Thursday, December 30, 2010

Morris' Spring Schedule


Don't be fooled by the sleeping giant!! Morris is ready to spring into action, knowing that 2011 is just around the corner!

I know it has been a LONG time since I blogged, and I apologize. No good reason, actually. Lots to get caught up on and there will be more of these coming in the next few days. One of those things, the more I thought about how long it had been and how much I had to say, the more I wanted to procrastinate blogging. I'm on a roll now, though, and plan on making up for lost time.

One of the things I HAVE been doing, however, is getting excited about the 2011 spring schedule! The first Aiken HT opened on Tuesday, and even though I don't think I'm entering there I did take the time to plot and plan the calendar for the big guy. While I'm thinking about it, it's not too late to get you and/or your horse down to train with Blue Clover Eventing for the winter season. Get in touch with me ASAP for details! Please note that this is a tentative schedule, I will start full blown flat work next week and jumping 2 weeks after that. Nonetheless, I feel like once you put a plan together on paper it helps with the motivating process. On my list of things to do this weekend is contact Linda and Karen about getting to Florida for some lessons!

Hope to see you guys at any or all of these events and remember Morris loves baby carrots if you plan on visiting him at the trailer :) Wish us luck!!

2011 SPRING SCHEDULE Clifton Jade and Valerie Vizcarrondo

February 12-13 Pine Top II at Intermediate (Thomson, GA)
February 25-27 Advanced Pine Top at Advanced (Thomson, GA)
March 10-13 Red Hills International at Advanced (Tallahassee, FL)
March 25-27 Southern Pines II at Advanced (Southern Pines, NC)
April 6-10 The Fork at Advanced or CIC3* (Norwood, NC)
April 22-24 Fair Hill at CIC3* or Advanced (Elkton, MD)
May 12-15 Jersey Fresh CIC3* or Advanced (Allentown, NJ)
June 8-12 Bromont CCI3* (Bromont, Canada)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Judge's Exam and Phase 2




Things have certainly been exciting since the last time that I logged on. No, Freddie Mac did not get taken to prison. That's his view in the new temporary stall situation at the barn. As you can see, Splash and the rest of the Blue Clover Eventing crew have all settled in well to the next phase of construction at the barn. The new indoor is fantastical!! and we have our 20 stall barn completely moved to our temporary location until the barn renovations are complete. Morris has some prime real estate, he is in the quiet corner so he has two giant windows. The afternoon un comes in just right and so we can take his rug off and it's like summer for him, baking in the sun in the corner. The only one sadden, I think, by our move was Gunsmoke. I will have to try and capture it on the camera-phone. But the all glass doors go up and down like garage doors, and when they go down the only way in and out is through a people door. Lacking thumbs, this is a giant obstacle for Gunsmoke to conquer! So he sits there outside of the glass walls looking in, ears up and out to the side, head slightly cocked...it's awful! Eventually somebody notices and lets in the poor lercher. If this is the only thing that we can complain about, however, I'd say we are doing pretty well.....

I was doing pretty well last weekend after completing the final exam to get my 'r' event judge's license! The exam took place down at Poplar Place in Hamilton, GA during their last recognized competition for the season. It was my first time heading to Poplar, and I would certainly go back next time with the ponies! It was a beautiful venue, the dressage and show jumping arenas were top notch, great stabling, and some really good stuff out on cross country. It has been extremely difficult to find time in my schedule when I am not competing or coaching to work on apprentice-judging. It was extremely difficult to be at such a lovely venue like Poplar all weekend, with fantastic weather, and not be competing or coaching lol! I was so busy, however, I really hardly had any time to think about it! Friday morning I got to Poplar, checked in, and immediately headed out to the cross country course. I had to evaluate the Preliminary track, and then be able to compare it to the Training level route. Funny going to an event for the first time, I had no idea where anything was, what loops the courses usually took, etc. Because I'm getting evaluated on my evaluation, I wanted to make sure that I commented on anything and everything. From there I went up to show jumping and did the same thing over the Intermediate track. I was wildly trying to write all of this into coherent paragraphs when our official "Welcome" at 1:00 began and we were handed spreadsheets of timelines. Much to my surprise, we had not one but FOUR oral exams to complete that afternoon, and we had to be quick because our open book test started promptly at 6:15.
I thought, oh good open book how hard can it be. And then I realized the method to the madness, they wanted us to cite the rules we used to answer all the true/false and the multiple choice. For anybody looking at the USEF Rulebook, I challenge you to read 3 pages without nearly falling asleep. Now do it for 3 hours knowing that somewhere in those thousands of pages is the exact answer and reference number that you are looking for. By 9:00 the pages were blurring together and I was over it. Over it! I can honestly say that I learned so much just by taking the exam!
There was no rest for the weary, let me tell you. I wanted to study some more, memorize some more rules and all of the Prelim/Training/Novice test As for the next day. But my mind revolted. I went to bed. I needed my mind, the closed book test started promptly at 7am Saturday morning! I hate true false. Are they trying to trick you with the wording, or am I reading too much into the question? Can I please write a paragraph to explain why I think it is partly true or partly false?? No time to dwell on any wrong answers, however, because we had to be with our dressage examiner specialist by 8. We judged the dressage from 8 until 2. Saw all sorts of things and wished that it could have been 3 divisions of beautiful rides where I could have said 8 and 9 all day!! Not quite the case, I think I made some good calls and some good comments and we will see when it is all said and done if the examiners felt the same way! Went from judging dressage to judging show jumping where I was lucky that all of my rounds were clean and within the time. Then went to another oral exam where I got grilled on show jumping because all of the rounds I judged were clean and within the time :) And then, I was done. There were no good byes, no job well dones, no graded tests coming back to you. People just scattered! I spoiled myself with a Chai latte from Starbucks (one of the finer things in life) and I sat on my couch and didn't think for at least an hour. And it was wonderful! Many thanks to all of the people at Poplar, the USEA and the USEF for making this testing possible. I am looking forward to hearing back about how I fared at the exam, and maybe the next time you see me it will be from behind the judge's box at C!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Freddie's Best Score Yet!

I know, I am sorry that it has taken me a bit to publish this fun little fact about the Freddie Mac; but it's true! He nailed his Novice Test B this past weekend at Rubicon and posted a 24! Way to go! I remember when he couldn't even hold his canter in the Grand Prix field when he first arrived back in April. Fast forward to this morning, when he had his first ever lesson with Linda Zang. By the end of the lesson we were doing counter canter around he dressage arena! Mind you, it didn't just magically happen like that....but imagine what a phenomenal horse he is going to be in a year.

I think one of the best things about Rubicon was I got the feeling that Freddie was really starting to understand what it was he was doing at an event. The dressage was probably the most chaotic warm up that he had experienced so far and he took it all in stride. It was a very cold morning, with a clip job less than a week old...we were really pushing our luck! Lara was a champ (ask her about the Marine Corp Ball that she attended the night before!) and as usual he looked the part even if he had moments where he didn't act it. I think he likes doing dressage in an actual arena, with footing. It is easier for him to balance and add a little flair to every step, which he certainly did! And I am glad that the judge was there to reward it.
We went on to show jumping, which is notoriously difficult due to the shape and size of the arena. Thank you, show jumping personnel at Rubicon, for removing 5A from the bottom of the hill :) It was hard enough for the babies to run down a hill towards the in/out gate and then make a 90 degree turn to a single jump let alone a one strided combination! Freddie was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. In his bravest moments the novice jumps were too small to hold him or keep his respect/attention. And then he trotted one or two fences, and so I'm thinking at that point that I kept him at novice and didn't move up quite yet to training lol. He did make all of the inside turns, however. I was hoping that this might help get him more supple and listening. At least I made it through without time faults.
Cross country was much the same story at show jumping. His first three fences were spot on brilliant. I was especially proud of him at the 3rd, which was a large brush fence in the woods. He negotiated the trees (my we have come a long way since our xc school at Loch Moy where he face-planted into one) and galloped boldly right up and over. After fence 3 you come out of the woods at the top of the hill of the main field and cross country area. And it was pretty much at this point that I started riding a baby again. He was a little wiggly, sometimes very bold and sometimes wanting to take the safer, 'let me check the other side' spot to his fences. He did canter up the bank and made the U turn and absolutely understood that there was a down bank! Hooray! It didn't sneak up on him as it has at the other events. Likewise with the ditch, he absolutely realized 10 strides out that everything he was seeing looked like ditches and coffins, and he was right! It was a very tough novice, good sized ditch 2 strides to a fairly skinny log. He took a huge leap over the ditch, which made for a perfect one and a half to the skinny log. But nothing that a little helicopter jumping wouldn't fix and off he went to the next fence, oh so proud of himself for clearing the ditch on the first try! And I would have to agree, there were lots of pats all around. He finished clean, within the time...a great way to end his first season of eventing. Really looking forward to getting him down to Aiken and getting him going all over again!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waredaca Weekend Report


