Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moving Day!


My co-pilot "Petunia" all buckled in and ready for the trip!

As I said before, changes were on the horizon for us!  Over the last two weeks, we went through the dreaded task of packing up our barn and moving into a new facility!  It was sad, but exciting as well.  I have been at my "very backyard" facility for almost three years.  It was never an ideal place.  Actually very far from it (amazing conditioning fields and a cute barn, but poor pastures, a very below average arena and a landlord, who although always minded his own business, did not have any intention on doing landlord type things....occasionally maintaining fence lines or occasionally dragging the arena).  All of this being said, I am sure you can tell why we finally decided it was time to leave.  However, even though this place had many downfalls, it brought Scooby from Novice to Prelim and also brought along several Off The Track Thoroughbreds from nothing to eventers!  Up until this spring, we only had three sets of jump standards to train with also!  I know from first hand experience, where there is a will there is a way, and many things can be made possible with having very little!  Let's not forget last winter when Chris and I hand shovelled the arena twice a week for almost two months straight, just so that I could ride!  Everyone might think that is nuts and I totally agree!  I still cringe thinking about it, butttttt I did sell Darby in the early spring and had I not been able to ride him those winter months, I probably would not have sold him until the summer... Where there is a will, there is a way!! 

A lot of things came to a head the Monday after Radnor, which is why we finally did decide to leave.  Chris and I started shopping for our very own home that we can also move the horses into, but for now, we moved to a good friend and client's barn ( http://www.pleasant-ridge-farm.com/ ), and will be doing the boarding thing again.  I moved Scooby and most of my jumps the weekend of the 22nd.  I wanted to get him moved, so I could get myself focused for New Jersey Horse Trials.  It had taken every ounce of effort to make myself train since Radnor.  Kazzy wasn't even ridden for about two weeks.  I forced myself to work Scooby though.  I was dead set on being ready to compete on the 29th (if I only knew then that a big snowstorm would put a wedge in that anyway!).  Everything else (2 horses, my beloved barn cat "Petunia" and the rest of my gear) was moved on Wednesday, the 26th. A special thanks to Caitlyn for coming over that Tuesday night and helping me pack and load all of our crap!  We had the dressing room in the trailer filled to the brim!  Speaking of Caitlyn, check out this video that she made and that I happened to stumble across!  This is quite the dedication to Kaz!  I love the pics of the two of them!  She even found some pics of him when he was first being advertised after racing!




Back to the move!  Everyone settled in perfectly and I think the happiest of them all is Petunia!  She has been staying in an apartment above the barn and has zero desire to go outside!  She explored around the barn one day and that was it!  As Bri says it, she does not want to leave her "kitty condo".  Its true!!  She sleeps on her much loved cooler that she adopted from Scooby and is perfectly content!  It is a huge relief.  I was worried that she would not adjust well.

                             
    The ponies reuniting with Scooby after being apart for about a week!

                                        






At first, I was very bummed about boarding, but I am definitely seeing the light in it!  Bri has been amazing and implemented everything we do, so things are pretty much the same, and let me tell you...Saturday during the snow storm, it was soooooooo nice to stay at home under a blanket, rather than trekking to the barn to feed!

On the horizon is the Bucks County Schooling Horse Trials (November 6th).  Originally, I was only going to be there to coach Bri and her fabulous partner "Spooky" in their first Horse Trial.  He is a mini, paint version of Scooby!!  Niceee!  Since New Jersey was a wash with the SNOW, I entered Scooby in the Prelim-Training division (they do not offer a full Prelim =(( ) to get another outing before winter.  Should be a fun day!  If Kazzy comes back quickly after his almost three week break, I am planning to bring him to the Oxbow Schooling Horse Trials on 13th.  I may take Scooby there also to do some straight showjumping at Prelim and Intermediate.  Scooby and I can always benefit from more Show Jumping courses!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Changes are in the air...

Some changes are in the air for us, but I can't get into that quite yet!  What I can go into are updates on the ponies!

          (This is our new look!  Sleeping before Cross Country!  That is until Scooby spots the start box!)

First off, I never posted about Marlborough....probably because that was the weekend from hell and I just wanted to forget it all together!  The drive was absolutely horrible to start!  Traffic, traffic, traffic.  Operating on about 5 hours of sleep, we fetched Scooby from the stabling farm and drove over the Horse Trials for an early morning Dressage test...ohhhhh how I hate when stabling is off grounds.....Dressage was not great...blah..39. We warmed up for Show Jumping and Scooby just did not feel right..or maybe it was me?  Never the less, he felt tired and I could not find my distances.  I was getting into everything deep.  Blah again.  Show Jumping rode just as the warm up did..Both of us definitely not on our A game and everything was deep.  Four rails later, I left Show Jumping feeling very down.  I headed over to Cross Country questioning whether I should withdraw Scooby or run him?  I had an overwhelming feeling that I should withdraw.  I have never experienced that before.  Worse yet, Chris was already down by the jump that he wanted to film.  Amazingly, I spotted Shane across the field and flagged her down.  She agreed that we did not look like ourselves in Show Jumping and that I needed to go with my gut feeling.  She nicely allowed me to use her cell to call Chris with the news!  I actually felt good about the decision and was not at all upset.  It felt right.  The crazy thing is,  as we were back at the trailers, all I heard over the loudspeaker was how many problems were on course.  Refusals, eliminations, falls, horse and rider falls!  It was so bad that second place finished in the 90's!!!!!!  Talk about intuition!  I will ALWAYS go with my gut!  Who knows, with how solid we are on cross country, we could have won this competition......or...we could have had a serious fall?  We will never know, but I am glad we went home safe and confident...just a little grumpy because of how tired I was!

After Marlborough, I had to change my fall schedule around.  I originally planned to compete down at Loch Moy on October 8-9, but the omnibus stated that the course was difficult, so our cross country ride at Marlborough was crucial in going to Loch Moy, and well since we never went cross country, I had to change my plans.  What I settled on was Radnor Horse Trials, which ran on October 8th.  I loveee Radnor and was actually kind of bummed that I was not going to compete there this year because they do not run a full Prelim.  We had to settle for Prelim/Training, but I am not going to complain.  It is just more experience and I would at least be able to ride Dressage and Show Jumping as a full Preliminary.  It was an overall great day.  I was a little disappointed in my Dressage Score though.  We scored a 38, but had our best test at Prelim.  We have scored 38's often at Prelim and have been nowhere near as solid.  It's ok..just need to keep improving!  Also, the biggest bummer of all is that Radnor messed up the cross country times for Prelim/Training and did not record them!!  They gave everybody the optimum time.  That made me soooooooo mad!  We booked it around cross country and still only came in about 15 seconds under.  Chris said that Scooby and I moved much faster than the other horses he saw.  I am certain that there would have been several time penalties.  Very upsetting for everybody who came in on time.  We still finished in fourth (adding only one rail to our score), but could we have finished higher up?  Possibly.  Even more upsetting...a $500 prize for first place!!  Not saying we would have won, but this is a recognized competition for pete's sake!  It is also questionable if they recorded the jumping penalties?  I overheard some other competitors asking them about that and the response was a little concerning..Definitely filling out the event evaluation form!  One thing that always really irritates me, and this happens with several Horse Trials.  The people doing the scores get very angry when competitors ask them when they will post.  Now I know scoring CAN be done promptly because several competitions do it, but when competitors have to wait an hour and a half - two hours after the last ride to receive scores, we should not receive an attitude when an inquiry is made about how much longer it will take.  If they know it is going to be quite a bit longer...make an announcement!  Do not give the competitors, who are paying several hundred dollars to be there, an attitude!  It is absolutely rediculous and uncalled for.

