"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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mileage at the MCTA/Tranquility Manor Farms HT

Fred and I survived our second horse trial.  Seeing as I wasn't planning to do our first event until July 2, I think we're doing well. 

I had been to Tranquility before for paperchases with Tyler, but had not competed there before.  It was well organized and ran efficiently.  The grounds aren't huge like Plantation or Fair Hill which was appreciated.

Dressage was not in the 20s as Sarah had challenged me.  The first half of the test was fine.  Then we cantered with exuberance and flair.  There were lots of 7s and two 8s in the first half of the test.  The free walk was a 6, which is fantastic for me.  Then came the 4s and 5s.  Oh well, we still pulled off a 38.6.  Something happens to me when I enter at A.  I'll figure it out. 

Stadium was an adventure.  Fred was the opposite of his Plantation warm up.  He was quiet and behind my leg.  We didn't have time to walk the course, but we watched several novice riders navigate it.  It was twisty with many turns and lots of color.  Fred didn't care about any of that.  The ride looked better than it felt, but it wasn't as smooth as Plantation.  We only had one Fred moment of flair which lead to dropping a rail.  We were missing the right balance of forward in the canter, which I never suspected would be a problem!  

XC was too much fun.  It was another challenging BN course.  Fred is very responsive on the course.  Fred's rider is a little slow in her organization between fences.  This was clear while riding fences 5,6, and 7in the woods.  There was a ditch (#4) before entering the woods so Fred was on alert after the first three fences on course did not catch his attention.  Fence 5 was a  down back to a left turn and then right curve to #6, a log vertical, to a log oxer at #7 before leaving the woods.  I wasn't organized after the bank and Fred got the vertical done for us.  We were cross cantering to the oxer and I didn't steer with my left rein enough so Fred went right by the oxer instead of taking it on the angle.  Oh well, I'll learn!  He jumped it great the second time.  I need to ride him over terrain more to learn how to balance myself but not upset him.  The rest of course was acceptable.  At the end of the course I let him open up a little to the finish.  That boy can move and he wasn't trying.  

We finished 9th of 14.  More importantly, we are moving forward with our partnership.  The BN courses are great for learning the technical aspects that will make us work seamlessly together.  

We are entered in the OBN division on Saturday at Fair Hill.  Fred had Monday and Tuesday off.  We'll work on the flat today and Friday with a light jump school tomorrow.  I'm not sure if we will compete again until September.  I may want to take the summer to school for our Novice move up this fall. :) 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day.

I have a few minutes left before Father's Day is officially over.  I'm a bad daughter, I did not see my dad today and yesterday I made him buy his own vanilla milkshake.  I do plan on making it up to him for his birthday on Tuesday.

Yesterday Mom and I went down to the river.  Dad had been there all morning with Big Red and lots of equipment.  There was some type of dock repair happening.  I told my mom that I blame Dad for my boyfriend troubles.  Yes, my dad would probably threaten whoever I bring home.  Ask my sister, Dad enjoys messing with the boyfriends.  The bigger problem is whoever I date has to live up to my dad.  Ha, good luck boys.

My dad and I are very similar.  He works hard and does the work himself.  I don't know a mechanic, an electrician, a landscaper, or any construction workers.  My dad does all the work himself.  Dad taught me how to do a lot and has built my independence.  

Not only has Dad taught me to work and earn what I want, he taught me to make good decisions.  He always taught me to examine all my options and do the appropriate research.  Save bringing home Tyler and Fred on a whim, I follow my dad's directions.

Dad is my go to person.  When I'm in trouble I call him.  The calls range from trucks that won't start to demanding he leave the Weis deli counter immediately (NOW!) because I couldn't deal with Tyler's emergency.

I'm pretty sure Dad fueled the horse obsession when I was a kid.  We used to go trail riding every Sunday when I was growing up.  Those 3 or 4 hours on the trails and in the woods were the best part of my week.  He really feeds the fire now.  Dad helped me find a truck and trailer.  Then he helped me upgrade the truck and trailer.  He drove 16+ hours twice to help Tyler and I travel to and from Wisconsin.  Dad always helps me maintain and improve whatever equipment I need to spoil the horses.  One winter, after plowing his driveway and several other driveways clear, he and I drove to the barn to start a generator so the horses could have fresh water.

