"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maybe I'm making them crazy.

Apparently 2011 is the year of undiagnosed neurological diseases for my horses.  In the middle of November, Sarah noticed that Fred's nose and neck were twitching simultaneously.  Two days later, Fred was not himself during a jump school.  A week later he had an abscess and the twitching was very intense.  A week after that Dr. Kent came to look at Fred.  She did a full exam of his body and x-rays of his withers.  Dr. Kent couldn't find anything abnormal.  

The twitch is only between Fred's left shoulder to his nose.  We can't determine one trigger point.  It waxes and wanes without any clear influence.  It is involuntary and hasn't changed his normal routine at all.  Fred seems fine to ride on the flat however jumping is not comfortable for him.  I've only been on him once in the last few weeks.  The video is from the day he came in with the abscess and was very uncomfortable.  Stress does seem to play a role in the intensity.  An interesting fact is that the facial nerves are not directly connected to the neck and chest so it is odd that the twitch is simultaneous.  Also, after observing him, you'll notice that the twitch builds.  If his chest is twitching, everything else is.  

After massages and body work and time off, I took the vets' recommendation and we made an appointment with the neuro specialist at New Bolton.  Dr. Johnson was great.  Fred had a gait exam, blood work, endoscopy for his pharynx and larynx, and a spinal tap.  Yep, two horses and two spinal taps in one year.  We're awaiting results, which should be in early next week.  The outcome could be either Lymes or seizures.  I don't like either option, but both are treatable and we should be able to return to work this year.  I must also say that I was very impressed with how well Fred handled the commotion.  He was a trooper yesterday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Wal-Mart countdown says 5 shopping days until Christmas!

To get you in the mood:

And my favorite compilation by the group:

DRADLE!  I had Christmas down in Africa...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

There is a lot to catch up on. However, this is not an equine entry.  I should write about Fred's lesson with Julio Mendoza and his current hiatus, but honestly, I don't want to.  

For my fellow IBMers, I ask you not share this blog with let's say, my current project PMs or my SAM.  I'll do some document work for you in return.

My current project is in the DC area.  Due to some schedule changes Rob and I have some extra time on our hands.  (Oh yeah, Rob and I are working together again.  I think he must have been on some seriously hard core cold meds when he agreed to work with me again.)  Extra time for us is very dangerous.  It's especially bad in DC considering Rob majored in anthropology and as much as he calls me a dork for my Mobile work he is a dork for history.  I don't mind history, so off we went.  

Today I told him I was picking our lunch location.  It just so happened to be by the Pentagon.  It really doesn't matter what landmark you pick, Rob is cool with it.  We passed the Air Force monument but we couldn't stop to admire it.  On the way back to the office, I decided the weather was nice and I that I was wearing the right shoes and that we should walk around the cemetery.  

The visitor center is spectacular.  We had a bit of time but not all day so I asked if we could see the Tomb of the Unknowns.  There was a lot more to see but our field trips can't take all day.  I wanted to see JFK's grave site and walk around.  I thought the Milwaukee VA cemetery was big.  Turns out that is nothing compared to Arlington.  One of the facts Rob taught me to today is that the cemetery was once General Lee's plantation.  

As we walked up to the tomb, we heard a military band and marching.  A procession was coming down the hill.  The band was in the front followed by rows, maybe 15 or 20, of a military branch I couldn't identify.

Then it hit me.  This isn't a happy affair passing us.  The formality of the situation was due to a funeral service.  The cemetery does more than 20 services each weekday.  Yes, read that sentence again.  According to the details of a military funeral, an enlisted personnel earns a casket team, firing party, and bugler.  This procession also included the caisson, band, and escorting troops.  

The caparisoned (riderless) horse marched proudly down the path.  The funeral we were watching was for either an Army or Marine Colonel or higher.  

I hate that feeling when your throat closes and you feel the tears about to spill over.  As the casket passed and the caparisoned horse strutted by, you could feel the sorrow, respect, and pride that thousands have felt on that sacred ground.  It was hard not to mourn someone I will never know who spent most of his life saving and protecting mine and yours.  The strangers around us moved on.  I watched the movement turn at the bottom of the hill and go on.  The moment was stunning to the eye and heart, but I felt it was disrespectful to capture it by photos. 

I put myself back in working order.  We watched the changing of the guard ritual.  The tomb's setting is remarkable.  On a brisk, clear December day, you can see from a top the hill out over DC.  The trees were bare and sad, but stood tall in respect.  Our backs were to the Memorial Amphitheater.  I've never seen the ruins in Greece, but I think this structure is about as close as I can get in the US.  The amphitheater is made of marble. Above the west entrance is a Latin phrase (the title of this post) which is translated to "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country."

