Monday, December 22, 2008

From the Top to the Bottom ....AGAIN

Having written the two really fun blogs about the great time we all had last weekend,I merrily strolled downstairs to start the day and now am devasted by a five minute phone converstaion.

Having been filled with thoughts of happiness and huge satisfaction I now want to crawl under a rock or make an emergency phone call to the shrink.Now now Lellie Calm down......

Teaching and working with horses is hugely satisfying for the most part.Having travelled around the globe I have been fortunate to meet many horsemen,some good,some not so good.The good ones have given me tools of the trade,confidence and not only helped my riding ,but have taught me so many life lessons along the way.The bad ones have taught me I do not want to be like them.

Though I am heavily ensconed in the horse world, one lesson taught to me is that there is no amount of money worth your reputation. Misrepresenting either oneself or horses is something that is all too frequently seen.It is hurtful, expensive and most of all dangerous.

I am deeply saddened when I see it happening over and over.Trying to repair is always more difficult and expensive than perhaps paying more at the beginning of an equine journey.

People that enjoy teaching , are willing to help people repair but this teacher wants to scream out loud to riders out there that so much of what happens to them can be avoided!


By practicing the basics with someone that is willing to stand up and REALLY help. Will your teacher ride your horse for you when you don't understand? Will your teacher actually fix problems and teach you how to avoid issues in the future? Will your teacher give you the knowledge to ride with skill instead of luck? Will the person that sold you the horse actually help you when things go wrong? Does that person make you feel like you cannot talk to them about your own issues that keep you up at night because you think they are too busy or famous or can't take the time? Or because you have jumps in your ring you don't teach dressage?

What does Dressage mean?It means TRAINING!!!!!!!! It means you should be able to ride your horse anywhere at anytime, not just between little white boarder fencing. It doesn't only mean Dressage shows and percentage scores.

I am very sad. I hate to see people hurt. I just wrote a blog about big smiles and Fun. I am going to stop this sad blog now and go back and read the other two again in the hopes that I will be able to crawl out from the cold dark shadows of my rock. And I'm not going to answer my phone anymore for awhile. UGH! Thank God its Monday and I can wait for Dr.Phil to come on!

Lots of Fun and Smiles Part Two

The fun and smiles continued on the next day.At 7.30 am Paradise experience a petite psunami that made us all want to go back to bed, but by 8 am things were looking better.By 9 am I had three very excited riders loaded up in the truck listening to Johnny Cash on the way to the Belvoir Farm Schooling Show for another days sport.

We arrived at the show and got everyone mounted.This was a great opportuntity for our riders as everyone had their own personal missions to accomplish.This was Taylors first horse show with her new horse Spencer.Boyce is an experienced show rider but today she jumped real courses not just cross rails.Her eyes became big as saucers when I set up her first oxer.I saw her take a huge gulp and kicked right on down to it.Within minutes she was bombing around the entire ring,eating up the lines with her fabulous pony Miss Rosey!

George Zaiser arrived on Friday for a casual weekend .There simply is no such thing.Upon arrival I asked him what he wanted to do and he said,I can't get my horses head down.Right then.Two dressage lessons later,he was ready to challenge Anky van Grunsvan on a good day.So naturally without further adieu,day three needed to be a horse show over fences.We simply do not mess around at Paradise!

Taylor went from the Ultimate careful housewife to a ferocious competitor gaining confidence with each round.She an Spencer are extremely well suited to each other earning high praise from our host Mike Sharp.Boyce had bugs on her teeth the entire day.And George went from not being able to get his horses head down,to winning a couple of classes!

We need a wheelbarrow to bring home all the prizes.Everyone won a championship or a reserve.It was simply amazing!

It is SO REWARDING to see my friends having this much FUN with their horses.It absolutely made it a perfect weekend,EVERY bit as exciting as the Rolex Three Day EVENT!

This weekend was my Christmas.I finished the day by putting my farm to bed as everyone that works here is on holiday.I enjoyed taking care of the horses myself for a change as I used to.

With Christmas only a few days away things will be fairly quiet at the farm.I still have a few horses in work and we are still hunting.The only major thing left to do on my list for 2008 is move the years maure pile.What a way to end the year!

All my love and Thanx to everyone.No doubt 2009 will bring more adventures.Stay tuned!

Lots of Fun and Smiles

December 20-21 was truely a great weekend in Aiken.The Aiken Hounds had our annual Christmas meet at the beautiful Green Boundary Club.Three years ago,on a dare I wore a full fledged Santa Suit to the meet and hunted the hounds.With a FULL wig and beard I galloped through the woods blowing the horn hunting, the hounds with the added excitement of a FULL set of sleigh bells around my favorite drag horse (machine) Charlie Ferrari.

With each year this meet has grown in size and in fun with all the field and foot followers adorning all sorts of Chritmasy things.There is/ are lots of tinsel,ribbon,balls,elf hats,antlers,bells even Christmas blinking lights in the manes and tails.Last year we even had a human Christmas present show up.This year I added a full pillow and more bells to my attire.