Dad doesn't help only with the horses.  He took me to my first MLB game and my first PSU football game.  Dad taught me how to fly fish, how to shoot a gun and rifle, and how to avoid skippers when mowing the yard.  Wonder where I get my tomboy ways from?  Dad understands me! 

So if my ramblings during the last minutes of Father's Day seem to brag of my father, my mission is accomplished.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Everyone knew before I did!

Let's play catch up before the really fun stuff.

Last weekend I was in Phoenix Thursday until Sunday morning.  I was home just in time to ask Cindy and Sally if Fred could go XC schooling.  I drove home from the airport after a red eye flight, I threw my equipment and Fred on Cindy's trailer and off we went.

Sally didn't let me take the easy route.  We jumped a variety to give us lots of confidence.  Fred doesn't need the confidence, but I do!  I have to move him forward to the fences to produce a good outcome.  Forward is not something that comes naturally to me.  I must ride the front of the fence in spite of what happens after the fence.  Fred likes to dance around after fences and it really distracts me. 

Over the red bench.

The plan was for me to take Tyler so that I could finally compete this year and build some confidence.  On Tuesday, Tyler decided that plan didn't suit him.  He has been mildly lame in the front since Tuesday.  I swear that horse has decided that he doesn't want to work anymore and would rather have his daily paper delivered with his breakfast and then spend the day in his bathrobe and slippers.  Not that I blame him.  Turns out, there was dirt lodged under one of Tyler's hoof pads.  He was sore enough that I couldn't compete him.  As I have written before,  Tyler did more than I expected him to and honestly, I am happy that we ended our eventing days on a high note.  Again, this is me justifying the fact that Tyler doesn't want to do dressage.  I know he misses running around the cross country field.  

I spent the week prepping Fred for Sunday.  Fred has done 4 events in his life and that was in 2007.   I had a bad lesson Thursday night with Cindy and Lauren.  We set up jumps in Pasture 2 to jump on terrain.  I was a complete wuss.  Cindy had to park the gator next to most of the jumps I did because I wouldn't steer Fred.  Fred is willing to jump anything, but not if I pull him off the fence.  That night didn't help my mental concerns about Fred.  A big problem I have is wondering if I can keep up with Fred.  Cindy did her best to talk me through, but I just wasn't with it.

Friday was dressage with Sarah.  She likes Fred and we have a lot of fun.  

Saturday morning I jumped Fred in the ring.  We had a good ride and I turned him out. There wasn't any more I could do before Sunday.  I taught Saturday morning lessons then drove down to Plantation to watch Cindy and Lauren at the recognized event.  Lauren was in the Junior Open Novice division and had a great day with Napoleon.  Time was challenging over the terrain and in the heat.  Cindy rode Graham in his first BN event.  He was a star! He brought home a ribbon, too.  

I walked my course that afternoon.  Plantation maxed out the BN course.  The starter trial would ride the same course as the recognized.  I was a little concerned about some of the jumps set close together.  

Finally, Sunday rolled around and we set out.  Alexa with Jewel and Vanessa with Cody were in the BNR-C division.  I was in the BNR-A division.  We walked the course again in the morning and I felt better about it and the stadium course.

Fred was calm on the trailer and happy when he was able to be out and eat.  He was looky but calm.  He can be so tall out there! Dressage warm up was great.  I was so relieved that Fred was very well behaved.  He goes to work with little fuss.  The dressage test was the best I've ever had.  My geometry to the right was poor, but we had great marks.  

The judge, Kim Meier, wrote, "Very polite in waiting for almost all commands before reacting.  Minimal mistakes.  Very easy to watch.  Prepare earlier to prevent mistakes before they occur." We had three 8's!  Our right lead canter depart was "very polite."  I never knew such comments could be made about a test!  :)   We earned a 30.5.  That put us in 6th.  The rider in first had a 16.5!  

I don't check scores until I'm done because I have enough pressure to get around as it is.  I have to find something to do in between dressage and jumping though.  I was freaking myself out waiting for the right time to tack up and go jump.  I had no idea what I was in for.

Quick thanks to Lauren for our awesome cross country outfit!

