as his new owner rode him beautifully at Courtney's and he looked very happy with her in the tack.

In the midst of all of this, Jen Goldsack was kind enough to set aside time to help me relocate from Penn to Christiana. She got to see the new office - which has a window!!!! Despite doing the final trip on a Friday afternoon, it was quite painless. I'm hoping to spend part of the weekend setting up the new office and getting ready for the first day on the new job Monday, but also to spending some quality time with Keegan this weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

in which I get to visit a new venue

I spent the weekend TDing at the Erie Hunt and Saddle Club Horse Trials. I had never been there before, despite it being less than 5 hours from Ann Arbor, so well in reach as a possible venue, but not one that was on our rounds at the time. It was a great weekend, assisted by perfect weather, but also by a great group of organizers, officials, volunteers and competitors that I had the privilege of spending the weekend with. Peg Hull, one of the co-organizers put me up in her lovely home that was very close to the venue and I was kept in tea and food throughout the weekend. There were plenty of volunteers who did an excellent job (making my job pretty easy) and I got to visit with the Steve Bernstein and Maria Herrero who were out watching Tatiana and Callisto's preliminary debut (which was a great success). I met Therese Evans, who is based in Ohio, but spends some of her training time with Boyd and Silva Martin, so there was a connection we didn't know about, but discovered after the event. John Williams' Cross Country Course and Lew Trumble's SJ course were both lovely, flowing courses and, did I mention, the weather was perfect.

Looking forward to getting back on my horse this week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

the problem with postponing

So, I haven't been doing the weekly blog, in part just because it doesn't seem like so much is going on, but then I think about blogging and realize, wow! No particular big thing, but so many things going on, so in no particular order:

THE HOUSE
We love the house in Chadds Ford. It is possible that I love it more than does Henry (being quite the country mouse, city mouse pair), but he has plunged into land ownership with flair. We have added a crepe myrtle, two apple trees, a japanese maple and additional butterfly bushes to the landscaping and last week hosted our first party there, a full blown Henry margarita party with around 30 guests. It was fun to be able to have lots of people in the house at once and we invited a mixture of horse friends, work friends, and city neighborhood friends. Henry made lots of margaritas and we also opened some very nice wine. Apparently, it is easier to get distracted with large numbers of people to stop and chat with, so there were moments of no margaritas (the horror is almost unspeakable) and burnt edged stromboli (which no one but Henry seemed to notice or care about) and friends taking food out of the oven before it burned (because that's what friends do at my parties). I'm looking forward to doing it again soon as well as having some smaller get togethers.

Henry Margarita:
1. Squeeze juice composed of 1 orange with every 5 limes
Blood oranges a plus.
2. Combine (some multiple of) 5 oz juice, 3 oz Cuervo
Familia Reserve Tequila http://www.cuervo.com/products/reserva.aspx and 3 oz Cointreau
3. Sweeten to taste with the blood orange of http://www.robertlambert.com/store/syr.html
4. Shake with ice and serve


THE JOB
I will be leaving the University of Pennsylvania at the end of August after 10 years here. It has been a super opportunity to work with amazing people, but I am excited to be part of a leadership team building something again and hope to get that opportunity as Director of Health Services Research for the Value Institute at Christiana Care Health System. http://www.christianacare.org/valueinstitute. As an added benefit, my new boss will be Tim Gardner, former Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Penn and co-owner of many top event horses. More to follow as the job develops. Meanwhile, we will be hiring, so if you or any in your circle have an interest in this type of work, please contact me. Meanwhile, I'm finishing up a conference grant with Penn colleagues that also includes others, among them a new CCHS colleague and trying to get lots of papers submitted.

THE HORSES
Keegan came in last week (August 4th) with a big gouge in the inside top of his stifle (I failed to take a picture). Mary Griffin came out and gave him enough fluids to get him over the colic that he had fretted himself into, ascertained that the wound did not go through into the joint capsule and put in a few stitches. He recovered quite rapidly, got re x-rayed just to be sure there was no patellar fracture (yesterday) and now is cleared for increasing turn out time, starting in the round pen and walking under tack with the stitches to come out next week and regular work to commence (with appropriate ramp up) after that

Not to be outdone, Cole came in August 10th (the day before Fair Hill) with a great fat leg, which luckily was 90% resolved the following day, so he managed to miss the event, but did not otherwise get out of much work.

Since neither of my horses were running, I spent the day volunteering at Fair Hill. It ended up being a long day, as they ended up running only on Saturday. I was the steward in the dressage, where there were 3 or 4 illegal bits and some timing issues, given many multiple rides. I think Ryan Wood was riding 10. It was great to see Lisa Fergusson win the intermediate on Uni Sprite. I met some nice dogs and had a brief, but enjoyable visit with Snuffles. Ryan did win a preliminary division as well as 1st and 2nd in the novice, and Jennie Brannigan is back in the saddle with several, including a training division win. Boyd had a couple of training division wins and Steph Butts and Jules had a 3rd in their novice. With 3 rings going, I didn't get to see everyone, but enjoyed watching many nice horses and riders with a couple of very cute ponies and saw Missy briefly as she took in one last event before heading off to Gladstone en route to London.

