"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, April 28, 2011

Much better than I expected!

Tyler has been back to work for two weeks now.  I have had some help getting him back into a routine from Vanessa.  Let's face it, working out with a small kid on his back instead of me is a good deal.  On Monday Vanessa put Tyler through all three paces.  Tyler didn't put a foot wrong. 

I know Tyler is a little bored with circles in the ring and staying on the farm, so I have him scheduled to ride at the Fair Hill cross country schooling on Saturday.  Since this is the case, I thought I better pop him over a few little fences last night.  There were very small fences, all 2' or smaller, set in the ring.  At first Tyler just thought my steering was crazy, but he perked up as he realized I had him pointed at the cross rail.  Boink!  He jumped it fine!  We jumped the lines, the coop, and the mermaid gate.  I barely got him around in his loose ring snaffle.  Tyler was so happy to be jumping that he was moving around.  His form and timing was great.  The simple lead changes were at the right time and Tyler felt very strong as he went around.  If this weather moves out, I will jump him again tomorrow.  I fully expect that with a little bute on Saturday morning, we will be able to jump all the beginner novice fences at FH. Tyler jigged and jogged all the way back to the barn after his jump school.  Did I mention we rode out in the horrible wind and a little bit of rain?  After a silly spook at the beginning, he was all business.

Fred and I entered a new stage on Tuesday during our jump lesson.  I'm finally to the point where I will correct Fred if he ducks out at a fence.  Both Fred and his buddy Napoleon took their good 'ole time getting into jumping form.  By our last round both boys were good.  

So now I need to figure out how to juggle two working horses.  Turns out working makes riding a little difficult.  Mondays and Wednesdays I ride Tyler and Tuesday and Thursdays Fred and I are in lessons with Cindy.  Then Friday, Saturday, and Sundays are big work days for both of them.  

I expect there will be time spent this week figuring out when Tyler will make his 2011 competition debut.  :D

Sporting Days 2010

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Thanksgiving.

There is so much to catch up on! 

Happy Birthday, Fred!  He turns 11 today.

Let's get the good but boring news out of the way.  I am going back to work on Monday.  Ok, tomorrow.  I'll be working from home for 2-3 weeks and 2-3 weeks in either Ann Arbor or Long Island.  I hope I go to Ann Arbor because I could spend the weekend in Milwaukee.  The software group I work for is having our learning event in Phoenix, Arizona this year from May 31 - June 4.  We're staying at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak ResortAfter that adventure may be the opportunity for 2-3 weeks in Hawaii for work purposes.  Sounds like Lauren will be stuck riding Fred for me! 

 Doesn't this look like fun?  A lazy river.
Where I will spending most of my time.

Tyler is doing quite well.  He has finished his first week back to work.  We walked a lot.  Tyler feels strong and I have yet to notice any issues.  He has started trotting and I have enlisted the help of other riders at the barn to help him back into shape.  I will ride in the evenings, but I won't always have time for both horses.  My goal is to have Tyler eventing BN in June and I'm sticking to it.  In fact, I'm taking him to the Fair Hill XC schooling day on Saturday, April 30.  

Fred has been so good this last week.  We were rained out at Laurel Hill on Tuesday.  As a back up plan, Cindy, Wende, and I went to Sally's.  Her jump field was not as muddy, as it sits on the top of a hill.  Fred was perfect about traveling.  He didn't sweat as much on the trailer and there was no excitement when he came off the trailer.  I was able to get on him as soon as we walked up to the ring.  We trotted around in the ring to test my equipment and quickly headed out to the field.  Fred jumped barrels, boxes, spools, gates, and flower boxes like a pro.  He tends to snuggle to a fence, which I appreciate.  Fred was fun to ride once I remembered how to breathe.  

We had a good flat school on Wednesday.  I was able to practice the canter departs before our lesson with Sarah on Friday.

Thursday night I jumped Fred with the grown-ups - Julie, Jean, and Diane.  They are so nice to ride with as they all understand it might take Fred and I a little extra time to get around the course.  Some of the kids get bored or frustrated and I don't blame them!  Sometimes I feel like I'm riding an octopus.  For a stride or two around some turns, Fred does not appreciate the incorrect aids I'm giving him and legs start to go everywhere.  I can't keep track of them!  It's funny.  We're starting to understand each other more and we're now jumping some 2'6 things that don't bother me at all.  It's the activity between the fences that I need to sort out.

