Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aiken Hounds Christmas Hunt

A few years ago,we established a new tradition of having a meet of the Aiken Hounds at the beautiful Green Boundary Club.For some of "older guard",the "GB" as we fondly call it holds many memomories.My personal favorite is running around as a junior terrorist and putting saran wrap over the toilet seats in the rooms,short sheeting beds, and setting off fireworks outside and then hiding in the trees at night while Aiken's finest was trying to have a high time.

Now, as a much more civilized Joint Master of Hounds, I have simplified my routine to dressing up like a big fat Santa and parading around during our GREAT Christmas meet at the "GB".The Santa suit basically started on a dare and now how turned into a spectacular annual event.This year we had a group of singing angels,complete with halos and beautiful wings ,three wise men,many elves,Mrs. Claus was there(much too thin).There were antlers, thousands of bells,miles of tinsel and a sea of bright red that complimented the traditional green coats our more sedate staff members wore.

Crossing Whiskey road must really be a sight. Looking back down beautiful Berry road ,seeing all the beaming faces is another great Christmas present to me.People really had fun.I do believe,the horses and hounds enjoyed it too.

We had a nice hunt with three drags. The weather was absolutely perfect. How lucky we are to live here and be able to do this.The sound of my huge sleigh bells round the neck of my galloping horse kept perfect time.It was pure magic.

Afterwards,we met again at the GB where we started and had far too much to eat and drink as usual.Many thanks to all our unmounted members and friends that put on the huge spread we all enjoyed so much!

I raced home in my suit of red as there was no time to change and went straight out to my big ring and started teaching upon arrival back at the mother ship.I'm sure the people that drive by Paradise Farm get a kick out of what they see go on in that ring. One NEVER knows what will be happening out there!

So it was another great Christmas Hunt.WE are so lucky. First our opening day on Thanksgiving a hugely traditional special day,then Christmas,then the Horse Show in the woods and then our Hound races,then the Hunter Trials and we start it all up again!Who could want anything more.

Merry Christmas to all.Ho Ho Ho

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barefoot,Pigtails and Who Needs A Saddle?

I have to write a blog about a young lady that comes to ride here at Paradise.I have been teaching this girl since she was about eleven. She would arrive with her mother, two waist long braids and a pony,stay about a week,jump everything in sight and dissapear again until they could manage the long trek back up here and do it again.As soon as mom's car left the driveway,shoes and the hair brush went straight under the bed.This girl is my type. She eats,sleeps and breaths horses.

I had to practically force her to use a saddle.This child(now beautiful young lady), has jumped around my entire training level course and a lot of the prelim bareback. After every session,off would come the saddle and into the pond she would go,tranforming the white Connamara into a black slimy mess. Matter of fact the two of them would be black.But the gleam of the white smiling teeth could always be seen from the middle of the pond.

Now at age sixteen,the braids have turned into a more serious single ponytail.This young lady is taller than me and rides EXTREMELY WELL!This girl is a breath of fresh air that ,is exactly what we all need to be. Her work ethic is extreme. She manages to help finace her dream by riding and selling ponies.She can stay on anything.She bought herself a saddle has worked tirelessly and has the support of incredible parents that are one hundred per cent behind her.These people work hard to make this all happen.It is a great story.

Currently,she is experiencing the heartbreak of her horse being injured. WE have all been there. The anquish of being on the sidelines as a competitor,and not knowing if ,or when the injury will heal and go away.This is part of the game.

The silver lining is she has been given the ride on a horse that is just what she needs. An experienced mare that will catapult this girl into the next level.And the great thing is ,she knows how lucky she is.

Watching her yesterday was very exciting.She and her mother made my heart sing,just being around them.I considered their time here a Christmas present to me.I am so proud of these people.

So a good story this time. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

That Finally Found It Feeling

Yesterday,I was helping out a friend with her horse and I saw them get that finally found it feeling.All of a sudden God let her in to find all the necessary buttons to get her horse lined up enough to feel the magic. She saw the light.She knew where she was. She knew what she was looking for.She felt safe!

The safe place. Isn't that what we are all looking for? Just last week this same girl was on the floor,brushing wet sand off her breeches as her horsey went flying for the gate.I got on and changed his opinion a bit,but what I really did was try to realign him physically and mentally.Most of the time when we have issues with our horses it boils down to three things. The three most basic requirements of survival and progress are CALM ,FORWARD and STRAIGHT!This horsey was lacking in all three of those catagories.

Once we can manage to "line up the bones" I call it,usually the head falls into place( both literally and figuratively!)Once we can find the hindquarters ,barrel,shoulder we can usually have the neck and the front end. This does not only apply to high powered riding but to everything.

I am having the best time climbing all sorts of ladders with my own horses but I spend the majority of my time teaching young horses and green riders.This is what I teach them. To get lined up ad most issues take care of themselves thereafter.This is what I try to teach myself.That old straight line hits you in the face all the time.

Anyway, my friend found it yesterday.She has been through a lot with this horse.The same stuff we all go through.Serious expense both financially and mentally.I have seen the frustration on her face and heard it in her voice. But this woman has hung in there.

Yesterday she saw the beginning of the way out.That finally got it feeling!She dared her horse to spook.She had him.She knew what to do. Horses go like people ride them. No question. Well this girl really rode him yesterday. I was so proud to see it. I was so thrilled to see her confidence and that CLEAR expression of I own this ride.It was a definite wow day.

I am so sad to have seen many people give up. Riding takes so long.Just when you think you've got it,something goes wrong.There are no quick fixes.The safe place is a magic place. When you can set your hands down and open your fingers over a four foot oxer. Or be brave enough to release your hand once in each movement of a dressage test.When you can ride in balance. When your horse WANTS to stretch.Those are the wow moments.Those are what we are looking for.