Caitlin Silliman has become the proud new rider of Remington XXV, the lovely 4* veteran owned by the Juvonens. http://www.boydandsilvamartin.com/Pages/boyd/Remington.html The Juvonens and Boyd were kind enough to work together to arrange for Caitlin to have the ride and I am pretty excited that I will get to play sponsor, helping Caitlin out with some of the expenses involved in keeping and competing him along with Hoku and her youngster. We had a lovely dinner at the Whip last night, talking horses and plotting, with hopes that horse good karma will stay at the forefront going on into the fall and through next spring. The best fun is that Caitlin says I'm required to help out in the 10 minute box

I also took the plunge and am working out the details of becoming a partial shareholder in the Running Order Syndicate. http://www.dpequestrian.com/horses/ (information not up to date). I'm not sure why, as there have been a lot of syndicates out there, but something about this horse speaks to me and since I have never applied any logic whatsoever in my horse purchasing, I decided to go on with the gut feeling approach and move forward with this one.

Meanwhile, the US para team is off to camp at Gladstone, and James heads off to Ireland today https://www.facebook.com/BlueHillFarmPA.

OTHERWISE, I am still on track for the JFK in November, http://www.jfk50mile.org/ and will be running half marathons August 26th, Sep 3 (in California), Sep 30 (in Harwich, MA) and full marathons October 13th in Baltimore and October 21st in Boulder (thus reinstating my weeniest maniac status http://www.marathonmaniacs.com/). And am also doing quite a lot of yoga.

It is enough to keep busy as summer wanes and I'm looking forward to all the new adventures with the new year (September for me being both Jewish and a lifelong academic).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

jumping, jumping and jumping

Keegan is having a day off today after jumping 3 days in a row. We had a couple weeks off in the middle of June when he came up with another abscess, but it healed quite quickly and cleanly with thanks to Stacey Kent (wonderful vet), Todd Meister (miracle farrier) and the care at Blue Hill. He came back into work without missing a step (just as he did after 16 days off down in Florida, love his brain). I managed to schedule one jumping lesson with Missy, but also did a bunch of flat work and some hacking over the past couple of weeks and then the schedule for this week ended up including xc schooling at Radnor on Sunday, clinic with Patrick Dwyer on Monday and benefit Derby at Plantation on Tuesday. We all figured Keegan would be fine with this as he is quite fit and doesn't find jumping difficult, even when he has to work extra hard to bail us out after I screw up. He has the best attitude about my screwing up, which is something like, "no worries, happy to do more than my half here. Aren't I a good boy?"

So off Cindi and I went to Radnor. It was in the morning, so not too hot. The parking field was chockablock full of poison ivy, hmmmm. Luckily neither Cindi nor I are too reactive, but we did tack up the horses on the trailer, pretty impressive, given that it is a straight load 2 horse. Both horses were good, although it was interesting to hear how many ways/times Cindi managed to express her deep animus toward studs. Luckily Keegan doesn't need studs, in large part because I've avoided putting hind shoes on him to date, but he does get credit for excellent balance. We headed over to the schooling field and met Missy, who had the good sense to stay out of the parking field. Both horses were great. Keegan had a brief (and perfectly understandable) moment, when some kid was jumping, galloping very fast, hitting her horse a lot with her trainer yelling at her and at the horse. Keegan prefers everything to be more controlled and without yelling or other horses being punished. He is interestingly more reactive to another horse being hit than to being hit himself, which he is pretty much fine with. That aside, he jumped great. He did surprise us by launching himself mightily off the tiny bank into the water. He was straight enough that it wasn't a problem. The second time, he launched, but less up and more just out. Other than that, he easily and enthusiastically jumped everything he was pointed at. Missy is having me work on galloping more to the fences to make it easier on him (and to make time as we think about the next level). Ben was also very good, having no trouble with water, banks or ditch and just one stop at a bigger coop when Cindi didn't have quite enough leg on, but easily solved on the second go. We were back at Blue Hill by noon just as it was getting quite hot.

Monday was even hotter and I rode with Patrick from 12:30-2:30. Hilary was also there riding a lovely young mare, Josie belonging to one of her clients. Hilary had to be patient with me as she was riding much better than I was. Patrick was really helpful in getting me to keep my body more up and still, giving me some tricks to physically help me do it, rather than depending on just trying (which succeeds only so well). Keegan was really good and jumped everything (hitting rails a few times when I totally screwed up, but never holding a grudge or having any evident concerns about it). Patrick also commented on how cleverly he patted the ground when getting in deep. I also watched Justine ride (not so) baby Nedly with Emily and Khoi and watched Missy and Patrick school Ike (who is so big, he seems a bit unsure of how to get all of his body parts working in concert). Patrick's philosophy seems to be to let riders jump in the style that they jump, but work with them on keeping still, keeping their balance in the middle of the horse and quite, and keeping the horse balanced so that it is easy for them to rock back and jump and still use their backs and shoulders over the jump. Some horses would get more locked and inverted when they did rock back, so Patrick worked on that and used V-poles and wide oxers with a couple of the horses to help them figure it out. Keegan didn't need those aids, just for me to be more still so he could have his balance and forward enough. Patrick said that his canter opened up beautifully when I did sit more still, so that was great incentive for me, but it is very much a work in progress.

