Monday, November 5, 2012

Midsouth Mishap

Poor little Winston is still wondering what happened at Midsouth lol. Thanks to EN for taking and posting the above picture. I'm happy to report that we were the Best Presented for the CCI* and there is usually a price to pay for all of that fashion and beauty! For Trisha and Winston, it means numerous baths at all times of the day during all different temperatures poor grey pony! And for me, I was limping during my practice jog due to a rock in my cute little blinged-out flats! Luckily I had just enough time to take care of that matter while Winston kept his eye on the line. The ground jury does not appreciate a fashionably late appearance!

This was my first time competing at Midsouth and I was very impressed. The secretary and her crew were very friendly and accommodating, the judging was great, the Kentucky Horse Park was fabulous as always. It has been a long time since I went to an event for the first time, I hope that Winston and I have a lot of those ahead of us like major 3 days across the pond! So good to get used to all of that now! The atmosphere was fun, the show was oversubscribed and you could tell this was the highlight and grand finale of everyone's season.

Friday I had a fairly early dressage although that proved to be lucky because the winds kept picking up and the temperatures kept going down all day! Winston was not totally thrilled with the dressage complex, I hope that he enjoys the Main Arena when he heads back for Rolex ha ha ha but seriously! The walk to get there made you feel very disconnected from the show, stabling, everything. He really liked his workouts in the arenas right next to the barns, and the footing there was fabulous. Unfortunately, however, that's not where dressage was set up. We had to hack a good 10 minutes past the killer Budweiser Clydesdales, or at least Winston was convinced they were carnivorous. He saw two of them in bright red blankets grooming each other and I thought he was going to absolutely lose his mind! What was even worse was trying to walk past their giant semis, also red but with larger than life sized pictures and paintings of the Clydesdales all along the sides. I honestly think he thought they were alive and the poor guy had nervous breakdowns every time he had to go past them! Sadly what Winston didn't realize was, the worse he was the more he had to do it. I had ridden him quite a few times by the time we went down the centerline. He held it together, not only for the best test we have done so far BUT I received a personal best score ever at an FEI competition! I can only imagine what we could have done if he was really relaxed and happy in the dressage area! 

Saturday came quickly and with some pretty good footing for cross country. We could have used even more rain on Friday afternoon; I say that of course as someone who did her dressage Friday morning lol. The course was I think a true championship CCI test. There were quite a few questions where the direct line and striding was VERY forward like you needed to be on a 2* horse to get the 1* done. Lucky for me, that's the pony that showed up that morning! It was the best start to a course Winston and I have had, galloping straight and more or less taking me to the first few fences. There was an approach to the third that would save time; but risky for a left drifting animal which I have and on the way to it I knew already I could be aggressive and he was game. He was very brave at the first water which was also the first Rolex water this year. It was a big brush in to a bending line skinny. I was nervous about the striding and anxious to watch from warm up. I watched the first rider get a perfect half stride and fall. Awesome. Luckily Winston was right there to listen and we negotiated it handily. I angled the big open oxer at 6 which made us both feel bold and full of running. I paid for that at 7, the second water, where my Irish pony and I had some words over steering. But we came to an agreement in the nick of time for the big log drop in. Because I didn't get the shot in that I wanted, I had to add up on the direct line which was good of Winston to stay straight, then I had to kick like hell to get a nice jump off the bend to the corner on the way out. So proud of him, two months ago he never would have thought there would be a "B" or a "C" after the drop in! Your reward for negotiating the water were these massive hedges, three strides apart and they might have been some of the most significant feeling fences I have ever ridden. I kept telling myself that I was on an Irish fox hunter and surely he's seen something like this before. The pessimist in me said yes well there is probably a reason why he's no longer an Irish fox hunter and I sure hoped it had nothing to do with his inability to jump hedges! Winston jumped thru in his perfect form good boy! Then it was off to the coffin, another obstacle that I walked a trench into on Friday evening. We are new enough in our partnership that I could see so many lines and distances and options. At the end of the day, I went direct and my horse was awesome and he went scorching around that whole field really, felt like he was eating up the ground and galloping with a purpose for the first time since I have owned him. It was a great feeling! By the end, I was riding the direct lines with the forward distances just coming right up and Winston was being such a real cross country horse, honest and looking for his next fence and giving you the feeling that he was going to get the job done. A big thank you to Trisha and Kendall for getting him cooled out so quickly and professionally after this huge effort!

Sunday was a day I think I would almost rather forget :P The highlight was my mom was there to watch me ride for the first time since 2006. It was really fun and special having her there. I had a rail in hand and was pretty confident I would be coming home the USEF 1* National Champion. Winston is a phenomenal show jumper and has had a rail I think total in all of my competitions with him. The track was fairly straight forward. The footing not so great; but I'm on a nimble Irish horse is what I told myself. The rails weren't terribly bright nor the fences decorated; but Winston is such a careful jumper I figured he would still hold himself off pretty well. I had a wild man in warm up, didn't see that coming, he started off fine and then got so fired up watching the novice horses run out on the cross country course! He was jumping well in warm up although a big exuberantly to say the least. I never thought for a moment that he was tired; but hindsight is always 20/20 and on Monday and Tuesday I watched him eat grass while laying down in his paddock! Anyway, it wasn't like things were going terribly; but I know my horse well enough to know that he wasn't firing off the ground and leaving a foot to spare as is his usual style. I was keeping it together enough until the triple, 9ABC and 10, the final fence. I got in weak to 9A and a little tight and rather than be able to wrap around it, Winston had the rail. He jumped out well but again not like I know he can. So I make my approach to the final fence which was a vertical plank. I told myself that I needed to give him a gap, that's how he is more comfortable and that's where he preferred to jump from when we bought him. We've been working so much on that however, and I'm afraid only half finished our work! So when I went to move him up for the gap, he was totally panicked and thinking that he had to get closer and wrap around the jump. So we came to a screeching halt. It was awful, I don't know if the crowd gasped or if I just imagined it although I think it was a little of both. We came back around and I just more or less stuffed him over it and he had the rail. 

And that was that. From winning to right out of the Top Ten in the blink of an eye! I was so sad for everyone, everyone at Greyside who made this horse possible, for Trisha and Stacy who deserved to have a winning horse because they certainly make him look that way all the time! I was sad for myself and my mom. I felt like I let Karen down. The first half of the drive home felt like it lasted an eternity until I could pick myself up and enjoy the scenery (the drive this time of year was absolutely breathtaking with all of the changing of the leaves). I slowly but surely arrived at a philosophic and meaningful perspective. I had to laugh, the Best Presented award looked like a giant championship tri-color and the whole walk back to stabling I was getting stopped and congratulated by everyone who assumed we had won. Made me feel good that we at least looked like the winners lol. Winston tried to do everything he was supposed to do and I can say that I tried my best as well, and at the end of the day that is pretty much all you can do. Our sport is a very humbling one to say the least. I hope that Winston and I got this miscommunication out of the way early on in our career so that we can be destined for great things in our future!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Last week Plantation sent out a blast email referring to itself as the Best.Event.Ever. Well, close! I may be slightly biased since I was really happy with the way that Fernhill Whatever performed all weekend. That, combined with the fact that he was the only horse I took, made it feel like a bit of a vacation!

