Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And the Wins Just Keep on Coming!

The photo above includes some of my favorite owners, students, and the most loyal Blue Clover Eventing supporters. Unfortunately, not a single one of them came to Olney Farm HT this past Sunday, and why they didn't want to spend the 100 degree Sunday outside with us in a field, I can't possible imagine :) In fact, not even our token Lercher went with us to the show! I knew it was going to be hot hot hot - and turns out so were our results! Speaking of the heat, I want to thank the entire crew at Olney, to volunteer is a thankless job and to volunteer on such a miserably hot and humid day, bravo. I also can't imagine what it was like setting up for the HT Thursday-Saturday where I think nearly every day broke a record for heat index in MD.
Luckily our times had us in and out, and Trisha did a great job of keeping everyone on track. We did have several visitors that lent a helping hand (and brought us an amazing peach cake - thank you!!) and it is always fun to share all the gory details with anyone that is willing to listen. Marian didn't have too many gory details, she won on her dressage score in the Training Rider division woop woop! I was quite proud of her as she can be very hard on herself and the past two weeks has made a choice to focus on positive instead of negative, and I say she did a great job and she got ribbons and loot to prove it! The courses at Olney are not the biggest and toughest for their respective levels; but they have a lot of tricky places here and there and Marian and Tanner rose to the occasion and won a nail-biting tie for first that came down to closest to optimum time on cross country.
Our other superstar of the day was my favorite little grey mare, Splish Splash. After a nearly perfect record at Beginner Novice (she was only second ONCE by .5) it really was time for her to make the move up to the big Novice. I thought we were sunk as soon as we started. She grinds on the bit just out of habit, she is a lovely mover and scores in the 20s and she just does it without even thinking. In the indoor at Olney, it was deafeningly silent and with no doors windows nothing I swear I couldn't even hear myself think over the crunch crunch crunch noise of her loose ring double jointed snaffle. If I were the judge I know I would have just fixated on it. But, the streak continues, she was winning after dressage on a 20-something and never looked back! She did look down, and tried to put her feet down, while half way over the log on the lump out on cross country. I had never seen this at novice, it was legitimate! and Splash had certainly never seen anything like it. From up on top of the mound you see the ramp into the water, and ironic as it is Splish Splash didn't care much for water when she first started her eventing career. I was one step ahead of her luckily and through all the flags we went on the first try. (Sabrina, if you are reading this, we will definitely have me school this again once or twice before you and Splash attempt this together lol.)
Lucky did the same thing in his novice division, although unfortunately his day was ruined as soon as he went into the indoor. Apparently Lucky has never seen a mirror and didn't know just how good looking he is, and couldn't get enough of himself anytime we attempted to go down a longside or into a corner. Sadly, Novice Test B calls for you to go both down the long side and into a corner lol. He jumped really really well and was very relaxed in warm up, so we considered that a success.
Next week we are off to Millbrook. There will be some good cross country schooling to be done here in the meantime. Smarty needs some skinnies, Morris needs a bunker-style ditch and a 4x4, and Marian and Trisha are both looking to move up to the big P. So they just need to jump anything and everything that they think looks big and scary!! Oh the fun we will have!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

CIC* Win for Playtime at Cosequin Stuart HT

I am not going to sit here and lecture; but in life you have two choices. You can focus on the positive or you can focus on the negative. I think I speak for my entire Blue Clover Eventing crew when I say that we had a great time at Stuart! Stuart is one of my favorite events of all time, and I was lucky enough to get interviewed by a TV station up there and tell them the same thing. It has the most supportive, cooperative, and accommodating volunteers and organizers out of any competition I think we attend. The venue is great, the cross country always challenging but in a good kind of way. I was happy to be back this year and you can count of me for 2012!
Playtime aka Smarty convincingly won the CIC* division and I am so thrilled for his owner Chris Ellis who is one of the most enthusiastic owners an eventer could ask for. We have had Smarty in the barn since February and this weekend was a personal best for the chubby little chestnut. He has all the talent in the world and all the ego and attitude that you would expect for a horse named Playtime and nicknamed Smarty. I guess he likes Stuart, however, because he was excellent. We got there on Thursday with quite the truckful, Morris Smarty Richard Jackson Trisha and I. Marian and Gunsmoke were I think quite possibly the only things left behind! We had jog-ups Thursday evening and both boys jogged great, and Trisha had them looking great. He got a little stiff and tense in the dressage; but still moves like a million bucks and is getting quite rideable in there and we were sitting 4th Friday night. The 1* cross country was really an intermediate with green squares! Smarty really rose to the occasion, it was the first time where I had a track to really gallop and get him to focus, have time to set up for the combinations....I think he is going to be quite a 3 day horse. He jumped really well, had a lot of fun galloping, and actually did come back on command! He finished cross country looking for his next fence, just a couple of seconds over the time and there were plenty of places where I could have saved seconds here and there. There was a lot of talk about footing, many people scratched, I chose to be a bit conservative. I had a good looking, good feeling horse Saturday night and he was the same way Sunday morning when it was time to jog. Thanks to Matt Flynn for prancing him down the pavement for me, he was accepted with no hesitations and on to the jumping we went. I was so sore from my fall on Morris (more to follow) that I didn't do too much in warm up. The warmblood in Smarty appreciated that as well and the next thing you knew we were in the ring. He was a little tired and tapped a couple of rails, taking two down actually; but I had them in hand and still won by over 9 points! How lucky is that! It was the smoothest, most consistent show jumping round we have had to date and as soon as he is a little stronger I am going to have quite the horse. I am really looking forward to his future!
Plenty of other things to recap from the weekend. Trisha did a super job grooming at her first FEI competition, there is really only one way to learn a lot of the rules and that is to get thrown right into them, and she was there with a smile on her face! She has been a super addition to the Blue Clover Eventing team and I hope to have her for a long, long time! A couple of other unsung heroes from the weekend would be Richard and Jackson. I got so beat up from falling on Morris that I was quite worthless from about noon on Saturday until now. They were able to do everything, including changing our flat trailer tire Sunday night on the side of 15 while tractor trailers were flying by eek! And now I guess I will quickly recap Morris' weekend. I was so looking forward to competing him again, he hasn't run since VA HT, and his dressage was really good! He stayed very relaxed and got 7s and 8s on his walk hooray! Cross country was going to be a great track, the 2* asked a lot of great questions and he came out of the start box with his ears pricked. His confidence in his new jumping form has really been growing and I was thrilled to be on him after having such a good go on Smarty. The first two combinations went well, and we galloped out to the back field, got a good jump at the corn feeder at 9 and set up for the coffin. Great stride, good line, felt like a good jump and instead of landing on the way to the ditch we were skidding sideways across the ground. Turns out, Morris made a mistake, I guess he is allowed from time to time; but there is really no good time for things like this. When you look at the pictures, his right front leg never left the ground. Perfect form with 3 out of 4 and unfortunately that just isn't going to work at a vertical set of airy rails on the lip of a hill one stride before a ditch! Luckily he was up and moving right away, more so than his rider. When you fall together like that the air vest doesn't blow up because you aren't far enough away from the horse and I am still some kind of sore. Nothing wrong with anything important just seriously sore everywhere. I am going to be just fine by tomorrow, have a truck load of babies heading to Olney HT this weekend, and it just makes for that much better of a story when describing Smarty's victory!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MD HT I - All Done!