Yesterday, hotter still as we headed off to the Derby around 5pm. I had planned to jump a novice round and then a training, but we were running late and unsure of how things were going, so we missed the novice opportunity. It says something (hopefully that I trust my horse, not that I am insane) that just going straight to the training seemed like a reasonable idea. So we warmed up a bit. Keegan took a few minutes to settle (Caitlin Silliman said she didn't want to distract me while he was bucking in the warm-up, but it didn't seem like much), but once we cantered and jumped a bit was fine. The warm-up was quite crowded and lots of horses galloping around, so a bit unsettling, but he figured it out. Talked with Denis a bit as Denis is a Partner's Hero fan and was interested to see Keegan. We jumped a few warm-up fences and headed out onto the Derby course. In the first round, we had a stop at the house before the water (pretty big), I jumped down the novice bank before the training to be fair to him and then I got lost and missed a couple of fences, gave him a totally crappy ride to the skinny roll top house, leading to a run out (and some helpful coaching from Kate Hicks) and then into the finish. Back in warm-up, Missy told me to gallop more (this is becoming a theme), and keep my shoulders up (this has been a theme for years) and off we went again. This time, he was a total rockstar! He jumped everything perfectly on the first attempt (including the corner and the reasonably scary steeplechase fence I had missed on round one). A little hesitant to the house before the water, but over, perfect down the bank, spot on to the corner, steeplechase and skinny and fantastic to all the stadium jumps. We ended up with a few time faults, but no jumping faults and me totally thrilled with my horse. This was the first time he had really jumped training level xc fences, having barely schooled two or three down in Florida after lots of warm-up and easing into them. He also is in great condition, feeling ready to run again despite the quite oppressive heat and humidity. Rachel took Cole. He also did 2 training runs, but was a bit more affected by the heat, needing some pushing on the second round. Lisa Thomas did a round of training on Rhythm and Emily rode Khoi, but I didn't see much of their go. Jason Racey rode his youngster before we got there and rode Dodger in the Preliminary, having a bit of steering confusion in the coffin, but otherwise good rounds. Hilary was there and said she had good rounds. Morgan McCue rode Annie over their first Preliminary course and had a great round. Justine said Nedly was very good. I got to chat a bit with Caitlin, who is keeping very busy with Boyd in London. David Ziegler was kind enough to come out and help us on his day off and hopefully, the afternoon raised a bunch of funds for Erin, Kate and the Plantation CIC. It was certainly great fun and hopefully, something that will happen again in the future.

So, today Keegan is having a day off and I'm supposed to be working, which I will get back to now that I've delivered the first blog in over a month.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Running, Riding and Rooting for the Unionville Crowd

With Keegan temporarily out of action, I still managed to find other things to do. Every time I don't ride for a while, I find myself wondering how I do fit it into my schedule.

Saturday, I spent judging the stadium jumping at Plantation. Aileen Elliot stepped in as control/announcer and did a lovely job, making the absence of Dick Thompson, to whom the event was dedicated the more affecting. It was a lovely day, made better by the super volunteer/worker group I had. Hats off to Ben, John, Sarah, Quinn, Hannah, Ralph, Tracy (who stepped in at the last minute), Liam (timer extraordinaire) and any of you I may have missed as you went about your jobs. Denis has assembled a really great crew, who juggle their work at the events with school and, for many of them, other jobs. Having them there makes the job of stadium judging both easier and more enjoyable. It wasn't too long a day as many of the usual suspects were up north. I would like to offer some shout outs to those who were at Plantation. Courtney Cooper finished 1st and 2nd in the Open Preliminary on a couple of her homebreds. Tag was running his first event back after colic surgery. He is the 1st of 8 they bred and is by Aberjack. Hope came along 3rd and is by R Johnson. It will be fun to watch as the others (ages 4-7) come along. It was an interesting coincidence that Courtney Coopers RStar was winning the preliminary here while Kristi Nunnink's R-Star was winning the intermediate at Aspen Farm. Jason Racey won the preliminary rider on his Dodger, and Jen Hoey on the adorable Harrison added only a bit of xc time to their dressage score to finish up in 3rd. In the training, Erin Sylvester piloted Denis Glacum's handsome Stonewall Winters to a win (and was also 2nd in the novice on Paddy the Caddy), closely followed by Tatiana Herrero Bernstein - out visiting from Michigan for some summer training - who was riding her Callisto in his first go at training. They were followed by David Ziegler in 3rd place on Peter Berk's Princeton Pride (careful Peter, I think David would like to steal this one!). Morgan McCue won another junior training division. She is sitting 2nd on the leaderboard in junior training. Amanda Clement did a lovely job with Gloria Cascarino's Pressed for Time. Amanda is becoming quite the catch rider, with Lesley Collins reclaiming the ride for this event on her Ruckus and taking home the pink ribbon. A final mention to Tik Maynard who had a 3rd in the preliminary and then coached and rode three BN horses, staying cheerful and organized throughout. The day ended early enough for dinner with Henry, Barbara Rose, Gina Sand and other family friends at the New Tavern.