Plantation has come a long way in what seems like such a short time. The arena really does have spectacular footing and dresses up nicely with tents, classy dressage arenas, and beautiful show jumping fences like the wall pictured above! Stabling is very user friendly, and the shuttles up the massive hill are life savers (says the person with a dead minibike wah wah). It would be great if they made one truck lane so we felt like we knew we were allowed to drive up and back instead of stealth dashing here there and everywhere waiting to get busted by Dennis ha. The cross country course flowed so much better this year which is of course the reason we all came!

I'm sorry that Winston's owners didn't get a chance to visit the venue, there was a lot going on for spectators (I mean, mechanical bull riding!), a great vendor village, fair food, all the finer things in life. The weather was incredible. This year I packed a jog outfit appropriate for a freezing cold morning! It still didn't stop me from getting trotted off the jog strip. They do need to give the GJ somewhere to stand other than up against the bushes, as I was not the first nor the last combination to take out the mums and leap off the ledge away from the scary judges! Trisha was the main beneficiary of their absence and ate and drank their fair share up at the Sponsors Tent. But she deserved it! She is an amazing worker, a fun person to spend a weekend with, and makes my grey pony sparkle!

Luckily Winston wasn't very scared of the judges in the dressage, he put in a lovely, relaxed test that was fairly accurate. I was SO thankful to have Karen back in my life lol but seriously just knowing that she is there watching and answering important questions for me like Do I go inside or outside of the tree??? is so reassuring! Even if my way of showing it is by crashing thru the 2' oxer in show jumping warm up but we won't really talk about that. Focusing back on the sandbox, if I had it to do all over again I would have liked to pump up my trot a bit more, and I will be working on that tomorrow in my Linda lesson! Feeling confident in my counter cantering skills on the big guy now at least.

Saturday was a beautiful day for cross country and we got to go first yay! I'm starting to think a little like Winston, building a partnership so I know what is going to be the best approach and option for Winston specifically. After the first minute I felt like my steering really clicked in, and it was by far the most positive and forward cross country ride to date. He was great at both waters, and the first water was certainly spooky with the white rails in. He conquered Plantation's world famous elephant trap so we can check that off the list :) I must admit that everything was really quite pleasant. One more round like that to prove it was skills and not luck and I declare us ready for Intermediate!

Show jumping was a bit the same story. I know him well enough now that I was confident about the distances I wanted to do in the lines, and Karen was very helpful with the technicalities of my turns and what shots I needed into the combinations. For the most part, I was very pleased. Winston jumped very straight and was very game without being obnoxious after a fast and clean show jumping round. I was too aggressive getting the forward 6 done in the first line, ended up pulling the last two strides and an inverted horse equals a rail at a square oxer - these things I know! I promise to do better next time!

And I'm very excited that the next time will be the Preliminary Championships at Morven Park, and then it is off to the MidSouth CCI*. Never been there for that and am really looking forward to it, should feel like a proper test. Many thanks again to Greyside for giving me the opportunity to campaign such a lovely animal. I am really looking forward to a strong finish to our first season together, and for all of the fun things to come in 2013!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun at Five Points

Photo credit High Time Photography

Fernhill Whatever was really looking forward to whatever came next on his cross country course! And I am looking forward to a big future with "Winston" to say the least! We had a great time at Five Points last weekend, it was a big Blue Clover Eventing trip since there doesn't appear to be a Fair Hill in our fall wah wah; but I'd say a good time was had by all. Lucky for all of us, Stacy's parents own a condo in Southern Pines and we were living the life of luxury let me tell you. Most excited was the lercher, of course, having an actual floor to sleep on and not reside in the truck for the evening - we all know he prefers the couch but let's not get crazy :)

Horses traveled well and we went straight to dressage-ing on Friday afternoon. I wish I was a bit more prepared, the past few years I've gotten there via Aiken and so I didn't have my food and diesel stops mapped out along the way ha we arrived hungry and without Diet Coke egads! I have only been to the Carolina Horse Park for Southern Pines II and the dressage pad looked so big, only having to hold 3 arenas instead of the crazy 7 or 8 that I'm used to seeing. The atmosphere however was still apparent and all but Tanner had to get ridden down a bit. Good old Tanner, that's precisely why he was Alex's Beginner Novice Rider super star:
There really wasn't much time to dwell on our dressage on Saturday, which is too bad because we were all great! Bailey and Trisha put in the best performance they have had yet, from the moment she stepped in warm up you knew it was going to be good and it was, had them second by the smallest of margins. I was also pleased with Brew, he had a bit of a nervous breakdown at the dressage pad at Richland. And now, after one away show, he is obviously the seasoned competitor because he put it a very relaxed and steady test. Unfortunately it was a bit like the AECs, if you don't get in the teens at Training you aren't in the top ten poor guy! I don't suppose that Brew much cares, however, and he was the first to go of our crew around the cross country course. Half way around I was telling myself that he really needs to move up to Prelim because this was too easy for him. Then I realized what I was saying and I started to focus on what the bleep I was doing before I buried us at a table or something ha. Really though, he cruised thru the water which I think was by far the hardest part of the training, felt like SP II and he cruised in and out and grabbed the bit and took off for the infield. Good pony! Also grabbing the bit was Winston, not always in a great way lol but I did need to be speedy because we were tied for 3rd after dressage. He is such a lovely horse; but I was afraid to do too much with him as he is still lacking fitness after his trip over here and he ran cross country barely an hour after his dressage. I was a little disappointed in the Prelim cross country, I thought the course had some punishing, random turns to it and it lacked the flow that I'm used to feeling there. At least we had our straightness down, he was locked on to the middle of every combination which was my goal. I'm sorry that I didn't meet more of my fences in a positive way and so at Prelim we will stay and do the 1* at Plantation. Trisha and Bailey did an excellent job of  being positive their entire way around, this was a  big course for The B and we didn't know what to expect out of him having to gallop thru and jump out of the barn! He was great and they were the fastest of the Prelim Riders and gave themselves a rail in hand going into the jumping, always a great feeling. We ended Saturday on a super note, Alex and Tanner put in a lovely, boring BN run and managed to get us all finished and on our way to dinner before a massive storm rolled in!

