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:

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!

Monday, June 14, 2010

9th Place and Best Presented!

Obviously we all had a lot of fun up at Bromont, with the icing on the cake being a Top Ten finish and winning the Grooms Award for the competition! Morris did great on Sunday, he jogged up that morning like a champion (and props to my groom, Sam, who bore the brunt of Morris feeling so frisky and he actually walked her around for a good 40 minutes before the ground jury saw us) and then show jumped around 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon. If I had a chance to do it all again I would like to leave up all the rails ha ha ha, however I managed to leave up more than most and moved up two more places to finish 9th in the competition overall. The scores were really close and the course was tough, maximum height and spreads and some tricky questions that really made a stiff, tired horse think a lot about what it was he had to do to jump around clean. If anything Morris wasn't quite tired enough, was quite full of himself when he walked down the long dramatic lane to enter the main arena!
I am so thankful to have such a happy, healthy horse. He got right on the trailer after the competition and we drove through the night to get him home, arriving back at Kaleidescape around 4am. Waiting in front of his stall was a special bran mash made specifically for a champion, complete with carrot decoration! Glad that I had so many postive things to focus on on the drive home. Morris gets a couple of weeks holiday and then I can't wait to get right back to work on making both of us even better for our fall season. And knowing Morris, he can't wait, either!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Double Clear!

Saturday night I launched an all-out attack on my computer that refuses to connect to Canadian wireless and ended up with some message about trying to emergency restart and sorry that this hasn`t worked out as planned with up to the minute coverage and photos! However, here is a link to a video of my ride, filmed courtsey of my super-sponsors Ecogold:

Morris was absolutely wonderful, going double clear, one of only 10 pairs to make the time. So many challenging questions, on top of running up and down the mountain for an optimum time of 8 minutes 36 seconds and he was really up to it. It was the best he has felt going into the water, and it was a HUGE drop in over a hanging long and then 6 strides across to a skinny skinny brush. He was spot-on at all of the ditches, taking a little extra time to place his feet at the coffin but then hopped over it smartly and made the 2 strides to the angled skinny on the way out. The double corners rode well, when I was watching some of the earlier rides go I watched quite a few problems there and many ugly rides. I am pleased to say that I feel like I put in the best ride I have had on him yet, and David agreed finding me in the vet box as we were cooling him out and telling me that it was the best he has seen the horse go. Makes me very proud, I know I have a great jumping horse, I know I have a fast horse. I am glad that I was able to make his job easy today.
He looked great afterwards, not a hair out of place and not the least bit tired. In fact he galloped thru the finish line with his ears popping out of his head just rolling along making it look easy. Lets me know I did a good job with his conditioning program, and he went back to the barn and was ready for some lunch! I will have all the gory details and photos to follow once I am back across the border where wireless works like it should ha ha ha.

Jog is Sunday morning 8:00 sharp and I hope he is feeling and looking great, because there is a challenging show jumping track ahead. I have moved up into 11th place after the cross country and am looking for a strong Top 10 finish for the entire competition.

Friday, June 11, 2010

On to the Jumping!

You know how much I love dressage, and you know how much Morris has improved in his dressage in his time with me.....however this Friday morning about all I can say is now we get to go jump! I was the last ride of the day yesterday, and the scores had been close all day long and I was very optimistic about a good performance in my pre-ride when Morris was feeling great. The girls had him absolutely sparkling, I have never seen him look so brilliant. And then it got dark, very cold, and half way thru my warm up for the real ride it just started pouring. POURING! Morris was not a fan, that`s about all I can say. He was grumpy, ears back, flicking his head, back tight and not really floating around like a ballerina. He kept it together in the arena fairly well, made no mistakes and executed all of the technical aspects of the test correctly, just didn`t flow enough to get a winning score. So I am sitting on a 62.4 which puts me exactly 10 points from 4th and with cross country time faults I can be in the top ten by Saturday afternoon. I walked the course yesterday when it stopped raining - about 30 minutes after I finished my ride, thank you - and it looks very well suited towards Morris. Terrain and fitness are going to play a huge part as there are a lot of slow long hill climbs with some pretty big questions. Both waters are tough, big jumps and drops on the way in. One jump in the middle of the water, the first water has a very very skinny brush on the way out, not even an inch to spare in your steering. There are several ditch and walls, ditches, a huge trakehner is there waiting for you at the 3rd which is quite early on. Some good angled questions, a couple of big galloping tables....certainly a lot of room to separate the pack after the dressage! I am heading out again today to walk it twice more, once with a meter wheel so I can memorize my minute markers and keep good track of my time along the course. I think that David O`Connor is taking a group of us out sometime this afternoon and I am interested in what he has to say. I am very interested to see how it is going to ride!
Will have photos and details to follow!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Accepted is about the best word you can hear on a Wednesday of a 3 day and luckily for Morris and I it came before we even finished trotting off of the jog strip this afternoon! I can`t wait to get some pictures to you; but alas the stupid wireless in my auberge is still not working properly and so they are all stuck on my camera and computer and I can`t get them onto this archaic computer in the lobby. Anyway, we are going to focus on the positive! Beautiful day today, rode Morris twice. First time this morning in the warm up arena for tomorrow, and this evening after the jog we took a trip around our actual competition arena. It is a very dramatic entrance, under a huge archway that I`m sure some of the horses are not going to be too thrilled to cross underneath without a buddy. Morris was a champ today about going thru, really he was well behaved all day. He did his fair share of walking Sam around prior to the jog; but in the end they came to a compromise and when I saw him he looked extremely well behaved and aware that he had an important job to do here this weekend! We are the last of the 2* entries tomorrow, riding at 2:26. As you know me, I always go early whenever I can so have your fingers crossed in anticipation of an earlier start! He felt great, had a super medium trot across a diagonal that had the entire warm up turning around and watching. Practiced a LOT of walk and plan on doing more of that again tomorrow.
Met the judges and Ground Jury at the competitiors briefing and they all had great things to say, a really nice group. The park here looks amazing with a brand new arena in the back and from what I can see we run part of the cross country course in there. I plan on walking that tomorrow morning and will have the report for you by the evening. And hopefully some pictures!! Talk to you then.


