Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Which Letting Go is OK; or It Really Does Take a Village - A Keebler guest blog

Cyndi Kurth was kind enough to send this report of Jordan and Keebler's day at Ocala November 16th to Lynn Cronin and me.  I know Lynn is as thrilled as I am to hear of their progress and the fabulous weekend. We hope you enjoy the guest blog and that there are more to come.

After their great run at Rocking Horse,  Jordan and Keebler had one weekend before the one day recognized HT at Ocala.  The hunt was on to find someone to coach them, as I was announcing.  I was not even sure I would see them at all during the show,  which again brought up our never ending quest to find someone to coach Jordan and Keebler in dressage.  Anyone can coach them for the jumping phases;  it is the dressage which gets tricky.

Jordan has reached the point in her eventing education that she knows what a good dressage score should be, and gets nervous before dressage.  Most people we have found to coach are terrific, but they are used to a 20 minute warm-up for dressage, and Jordan and Keebler need some "settle down" time before going to work.  This time the plan was for some warm up on their own before heading to real warm up with a coach.

Anyway,  Marcea Funk of Market Street Eventing was available.  Marcea teaches once a month at the barn where I board Bitsy.  Of course these lessons are on Sundays, when I am rarely at home.  Nevertheless, I have managed to take 2 lessons over the summer and watch her teaching methods.  She was available, and as a bonus,  Keebler could be stabled with her group so that Jordan familiar faces around her.

We trailered over on a grey and drizzly Friday afternoon.  Keebler loaded well into Emily's trailer,  and we arrived with no trouble to the showgrounds.   The sky was dark and foreboding,  so after settling Keebler in his stall we went to walk XC.  

The Novice course was Very Solid.  There was a 1/2 coffin with a max wide and max deep ditch to a black brush,  a "real" drop with a small log on a bank,   a Very Scary Liverpool to the water, and several combinations.   It was definitely an "end of the year" course,  exactly what I would want as we prepare to move Jordan up to Training at schooling shows.    I knew that whatever the dressage score was, she and Keebler could be confident on XC .

A quick schooling ride in the hard drizzle was next, and  I worried because there were no "bobbles"  or difficulties.   Isn't the dress rehearsal supposed to be difficult?  

We had planned on trimming up Keebler's tail after the ride, as it resembled an addlepated hedgehog on the top.   However, even I am not so stupid as to attempt this in the pouring rain outside a temporary stall which for some reason has the outlet plugs on TOP of one stall with a strange horse inside.Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me.

Saturday morning was promising, with no rain as we arrived at the showgrounds.   A quick check on Keebler and then I was off to announce and Jordan was "on her own".   Of course she had my "down to the last minute"  schedule to follow, which does not allow for much free time.  About an hour later, I received panicked texts. "I pulled his mane too short"  and "No one else is braiding"!      After mulling it over ,  I decided that it was better to have a calm Jordan on an unbraided horse than a braided horse with an unsettled Jordan.  Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me again

But Something had to be done about That Tail.   Leyna Merrill from Rocking Horse was passing by, and was recruited to help Jordan trim up Keebler's hedgehog tail.   Then I watched as Jordan joined Marcea and her riders to walk the Show Jumping course.  Inward sigh and "let it go" lesson for me again.

The arrival of Jordan's mom Billie, as well as Emily and her dad Scott was comforting, and I went to the jump judge briefing, resisting the urge to go do a quick check of Jordan's warm up with Marcea.   Emily was again doing the role of checking "the list".  I came out of the briefing just in time to see Keebler head to the ring for dressage.  I stood and watched from the corner between H and C, along with 2 "BNT"s  .  Compliments from both on Jordan's equitation and steadiness in her ride.

The test was good.  A few Keebler head tosses to remind us all that he is doing this because he wants to, not because he HAS to,  but Jordan has learned to ignore them and carry on.  When you coach someone from their first cross rail to showing in recognized events,  nothing makes your heart swell with joy more than the rider being able to function "on their own" without you.  That way you know that the knowledge is truly there, not just parroted back to you during a lesson.  