I am so happy for my friend. I know her joy.She deserves it. The horse was smiling too!It was clear he knew he was in the right place.All was right with the world.All I can say is "Good on ya".Mission accomplished.Now ,the fun really begins!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Horses-Patience-Desperation-Frustration - Exilhiration

We must ask ourselves why we want to ride so much?Why do we do this?Why do we kill ourselves to add all the hardwork and dramas of horses to our already jammed packed dramatic lives?

Horses are a terminal desease.If you have them in your blood you are doomed. Period.Even when you are lying in a hospital bed,broken and hysterical, all one thinks about is getting back out there and doing it again.

Last weekend I had a grand time with everything falling magically into place.Things have gone well for team Paradise over the past two years. I am the first one to tell you that I have had more down years than up and that I am extremely grateful and appreciative of the good times.

I am an eventing senior now and love it today as much as I have ever loved it. Riding a straight line with a soft hand is my goal .Communicating with the horses is my passion.It does not always work and I have had my fair share of miscommunications,arguments and problems.

Last weekend I saw some of my really good friends have issues with their horses.Everyone puts time ,effort and tons of money into preparing for an event.When things go wrong,it can be emotionally devastating.My heart went out to these people and my words were not enough to console them.

Anything can happen at an event (or anywhere).Tack breaks,Horses break,rails come down,dressage tests are forgotten,we fall off or miss a fence,a shoe comes off and the horse goes immediately lame when he was sound five minutes beforehand.I've seen world championship level riders get kicked in the warm up and have to withdraw.One point can make or break you in terms of a qualifying score and cost you HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars.And you can get lost on cross country or never even make it out of the start box or even in the start box!Half the battle is getting over the first fence and that can only happen if you can control your nerves enough to even drive to the event in the first place that morning!

Why do we do it?Why do we take ALL THOSE EXPENSIVE LESSONS?Why the torture?For me it is just because I love it.I have wanted to give up many many times.I sadly must admit it was not until I retired my horse of a lifetime Riverdance that I have learned to ride him.I took Riverdance from a certified runaway to four star level and never owned the ride.I have brought 10 horses up to advanced from the start.I have never won a really big event.But,I got to play. I was so fortunate to be able to get there.I have been last in dressage more than most.But I have also buzzed around a lot of courses in a lot of countries and wouldn't trade it for the world.

It takes years and years and years. It takes many many horses. One has to learn the rules the hard way.One has to claw their way up the ladder.Forgotten dressage tests,wrong leads,tension,breaks in the extensions,seventeen flying changes down the centerline,wheeling in the halt.You name it I have done it.

Falling off in cross country two fences from home,a million times and only when I was seriously in the money.Run outs,refusals,my recent set of fractures at a schooling corner that kept me out of the saddle for the spring season.Ghosts,night terrors,fear. The what ifs.He did this last time.I haven't schooled that before......I am not ready.It is a crazy game.

You can train all you want to.You can have the most experienced horse in the world,the best teachers,and the most money.But when you enter that ring,or cross the starting timers,you have to be ready for anything.No one knows what will happen and ANYTHING Can happen out there.

This is why we do it all. Because of the shear challenge.Can we do it?If it goes wrong,the answer is dust yourself off and get back out there.Remember how lucky we are to be able to at least try.Take care of yourself and your horses.Regroup if it goes a muck and it will go a muck more than not.But it will get better if you keep going.It may not be easy or pretty.You may not hear things that are "nice"from your coach.

If you ask someone for help,hopefully they are going to be honest enough to be straight forward and direct. This needs to be fixed now!You may not like what you hear. You have the option to process.Try not to personalize mechanical directives.This is an entirely different blog subject.....

So,some people come out of events,shows,hunts on the moon and others come out on the floor. Some leave smiling and some crying.Thats the draw. Thats the challenge.

As the Eventing season starts to wind down a bit till Christmas we all need to reflect. Always think of the good things first and foremost . Next to your list for Santa,make a list of the things you need to practice to improve your confidence and your preformances.Talk to your horses and ask them what they want for Christmas.What they want is very important too.

We have to earn the good rides. WE have to earn clear rounds and good dressage tests.I know I am going to keep on trying.Hope you all will too!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pine Top Horse Trials

This years Thanksgiving Pine Top was the complete opposite of last years weatherwise.It was so cold and rainy last year that we chose not to go cross country and sadly withdrew the devils.Thankfully we were blesed with perfect weather and footing at Glenn and Janet Wilsons fantastic Pine Top Farm.Pine Top has turned into an incredible facility and every time I go there I am fascinated by all the improvements Glenn adds to his property.I am envious of his ability in building and earth moving. I am hopeless at both.

With three horses in the same class,I expected to be drawn number one and ride at eight am.If you enter three in the same class you better be ready to play. Barbie has really got a great system down and we have never been late yet. I had two other helpers as well Cameron age 10 and Lizzie age 15.Team Paradise was on their toes.Cameron was my body gaurd with a copy of the dressage test and a rag and saw me into the ring on Harry (Next Dance) who went first.I got my running orders from her as they called my number and tried to remember all she told me.We had a plan at Pine Top that our dressage tests were going to be about submission and softness,not impulsion .Those were my orders!I was to release my hand on the reins at least once in every movement!

Harry entered a bit tight but felt better as the test progressed. He had a nice go and I was pleased but in seeing his photos I felt he was overbent at times.He had a lovely show jumping nearly jumping me out of the tack. Glenn outdid himself this time in his design. It was SO GREAT. He was a genius at using the ring. A PURE GENIUS!Clearly he has as much fun designing as I do and I thought this course was extremely well planned out.