Yes, to you and me these are happy smiling pumpkins. To Freddie Mac, they were suspicious creatures, and the witches flying on the last fence (in background) - pure evil! However, the Fred Fred managed to put his bravest foot forward, and then leap over these show jumps with the other 3, to finish on his dressage score at Waredaca this past Sunday. Very proud of the baby, finished on his dressage score which was good enough for a 4th. Watch the video below to be your own judge of his performance!
Regardless of what you think, however, we think he was fabulous! There was only 1 reported incident of snorting throughout the entire competition, which is a huge improvement from his last outing to Morven. He had to go all alone, with big brother Morris on holiday after his super performance at the Fair Hill CCI2* last week. As the sole representative of Blue Clover Eventing, the youngster did us proud all day long. The weather was perfect and the background almost looked fake, with all of the trees changing color. Freddie was feeling pretty good in the dressage warm-up, but 15 minutes of cantering later we were primed and ready for our entrance at 'A.' I can't wait for the new dressage pads to be completed at Waredaca, as it is challenging riding a 17.1h all leg 5 year old in a small arena set on a grassy hill! While I think it was his personal best, the judge dinged him for being "too green today" and all I can say is, wow it's a good thing she wasn't judging his first couple of tests ha ha ha. There was minor tail wringing in the canter in the actual arena, his walk was not only existent but really good, and we halted on the centerline without swaggering into it like a drunken sailor. I mean, what more could I really ask for lol?
What I really could ask for was clean jumping within the optimum time, and I got it! Show jumping he was really focused. I warmed up very efficiently and he stood quietly at the in gate watching the horse jump in front of him. It is as though Freddie realizes now there is an actual reason we put him in a trailer at 5 in the morning and dress him up and prance him around! I decided to take the liverpool option at fence #7, who woulda thought there would even BE a liverpool option for novice?! And Freddie really rose to the occassion. He not only cantered the entire course; but he got the correct number of strides in all the lines, and I must admit I think he didn't add or subtract any other strides anywhere else on course! Even got a flying change or two, although most of the time he landed on his correct lead and was looking for his next fence. He was REALLY looking at the last fence, every time I had to canter by it I wound up with a spook; but when it was time to jump it he held his breath and over it we went. Very proud of him!
Cross country was by far the phase in which Freddie made his biggest improvements this weekend. The course designer did a great job (actually, everyone at Waredaca does a great job, thank you!) of introducing the horses to an idea and then presenting it as a tougher question later on. Freddie was totally with this program! He was very relaxed in his gallop, let me set him up and rebalance him for his fences without losing his focus. He understood the footwork required for the drops AND the ditch, finally! and just in time because there was a challenging approach to the water that required a brave jump down a bank and then a 90 degree turn. He totally kept his feet moving and even galloped thru the water, making a big splash. I think he was having a good time...and I know I sure was! Really looking forward to a strong finish to Freddie's first season of eventing. In two weeks he is off to Rubicon, again looking to finish on our dressage score, and this time I hope it's a good enough score to win!

YouTube Links for Freddie Mac Videos


Show Jumping:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQS2IJF0jm0

Cross Country: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVBKoJ06Xf8

Sunday, October 17, 2010

12th at Fair Hill CCI2*

Morris found a little quiet time on Thursday morning, standing near the dressage warm up and getting quite the view of Vendor Village before all the shops opened. How exciting to be competing at the 2010 Fair Hill International in the CCI** division! There was hardly any downtime for Morris since arriving there with Lara Tuesday afternoon. He had the initial In-Barn inspection, where thank goodness my passport met all specs and Morris did his part staying healthy and happy on the 2 hour trailer drive. Wednesday was a bit stressful, not going to lie, during the 1st horse inspection. Morris and I were held for re-inspection which was a very big shock because the Ground Jury couldn't seem to pinpoint exactly what they didn't like about how he was moving; but they obviously didn't like something. I had never had this happen on knock on wood it will never happen again. We represented and were accepted and it was time to start riding!
I was 45th out of 60 to ride in the 2*, meaning that Thursday I more or less had a day off. That worked out well, because it was freezing cold and pouring down rain most of the day. Lara and I walked the cross country course that morning, getting to maybe fence 5 before it started to pour. Too late, we were committed, and we really wanted to see what was out there! More pictures to follow, don't worry. The initial walk was a fact-finding mission, and it was obvious that Morris and I had some serious work to do on Saturday! Luckily for us our stalls didn't flood and Morris and Gunsmoke were perfectly happy to hide inside the tent for the majority of the day. That afternoon we had an opportunity to ride in the main arena to familiarize the horses with the atmosphere, and I took advantage of this. Morris was very good and we did our entire work-out session right next to my competition arena.
Friday I rode Morris once before my actual test, making sure that I had him back in the barn by 8:30 because Lara had some serious work to do! She really makes him sparkle, her braids are impeccable, and it is a real pleasure to watch her work so lovingly on my #1 guy. We make quite a good team, and we didn't want to let each other down on such a big weekend! The weather was much improved from the day before, well at least it was sunny; but the WIND eek! It was really blowing and I had to challenge myself to keep my chin up and have faith that my top hat would stay in place. It did, and Morris handled the conditions like a real professional. We have been together for a year now and the difference that time has made is really remarkable. The VIP tent was making terrible noises as it got knocked around by the gusts, and the flags out front were whipping all over the place. Morris stayed focused on me, and put in the best test we have ever had together. One of the judge's gave us very good marks, the other judge did not to put it quite simply. I was very disappointed by the wide gap between the scores; however I have the video and will take it to my next lessons for some perspective on the situation. I walked the cross country course twice more on Friday, even brought out the meter wheel so that I could determine my minute markers. The time at Fair Hill is always hard to make, and I was now really motivated to get around clean and fast on Saturday.
And we did!! Morris and I were 1 of 6 double clears, and posted the fastest time in the 2*. I have an incredible horse and I am so lucky to get to pilot him around. He felt like a 5* horse out there. Twice I was going to put a slight bend in my approach to give Morris more time to figure out exactly what it was he was doing and he was offended, quite frankly. He wanted to get right to the next obstacle in the direct route, leaving out a stride if need be. Gotta love that kind of attitude! I am fortunate that he is so fast, and I used this to my advantage not wasting any time on the turns. Also, we have really practiced being efficient at getting him to come back to me. Karen has had me work on this again and again at lessons, and Jimmy, too, has pointed out how important it is because I am not a big strong person and therefore Morris has got to listen to the slightest motions that I make. He had this super rhythm going on a huge step and we just bounded around the course. We jumped around like we had springs on our feet and from the first jump that I angled in warm-up, I had a good feeling. He was so accurate and rideable around the 9 minute course. I was concerned about every water (there were 4!) because they were pretty technical as well as bold, you had to be the right combination of accurate and forward. There was a tricky combination in the main arena, which we flew right through. I was concerned about some angled roll tops after a long gallop a little after the half way, in case Morris was getting tired it was going to be difficult to keep your line. Ha. Morris. Tired. Right. Flew thru the sunken road, well we pretty much flew right through everything. I hope to post the YouTube link shortly, check back soon!
Sunday was very early, with a 9:00 2nd horse inspection. Many thanks to the awesome Team Canada, (Dr. Ober and Randy), who made it a personal mission to make sure that we were accepted on the first try this go 'round. Mission accomplished! I have never been so happy to hear the "Accepted" word, as tons of horses were getting put into the hold and quite a few got spun. The celebrating was short-lived, as Lara whisked Morris back to the barn and I walked around my show jumping course, twice by myself and then a third time with Karen. We show jump in reverse order of standing, and so going into show jumping in 12th I got to watch a good 30 or so horses negotiate the course before it was my turn. It is always an advantage to watch and learn from others, and I did tweak part of my plan. When I was 10 horses out I got on Morris (I had already done a bunch of flatwork about an hour prior) and headed to the lower jump arena. Karen met me down there and she and Lara quickly built some fences for Morris and I to work on getting out of cross country mode and back into calm and quiet show jumping mode. Morris actually clicked into gear faster than he ever has, again so so happy that all of my hard work has been paying off! We ended with an oxer down there and headed up to the end of the main arena where there were 3 more schooling fences. Morris got a little nervous when we got in there; but nothing like he would've done a year ago. So proud of him. He continued to jump well, I was happy, Karen and Lara were happy, it was all up to me to go in and leave all the rails up. And I was close! 1 down, preventable if I had a chance to do it again (and I wish wish wish I could). I was expecting Morris to be strong down a line and instead he landed and waited like a little lambkin and I was just too slow to register exactly what was going on. He was seriously annoyed that I made him hit a rail, there was some ear-pinning and some tail-swishing and that was the last rail we touched. He jumped really well through the combinations, in general he just really jumped well. His form is getting better and better with each outing. We were easily inside the time, securing our 12th place finish. Even if I had jumped clean, I would've remained in 12th so I can't beat myself up too badly :) But you know me, I can't wait to get out there and do it again and try to make it even better, everywhere, every time! It will be a bit for Morris, he has a good week of holiday with nothing but turn out and rolling and staying as dirty as he would like. He earned it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Morven Park