Sunday, I got a slightly later start than intended and paid by running from 8:30-10:30 in the hot sun, rather than the cooler early morning. I was very happy at how pleasant and polite everyone was out on the trail. It was very crowded, but bicyclists announced they were passing, runners smiled and waved them by, apologizing for cutting in front of pedestrians, dog walkers made room for jogging strollers and there was much smiling and waving as all those enjoying the path shared it. It made the run even better. Headed out to Chadds Ford after and mostly hung out while Henry rearranged wine and hung new light fixtures. It is starting to look like a home. Then called my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day, apparently a week early. Oops. The Phillies lost to the Orioles in extra innings for the second time in the series, but Detroit managed a come from behind win and the Devils won one, though despite geography, I think I am rooting for the Kings back in the Stanley cup running for the first time in around 20 years.

Meanwhile, up in Canada, the CCI was running at Bromont. Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Sally Cousins, Ryan Wood, Caitlin Silliman, and many others were all there. The hometown crowd had a great showing with Boyd and Trading Aces coming second in the CCI*** closely followed by Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter, Phillip Dutton aboard Atlas and in 5th at their first CCI***, Caitlin and Hoku! So great to see them continuing to do well. And it was nice to see Jon Holling get the win. Also impressive was Patti Springsteen's Running Order finishing 2nd in the 2 star with Doug Payne in the irons. Full scores at event entries, and EN had lots of great coverage

Onward into the work week and volunteering at the para selection trials.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The weeks never get less busy. I ran the Virginia Wine Country half marathon on Saturday. Beautiful setting. Nice smaller race, not the best organization ever, but friendly and fun and since the weather was perfect, it was pretty easy to overlook organizational glitches and just enjoy. Then headed over and spent the afternoon at Waredaca. Funny to be there with no official job. Watched a bit, chatted with Jeff and with Steph and Keith - congrats on their new home in Frederick, MD and then got to chat with Gretchen while we dismantled the YEH jumping course. Drove from there down to DC and had some pretty good crab chowder, a beer, and a pomegranate nojito (non-alcoholic mint/pom/lime/seltzer, really good). Henry got in a bit later. Sunday was yoga, brunch and then teaching with Stacey Ackerman. I really enjoy doing our short course on outcomes research for devices and diagnostics. Interest has grown over the 5 or 6 years we've been teaching the course and this was a great, engaged group, making it even more fun. Sunday night wine dinner at Equinox, a very nice DC restaurant that allowed corkage so we drank several bottles of great Henry wine. Online scoring let me know that Josie and Keebler had ended up 3rd after the xc decimated the novice competition. Caitlin and Tucker finished on their dressage score in 2nd place, so it was a great weekend for my distant horses.

The week brought good news and bad news. On the sad side, the eventing (and greater world) lost two wonderful men, Jim Ligon and Dick Thompson, both xc controllers and announcers extraordinaire with additional ties as horse owners, teachers, leaders within organizations such as the Radnor Hunt and pony club. They will both be sorely missed. I was able to spend some great time scribing for Dick, hearing stories of horses and people stretching back through the years in eventing. He remained involved in eventing through the need for an amputation caused by a non-resolving infection in his leg (the picture is of him at the Plantation CIC in September 2011, shortly before the amputation), getting a prosthetic and the issues with it. I will really miss him at the events.

There was also the loss of a lovely four footed eventer, Meadow Sparrow. I think it is because of this little mare that I have a soft spot for Connemara eventers, palominos even more. I remember Maddie Blackman bringing her up through the ranks (or maybe being brought up through the ranks by her as she was definitely an alpha mare). When Maddie outgrew her, Meadow Sparrow went to Alexis Rappaport, primarily doing the junior jumpers at the same time Alexis was eventing with Gizmo. Blondie took brilliantly to that career as well (and looked great all dolled out in her jumper gear). I know both Maddie and Lexi will miss her and remember her as instrumental to their riding careers, and the rest of us will also miss the lovely girl.

Less major, but still frustrating bad news include Keebler coming in Tuesday limping lame in one of his hinds, unknown etiology so far (ultrasound update to follow) and Keegan coming up limping halfway through a jumping lesson (apparently another hoof rim bruise), so no Plantation this weekend.

On the good side, the second city house has a pending contract (hopefully not jinxing us as the process isn't done) after less than 48 hours on the market. Henry continues to improve the country house - several pictures hung, appliances, computer, etc in place, all the painting done. The new mattress is meant to arrive today and washers and dryers on Friday (separate pony laundry once again).

Lots of work to do, which is probably why I am a) blogging, and b) not doing a very good job of it, so more at a later date.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembering

It was Memorial Day weekend. A hot and humid memorial day weekend, with the para-dressage team showing up in Saratoga and me volunteering as cross country control at Flora Lea, which all went well.