Peter had a great dressage and none of his antics from Poplar Place were evident .It is impossible not to grin from ear to ear when riding this devil when he tries like that.He has really grown up this past year.Next year I want to get him more from behind but he was right on track last Saturday.Sadly I had a sharp rail in the Show Jumping as he got a bit strong after the double and I didn't react quick enough to Glenn's clever broken line.Precisely the way the course designer planned it! Well done!This rail proved to be the only major mistake I had last weekend.So if I only had one that's pretty good for me!

Pickles was a very good boy in dressage. He was strong in his big fat snaffle ,but maintained his shape again and was fairly obediant.I am hoping to move him into a big ring next year at the intermediate level and can't wait to be able to ride in the double!This year we have accomplished a ton with Pickles who has been a stalwart to my team. Though he is not the most comfortable in the dressage he has only made three jumping mistakes all year and I have extreme confidence in his ability.

Cross Country was fabulous as usual at Pine Top.The course was reversed from the normal direction. In all my years riding over there I had never ridden it that way before. It was grand.Nice questions. Solid ,beefy jumps and great galloping.One can really have a go at Pine Top.

Harry jumped beautifull but I feel he gallops a bit low and strong. So I have to work on getting him a bit more up.When I step on the gas I feel it is hard to get him back up quickly so I am wasting a few seconds here and there. But the quality of his jump,the quickness of his feet and thought process are all very good for this level.Peter is a speed machine that just buzzes around. He is exactly my size and just eats up the courses.Again I had a watch issue while riding him as I thought I was in the time but had a few penalities anyway. Who cares.He is a GAS to ride and if I were in the trenches in a war zone I would definately want him to be my buddy.And Pickles clocked around inside the time again on a loose rein.He actually does it the right way everytime.There is something very reassuring about that complicated devil.It makes all the impossible times on the flat well worth it and I have to remember that when I act like a spolied child because he won't relax in an extension at home.

A great way to finish the season for me and the devils.They have earned themselves a small holiday .The year had a dodgy start with my shattering my leg before their first outing in March.But we ended with a different sort of bang.The kind we like.

I couldn't have had any of this fun without the help of Barbie Reeser.This girl has REALLY hung i there.She has been with me now for two years. Many of you out there will agree ,she has to be made of steel to survive two years with me!She has earned the tiltle of Paradise Farm Super groom.She is the volunteer coodinator at the farms Horse Trials.She gets as many as 7 horses ready back to back during my dressage days here at the farm.She is a tireless individual that always puts the horses first.Anyone that has seen the devils at any outing will agree they are immaculate always at the ring. I am very fussy and very proud of the work that she does. If you see her around tell her from me you read this and I appreciate her because it is not always an easy job I assure you!

Antonio Henandez runs the farm.He is going on 5 years and he is an angel from above.I can finally leave the farm with complete confidence that he is in charge and will handle everything that comes up.

To Linda Hickey my vet. We could not have done the year without you.She is right up there on the five star list and I will NEVER EVER Forget how she saved one of my horses lives over a horrific five day period this year.again an act of complte selflessness that blew me away and makes everything else worthwhile.

To my Blacksmith Antonio Sambrano,who has driven to and from Paradise so many times and never ever argured or been hard to deal with under very trying circumstances. (Peter pulling his shoes off repeatedly in the same day!)

And to all of the clients and clinic organizers that have helped Paradise farm stay afloat. You are the ones that have let me go eventing.You are the ones that have enabled these devils to come up through the ranks.You have paid my entry fees and let me take lessons.So I thankyou all. You are all part of team Paradise and I hope everytime you see these guys fly by you will say to yourselves.I helped with that team!

And last but not least to my sponsor Arenus.This company has been a great pleasure to work with. Not only have their products really helped my horses but they have helped me with their knowlegde and personal support.Everytime I deal with the people from Arenus I have a huge smile. They are like a breath of fresh air to me.I really feel Steadfast has helped my horses stay on track and The Assure system has done absolute miracles for Pickles.I cannot recommend these products to you all out there enough.I belive in them and am going to stay with it.My horses have been in the top ten very consistantly at every outing this year.

I have three great horses to ride at the moment that have given me the confidence to get back out there and do what I used to do.The roller coaster continues. Poplar left me feeling unsure and full of self doubt(nothing to do with the event itself ,just my own riding!),but this weekend it all fit back into place.

We left with a Grand slam Peter on top in 2nd,Pickles moved from 12th after dressage to 3rd and harry finished 4th due to a few XC time penalties.So now it's time for the second string to come up.I have some nice babies at the moment that will be out next year. Stay tuned!

Aiken Hounds Opening Meet

I always wake up on a holiday morning with a warm and fuzzy feeling.For some reason ,I do not think about all the pressures of the business and farm,or what needs to be done with the eventers,lessons,bills ect..Even though it was a very early pull from my nice warm bed to go out and get the horses ready for hunting,I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. And it was.

This year was easier for me than years past as I only had two horses to braid and we had everything ready the night before.I have had many a scattered morning before our opening hunt chasing people around looking for stock ties boots and who knows what. This year Barbie and I were very civilized,left right on time and were in our standard parking spot with time to spare.

It was a beautiful day,perfect temperature. We've had really nice color in the woods this year and Memorial gate is such a special place.I love to see the people come down there and really enjoy the pagentry of this special occasion.The children look up to the horses with stars and magic in their eyes.I think I like that the best.I love to see the families walking down to the gate. Young and not so young at all people take the time out of their busy lives to see the horses and hounds.It really is a tradition for so many of the towns people to come see the hunt off.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Aiken Hounds livery is the prettiest there is. Our green coats and very well turned out staff were truely magnificent.I felt tradition had not been let down in anyway this year.We had two great drags.The hounds spoke beautifully and stayed true to the lines.Three large fields enjoyed the day and as usual we ended up in the show ring,this year with drinks and nibbles!