The video at the bottom: Freddie Mac's Novice dressage test.

We were so lucky with the weather this past weekend when we competed at Morven Park just outside of Leesburg, and I will be the first to say thank you! for letting the rain stop for 48 hours so we could compete in the cold, and not the cold and wet. Actually, by the afternoon of both Saturday and Sunday the temperatures were very pleasant and my ponies were feeling very good.
Saturday we took Morris to compete in the Intermediate. Lara Gunsmoke Morris and I had the pleasure of an extra helper, Emma, whom we hope to see very shortly in her eventing debut! I think we had an excellent prep for Fair Hill, it was frosty first thing in the morning and Morris was handling the whole situation very well. He was excellent for his pre-ride, and for most of his warm up prior to the test. He stood by his arena, yes, STOOD! which is quite a feat, and he walked quietly back from warm up to the trailer. Lara had him looking beautiful in no time and we went in for the real deal. It wasn't quite as good as the AECs; but certainly better than any of the tests that we were doing in the spring. His walk got a little tense by the end of the diagonal, so guess what we will be doing plenty of this last week before Fair Hill......Also, need to work on my canter-walk transitions. Throwing away a couple of points there, and at Fair Hill a couple of points are really going to make a difference!
Show jumping was out on the grass, which was a little surprising and disappointing as I wanted to practice in the arena...Fair Hill's show jumping will take place in the main arena. Oh well, good practice for the Morris brain as he has a tendency to assume that all jumping out on grass looks and feels a lot like cross country! He was quite good, only got a little tight and flight thru a tricky line in the middle of the course although luckily he kept those rails up. We had an unlucky rail in the triple...the rider before me gave it a good roll and I don't think it was properly reset, because Morris barely tapped it and then several seconds later it fell quietly out of the cups. Oh well. We withdrew before cross country, it was too close to Fair Hill for me to feel comfortable about running as I think it is the dressage and show jumping that need the most focus. We are going to go cross country schooling to practice a couple of exercises and I think that is safer for his health, both physical and mental, than getting to zoom around the course at Morven.
We went back on Sunday with Freddie, however, with every intention of completing all three phases and winning a ribbon! He is really growing up, it was his 3rd event and so cold and windy in the morning he would have had every excuse to act like a green bean. Lots of pats and cookies for Freddie, he really acted like he knew what he was doing for most of the time. He had the unfortunate luck of performing his test in the indoor, which is a small tight place for Mr. Long Legs. He did a really good job of staying relaxed and focused, and throughout the test he just got better and better. We were sitting second after dressage, so obviously the judge thought as highly of his performance as I did! Show jumping was difficult for Freddie with the ups and downs of the terrain; but he tries so very hard to keep the rails up and you could really see him making a real effort. He rubbed one or two and took a flying leap over one or two; but at the end of the day he was double clear and very proud of himself. It wasn't the prettiest round I've ever ridden although it was enough to move us into first. I can only imagine what it is going to feel like when he gets control and coordination lol.
Unfortunately, our being in 1st place only lasted up until fence 13. That would be where Freddie Mac was completely taken by surprise by the ditch at the half coffin. I was disappointed, as he was really having a great round. He acted like a total grown up horse jumping up the bank and 2 strides over the roll top, he cantered quietly thru the woods and had a lovely jump over the stone wall on the way out. Really felt like a big-time horse there. He was pretty brave about jumping the big brush fence, and I thought I had him motoring over the ditch until a half a stride away. And then, it was as though he'd been watching the reining competition at WEG. Front legs out to the side, hind legs somewhere by his elbows, and head straight down looking into the ditch. I did a pretty good job of staying on, I must say, and then he sat there for a second regrouping and I added leg to no avail. He picked his head up and I gave him a stern whack. He got the point and jumped from a standstill, which I consider to be a sign of progress. We didn't stand there for 5 minutes determining whether or not it was safe to cross over the Grand Canyon as it sometimes must appear to Freddie. We more or less poured ourselves over the log that was supposed to be a quiet 3 strides after the ditch; but nonetheless we were back in action. The next fence was the trakehner, a pretty big log with a faux ditch underneath. Freddie was very brave about that, and then continued with a confident gallop the rest of the way around the course.
Next for Morris the the 2* at Fair Hill, HOORAY! Freddie will have a mini-vacay until competing again at Waredaca at the end of the month. Hoping that third time is a charm and he finally brings home the blue!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adventures in Jumper-Land


Pictured above, the main arena at Culpepper. Where we stood, for I have no idea how long, waiting for our classes on Wednesday :)
Video of Morris in the rain having a good round at the Level 4s at the bottom.

Early, and I mean EARLY, Wednesday morning Lara, Morris, Gunsmoke and I were up and out of Kaleidescape heading down to the last show on the HITS circuit at Culpepper, VA for 2010. I planned this field trip as an opportunity to do several jumping rounds with Morris and help him get over some of the excitement that we face on our final day at big events. I must say, we really did a good job! The arena itself was large, lined with tents, banners, and bleachers. There were bright, spooky, airy jumps pretty much everywhere, with a hunter ring occupied right on the backside and warm-up happening all around. It certainly was enough to get Morris some exposure to atmosphere!
It was a little odd, being a professional and accomplished eventer and finding myself at a competition feeling like I really had no idea what was going on nor what to expect. I pulled into the show grounds not even knowing where to park! It is hardly possible to be incognito with a giant striped 4 horse head-to-head and logos on the truck that state plain and simple "Blue Clover Eventing." The office was staffed with a crew of really helpful, non-intimidating people and before I knew it Morris and I were officially entered. Too bad the class list for the day looked nothing like the one that I found online. And thus we began a game of hurry up and wait.
Totally worth it, however; Morris got to stand around the arena and be completely bored and unimpressed with the entire ordeal. I got to jump the same course twice, the second round being a couple of inches higher. Not really sure the height of the fences as they were in metric; but it looked like a pretty big intermediate track so I was pleased. I had a rail at fence 3 down in the first course. It was a very vertical vertical and the way the planks and poles were configured it was airy and a touch of an optical illusion. Morris was surprisingly soft and adjustable and I came through a turn easier and on a bigger step than I had anticipated. The distance I saw was a bit forward still and I chickened out! I came here to be quiet and calm and the last thing I wanted to do was boogie on down to a gap early on in my first course. So I tug tug tugged myself right into having a rail and a time fault. Oh well, he jumped the rest of the course really well, springing over his fences. He did build a little thru the course, although it was much better than what we usually get at an event. I think the main difference in what I was feeling was due to a lack of cross country the day before! Cross country doesn't make Morris tired, I've yet to find anything that makes Morris tired. It does make him a little tight, and really excited, and then this carries over into our jumping rounds.
I was going to take advantage of getting to do multiple rounds, and having Morris as rideable as possible. We went back down to the large warm-up arena. And actually, that is worth mentioning. Unlike our rules, the jumping warm-up arena is more or less a free for all. You can jump any jump, any direction. You can make it an oxer, a vertical, a combination. You can cut people off and nearly run people over. For a groom's point of view of this, you should read Lara's blog (and make sure to comment next time you see us on how white our boots are...let me tell you by the time we left the rain was pouring down and everything, I mean EVERYTHING, was covered in at least 2 inches of black/grey goo) because poor Lara was nearly run over I don't know how many times defending my jump (not letting anybody else's jump crew change the heights or configuration). I jumped more before my round than I usually do at an event and I think I will try this strategy this weekend at our next event, Morven Park.
Our second round was even better than the first, even though we still had a rail we were well within the time. This round our approach to the third fence was spot on and Morris really soared over the entire thing. I was practicing hard a landing technique that Jimmy grilled me on in my last lesson, and it seemed to work well, with Morris really finishing his jump and clearing the rails by a good couple of inches behind. We had the rail down this time at fence 7, I negotiated with Morris and let him cut a turn to keep him softer, and when we got there we weren't totally straight and down it went. Easily preventable, I just have to find the right balance between keeping him soft and making sure I get the job done.
Let's hope I find that balance this weekend at Morven, in two weeks at Fair Hill, and then for the rest of our lives!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marlborough Horse Trials


