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


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:

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 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 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!