Sunday was a bit hit or miss I'm not gonna lie. Good news was, Stacy and Trisha were packing genius' and we were outta there like a well oiled machine. Good news was my round on Winston, which I declare our best to date by far, it was a lovely double clear well inside the time and every time I looked for a fence there it was. Second weekend in a row he's been 3rd, means he's been saving his win for the CIC* at Plantation! Good news was Alex's double clear on Tanner let her secure a second place! Good news was I managed to stay on Brew when I fell asleep at the wheel at the combination and ran his poor little grey legs right thru it. Good news was Trisha managed to fall next to and not in to the cactus when Bailey jumped her out of the tack at fence 8. 

Good news is, we are off to Plantation and then Morven and then who knows where the rest of the season is going to take us!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Richland Recap

How can you not love Richland Park?? One of my favorite events of the year, totally worth the 11 hour drive thru the nite with a very stinky lercher in the truck. Not sure that everyone else in the truck agreed since it was, after all, my lercher lol. Nonetheless, I do declare a good time was had by all! A huge thanks to Richard who had the yick shift of driving from 11 - 3, and Trisha had such mad packing and unpacking skills (or was it the numerous lattes??) that we were in and out of there in record time. I am one lucky girl! And a big thanks to everyone involved with that horse trials. I learned that they had been watering the grounds for 8 weeks prior to our arrival - unreal. And the corn was once again a highlight of the competitor's party :)

We spent some of that 11 hour drive coming up with a barn name for Fernhill Whatever, now officially referred to unofficially as Winston. I guess it was the moment he was waiting for, having a name and all, as it was his best competition to date here in the US, finishing a strong 3rd in a very big, very tough OP division. For a moment I thought disaster was upon us as soon as the counter canter practice began in warm up. Starting to learn his changes, he really does not appreciate the loops in Prelim Test B! He managed to put in a lovely, relaxed test and was rewarded by the judge. So nice when that happens! Cross country the pressure was on to go clean and fast, which means we had to steer! I had a lesson - FINALLY -  with Karen lol and it was just the kick in the you know what that I needed to start making him my horse. I got to jump a few oxers with David once there to make sure I didn't leave any skills back in MD. Luckily, not the case! He was super and finished well under the time looking for more. I was especially pleased with the water, as a run out at the corner had plagued me the weekend before at Waredaca. This time, we were picture perfect! I do hope, speaking of which, that the photographers were at the Key Hole - Winston ducked his head and pinned his ears back to make sure he was going to fit. So cute! Show jumping was challenging as always out on the rolling hills. I had a rail, I repeat I had a rail, placings didn't change luckily and we finished the weekend feeling very excited about the future. I will be ready for a clean round this weekend at Five Points and hopefully a blue as well!

Brew would like to take this moment to remind everyone that he did finish 4th in a very tough Training Horse division! He absolutely fought his way up from an undeserved dressage score, it is what we love about that little guy. Quite the spirit that one has! Unfortunately it did get him a little rattled in the dressage; but this was a huge trip in the world of Brew. It is a great feeling in show jumping to know that you are going to leave up all of the rails, I don't know how he does it; but you can get the Brewster to a vertical upside down and backwards and he still jumps it with room to spare. (Knock wood prior to my jumping round this weekend at Five Points, please, that I haven't gotten him upside down and backwards too many times.) Cross country was a pretty similar feeling. I thought the training level was big but fair and inviting, and Brew flew around, certainly rising to the occasion of being in company of 3* horses! Let's hope he has an even better finish this weekend at Southern Pines!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Millbrook 2012

All in all I'd have to declare Millbrook 2012 to be a big success even if we didn't come home with any blue ribbons. Millbrook is one of my favorite events of the year, and obviously I was just a little excited to get to ship up there with the new Fernhill Whatever entered in the Open Prelim. Felix Brew Trisha and Gunsmoke were all along for the ride as well. And I cannot forget to mention the Birthday Boy - Richard - who got to ? celebrate ? on Sunday by packing us up in a flash before the skies opened up! Not sure what we would have done without him, Trisha got her arm yanked out of the socket quite literally on Friday and even thru her stubborn denials it was clear that she was in pain. Luckily we had guest working student Catherine helping us out all weekend as well, although her main job was to try to keep Trisha under control and not working too hard! She did a great job, I am so lucky to be surrounded by such great people. And ponies. So more on that!

Millbrook continues to run a fantastic event, I was excited to see the new water complex and I will be more excited to see what they have in store for us next year now that they have the basic layout. The fence and rocks around the water in my area of tent stabling was fantastic, and we refrained from harming those few jerks who still tried to hose off their horses in the blatantly marked "BUCKET BATHING ONLY" area. I was impressed by the fact that the food tent carried a wide variety of tea - I live so constantly discriminated against as a non-coffee drinker ha ha ha - however my big complaint of the weekend is their thought that food and caffeine are not necessary before 730 at a competition!!! aaahhhh!!!!!

If this is my biggest complaint of the weekend, however, I'd say they are doing everything right. And they pretty much are. We had an interesting beginning to the competition, Felix put in a fantastic test and the judge was just a little stingy in the marks department for the entire division. It was still good enough to be his sales footage, so anyone in the market for a nice upper level prospect currently competing at training level, go ahead and check out the For Sale page on my website! Brew let his nerves get the better of him crossing the road to the big main arena. He was accurate and obedient; but obviously not super relaxed. We are still trying to name poor Fernhill Whatever, so you will just have to bear with me, Whatever was lovely in the dressage although unfortunately the judge did not reward him for his flying changes in the preliminary counter canter movements. Poor guy thought he was doing everything right and kept trying to change. His walk and trot were beautiful, not an ounce of tension, so we have some work to do there! I declare, however, the biggest victory of the weekend to be the fact that I walked all horses back unharmed without having to use the alternate route to stabling lol.

We don't think they had these little fellas back in Ireland for Fernhill Whatever!

Cross country was also a bit hit or miss, fact finding shall we say. Felix had an absolutely brilliant start, his personal best by far, and the tracks really flowed I believe on all levels. He got a little rattled by the loop around the new water complex; I slowed down a touch and we ended strong. I then went out on a mission on Brew knowing time was hard to make and ran my little Ferrari like an Intermediate horse. Poor Brew Brew. He had a fly by at 16, I honestly don't even think he knew he was presented to the fence even though I was trying to get him there off of a very tight turn trying to shave off seconds on the last part of the course. Completely idiot mistake and I hope he forgives me. Whatever and I also had a few mistakes. His fitness is so much better, finally getting over his trip and starting to adjust to the heat and humidity and so I went buzzing off out of the start box. He's such a light and sensitive horse in so many ways, that I could hardly believe my lack of detailed steering went I got to the combination at 5. I felt like a bit of a pony clubber pulling on a rein to make a turn and there he went straight ahead just staring at the ditch and flying over it without giving any consideration to the angles rails one stride later. Hmm. We will have a little schooling session involving me, Whatever, and my bit bucket early next week!