Memorial day was conceived as a day of remembrance for those who have died in military service to our country. Moina Micheal originated the wearing of red poppies on Memorial Day in conjunction with this poem she wrote:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

According to Wikipedia (yes, that great source), Memorial Day had become, by the early 20th century, a more general day of remembrance not limited to those that died serving in the Military (as well as a day for the parades, picnics and the beach). While enjoying the extra day off work, the feeling of memory was strong for me through the weekend and especially on Monday. Phillip spoke eloquently at the True Prospect open house (http://www.phillipdutton.com/)of the horses that died a year ago at True Prospect, remembering them, but most strongly remembering and commemorating the bravery of Ryan, Caitlin and Lillian and their strength in going on and "not letting such a tragedy define their lives" as well as remembering and thanking the eventing and local community for their support.

Meanwhile the weekend was creating another sad event to memorialize. Three of the Pollard eventing team's horses were killed due to a selfish driver cutting in front of the trailer over the weekend. The lovely Icarus and Jude's Law as well as a young stallion Ulando. Michael and some of his team spoke powerfully about these horses yesterday http://soundcloud.com/chrisstaffordradio/pollard-eventing-team.

According to the National Safety Council, the Memorial Day weekend results in an excess of approximately 40 deaths compared to equivalent non-holiday periods (http://www.nsc.org/Documents/Memday2012.pdf), so those are more deaths to remember, by remembering to be patient, drive safely, turn off the phone and have a designated non-drinking driver as you enjoy the holiday. The Pollard's horses might still be alive if someone had not been impatient and paying insufficient attention.

And also in my memories as I thought about the weekend and those no longer here; my mom who died the weekend after Memorial Day last year, as well as was my friend Michael Taylor who died of AIDS in 1989 and John Pryor, my trauma surgeon colleague who was killed in Iraq on Christmas day 2008.

Having connections to family, friends, colleagues and (for many of us) animals brings all that is good to life - love, friendship, laughter, excitement, sharing, caring, support, comradery.... The risk of loss has little weight against what is gained, but it is good to take a moment to remember. While the memories are not without sadness, so often what shines through is the good - the community banding together after the True Prospect fire, running with the trauma department team in the legs against arms 5k in memory of John Pryor, learning aerobics and then becoming an aerobics instructor and pitching in for the totally ridiculous red spandex unitard that Michael wore when teaching, brunch at the Columbia Gorge Inn with my mom, and knowing that risking these connections means that I have love and friendship, comradery and support just as I would wish we all could as a connected community of Americans when we suffer loses whether through war, disaster, accident, crime, illness or natural causes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Which Keegan makes his Area 2 debut

Fair Hill was this weekend and the weather couldn't have been lovelier. Such an excellent way to spend the weekend outdoors. Saturday, I volunteered as dressage steward. It was a smaller show than often at Fair Hill, so the intermediate and training dressage ran from 8 until about 1 pm. Lots of nice horses. Sally won another intermediate division, as did Boyd. Phillip was there on Jennie Brannigan's Vamor, finishing 2nd in their division and Kate Chadderton and her Cole had a great run to finish 4th. The early finish time allowed me to head up Saw Mill road and watch Bouncer and my Cole jump. Rachel has Cole going really well. This was his first recognized training level outing and her first run around the training on a green horse. They were great, just adding some time to their dressage score. Bouncer apparently had a plan that did not correspond well with Missy's so they had one stop cross country while Ike took home a red ribbon and Emily and Khoi also successfully moved up with only time added to their dressage score. Caitlin Silliman and Ballyneety finished 3rd. We headed back to Blue Hill and had a dressage lesson with Missy, which was super helpful as always, Missy putting in a long day teaching 3 lessons after showing and coaching at Fair Hill.

Sunday, I actually got to sleep later on competition day than I had on volunteer day. Steph Cauffman broke out the showmobile to trailer Ben and Keegan. It is a very nice rig to work out of. Cindi and I had ride times quite close together, which made for fairly easy logistics. Missy had another long day, as Jason Racey managed the first dressage time of the morning and she again taught lessons after coaching all of us. They had a great morning, finishing in third. Another preliminary shout out to Chris Talley (from whom I bought Gin and Tonic). He and his super pony made their preliminary debut and finished in 8th place, with a couple show jumping rails, but a clean cross-country round. Bruce Davidson, Boyd Martin, Ryan Wood and Allison Spring also had top 3 preliminary finishes. I managed to arrive at the show with all the appropriate gear and clothing, although I completely forgot to braid. No this was not, it's just novice, I don't really need to braid. This was head over, get bit check, see Kate on the lovely Lightning with both mane and tail braided and realize I've forgotten that part of the program. Need to kick off the show prep rust, obviously. Keegan was a bit up on the ground. He wasn't happy when Ben left for warm-up and danced around looking for a friend. I attempted to lunge him, but he was distracted and didn't really want to do that, so I just got on. And like magic, I had an attentive, focused pony. He did want to look up at each horse coming into the warm-up area, but was otherwise quiet and very workmanlike in both the warm-up and the show arena. We ended up with a 37.4 and judges comments of "very nice and consistent, work toward more spring and elasticity in step" and I even got a 7 for rider collective mark with the comment, "organized and thinking rider." I was really pleased. The left canter depart is still rough, but the right was very good and his free-walk was a little distracted (though he still got a 7). Doing dresage on this boy is actually a lot of fun.