Photo courtesy of Dorothy Anderson, Peacock Photography. We had some wonderful weather, and a wonderful time, at the Marlborough Horse Trials on Saturday. We are really lucky to have such a nice venue so close to home...the HT runs at Rosaryville State Park and takes all of 20 minutes to drive the trailer from Kaleidescape to the trailer parking field! It was Freddie's first horse trials where he had to work out of the trailer, and only his second horse trials total. We let the entire day be all about The Fred, and what a day it was! He certainly was a good boy in the dressage, came out with the best score in his Novice Horse division. This was a win that I really had to work for, however! Lara had him all prepared, longed, grazed, and primped by the arena so he could settle in to his surroundings. During my warm-up, there was a completely random and panicking loose horse that kept running back and forth behind the dressage arenas...seriously I couldn't make this up....and Brian is announcing for the outriders of cross country to please come to dressage. So of course like 3 of them come galloping into and thru the warm-up to chase down this wild horse, whose people are running all over the place with buckets and ropes....disaster! I admit that once I walked over to Lara and had her hold on to Fred and pet his Fred-head and tell him it would all be okay! Not really sure what became of that horse, actually; but I do know that when Freddie finally got to go into the arena he was pretty focused and relaxed. He did spook at the flower pots at all of the letters, poor baby horse.
Show jumping was next and it was certainly a HUGE improvement from Richland as far as his attitude and understanding about what was going on. He jumped a double clear round and was really very good through the combination, past the judge's stand and the in/out gate. Warm-up he floated around, wasn't the least bit worried about all the commotion. On course he had to jump a skinny, and the course was difficult for the greenies as it takes place out on the grass and the area has a good bit of terrain. Fred has to work pretty hard to get those long legs snapped up, and he did a great job of it out there on the course. I was looking at the pictures tonight and it is a pretty cute sight, huge Freddie makes all the jumps look like toothpicks a foot off the ground! He barely has to make any effort and the next thing you know he is practically clearing the standards. Pretty cool, I must say!
Cross country, well I suppose the pressure was on as he was still our division leader; but I was looking to have a smooth, confident round that got me over the ditch and the drop on the first try! Unfortunately, mission wasn't exactly accomplished. He was much more in tune with the fact that he was out there for a reason, wasn't spooking at the jump judges this time and managed to be pretty strong and ground covering in his gallops. However, he did have an incident at the drop down...he walked up to the edge and was walking more left than forward. I gave him a tap at the last minute to try to encourage him to take a leap of faith and instead he overreacted and spun himself even faster left. As he did this he smacked the side of his head flat into the white flag and he really never saw it coming and he was so shocked really by the whole thing that when I re-presented him to the drop he surely had to realize that taking the baby step off the drop was far easier than the predicament he managed to get himself into on his first attempt! He finished the course really well, cantering through the water and over the ditch without a hiccup, and these were two pretty tough technical questions for the novice. All in all, a pretty good showing for only his second event! And he is going back to Rosaryville tomorrow morning when they open the course for schooling, exactly how it was during the competition. Freddie is going to go through his entire course again, this time spending some quality time at the bank, ditch, and water. We want to be winning at Morven after all 3 phases, thank you very much!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Entered Fair Hill!!

It has been a very busy past couple of days! We got home from the AECs around 2:30 this morning and then a pretty busy day back at Kaleidescape getting ready for an exciting week. I anticipate finishing this blog and some other computer work and then dinner shower bed. Let's do a quick recap of the highlights:
SATURDAY was of course cross country day at the AECs. The advanced went first which was helpful because it gave me time to walk my own course one more time and watch how the course was riding. We shared several fences and had several similar questions (the intermediate would be next to the advanced, or share the first two parts, etc.) and it is always an advantage to get to compare how it walked with how it is actually riding. The advanced was a little unusual...the footing really hadn't been prepared the way we were all expecting, and although the facility is amazing the cross country certainly wasn't the biggest, most beautiful course I've ridden this year. A lot of the WEG horses either withdrew or did a modified course, or were told to go very easy with their pace. That was a little disappointing and I would hate to be a selector; but nonetheless I got to watch lots of good rides and lots of nice ponies cruising along doing what they do best! Before I knew it, Morris and I were hacking over to the start. We had a super warm up, they provided us tons of portables, skinnies, it was really well done in that department. I was going for time for sure, it was a championship and I could easily be Top 10 with a quick and clear round. He handled the early questions well, was really listening and by the middle of the course (particularly in one stretch after the big drop question) I was just absolutely flying in between my fences and I knew that Morris and I both were having a great time. The coffin caught him by surprise, which did not catch me be surprise lol; but we got thru it leaving only a little bit of stifle fur on the brush on the way in :) The water was big and set on a really forward step and I really had to ride to get the distances; but Morris answered, just kept drifting left. Didn't think a whole ton about it until I am on my way to the next combination, third from home, the bounce bank, where I really lost his left shoulder galloping up the ramp to get onto the mid-level of the bank. I was trying to stuff him back into straightness as he was hopping up the bank and hard to say what really happened (I bought the DVD so I will know when it comes in the mail lol) it all happened so fast. He kinda ran out of room, didn't understand that he had to bounce over the log? Wasn't straight enough, or didn't have enough power because of the drift? Either way, in less than a second my beautiful double clear round came to an abrupt halt while I sat there trying to figure how exactly one gets off of a bounce bank in order to re-approach. There were no options, so I recreated the entire combination, and galloped down the backside of the bank and made the right handed turn to the corner. It was a very frustrating afternoon and I had my fair share of margaritas at dinner, not going to lie. I'm just a competitive person. But Morris really was a star, jumped around a big tough track like a horse that deserved to be an Intermediate champion, and I have some stellar pictures to prove it! I also learned a valuable lesson, the left shoulder is going to be the focus of my paranoia forever more in cross country rounds of the Mor-ris.
SUNDAY was kind of a game of hurry up and wait. Because we were so close to the time on cross country I was afraid of warming Morris up too much for show jumping. So I sat around and watched a LOT of jumping. It was interesting, the Team had a pre-warm up warm up and I basically got a lesson watching the Capt and Katie et al working on the horses getting ready for WEG. In hindsight, I wish that I had been riding Morris because when I finally did get on yikes did I have a firecracker! The arena was packed around 3 sides with spectators, the VIP tent, flags, the Landrover driving course...really just a ton of stuff going on and Morris just wouldn't particularly settle. The horse before me gave the jump crew a lot of work, and I took advantage of this trotting and cantering Morris around the arena before I heard the judge sound the buzzer. We had a better round than Richland, certainly; but nothing like we have been getting at home and at Karen's. Morris just didn't want to exhale and I tried numerous different things around the course to encourage him to do so! It didn't much matter in the scheme of things, even with my rails I moved up a couple of placings and a clear round would have only resulted in me moving up another 2 or 3. I'm glad that I got a chance to jump around all the atmosphere; you can't recreate that at home and Morris obviously needs more work staying focused and relaxed when he sees a giant jump-filled arena after cross country day!
MONDAY came way too fast, mainly because we were up all night driving home! I slept for a few hours when I got home; but I was up early on Event Entries getting Morris and Freddie all entered in Morven and....drum roll please.....the Fair Hill CCI2* for Morris, obviously as the baby is just attempting his second novice. I am really excited to get to end my first year with Clifton Jade on home turf more or less, at the Fair Hill CCI2*. So much work to do until then!

