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'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!