Friday was a ridiculously awesome lesson with Sarah.  The trot work is going very well.  I'm learning what is correct for Fred and what it takes to get there.  To free his neck and the rest of his body, I must bend him for a step and then push him forward.  Turns out, the same is true at the canter.  The canter departs are way better than they were 3 weeks ago.  Then we practiced the timing of the canter with the bend.  I must remember to move Fred forward on the release of the bend or he will break to the trot instead of continuing the canter.  It was a lot of hard work but so very rewarding.

 Does your dressage trainer do this?  NO!  Sarah was demonstrating what happens when Fred is hollow and above the bit.  She showed me how to correct this from a structural standpoint, not just simple instructions.

I would like to take Fred for the training level tests at Linden Hall on May 29.  I was aiming for the CT at Quentin on June 5, but Phoenix will interfere with that.    We need more XC schools under our belt but I do think a starter trial or two will be scheduled for this fall!  

It's Easter morning and the weather is beautiful!  It was supposed to rain all weekend, but seems like passing storms instead.  I, gasp, didn't ride either horse yesterday so I'll be off to the barn after lunch with the family.  I celebrate the commercial Easter, not the religious one.  However, it is a perfect day to celebrate all the wonderful things in my life and say thanks to everyone who makes it possible!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Get back to work!

I am happy to report that Tyler passed his checkup nearly a month after having a terrible incident.  There was no way to prove that what happened to Tyler was a reaction to the vaccine, but all the tests he went through were negative and I can't guess what else could have happened.  We are now following the plan of a week of walk, a week of walk/trot, and then a week of walk/trot/canter.  I am already forecasting where I can can compete him BN early this summer.  

I rode Tyler Thursday night when we got back from New Bolton and he felt wonderful.  He hasn't had a full month off since I have had him and it's probably not a bad thing.  

Tyler will be available for lease through me at HVS in June.  I think there is a candidate, but I am throwing this information out there just in case. 

  A lesson with Anne Jennings, summer 2010, in Milwaukee, WI. 

Fred is coming along quite well.  Lauren jumped him over everything outside while I was at The Fork and so we had a great time with Sally on Friday.   We are going to try round two at Laurel Hill on Tuesday.  Maybe I'll trot this time! 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Fork CIC 3* recap

I survived my trip to Norwood, NC to help Sally at The Fork.  Tsunami (Sue) needed a qualifying round for Rolex.  Sue and Sally qualified.  I wrote notes on Facebook after each day.  I have a to do list today, so I'm going to copy and paste my notes.  

Thurs AM
Be jealous, the weather is perfect here. And everything is green! We had a safe drive yesterday in reasonable time. We unloaded the necessities last night and headed to the hotel.

The grounds, what I have seen so far, are beautiful and spread out. I will get lost. Dressage has started today but the atmosphere is relaxed in the stabling area.

Sally and Sue are stretching their legs out after the trip which gives me time for updates. So far, so good.

Sally always asks if I'm on FB, and most of the time she is right. I won't blog specifically about any competitors, save cool happenings or informational things I learn. If I can, I will snap quality pics of the event. That is on the back burner.

There is a jog at 5 and a practice ride on the agenda for later. While Sue walks, I'm watching a few *** dressage rides. Wow!

More later.

Thurs PM
Thursday was pretty quiet at The Fork.  The Friday dressage horses jogged and some riders were hacking or practicing.  Sue has been fun to work with.  She will tell you like it is!  It is a change, not in a bad way, from my boys at home.

Everyone in the stabling area is friendly.  Many of the US and Canadian horses entered for Rolex this year are here.  Many of the WEG horses are here.  It's like being backstage at Woodstock.  Sorta.

Walking around and looking at the stabling setups will teach you a lot.  Stabling at a big event is not like stabling at a hunter show.  Yes, there are logos and sponsor signs, but there isn't the same coordination as I've seen at h/j shows.  Don't get me wrong, the setups at this event are nice, but they are not over the top.  Everything is about being efficient.  You have to be efficient, no matter how many horses you have.  Having one horse requires a lot!  Now, I will tell you that the RVs and campers and trailers are unbelievable.  I need to snap a photo of one of the Canadian vehicles.  It is outrageously cool to look at. 

The weather was warm and quite a change from the weather back home.  I only had the opportunity to take a few pictures and they are posted. 