I was very proud of how all my boys handled the hustle and bustle of Millbrook show jumping. Felix was excellent, put in the quietest, most focused round yet. We had a cheap rail in the triple, he was trying to make sure he had enough room in the one stride that he came down just a touch too early. I will never fault him for trying to be too careful and jumping too big! Brew was back to his normal go go bunny self and it was a good thing. They were running behind and we grossly over-calculated my adjusted time. I got into warm up on deck! I picked up a canter and jumped the oxer a few times and Brew acted like this was completely normal, went in and jumped a beautiful clear round. Way to go Brew Brew! Whatever also had a beautiful round. Time was quite tight and you really had to go for it and I was slightly nervous that I was going to have a loss of steering; but I went with the same bit that I used on cross country and bigger spurs and had no issues. So that's good and bad :) I will get the pedals figured out soon enough in the jumping department, he has this giant stride this is so casual all at the same time, and he is so careful. I am a lucky girl to have the ride on such a lovely horse, so I've put quite a bit of pressure on myself to figure out this ride quickly. 

We are gearing up for a big end to the month, Waredaca and then Richland. Yay! Hope to see everyone there! Everyone knows that Kalamazoo is the place to be at the end of August.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lovin' Loch Moy!

I have so many positive things to say about my experience at the MD HT II at Loch Moy Farm. I realize that I might be ever so slightly biased by super excitement to compete Fernhill Whatever for the first time. I say with all confidence, however, that I could not have picked a better first competition for my dear new boy!

I have been competing at Loch Moy since the very very beginning - parking in that lower area and nearly dying trying to hack to and fro will forever haunt me ha. In all seriousness, however, I don't know of a venue that tries harder, and here it is a small family owned and operated dream barely an hour from my barn. The layout of arenas is fabulous - did you notice all of the bleachers and tents for spectators?! The way that it flows for food, vendors, scores and parking? The amenities for horses also amazing - cooling tents and fans for even beginner novice! Watering and dragging of arenas during all breaks! A gentleman in a gator picking up poo from warm up and horse paths HELLO where have you been all of my life!! Add in a top notch secretary with Mary, and a fabulous vet crew (unfortunately my working student had to deal with them on Sunday and even that experience as good as it could possibly be) and I'm happy to go back. And I did. I went schooling there today! And might I add when we got there a crew was picking and raking rocks from the side of the arena and one of the staff was able to plug my flat outside dually tire - another story in itself.

I know that sounds like a paid advertisement, I promise it came from the bottom of my heart. And so does the praise that I have for my horses students and owners that attended the MD HT II! Obviously the headliner would be the newbie, Fernhill Whatever. It was a complete fact finding mission, poor guy gets here from Ireland in time for a heat wave and even though I had him in the prelim he had jumped maybe twice and done not even an entire trot set for fear of killing him in the humidity. He rose to the occasion, like any great Irish horse I believe would do lol, and absolutely turned heads from the moment he walked off the trailer, literally. He was a dream in the dressage, the right amount of puffed up from warm up that stayed with him into the test. So fabulous to have a horse so straight forward in there. For so many, the performance anxiety creeps in well before the 1* level so what a lucky girl I am! I thought the judge was a bit tough on him, and I realized that all of the scores in that arena were a bit grumpy so not going to dwell on that. I learned in show jumping that I need a slightly different warm up strategy. My only complaint of Loch Moy is that the SJ warm up area is too deep and I find myself not wanting to jump more than 5 times. And then the efficient side of me galloped into the arena and promptly thru the start flags, I think my boy needed a moment to acclimate. He jumped fine; but he is a superb jumper and I need to find a way to make that happen in the ring. I started changing my plan en route and that resulted in my absolutely burying him at the skinny, my rail, he forgave me. Good boy. That's what he gets the carrots for ha ha ha. Cross country was like running a horse in the last two minutes of a 3 day track. His ears were up, he was happy to do the job; but there was no extra spark in the tank. He was honest, obviously loves it, just needs more fitness work. The courses were fair for an early season test, with most people getting going again for the fall. There were enough questions that I got a feel for where he is, and I think I'm gonna keep him in the 1* ranks for a bit until I can school him more and determine when his move to Intermediate will take place. And hopefully Linda and Karen get home soon from that Olympic thing and I can have a lesson or two :_)~

The other highlight of the competition would be Trisha and Bailey absolutely being awesome in their 2nd prelim! They finished 5th in an Open division!! Her dressage was so smart, rode the entire thing and got even point out of the test that she possibly could - well done! Show jumping she was a little lucky here and a little unlucky there, so with a 4 fault round I think we should be pleased. Cross country, they really were fantastic. She's been working so hard on finding her distances and making the job easy for Bailey, and it looked like they were on their second trip around the course! I don't think I've ever had a girl work harder, for me or on her own riding, and it is certainly paying off for her now. I'm very excited about the future things to come from that pair. 

On Sunday the training level crew showed up ready to strut their stuff, which mostly they did. Brew got robbed, robbed I tell you! in the dressage although typical Brew didn't seem to let a thing get in the way of finishing on his dressage score and winning a ribbon. He is just the most game horse I have ever ridden and he is such a blast to just bomb around on here there and everywhere. Felix put in his usual lovely dressage test, and it was probably the most focused he has ever been on cross country. Proud of him for that. Unfortunately for Stacy her weekend came to an abrupt end when Snick injured his hock galloping in between fences out on cross country. It was ultimately quite serious, we got him over to Spurlocks where they took excellent care of him and he is now back with his mom wondering why he's missing out on the fun. We are wishing him a speedy recovery and keeping Stacy very focused on her future! She is a very good rider and I'm sorry she didn't get to prove that to the world at MD HT II. Lots of time, however, to prove things to the world and it means we were just saving it for a later time and place :)

We are enjoying no competitions here for a bit as we ramp up for Millbrook and everything else happening in August. Stay tuned for Whatever may be!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Summer to Remember!

So far, I'd say that the summer of 2012 is going pretty well for Blue Clover Eventing:
 A great time was had by all at Fair Hill, especially if you ask big winners Sarah and Alex! Luckily they competed in separate divisions so we didn't have to have a Grace/Tanner show down ha ha ha. Nicholas and Tatanka also rocked their division, finishing a super second and were by far the smartest looking pair in their division:
 I was proud to call each and every one of them my students, they were well turned out, prepared, and looked like they knew what they were doing out there! Even though we had some exciting moments, I think that we were excited for all of the right reasons by the time everyone came home safe and smiling through those cross country finish flags. I can't wait for their next outings!

We've also been busy doing circles and more circles. Last weekend I had the opportunity to compete another lovely Beall Spring Farm horse, Beall Spring Baccarat, for owner Steph Sullivan. He's been very rewarding to train and compete and made his Second Level debut with rock star scores at the PVDA show last weekend at the PG Equestrian Center. This boy can really move!
We have new horses, new students, people and ponies going here there and everywhere. I'm so lucky to have Trisha and Stacy working for me right now, I don't know what I'd do without them and I hope the feeling is mutual lol. I'm looking forward to competing Fernhill Whatever this coming weekend at MD HT II at Loch Moy. We have a bunch of first time dressage competitors going to a competition later in the month and I can't wait for great scores! Then it is off to Millbrook before we know it. Can't wait!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Welcome Whatever!

