Wednesday, May 30, 2012


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 ( 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

According to the National Safety Council, the Memorial Day weekend results in an excess of approximately 40 deaths compared to equivalent non-holiday periods (, 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:

The stadium jumping was very influential this weekend, 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 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 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


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, 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.