I won't lie, this isn't a very exciting update as, well, there was nothing exciting to report on.

It was a good day! 

The morning was relatively subdued getting ready for the 1 o'clock ride.  I was able to watch a few riders in the morning and get a feel for the test.  It's tough!  There was a small crowd gathered to watch and I suspect that will change tomorrow. Well, maybe it will change.  We are in the middle of nowhere!  Southern Pines and Charlotte are both 45 minutes away so I'm curious to see what crowd turnout will be tomorrow.

Sally and Sue had a solid dressage test. Pictures to follow.

I walked the cross country course this afternoon.  It is BEAUTIFUL!  Granted, I have only ever seen one other *** course at Fair Hill, but still, the scenery is great.  I have no opinion on the difficulty of the course as novice still intimidates me.  I had a chance to look at a frangible pin jump up close.  That's an interesting design.  The course preview is available on EventingNation.com.  I took some pictures, but I'll save taking lots of photos for a day I'm a spectator. 

I can cross riding a motorbike at an event off my bucket list now.  Ha, that was fun.  However, I think I'll stick to walking or the shuttle.  Oh yeah, the shuttle is pulled by a LandRover.  Cha-ching!

I'm a little excited for tomorrow and a lot nervous.  I don't think there will be pictures to share with all of you tomorrow as it will be our busiest day. 

And for the record (again) - I did not send the picture of Sally and Sue to EN!  My photos are better (says me.)

I learned a lot today.  A LOT.

The morning was slow until it was time to get ready.  The weather all day was cloudier and cooler than expected, which made it quite nice for cross country.  I am good at the go-for job, but not as good at being proactive.  I have a lot to learn before I can be proactive. 

I had to figure out a way to get all the equipment to the vet box which was at the other end of the property.  Unless you had a golf cart or small ATV, you were out of luck.  The mini-bikes had to make multiple trips.  Well, I did not have any of those options.  I am resourceful and flagged down the stable manager who gave me a lift to the XC warmup and then a cute groundskeeper gave me a ride back. 

Not knowing how things worked, I figured I would see Sally again at the finish.  Nope, she reminded me I had to set jumps.  Wait, what?! You want ME to set warm up fences for a 3*?  Umm, ok!  Here's the thing, Sally is a smart lady.  Bonnie Mosser was at the event and came out to set fences and help get Sue in the start box.  I am forever in Bonnie's fan club.  She was so tolerant with me and really helped me figure out where to go and what to do. 

Stand out in a field between a 4' vertical and oxer for a few minutes while the best riders in the country jump around/over you.  It is a little crazy, my friends.

Sue looked incredible, and of course Sally too, over the small part of the course I could see.  I snapped some lousy photos and ran for the vet box. 

Here's something scary.  I tied Sally's pinny.  Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.  It did not come loose.  Anyway, I get to the vet box area and start scouting what others are doing.  I set up and realize I can't hear the announcer.  I have no idea what's going on.  Crap.  Sally came through the finish and then all kinds of activity happened and then I'm standing next to the road with all of Sue's tack, Sally's gear, buckets, and no transportation.  Damnit.  Enter nice guy delivering ice.  I asked him when the next shuttle would come through and he said there's no schedule.  Apparently he felt sorry for me and came back after his delivery to give me a lift back to the barn.  What a nice guy. 

I think today is still sinking in.  I'm trying to recall all that happened and I can't get it all straight. Oh well.  Tomorrow will be crazy busy.  There is potential for more photos before the long drive home.

We started the morning at 4:30am.  Sue needed attention before the jog started at 8.  Plus, we needed coffee and breakfast. The grounds were a red clay muddy mess when we arrived.  It had rained overnight and made things well, yucky, to say the least.

We were at the jog early which was good.  Sue had plenty of time to walk in the long, wet grass and self clean all the mud she tracked walking to the jog.  She passed inspection without an issue.

Then it was time to pack everything so that we could leave as soon as the day was done.  Sally left to walk the course after we finished packing.  This was the slow time of the day for me.

The show jumping had been running late all day, unfortunately.  We walked up to the lower warm-up area and Sue did a flat warm up.  Sally saved jumping until the upper warm up.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  There were only a handful of people in the lower warm up and I wasn't as afraid of jump setting there.