Fear the turtles! And many poor little Beginner Novice horses did. But not our Splish Splash super star, she flew over them and into the water she went. Next stop, novice! She has her game face in in the picture above. Don't let the halter fuzzies fool you. She is fierce!

The intense July sun wasn't the only thing that was hot this weekend, the Blue Clover Eventing Team was on a roll both days at the first MD HT at Loch Moy! We absolutely lucked out the first day, crack of dawn dressage times ended up getting us a great parking spot right in front of the secretary, and more importantly the food booth next to the secretary, and more importantly the smoothie people inside that food booth :) We had a really fun guest with us, one of my dear friends
Amanda who sadly lives across the whole country in AZ; but fun for us to get to entertain her for a day. She is the one responsible for my owning Gunsmoke, so I know many of you love her even though you have never met her! She got to see the Smokes in all of his glory, passed out under the truck and trailer for the entire day. Anyway, it was fun for her to get to be back at an event in Area II, especially one as nice as Loch Moy. I am continually impressed by the reinvestment that Carolyn and her crew put into the facility and it really has become a destination event for a lot of reasons. Sadly however they fill a void in the middle of July when it is blazing hot!

I brought a fleet of ponies all set to move up to the next level and I am happy to say I have a fleet of ponies all set to move up to the next level! Smarty put in yet another (yawn) boringly beautiful dressage test. As he gets stronger, the scores keep going up and up. Hooray! He had another fantastic moment in show jumping - please sense the sarcasm - he was having his best round yet and he went over the liverpool and snap he went into jumper mode. The triple was next and he wanted to make this ridiculous jump off type bid and while I didn't let that happen, it wasn't a distance I would pick on my own, either. He left all of the rails up and finished with a clean round inside the time. It was also the fastest he had been on cross country, double hooray. There were several tricky questions that made you feel like you were on an Int horse. He did both really, really well. I think this track set him up well for the CIC1* at Stuart, and who knows, hopefully an Int shortly hereafter?! He just needs to get a little stronger and then we can go even faster, even with our time faults this weekend we finished 3rd!
The newbie of the crew, Portman aka Lucky, also competed on Saturday and finished 4th in his US eventing debut! This little 4 year old should be a future star for Blue Clover Eventing once he learns that horse shows and horse races are two entirely different things. Horse racing, he was no good at, so he may as well give all that behavior the 'adios' and learn how to be a show horse :) His dressage got better and better especially once we got away from all of the pinto horses in warm up, which he really didn't care for at all and what were the odds that there would be like 10 in the novice warm-up?? On a serious note, he is a ridiculously good jumper, the right balance of forward and careful, and quite a natural athlete. Really works against you when he is leaping and spinning away from cantering horses in warm-up; but I was really thrilled to tool him around the cross country. Look for this guy at Olney and Millbrook.
I guess the star of the show for us was Splash, one of my favorites even though I'm not supposed to have favorites ha ha ha. She went late in the day on Sunday, stepped off of the trailer bright white, not a hair out of place, and bopped herself down to the dressage ring where we got compliment after compliment about how fancy she is. She just does everything with flair, puts in 110% and you know I love horses like that. She was winning handily after the dressage, and then put in a super show jumping round. She isn't a very big horse, probably sticks right at 15.2, and so I have really had to work on her making the horse distances in the jumping lines. She got them this weekend easy easy and what a huge difference that makes, letting our show jumping round now look like a hunter round over jumper jumps. I made the executive decision that we would do the ditch option at fence 6, I figured she would see them next time at novice so she better go ahead and see it this time around. She just flew right over it without thinking twice. I deem her ready for novice at Olney, hope to see you all there!