Well now that I got that little vent out of my system...Here are the videos!!!  Yay!








New Jersey Horse Trials will be running on the 29-30th and I am trying my VERY best to keep us on track for it.  Like I said, I am going through some changes and it has been incredibly difficult to make myself get out there and ride Black Beauty!  I am doing it though and we WILL be there!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kazzy The Rockstar!



Decisions Decions!  What to do with this horse?!?!?!  Kazzy had his second HT on Sunday and once again... was a ROCKSTAR!!  Despite picking up the incorrect lead twice on our first canter, he put in a solid test to score a 38.5.  Even with that, he was only two points out of first!  His trot work was again, very solid.  The footing the entire day was a sloppy mess, but everyone made the best of it and I am thankful that Michelle (the organizer and owner of Burgundy Hollow) allowed the Horse Trial to go on!  Michelle also allowed me to include the Beginner Novice/Novice water complex into my cross country course.  That was wonderful because it was the first time that Kazzy rode a water complex on an actual course (minus the fact that we would not be penalized for refusals).  He was awesome though and only had a tiny bit of hesitation.  Nothing that would have been penalized.  I made full use of this schooling option and made three passes through before jumping the last fence on course!  By the second go, he was leaping in!  I have been contemplating bringing him with Scooby to the New Jersey Horse Trials at the end of October, but we would have a water complex on course, so I really wanted to see how he would handle a "surprise" water.  He answered that question very well, so we will see, maybe both my ponies will be at New Jersey!  In the meantime, I have to decide whether to temporarily pull Kaz's "for sale" listing.  I think he is quite special and a very big part of me would like to tap into those eventing skills even more before selling him, but I do not have unlimited funds.  One horse at Prelim is costly enough!!  We could make it work, but I just don't know what to do!!  Opinions please!!!!!! 

Below are video clips from Burgundy Hollow Farm (including the water!!)





Monday, September 5, 2011

Kazzy is now an event horse!

Kazzy successfully made his eventing debut today, and by the looks of this pic, I am sure you can tell how fun the day was!!!!!


Oh yessssssss.......It did not just rain...it POURED!!!!!!!!  Thankfully, I was at least able to get through Dressage before it let loose!!!  We were not so lucky with jumping!  Chris was only able to get a couple pics of the jumping because he did not want to destroy my new camera!  As much as I wanted photos to use to advertise Kaz on my website, I am thankful that I still have a camera!!

Kaz was just as well behaved at the horse trial, as he was when we went cross country schooling.  A complete gentleman and was totally content to just chill out on the trailer when we arrived (standing on the trailer at the show is something we typically must teach new horses).  His dressage warm up went very well and he actually produced a super solid dressage test which put him in second place.  He was totally focused (something else that does not usually come until they do several shows) and scored several 7's on his trot work.  The canter work went as well as could be expected.  I did not realize we would be cantering in our test until a few days before the show, when I actually sat down and looked at Intro C.  Like I have mentioned, his canter work is going well, but in my opinion, not show ready!  On the very up side, he picked up both leads on the first try and did exactly what he could for where he is at in his training.  On the down side, they were still slightly sloppy and he scored a 5 on the one and a 6 on the other.  I was thrilled with him though!  I grinded him this week trying to get him as far along with the transitions as I could before the show, and he produced for me.  The first place horse only beat him by one point, so it was exciting to think that if he was a just the slightest bit better with the canter, he would have swept the competition.  VERY impressive for a first show with an OTTB.




Warm up went just fine for Show Jumping and he jumped super well over his first course.  He did not really look at anything and really rounded over the fences.  The only downfall to the show jumping was that he had the last rail down...bummer!  Not really though!  He was soooooo impressive! 



Cross Country went very well also!  He was more concerned about the mud puddles than the jumps!!!  Again, he barely looked at anything and did everything that I asked of him! Such a good boy!  He finished the day in second place....Not bad for his first time =))  That darn rail kept him from winning though!! 



I constantly have to remind myself that this horse has only been in full training with me for the last two months.  I bought him in June, and before I even started his training, he popped a small splint while out in the field.  Although he was never sore, I wanted to minimize any calcification, so we did not do too much at all for about a month.  Since July, he has really hit the ground running with his training.  He has been incredibly smart with everything!  His flatwork is months ahead of where it should be and his jumping is going just as well.  By the end of July, he was already starting over fences (anyone out there who knows me, knows that I do not rush my horses.....EVER).  He is just that quick with his learning.  He competed in the 2 ft division today, but could have easily done the 2'3".  Chris and I were talking about hanging onto him to compete for next year, and while I would LOVE to, this is still a business and I need to offer him for resale.  If I have him come spring....AWESOME!!!  He is going to be a true contender!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Difficult Run Horse Trials And More!

I have been trying to finish a post about Difficult Run for about two weeks, but my schedule has been sooooo chaotic lately!  Before I go into DRPC, here's a quick update on everything!  We had a medical scare with Scooby last week and it was feared that he fractured his coffin bone.  Talk about heart dropping....When you find your horse out in the field with his leg completely elevated and unable to walk, and then taking 20 minutes to get him down the driveway to the horse trailer so that we could ship him to a clinic..horrifying.  Especially considering how much Scooby means to me...Aside from Chris, he is my everything.  Amazingly, to everyone's surprise, his x-rays all came back great and this turned out to be very minor (the most severe bruise the vets had ever seen).  He is totally sound now and started training again this week.  He will jump tomorrow for the first time.  I am so thankful.....I even sent my entry out for Marlborough.... =))

I just don't know what I would do without my Scooby =)





So Kazzy is doing amazingl!!  He did his first cross country school last weekend and was a rock star!  Soooo solid and not at all afraid of the fences.  Usually, the first cross country experience includes rocket launching over the first couple of logs.  Not him!!  He was amazing and such a gentleman from the time he stepped off of the trailer.  I just can not believe that he has only been in training for about two and a half months.  He has his first schooling HT on Monday and while I am excited for him, I just realized that the new Intro C test includes cantering!  His canter work is going well, but I do not think he is quite ready to canter in a Dressage Test at a show!  Should be lovely!!!!!  Hahaha.

Here are two small video clips from his first cross country experience.





Finally! Here is the post about Difficult Run!



Difficult Run went super well!  It had some ups and downs, but much improvement from Fair Hill, and I came home flying high!!.  To start, Dressage was not our best.  It went just ok, but I will say that I felt great with the sitting trot (always an ongoing struggle when riding Scooby.....bounce bounce bounce!).  It was the best that I have felt with it.  We also had a very nice head toss and buck in the medium canter!!  HA!  We scored a 38.2.  Again, quite a bit high for us, but completely justified.

 Show Jumping went very well.  Scooby jumped the absolute best that he has ever done!  We did have two rails, but he felt great!  Even with the three consecutive clear rounds he had recently, this was by far the best he has actually jumped on a show jumping course!  Everything was very smooth.  One of the rails that he had was a triple bar.  We took off a tad bit too far back and he just skimmed the top rail with the back of his hind legs.   I could feel him trying to make the stretch over it, but he came up just a little short.  A little more power into it would have saved us!  The other rail was the last jump on the course.  No excuses for that one!  It was a lazy rail!  I was thrilled with the ride though!  The course was technical and easy to pick up time penalties, but I rode it exactly like I walked it, and he was amazing!  Very adjustable and attentive!