On our way back to the visitor center and ultimately to the office, I knew I should write down how I felt today.  I read a quote the other day, "If you won't stand behind our troops, stand in front of them."  There is not a strong military identity in my family.  Both of my grandfathers served as did my dad, but I can't say we consider ourselves very loyal to one particular branch.  Being in the Maximo practice I have met a lot military men and their families.  What I was strongly reminded of today was that these people are not Republican or Democratic or Tea Party or Independent.  The military from the past, present, and future give of themselves for the rest of us.  Whether it is right to send troops into battle or not, we must support them and their families.  
 Few of the many headstones.

 Tomb of the Unknowns - Changing of the Guard Ritual
 Memorial Amphitheater.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow make-up day.

It only took me two weeks catch up on blogs.  I've returned to the normal travel work week and it has severely impacted my blog.  Fail! 

Since we were snowed out at Plantation, I squeezed Fred into Waredaca's starter trial that was rescheduled.  I had only been to Waredaca once before, maybe 2 years ago, but always liked the facility.  Amanda was so very wonderful to accompany me to the event.  This was her second HT and I couldn't ask for a better companion! It was a long day and Amanda made it much easier.  Amanda also captured some great photos. 

Dressage was fantastic.  We had one small bobble during a down transition.  We had a 35.5 which put us in 5th or 6th after dressage.  I was quite pleased.

Stadium was a little crazy.  Fred was calm and happy until warm up.  Then his frisky fun side let loose.  We had an energetic and clean ride through the stadium course, which rode great.  We almost crashed the Ravens' oxer but somehow left it up.  You'll see below what I mean.

The cross country course was a great BN challenge.  There were 16 jumps and some were more than I had seen in a while.  Fred was really good on the XC course until I started losing some brake control at the end.  Again, see below. That was a minor complaint as I was thrilled to end our first season together on such a great note.  We have lots of homework in front of us and the potential for a lot of fun.

 Probably our only quiet jump.
 Entering the two stride that we rode just right.
 Over the last and clear.
 First XC jump.  Fred says "la de da..."
 Headed to the finish and Fred can't hear my request to half halt.

We finished third and we earned it.  I can't believe Fred and I did six event this year.  We had three not so great outings and three that ended better than expected.  

I learned a lot about riding, maintaining, and training horses this year.  The lessons about motivation, perseverance, patience, and dedication are what will stick with me for a long time.  I look forward to many more good days with Fred in and out of the saddle.  I also look forward to the simple visits with Tyler where I can forget about everything else and hang out with my friend. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sally's Aiken 2012 Letter

Sally Cousins sent out her 2012 Aiken letter. As it asks, I am passing the info along.

When my computer was knocked off the couch earlier this year by a dog who shall not be named ( ok I shouldn't have had it on the couch) I lost all my Aiken records so please pass this  information along to anyone who might be interested.

Our place in Aiken is set on 27 acres 5 1/2 miles out of the center of town. It is convenient to many hotels , stores and restaurants.  We have lots of show jumps, some cross country jumps and a dressage ring.  We have lots of turn out available in individual paddocks.  Lessons are available daily and we go cross country schooling many times a week.  Pine Top is an hour away and all the other events are within 20 minutes.  There are 5 cross country courses nearby that we use to school.  There are many derbies ,combined tests and some unrecognized events held in Aiken while we are down there. Hitchcock Woods is close to our place. It is a  2000 acre park that is great for trail riding.  We are 25 minutes from the Augusta airport and an hour and 15 minutes from Columbia airport. Megan Papler also rents a house 5 miles from the farm and that is a great place to stay especially for the young riders.

Many people have mentioned that they are concerned that their horse is not far enough along in its training to come down, but Aiken is a great experience for greener horses.  The footing is sand so we are able to school more in good footing and the environment is relaxed.  I try to get my babies far  enough along to be able to cross country school them while we are down there. For example,  Walle was concerned about water at first and he was able to get out to many different water jumps and is now quite confident.  At the time he wasn't even doing much jumping. 

self care
- under 30 days  $15 a night per stall
- over 30 days  $10 a night per stall
lessons $65
training board $400 a week (shipping to local events and schools included)
there is a discounted rate in January
I will be taking a deposit of $5 per night to hold a stall.
If you have any questions please let me know.  Thanks,  Sally  sallycousins@aol.com

I couldn't help but add Walle's horse trial debut video.  (Wall-E, like the robot in the movie) Walle is one of the biggest and sweetest horses I have ever encountered. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Starter Trials at MDHT

Sunday, October 16 was the MDHT starter trial.  2 days before closing, I decided to enter Fred in the BN division.  LClark and Scotch (PB/PonyBoy) joined us for the fun.

