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!


video

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!

video

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!

video

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!