Unbeknownst to me,  Hilda Donahue was watching from a different place, and took a short video to send to Seema.   One of the wonderful things about having Keebler is that those from his past know how much hard work has gone into the dressage phase.  Hilda has been nothing but kind to Jordan when we run into her at events, and for Jordan, the approval of an adult who knows Seema makes her day.

Nancy Russell called me on the radio as I headed to XC;  Jordan and Keebler had a 34.8   Every show has brought a lower dressage score than the previous show.  They were in a 3 way tie for 7th out of 17 after dressage.  I know the 2 riders they were tied with, both experienced adults on nice horses.

I was not able to watch any of Jordan's warm up or show jumping, but Billie texted me that they were double clear.  The 3 way tie still stood, now in 6th.

Jordan and Emily came to see me after SJ,  and they got to see some of the Open Novice riders on XC.  Jordan was really concerned about the down bank,  so we talked again about firmly trotting it. In lessons, we have been making Keebler trot during course work, as well as adjusting strides.  It has been a Learning Curve for both of them - Jordan learning to occasionally be Very Firm on what she wants,  and Keebler accepting that she is now a Partner with him instead of a passenger. 

Jordan also wanted to talk about XC time.   I had picked a time (4:45) for her to finish on;  it was 10 seconds past the Speed Faults (4:35)  and 23 seconds ahead of OT (5:08).     However,  Jordan knew that "closest to optimum time"  breaks a tie.  She wanted to try to get closer to the OT.  We discussed it, and I gave her my blessing with the caveat that her watch might not match up to the Seikos, and that she risked time penalties. No inward sigh this time,  just a "let it go" moment with an acknowledgement that Jordan is learning to be a competitor.

Emily came to sit with me in the truck for XC. By the time Jordan and Keebler got to XC warm up, it was raining steadily.    I could barely see them in warmup, which was about 50 yards away from me.  I could see them periodically, and each fence judge report of "clear" reassured me that they were having a smooth ride.   Only 7 riders out of the 17 in her division had double clear rounds - the rain making some go slowly, and the ditch and the liverpool weeding out others.    The photos (thank you Palmer Photo) from the drop show the story Jordan told after;  she lost her right rein debating whether to give him a tap on the hindquarters, so tapped and held to the left one. 

As they approached the Liverpool,  I could only watch out of the corner of my eye. Jordan had made the decision to canter it,  and we know how Keebler can duck out.  Emily watched for me and "Clear"!  was music to my ears.   Then, they were over the last 3 and finished. 

Jordan's gamble with the time had paid off.  The rain was so hard that Caroline Mandeville had lost one or both contacts during the rain, and so had time penalties.  Robin Barr had also ridden for time,  but Jordan's time was closer.  So a 4th place finish was the icing on the cake!

As always,  this could not happen without the generosity of you two, without Marcea to coach,  Scott to give up his Saturday to bring Emily and trailer Jordan and Keebler home,  Billie to financially support and more importantly attend and cheer her daughter,  Emily to make sure the "grooming bucket" is supplied and to make sure the little things are done - bell boots off for dressage,  numbers on correctly, etc.    To Hilda for her generous comments,  to Jennie Jarnstrom for her constant "I do not know how you are getting this dressage out of that cheeky guy",  to Nancy for making sure stabling was correct as well as calling Jordan's scores to me,  to Marcea's other riders for making Jordan feel welcome...the list goes on!

The PLAN is now to do Training at the Rocking Horse schooling show Dec 7,  hopefully the Poplar schooling show Jan 4,  the Leslie Law clinic in January, and we will pick Rocking Horse or Ocala in Jan and/or Feb.   Recognized will still be at Novice, with an eye at moving up to Training maybe in March. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Check that off the bucket list