Cross Country was fantastic!  Scooby accidentally took out the back of the start box before we even entered it!  The horse that went ahead of us, came galloping back down past us, and well.....that got
Scooby a little excited and he backed right into the box!  Down came the pvc piping and by that point, the starter was at 5 seconds.  When the starter was at 1, I was able to coax Scooby into the box and off we went!  Thank god!  Such a brat at times!  A very eager brat!  The course was quite different from Fair Hill.  Fair Hill had many big fences and several combinations, where as Difficult Run did not have all max height fences, but the combinations were more technical, and there were also several very narrow, max height fences.  Those were the scary ones!  Fence three was jumping from the sunlight into the shade over a very narrow, but solid, max height coop.  I was a little concerned about this one because of the fact that it was intimidating, but also because it is off a bending line right next to the stabling.  If horses are super smart about one thing, it is there sense of home!!  Surprisingly, Scooby did not try to pop his shoulder out towards the barns and he jumped this narrow fence fairly well.  Not perfect, but honest!  The next several fences were fairly straight forward and then came the first water complex.  It was an A/B/C/D.  You jump a narrow double Chevron with a palm tree looking thing dividing the two sides/ run through the water/ jump a bank out/ one stride to another narrow double Chevron, again being divided between those blowing palm trees.  My plan was to jump the left side over the first Chevron and the right side of the second Chevron.  I was sure Scooby would at least take a look at the fluttering palms.  When I rode to the A, my plan was to get as close to the center of the jump as I could, while still staying to the left.  This way if he veered out slightly, I would have some space still.  As I rode to it, I implemented my plan, but to my huge surprise, Scooby did not look at all and actually jumped the very center over the palms....Hmmm.. ok...not entirely what I thought would happen, but he definitely listened to my pushing left leg and did exactly what was asked of him!  Good boy!  He finished the rest of the combo with ease and cruised around the next half of the course like a pro.  All of the combinations just flowed!  It felt like we have been at this level for awhile!  We were also doing great on time and everything was feeling spot on.  We then jumped 15 A/B (a narrow bending line combo) and headed off down the field and around the bend to fence 16 (a large/max height oxer).  As I made the bend and started to line up for the fence, I was flagged down by the fence judge....My first thought was.....Ohhhh Crap...I missed a jump....How could I do this?!?!  I walked this thing three times!!!  My mind immediately went back to Flora Lea.  It was Scooby's first Training Level, and not only were we three fences from completing it, we were also three fences from finishing 4th in his first Training.  Well we never saw those last three fences because we were flagged down and told we were eliminated for missing a jump....I was devastated.  I walked the course twice and never even realized I totally skipped a number while walking...BUMMER!

As I pulled Scooby up at Difficult Run, in the split second all of this is racing through my head, the fence judge quickly informed me that the horse in front of me had a fall.  Oh no...I was relieved I did not mess up, but then my thoughts were immediately with the horse and rider.  I did not have any information about what took place (which may be a good thing).  All I knew was it was going to be awhile.....and it was.  It took about 40 minutes to clear the course.  During this time, Chris came back to where we were at to make sure we were ok, and to offer support in the event that I did not feel Scooby would come back well after this time period.  Some people may look at a hold as a time period where a horse can catch their breath and actually be refreshed when restarting.  I don't really think those people have ever had it happen to them.  What actually happens is the horse's adrenaline subsides, they think they are finished with Cross Country and they are tired.  This is not the norm, so when you pull up and are walking for 40 minutes, you are typically in the latter portion of your cool out.  My plan was to just keep him moving and see how he felt.  I was definitely confident in him.  He may be new at Prelim, but he is quite an experienced event horse at this point.  I was pretty sure we would pull it together, but I wouldn't know for sure until I got him galloping again.  We had 4 more fences left on the course, so it was not a lot.  Unfortunately, the scariest fence on the course was fence 17 (a big corner jump, set on a corner in the treeline).  It was very intimidating.  I was not sure how it was going to ride even when we were in a rhythm, but now I really didn't know how it was going to ride.  We were at fence 16, so that gave us one jump to get back into a groove.  I figured I'll just give it my all and hopefully Scooby responds correctly.  Once we got the clear to start again, I trotted Scooby way down the field, this way I could get a good gallop in before fence 16.  When I asked him to gallop, he had a relaxed, not in my hands, gallop.  He gallops like that at home when we condition.  On cross country he is in my hands.  I pushed him into a strong gallop and gave him a few taps as we made the turn for the oxer.  He jumped that very well (phew), and then we headed down to this monster (at least I thought it was a monster!).

We came around the bend and I tried to give Scooby as much space as I could so that he could get a good visual of the fence.  I kept my left leg super closed and really opened my right arm.  He jumped it very well!  Woohooo!  The next fence was a log drop into the water.  That rode very well.  Fence 19 A/B was two fences offset at a sharp angle.  In order to ride this without penalties, you have to jump A almost sideways and then ride a diagonal line to B.  We've ridden some introductory combinations to prepare us for this type of fence, but this was our first real one.  My plan was to collect, collect, collect.  Scooby is very good about jumping where I put him and it paid off here.  He felt like a pro!  The last fence was a trakehner.  Very straight forward compared to Fair Hill's and it rode that way.  We galloped through the finish flags..... after spending almost an hour on Cross Country!  Needless to say, Scooby really did not require too much coolout.  It took us less than a minute and a half to finish the course and by my best calculations from being stopped and then restarted, we should be right around the optimum time...that is, if they are accurate on their end.  A lot of times it does not work out that way.  I was very relieved when I checked the scoreboard and only had .4 time penalties.  The most important thing is that he jumped so confidently around, but I was much more aware of the clock and stepped it up in a safe manner.  I really wanted my score to reflect that.  I am so happy that it did.  We finished the day in 5th place and actually were the closest to the optimum time out of all of the Prelim horses!!  Soooo exciting!

Here is a small video clip from Cross Country....






               Scooby chilling after Cross Country....It's a tough life being an event horse!


Here is the link to the grc pics....Show Jumping is showing much improvement!!!  

http://www.photostockplus.com/home.php?user_id=41021&tmpl=190&event=885592&album_id=885614

From here, we get ready for Marlborough =)

I love my horse soooooooo much and I am so thankful that he is in my life!  Everyone....give your horses pets and kisses!  You just never know when things can change....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Green and White Babyyyyy!!

If you can not tell by the title of this post, Scooby and I successfully moved up to Prelim at Fair Hill!!  Woohooo!!!  It was amazing!  Like I mentioned before, I arrived down there the night before so I could walk Cross Country a few times on Friday.  What a great decision!!  Those extra coursewalks helped me out a lot!!  The first time I walked the course, I was definitely a little intimidated.  Everything was big, which I completely expected and was ready for, but there was still an  "oh boy" moment.  We are now entering the big league!  Haha.  A lot of this is mental for me.  I train by myself, and although I am very confident in myself and my horse, all decisions are made by my me and me alone.  A lot weighs on making the correct decisions.  That is why I am extra conservative when moving into unknown territory!  When I walked the course on Friday, I had to remind myself several times that I have worked very hard for this moment and have put the time in.  Not only in training, but I have done about 15 Training Level Horse Trials.  We are more than ready... mentally and physically.  Scooby is super confident and we have had great outings all year.  I knew it was time to push through the fears and self doubt that would only hold us back. 