Friday, September 10, 2010

American Eventing Championships - Dressage Day




A quick hello and then good night from Fairburn, GA where we are competing at the lovely Chattahoochee Hills for the American Eventing Championships! Today was the first day of competition for the Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced. Morris did his dressage today and was so so good, you would all be very proud! A huge competition, tons of atmosphere, and everyone that got here qualified throughout the year and came to bring home the bacon! Morris really rose to the occasion, probably the best he had been quality wise in the dressage. This could be in part due to the fact that Lara had him turned out better than any other horse in the OI, he was just absolutely glittering and I don't think she had a hair out of place. I might be slightly biased...but he really looked amazing and I think he wanted to go in there and just strut it! He stayed very focused and gave me a chance to ride for nearly all of my movements. I was rewarded with his best score to date - a 35.8. Good news is I'm only 7 points off of the lead. Bad news is I'm in 27th place! Ridiculous! Nearly 60 horses in the Open Intermediate, so I shouldn't be too disappointed. It has been nearly a year now that Morris and I have been together and looking back we have come so far in such a little amount of time. There were 3 or 4 places I would like a minor redo from my test today that coulda bought me a few more points, maybe down to a 33 or so. Other than that, he was pretty much on his "A" game.
I really hope he's on his "A" game for tomorrow, we run XC at 12:33 and it is going to be hot and I hope that we are just smokin' around the course! Above are 3 pictures of some of the more difficult parts. Course is very long, ground is hard and it is hot and humid....all factors that will make it easy to move up or down! Early on at fence 4 there is a tough accuracy question involving a mound. 5 and 6 are some pretty good sized (read: BIG) angled tables. The drop at fence 11 is pictured above, you pretty much look and feel like you are jumping off of the edge of the earth and then you continue in either 4 or 5 strides (make that decision early btw) to angle a skinny of healthy proportions. There is a turning corner question in the back field that will catch you because you just come blitzing up to it after 3 or so galloping fences, and the coffin is back there as well and it is not inviting at all. Will be a little tough of Morris on the way to that one to let him know that I hate him until he gives me reason to feel otherwise :) The water comes towards the end, big drop in and then you better land with your reins and stirrups because you have to land and kick and steer to get the job done to the next two skinnies in the water set on pretty forward distances. After that you get to gallop up to the bounce bank (not much of a reward, is it) that's in an ABC combination with a left handed corner. Whew. All in 6 minutes 11 seconds.
Better check in tomorrow to see how we go!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Loch Moy Dressage and Key Riding

What a beautiful weekend all weekend long, no wonder it's after 11 before I get a chance to write my blog tonite! We had an action packed weekend, well really it started on Thursday with a jumping lesson for Morris down at Karen's. I was a little disappointed with my rails at Richland so I brought the video for Karen to see on the laptop right there in the arena. A discussion and a large amount of jumping followed! Karen made an excellent point of reminding me that paying attention to small details of my position can make a big difference in a big, tough round like Richland, especially when the ground was so hard. We practiced on the flat really getting him to tune into a lifting sort of cue, and then applied it time and again over a course of jumps bigger than what I jumped at Richland. Practice makes perfect, and let's hope that we are perfect next weekend at the AECs!!
Saturday I went to the recognized dressage show at Loch Moy to help perfect my dressage in time for the championships. This is the same venue that hosts the Maryland Horse Trials, and luckily all of the dressage arenas faced the beautiful cross country course, and hopefully Morris thought for a moment that he was at an event instead of at a dressage show! Lara had him absolutely sparkling, if I was going to be the only New Zealand TB there I certainly wanted to be a positive representation! From the moment we stepped into the warm up arena you could tell Morris was feeling good, and the right amount of good ha ha ha, and there was no looking back. We won both of our classes very convincingly, the first one by over 9 percentage points which is a huge margin! We were the high score of the show for Second Level, again a bonus. I was there to get my horse relaxed in a dressage arena, and I think the mission was certainly accomplished. I guess we will know if it is successful or not on Friday sometime around noon...our scheduled ride time for dressage at the AECs. Also, a quick shout out to Logan Elliot and her horse Eternaluma. "Ep" was one of Valerie's former superstar eventers, and this weekend at Loch Moy he was certainly a superstar...Logan and Ep won the High Score Award for Juniors/Young Riders at First Level. Way to go!
There was no rest for the weary, in fact if anything Sunday proved to be more exciting than the dressage show...it was our first day of evaluations for the Key School Equestrian Team. I am thrilled to be their coach this year, and we had a super afternoon of riding. I was really impressed by all the riders, their abilities, and their positive attitudes. I met many of them for the first time today and I couldn't think of a nicer group to get to work with for this coming school year. We are really looking forward to a great season, with their first official practice happening in two weeks. Go Team!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday at Richland

Happy, smiling faces is what you are going to see at the horse trials and CICs at Richland Park this weekend! Pictured above is the PRO/AM team comprised of Valerie and her novice rider counterparts standing under the last fence at Richland. Freddie helped his teammates today by moving up into 5th after a very beautiful, and most importantly clean, show jumping round. This is Freddie's eventing debut here in the U.S. and he is certainly rising to the occasion. Aside from some small attention issues in dressage, he was a really good boy on Friday. Today he spent all day getting used to the atmosphere surrounding show jumping, and believe me it is a lot! This is my first time competing at Richland, and it will certainly not be the last. They run a top notch event here at Richland Park and I will gladly bring my barn back in the future.
While we are thrilled with the performance of the baby, the highlight of the day happened when the day first began, with Morris heading out on the cross country course at 8:30. To get to the point for those of you reading on a cell phone...he was amazing, jumped around clean and was the 2nd fastest time of the division! We moved up into 5th by the time it was all said and done.
For those of you who want all the gory details: It was a beautiful morning, but with bright sun and crystal blue skies there were a few last minute adjustments made to the course. Good job to all of the officials for making some good decisions in the best interest of the horses and competitors...there were still plenty of tough questions out there even without the sunken road and the double corners. It took Morris a bit to settle in to the first part of the course, which was a touch of a shame because both waters on the course were very early, fences 5AB and 8AB and 9. There was quite a crowd at each, even this early, and the cheering and clapping is always fun and gets you galloping along to the next jump all puffed up for more. Fence 4 was a ditch and wall, again early, and then fence 6 was probably one that I was most concerned about. I have a picture somewhere and will get it to you in a bit; but basically a ditch and brush built on top of a bank, with a substantial drop landing. Eek. Props to Morris and I...rode it beautifully and it was probably the highlight of my course! The galloping was super, with some really big, bold jumps stacked a bit towards the end and Morris finished feeling like a million bucks.
We show jump sometime in the morning tomorrow, and Freddie does his first ever cross country round at 2:00 in the afternoon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Waredaca


