Monday, January 16, 2012

In which Keegan is a star as the chronicles return to Florida

I've been planning the 2012 Forida season for a while and this past week, it commenced. The plan was to pack up the car and head out around noon on Wednesday. This plan lasted until about 9 am, when work and work meetings started pushing back against my plans. As it turned out, I ended up leaving the office at 12:30, throwing stuff in the car, heading to Blue Hill, throwing more stuff in the car and leaving BHF around 3:00, a mere three hours behind schedule. Of course, the throwing stuff in the car packing methodology resulted in not having with me, 1) my phone charger - bought a new one; 2)my ipad - but I brought my laptop so no big deal; 3) Hilda's gifts - she will get them next week; 4) my show coat - no show until the 27th so no worries; 5) my Florida toiletries collection - there was plenty of sunscreen in the car and I did not need any first aid supplies this weekend, so despite packing failure, it all worked out. Wednesday night in Petersburg, VA. My old favorite Walker House B&B has closed, but I enjoyed the High Street Inn, which Conrad kindly recommended. The high point of Petersburg is Brick House Run, a lovely local restaurant. I had dinner at the bar (lamb and barley soup, yummy). My dinner conversation partner was a local who is a Packers fan. The conversation ranged from Sports to George Washington Carver, to pension plans and employment to politics, beer, and .... I was also impressed that Steve (the proprieter) remembered me from the last time I was in town despite the time lag. Thursday morning an early start and the longish drive down to St. Simmons Island Georgia. Quite a nice little town. I can recommend the Village Pub and Inn as well as the St. Simmons Island Health Club, where I did a spinning class and yoga (neither fantastic, but spinning was quite good. The yoga teacher was not my cup of tea, but the stretching was good after the car time). Completed the drive to Ashmore on Friday morning, arriving just before 11 am. Friday was taken up with riding and work. I had a lovely lesson on Keegan, a flat work warm-up, then jumping in the ring. Keegan was a very good boy. Then, I rode horses for horse sales clients. They were local trainers. I rode Finn, Tribute and Wy. All the horses were good. For me, this was the "toss her in the deep end and see if she sinks or swims" reintroduction to riding. After not riding at all for 2 weeks and not jumping for around 2 months and not jumping anything over 2'6" since July 3rd, I jumped all three horses, including jumping Wy (whom I had never seen before) over a 3'3"+ vertical to oxer, 5 stride line. Good pony! I am sure the trainers found me quite hysterical. All three horses did lovely lead changes with no help from me and all jumped wonderfully. Then off for a few hours of work, before heading back to the house. It is lovely being able to share evenings with Hilda. Friday evening we had her fabulous shepard's pie for dinner, my favorite. Pretty amazing that I am getting super trainer and personal chef all rolled into one. Saturday, the plan was to head to Longwood for a XC school. I decided to ride Keegan for 20 minutes at the farm before we set out. This was a good plan, but had the potential for some complication as there was an Ashmore birthday party going on. What did this entail? Well many shrieking children, including the ones in the "bounce house" set up right in front of the barn, along with pony rides in the ring and rocking loud hip hop music over speakers right next to the ring. Keegan earned a gold star, went in and quietly worked through it all. With this all still going on, we loaded up. Keegan went right onto Hilda's head to head that he hadn't been in before. Then as we were approaching Ocala, a car beside us honked, pointed and yelled, "rear tire" so we pulled into a shopping mall after Hilda called AAA. We looked at it and the tire didn't look that flat and was oddly hot, but we are eventers so we changed the tire, called and cancelled AAA and pulled out. Oh dear, metal shrieking noise. Look at tire. I think, this is not good. The axle is bent or broken. Sent picture to Christian, he said maybe bearings. That would have been preferable. Off we head, carefully to Coast to Coast trailers in Ocala where they confirm the axle diagnosis. Does this stop us? No, we are eventers! Hilda rents a 4 horse slant load from them, we reload the horses. Keegan got in and then had to get off and get back into the last spot after lovely young Gage (Annalise's 4 year old Irish Boy) decided the last spot was too small for him (he was probably right). But all were stars. We arrived at the Holling's farm shortly thereafter and mounted up. I lunged Keegan, but after 5 minutes it became clear that he was fine, so I hoped on. He was hypervigilant and a bit ADD, but perfectly quiet and the jumping was easy and impressive. He jumped all the little logs, went through the water, did the little bank and then had been so good that he did the double bank up (pretty sure that it a training level question). Yeah, I have an xc horse! We finished schooling as dark descended, but got the horses loaded up with minimal difficulty and headed back to Ashmore. After getting horses bundled up and turned out (forecast low 27), headed back to the house for lamb chops, mushroom risotto and asparagus, yummy! Sunday was a dressage lesson. Keegan warmed up well so we headed to the back bowl field to practice our test. Keegan was a star, especially consdering that it was still below 40 degrees and he had never been out there before. The test was absolutely what I would want from a greenie. We will continue to work on the sharpness of the canter transition and the balance of the canter circles, but otherwise, it was quite a nice test and he was surprisingly more attentive than in his "home" enviornment, where he always wants to keep tabs on exactly what is going on. After that lesson, I had the lovely treat of riding Gizmo for the first time in 7 years. He is still rehabbing so it was just a walk/trot ride, but he is grumpy and lovely as ever. He and Keegan also go out together. By 11:00, it was much warmer, so I left the boys in their paddock, quickly changed and headed to the airport for the trip home, in time to hear the Ravens win (yeah!) and watch the Packers game while working out (that was sad enough that I mostly watched the movie, Shooter instead). Such a great start to the season. Loving Keegan, appreciating Hilda and enjoying time with Grace, Annalise, Cassie, Jessica, Christian, Peggy and I am sure a whole cast of the Ashmore gang to follow. Feeling even more psyched for the Leslie Law clinic next weekend.

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