I love to see the exiliration on everyones faces at the end of opening meet.We all have tons to be thankful for.Just being able to get up early and go do that is enough for me.I hope Mrs. Hitchcock got to look down on us last Thursday from above. I think she would have approved of what she saw.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Message from Above

Poplar Place was a fun event,but one I left in a state full of self dissatisfaction,worry and doubt. I hadn't felt my horses that edgy all year and I was concerned and harbouring far too many thoughts about going backwards with my Devils instead of forwards.

We all try to pinpoint the good and the bad. The good always has to come first, or else the negative can outweigh the positive.They say there is a reason for everything.I racked my brains and was happy we all came home safe and sound but something was a miss.

Dressage was very tense at poplar but I think I can really attribute that to a very busy and crowded warm up. My boys aren't used to that yet. They will have to learn to deal with it but for now it is what it is. I am very pleased with their confidence cross country and feel pretty good about that area.

Show Jumping has long been a real bugaboo for me.I have battled the hold back then squirt and run to the jumps syndrome for eons.This year I thought I had met a lot of those demons head on and thought they were gone out of my reperatoire,but they surfaced again at Poplar."Oh no,not again," I thought.

So off I went back to Micheal Tokuruks for some lessons with the FOUR devils. I thought I'd ride King Riverdance first as he has been SOOOOOOO Perfect for so long.We call him my equitation horse.Micheal asked me what I wanted to do and all I could say was ride better. I whined about what I was thinking ,he smiled and knew I was making it all up.

I felt so rusty infront of Micheal. I rode like a real putz,froze up ,was stiff,spastic and generally quite pathetic.But........his eyes were able to pinpoint what I was doing and I was able to feel it ,realize it and adress it after jumping a few lines. OH THANKGOD. COULD THIS BE WHAT WAS WRONG?After Rivers lesson I was feeling more positive and couldn't wait to get on the devils.

Long story short. Harry (Next Dance) was next. Everything reverted back to disater from the first jump on.Then I fell off(second time in two weeks,but a different horse) through and oxer about 2'6" broke a rail. Harry bolted back to the trailer ,destroyed his bridle in a million pieces and stood there shaking.Great. Just what we needed for our shattered confidence!I switched bridles,got back on and finished.He was better after the" gallop" as Micheal so kindly put it but I was disgusted and still at a loss.

Peter jumped well enough but seems to think he is the black stallion at the moment.I had to carry a persuader,not for jumping but to keep his mind on the ground. He seems to want to jump up in the air a lot lately. But I felt secure on him and we were Ok about his lesson.

Pickles has been great this season with very consistant clear rounds. We ended up putting the rein off his gag and onto just the snaffle . He was strong but we liked it. I wasn't thrilled as I had hope when I left and Barbie kept saying to me."We need to come backsoon for more lessons. "In all fairness I haven't had a lesson in a year. I am rusty to say the least.

Micheal said I was using too much hand and not supporting with my legs enough. I take away from the approaches and I don't trust my eye. True true true..But how to fix it? UGH. Don't want to go backwards.

So now I had an event and a lesson day that made me even more frustrated with myself. What to do? I do not want the horses to go backwards.

The next day , I reset the jumps in my ring to simulate a few very simple lines from the day before and went out there with just plain snaffles.I worked on the same ideas we discussed in the lessons the day before. I worked it out with all the horses and myself!.So I plan to jump again in two more days just to see if I was lucky or I can own it.Then I'll have to see if I can take it with me to Pine Top.

I would like to think there is a reason for my shakey experiences at Poplar and during my lessons.I think that someone out there is reminding me I need to ride better.I am very grateful that someone from above allowed me to feel good about myself with my horses yesterday.Confidence makes for more confidence.That's 99% of the game.

Five days to go till Pine Top. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A new Journey

I am about to finally embark on a more focused journey to learn more about cross country course design.It is very hard to do everything.This year I set my sights on the USEA'S ICP program. Now I can take a huge deep breath and put that behind me.

Practically all the officials that have come to this farm for the events and most of the pro's that have come for clinics here have encouraged me to pursue getting a license in cross country design.I have put it off for a million reasons but now I am going to begin the journey. I look forward to mentoring with as many designers as I can to improve my knowledge and further my perspectives on this aspect of our sport.

I bought Paradise Farm years ago as the back field is a most amazing place. The footing is perfect for galloping horses and there is just the right amount of terrrain.Though we lack trees and forrest,the jumping possibilities out there are only limited to my lack of funds!

Over the years I have had a lot of knowledgable people out there ,that are always impressed with the quality of the grass,the construction and presentation of the jumps and the concepts behind them. I have receieved many compliments and a lot of encouragement to carry on.It is fun.

Yesterday I spent the day with Tremain Cooper who has thankfully agreed to come back on board as course designer here and also spend some time teaching me about his craft. Tremain was kind enough to buzz me around Poplar Places courses last weekend.I took notes in between bumps and lumps flying around in the gator!I was a very lucky girl to get this private tour and wanted to take it all in.He was full of explanations as to the why's and theories behind the questions proposed to the riders at the different levels.We'd quickly hop in and out and he'd describe how to make things look a certain way yet still measure ect.We spoke about so many things there just wasn't enough time to even scratch the surface. This is going to be a long project!

At Paradise, Tremain spent a full day out bonding with the field, redesigning new courses for the future.I spent the afternoon walking the tracks ,just spinning with his ideas and information.Again I am very lucky to have had this time as Tremain has traveled around extensively and seen a lot of cross country courses worldwide.I am excited about working with him once again. Can you tell?

Paradise farm lends itself to the education of horses and riders. That's what its all about.The courses are up to a national standard. One has to ride to the level and be prepared. All the jumps and questions asked are there to bring horses on not discourage them.It is an amazing place to school as most jumps can be seen from one location. Horses can jump lots of fences at a time without pulling up.