I must say that I have made the trip to and from Waredaca more times this past week than I think I have for the entire year! What a great place, a huge round of applause for the entire Waredaca family for running such an event. I know that Waredaca is a fun place to compete, one of the closest Horse Trials to Kaleidescape (takes us a little under an hour); but this time I got to view the competition from an entirely different perspective. Yet again I was at an event trying to complete all of my apprentice requirements to get my 'r' eventing judge's license. All weekend I got to shadow the Technical Delegate (TD) for the event. Sounds like fun, yes, until you are the one sitting out on a gator in the middle of the cross country course in the pouring down rain! I just wish that competitors for one second would take a step back and think about all of the efforts that organizers, officials, and volunteers go through so that we can run around out there and have a great time.
As if I didn't get enough of Waredaca each competition day, I went back on Tuesday for their open cross country school. I rode Freddie and Lara took Sam, with Sam really being the priority because he and Lara are competing at the Area II Beginner Novice Championships this weekend! We had some work to do! Luckily a very productive time was had by all. Sam was feeling great, almost cocky and tackled every difficult beginner novice question there (and quite a few novice ones as well) that Lara even remotely pointed him towards. Freddie had a big time. Humble beginnings, I admit, as he was completely startled by a group schooling the water and splashing thru the trees where he wasn't able to see them, poor baby horse. He recovered, however, and was soon doing some splashing of his own. In fact, he more or less took off with me into the water at one point! A little bizarre, not going to lie; but welcome and in fact so much better than taking off in the other direction as I have had green horses do on more than one occasion. Unfortunately Gunsmoke was left behind to guard the truck and trailer; and with no one else with us we have no pictures or video to prove that Lara jumped the preliminary ditch and brush with no reins and that Freddie and I bounced out of the Intermediate water :)
Morris was not left out of fun for the week, no worries. His lesson with Karen had to get rescheduled due to some pouring down rain. It won't kill him to wait until Monday no matter what he tells you. He had an excellent jump school in the indoor, and I am hoping to recreate it outside over some more difficult fences tomorrow.
It has also been an excellent week for the baby, Zeana. Check out her pictures and for sale ad on my website, we need to find this girl a home sooner rather than later and she is gonna grow up to be pretty cool! Worked in company for the first time this week, and also is now a pro at the indoor. She has been the easiest baby i
n the world to work with and I think even at the age of 3 there is a pretty well-functioning auto-pilot button.
Will be in touch after the weekend. Freddie has to go cross country schooling again as he prepares for his eventing debut out at Richland...Morris is gonna show him a thing or two about how the big boys do it on a championship level track. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for!
Photo of Morris, courtesy of Peacock Photography

Monday, August 9, 2010

Millbrook Photos Videos and Tales!





Some quick pictures from Millbrook over the weekend. Morris did a great job of jumping around clear and had a personal best show jumping round. Freddie made the trip as a non-competing horse and did a ton of growing up between Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning, let me tell ya!
Here is Freddie, incarcerated. And then an hour or so later when he thought for sure he would never be allowed to leave his tent stabling! We also documented his longe sessions, of which there were many, in various locations all over the show grounds. Also, a good shot of the happy people that walked around the Preliminary PRO sponsored course walk with me Friday afternoon. Hope I gave them all some good pointers! Richard filmed a little of Morris' XC on Saturday and Lara captured his fine SJ performance on Sunday.... find it at this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fBky8AzDAU


And now for the running commentary. Was really pleased with how both Morris and Freddie handled the atmosphere at Millbrook. It's a big show, beautiful venue thanks to the efforts of the Duchess Land Conservancy for whom the show benefits. Stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast, bad news was it was forever away. Good news was it was a beautiful drive to and fro! But I digress...
Friday was dressage day for Morris and he won the warm up. Unfortunately you don't really get scored on your warm up; but nonetheless he was great. Very relaxed in a crowded arena, and much better than on Thursday when I tried to do his warm up in a large grass field too close to the cross country! You have to walk across the road to get to the larger arenas at Millbrook, and Morris just didn't have a lot of time to acclimate to his new surroundings before doing the test. Which, actually, is the reason that he went to this show...so that he can have lots of experiences like that. Let's face it we aren't going to get to school in the actual arena at Rolex prior to our winning ride :) Since this was our first trip back after a long vacay and the 2*, I had Morris entered in the preliminary which has a significantly less involved dressage test. Morris didn't believe that we just were supposed to trot and canter around and go all the way down the long sides without doing any of his fancy maneuvers. If anything, he tries too hard! Rather than relax and flop down the long side Morris was waiting for just the slightest hint of what we were doing next. Annoying, but there are far worse problems to have! That afternoon we stayed pretty busy...Freddie was on a longe and ride kick where I think we worked him in any and every possible flat and sometimes not so flat area at the show grounds so he could get used to his future. Also on Friday I was asked to lead the PRO sponsored course walk for the preliminary course. PRO does a great job of making all of us professionals approachable and accessible to all competitors, owners, patrons, etc. so that together we can really promote our great sport. I was happy to walk around the track and share my thoughts about how you should approach the different fences, where to save time, where to be conservative, etc. Hope they all did well!
Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day with all the tracks riding really well; but very difficult to make the time. I really didn't have any intention of pushing Morris for a fast round and just wanted to go out and practice a few things, namely setting him up well in front of the fences so that he has a good shape while jumping. Morris was fairly unimpressed, I must admit, by the preliminary questions; but this was very good practice for making him jump in text book style. The coffin was a tough question early on in the course, a skinny up against a bush, 2 long strides to a trakehner and then 2 short strides to a skinny hanging log on top of a ramp. I was very pleased that he just cruised right thru the exercise, and really all of the exercises out there.
Show jumping Sunday morning was probably the highlight for Morris and I. He warmed up really listening and stayed very rideable, jumping in great form really from his first warm up fence and then from there on throughout the entire course. He focused well in the main arena, complete with gazebos and judge's boxes and patrons tents. I am thrilled that I got good distances to every fence!! which for me doesn't happen too often the first time around a show jumping course. I took two of the outside turns just so that I had a positive, smooth round and picked up a few cheap time faults. No bother, however, as my pony jumped well and it was just the round I wanted.
Funny side note involving Freddie Mac and the show jumping. Rode him Sunday morning right aross the street from the main arena. He did a good job of understanding that he had to pay attention to the boring flatwork that we were doing instead of watching the exciting jumping rounds from the competition! However, the one thing the poor boy did NOT understand was why, every 2 minutes or so, there was a large eruption of clapping and whooping from the crowd. He really didn't know what to do or where to go....so sad being a baby! I told him that he would learn to thrive off of a crowd and that most certainly he would be getting a lot of applause in his own bright future!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Schooling at Morven



So many things to get caught up on in the past 48 hours. Firstly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lara
, we celebrated last night at Cadillac Ranch and she did Blue Clover Eventing proud, I must say....lasted 45 seconds and was the best mechanical bull rider of the evening! And that was after a big day of cross country schooling at Morven Park in their schooling field. Great facility when in between events - most of the portables from the regular courses find themselves in the schooling field, and that combined with the drops, mounds, ditches and water makes it a great place for $30. I will stand on a soapbox, actually, for a moment and complain about the places that are charging outrageous fees of $60 to school. If Gibbs is still charging $35, shame on any where else whether you run a competition or not! Okay, sorry about that, back to celebrating Morven and their schooling field and the good ponies!
We took Morris, Freddie, and Sam. Sam is Lara's lovely warmblood cross that is almost totally qualified for the American Eventing Championships (AECs) and with one more chance to qualify the pressure is on! They certainly handle the pressure well, had a fantastic day and he even was a positive role model for Freddie, more about that later.
Morris was enjoying his first romp around since Bromont. He went first, of course, and it was still really cool relative to our recent weather and he felt super. The ground is pretty hard right now and so I tried to be as efficient as possible and saved those precious legs of his for the season! I just really have the best horse in the whole world with Morris. He strolled around, didn't act like a crazy which can sometimes happen their first school back after an exciting competition like Bromont. He was very rideable, and I took advantage of all of the ditches at Morven. The ditches are probably the most difficult technical part for Morris, and we got an opportunity to do 4 plus some trakehners Friday. It was a good day! Felt great being back on Morris again doing what he loves to do, galloping and jumping. Really looking forward to Millbrook, we leave on Thursday.
And then Freddie, he got to school at the same time as his "Uncle Sam" and thankfully Sam was a good influence on the youngster! Freddie jumped all sorts of scary things, jumped into and out of the woods which is difficult for babies because they don't know how to focus on the changes of light and going from wide open to narrow to wide open again. Freddie really passed every test with flying colors. He jumped 2 of the ditches, went up and down the bank, and my favorite Freddie moment was the water. We had been on this set for 1 1/2 hours (yes, a long time; but we were going very very slowly for Freddie) and Fred was about done both mentally and physically. After a brief pause he walked into the water jump and about 5 strides from the end he put his nose down to give it a sniff. Apparently the water passed the sniff test, because the next thing I know Fred is trying to suck down big gulps of water right next to the bank out! And I was worried about how he would handle a professional water obstacle! While he still has a lot to learn, he has a super attitude and with time and miles he is going to be quite a horse for the future. Be on the look out for Freddie Mac to make his official debut sometime towards the end of the month!
Here is a fun little clip of Morris jumping the day before, Thursday, at a lesson with Karen. It was his first lesson back since Bromont, and I was happy that right away Karen noticed how much more mature and confident he was after his run up there. This just solidifies to me that I made the right decision to run him in the 2* up there. We started with some good focusing and footwork exercises and then Karen jumped right in to exercises that pinpoint some of our weaknesses. I would say Morris is so keen to jump, sometimes he thinks he knows exactly where he is going and how he is going to get there, and sometimes he's just not right! In the video clip we executed a very difficult turn that requires a lot of precise and strong riding. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More XC Schooling