Congratulations to Greyside LLC on the exciting purchase of Fernhill Whatever! I am beyond thrilled to have such an amazing horse to compete. Thanks to Carolyn Jolley, in nothing less than whirlwind style, I was on a plane and back again with arrangements made to bring a new pony to Blue Clover Eventing! Not just any pony; but a gorgeous grey 16.2h Irish Sport Horse...and I assure you he knows it!

Carol and Fraser at Fernhill Sport Horse Centre both did an amazing job of finding this guy and bringing him up to win at the the 1* level. His breeding, movement and jumping ability all scream upper level event horse and that's exactly what we had in mind with his purchase. He's been here two weeks literally to the day, and I've set a schedule that would get us to the 2* at Fair Hill, I'm anticipating that he's as much of an over-achiever as I am :) I feel badly that the poor guy leaves an unusually cold and wet Ireland and arrives in the North East in the midst of a record breaking heat wave. Trisha did one of her 'usual' amazing clip jobs and that combined with the fact that he is just an amazing athlete has allowed him to make the adjustment fairly easily to life in the States. He seems to approve of our chow at least! and seems to respond to us even though we don't have nearly as cool of an accent as did his former humans. He was highly suspicious of treats although we seem to have gotten over that after the first week, group effort ha ha ha.

I look forward to a little cross country school tomorrow at Morven Park, and if that goes well off to Loch Moy we go this weekend to run the prelim at MD HT II. Can't wait!  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ride for Life

We had a great day today as the Ride for Life took over the Show Place Arena this weekend. The atmosphere at this dressage competition is really like none other, and it is fun to feel as though you are a part of something so much bigger. My mother has been a survivor of breast cancer for 10 plus years, and I am eager to participate in anything that raises funds and awareness for this awful disease. The show was so well run and so well attended, I've already marked it on the 2013 calendar!

This weekend I had the opportunity to ride some of the incredible horses bred and owned by Thora Pollak of Beall Spring Farm. I have had the pleasure over the years of riding for Beall Spring, and right now we have in training my most favorite of them all! I walked by the stall one day and there he was standing there in all of his glory, begging for me to inquire who he was and when did I get to start working with him!! Today was all about Baker, as the above picture represents. And wouldn't you know, he rose to the occasion! I honestly expected nothing less, like all of his Beall Spring relatives he has a super disposition and a super brain that was instantly recognizable to passersby all over the show grounds. Working with such a talented youngster is beyond rewarding!

I suppose that his barn-mates would like to point out that he was NOT the only star of the day coughDantecough. In fact, the little man would have been nothing without his entourage including Thora on Dante, and his "security detail" of Steve, Trisha and Stacy. I would like to take a moment to congratulate owner Stephie Ormston on the fabulous performance of Beall Street Baccarat. This boy can really move! and that he did to post some fabulous scores this weekend. He was 2nd out of 17 in F2 and scored a 72%, and then he put in an absolutely lovely test in the covered arena and won the F3 this afternoon convincingly on a 74%. We are really excited to see what he can do in the future! Special thanks to Trisha and Stacy who started preparing him for me on Friday, and to Stephie who had him looking the part after having to completely rebraid him right before his class courtesy of some stealth rubbing - nothing like a little excitement on a 100 degree day lol. 

In fact, it is Thora and her entire crew that make competitions like this so much fun. They are so positive, which is of course easy when dealing with such fabulous horses. Chessie and Dante would agree! They had to work hard in the heat every day and they are certainly better horses because of it ha ha ha. Really looking forward to the next one, and I know the horses feel the same!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fond Farewells and Heartfelt Hellos

Hellos are always easier than good byes. So we will say our fond farewells first. I know that by now it is not news that we lost not just a great horseman, but a great human being with the passing of Jim Lewis. It just doesn't seem right to ride around the arena without our head trainer Mr. Zang lol. We had too much fun and I find myself still looking over at the empty chairs as I ride around the arena. I miss the chats we would have as I bopped around on every type of horse, from 2 year old race horses to Grand Prix horses. Working for Jim never got old we would talk about everything imaginable. Even a grumpy Jim was entertaining, although I assure you it did not happen often. We joked nonstop about when I was going to become a straight dressage rider, and I was counting on having him in my corner when that day happened far in the future (after breaking all of the eventing records, of course). I know he will be watching, just not like how I pictured.

Nor did I picture an empty stall where Playtime used to reside. He was recently sold across the pond. This has been particularly difficult given as though I felt he had an excellent chance at winning the CCI2* at Jersey and was moving on to the blue squares after that. I know that we gave each other opportunities, he improved faster than a horse possibly should be able to in the year we had together. By our last cross country school he made the advanced at Gibbs look like a novice round and we were communicating on brain waves. He gave me some incredible tests and fantastic jumping rounds and I was looking forward to making a High Performance list with him. I am thankful I think that I won't have to see his unbelievable begging look from behind the stall door or out the window of the trailer, it was irresistible and he knew it :)

But, it is human nature to go on, and I am surrounded by incredible people that are positive and feel the same way. And so, we do. We are fortunate for everything we do have, and opportunities that unfold before us daily. Not only do I have a bunch of fun new horses and clients that have an exciting season ahead of them, I would like to welcome new working student Stacy Iacono. Please make her feel welcome, we didn't give her any time to adjust, even on her interview weekend she was working her tail off and hasn't stopped since! We hope you will see her competing at the Preliminary level in the very near future with Snick. Or perhaps, I should say winning, he is a super cute horse and they have both been an absolute pleasure to work with. She and Trisha go way back, and I know that Trisha has been happy to have her old partner in crime working by her side. And I'm happy to do anything that keeps Trisha happy! I don't know what I would do without any of you lately, Richard, Gunsmoke, the lovely ladies of Kaleidescape, I am just so utterly grateful for each and everyone of you and now is the time more than ever to say thank you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Close Finish at Fair Hill!

Playtime at Fort Fair Hill

Eventing doesn't get much better or much closer than this weekend at Fair Hill International's CIC**. Playtime finished 2nd by less than a point! On the drive home I thought of all the places I could have, over 3 days of competition, scraped over one more point. Jeeze! Danny I think said it best, "It was just one more smooch baby" and yes puckering up next time you better believe! Smarty and I were entered as our last run before Jersey Fresh, and I am thrilled with how the weekend turned out for all of us. Well, not so thrilled unpacking and attempting to dry out the trailer and equipment; but that is another story.