We take a lot of care of the grass here. I understand that people are not aware that schooling is avaialable here..That is certainly not true but we do limit the use of the courses prior to the events so the tracks can be in their best shape for the competitions.I do hope people will come school this course as they used to as the funds brought in from schooling all go towards new jumps and the upkeep of the course.There are tadpole jumps at 2 feet up through preliminary level.I encourage people to come with their own coaches to use this facility or they can ride with me,or within their own groups. We do discourage people jumping by themselves however for saftey reasons.

Tremain was really positive about what he saw. That meant the world to me.I look forward to learning more about the inner workings of a course designer.I hope to travel a bit and have some time to devote to this end. Stay tuned. Of course I am not giving up the riding end yet though!I think furthuring my knowledge in the course designer end will only help my riding.Hopefully!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poplar Place Horse Trials

We had a beautiful weekend at Poplar. The nights were cool but the days were perfect for the horses and not too hot for us either! The ground held up remarkably well after Georgia had been hit with so much rain. Poplar had made great efforts to provide footing where needed and the cross country track was open for galloping.

I hadn't competed at Poplar in a while, and was surprised to find the tracks very different this time. A lot of thought and effort went into this event that hosted seven different levels of competition, from Beginner novice to FEI two star level! Not easy to do!Poplar has a great team of volunteers. I am sure everyone is exausted after the weekend!

The devils were unsettled this weekend if I were to pick one word to describe it all. Pickles kept a much improved shape in the dressage. Huge progress is on the way but his nerves got him and he was clamped up like a clam in the ring.We are still looking for relaxation and flow from our boy. It's almost there!He hates the small arena. Looking forward to the big arena next season!He jumped two double clears so was a star.I was glad to ride him first in the xc as there was a big combination on that I wanted to get under my belt properly before riding the two less experience devils. It was a tentlike table, four strides to a large set of rails that sloped away to a considerable drop. I thought it a serious question and did not want to make an error there. Pickles gave me just the right ride so I felt better about it on rounds two and three.

Peter did not handle the dressage warm arena well at all. He was extremely stressed by the large number of horses crossing all over the place. I seriously wonder if anyone teaches their students to pass left to left in the ring anymore. It would make a big difference if everyone knew that concept. I think it is very important and could prevent a few problems in the warm up and really help the horses. Peters dressage was not his usual. I felt I had to be on guard rather than ride his usual flowing test. He was definately very distracted mentally. I thought the judge very generous to put us tied for 3rd. I had two very off moments, one I got distracted in my rein back as a bell went off and I thought it was telling me I was off course , so I did too many steps as I was looking at the judge. Then he gave me a leap in the canter transition from the walk. So to finish third was a blessing. The standard of dressage is good now. One cannot afford to make silly errors and give points away. I seemed to do that a lot this weekend. Peter handled the XC well, I was surprised to have been alotted time penalties, as I had two watches running that put me in under the time, but not to worry. He gave me a solid ride and that was good enough. In the show jumping he was distracted again by a rather busy warm up and I pulled two rails which dropped us to 9th. I felt rushed in there and not at all soft. I did not ride the way I wanted to at all. Again dissapointement. But........ Can't have it perfect all the time! I am going to try though!

Harry (Next Dance) was also a bit put off by the confusion of the dressage warm up and wasn't happy in his test. He can be sensitive sometimes. So we had a little tension and finsished 7th I think after dressage. He pulled and slipped XC more than the others which did give me 4 time faults(that I totally agree with). Harry likes to gallop really low,is a great jumper but its a bit off putting sometimes. He was also rattled in the SJ and I had an uncharacteristic rail at a lovely oxer that was another dissapointment plus time penalties. He finished the best of the devils in 7th place.

I have had a great season with the devils. I left the show jumping ring full of self doubt and over analizations.Maybe I should have done this and that,everything is my fault,blah blah,blah.Everyone does that.

The important thing is to remember how lucky I am to be able to ride these wonderful horses. I still say eventing is like going to war. One never knows what will happen and you have to be prepared and fight to get out alive! The horses gave me what they had this weekend. It was good enough. Of course I would have liked to have placed higher at the end of the day. But I have three solid citizens out there in the field today after the event and that is what is important. Having the bobbles ,the nerves and the rails is part of it.Take it or leave it. I am going to take it.

I did make a call to get some show jumping lessons this week though.Its been almost a year since I've had any!So it's back to the drawing board. Stay tuned.Thankyou Poplar Place for hosting a great event!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Whiskey Road Opening Meet

Who can believe it's already November first.Christmas is just around the corner again!Halloween was great fun this year,the night ended late and the morning came far too soon. It was chillier than normal today and half of me really wanted to stay in the sack but today was Whiskey Road's Opening Meet and I had a horse to get ready and find the new fixture.

In my great efforts to be early,boy was I ,arriving onsite at 7 am!The day was perfect for hunting and Mr. Weldon Wyatt's place was magnificent. A good crowd showed up. The blessing was uneventful and off we went. I rode Spencer today and he was a perfect gentleman the entire time.The hounds spoke beautifully. The countryside this year is very colorful. WE had lovely views of the hounds all day but no quarry.There was just enough galloping to make it really fun. Especially when one's horse was being such a Cadillac to ride.I had a blast.

The breakfast was delicious. Everyone piled their plates high.No one left hungry.Great weather,people, horses,hounds and delicious food.The season has begun .Look out waistband.Thankyou Whiskey Road!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back in Business

In looking at the date of my last blog,it's hard to believe another moth has flown by.Thanks to all of you that have asked me to continue writing. I really do enjoy it.

The Horse Trials was a sucess but a few things happened that were unforseen but very imformative. As my initial course designer proved to be a disaster,so in fact did my dealings with her replacement. I knew I'd be in for a little drama when I asked Julie Zappapas to step in as course designer at the last minute but what I in fact got was a giant surprise.