Fred behaved until we set foot into the warmup.  He decided he really liked being out and wanted to show everyone.  He was bouncing around like a little kid on a sugar rush.  Cindy did exactly what I needed her to do, told me to ignore him and ride forward to the jumps.  Fred was fine with jumping once he focused.  It was finally my turn to go in the ring.  Fred was great.  I was able to bring him back to the trot for a simple change between fences 2 and 3.  There was control between 5 and 6, too.  The two stride at the end rode great.  Fred was taking me to the fences and I felt like we were together the entire time.  
 Fred is part of the HVS dork squad. 
 This felt better than it looked.  Fred might have been annoyed that I didn't share his confidence.
Over the last!  Tyler jumps to the left, Fred to the right.  Someday I'll find the middle.

Poor Julie!  As we're walking to the start box, I asked her how she was with nervous horses.  She didn't have time to answer as Fred struck out with both front legs.  That was as silly as he got going to the box.  Cindy sprayed me down with the sticky spray and we were off!

The first fence was a bending line to the left from the start box.  The course designer wasn't kidding around!  The second fence was a big solid green house which has been on the novice course.  Fred was sure he wanted to jump it.  I wasn't.  The jump had flags and a number so the only option was to jump it.  Fred jumped it and I stayed with him.  I knew we would be okay after that.  The combo of roll top to drop log to little ditch was perfect.  Fred helps me get over my issue with benches.  I only had to tap him on the shoulder once before the house into the water.  The ride up the hill and back to home was amazing.  We had three trot breaks so I could organize and test the brakes.  The bit I use is working well.

We had a clear round!  Compared to Tyler, it was a different type of work out.  Once I could breathe and think again, I realized how much fun I had.  I now know I trust Fred and that he will do anything I ask.  That's a big step for us a team.  He is talented and capable.  For my own mental health, I know I can keep up with Fred and ride him.  

 Out on the XC course!  Fred is fun to ride around. 
 A good start. 
The feeder, second to last fence.  

After smiling and laughing like a fool the entire way back to the trailer, I finally settled enough to cool Fred out and make him comfortable.  I cleaned up my mess, loaded him on the trailer to relax, and headed up the hill to watch the girls jump.  On the way up, Jaime and Nina stopped me.  They looked at me and asked, "Don't you know?"  Know what? What's wrong?  Fred and I WON!  I had a text from Lauren and Sally before I made it to the scoreboard.  Even typing this now, I don't quite comprehend that we won.  There was lots of celebrating with my friends at the event and I was thrilled.  I knew that Fred and I could be competitive, but I had no expectations for our first time out.  

The day wrapped up soon after that.  Vanessa had a challenging XC run after a spectacular stadium round.  Alexa should be very happy.  She and Jewel had a good day after only one run out at the chevrons.  

I brought Fred home 4 months ago and never thought I would have completed an event, much less win one this soon.  Fred and I have lots of training ahead of us.  I would like to run several more BN events before moving up.  I think it is important that we have mileage and experience together.  

All of my friends told me I was able to take Fred to the event on Sunday.  Many told me I would do very well.  They were right.  I appreciate the faith everyone had in us and the support.  Everyone knew before I did.  


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do you have any children?

I forgot to share this story from Memorial Day.  It's just too funny.

Monday morning I go out to start the Diesel.  I was going to haul Fred and Romie to Carousel Horse Park in Delaware so a bunch of us could XC school.  Well, turns out the starter failed in the Diesel.  I said a lot of bad words early that holiday morning.  Sadly, Fred didn't get to go.  The Wolfe family saved the day and took Graham on their trailer with Bootz.  I decided I should tag along anyway, even if I wasn't in a great mood. 

It was hot.  95 degrees and we were all sweating like crazy.  Cindy, Chris, Fred (human, not horse), and I all hiked the course twice.  We had paparazzi duties! Some of the riders who shared horses had to hike it once.

On our way up the first hill to start the day, one of the kids starts grumbling about how hot it is and how much we will have to walk.  Grace is a nice kid, but I was not in the mood.  We were all hot and not thrilled about hiking around.  I told Grace I didn't want to hear her complain the entire time as we were all in the same boat.  Plus, Grace only had to walk around once.  She looked at me and asked, "Chelsea, do you have any kids?"  I just laughed, "No.  Isn't it obvious why I don't have kids?"  Grace replied, "It is!  You do not like people who complain!" That Grace is very perceptive.  And you know what, I didn't hear another peep from Grace about walking.  :)

 Chris and I follow Lauren and Melissa out to XC.
 The first group takes a break under the shade.
Grace rocked her first time out on a XC course!