Smarty was getting a little cocky about his dressaging and so I tried a new warm up strategy, quite pleased with how it worked and we will see if I can recreate at Jersey! I was a little worried with the scheduling, they had us dressage over on the International side and I feared that I may not survive hacking back thru cross country after my dressage test! So after unapcking and setting up the tent stabling Thursday afternoon, early Friday morning we repacked the trailer, loaded a confused Smarty and off to Gallaher Road we went. I was really pleased with my test, he stayed focused and with me throughout the entire thing. I was a little conservative I know; but happy that I was still winning with more in the tank! Just wishing now I had asked a little more.....

Cross country day was pleasantly not raining, super hard ground although the horses didn't seem to back off as much as I thought they were going to. The course was I think a fair 2*, lots of new improvements around the course, new fences, new designs at the water and I don't think Smarty had negotiated a mound like that into water so that was a good test. He answered them all with out even blinking yay! He is getting to be such an efficient jumper on cross country compared to a year ago when his pretty boy jumper toes were soaring over all the fences, yes on style points but bad on the clock. Now we brush thru brush and get a toe tap here and there and it is actually a good feeling knowing that we aren't wasting precious seconds (which this weekend were really precious!). It is such a great feeling to look back to the animal you had a year ago, and really feel that all of the blood sweat and tears are really making a difference! I dare say he's ready for blue flags across country!

He came off of the course great, was the best he has ever cooled out and Trisha survived the walk back down the horse path (you have to ask her about pulling out her New England attitude on some ambitious mountain bikers!) and back to stabling where ice and cookies were waiting for him! Sunday morning he was feeling great, or perhaps it was the fact that it was freezing and windy, because he floated up and down the jog strip, such a great feeling hearing "Accepted" before you even walk! He wanted everyone to notice how beautifully Trisha had turned him out! Smarts can really jump and he did a fantastic job negotiating the jumping track even in pouring down rain and temperatures over 40 degrees colder than when we left Aiken two weeks ago! I was taking every inside turn, did the 7 to the sailboat combination, and still had a time fault. At least I put a little pressure on Doug, who went in and did the same clean round with the same time fault! Incredible! The skinny at 6 was absolutely rolling in the cups; but alas, it was not my day and somehow it rolled itself back into the cup. Hope we were saving our good luck for Jersey!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Yes, you are reading the correct blog....this is Blue Clover Eventing and what you are looking at has absolutely nothing to do with our horses! Sadly, time is winding down here in Aiken, in fact at this time tomorrow I will be typing from Norwood, NC as we roll into town for The Fork. Over the weekend we sent home 5 horses and Kristen (sorry Kristen!) and that just leaves 4 horses, Trisha, and 1 lercher to keep me company! We have had a great last few days doing all things we love to do, cross country school at Gibbes, combined test at Sporting Days, ride in our Field of Dreams. We have also had time to fit in all of our last minute favorite things, TakoSushi and Hotel Aiken on a Wednesday nite; Playoffs and the karaoke professionals on Sunday, Palm Beach Tan he he he, we had a pitcher at Maria's just for old times sake...jeeze it is like we are really leaving!

But, on the final day here, I did something fun and completely random. Richard who usually times his visits around shows and all big things on the calendar mistakenly booked a ticket for Charleston instead of Columbia. Soooooooo, (conveniently?) after I rode everything this morning (including galloping Smarty and cross country schooling Felix!) I abandoned Trisha with the rest of the packing so that I could make the long drive to Charleston. To justify spending such time in the truck, Richard and I decided to take a fun spin around town. Well, not so fun in the dually! But a fun field trip nonetheless. One afternoon off after 2 months of non-stop Aiken, well I suppose it was time! And we had a great time! Charleston is a super cute town and I would love to spend more than 2 hours there. I look forward to going back in the future for some beaching, shopping, and of course I'm going to love going out in the city that invented Firefly!!

Now, back to reality, time to get serious. Wheels up early in the morning for The Fork. So sad, I know I speak for all of us when I say how much we are going to miss Hatchaway Bridge Farms and our Aiken family there. Until next year!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Southern Pines II

So the funny thing is, I had a working student this summer named Marian who was pretty terrified of a ditch-and-anything and it became kind of a joke around Blue Clover Eventing. For fun, we put Trisha in front of the ditch and wall on Friday's course walk and sent it to her. Well, it was a good thing Marian wasn't at Southern Pines this weekend!!! Luckily for me, Smarty thought this fence was fun, hell lucky for me he thought every fence was fun as we just stormed around the Intermediate cross country on Saturday at Southern Pines. I don't think I've ever praised a horse so much after crossing a finish line!!

It started like a normal competition, Bailey and Trisha in the Training and Smarty in the Intermediate. We got there in time on Thursday for a nice dressage session, Smarty thought he saw dead people there for a minute although a few circles on a longe line (God Bless Cat and Megan!) and we were golden. Bailey was primed and ready for an early Friday dressage, and did he make quite an impression on the judge! Marks of '9' and '8' on the first two movements of his dressage test, way to go! The training was a very competitive division, and we were hoping the time would be hard to make over a very fun cross country course. Unfortunately, not exactly the case, although I don't think he had a single bad fence. A momentary trip in the water just to make for some dramatic photos...we will take it! Smarty had a pretty super dressage, tough crowd as we were in 6th on a 26 jeeze. Kudos to dressage judge Lisa Cox, she judged Intermediate from 8 until after 530 and she stayed so positive! A lot of fun to get to ride in front of her and I wish I could say that about more judges! I do want to take the moment however to compliment all of the crew at Southern Pines, it is like they have professional volunteers there that just make all the difference in the atmosphere. I look forward to bringing the barn back again next year!

I say that hoping that a few changes get made to the cross country before next year lol. In all seriousness, however, I feel strongly that Southern Pines II always has a very big and difficult track for the Adv and Int and here it was again this year. I don't think horses were reading the bank correctly so early on, I am so so fortunate to be on the bravest and scopiest horse and he didn't bat an eye, I gave him a strong ride and he soared right over it and got short even to the roll top. I got more wiggles to the bank down at 7 than I thought I would. Smarty was just absolutely full of running and he thought the initial house to the bank down apparently was the only question there, cheeky little monkey, and he saw C as kind of an after thought. He was quite honest when I closed legs and reins and jumped thru the flags we did! I cruised thru the Pond Water where so many were not so fortunate; I think my horse's experience at Intermediate made quite a difference there as I pretty much balanced him halfway down the hill and just kept coming down to it and he was happy to oblige. My excitement came actually dodging trees trying to find my line to the skinny at 12 up on top of the hill afterwards! His stride is so big, you have to be careful what you wish for when you ride him strong like I did to the water, takes a few strides to recover ha! Then it was full on galloping to the double corners, and my fancy little show jumper it starting to be a scrappy cross country pony. He took out the flag on B much to my surprise and excitement, actually, as a year ago that would have been a run out! I liked the 4 and thought I needed to keep coming thru the turn, well I accomplished that and got him there a little tight sorry bud; but that's why the flags pop on and off right?! On to the big water where the goal was to find my line to the very tight angled line of houses, Smarty was all about it and just cracked through it like it was a training exercise. Whew. One last tricky combination to go and I have had some ugly rides there before, the palisade things out in the middle of the track. I was cocky, I was close to making the time, and I went the direct route in 3. And I got it! Smarts came right back, jumped, turned, and pretty much locked on and jumped all at the same time. Goooood poooooony :)