After reasonable success at my first 50 miler (, I had decided to try for a second.  Once again, given my cardiovascular limitations, I was looking for something relatively flat with a very generous time limit.  The Wild Sebastian seemed to fill the bill .  And so I put together a training program and I trained, which has been documented here.  I was feeling ready (in truth, much more ready than I felt for the first one).  The week before, we headed to Windurra for another schooling jumper show.  It was a bit of chilly day, but Keegan felt ready to go.  Sadly, I was a little underpowered and that just isn't good on a Marc Donovon course.  If my horse were less good, he would have stopped.  Instead, being the superstar he is, he jumped and I was totally unseated.  In the seconds between realizing that falling was imminent and hitting the ground, it is true that I thought "I had better not get hurt, the 50 is next week."  And while I ended up with an impressive bruise, no real harm done.  The total damage was this bruise (on the inside of my thigh where Keegan clipped me lightly while working hard to not step on me), a mildly strained intracostal muscle, and a very mildly bruised tailbone.  I got back up and with some excellent coaching from Caitlin Silliman redid the course and got it right, which was great fun.  Rachel also rode Solo and he was a star.  Caitlin said several times how cute she thinks he is.  And that boy can really, really jump.  I hit yoga Sunday morning and would like to report, you really need your intracostal muscles for yoga, so it was a pretty modified practice.  I also took Keegan for a lovely hack.  Then back to work, with a couple of easy rides during the week and then Thursday, off to Baltimore for an AJMC editorial board meeting and oncology conference.  I had heard early that morning that Scott Mackler had died and was glad to be able to see Mark Fendrick in Baltimore before he headed up for the funeral.  Scott was an amazing person and beyond inspiring RIP Scott Mackler. The meeting went through Friday, so I flew down Friday evening drove an hour and a half to my hotel, hugely enjoyed outdoor dining on the beach at my hotel's Sand Bar before hitting the sack.  I got up relatively early and headed over to the start.  I put together my drop bag (which would stay at the start/finish line) chatted with folks a bit and then it was time to head out.  I did the first 25 miles with Laura Wild, which made time pass quickly.  Her husband Steve Hammer was one of the researchers associated with the race (doing research on foot injury and physiology) and she is a paralegal.  They live locally to the race, so she was able to tell me a lot about the park and the race history.

The sand made for tough, slow going.  Harder than hills really.  And Laura said it was better because there had been some rain and so there were some bits that were more packed.  Still, when I completed the first loop and stopped to change socks, I was amazed at how much sand was in my shoes and how totally grubby my feet were.  I changed socks and headed out.  It had gotten warm (mid-80s) and there was more sun than in the forecast.  I started feeling less well shortly after starting the second loop.  I knew I needed to eat something.  At aid station 3 (about mile 36), I tried some broth with rice in it, but it came back up pretty quickly.  I decided to go on.  One of the aid station volunteers (I think it may have been Dave Krupski) told me how much he had barfed at badwater (and that he held a 100 mile record, I think he meant for WS, which is why I think he might have been Dave Krupski), and walked me out onto the course telling me I would feel better soon, which I did, but not a whole lot.  At aid station 4, they gave me some baby food stuff and some ginger tea.  I actually napped for 10 minutes and headed out.  I was feeling better so ate a sport bean, leading to my immediately losing everything in my stomach.  Oh well.  By this time, nausea was the least of my worries.  I was getting tired and my feet were starting to hurt.  I kept plodding.  At aid station 5, I was able to keep down a fairly large cup of hot chocolate (approximately mile 43) and another at the return through aid station 3 (mile 45.6).  I didn't even stop at the last aid station, as it was only 1.6 miles from the finish.  I finished and sat down for a few seconds, but basically wanted to get back to the hotel into a shower and bed as soon as possible.  I stripped off once back and realized my feet were totally filthy, but also not in great shape.  Once cleaned up, I realized I had by orders of magnitude, the worst blisters of my life.  But I'd completed another 50 and also upped my maniac level from 1 star to 3 I'm number 2694 and added never entering another event involving sugar sand to the "experience is something you get until just after you need it" list. I got into bed and slept soundly for the 7 hours I had left before getting up for my flight home.  I do want to thank the race organizers.  This is an effort of love for them and they give back by getting kids involved in the outdoors through the Florida Outdoor Center using proceed from the race to help fund participation for kids.  I also really want to thank the folks at the aid stations.  They were great and I wouldn't have been able to finish without them.  A really wonderful story of an aid station volunteer going above and beyond appeared in another blog.  A great race report as well.  Sunday morning, I got up, realized that neither my loafers nor my running shoes were going to happen and just put on socks to get to the car and then into the airport where I went straight to the Crocs shop and bought a pair of crocs.  The flight home was uneventful and after train into the city, then to Wilmington and the short drive home, I spent the rest of the day watching football and eating, as well as hearing that Jordan and Keebler had another success, this time at the Equiventures fall one-day event.  There are photos taken by Palmer Photo that you can sign in and see since I haven't had time to buy one yet to post. They appear to have had a bit more rain than we did.  Cyndi spent Sunday with Ed at his first marathon, where he had an excellent finish.  So, all in all a successful weekend.  I'm going to have some downtime (total downtime until my feet feel better, than non-running downtime for a month or so).  My next endeavor is 108 days of yoga, which I will start sometime in the next week or so.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eventing rocks at Galway - and the weather didn't hurt