Suprisingly, I woke up Saturday morning very relaxed and definitely ready to tackle the day!  Dressage warm up went ok, but unfortunately on our second counter canter, Scooby lost some balance and swapped leads up front.  We quickly resolved the issue, but man oh man, we scored a 4 on that movement......bummer!!  We totally deserved it though!!  My overall score for Dressage was a 37.  Much higher than our norm, but hey, for scoring a terrible 4, I guess a 37 is pretty good!  Upon leaving the Dressage arena, I was approached by what looked like a meter maid, informing me that we have been randomly selected for drug testing by the USEF.  Great!!!  Doesn't this woman know I have a cross country course to walk again?!?!?!?!  This is a very big day!!!  Ughhh.  Although I was not thrilled, she is only doing her job and thankfully all of the blood drawing and waiting for Scooby to pee only took about 20 minutes.  Good boy Scooby!!  Gotta love those racehorses!! 




After walking my courses again, it was time!!!!  Thankfully Scooby was not being his normal monstrous self hacking the mile out to the jump courses (he is almost always a bit beastly at Fair Hill).  He warmed up for show jumping well and I was feeling very good, with little to no nerves heading into the arena.  Unfortunately, we did not have a great show jumping ride.  He was jumping very well, but as we came into the last line of  four fences, things got sloppy =(  We jumped into the first part too deep and that put us too deep for the last three fences.  It was not a train wreck, but he rubbed them all enough to drop them.... it was definitely a bummer because our show jumping has come sooooo far.  Our last three horse trials were all jumped clean, and one of those was a Preliminary course.  I came out of the arena a little upset, but not too too much.  I had bigger things on my mind (Cross Country!!!!!).  Chris quickly reminded me that it is OK.  Forget about it and move on.  We are not here to win today.  He was very right and I was already over it!  By that point we were already over by the start box, and well..... Scooby knows start boxes VERY well!!  As soon as he walks by it, he starts chopping and prancing!  It is actually a very comforting feeling!  You want an eager partner when you head out over these courses.  The day Scooby stands by a start box with his foot rested, will be the day I retire him!!!! Haha.  So after a good luck and I love you from Chris, we were given our two minute warning.  At 10 seconds I put Scooby in the box, and at 5 seconds, he was totally still (he typically does this right before we go).  When the starter said "go",  I squeezed Scooby and he just stood there for what felt like forever (it was prob 3 or 4 seconds).  It was almost as if for a split second, he forgot he was in a start box!!  Finally he all of a sudden snapped out of it and just flew out of the box.  I almost got left behind!!  It was hilarious!!  I was laughing most of the way to the first fence, but then it was all about business!!!  My plan was to not at all worry about time.  I just wanted to jump well and hopefully clean.  The first two fences were a breeze.  Max height, but very inviting.  Fence three intimidated me a little the first time I walked the course.  It was an upright fence max height, with bright green artificial brush extending another foot (so we are probably looking at a 4'7" plus fence).  It was a new fence for Fair Hill.  Scooby soared over it though and did not even look at it.  I'm not even sure if he brushed through it.  Fence 4 was again, a max height fence, but very, very inviting.  No prob there and on to fence 5....THE TRAKEHNER!!!  Now, I have jumped a million trakehners, but not one this scary!!!  Even after walking the course three times, this fence still intimidated me!  First off, the log was suspended out over the ditch a good three feet.  It was VERY airy!!  The ditch was so deep that when you stood next to this thing, it is well over your head.  Very scary and this is not the trakehner they typically use at Fair Hill for prelim.  I was definitely going to ride aggressively and planned to use my crop...no matter what!  This is the type of fence a green horse is confident about until a stride away when they actually see the magnitude of it.  It is deceiving until you are within two strides.  Scooby approached it and was totally locked on as soon as it was within his eye site.  I knew that would be the case, but as we got within 4 strides, I sat deep, pushed and tapped.  I am glad I did, because he was definitely taken back by it's size.  He jumped it so high and cleared it with ease, but I could definitely tell he was like "whoaaaa! There is a monster down in there!!!"  I patted his neck the entire way up the hill to the next fence.  A let up jump before the first combo (fence 7a/7b).  7A/B was a solid roll top, down a hill three strides and off of a bank down.  That went very well and we headed to fence 8 (our very first narrow, narrow corner).  I collected him a lot for it and that also paid off.  He was perfect and stayed very straight through my hips.  On to the next!  Fence 9a/9b.  A solid angled 2 stride combo.  It was set so you had to jump at a diagonal line.  He was absolutely perfect for that and actually picked up a few claps from course walkers!  Soooo exciting!  Fence 10 was another let up fence and then we came to the water complex (11A/B/C).  Despite a sketchy jump at A, we quickly regrouped and jumped 11 B/C (bank out/one stride/solid coup) perfectly.  Fence 12 was a massive table which I was worried Scooby could get flat over.  I collected a lot for it and he was great!  Fence 13 A/B I feel was the most intimidating combo on the course.  You jump a bank up and when you land, you are still heading up this steep hill.  You go two strides and jump a half roll top that sits right where the hill levels out.  The landing side heads you back down the hill.  I was nervous about this one because it definitely required a lot of butt power  (thank god for the massive mountain I make Scooby climb at home!!).  Again, he was perfect....I heard more clapping!!  This time it is was Chris!  I knew he was very proud of us =)  We were both a little nervous about that one!  Fence 14 was a bench jump and then came the last combo on the course.  Fence 15 A/B/C was a cool fence!  It was a solid max height log/one stride/ down a bank/ then a bending line three strides to a hanging log.  Scooby was definitely suprised to see a drop so close once he landed off of the log, but again, he was so amazing and jumped A/B/C with such ease.  Two more fences...One more fence!!  Omg, one more fence!!  Fence 17 was shared with Intermediate and it was big!!  Chris and I joked how bad it would be to come all this way and then take a spill at the last fence!  Well we did not!!!  Scooby cleared it with ease and I woohooed all the way through the finish flags!!!!!  Chris was already there waiting for us clapping!!  It was amaaaaaaazing!!!  Definitely my biggest accomplishment yet!  Suprisingly I did not cry!!  I always cry!!

From here, we have lots of work ahead of us!!  We have to work on the time on Cross Country.  I went super slow at Fair Hill and picked up 18 time penalties.  As I said before, I did not worry about time there.  I think I actually went slower than I do at Training Level.  I usually go Prelim speed at Training, but I really wanted to make sure he stayed super balanced over these fences.  The 4 inches is a big difference on a cross country course and I wanted to be extra safe.  He handled everything with ease, so now it is time to work with the speed in a safe manner.  I am totally fine with it taking us several Horse Trials to make the time.  I am just going to look for improvements with each one as we gain more confidence and experience at the level.  Show Jumping was a bummer at Fair Hill, but we are definitely improving so much overall and I am looking to get back on the path we were on with the three Horse Trials leading up to this one =)  Dressage has been going very well so far and we have been competitive in our first two Prelim tests.  Even with the terrible 4, we were still in contention at FHI.  I am soooo excited to continue this journey =)))

We leave for Difficult Run Friday morning and I am soooooooo excited!!!  DRPC is our absolute favorite HT that we go to all year.  I took the day off of work on Friday, so we can get down there very early!  It is a wonderful facility, but we just LOVE the city of Reston, and all of the great shops and restaurants!!  I already have our eating schedule all planned out for the weekend =)) 

Stay tuned for updates!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maryland Horse Trials Recap

It is Monday morning (Tuesday now!  It takes me awhile to write a blog post!) and I am back at work reflecting on my weekend with Scooby.  We had such a great time in Maryland.  The Maryland Horse Trials is one of the nicest venues that we have competed at.  The facilities are spectacular!  The woodwork on the Cross Country fences is just amazing!  My digital camera pooped out in Bermuda and I vow to replace it by Fair Hill!  I would have loved to get some shots of the gorgeous fences this weekend and was so bummed that I was not able to.  Next time!  I plan to compete there again in October, so I will def get some! 