I was made privy to the fact that my courses were as unfriendly as I am and that was the reason my entries have been so low.Not only are my jumps unattractive but they have no flow,are ugly , all the same color and placed in the wrong places.I would like to add that each of the four course designers that have made improvements to the courses here were also penalized and criticized.Then, I was given a session on how to improve my personal skills with people free of charge.I was also given a synopsis of my teaching skills and style .

This is what kept me from writing.So in combination of having now two local organizers telling people not to come to the event,it is now entirely clear why Aiken's finest don't show up.Now I have decided to tell that story I can get on with more fun topics and put all that in the garbage can.More people to add to my list of vapoizeees.Zap.

I am sure that Ms. Zappapas will be happy to know I will be aiming for my own liscence very soon without her offered help.She was so gracious to offer me her ideas on all the how to's of design that she has accumulated over the many years. One can certainly tell by all the changes and variations made to her own tracks over the past ten seasons or so.

The USEA doesn't seem to have a problem with the way I teach ,nor the British Horse Society,nor the German program.The people at the many clinics I am asked to go to seem to have a great time and so do I.

The horses I am riding are progressing nicely and life on the farm is great.I can't wait to go to Poplar and Pine Top with the Devils and River is screamingly fun to ride.We have a fantastic group of people coming for lessons,some nice horses for sale and all is well.

I was surprised by what I heard about myself,the way the horse trials is run,and how Paradise has SUCH a bad reputation.I had no idea. Boy am I glad to know all this now!We try hard here to be positive and do the best we can. We constantly work with other professionals and travel and seek as much outside imformation on the current trends and ideas that are out there. I have had some of the best riders in the world come visit this farm,ride in the event,teach clinics and gallop around my cross country course and I was astounded at the huge amount of negativity and crtitism I received free of charge.I was sorry to know there had been such animosity aimed at this beautiful place.It is not something I ever thought would happen.

.Everyone has an opinion, they're just like...................................................Wonder if those two want my opinion.....................ya think?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paradise Farm Horse Trials

We were blessed with perfect weather for the horse trials.It was just the right amount of cloud cover and not too hot.The weather Gods were kind to us as we had just the right amount of rain a day before to make the ground perfect for the horses.Though the grass shot up as was a bit longer than we anticipated.

The event ran smoothly.Everyone got in and out on time and seemed pleased with all the courses. Show Jumping caught out a bunch of riders.I have really enjoyed my time studying about course design and look forward to contiuing my education with this and cross country design.I plan to put the Preliminary and Training level show jumping down in the sand arena next February and see how that goes and leave the lower levels up on the grass.

The cross country course looked great as always. I had so many friends come out and help restain and decorate the fences. We used oak this year to stuff the brush jumps(all 7 of them).This worked really well ,creating big bold galloping jumps from the horses.We had some new combinations on the Preliminary cross country courses this year. Again,I was very pleased with the way these rode.People made great decisions out on the cross country and used their heads out there. It was a pleasure to watch.

We ended up with 107 starters,a number I was WELL relieved to see.I am so thankfull to all that finally entered.It was very touch and go.Hopefully this will be a bit smoother next year in that department.

So now it's on the The Aiken Hounds Hunter Trials ,Sat. Oct 3rd. WE'll change the courses around a bit and that should be great fun.I am hoping to get back on my horses this week and get back to normal.

Again my greatest thanx to all that came to the event in every capacity.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Sigh of Relief

We are less than six days away from the horse trials and I can say with a huge sigh of relief that most of the event is coming together very well.At the zero hour entries have dribbled in. I am very grateful for the entries as it such an ordeal pulling the event together for less than several hours of competition.The cross country course has at least 5 weeks of work with 5 people. It is a crazy thing to do for only a couple hours of jumping. So having a few more horses makes it more worth while.
I WISH the riders would have a better understanding of what leaving entries to the last minute does to the organization of an event.I cannot go out and solicit great things from my local sponsors(IE ) prizes and or money or advertising to make the event bigger and better if there are no entries. Pulling a horse trials of has to be done months in advance.We did not even know if we were going to be able to have a competition as the entries were so slow in coming.

If there are no entries till the last minute,courses cannot be changes around and new jumps built .Everything has to be minimized. All great plans have to go onto the B scale as I call it.One has to live in emergency stress status for weeks.

Also the volunters have to be contacted in a timely manner and now that the numbers have changed so much in the last few days ,so has the entire schedual which means we have to recontact all the volunteers (huge amounts lost time) I do not like to do things more than once. It makes the event look disorganized to our volunteers when we have to keep changing their day around.Without these kind people that donate their time to us,there would be no event.

It all goes in circles. No riders,no event. No volunteers no event. No money coming in ,well you get it.One always hopes there will be money left over for the next event.This time we are just happy to be able to have the event.

So the ship will sail on a little longer and I thank everyone in advance. I can hardly wait to get back to my shrink and dump some of this stress I have been carrying around. I haven't ridden my horses since Kentucky.

XC looks good. Antonio and I put up the dressage arenas in RECORD time this time.Tomorrows project is one of favorites,designing show jumping.Stay tuned.

A Sigh of Relief

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where is Everyone?

Every Horse Trials here at the farm is a lot to get ready for and most of the time very exciting and rewarding but this one gives me a very funny feeling.For weeks I have been calling my secretary ,asking,hoping and praying for some good news ,that people were entering. And there has been so little interest in this event.One swallows hard and goes on for another week or so,wondering whats going on and where are the entries?

I am very aware of the cost of eventing. I am aware of the economic crisis. I am also very aware of what is going on around my local area ,but it still baffles me about the lack of local interest in this competition.Where are the riders?