So let me briefly explain, for those who don't know, how this works.  For those who know, remember this was my first time.  First, you play Frogger as you dodge horses from the fence to the jumps as horses with huge canters go riding by.  Then you have to set the jump quickly as you are directed.  However, you can't set the jump while someone is jumping or if another rider is approaching.  And you're standing between 4' fences and you can look up at a horse's stomach as they jump over you only a few short feet away.  And if you drop a rail while setting, people might "ooooh" you as the kids did when you dropped a tray in the school cafeteria.  It happened today!

Here's the other thing that could happen.  Your rider could tell you to make an oxer as big as possible and move the front rail up 2.  And after setting the back rail, Mark Philips (who is the head coach for the US eventing team) might tell you to only move the back rail and leave the front one.  Then your rider says put the front rail up 2 holes.  You put the front rail up two holes and ignore Philips.  At least that's what I did.  I was a little intimidated by Philips, but I am terrified of my rider!  :)  (She did laugh at this write up.)

The perk of surviving the warm up, you can stand where few others are.  It's a front row seat to some of the world's best jumping.  I only saw one jump yesterday and watching the entire course today was so exciting!  I didn't do a whole lot this weekend, but I know I helped make Sally's weekend a little easier.  I was thrilled when they jump around as amazingly as they did.

We were packed up and on our way home within thirty minutes of finishing the course.  Sally was happy with the weekend.  I'm still trying to take it all in.  Ever get off a roller coaster and love it but not quite remember what just happened?  Yeah, welcome to my world. Thankfully, I have another 7 or 8 hours traveling home to wind down.  :D

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cold weather can't keep spring away!

We have had some very cold temps the last few days.  I am tired of it but there are ways to keep busy and stay warm until spring is here for good.  

Fred and I had a great lesson with Sarah on Friday.  Sarah taught me about the timing of a canter depart.  While I am still late with my commands, I have the understanding of the timing. Canter departs in the indoor are not Fred's favorite activity.  Sarah also taught me that the down transition should be a 2 beat half halt and then the trot directions.  Fred and I had such a great down transition that we called it a day on that note.  

I helped my friend LClark move her pony, Scotch, to his new home Friday night.  That pony makes you smile, he is so darn cute!  Lauren is still close enough that she and I can take our boys out for field trips this year.  I hope they both settle in quickly and enjoy the new location.

 LClark and the PonyBoy 

I had a marvelous private jump lesson with Fred and Cindy on Saturday.  We did a trot gymnastic - rail, jump, rail, 15m circle.  My position was back to what it had been.  No chicken wings and my leg stayed still.  After sorting out my aids to jump straight from the left approach, we called it a day after several very good jumps.  I needed a simple, confidence building ride and that is exactly what I got.

Cindy's birthday was on Sunday!  I organized the jump painting party.  Cindy and I brought the jumps from the outdoor to the back of the barn on Saturday.  We had two huge tables of food and lots of helpers Sunday.  I barely moved the last painted jump inside when it started to rain!  The jumps will sit for a day and then we will set them up according to Cindy's new course design.  

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped!  The ring will look amazing this year.

The painting crew!  We painted everything - rails, standards, gates, and more!
Laura and her family built a brick wall with a matching rail and standards!  
 The southwestern coop.  I think this is the best version we have had so far.

 Melanie and Olivia transformed the old boring red gate into a cute obstacle! They also transformed their clothes a bit throughout the day.
Many of the colors are similar for mix and match purposes.

The last standard in had a few rain drops on it before the downpour arrived.  It looks like the easter bunny threw up on the jumps.

Today I am taking Graham to Laurel Hill for cross country schooling.  With Tyler out of commission and Graham in need of some more XC experience, we are a good match for the outing today.  Graham will help give me confidence before taking Fred out again.  

Sally and I leave for The Fork on Wednesday.  I'm packing today to make sure I have everything, but not too much.  The weather should be about perfect!  I plan on updating throughout the day via Notes on Facebook.  I will do in depth reports here.  My mom is lending me her Nikon so I can capture lots of photos.  
Tyler is doing quite well.  He can stretch and contort to reach grass under the fence now so he is back to full time turn out.  I will schedule his checkup with New Bolton after I return from North Carolina so he can go back to work.  (Unlike me... grrr... that is a whole other blog.)  I turned him out nekkid yesterday.  It was a great idea until I had to curry him so he could wear a sheet.  What a dirty, shedding horse!  But when Tyler is happy, I am happy.

My next blog will be from sunny, warm North Carolina!  :D  I hope my reports do the trip justice.