Here is a quick recap of the weekend!  We arrived at Loch Moy early Friday evening and the first thing that I was so excited about was that they had us stabling on the upper hill in the nice, new permanent stalls.  Not those terrible tent barns in the lower field (yes, that is what $75 a night for stabling bought us last year...oh and warm, brown pond water for the horses to drink in 95 degree weather!  Needless to say, we were not pleased!).  This was a HUGE improvement.  Aside from the stabling last year, this place is run top notch and the volunteers are spectacular!  We met so many of them this year!  All of them were so eager to help us competitors.  We especially appreciated the golf cart rides to and from the stabling area (I think Chris appreciated that much more than I did!  HA!).  Also, a huge shout out to Rex!  He is the barn manager and in charge of all the parking and stabling.  Such a great guy and by far one of the nicest people we have ever met at a competition.  We are looking forward to seeing him in October! 

After settling Scooby in (something which does not require a lot of effort!  Scooby is a very seasoned traveller.  Just walk him for ten minutes to stretch his legs and then put him away with his food.  Easy!), we headed back to the hotel to catch dinner and relax.  Saturday morning arrived and I was so happy that I did not have to get up until 7am.  It was sooo nice to actually sleep in (I am usually up by 6:30).  After feeding, braiding and checking in, Scooby and I headed down to warm up for Dressage.  After about twenty minutes, I was not having high expectations for our Dressage Test.  Half of the warm up arena was designated for Dressage, while the other half was for Show Jumping warm up.  I could feel Scooby's excitedness with the jumpers!  He was not being naughty, he was just not his normal relaxed, focused self.  It did not improve when I brought him up the the main arena for the last 5 minutes of warm up.  That arena had full view of the intermediate horses galloping cross county.....Ohhh man, this is not going to be good!  As much as Scooby loves Dressage, he would much rather be out on Cross Country.  Well off we went, and no, it was not our most beautiful test!  He had some very nice moments, but he also had some very distracted moments.  Chris put it best...it was just inconsistent....Oh well!  Scooby is a consistent Dressage horse, so he is allowed a buy every now and then...at least that's what I try to tell myself.  The truth of the matter is, when you are solid in Dressage, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to always be be very solid and competitive in this phase.  Let's face it, in order to be competitive in eventing, you must be solid in Dressage.  A lot is decided in this phase and after completing about 15 Training Level Hts, I have a right to want to be competitive at this level.  I must say though, I was not grumpy with his test!  It is always important to remember that we are not competing with just ourselves or another human.  Our partner happens to be a fit horse.  In my case, a high energy, Preliminary fit, Thoroughbred.  So Chris and I lectured Scooby on the walk back to stabling, telling him he better want to jump and gallop very badly and better do it very well!  Well Scooby did not disappoint us!  He warmed up very well (we usually only jump about 6 fences) and then we headed  up to Show Jumping.  Something new that I have added for the first time at MHT, is that Chris now stays with us by the Show Jumping arena in case Scooby starts getting wired while waiting.  Having him there helped keep Scooby relaxed and forget about jumping while he waited his turn.  Scooby would much rather jump cross country first and then show jump later in the day.  When we do the showjumping first, I have a horse who wants to go gallop, and it is tough to channel his energy so that he does not get sloppy and bring rails down.  He is getting so much better in showjumping, but it definitely helped having Chris there to pet him and make him forget about jumping until his turn. Plus, if I have any trouble with him getting wired right before, Chris will be there to help walk us around.  It is rare that Scooby gets very orinary (orinary meaning wound up and very figity), but he can have his moments.  That plan worked out well and he went into the arena pretty chill.  He was fabulous in showjumping and we put in our third consecutive clear round!!!!!!!  Woohoooo!  I was ecstatic!  We walked out of the arena and met a beaming Chris.  He was so happy for us!  Show Jumping has been such a struggle and noone knows that more than Chris.  Chris is the very rare husband who is at every Horse Trial and is truly my right hand man!  We would not be where we are at without him.  Most people thank their trainers for their success.  I thank my husband!  He has been there through thick and thin, and will continue to do so.  I am very lucky!  So, after a quick chat about the showjumping, Scooby and I headed up to Cross Country and were off within a few minutes.  We had a great ride!  He was spot on with everything and felt super fit.  The course was so much fun and I attached a link to the photos below.  The highlight of the course was definitely the second water complex!  You jump a hawaiin looking fence/canter four strides and jump off of a log drop into the water/gallop through the water, in between the loch ness monster and then jump a fence set about two strides from the water.  It was sooo much fun and Scooby was a pro through it.  When we jumped the first fence, I knew he was locked onto the log drop, but I was still totally prepared for some possible hesitation at the drop.  There was none!  He soared down over the log into the water!  It felt amazing! I attached the link to that particular pic!  Sooo fun!

http://www.photoreflect.com/store/Orderpage.aspx?pi=0EBK00EY2W0056&po=56&pc=91

The second water complex was the last real question on the course, but there were still three more fences before finishing, so you can never just let up and think your done until you are through the finish flags!  All of these fences demand respect.  We jumped the remainder of them very well and galloped through the finish flags flying high!  Such an amazing ride!  I have to pinch myself all of the time that I own this magnificent horse and how lucky I am that he came into my life.  Scooby and I were made for each other.  Chris met us down by the finish and was also ecstatic by what he saw of our ride...He was dying to make sure that we did in fact jump clean.  Once I told him about the ride, he was like "I am so proud of you guys! Oh and by the way, you scored a 30.9 in Dressage and were in fourth before Show Jumping".  I was like "whatttttttt!  My naughty boy scored a 30.9!!!"  Hahaha.  I was a little suprised to say the least!  I was thinking a 35 or 36.  What a pleasant suprise!  So we finished the day in 3rd place on our Dressage Score!  That is my lowest final score yet!  Such an exciting weekend!  Hopefully many more of those to come!

Here is the link to all of the pics from the Maryland Horse Trials!

http://www.photoreflect.com/store/ThumbPage.aspx?e=8124201&g=0EBK00EY2W

From here, we have three weeks before Fair Hill.  On the to do list.....Train hard and get excited!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tough Decisons