Next, we headed up to walk the cross-country and watch a couple jump the stadium. Missy did a great course walk with us (Jamie also joined us) and I felt quite ready. The course was a hard enough novice with a 90 degree turn to a bench in the shadows for fence 2, a bank down at fence 3, roll top to ditch half coffin at 5 (with a bigger ditch than anything we have ever schooled), brand new house of bright yellow cedar right before the water, bank up out of the water and another bank up onto the mound. So, I planned my riding, knowing I have a very brave horse, the main thing is being organized and giving him time to see the questions. We tacked up and then hacked back up, taking advantage of the little creek crossing on the trail there to get their feet wet. We warmed up for stadium. Keegan did leap once when a horse coming toward him hit the oxer pretty hard at the same time we were going past the (for some odd reason) scary yellow flower boxes sitting along the edge of the sj roping, but was jumping great and listening well. We headed in (thanks to Alex Maskowski, who did the flip and had a great training level outing Saturday, then stewarded the SJ on Sunday) and suddenly, I had quite a bit more horse. He was brave and forward to everything, but jumping and galloping enthusiastically enough that tidy turns just weren't happening, so we jumped clean, but added 4 time in the SJ. That will be something to work on. Headed straight out to cross-country where it was rockstar time! Keegan totally ate up the course. There were a few steering issues as he was quite strong, but I was able to get him turned in sufficient time to all the jumps. Turn to park bench? No worries. Bank down? Careful look and off we go. Half coffin? Was there something there I was supposed to look at, I'm galloping. Picked up speed through the next 4 galloping fences, leading to a rather interesting line to the barrels at 10 and then he suddenly settled (maybe it was being further away and heading away from the warm-up or maybe he just got a little tired). Jumped the roll top at 11 and the flower box at 12 perfectly. I gave him a strong ride to the water. He didn't get a perfect spot to the house, but popped over (it was quite small, though bright. Missy said it probably provided a bit of an optical illusion). Very bold through the water and up the bank with a great take-off spot, then around toward home and no trouble at all through the last 4. I wasn't sure where we would be on time (we ended up 29 seconds under, with the time set at 350 m/m), but could not have been happier with the day and with my horse. We ended up in 9th place, but everyone ahead of us was a 4* rider (2 Boyd Martin, 3 Ryan Wood, 2 Allison Springer and 1 Kate Chadderton). Kate Chadderton was also riding VS Lightning (the other horse she got off the track when she got Keegan. She called them Thunder and lightning, but if you go back to the Keegan naming blog, you will remember that Thunder was a no go from the start). Lightning ended up not doing xc, so hopefully he is ok. Cindi had a rough go, unfortunately ending up in the ditch rather than over it, but she and Ben are both ok and have a plan to compete another day.

Meanwhile, at Chatt Hills, Natalie Bouckaert Pollard was scoring a 15.2 in the dressage. Keebler was having a very good weekend as well, getting a 34.5 in the dressage and a clean sj. He was assigned two stops at a drop for foot shuffling, but Lynn said he was jumping all the way, just wiggly. He was also galloping like a goofball and so barely avoided speed faults even with circling. I believe his next two outings will be IEA and Encore. Look for Keegan at the Plantation unrecognized on June 10th.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grey horses rock, small horses jump and Neville drops in on the cocktails

I spent the weekend volunteering at Jersey Fresh. Many top horses were there including Mystery Whisper with Phillip Dutton in the irons. They won the 3* by a significant margin and just looked great. My vote for most handsome horse is Boyd's new ride, Trading Aces. He is also quite the well behaved gentleman on the ground, which is always nice. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Friday was dressage. I was acting as assistant to Katie Lindsay, the FEI steward all weekend, so got to watch horses in warm-up, which was interesting. The weather was lovely all weekend, although there was a rather chilly wind on Friday. The Coffee Connection was there, so I was able to keep myself in properly made Earl Grey Tea all weekend. Saturday was cross-country day. The horses I helped cool-out - Loki (Jeff Kibbie), Hoku (Caitlin Silliman) and Art (Donna Miller) all jumped beautifully around the cross-country. Among the other riders, there were stops, a few spills and some eliminations, but the ambulances never had to roll so that makes it a great day. Once again, I was watching the warm-up, so only saw bits of actual cross-country rounds. Mystery Whisper looked super in the warm-up (actually he came out looking a bit tense, which seemed odd, but then he stopped, parked out and had a big pee after which he looked perfect). A few riders were there doing their first runs at the level and so there were some nerves. The coaches worked hard, many of them including Boyd, Buck, and Phillip fitting in coaching between their own rides. The weather was a bit warm, but the horses seemed to do very well in the vet box at the end of the cross-country.