In the week leading up to the event, Fred and I prepared every way we could.  Cindy helped us through show jumping, Wende gave Fred a fabulous massage on Saturday, and Sarah was super patience with us during our dressage lesson.  

Canter departs.  GAH! My brain understands them, my body doesn't.  We tackled my nemesis on Friday with Sarah.  Sarah's fix is easy once I get it. We practiced, and practiced, and practiced!  It's a work in progress.  On a really good note, Sarah says Fred's trot work is improving.

The PB stayed over at HVS Saturday night as we left for MDHT at 5am.  Fred was a smart horse and loaded on to the trailer with no issue.  (Big thanks to Lauren Gress for helping Fred practice loading and unloading.)  

MDHT ran the HT in a reverse order this time, elementary to training.  There were 5 divisions of senior BN and LClark was in the first one.  Her dressage time was at 8:30.  We left the barn at 5am.  The schedule worked well as LClark was completely done before I started and we were done by 12:30.  The weather couldn't have been any better.

The PB is so much to fun watch.  He is cuuuuuuuuuuute!  Lauren and Scotch finished third in a division of twelve.

 Lauren and Scotch.

Fred was excellent the entire day.  The dressage warm up was in between three dressage rings and the elementary/intro stadium course.  The XC start and finish was just on the other side of the fence.  Fred was all focus and lovely in warm up.  He held it together until the first lap around the dressage ring.  Behind the judge's booth was the concession area with lots of people and things moving in the breeze.  Fred wasn't afraid but he would have rather watched those going-ons instead of doing his test.  

  Moments like this make me feel very lucky to own this horse.
 What are they doing over there?  Let's go over there!
Ending a great test.

We had  two 8s in the test!  The trot and canter circles to the left were 8s.  The right side needs to be more supple and finesse.  I like the progress we're making.

Stadium started out really well and then I let him get backed off at the fan jump before the two stride combination.  We managed to leave all the rails up.  There was a red fabric bag blowing through the course during our round and Fred never blinked about it.  He's a good boy.

XC was fast!  The course was stunning.  Great fences and room between some to actually go forward.  Fred was focused and with me through the first 8 fences.  By fence 9 Fred the FreightTrain arrived.  Fred cruises pretty easily so it isn't scary but it makes my approach to the fences difficult.  We had a few awkward jumps but nothing to worry about.  The two water crossings went well. 

We also finished third in our division of twelve.  I was thrilled with how well we did.  Besides the small freight train run, I felt Fred and I are finally working together.  

In case you haven't seen enough, here are my photos and GRC's professional photos.

The day before MDHT was the two and three star at Fair Hill.  Here's my link to the photos I took. 

It turns out going to MDHT was a good plan.  We were snowed out at Plantation today.  Yes, snowed out.  As I type I'm trying to figure out if I can enter us in something for next weekend. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week recap in photos

 The Herndon, VA IBM office.  White room with bright orange chairs.  Must be a Feng Shui thing.
A souvenir as a result to my Montgomery, Alabama trip a few weeks ago.  Guess I have my SEC team now.  Thanks, Fitz! ;)

Paige helped me work on Teeny Tiny's sensitive nose. 
 Paige shared her anguish with Fwed and he seemed to relate to her.
 Lauren and Paige were very helpful in loading Fred.  He's been in trailer training this week.
The Diesel in a Washington, DC parking garage with 6'6 clearance.  I was terrified.

 Me and Fred, Lauren and Napoleon, and Paige and Bootz.  

Red, white, and crazy!

 Fwed being good.
 Fwed being sassy.
Fwed being good.
Fwed being very sassy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fair Hill International CCI **/***

Tickets are $15 a person for Saturday or Sunday.  Living Social has a deal!

The Fair Hill fall event is one of the biggest events on the east coast each fall.  Tyler and I were outriders twice and had an amazing time.  This year I plan on going to watch XC as a spectator.  If you'd like to join me and a my friends, let me know!  On Saturday, the two star begins between 8 and 9am and the three star runs right after lunch and goes until about 4.  It is an outrageously cool event.

There will be family fun activities, shopping, dog events, pony club activities, and of course amazing eventing.  Check out the links above for all the info. 

It all changes from day to day.