As we prepare the jumps,and the footing and the property,not a day goes by that I don't recognize the potential of the gallops here.Having buzzed around the Kentucky Horse Park last week and revelling in the ability to really gallop and jump good solid fences that are up to standard in size and breadth,it was a great outing for my horses and for me for the future.The horses jogged back to the stables with energy and great pride,ready to do it again.My last blog mentioned the "I" word(intermediate)

I was told today that people felt the courses here are too big and not flowing. I am out in the back field watching horses of all levels gallop and jump almost everyday and I was really surprised by that observation.I insist with all recognized course designers that have been hired to work here that the courses be 100% for the horses and their development.These courses have been analyzed and examinined by countless officials and I have yet to receive a report of that description.

I am jumping horses in their second season of jumping in their lives over these fences.True,I have experience.But I also teach beginners how to jump and go across the country on these courses. If people feel something about a course or a particular venue,they need to send their constructive criticism to the USEA or the organizer or someone,so we can learn from their views.Organizers want to know.We need to know.Wouldn't knowing and the chance of improvement be better for the sport than losing a venue entirely?

People definately ride in Horse Trials for different reasons.I was very surprised by these comments and saddened also as I was told I am tough and unapproachable.One has to be very tough in this game to stay in the game and I am in it for the long haul.How can I be so unaproachable ,when NO ONE has even tried to approach?Where is that coming from?

I have OFTEN heard my standards are too high. Yes they are high.I have been so honored and fortunate to have ridden and walked some of the best courses around.I have humbly waddled around behind some of the best riders in the world.I have polished brass and swept the trailers out for riders that we all idolize.And I am still out there trying to learn and make things better.Last week I set myself in front of a firing squad of assesors that were a lot tougher than me!But I passed and made it through with respect and honor and I am going to do it again for the next level next year.(if I survive this year)

Safety ,Balance ,Control, Confidence and Fun are my standards.They are the standards of this farm and this Horse Trials.This is a National level competition that is run like a well oiled machine,with an incredible group of people.The dressage rings,Cross country courses and show Jumping is definately up to the standard thatI wish to compete my horses at. If I thought a venue had too difficult a course for my horse at a particular time but I loved the ground and thought the run would benefit the horse,I would run a level lower.We even offer a TADPOLE course. There are 5 entries. How can that be considered too difficult?Where are Aikens eventing students? Where are the trainers,coaches and professionals with their own horses?

Blogging can be a two way street.It would be great if there was some response to this.Perhaps things can be made better.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kentucky Classic

After a very long debate as to whether or not to enter Full Gallop or go 9 hours to Kentucky,Barbie and I chose the latter. Mostly because I was also attending an ICP assesment in Ohio the following week,so we thought it would be easier to make the treck to Lexington and then stay at a friends for a few days. well stay we did ,but that part comes later on in the story.....

The event was spectacular. the weather was PERFECT!!!!!! the footing was PERFECT!!!!!we had PERFECT stalls,great stable mates and we went a day early so we were even able to take a few naps while we were there.( I was SOOOOO nervous about my exam.) I was franticly reading and studying trying so hard to remember all this STUFF!

The horses shipped really well and were relaxed and happy. We went a whole day early as they seemed drawn up the last time we shipped to Kentucky.This time everyone,including us got a nice rest.It was lovely and cool.I rode them all twice the next day before dressage and i think it paid off!Harry won the prelim with a 25!Peter was a 33 and Pickles was a37! We were very happy with all that. Especially Pickles as he so sensitive.Show Jumping was great, as they all jumped double clear rounds.Barbie was an absolute star to get these horses in and out of the ring every twenty minutes.

Cross Country was great fun. Peter zoomed around the fastest of the devils and moved up to third.He is now qualified for a one star and intermediate ,but we are going to wait I think as he is only 6.Harry won his class with a lovely clear and pickles was a superstar as usual across the country.He is truely ready to move up when the time comes. I feel confident that Harry will handle Intermediate too but still needs another event. I do not plan on moving them up till next year anyway.

I passed my ICP exam.ThankGOD! They are very stressful.Lets leave it at that. I am very happy to have passed !

The transmission blew up in my truck while heading to the ICP. That was not at all a pleasent experience. I shan't go into detail now as I don't have much to say thats very nice. But we are happy to be home. Today is Friday ten days after leaving for Kentucky. So I have lots to do before the September 19th Horse Trials here at Paradise.

The Kentucky Classic was a magic weekend for us and I choose to rethink those memories over and over.Sadly I am unable to feel that way about my own Horse Trials.The stress of few entries makes putting the event on a nightmare.We are slightly over our bare minimun number before cancelation.Organizing an event can be tons of fun,but its not so much fun when no one chooses to come.I am especially disheartened by the lack of our local riders that have yet to enter.Fingers crossed things will get better.

I am so proud of the horses.Peter came straight out of a field of 40 horses less than `15 months ago.Harry had never done an event. And now they are really becoming confident preliminary horses. Pickles is regaining faith in me. He is a very special boy recovering from serious drama a few years ago with a careless rider. (Not me.)It has taken every bit of 2 years to get him to BEGIN to trust me again.I love my horses and had a great time at the Kentucky Classic. It was the right decision.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Wonderful Day

This is a better way to start than the last blog! Yesterday (Sat. Aug 22) ,a large group of us went to the PSJ schooling horse show. We had all sorts of combinations go and had a great time. Ms. Cameron ,my god daughter, a.k.a. mini me.rode Lizzie Quinns super pony Dylis (welsh for reliable) in the walk trot division. She came out with a first,second and third place ribbon,good enough for reserve champion. There were lots of kids in her class.Seeing the pride in her face was enough to keep me going for a while. Her family was there,lots of pictures and carrots and treats for Dylis! Then Lizzie had two clear rounds in the cross rails. A huge deal for both of them as she had never jumped in the ring before.I can't wait to see them bombing around the hunter trials in October.