Well my boys (Morris Richard and Gunsmoke that is) and I all made it up to Bromont safely and I think had some good fun along the way. Not fun trying to write this blog, wireless stopped working last night so I am sitting in the hotel lobby on one of the first computers ever made...probably why it is working and mine isn`t ha ha ha. We left Kaleidescape Monday earlier than anticipated - wow I know - and got up to Marilyn Payne`s Applewood Farm in Gladstone, NJ mid-afternoon. Richard never having been there before got the tour and Gunsmoke started to run and play right away with his good bud Jake. Morris, not having been there before either didn`t really get a tour as much as an intense last lesson before his 2*! Our warm up was a run thru of the dressage test we will ride on Thursday at Bromont, with ``O`` judge Marilyn sitting at C and making her comments out loud so that I could tune up as I went thru. With my final halt and salute we hacked out of the dressage arena and headed over to the show jumping field where we worked on some combinations and big wide oxers and all sorts of things what we would see up here on Sunday. Marilyn was very pleased with Morris, she hadn`t seen him since down in Aiken and thought that the improvements we had made together were tremendous. Even after all of this, however, poor Morris wasn`t finished with work! We hacked down Fox Hill road out to the gallop and I gave Morris a good sprint up their lovely conditioning hill. Adding to the excitement was a fairly young and very curious cow pastured next to one long flat section of the gallop. Morris noted his little friend; but luckily for me took it all in stride and we went whizzing by Mr. Moo without a second thought.
Morris got a good night`s sleep, the rest of us, well questionable...a good group headed out to dinner at the Black Horse which is a great spot for drinks, dinner and dessert (all of which we ordered). Even with a late night I was up before the alarm, excited to get on the road the rest of the 8 hours to Bromont. We made it across the border without delay for which I was very thankful (and a big thank you to Gunsmoke who stayed asleep flat on his side in the back seat and I may or may not have declared him to the Customs agent!). Beautfiul up here, barely out of the 60s during the day and when I did lates Wednesday evening it was 40something brrrrr. The horses will be feeling absolutely super on cross country, though I honestly hope it warms up a little for my dressage! Morris was a touch unruly at his in-barn inspection, very excited to be at what appears to him to be a bit show and he received yet another stamp in his passport. Took him for a walk about and he was perfectly happy to smaple the Canadian grass. Wednesday night he sampled his stall floor, tucked all in a ball asleep when I went to make sure he had enough blankets on. He is going to need that rest! Big day today, 12:00 briefing gets the show officially underway and then the1st horse inspection aka ``the jog`` starts at 3. They are saving the best for last in the 2*, got a chance to see the order of go and Morris and I are the final pair! So we will probably jog closer to 4. Will also get to inspect the cross country course for the first time tomorrow and hope to have photos for you to enjoy as soon as my own computer starts to work again. take care, I will be back in touch hopefully this evening!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Final XC Outing for Bromont