Another great day for Freddie Mac and his cross country adventures. He managed to jump every single jump at Dove Hill, on the very first try! And not only that, he did it with a purpose. He was so much straighter today, locking his ears onto the jump and then sailing over and landing like he knew exactly what he was doing. I think the high light of his school was jumping the coffin, full blown log 3 strides ditch 1 angled stride to a skinny log on the way out. Fred made it look simple! In his next outing, he is going with his "big brother" Morris to a facility that has a water jump, and we will see what Freddie thinks about that!
Morris is really happy to hear that he will be going cross country schooling soon, that is for sure. The footing is hopefully a little better now that we have had some rain, unfortunately we have been really ring-bound with Morris hoping to keep his feet happy in softer going. However, we leave next week on Wednesday for Millbrook and thus are going to have to get out and gallop somewhere and take a splash in a water jump! Freddie will be shocked to know that his grand finale jumps are mere warm-ups for Morris; but the baby has to start somewhere ha ha ha. Morris had a super lesson with Linda yesterday. She will be gone for the next couple of weeks judging a bunch of Championships in Europe, and boy did she hand out some homework. Morris hadn't worked that hard since coming back from his post-Bromont holiday and I was really pleased with how he felt. A few little position tweaks for both Morris and I and by the end of the lesson he was really floating around in the trot. Lara was there right next to Linda and has been trained sufficiently to be my eyes on the ground (Linda gave her permission to yell at me in her absence). I am sure that by the time Linda gets back we will have completed our assignments and be ready for more!

It is looking like a pretty fun fall season is shaping up...entered Freddie and Morris to take the big trip out to Richland (Michigan) at the end of August. Freddie might even be able to do the YEH tests out there, we will wait and see how he goes in the water over the weekend. And then Morris heads out to the AECs and hopefully Lara's horse gets his final qualifier and gets to make the trip as well. Should be a lot of fun. Freddie will be running at the Marlborough Horse Trials, which is really close to Kaleidescape (30 minutes away, tops) and I hope that everyone will be able to come out and tell him how wonderful he is!

Have fun watching the video from cross country today, courtesy of Lara who sometimes couldn't decide whether to watch at times in real time or thru the camera lens lol.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Big Horse!



I know, you watch the video and you say, well that looks like no big deal. And that's the point!! Freddie Mac went on his first cross country school (a big thank you to Dove Hill Farm for accommodating us at the last minute) and the most exciting part about our trip was that we didn't have too many exciting parts! He was a big horse, all grown up. Shipped the short drive there with his tack and boots on and stood like a professional when we took him off the trailer and hacked out to the cross country field. Ok, Lara was there on foot in case he needed a brave leader to get out to said cross country field; but that wound up being unnecessary and she and Gunsmoke were able to stand in the shade and observe from afar. The hardest part for Freddie was just managing those long baby legs of his as he had to negotiate all of the terrain. Nearly every fence at Dove Hill involves some sort of terrain and Fred is going to have to work on his sea legs! We did a lot of trot warm-up and actually trotted most of the fences. At 17.1 the height was not an issue for any of it...but the turns before and sometimes after were tricky for the baby horse...the mind was very quick, the feet not always on the same page! It will be fun when we are storming around Rolex to remember his humble beginnings.
His attitude was super, never thought for a minute to be upset or nervous. He was excited, though he wasn't sure why. He got surprised by a few of the fences (why, on a 350 acre farm, am I aiming him straight at this obstacle?); but by the end of the session was really getting the hang of it. I hope when you watched the video you could tell how proud Freddie was of himself, and he should be.
Here's the best story of the schooling, Freddie's first attempt at the up-bank. He trots up to it round and floppy-eared and striding out. He slams on the breaks at the last second, because in his mind I just ran him into a wall. His toes were right in the base, and his chest is even with the logs built into the side of the hill. He was nervous, because it didn't naturally occur to him to hop up this bank to get to the grassy slope that continued up the hill. I didn't get mad at him, just gave him a second to figure things out. He is inherently a curious and brave horse, so it didn't take long for him to stick his nose on the logs and snort, and then he's investigating further, and then the next thing I know, he's eating the grass growing on top of the bank! Quintessential Freddie, making all of us so proud! Afraid at what's going to happen the first time we attempt the bank down.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome Lara!

I am really excited to announce that there is a new groom working behind the scenes (or not so much!) at Blue Clover Eventing! Lara started working with me and all of my critters last Wednesday, and today started her first official week with the Blue Clover Eventing team. This is far from her first week as a professional groom, she has worked at top barns in Southern Pines and Middleburg and we are thrilled to welcome her to Davidsonville. Her horse, Sam, arrives at the end of the week (ready or not, Sam, watch out! ha ha ha) and we are trying to show her a good time around the Davidsonville/Harwood/Annapolis area. Went to all the hot-spots downtown and bull riding on Friday night....but wait, I digress....
What can I say, been very busy already and she fit right into the mix. We took Freddie on another field trip, she figured out Morris' favorite way to be curried, and spiffed up our sales horse Charm in no time flat. Poor thing even had to work on her first Sunday with me, although there were no horses to deal with exactly....I had to finish the last division of my apprentice judging for my 'r' judge's license and Lara willingly volunteered to be my scribe/scorer/sidekick. I will say, I was very impressed by the competitors in the division that I judged and there were quite a few horses that I asked Lara to watch jump (I had to meet and discuss my scores and comments) because they looked like potential horses I would like to own! Sadly none of them won approval and so we came home empty handed lol.
This week appears to be another fast-paced Monday thru Friday. I am trying to sneak out of town to the beach on Wednesday and Thursday and so Lara will be running the show for 36 hours, and I have complete faith that she will dot every "i" and cross every "t." She even gets to ride Morris, lucky girl! The other days there is little time for the weary, Freddie is going cross country schooling tomorrow for the first time. Our baby horse went on her first adventure today outside of the arena and Lara had to babysit and get ready to rescue in case it didn't go well (I must say that the Z girl was perfect!!). We have a lovely bay and white pinto in the barn that will keep Lara very busy because she seems to only manage to get stains on her white spots lol.
I hope that you all get to meet her soon and welcome her to our great bunch. Lara also has a blog, and she will be writing weekly updates about the behind the scenes at Blue Clover Eventing. Please check out what's going on, in her professional opinion, at http://larachance.blogspot.com

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Lot Accomplished



It was a great day getting to jump Morris again! His first day back over fences since his three day. Special thanks to our guest photographer Dorothy Anderson (you can see more of her work at www.peacockphotos.smugmug.com). Unfortunately Morris was quite excited ha ha ha and we spent the entire session jumping small warm up fences like the two pictured above. He really wanted to fly over some oxers and do far more complicated and impressive things and just really didn't understand why I wanted to be so calm and slow and boring! Poor guy, will be on this program for a bit as he gears up for his next competition, set to take place at Millbrook August 5-8. We will jump probably twice a week until then, with our first cross country school looking like sometime next week at Loch Moy once their course is open for schooling for the summer. And if someone could tell Morris ahead of time that this, too, will be slow and low and boring lol.
And guess who gets to go schooling as well? If you guessed baby Freddie, you were absolutely correct! Freddie went on the trailer for his first field trip, and we were so happy that he marched right on in and stood quietly. The last time Freddie got on a trailer it started a week long adventure that took him on a trailer, ferry, and plane to travel half way around the world! What a good boy, however, just acting like he does it every single day. Went to neighboring Dove Hill Farm (thank you!) to flat around their lovely arena. I was mentally prepared for the worst, so again very pleased that he walked trotted and cantered around their arena going through a completely normal work out as though we were at home. This bodes very well for Freddie as he gears up for his first competition....but one thing at a time. This week we are trying to go on another small, local field trip and then next week cross country schooling at Loch Moy we will go! We will be sure to get some pictures and video of that!
And speaking of picture and video, stay tuned to the website and the Blue Clover Eventing Facebook page for pictures and video of Charm, a cute little sales horse. We hope to have her information available soon for all to see.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cantering!