Not too much time to celebrate however as we had to run back over for Trisha's show jumping.
I don't think poor Trisha had any nerves left after getting me thru the cross country ha ha ha every 3 seconds someone was falling off, retiring, or her phone was ringing full of more bad news about how the course was riding. Maybe that was the secret to her show jumping round, she rode great, executed her plan, and Bailey got through the combinations with room to spare yippee! I must admit she did a better job than I at executing show jumping plans this weekend. I had costly time penalties in the OI-A to drop to 4th :( Smarty was jumping quite well, in fact I don't recall even a rub during his round, however we had a major discussion over a lead change after the oxer at 7. In the midst of all of this, I kind of slowly see us going to the outside of the first fence to get to the planks at 8, and realize that is NOT where I needed to be oh no! Do I rip his face off for the inside turn and probably get a rail because I've thrown everything out of whack? Didn't seem like a good idea, so I casually boogied around the long way, continued to leave up all the rails (and he jumped like dynamite through the triple!) and knew as I crossed the finish line after a beautifully clean jumping round that I really screwed up. There will be lead change boot camp this week I guarantee you so we can finish in the Top Three at The Fork in two weeks :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brew's Been Busy!

Brew is so excited to tell you all about his first two weeks with us at Blue Clover Eventing! I am so happy to have this little guy in my program, and he has had an action packed two weeks leading up to his first competition at Pine Top this weekend. In fact, everyone has been leaping into action the past two weeks. We are happy to have Kristen here for the month helping out, I'm sure she was lonely at home without us and man oh man were we happy to see her upon her arrival! She and Delilah didn't waste any time, either, they were the big winners on Wednesday at the Derby at Sporting Days!!

Brew and Bailey got to be the big horses this weekend heading to Pine Top, and they came home like big horses with a 5th and 4th respectively. Great ribbons and great results and it doesn't just happen. Congrats to Brew and Trisha and Bailey for busting their tails every day! And speaking of tails, Trisha has Brew's fancy little white tail glittering, I think it scored us an extra 2 points on our dressage lol. Everyone that has met Brew for even a second recognizes how cute and special he is, and he had quite a few moments this weekend that confirmed these feelings. He is the most laid back little fellow on and off the trailer, makes it that much more fun when the ones you like are actually easy to work around. I am sure that will change once he gets to be an Intermediate horse, his list of demands will multiply exponentially. So for the time being, we will enjoy it! Bailey is another one with very few demands right now, and we really appreciate that. We also really appreciate his effort in show jumping to leave up the rails, especially in the combinations! It was by far the best round I have seen Trisha and Bailey jump together. Looking forward to watching them cruise around the track at Southern Pines. It will be the most atmosphere that they have had to compete in thus far, and I'm anticipating a great dressage score - and finishing on it!

These two weren't the only stars of the week however. As I mentioned previously, Delilah and Kristen won the Derby at Sporting Days. We also had Antolin showing there in the straight dressage, he broke into the 70s at Training Level and got some really flattering remarks from the judge. The last time I took him out, he got '9s' on gaits, so he really has something to be proud of! This week he makes the move up to First Level. I would really love to find him a great dressage home down here in Aiken. Getting nervous, can't believe how much time has gone by already.....we leave the first of April and that will be here before we know it. So sad! We have such an unbelievable set up at Hatchaway Bridge Farms, and Aiken is such a special place for me. The weather couldn't be nicer, everything is bright green and in full bloom. I keep trying to take pictures with my phone and it doesn't do the landscape justice. I know, adios BlackBerry and time for the iPhone, although I'm just not there yet.

Smarty would like to remind everyone that he is still the big horse in the barn. He's going to do some dressage-ing at Sporting Days as well on Wednesday to tune up for Southern Pines this weekend. Looking forward to the kick off of the PRO Tour for 2012 at Southern Pines II, always one of my favorite events of the year. Tomorrow I'm taking all of my guys to Gibbs, Smarty will be so happy I know. He hasn't been there yet this year and there are just so many fun things to do. The possibilities are endless at Gibbs and it will be good to wear him out! He needs to set a good example for the youngsters (Brew and Felix) and I hope he takes that job seriously. They are impressionable at their young age ha. I sent in the entry for the 2* at The Fork, so I do hope Smarty is on his 'A' game because I'm certainly showing up to win! I'm certain I'm sitting on the best mover and jumper in the field and I think he's getting strong enough and rideable enough now that we can make it all look easy. Confident; but touching wood right now lol. I guess we will have to wait and see, check live scoring and as always read Eventing Nation and I will be back with the report soon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Playtime at Pine Top

What a difference a year makes! At this time last year I can't describe to you the time and effort it would've taken me to get Smarty to jump straight over this little fella pictured above. And now, fast forward to Pine Top this past weekend. Smarty had a super jump up the bounce bank (and let me tell you it was even more of an effort than I was anticipating to get up there!) landed waiting for instructions, and absolutely straight on galloped to the skinny and split the uprights we did!

All sorts of stellar moments just like this helped us end a great week in Aiken. We've had a little excitement...some barn drama could have landed us on "Real Working Students of Aiken, SC" this past week. Really looking forward to the 1st when back-ups from home arrive!! Trisha had a great week, somehow in between making all of my horses, the barn, oh yeah and me look fantastic, she and her very own Final Statement won the Training Derby at Paradise on Wednesday! She and "Bailey" looked great out there, should be all primed for victory next weekend when they compete at Sporting Days. I am proud to have both of them as part of the program, well Trisha is an integral part as I can't imagine being here without her! We snuck out this morning to the Track Kitchen to celebrate surviving last week. It can't be all work and no play ;)

But, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, the real highlight of the week was getting to ride Playtime at the Advanced Pine Top this weekend. As most of you know, sadly he is for sale, and I consider every ride on him to be a bonus at this point. We worked incredibly hard all winter with Linda on his dressage and I was sorry that the conditions this weekend didn't allow us to showcase our new and improved flatwork! The thunderstorms were severe and scattered, and so after hours of delay we finally got word to tack up and get into the ring before the next round started. I thought Smarty handled this pretty well; but at the end of the day a huge squall interrupted our test and although he kept it together, a few mistakes here and there plagued our score. I rode in front of Charlie Musco, a judge whom I think very highly of and in fact I wish more venues would use him! I hope next time I see him the weather is a little kinder on us all, it is no fun to ride or judge or volunteer in weather like that - thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting our sport.