All I can say is that 4 am comes quickly. I found myself wondering why my phone alarm was awakening me so rudely...and then I remembered I had a big day and had no time to waste! Firstly, I had to give Gunsmoke a bath, yes at 4 am or really by that time 4:30. He had spent the night outside, for the first time since I've owned him, because he found something absolutely vile to roll in right before bed time. I couldn't even deal so out the door he got thrown....and so the day began. From there to the barn and then down the road to The Plains and the cross country schooling course at Karen's. You could tell it was going to be a very warm day and I was much appreciative of the 8 am time slot for my lesson. It was well worth the early wake up call and the beltway/66 traffic! I had ridden over the course back in the fall for the first time and was happy this time to even know how to hack there..a beautiful piece of property and I kept looking behind me the whole way at the spectacular morning view of the mountains surrounded by a foggy haze. Reminds me to be grateful for what it is I get to do every day. Well, I don't get to ride at High Acres every day; but you get my drift. There were some new exercises set up, a new portable or two which we promptly used as our warm up fences. The schooling field doesn't cover a whole lot of ground, which makes it good to work on constantly having to go forward where you have the time and space and then set your horse back up for whatever obstacle or combination you are tackling next. This is exactly what I need to work on at the moment with Morris and I was thankful for Karen's insight and ability to get me to create and recreate lots of positive rides over a wide variety of obstacles. There were 5 ditches to practice!, one set up with a pretty tough coffin exercise. Took me a second try to perfect it heading one direction, and I rode it very well the first time when I did the skinny first (and do I mean SKINNY!), one stride to the ditch, two strides to a roll top then 5 or 6 strides to another roll top. Corner, mound, narrow brush line went well for me as well, and gave me lots of opportunity to practice slipping my reins in a way that will allow Morris to have an even better shape over his fences on the varying terrain.
The last section of my lesson took place at the water complex. We went right for the big boy stuff, a roll top one stride in for starters, no walking through and giving it a sniff ha ha ha. We ended with a tough exercise that Morris and I absolutely nailed and it felt like a million bucks. It was a vertical bounce on the way in, two strides across the water, jump up the bank and then bounce out over another vertical. It was a feeling that I would like to memorize, we just flowed through the whole exercise, and we ended the jumping session on that note. Much to my surprise, however, my morning wasn't over quite yet!
I consulted with Karen about the remaining rides before Bromont and the timing of my last gallop. I couldn't believe how lucky I was when Karen suggested that I gallop on the OCET gallop right then and there, and then my days would work out perfectly to have my final gallop on Monday before shipping up to Canada on Tuesday. It took a little instructing, okay it took a lot of instructing because I had never been there before and I had to learn where I was going, what side I was to gallop on, where to slow down for crossings, where to check my watch, where I could finally end...all I have to say is I got it now and I can't wait to do it again! Morris and I absolutely had the best time, felt like we were doing our last gallop before Rolex or something monumental, I must admit. 1 mile completely uphill, groomed, with threatening signs lining it most of the way that ensure no wayward hooves or tires find their way into the gallop lanes. Even though we had just jumped 50? cross country fences, accelerating and organizing for the past hour and a half, Morris just pricked his ears and ate up the ground. No doubt in my mind that I have a fit horse for our 2*! But what a way to start my day, and start my final week before our biggest competition of the year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No Holiday for Morris!

Poor Morris on Monday had the anti-holiday...he woke up not to a day off but to a dressage lesson over at Linda's! He should have known something was awry when Karyn (his new girl) had him sparkling and standing in white wraps....never happens early on a Monday morning. He is such a sport, always up for anything and this was no exception. He was a little nervous about having to walk the gauntlet between all of the youngsters turned out on either side of the walk way from Kaleidescape up to Linda's. However as soon as I got on his back he was Mr. Professional and as soon as Linda got out to the ring we were busy busy busy! He felt great after a little warm up and so we went right into executing some of the more difficult movements for Linda's amazing eyes to watch. Taken separately the movements aren't anything special, shoulder in haunches in a counter canter serpentines are all among the highlights. However trying to do these things sequentially on a very, very fit TB really does become another sport. As usual the WALK is something that Morris just doesn't care for and we ended the day with a bunch of work on our turn on the haunches. We nailed the last two (Linda told me to quit after the first one but I just couldn't help myself) and called it a day. It was quite humid and Morris had really worked up a sweat. Okay, I had really worked up a sweat, too. Glad though that he recovered so quickly and certainly wasn't going to admit he was tired. Fitness is always a major concern heading into a 3 day, no matter how fit your horse is I think you have these moments where you doubt yourself and your program. However Morris has a great baseline from a very long season of competing this spring, and he had a great work out on the hills at his last compeition at Virginia. Add in one or two Linda lessons to really get you puffing and viola, a horse fit for a 2*!
Poor Freddie fell victim to being the next horse I had to ride following my lesson. Maybe he could sense my seriousness about the quality of work for the day, as he really rose to the occasion. I had maybe trotted around the arena for 20 minutes, doing all sorts of figures and changes of directions and transitions, all difficult areas for this long legged baby, and he was just having his best ride since moving to the United States. I let him have a walk break and he stretched down and did an extended walk to die for, so I ended the ride then and there! Let him go on a nice walk around the farm, it was absolutely gorgeous outside, and took him in for a shower. Couldn't think of a better way to spend my holiday!