Some days you need comfort food.  I'm battling a cold and went driving in Herndon, VA to find some food.  I'm having a great scrambled egg and ham sandwich as I think about what to blog.  There's a lot to catch up on.

Bad news first.  Almost six months to the day, Tyler had another neuro episode.  One second he was fine, the next he wasn't.  There was no obvious trigger.  Tyler lost control of his back end first and then his front end.  He was able to balance himself until he had control again.  It lasted about 30 minutes.  Probably 20 minutes into the episode, he tried to move towards the stall door and lost his balance.  He fell, but was up immediately and uninjured.  There isn't much I can do but monitor Tyler's quality of life.  I know what's coming but we aren't at that place yet.

Now onto the lighter notes.  

My parents and I ventured to Happy Valley on Sept 24 for the game versus Eastern Michigan.  I was able to visit with Jackie before the game.  We were prepared for rain and left with sunburn!  PSU came out with the win (it wasn't impressive but it was a win.)  Our seats were 11 rows from the field and we had two touchdown plays in our endzone corner.  
 Jackie and me. :)
 Mom and Dad.

The day after the game, I taught a few lessons and asked Gale to stick around the barn so I could jump Fred.  I measured the fences after I jumped them.  Many were about 3' and two were a little higher than 3'.  It was good for Fred and I to go jump something bigger without the reassurance from Cindy or Sally.  When I compete, they aren't there holding my hand through the course.  Their lessons have paid off!  We had a good ride.

In fact, the ride was so good I entered the Burgundy Hollow HT at the last minute.  BH offers a neat option to mix and match levels.  I did the novice dressage test, beginner novice XC, and novice stadium course.  But we'll get to that in a minute.
I returned from working in Herndon, VA on Friday (9/30) in time to jump with Lauren and Napoleon.  It's a little too much fun jumping our crazy red heads.  Cindy helped us feel ready for Sunday.

Saturday was a crazy day.  I rode Fred, taught lessons, and then picked up Aileen, Stephanie, and LClark (Lauren) for our adventure to Devon.  Connie, (I may get this wrong and I apologize), my mom's cousin had tickets for Dressage at Devon.  She has offered to take me for years and I usually had to decline for other plans.  I finally took her offer this year.  WOW!  It was spectacular.  Our seats were perfect and the rain held off while we went shopping and for the first half of the freestyle rides.  How about a stock pin for Christmas?  The shopping was great and we only saw half of it.  Stephanie had onion dip and chicken salad.  Aileen brought champagne, cheese and crackers, and fruit.  Lauren brought cupcakes in honor of Aileen's birthday.  :)  I brought my mom's really cute and handy picnic basket.  We enjoyed a great night of wine, food, and dressage.  

 LClark and I bundled up.  It was a chilly evening.
 Aileen, the birthday girl, and Stephanie.  Life is good.
I was home by Saturday night at midnight and up at 5 to get ready for BH on Sunday.  Fred, since his trailer ejection, has not been the easiest to load.  He had a rough time on Sunday.  Not a big surprise seeing as his owner doesn't practice loading and unloading.  Fred finally loaded and we were off.

Our dressage warmup was very nice.  The test went really well until I saw one of Fred's shoes laying along the chains at C.  The canter departs were explosive and nervous, thanks to a mental block with the rider.  At the end of the test the judge handed me the shoe and wished me luck.  G

I went asking for opinions.  The footing was very soft, but it was a front shoe.  Fred is a bit delicate, unlike Tyler, so I was concerned.  A very nice woman came by to tell me that she had enjoyed watching Fred and I during dressage.  That was a very generous compliment.  The best thing she did was point me towards a man who was spectating and also happened to be a Cornell farrier.  He was so very wonderful to tack Fred's shoe back on.  Fred hadn't done too much damage so we returned to action.

XC went well.  It was probably only the seventh or eighth time we've gone XC.  The first little log had Fred a bit confused, but we got our act together at the second fence.  We had three fences that we weren't quite together but we made it.  We had a moment of odd spooking between a pasture with horses and the 4wheeler.  After we got past that it was smooth sailing to the end.

The novice show jumping round that followed was not as smooth.  The first fence was ok and then it when down from there.  Fred and I haven't been out in mud before and we learned a lot.  He lost his confidence and I didn't rebuild it.  He fell behind my leg and we crawled through the course.  We had two rails and a technical refusal because I circled on a bending line.  I'll take the 4 points to save me and the horse.  However... it's been a year since I did a novice SJ course and I've had Fred for 8 months so I'm not too upset.  We have accomplished more this year than I expected.