Saturday was a brand new day, with a new time schedule that the organizers somehow got to work out perfectly! I was thankful to get to show jump before cross country, actually, so I guess all the wet and disgusting tack and equipment was totally worth it?! Show jumping was actually quite tricky, lots of roll backs, use of terrain, a spooky skinny oxer, and my ultimate nemesis, a Swedish oxer to end the course on a bending line. I fell victim to the course designer's evil plan, Smarty was a little flat and stiff by the end of the course and I wasn't able to keep him straight enough...onto the high side we drifted and down went the very last rail on an otherwise well jumped course. He was even easily inside the time, in hindsight I would have insisted on adding up, getting him bending and supple again. Smarty does NOT like to touch rails, he apologized and swore it wouldn't happen again :) I promised him the same thing!

The brisk temperatures and wind helped ensure that I had plenty left in the tank that afternoon for cross country. I took advantage of all of the cross country fences in warm up (they even had a ditch flagged - amazing!) and angled a skinny or two just to make sure. I was a little worried about the out of the 2nd water. It was basically the same angled brush question that caught Smarty off guard at Fair Hill, and I didn't want to end up making the same mistake twice. Smarty has such a giant step, I found myself debating the numbers on a few of the other options. But by the time I left the box I had quite the plan in my head. And luckily, I was able to execute said plan out there! Smarty was so adjustable, the right amount of listening but still game to run and jump. He is such a powerful jumper, he makes my job easy most of the time. I took it easy galloping around; but you can just feel him learning each time he heads out on course. Very, very cool. The hardest and saddest thing is that I only get to ride him around the course once! I need 10 Smarty's, please, because it is really hard to think that I have to wait 3 weeks until Southern Pines to get to go run around another 6 minutes worth of Intermediate cross country! If only I had a barn full....and I know I'm the only person out there saying that, right?!

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Event of 2012!

Tatanka was so excited to go to Paradise Farm Horse Trials this
past weekend! Smarty, although excited, was the recipient of a pep talk from Trisha before dressage as it appears he had put himself to sleep!
Luckily, both put in quite the performance as we got our 2012 recognized eventing season under way. We are so lucky to be based out of Hatchaway Bridge Farms, an unbelievable place just minutes from the Paradise venue. It made traveling and scheduling easy, and with two great horses, Trisha and I had quite an easy time if I dare say so! Smarty started things Friday morning with a super dressage test. Even though he scored a '9' on gaits, I felt like the judge was a bit hard on him and he was siting 5th after 30 horses went in the open preliminary division. Tatanka scored in the cute department and ended up tied for 4th in a very competitive beginner novice division. It was a real pleasure competing in the sun and warmth, which I think has eluded Paradise for the past several competitions!
Saturday was a fun day with Smarty going early out on the cross country. I had a new plan for him this year, running the prelim here at Paradise and then back again next weekend intermediate at Pine Top. I think I like it! The rolling hills, and the use of that terrain, made for a great first outing back for him. I love the new flow of the course and there were some very good questions. Early on some angled downhill houses, and he was taking it easy and listening good boy! The bounce bank to the skinny, and the new coffin made of single chevrons was certainly a tough preliminary question. The new sunken road complex rode great, and Smarty was so very smart there jumping quietly down the drop - I dare say he is starting to learn! I ended up well over the time although that was my plan, starting very easy and just cruising around the course, by the end he was up in full galloping mode taking everything beautifully out of stride and coming right back when he felt me just sit up and stretch open my shoulders as I have practiced a gazillion times in my lessons with Karen! Tatanka had a busy day on Saturday as well, shortly after show jumping a clear round he went home and pulled triple lesson duty as his owner was in town! Because of a yucky Sunday forecast, Tatanka and Nicholas went through their dressage test, jumped a show jumping course, and went out to the woods and had a cross country school all in several hours Saturday afternoon. And then Nicholas came back first thing Sunday morning to practice more dressage in the rain! If that is not the spirit of a future eventing superstar, I don't know what is!
Sunday we were very good with scheduling and luckily the weather wasn't nearly as awful as the worthless news people made it sound. The footing on cross country held up just fine for Tatanka's round, although I think the warm up really took a beating. It was a great confidence building beginner novice track with the exceptions of having to navigate around a bunch of preliminary jumps to get up and down the banks. That was the most wiggly part of my weekend! Luckily he didn't wiggle around anything out on course and he finished in 3rd place yay! Show jumping was clocking right along and I hopped on Smarty, jumped a few oxers, and into the arena we went. The footing in warm up there, too, was a bit trashed and I wasn't sure how he would jump in the heavy footing in the ring. I love him so, he was foot perfect! Smarty cruised around the jumping track effortlessly and jumped everything with his million dollar style. Hard to believe it was just a year ago that we started working together, he is a completely different animal now and he is just the highlight of my day. I get to go in and ride my plan and even when it doesn't quite work out he makes it look beautiful.
Many thanks to the owners of Paradise Farm for hosting so many horses and people! We look forward to going back on Wednesday with Trisha and Bailey for the jumping derby. And then it is off to the Advanced Pine Top at the end of the week. Get the party started!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We're Back!

I know, I know, it has been a really long time. Way too long, in fact. Since the last blog we have had a lot of great and a lot of really not great things happen. I apologize for not keeping everyone up to date; but I got a touch overwhelmed. Suffice is to say, we are going to pretend that I blogged just last week, and now here we are again!

We are so so happy to be back in Aiken!!! Trisha, Gunsmoke and I got all of the ponies settled in to our amazing facility in Hatchaway Bridge Farms. If I could own a place in Aiken, it would be here! It is like coming home again! And I know the horses feel the same way. Some had been here before, and I guess they told the others what to expect because they have all been on their best behavior! We got straight to work, lots of sales horses and the competitions always seem to start sooner than anticipated.

I was scheduled to be the President of the Ground Jury the first weekend at Sporting Days, and that was a lot of fun. What a great venue to have and such an enthusiastic and supportive group of volunteers - and I was surrounded by a crew of outstanding officials and organizers that made my job super easy. Thank you all! I also got the opportunity to judge the show jumping at Full Gallop and what a bunch of great jumping horses there were. I think that my own competition string has their work cut out for them to hang with this crowd! I think, however, that they are ready to meet my challenge. They have been schooling great, we had a stellar time at Gibbs last week, and we did the schooling show at Sporting Days to get everything fine tuned. Feeling confident that tomorrow (Paradise Farm Horse Trials) is going to be a great start to 2012!

When I get a moment, I hope to get more pictures uploaded to the Blue Clover Eventing page on Facebook, check them out. Photo credits to Richard Gamble, who captured this amazing shot of our barn on his phone! Imagine what it looks like in real life! Our new schooling field is incredible. If I have learned nothing else in the past few months, it is to keep finding something to be grateful for, and as I look around where I am right now, I can hardly keep track of them all!