Saturday evening, I spent some time in stabling observing the procedures for evening veterinary treatment under FEI rules - plenty of paperwork and then spent some time with the Windurra gang, including several riders and owners. Neville came by during cocktails and then all the horses went off for a jog and a hand graze. Trading Aces was very quiet and easy. CrackerJack was very well behaved, but super intent on finding the best clover and was very clear in directing me to where he wanted to go to eat. All the horses looked great after their cross-country run. The drive home was easy. I arrived home around 8:30 pm and while this would normally be shower and bed-time for me, this weekend it was shower and out to dinner with Henry and Mark time. We had a lovely meal with some very nice wine at Melograno, leading me to hit the pillow around 11:30. This meant that it seemed really early when my alarm clock rang on Sunday morning, but I was up and out and making excellent time (right up until the point where US-1 was totally closed for a major accident). Luckily the detour didn't take too long and I arrived back at the Horse Park before the jog. 4 of the first 6 horses were held, which seemed rather unusual, but it got much smoother after that. The adorable palomino pony, Willya Love Me did not re-present. Both Merging, Laurie Cameron's lovely mare and Nyls du Terroir were not accepted on reinspection. Holly Payne's Santino was accepted. Jog outfits ran the gamut from riding wear to chinos and shirts to full out suits and dresses. I've posted some fashion thoughts (though not all related to the jog) here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=353228.

The stadium jumping was very influential this weekend, http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/14957.html. Karen jumped clear to take first and second in the CIC** with young Connor Husain finishing 3rd. I've been watching Connor since he bought Folk Lore (previously owned by Kaiti Saunders) and have been impressed. He really put it altogether this weekend at his first 2* Meanwhile, Boyd and CrackerJack, another great jumping grey horse, won the CCI**. Jeff and Loki conquered their stadium woes, dropping two rails, but having a much better looking ride, with Loki pretty obviously trying a bit more than in some past runs. Hoku also had two rails, but finished up 9th and incredibly impressive job for a pair that had their first advanced start at the April Fair Hill in 2011 and then 8+ months of healing and recovery after Hoku's burns before their next outing. It was fun watching them going and getting to see Jenna back in action as eventing mom. On the 3* side, the top of the leaderboard jiggled around a fair bit, though Rebecca Howard held on to her lead to win the CIC*** division. Phillip and Mystery Whisper started with 2 rails in hand and by the time they went in had three in hand. They did drop one, but still won finishing 8.8 points up on Michael Pollard and Jude's Law. Selena O'Hanlon and Colombo were third. Both the US and Canadian selectors were out in full force for the weekend.

In other places, Lynn and Keebler returned to action in Michigan, and Keebler even scored a ribbon http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=353162. Closer to home, Emily and Rachel from Blue Hill Farm headed to the Plantation unrecognized event to see what Cole and Khoi thought of training level. Apparently, they both thought training level was just fine as Khoi won the training horse division finishing on his dressage score and Cole ended up 7th with 2 rails in the SJ, which Rachel claimed were hers, and a clean xc round. Rachel said he felt really great on the cross-country. The day before Sally Cousins captured the top 3 intermediate ribbons and a few at other levels as well.

And, on a final note, the weekend wrapped up with a Phillies win with Cole Hamels looking great and wonderful Henry margaritas with dinner. The first mother's day without my mom hit home watching Sunday night baseball, seeing all the pink that the MLB sports for this day and remembering a year ago knowing that my mom was reaching the end of her time. She will always be in my thoughts, and I am a believer in the tenet that we live on in the memories of those who love us.




Monday, May 7, 2012

The advantage of Area II

One of the great things about Area 2 is the easy proximity to so much going on. Usually, there is no trouble finding what you need (especially at the lower levels), it is more just a matter of picking among offerings. This weekend, I both competed and volunteered. The competition was a combined test at Blue Goose Stables. Cindi Cauffman and I went. We both ended up with ribbons. Keegan was a champ, staying calm and settled through all of it. We grazed a bit while watching Ben warm up for dressage, then headed back to tack up and did our warm-up, with help from Steph Cauffman. Keegan put in a very nice test, there was a bit of tenseness here and there, but never for long and the only time he really came off the aids was a few steps before our final halt, which was when Ben called to him from the side of the ring. I was quite pleased that while he did look up and over, it was only a step or two before he willingly went back on the aids. We went straight back to retack (as I did dressage in my new dressage saddle), and then headed over to stadium. The warm-up jumps were interestingly in the stadium jumping ring. Kind of a nice thing for the young horses, so they could have a tour. Keegan didn't really get a tour. We jumped the 3 warm-up fences, jumping one bending line twice for a total of 5 warm-up jumps, then jumped around, clean and easy as could be. The fences were on the small side for novice, but there were a couple that were scary enough, though a total non-event for Keegan the brave. We finished up and were back at Blue Hill before 1 pm (pretty good given that we didn't leave Blue Hill until just before 9am). So time for a few errands before a very nice dinner with friends at Marigold Kitchen in University City.