I dropped an entry for BN at the MDHT starter trial on 10/16 in the mail today.  Let's hope Fred keeps himself in one piece until then. Obviously my plan to only do Plantation this fall has changed.  I'm back to traveling for work again and finally have some extra funds in the pipeline.  If I can go to MDHT again on Nov 12, I will.  Yay for fall eventing!  

Last, but certainly not least, please search for TACK Culture on FB and like the page.  My fried, Annemarie, has an amazing website for equestrians (Tack, Apparel, Culture, Knowledge.)  Annemarie is a fellow eventer and fabulous business woman.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

These boots were made for walking.

After I write this blog, I hope I can post it on FB.  I do not like the new updates!  The folks at FB are making it difficult to use and are about to cause themselves problems.

The flooding was bad but now under control.  The area seems back to normal.  

Last week was my first trip to Montgomery, Alabama.  I wasn't kidding when I said I hoped to survive the week!  Work presented me with new challenges and people.  I won't lie, the worst challenge was finding out at the last minute that I was the presenter all week.  I hadn't pack the right shoes for hours and days of standing! My feet still hurt.  Being in Montgomery let me visit with a few people from the VA project I hadn't seen in months.  It was great to catch up with them.

Friday night on my way home, Cindy asked if I wanted to ride Graham at the Beaufort Hunter Trials the next day.  Sure, why not!? Graham is a five year old TB gelding and such a very nice horse.  I hadn't been on a horse in a week and Graham was worked once in the last week.  We went out, in bad mud, and had a great day!  We brought home two blues and a reserve champ ribbon! 
 Fred had some down time while I was away.  We did flat work the last three days and jumped last night.  He was a bit full of himself and it was the first time I was able to really feel capable of standing up to him.  We'll go round 2 on Thursday with Lauren and Napoleon.  My schedule is a little crazy right now with work and I plan on running at Plantation in October at BN.  After that, we'll prep for a strong start next year. 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello there, Mother Nature.

Fred and I survived our first serious travel event since the trailer incident in July.  It took help from Cindy to get him on the trailer, but once on Fred stayed put.  It was just me and him at Carousel Park while we got ready.  He was quite cooperative despite his increased height! We had a great schooling with Sally and the group.  Sally kept us at BN so we would have a confidence building ride. 

We had to jump up the bank a few times.  Fred doesn't jump in a way that will propel me out of the tack.  The more I think about it, that's probably a good thing.  When we do certain jumps, I have to be strong enough to get myself out of the tack, hold it, and stay out of his way.  We worked on having the correct canter to fences.  It's forward, not up and down.  As usual, I have to ignore Fred's celebrations and ride.  We had one run out because I didn't ride him straight to a fence.  Sally really got after me! It was appropriate butt kicking.  After that Fred and I had several good fences, which made the last few weeks of frustration worth it.

On Monday, Paige and I started practicing for our pairs debut on Sept 25 at Twin Brooks.  Watching us try to stay together must be hilarious.  

At the end of our ride Monday, the rain started.  It hasn't stopped since then! Wednesday was the worst.  There was horrible flooding in the Susquehanna Valley!  I went out and saw cars submerged, scared parents who couldn't get to their children, and rushing rivers in places that are no where near water.  My dad started pumping water out of their basement Wednesday around 2pm and is still pumping water out of the basement.  At best, they were able to keep the water level at around a foot.  

Wednesday afternoon and evening I went out and took photos and video of my area.  A mile radius around our house in Hershey saw major damage.  The area had not seen flooding like this since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  

The weather has changed some upcoming plans.  Lauren and I had hoped to get our redheads back to eventing at Olney on Sept 18 but yesterday they cancelled the event.  We're bummed but also relieved that all of us are safe and in one piece. 

After hours of work on the ring yesterday, Cindy has made it possible for to ride in the outdoor again with Sally today. 

Saturday afternoon I will be home to cheer my #23 Penn State Nittany Lions on against #3 Alabama.  I hope everyone going to the game is careful and plans accordingly.  The main road from Harrisburg to PSU is out due to the flooding.

Sunday will be an early start.  The Fair Hill horse trial moved from Saturday to Sunday.  I will be there to help Sally with her rides.  Her first ride is 8:04 am.  I will be able to stay and see Cindy and Graham.  After that, I must rush home in time to shower and head to the airport.  I'm flying to Atlanta Sunday evening and then driving to Montgomery, Alabama for the week.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Prepping for Olney and stalking Burghley.

The new project is going well.  It's a challenge, no doubt about it.  I'm working with software that IBM recently bought and as usual, I have no training on it.  The project sent me to Atlanta last week as a hall monitor.  The client was at the IBM facility for an intro to the software.  It gave me a chance to meet the people I'm working with and see the software.

