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: 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.
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.

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.

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.

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 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: Meanwhile, in area 8, Flying Cross was happening. There don't seem to be results yet, but I know some of the Ann Arbor Crowd was there and "Riderboy" posted a great helmet cam on the Chronicle Forums 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 - 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 and owned and loved since he was a weanling by Nicolle Madonna 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,, 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, 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.