Sunday, I volunteered as the stadium steward for the Fair Hill starter trial. We had a lovely, efficient day. A little bit cooler than forecast, but I had plenty of warm stuff in my car. It was great seeing the Cairn O'Mount crew there in force. Lots of great young students getting inculcated into the eventing culture under the excellent guidance of Susie Beale, assisted by her daughter Gillian Beale King. Amanda Clement was 3rd on Lesley Collins' Ruckus. They made a great pair. It was also great to see Jenn Cain (former Blue Hill Farm working student) and her Jester looking good. Lots of professionals out on their young horses and Erin Sylvester was coaching a big crew with the same focus and concentration as she brought to Rolex just last week. There were only a couple of falls in the SJ and those were fairly soft landings, so a good day. Many nice young horses, ridiculously cute ponies and a fairly large number of people making their first forays into eventing.

Meanwhile, at MCTA Kate Chadderton was having a blast at the advanced with Cole, Sally Cousins was winning that advanced on Westerly, Kaiti Saunders and Truman having a great go in their season opener at the preliminary and Boyd Martin and Ryan Wood with a huge number of horses. One state over, the Blue Hill crowd was out in force at the CDCTA dressage show at Morven Park. Missy no doubt had her hands full, with 8 horses there. Elizabeth posted about her great TOC on facebook and I know Rachel and Taldi were making their debut at 4th level, David and Topper theirs at 3rd level, Gigi was riding JD as well as Hobbs, Mary Jordan was there after a stint at Blue Hill, and Becca and Lolu were also along, but I have no idea how things turned out because dressage lacks the stalking tool advantage of live scoring. If anyone wants to really get more amateurs into dressage, consider a good live scoring program as well as a good online entry program. I have multiple graduate degrees and can barely figure out how to enter a recognized dressage show whereas between www.evententries.com and xentry, entering events has become a snap. That digression aside, further south, Poplar Place was running, including the lower level area 3 championships. Debi Crowley and Vantage Point ended up 4th, finishing on their dressage score in the championship division and Caitlin rode my Gin and Tonic to a great experience in the non-champtionship BN (since it is after all, only his second event), also finishing on their dressage score. Chimene Evans and Sam (whom I saw at the Leslie Law clinic) had a great finish as well.

Sunday evening, both the Cubs and the Phillies won as did the 76ers taking a 3-1 lead over the 1st place Chicago Bulls (who admittedly are hampered by injuries). Sadly, the Flyers lost falling to 1-3 to the Devils, but they have come back before. Maybe they can do it again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rolex

I spent last weekend at Rolex, a usually annual trek (there have been years off here and there, but I even dragged Henry there in 2002 - epic rains and mud that year and he still talks about seeing Karen O'Connor hanging upside down in the water). It was a great weekend. The threatened rain held off and both the weather and footing were about as good as you could want.

Obviously, the results have been talked about at great length. My personal shout outs to Sally Cousins and Tsunami (looking like a million all weekend), Erin Sylvester who was one of 6 double clears xc at her first Rolex, Boyd Martin and Otis who is looking like a much more experienced horse than he is, Doug Payne and Running Order, looking very snazzy in those shades SJ, Sharon White who pulled up most of the way around realizing her horse was tired, Jordan Linstedt the last finishing competitor, overcoming her nerves to get it done, Peter Barry getting it done as an ammy, Marilyn Little-Meredith putting the eventing world on notice, Karen O'Connor for giving all the credit to her horse after SJ and looking as happy as you would imagine someone after their first completion as opposed to their ?? (anyone know how many times Karen has made it around Rolex?), Becky Holder for staying classy through a tough weekend, and William Fox-Pitt, not so much for winning as for carrying all of his own gear (saddle, bridle, horse boots, cooler) down from cross-country himself, on foot.

I had a great weekend. Friday was a bit of dressage, meetings, shopping, chatting and dinner with the Michigan gang. Saturday was the very busy cross-country, stewarding the area that included the Normandy bank and wondering both in the morning and in the afternoon, how many starters until someone got around. The best part - despite many falls and a low completion and even lower clear percentage, there was not a single serious horse or human injury - bumps, bruises, tiredness, maybe dehydration, but no transports of horses or humans makes it a good weekend. I also got to see a very excited Snuffles out on the course in the morning and had a great view of the horses running and jumping all day. Finished off the evening with mexican food with the Michigan gang. Then Sunday, SJ viewing from the KHP foundation tent. I even took pictures (probably need a camera, the phone pictures are not that good - of course, it would also help if I was not the world's worst photographer).


I stayed for all of the SJ jumping, enjoyed a couple of mimosas over the course of the mid-day and then after the awards ceremony headed out for a last bit of shopping and schmoozing. I must say, the one disappointment was the 3-day shop. Most of the clothing was not nice, colors were mostly ugly, there was not much and there were no Sunday sales. The only thing I bought there was a hat for Caitlin Silliman (her birthday was Saturday). I did a bunch of shopping at http://www.animalstowear.com/, including some gifts and a black cadet for myself. I also picked up my (third) FiveStarTack bridle. These bridles (and I have the breastplate) are fabulous, and I highly recommend them.

Monday morning, I flew home very early and then Henry and I headed out to Chadds Ford, where we bought our new house (yes, that would be a 'u' not an 'r'). We are not the happy owners of a "country home". We will be figuring out our schedules and how much time we can spend there, but it is lovely and I am quite excited. Henry is busily shopping for furniture. I am focusing on finding a great desk and a really comfy reading chair.