Saturday, July 2nd.... 2:00 am. BEEP BEEP BEEP!  Yes, my wake up alarm was telling me it was time to wake up! Noooooooo.  I am not a morning person and forget that even...this was not morning!  This is some god awful time of the day when only nutty people or drunk people are awake!  I happen to fall into the nutty person category!  Along for the ride, Chris and Shae (my 7 year old puppy)!  2:15am, we are out of the house and off to the barn to pick up Scooby.  Before leaving with Scooby, I had to fetch my other creatures out in the field in the pitch black!  Always fun trying to convince horses to come in 5 hours earlier than normal.....in the dark!  Once that was all taken care of, I groomed Scooby, put his shipping outfit on, and we were off to NJHT.  We arrived shortly after 6 and my first order of business was to walk Cross Country.  My plan was to walk it once before Dressage and once after.  That was mistake number one!  What was I thinking?!?!?!  This is our first Prelim, so mentally I needed to walk that thing at least three times!  Hindsight!  Duh!  So we started walking the course, and I was feeling pretty good about it.  The first fence was quite small, probably Novice to Training Level height.  Chris put the jinx on me by saying "That looks like a Novice fence!!!  Hahaha".  Did I ever mention I am superstitious??  Well I am!  Mildly, but it is there!  Example, I have two blue crops for Cross Country, but I will only use one of those when I compete! Anyways the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fences were all max height, but very straight forward.  Fence 5abc was rails, one stride to the ditch, one stride to rails.  It was a question, but in my opinion, pretty straight forward.  We have done a ton of ditch combos, so I was pretty confident about it.  After that, there were two let up fences.  One was training height and the other was a max height, max width table.  Ginormous!  But hey, this is Prelim and naturally the fences are going to be big!  Get over it!  At least that's what I tell myself! HA!  Onto the next combo..a hanging log three strides to another hanging log.  The second hanging log lands on a steep slope down into the woods.  Again, requires much attention, but totally do able.  After that came a double down back and then 3-4 strides to a skinny rail.  The double down was intimidating because it would either ride as a bounce or a very short one stride.  I was planning to trot it and do it in a short one stride.  After two more max height let up fences, came the first water complex.....WOWWWWWWW!  It was the coolest water jump I have ever seen that was not at Rolex or some big time show.  Basically, you jump a solid boathouse, head down a mild slope, cross through water and head up onto an island.  Once on the island, you jump an upright vertical, three strides to a log drop back into the water.  You cross through the water on the other side and jump a skinny sitting on top of the hill about four strides out.  It was sooooooo cool!  Unfortunately.......two fences later, at the second water complex, I realized my Preliminary aspirations were done for the day...... To many, the second complex may have been the easier of the two, and on first glance, I would think so also.  It was not at all techincal.  It was a big roll top about three stride out from the water.  You jump the rolltop, gallop through the water and then jump a solid square table out.  The table out was only probably about 3'3"-3'5", but it was the angle of the incline from the water to the jump that I was concerned about.  It was one of the tougher jumps out of water that I have seen at Prelim.  I have been checking them out all last year in anticipation for this move up!  Btw, the June Plantation was supposed to be our move up, but the cruise and wedding made me delay it.  I somewhat regret it now because as we all know, the omnibus is not at all good at explaining the difficulty of a cross country course and if you are not overly familiar with the facility, it is risky.  This was labeled moderate with options.  I do believe the course was moderate, but there was not a single easier option on the course.  Not one!  Bummer, but it is what it is =)) Anyways, back to the water jump.....It was a definitely fair question for Preliminary and had we already completed one or two, I would feel good to go for it, but being that it was to be our first go, I do not want to have any questions in my mind about whether we are ready for the question being asked.  There is a distinct difference from being nervous about a course and the feeling you get when you feel over faced.  Unfortunately, this was the over faced feeling.  I have learned over the years to go with my gut and I truly believe this is why we are successful.  I never rush and I never over push just because I want to accomplish something (watch a couple of rotational falls and most of you will feel the same!).  Last year in May when we took Scooby to Fair Hill, the water jump was a large log drop into the water.  At the time, Scooby had only completed two Training Levels and both of those were straight forward water questions (jump/three strides/cross through water and then jump again).  All of you who have made the move from Novice to Training, know that in terms of water, it is a tough move.  Novice 99.9999% of the time will only ask you to cross through the water, and then you move to Training and you can either have something fairly basic designed to prepare the horses for jumps into and out of water, or you can have an actual large jump into the water.  It's tough to go from super simple to pretty difficult.  So at the time, I knew it was best for Scooby to be withdrawn and gain more experience at other places before asking a big question like that.  It was tough, but the best decision I could have made.  He gained experience with easier questions at other HTs and then we went back to Fair Hill in August and conquered that big, bad water jump with ease!  To this day, that is the biggest drop into the water I have seen at Training.  So basically what I am getting at, it was a bummer to have to scratch at NJHT, but it was the right decision and we went home as confidently as we headed out....just very tired and grumpy!  Our next attempt for Prelim will be at Fair Hill on August 6th.  It is only a day show,  but Scooby and I will staying Friday night so I can get some extra coursewalks in.  Even though Scooby can be quite beastly there, I have ridden there a lot and basically know what to expect with the course.  Cross your fingers for us =))))))  Until then, we will be training hard (we jumped 4'3" today!!!!!!) and are going to get another outing at Training Level on July 16th (Maryland Horse Trials).  Last year, Scooby rocked at MDHT, finishing second on his Dress Score!  That will be tough to beat, but a ribbon is not my concern.  I just want a great outing to keep us on track for Fair Hill!

On another note, Kazzy is doing awesome!!!!!!  He has been in training for about a month and has been so impressive.  Within a few weeks of doing many suppling exercises, he is beginning to bend and carry himself like a champ!  Even more impressive about this horse, he is the closest thing in movement to Scooby that I have found.....EVER!  The funny part is, he is not this long legged, elegant horse.  He is a very substantial, but small, 15.3 guy.  I checked his ad out several times before I decided to look at him.  What caught my eye about him is that they had a picture of him trotting and I was impressed.  Chris never saw the pics, so when we saw him standing in cross ties for the first time, he thought I was nuts to compare him to Scooby.  Well guess what?!?!  Today Chris watched him go under saddle for the first time in about two weeks, and what came out of his mouth was "Wow, he moves like Scooby when he loosens and bends!!!"  Duhhhhhh!  This is what I have been telling him all along!  On first glance, he is not the typical long legged, super elegant TB that I usually go for, but once you see him move, he is quite impressive and overshaddows most of our previous horses!  I have high hopes for him.  He has been working over ground poles and is ready to begin some small jumping.  That will give me more insight for his future, but I am so excited to continue working with him.  Not to mention, he is such a quiet, kind horse.  He just turned four, but acts like he has been there/done that with everything new I present to him.  Today was his first real trail ride and he spent most of it on the buckle!  Such a treat to work with something so easy!  Haha.

Btw, I am not one of these people who really care about bloodlines, but something interesting about the resembelence in movement between Kaz and Scooby, is that they share the same immediate grandfather (Storm Cat).  A lot of Tbs are of course related, but this is not far down the line.  The gene would be pretty dominant still.  I do not know if there is any correlation, but it is an interesting thought!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Less than a week out!!

Scooby and I are one week out from making our Preliminary debut, and we are ready!!!!!  I keep having to pinch myself that we will actually be jumping the green and white fences!!!!  Hahaha.  I am mentally prepared in case it does not go well, but I am taking a lot of comfort in that I know we could not be more ready...mentally or physically!   We have 13 completed Training levels under our belt and one Prelim/Training.  We are both super confident and bold going into this!  The one remaining question that I had, was his show jumping.  We struggled putting it together for awile (having only three sets of jump standards for our first three and a half years together certainly did not help!!).  This spring I went and picked up nine additional jump sets and have been having a blast putting together all sorts or grids and courses!  It has been a life saver!  Another thing that have I really changed, was how I rode him in Showjumping.  After studying tons of videos and photos of us, I have made some improvements to my riding, which has also really helped!  Our last Training level was at Plantation Field on June 11th, and we jumped clean!!!!  It was awesome!  However, on cross country, I missed a line in a combination and we had a very uncharacteristic run out!  Talk about an adreneline dump!!!  It happened at fence 4, and although we quickly circled back and jumped the second element with ease, I had to mentally get myself back together to finish the remaining 15 fences!!!  These things happen, but it was such a bummer knowing it was my fault.  If I had just put more thought into how I was going to ride the line, it would never have happened.  It dropped us from 2nd-6th, and although Chris and I were both dissappointed, we were thrilled with his Show Jumping.  During the walk back down to the trailers, Chris kept saying how badly he wanted this for us, that we have worked so hard, and that it was so unfortunate to have a silly run out, just when the show jumping finally came together!  I couldn't agree more, but again, these things happen, and on the very upside, Scooby and I went home safe, sound (minus a front left shoe!) and as confident as we went out!  Scooby does not know he missed a jump, so I guess if we are going to pick up 20 penalties, that's the best way to do it.  Here is the link to some pics from Plantation!

