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 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 (, 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 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 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 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: 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 -, 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.