I was able to sneak out to Chattahoochee Hills farm Wednesday night.  It is about 20 miles south of Atlanta.  The American Eventing Championships are held there from 2010-2012.  The site is astonishing.  There is a long lane that finally ends up at the top of a hill crest where you can see the beautiful stabling and rings to your left and the cross country course to your right.  The weather was very nice for August in Georgia.  I found a groundskeeper who gave me permission to walk the course.  The XC was still undergoing work.  Jumps were being set, the water complex had been drained and re-leveled, and there were sprinklers and aerators at work.  Photos from my adventure are posted on Flickr.  After being at the site, I'm hoping to win the lottery and qualify for next year's AECs.  The guest stabling is nicer that my house!

Back at home, things are quiet.  Quiet is always good.  Tyler is happy.  The latest report is that he mostly keeps to himself and grazes.  He has been taking advantage of gates left open and apparently looks coordinated and healthy as he comes running back to the barn when he hears the rattle of grain.

Fred and I are trying to prepare for Olney on Sept 18.  We've had a few unexpected bumps which are out of our control, but I think we're ok now.  My plan is to take him to Carousel on Sunday for XC with Sally and to Fair Hill Tuesday if needed.  The biggest hurdle, besides keeping the little bugger in one piece, is a work trip to Montgomery, Alabama right before the event.  I'll be counting on Cindy and Lauren to help me keep him going that week.  It's impossible to event without a team to help you.  

Rumor has it that Fred and I may compete against our good friends, Lauren and Napoleon at Olney.  The red heads should have a lot of fun there. 

Lauren and a very happy Fred out in the field at HVS.
Lauren and Napoleon over the training corner at Plantation.

Currently the biggest, baddest, and most intimidating three day event in the world is taking place.  The Burghley Horse Trial is amazing.  Take a walk around Saturday's cross country course with the designer, Captain Mark Phillips.  (Yep, same guy I will ignore if Sally's giving me directions.)  Nico Morgan's photos make me want to go out and spend a lot of money on a nice camera.  Eventing Nation has many links from the event.  Check out the US's best chance, Sinead Halpin, as she walks the first five fences.  Sinead finished 3rd this year at Rolex, she was the highest placed American.  The leaf pit just leaves me speechless.  And if the site is holding up to the demand, watch the replays of all the beautiful and crazy pairs compete.  


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Video update

I haven't made the time for an update.  I have had time to write, but haven't.  So for now, I'm posting this video of Fred and I.

Here's the link if the video doesn't work.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's about to get busy.

After 6 months of being home, I return to the traveling consultant lifestyle.  I'll be driving to the DC area through October for project work.  While I'll probably not keep my platinum status with Delta for next year, I'm ok with being only 3 hours away from home.

Since the last blog, Fred has returned to full work.  He had a lesson with Sarah on Friday.  We worked on canter departs.  Right now that is the most glaring issue in our dressage tests.  I figure we have all winter to make us a real dressage team.  While the weather's warm, we're going for the basics in order to get out and earn mileage competing.  

Fred also rode in my trailer Friday!  He had a small bit of chemical relaxation, I won't hide that fact.  He was very well behaved getting on and off the trailer and while we drove around the block.  

Yesterday morning I took him outside and let him jump.  Oh boy, was he happy to jump.  It was a month since I last jumped him.  Thankfully, I knew what to expect after the fences.  I trotted a single fence and made him stop on a straight line several times.  There was a lot of happy dancing/flailing on the other side of the fences.  I managed to stay with him, pretty or not, and by the end we were cantering around over two jumps with normal flailing.  

Thankfully, Fred and I had 6 months to figure each other out and I think we can adapt to my work schedule going forward.  Of course this means I've asked Lauren to ride him once a week.  Yet again, she said she would. :P

My parents' and the Susquehanna Yacht club hosted a successful 4Diamonds Boating Day for the 4Diamond kids at Hershey.  We all got a little wet at lunch but managed to get out on the river before the next round of weather came in.  Well done, everyone!  

While I had a little break between projects this week, I did some fall planning:

August 21: help the HVS crew at Carousel HT
August 31 - Sept 3: Quentin Riding Club fall show (helping out as I can)
September 10: Fair Hill Starter Trial
September 17: Beaufort Hunter Trials
September 18: Olney Starter Trial (Fred is entered!)
September 24: Penn State vs. E Michigan.  We have seats 11 rows from the field!  You can hear the helmets crash at that level.
September 27 - October 2: Dressage at Devon.  I've never been but might go this year.
October 2: Burgundy Hollow mix 'n match.  Hoping for N dressage and stadium with a BN XC round.
October 12 - 16: Fair Hill **/***.  Maybe I'll spectate this year.
October 30: Plantation Starter Trial

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MKE and Lauren saves the day.