I made plans to go to Galway with the thought of watching/helping Caitlin.  As reported in the last post, that part didn't happen (although Caitlin had a bang up weekend at VAHT), but I had a great time nonetheless.  I ended up volunteering all three days.  Friday was showjumping warmup and in gate from 8-3, Saturday the T3DE jog from 8-9:30 then spectating on the CCI xc.  Sunday, back to the warm-up ring for the Novice and Training cross country, which finished just in time for me to see Hank's (Livingston's) retirement ceremony and the final 10 jump in the CCI***.  It was a typical Marc Donovan course, tough, but rewarding a forward, flowing ride.  Buck had one rail down, but had it in hand to win on Petite Flower.  See the full scores here.  It was great to see Emilee Libby out and finishing 4th.  I remember being very impressed with her riding and demeanor when she won the Markham trophy at Fair Hill in 2006.  She spent a few years away from eventing, but has come back strong.  Her horse is an OTTB who was a winning race horse prior to his eventing career.  Petite Flower is also a TB, one of Bruce Davidson's lovely homebreds.  In addition to volunteering and spectating, I got to meet some people I know through Facebook or COTH and had the opportunity to catch up with Kat Drake, who has finished her PhD in pharmacogenomics and is working in the diagnostics industry in the San Diego area.  Galway had its share of people riding many horses, most notably Tami Smith and Matthew Brown.  The weather was really great all weekend and in addition to volunteering, I had the opportunity to spend time with my Dad, his housemates, and their very handsome dog - Wilson.

Back in the east, VAHT was in full swing.  Sally, Ryan, Caitlin and Kate were all competing.  Sally and Sue finished 2nd in the CIC** while Ryan and Woodstock Bennett won the CCI*. Caitlin was riding some of the youngsters and had a great 3rd place finish on Finn McCoul.  VAHT results are here.  Even closer to home, the Plantation Fall Starter Trial took place on Sunday, complete with many costumes. The Blue Hill contingent was out. David Ziegler finished second on Taja.  Brigitte took her own Harper to his first event ever and finished 5th on their dressage score.  Veronique St. Maurice also rode - one of the TBs that Melissa Stubenberg bailed out of a bad place last winter.  He not only finished third on his dressage score at Novice, he also tolerated his pirate costume with no fuss.  The rest of the results are here.  The event also featured Boyd Martin in what I must assume is his debut as a dressage judge.  He was generous with the scores in the spirit of the starter, but I heard the comments were excellent and informative.  Good on Boyd for helping out while kept out of the saddle (mostly) by the broken arm.

Further south, Jordan and Keebler rode in a competitive open novice division at Rocking Horse.  They finished 5th on their dressage score.  Leslie Law won the class, the 2nd and 4th place riders are both professionals and the 3rd place rider has substantial experience at preliminary, so Jordan should be doubly proud of herself. . Keebler was only a little naughty in the dressage from Cyndi's report and while a little excited jumped very well in both the sj and the xc.  The partnership is really developing well.  I believe their next appearance will be at the Ocala Fall horse trials.

I'm ready to get some riding in this week as well as a bit of running with less than 2 weeks to go until I attempt another 50 miler