http://akdragoophoto.zenfolio.com/p620397619/h1eb7ccf6#h67f21f6


 Although Plantation had it's ups and downs, the stars alligned for us at Bucks County on June 19th, and it was all about the ups!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I chose to compete in a Prelim/Training division before making the full move up, and Scooby aced it!!!!!  Everything was best case scenario!  I have been working on the sitting trot with him for a long time and it has been a huge struggle.  Scooby is the most difficult horse I have ever sat on.  He is narrow and has A LOT of movement.  I work without stirrups for about 10 minutes almost every day, and just keep plugging away at it.  I still don't feel like we are totally in sync all of the time, but we are capable enough now to compete in the Preliminary tests.  I was more stressed about my Dressage test than the jumping last Sunday!!  Haha.  Now thats's bad!  I felt like the test went ok, but when we came out, Chris said we looked awesome!  Btw, Chris does not lie to me to make me feel better about things!  Hahaha.  I also made it clear to him that I did not want to know my score until after I was completely finished for the day.  I did not want to stomach a score in the 40's until I was done!  Cross country was amazing and he breezed through all of the Preliminary questions!  We picked up 9 time penalties, which I somewhat figured would happen even before I started the course.  Bucks County is very difficult to make the time even at Training Level, so with the increased speed for Preliminary, I knew it would be very tough.  They have a lot of combinations in a very condensed area.  There really aren't any open galloping spots.  My goal was to jump well and get as close to the time as I could, without jeopordizing his jumping ability.  It went perfectly!  About an hour later, we were off to our very first Preliminary Show Jumping course.  My realistic goal was to hopefully not have a ton of rails!!  All I can say is that I came out of the show jumping arena bawling my eyes and hugging my horse's neck!  Not only did he jump the best he has ever jumped on a course,  but he was one of only three horses to jump clean!!!!  I was ecstatic!!!!!!  He was literally tucking his knees to his ears!!!!!  It was such a sense of pride knowing that all of the hard work is paying off, and that I am doing things correctly to improve our weaknesses.  During all of my bawling, Chris dropped on me that we scored a 33 in Dressage and stood in fourth before Cross Country!!!!!  I could not believe it!  That is what we score at Training Level, and the Prelim test is much more complex.  We also scored an 8 on our counter canter!  Niceeeeee!  Despite having the 9 time penalties on Cross Country, we moved up from 4th to 3rd after Show Jumping!!!!! We actually only missed 2nd by one penalty point.  I could not believe it!!!!  It was such an amazing day!!  Hopefully we have many more of those!!! Here is a pic from BCHP!  I loved this jump!

http://www.digitalexpressionsphotography.com/Equestrian/BCHP-Horse-Trial-6-19-2011/Training-XC/17627212_ZfcdDc#1348801889_Mp6VXN5-A-LB


Hopefully next week I have more good news!  The goal going into New Jersey Horse Trials is simple..... be safe, have fun, do our absolute best, and leave it all out there on cross country!




            Btw, here are a few pics from Bermuda!!!!  More to come!



The view from our balcony!
 
Formal Night! (Allessandra, Brother Bear, Christopher and Sister Bear) Yes, my brother and I call each other brother and sister bear!  We have done that since we were very young!!  LOL

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The New Arrival!

                                       ~ Cassidy Blue ~

                   My horsey sitter, Caitlyn, made this!  Sooooo cute!

So the new pony is here!  After spending an agonizing month looking at retiring racehorses, I found my next project!!!!  Now most of you may think that spending a month shopping for a horse is not a long time, and when you are shopping for an already trained competition horse, a month is nothing at all!! Try six months for most people!  However, when you are shopping for a track horse and have 100's at your disposal for all around the same price, a month is a long time!!!  It is even worse when you are like me and typically find a new project wayyy before the recent graduate leaves!  I do think though that our new boy was worth the wait!!!  His name is " Cassidy Blue" (we nicknamed him Kaz), and he is a 15.3 hand, Chesnut, who just turned 4 years old.  Now I know a lot of people fixate on height and want a 16.2 +  horse (something which I typically find very silly!  The best sporthorses range between 15.3 and 16.1), but boy oh boy is this guy solid and will take up any leg!!!  He is super substantial!  He makes Darby look like a peanut in build, and Darby is a solid guy!  Even better, despite being a more substantial TB, he is super graceful and light on his feet.  He has great hind end movement and a toe pointing trot!  Even better than that, he is currently barefoot......and sound!!!  He came off of the track in February and his owner pulled his shoes then.  I plan to put fronts on him next week, but will leave his hind bare and see how he does!!  What a concept?!?!  A Tb who does not need shoes all the way around?!?!?!  I know they are out there, but I have not owned any yet! HA!  Another huge buying factor me on this boy, is that he was started so differently than most ottbs.  For one, he was kept on the farm and shipped in to the track several days a week to train, so not only is he a super shipper, and in a way has show experience (going to new places often), but is also totally acclimated to farm life!!!  Yes, things like standing in cross ties, farrier work without ace, turnout, pretty much most everything that the everyday horse owner takes for granted, needs to be taught to ottbs.  He was also fortunate enough to have a wonderful trainer who takes excellent care of his horses.  Instead of galloping them often, he opts to work them at a swift walk on an incline treadmill.  It is much better on their joints and soft tissue, and also develops wonderful muscling and fitness!  Too bad I did not bring my camera to get a picture of this treadmill!  Talk about spooky!  Chris was like "well if he gets on that thing, I doubt he will be scared of anything!!"  Hahaha.  I think he is right!  I road Kaz lightly yesterday and he was a saint.  We had quite a bit of commotion at the barn also (of course there was!  I was riding a new horse for the first time!!) and he was a rock.  He was not even phased by the minis, who typically insist on chasing the horses up and down the fence line while we are riding.  I am quite pleased with him.  I think this guy has a lot of promise and will be able to go in many different directions.  We'll know more in a few months, but I am pretty optimistic that he is as nice as I think he is!! 
               Oh yea!!  Did I mention that if he was a stud, he could have been registered Paint also?!?  He has those high hind socks that come above the hock.......Such an interesting TB!

Btw, the next post will definitely be about Bermuda!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our hearts go out to Boyd, Silva and all associated....

As much as I would love to update everyone on my trip to Bermuda, it will have to wait....  Once again, today I was reminded of how small  the eventing community is and how much compassion we have for each other.  There is a bond amongst eventers that I have never seen in any other equestrian sport.  Is it the love of our horses?  The overly difficult work we put into them to be able to go out there and complete Horse Trials?  The guts it takes to go out to that start box, every time,  and give it our all for our horses, because we owe that to them?  Or is it a culmination of all of these things?  Whatever it is, it is there, and today when I went on useventing.com, my heart broke......the same as it did when I learned that Jennie Branngian's "Cooper" passed away from complications to an injury sustained in a freak accident at Fair Hill a couple of years ago, or when I read that the beloved super pony, Theodore O' Connor" (Teddy), passed away due to injuries from a freak spook while being led out to the arena, the same that it breaks every time I read about anyone losing their beloved horse.  In the eventing world, we all get to know these horses.  It is that small of a community.  For those of you who do not know what I am getting to, this morning around 12:30 a.m, Boyd Martin's barn caught fire and 6 horses were lost.  Thankfully due to the quick reactions of Lillian Heard, Caitlin Silliman and Ryan Wood, several horses were saved.  I attached the link to the full story at Eventing Nation below and also the link from useventing.com


http://eventingnation.com/home/2011/05/fire-at-boyd-martins-barn-at-true-prospect-farm.html

http://useventing.com/competitions.php?id=2815

Please keep everyone associated with theses great horses in your hearts and give your horse a extra big hug when you see them.  Shane and I always say that we get caught up in the minor issues that we go through with our ponies, and these tragedies are always an overwhelming reminder to not get caught up in things that appear almost silly.  We are so lucky for everyday that we have with these wonderful creatures and should not take a moment for granted.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lots of Updates!!!!