Let's start with my trip to Milwaukee.  I flew from Detroit to MKE after a week in Ann Arbor.  I was already half way to MKE, might as well just go.  I hadn't seen anyone there since the middle of February when I left for Aiken.  I spent Friday night with Donna, Tianna, and Danielle.  Tianna was extra nice and let me crash at her place Friday night.  It was good to hear everyone is doing well.

 Tianna, Me, Danielle, and Donna

Saturday I spent a few hours at Pigeon Creek Farm.  I saw almost all the regulars.  I spent most of my time with Anne.  I wish I could bring her to PA on a regular basis.  She's an amazing teacher of riding skills and life skills.  Parker and I said hello.  He is even cuter than I remember! 

After my PCF visit, I went next door to a farm where I met my friend Diane.  We watched an afternoon of dressage lessons in a clinic with Tom Noone.  It's a beautiful facility and talented pairs of horses and riders, but I reached my DQ limit quickly.

Diane was so nice to host me for the evening.  She and her husband made a tasty dinner and we sat around talking for a long time over glasses of wine.  It was very soothing to talk to her.  

Sadly, my weekend in Milwaukee ended very quickly Sunday morning as I had a noon flight home.

I landed in Cincinnati around 2pm and Lauren left me a text to call her.  She reported in that instead of cantering under saddle for the first time in almost a month, Fred had a fever of 104 and respiratory problems.  Lauren, who is my hero, stayed with that horse all afternoon until I finally arrived around 7pm.  She helped the vet tube him with liquid and electrolytes and monitored him all day.   All of this after riding him for a week while I was gone.

Monday I spent the day working from the barn while Fred had his sick day.  He held a normal temp and was mostly his silly self.  Unlike Tyler, Fred likes the constant attention.  Fred is back to his regular rations and turn out.  I'm hoping for a half hour lesson of walk/trot work with Sarah on Friday.  It's been 10 days since I've ridden.  :(

Tyler is very happy and healthy.  I stopped by to give him some carrots between Fred related errands.  Tyler is filthy and I need to schedule some bath time for him.  It's apparent that I'm the only who is bothered by his yellow coloring.  TRose will not be thrilled by the cleaning process.  Too bad for him!

On the work front, this is my last week on the website project I've had since late April.  No love lost there.  I'm not sure what's next but I'm hoping I get back to Maximo work.

I think that's all I've got.  I took some Michigan photos last week of the stadium and a bus, but my Penn State blood prevents me from posting anything.  Ewwww.... 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Start again.

It's been a while since I've blogged.  Imagine, I have been busy with work.  I was in NY July 11-15 and then home for two weeks.  This week I am in Ann Arbor, MI.  It's all work for the same project.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I applied for an IBM project in Paris, France for three weeks in September. 

Tyler has been in the field for a month.  He seems content, possibly a little bored.  I see him once a week.  It should be more often, but I haven't had enough hours in the day.  Yesterday when I stopped by, he started towards the diesel as soon as I pulled in the driveway.  It kind of felt like I was driving the ice cream truck.  Don't worry, he has plenty of mints and consumed at least a pound of carrots yesterday.

Stacey re-examined Fred on July 20, ten days after the great escape.  She was pleased with his progress and we received the go ahead for work. I can't explain how relieved I was to hear the good news.  We're on the start again plan and trying to make Fred stronger and fitter than I had him before.  After a week of walking, which gave me a good chance to focus on his free walk, we trotted Friday night.  Fred did not feel like a horse who kicked his way out of a trailer.  Yesterday, we did a few steps of lateral work with the help of Stephanie.  I need a lot more practice than Fred does.  Lauren takes over the ride on Fred this week. Something tells me she won't mind working him.

Lauren has the ride until next Monday.  I'm in Ann Arbor until Friday afternoon and then spending the weekend in Milwaukee.  It's been 5 months since the VA project ended.  I'm excited to see so many people that I had to unexpectedly leave.  I may end up at the Wisconsin State Fair!  (See 2010 summer blogs that feature fried PB&J, chocolate covered bacon, and the swimsuit competition.)  

Anyway, I have lots of website defects to sort, record, and calculate.  Back to the grind.