Rudolf,and all the other reindeer show up, more elves, a few angels and even Mrs.Claus was there this year.This meet is especially great for the local economy as all the local emporiums benefit from this excercise.Target,Wal Mart and CVS Drugs were VERY well represented as well as many of the local florists.All the staff horses adorned magnificent wreaths that were carefully homemade.Beautiful Christmas stock ties were given out as presents.Tons of great photos were taken.Smiles were everywhere.

I counted over 65 horses in the field.What a magnificent sight it was to look back at all the horses hacking down Berrie Road to the woods.Many thanks to our traffic control volunteers.

We had a lovely go with three drags.Lots of jumping that brought even more color to the field!There was plenty of Christmas cheer at each check.After a cool drink for the hounds , off we'd go with the next drag.We finished our day at the famous Crawford fences and hacked back to the meet.

But the day was not over.A delicious breakfast was to follow at the Green Boundary.By the end of the morning Santa Sat in the chair with a belly full of the very famous lace cookies and took Christmas wishes from most our male foxhunting friends.He will certainly be very busy this year.Hopefully after a day like that he will fit down the chimney and not get stuck!

Long may this tradition last.Each year at Thanksgiving, it is hard to describe the wonderful feeling of putting on the green coat for the first time.Putting on the sleigh bells and the red suit is another great honor!There is nothing to compare to the sound of the bells in perfect rythm while humming on down to the Aikens behind hounds.The sound they make while galloping being broken only when airborne over the jumps and then repeating towards the next fence will be with me forever.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aiken Hounds Opening Meet

Despite gloomy weather reports Thanksgiving Day was beautiful.For me it is a day of tradition and ritual loaded with honor and pride not just for myself and the horses but it is one of the things that makes Aiken so special.

The day before Thansgiving and the early morning is loaded with stress and anxious anticipation.Horses need to be washed ,clipped, braided and sparkling.This is a two day process.Tack needs to be in perfect order.And then there's the human wardrobe.Will I fit into my boots this year?I have learned to find all the clothes at least a week before instead of the morning of.Pins,hairnets,white gloves,white breeches,spurs,whips,extra this and thats.

Hurry up,get to the meet early.I have my annual secret hiding place away from all the other trailers.Getting a place to park is a mad dash.I leave at 9.00 every year for an 11 oclock meet.I live 6 miles away.

Its a huge honor to put on my green coat.I have a new coat this year which makes me a bit sad as it breaks my tradition but the old coat was truely in need of a rest.Riding down to the meet is always special.There are so many happy faces to meet and greet.Every year more and more people come to see the horses , hounds and the woods.Every year is it such a pleasure to see all the riders come out for the very special blessing of the hounds.I always try to imagine Mrs.Hitchcock on this day.So many great people have taken these hounds out. It is an honor to be a part of this day each year.

I truly miss not hunting the hounds anymore and I am sad that more people choose not to jump the aikens behind the field but I try not to think about that and think about the history of the hunt and Aikens past.Preserving Aikens great history is what is important.

It was another glorious day and the beginning of our new season.No doubt there will be many stories this year to tell.Stay tuned.

Catching Up

It's been over a month now,Can't believe its almost Christmas.Time for a quick review.I wrote a long blog on our trip to Pine Top for their Thanksgiving Horse Trials and it went off to phsyber space instead of on the blog.Without going into all the details,I'll summerize.

I FINALLY made the decision to enter the three devils prelim at Pine Top.For some reason I had tremendous difficulty in makng that decision.The horses were ready and on form.But I had this strange feeling all along.

It rained and rain on the day.Pickles was drawn first at 7.30 or so and was great with his no warm up warm up.I managed not to overdo him and he managed the test without stress.A big deal.Peter Pan charged around the arena with his usual I can do it attitude.He even gave me a rein back.This was special as I had not practiced that enough,considering he had only done less than 10 in his life.Ooops forgot about those.....Harry didn't like the rain and wanted to go back to the trailer.He gave me the test but wasn't his usual rythmic self.

I was very nervous for show jumping and they were great.Peter had a rail going into the fence before the triple but fair enough.It was a busy line with lots to look at.Harry and Pickles jumped lovely clean rounds.I was elated.Once again I managed to ride them forward and put my picking monster to bed.

I withdrew on the Sunday morning at 4.30 am.Text messages and E mails were sent out all over the place.I did not want to risk my boys.They had an exceptional season and I could not live with myself if I had made an error or taken just one too many pulls on the XC.Had I been on the grounds the morning of and been able to feel the footing perhaps my decision would have been different.But it was so dismal at my farm that morning I decided to scratch.

I felt guilty.I had never withdrawn before for those reasons and felt like I was playing hookey from school.Many friends phoned from the event asking why I wasn't there.Even tough I was in the money with all three devils,I couldn't take the chance.

After seeing them all playing in the fields now,fat and hairy,I know I made the right decision.There is always another day.

The devils did a lot this year.Peter Pan has come from a wild bucking bronco to a preliminary eventer in one year.Next Dance has overcome his issues with water and ditches and has gone onto some seriously good dressage work.He honored his stablemate Riverdance.They are stabled next to each other and must talk in the evenings.I can only imagine what River is telling him.Pickles has also had a good year.Aside from MY two errors in show jumping(Forgetting a fence at Tryon and misjudging a distance at Rocking Horse) Pickles has been very consistant in his jumping and his dressage is a work in progress.

I am happy to give them a rest now.we all need it.