It is all about the little things in life. I know, it sounds kinda silly. But taking the time to celebrate the little things I suppose is what my job is all about; one day you achieve something huge and you can think back in your mind about all the little insignificant things along the way that made the impossible possible.
Today's little thing: cantering. It's not so little! Morris is now back in complete work, no more taking it easy on the big guy with light training sessions. It was relatively cool today, that means slightly under 100 degrees ha ha ha, and so I felt like it was okay to crank up the heat in the arena and really school some good canter. Uphill, light, not cheating during his transitions by diving onto his forehand and losing energy. Not stiffening and coming above the bit to pick up the canter, either! Poor guy ended up with sweat even on his eyelids; I didn't feel too bad, however, since I was in much the same condition!
Freddie had a great day working on his canter (watch the video below and thanks to Richard for standing in the desert today filming). Let me just say that at this time last month Freddie couldn't even canter a complete 20 meter circle without sputtering back into the trot or falling apart completely on a straight away! Today Mr. Fred managed to get his correct lead I'd say at least 95% of the time, without the drama of pinning ears and swishing tail. I know it is hard for him to get his daddy long legs all on the same schedule, and today he just tried his heart out in the heat. As you can see on the video clip, we did a lot of canter poles today to help get him stronger and teach him how to maintain the same tempo as well as the same length of step. These are going to be important skills for Freddie to master as his jumps get taller, wider, and more complicated!
The two newest girls to Blue Clover Eventing also had big canter days. Charm managed to canter on some pretty small circles and keep her balance and her frame. I think she got all of her correct leads on the first try as well, something that has alluded her in the past most certainly! And Tori had her very first day of canter since moving to Kaleidescape. Big day, I must say. I was pleased to find that her canter is actually pretty balanced and coordinated. We just need to help her get it a little more organized and presentable for the dressage arena! In time, just a little bit of time......

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Back in Action!

This is perhaps the best view in the house...taken on top of Clifton Jade aka Morris this morning as he went back into work after his holiday. After such a great spring season, culminating with a Top Ten finish at the Bromont CCI2*, Morris deserved and enjoyed 3 weeks of getting dirty and fat and not having to answer to nobody! Until this morning, when we planted him in the cross ties and got him all dressed up for a ride. He was perfectly well behaved, I would have felt safe with anyone riding him, such a genuinely classy horse. Amazing to think that in about two weeks he will be back in top form as though his vacation never really happened. And we have a lot of work to do, really focusing on our dressage and show jumping for our fall competitions right up until we run at the Fair Hill International October 15-17, 2010.
I think the other horses in the barn know their places in the world....Morris was the first horse on the list of go for the day and will retain that prime spot until further notice! Got a new horse in today, a super cute 5 year old Swedish warmblood, and her stall is directly across from Morris. Told her to listen carefully, that she should be just like Morris when she grows up :) I hope he was telling her all the right things!
Be on the lookout for Morris to head to Milbrook early August. And I think he will be bringing his little (well, younger since Freddie stands at 17.1 and Morris is a solid 16.1 on his tip-toes) brother with him...Freddie's big adventure. We are taking Freddie up to Milbrook to learn about atmosphere and living in tent stabling and how to behave in a crowd of 300, all before he makes his real US eventing debut the next weekend at Waredaca. Could be a very exciting weekend! Stay tuned to hear about all the preparations to get the boys whipped into shape!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Surefire - Hot, Hot, Hot!

Yesterday was a great day to sit by the pool and instead I was sitting inside a car judging the JYOP at Surefire Horse Trials in Purcellville, VA! Many thanks to my working student Karyn for being my scribe for the day, and she knows that I now expect her to be able to ride perfectly the Preliminary Test B after writing down scores and comments for two entire divisions! The competitors and their mounts did a great job of staying cool under pressure and in 100 degree heat, and I was very impressed with organizer Jan Byyny and her entire crew on running such a fabulous show. Part of me wishes that I was competing there instead of judging, especially after seeing some of the great changes that they made to the cross country course since last year...but Morris is still on holiday and the babies aren't quite ready for their recognized debuts. The timing worked out well, however, with my final exam for my "r" license coming up rapidly this October, I am feeling more and more prepared.
Enough about me, I realize that you read this to hear about the ponies! Here's the quick run down for you on what's been going on at Kaleidescape. Morris has been getting fat, loafing around his field, although at the first sighting of a bug he is quickly by the gate ready for anybody or everybody to bring him back into the barn and park him under the fan. Morris is on holiday until Thursday, when he comes back into light work for the next week or so. Aiming him at the Millbrook Horse Trials the first part of August, so that gives him a month to get back into competition form. I think he is ready to get going again, like his rider he doesn't sit still very well! Freddie went on his first big time hack on Saturday, made it all the way through the hay fields over to Linda's arena where there was somebody riding. Big test, he went in the ring, tooled around, and then left his friend in the dust hacking home. Apparently we are big and brave for a leggy, green 5 year old! He was so well behaved, and the hills definitely did him some good. We will make this more a part of his routine and I am eagerly awaiting his first Linda lesson. I think he is almost strong enough now to survive how hard she will work us both ha ha ha.
The baby of the bunch, Zeana, had a fantastic week. She is 3, just getting broke, and has been absolutely wonderful to work with and around. I think the dressage is certainly in her future, not only is she bred for it; but she got both of her correct canter leads right off the bat and naturally wants to trot in a frame. Good girl!! I should have her talk to all of the youngsters at the barn! The newest addition is Charm, a cute little 6 year old that will be for sale shortly as a dressage or event prospect. She has settled into the program really well and is a fun little thing to ride. Watch for her pictures and video soon on the For Sale page of my website:

http://blueclovereventing.com/Sale%20Horses/SaleHorses.html

Hope that this week proves to be even better than the last, you know me :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Freddie's First Headline



I think this is the first time that Freddie Mac has made it into the title of the blog. Big day for Fred! I don't want to undermine the progress that he is making since coming to the US now officially 2 months ago from New Zealand; however all Morris is doing right now is hanging out in the stall and paddock getting fat after his 2* and nobody really wants to read about that! Poor Freddie, all he knows is that he is a 17.1h 5 year old and life half way around the world is a little different than what he was used to. Let's start with the fact that he had a fur coat on him that would have gotten him comfortably thru winter in the arctic let alone New Zealand, and today it felt like 1000 degrees in the arena when it was his turn to school. He really has done a remarkable job at getting over his trip and just now I am feeling like every day I know what kind of a horse I am going to step onto at the mounting block (yes, for those of you who know me, this one is actually tall enough that I have to get on every day at the mounting block!). Walk trot and canter today were all smooth, we got our correct leads, we made small circles without bulging into any standards and trying to whack my outside leg off. I have a video clip here (thank you, Richard who spent a good hour of his Fathers Day standing out in the desert today holding up his i-phone to get some footage) of Freddie and his warm up roll tops. I make him trot in and canter out quietly over all sorts of small, spooky, skinny things. If he's going to be a 4* event horse he can't practice skinnies too much! He actually is getting quite brave about all of this at home, so we need to take him down a notch here soon ha ha ha, seriously though I see a field trip in his near future so we can expand those horizons a little bit. Funny thing about sport horses, we expect them to go somewhere foreign, with more than a hundred of their closest friends they've never met, loud speakers, barking dogs, food tents and then perform better than they do in optimal conditions at home. What amazing critters!
Enjoy Freddie's quick clip and know that you will be seeing a lot more of this guy in the future. Big plans for him. A big thank you, on Father's Day to his "father" Chris Ellis for putting him in my barn and giving him a chance to see how great we all can be! After he runs around Rolex we are going to look back at this clip of him trotting a roll top and realize what a ride it has been!