Oh, my birthday was Monday and I had a great weekend with everyone and the client I'm working for this week had peanut butter and chocolate pie for me.  I can't complain. :)  Oh, 27 is soooooooooooo old.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Horses are uncertainty.

 Sunday, July 10.

8am - I dropped a check for the Olney HT in the mail.  $175.  

10:15am - Lauren and I load Fred and Tyler onto the trailer.  We're headed to Laurel Hill for a lesson with Sally.

10:25am: The truck and trailer come to a rolling stop about a quarter mile from the barn as I felt one of the horses scrambling more than he should be.  Lauren and I watch Fred unload from the back of the trailer and run towards the farm.  

10:30am: Lauren and I stand in the middle of the road looking at the trailer.  We admire how beautiful Fred looks trotting through the fields.  Then we figure out how to get Poleon free from the slightly distorted trailer.

10:35am: Lauren walks Napoleon home.  He is ok.  Fred runs through alfalfa and corn fields.  I puzzle over how Fred kicked the ramp down and why.  (I'm still puzzling over that.)  Chris, Fred, Paige, and Gale run all over the country side trying to catch my horse.  

11am:  Lauren and I take her truck back down the road so I could try to catch Fred.  Fred finally stopped running, let me catch him easily, and walked home calmly.  Lauren drove all over the country side to pick up the crew that came to our rescue.

11:15am:  Vet called.  We recapped what happened.  I made two changes to our routine.  Because it was so hot, the horses wore only their XC  boots and not shipping boots.  Also because of the heat, I tied the back doors open.  So much for being considerate of the horses in the heat.  We have no idea what caused Fred to kick his way out of the trailer.  

Noon-12:30pm:  Vet shows up.  No major injuries.  Capped right hock and scrapes.  Bute for a week and time off.  We make a plan because of course I have to leave for NY the next morning and would be away all week.

3pm:  Lauren and I go to Bentley's for food and frozen lemonades.  My truck and trailer are in the parking lot.  The rig made out better than Fred, but still needed attention from Dad.  I tried not to calculate the day's expenses.

Wednesday, July 13

Stacey Kent examined Fred.  The hocks are healing fine.  Fred's right hind suspensory, which has a history of injury, is showing signs of stress.  

Saturday, July 16

Fred jogged sound in the hocks today but the hitch is evident.  I have a call in to Stacey for an ultrasound so we can figure out what Fred's status is.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.  I am hoping for a clear answer, good or bad, after the ultrasound.  

"A horse can lend its rider the the speed and strength he or she lacks - but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan." Pam Brown.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting the hang of it.

Fred and I survived Fair Hill, our third horse trial together.  We were entered in the BNH-C division.  

Dressage was a huge improvement from the week before at Tranquility.  My geometry and steering was much better.  Our canter departs were quiet and on time.  Fred's head came up a little in the transitions, but his legs were under control.   I was in Ring 3 and the judge spoke to each of her riders.  She was liked our test but said that I should scoring 7s and 8s, not 6s and 7s!  I have a lot of fine details to work on hit the 7s and 8s.  Fred is totally capable, I just have to catch up.  
Photo by Julie Keim

The long walk up in the woods was better than I hoped for.  I think that was the scariest part of the day.  Fred walked the entire time.  Not straight by any means, mind you.  All was peaceful until we passed the ambulance.  YAY! said Fred with exuberance.  Then we had to warm up and the quiet warm up from last week was gone.  It wasn't as bad as Plantation.  Fred likes to jump start my heart.  

Stadium was organized and controlled.  We had singles with turns to 4 or 5 stride lines throughout.  It was a good test of my steering.  We did well except for a cross canter in one place and a rider who sat done too soon.  One rail down is ok.  In fact, of the five HVS riders that day, we had the only jumping penalties with the one rail.  

Fence 1 of cross country was a crawl.   Fence 2 was a launch.  We talked after Fence 2 and decided that the rest of the course would be controlled.  Thankfully, it was!  Fred is too much fun out there.  His brakes worked just fine.  It was hot and I took a few more trot breaks than normal.  The girl who left the start box after us didn't appreciate that! She gained a lot of ground on us.  Yet again, I was grinning at the end and decided Fred could stick around a few more days.

Cindy's photos.
Julie's photos.
GRC's photos.

We finished 7th of 13.  Seeing as I didn't think I'd be competing until September, I'll take it.  Tonight I'm sending in my Olney entry.  It will be our first recognized event together and my first recognized event since last August.  During our lesson with Sally today, she said we have to compete more before we move up to Novice in October.  Well, that's my goal anyway.  It's doable and we're on our way.