Wow!  It has been a LONG time since I have posted!  Can you tell how busy I have been?!?!?!  Sooo much has happened since late winter, I don't even know where to begin!  To start, Scooby has come out of winter great!  Fresh as always, but settled within a few weeks and ever so happy to have a job again.  We have four Horse Trials under our belt since the first week of April, and while we have not 100% hit our groove in all three phases on one given day (isn't that the story of all eventer lives!!!!!), he is a jumping machine and SUPER confident!  He has been spot on!  Dressage is back on track also.  He is typically very solid in Dressage, so having two scores in the mid-high 30's has been a bit of a disappointment.  We had some bicycle distractions at MCTA last weekend, but hey, not excuses!!!!  He was back on at Plantation this weekend and scored a 32.  I scored my first ever 9 (I hope to have many more of those!) and despite a little buck during our extension at the canter, he was near perfect!  We still have to work on our trot extensions in hilly footing, but given the circumstances, I am very happy with him.  Definitely some room for improvement, but overall awesome and good enough to put him in third after Dressage.  Show Jumping in a compeitition atmosphere is still a work in progress, but I believe it is beginning to come together for us.  Scooby can get a little sloppy in the Show Jumping arena (excitement can get the best of him and his focus at times.  Jumper shows here we come!).  However, this weekend at Plantation, I don't think I have ever seen soooo many problems on a Training Level show jumping course.  I felt that the distances on the lines were very unfair to the horses (hey, just my opinion!).  So although we still have a lot of work to improve our showjumping, he was not far off of everyone else.  Cross country was great again!  Did I already mention that Scooby is a cross country machine?!?!  Besides his pasture time, it is what he lives for!  He has become so bold that I rarely even have to tap him anymore.  I think he gets insulted when I do tap him!  There was a big, airy log drop into the water, and although he is very solid jumping, I always ride more aggressively if I think it could even be remotely needed.  So even though he was locked onto the log drop, I gave him a tap about 3 strides out (just to be safe!).  It was definitely not needed!!  He just cruised over the log into the water!!  Wooohooo!  That's my Scooby!!  He finished very fresh and in fourth place.  Being that we are looking to move to Prelim in the next month, I have been moving much faster on our last two Training cross countries, and finishing very close to the speed fault time.  We have been very comfortable with it, so  although time will not be of concern on our first couple of Prelims, it is good to know that we are quite happy and confident at the speed.  I'm super excited for the rest of the season!  Fingers crossed that things continue to go very well for us!!!!

I think that April/May have been the busiest months I have ever in my life had!!!  In addition to Scooby competing regularly, I also had to balance getting married in Cape May on April 30th ( yes! After 8 and a half years, we finally took the plunge!!!!  It was awesome and such a wonderful weekend with our families!).  During this time, I was also going through the lengthy selling process of my beloved Darby.  He has now moved on to his wonderful new home and I am soo happy with where he is and who he is with.  He is being loved and doted on daily!!

 Saying goodbye......Definitely bittersweet!  I will miss looking at that gorgeous boy daily...

It was very hard saying goodbye to Darby.  I get tears in my eyes just typing this, but it is what I worked so hard for, and the sense of pride and accomplishment is amazing.  Re-training off the track thoroughbreds is a lot of work, and when people think they are riding a green horse because it is only a 2'6" jumper or a Beginner Novice Level eventer, try riding a horse that can not even walk a straight line without falling in or out.  Now that is a green horse!  It is what I live for though and I love changing these horses lives.  I also love seeing how happy they make their new owners.  This is part of an email that I recently received from D's new owner:


Hi Becky,
Darby is just a sweetheart!  It is so stressful to buy a new horse especially when you've had a bad experience in the past.  So far, he is just wonderful.  I look forward to seeing him and riding him whenever I can."


 Soooooo Awesome!!  

   This is what makes it completely worth it!  A  very happy and proud new owner!


So like I said..... a lot has happened recently!!!!!!  The craziness is not over yet though!!  I am in search of my new baby/babies, and I am leaving for Bermuda on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!  I am very much in need of a week on a cruise ship!  R and R.....and some martinis of course!!!!


         Prince William and Kate do not have anything on us!! (April 30th)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Desensitization and Goofing Off!!


                                       Scooby sporting my riding vest!

I've never realized how much I torment my horses until recently I went through Chris's phone and found some funny pictures!  I guess this is why my horses are solid citizens!!  We're all about playing with them and doing weird things to them.  In all seriousness though, it makes them braver and much more mentally flexible!  I hate when you have to walk around horses on eggshells.  That being said, I used to yell at Chris all the time for doing weird things to them.  I walked into the barn one day and he was grooming Scooby with our super large barn broom that is almost as big as he is! Or the time he put bell boots on Caesar's ears to make him look like Princess Leia (I'll add that pic later!).  I've learned to lighten up though and actually embrace these strange acts.  I now join in!  I think the horses get a kick out of it too!  Anyone who knows Scooby or has even met him for that matter, knows he is a MAJOR goof ball!!



                 Darby getting a kiss while wearing the "Woody Pellets" bag!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter Fun and Second Thoughts....

                                                        Gotta love the bug eyed glasses!


So we are now into the middle of February (Wooohooo!  March March March!) and we have gone a full week without a snow/ice storm!  Yay!  Hopefully the last of the ice on our arena melts off soon!  Next week Chris and I are planning on digging out the jumps that I sooo brilliantly buried in the snow during all of our shovel outs.  They are now six feet under a wall of snow that borders the arena!  Very smart of me!  I really don't know what I was thinking!

The horses are doing great and it looks promising that Darby will be moving on with his potential new mommy =)  As happy as I am, I am definitely dealing with some sadness as well.  This is somewhat suprising for me because as much as I love all of my horses, I am extremely excited when they get sold.  I work very hard and put alot of time and training into them, so when I am rewarded with a sale, I am ecstatic!  Darby is a little different though.  I have shed a few tears everyday since last week!  I am very excited about the possibility of selling him to someone who is going to be very dedicated to him and her riding (and oh yea, did I mention that she is going to be training with me?!?!  That is even more exciting!), but the barn will definitely feel empty without him.  He is very gentle and such a snuggler!  I always look forward to spending time with him.  He's just a laid back guy who loves hanging out with people.  I've definitely bonded with him big time!  Everyone who spends a little bit of time with him feels the same way.  Such a sweetheart!  However, I do tell myself that this is what I love to do and like they say "if you would want to keep this horse for yourself and are having second thoughts about selling him/her, you know this is a great horse!" Soooo true!  I know that ultimately, whoever does buy Darby, will be the happiest/luckiest person around and it is incredibly rewarding to know that I have had a hand in making him into the horse that he is!