Amy and George Zaiser came down and did double duty with Folly the wonder mare.Folly won two of her three classes and was third in the other in the level ones and twos.Amy jumped with huge confidence. Amy is another key member of this years broken leg club.It is such a huge accomplishment to get back in the ring after her severe set back.George bombed around the hunter ring. It was very hot and he was an extreme sport to finish his three classes under such grueling conditions.Ali came and rode the pants off Amy's other horse Ritchie. It was wonderful to see him jump so well.He also came out of the ring with several ribbons in the 3'6" division.

I rode Beth Huddleston's young Irish horse Phinneaus in the low hunters and was second in both rounds. We were extremely surprised and delighted. I get very nervous riding the hunters!

Poor Ann wasn't able to get in the ring with Norman as he whacked a leg warming up, but had a great time exposing him to another show. His day will soon come as they are bonding more and more with each ride.

Everyone hard work is really paying off.There were lots of people at the show.It is becoming more and more apparant to me that schooling shows are what people really want.

That is the subject of a different blog entirely.This blog wants to say how much fun everyone had,including myself!I love to see everyone enjoying their horses so much and riding so well.It makes all the hard work well worth it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sinking Ship

Once again,as an organizer I feel like the captain of a ship that is going down.One by one my passengers are all dying horrible ,painful deaths. The screaming is deafening.As the Fall horse trials draws nearer and nearer I only want to pull the plug and run away as fast as I can with a large syringe of euthanasia fluid close to my arm and stop the bleeding.

This is a feeling I have every year at this time before the fall horse trials. A sucessful competition from an organizers point of view is one that is safe,Fun and breaks even.The weeks and weeks of preparation that go into pulling a farm together for a competition are mind blowing.

As usual there are no entries. Extending the closing date in my opinion is a double edged sword that only extends the lengthy painful death of a competition.How much longer I can endure this nightmare I am not sure. It is not fun and very nonproductive. Worrying about producing a special event is my specialty. Lowering standards and producing something less than that is not something I am remotely interested in.

How sad not to use this great piece of land for our sport. There are few better pieces of land around. I defy anyone to produce better ground.Yet that does not seem to be important to the riders.

I know it is hot. I know about the economy. I understand all those things.They are truely making a believer out of me that this is a losing battle.

Not to mention,the complications with the system employed at the USEA for officials,mainly course designers.I have to admit I felt my friend Julie Zappapas was on the edge with her public outcry this spring but now I agree 100% with her comments about the system.She is spot on.

Sadly our sport is most definately changing.I am not sure I want to invest in more swimming lessons.Running seems to be the name of the game.

What is the point of this blog?Not sure except ,people seem to enjoy the frankness of these stories. I wish I was writing about great fun things.Running the farm is not fun right now.

I will say that last week I had a magic time with 4-5 riders riding out on the hills at Paradise jumping cross country. I was never happier or prouder of the efforts that they made,practicing in the cool rain. It was the very reason I hang onto this crazy dream I had with this place.For two magical hours I did not feel the rope around my neck or the sharks at my feet.I am endebted to those people for the happiness they provided me,which is why I teach and maintain this farm.

I do not know how other people do it. I am trying as hard as I can to stay afloat. But I tell you the water is getting VERY high and its dark and cold.

Monday, August 3, 2009

River Glen Horse Trials

I think most people that know me would agree that I have a rather graphic way of describing things that go on around me.I tend to be quite dramatic in my description of things so that the person I am speaking to gets a clear picture of what I am trying to present to them.Well this blog fits right in there as our (Barbie,myself and the Three Devils) weekend was all that,dramatic, I mean.

One NEVER EVER knows what is going to happen at an event.I always say ,training for an event is similar to training to go to war,one never knows whats around the corner,and we have to be reay for anything.................

We left Paradise on Friday morning,right on schedual.The truck and trailer were sparkling and everything was neatly packed away.All the lists were checked off and I really don't think we forgot a thing this time.The horses were amazing in their dressage lessons and jumped fautlessly during the week.We were confident and rested and on serious go.

The drive through the mountains was easy,my truck drove like a racecar and we were on the grounds exactly 5 hours after leaving.Everything was still perfect.We found our stalls,had plenty of room to unload as we were amongst the first to arrive.The horses looked good.It is not often we arrive and have everything done before lunch but we were all set up by 11 am. So we sat down to a lunch of sandwiches and red bull and the horses munched away.

After lunch things started to heat up.I went to move the trailer and sunk up to my axels in mud.Ugh.I even checked the whole parking lot by foot but .....I was wrong.Ok,had to bother the organizer Bill Graves, got the tractor ,got pulled out.

The horses were all good in their pre-event dressage rides.No worries there.Barbie got them all polished up,tack was done,boots polished we were ready for miller time.I Love staying on grounds in the trailer.We usually watch at least one old eventing movie,this time I had a couple of world championship DVDs,The Bridges of Madison County and Steel Magnolias on board.

Wouldn't you know it.The generator did not want to play at all this time.It ran perfectly before we left (we always check)After kicking and screaming and threatening it,it finally started up but did not sound at all happy.Barbie and I were grunting and soaked to the skin with pliers and the operations book in hand.We were worse than Mayberry RFD trying to play mechanic.Ok HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM ,Sput sput sput.............. we are now running.I climbed up our aluminum ladder to the peak of the trailer to turn on the AC which usually blasts us into hypothermia during the night(I couldn't wait).NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH,what next?It was an unbearable ten thousand degrees in the trailer only cooling off in the wee hours.We did not want to get up when the clock rang at5.30.

My first dressage test was a very civilized 8.54 .Harry (Next Dance) was the first up.I was really looking forward to it as he had been so good all week.Well he was tight and I had him overflexed in the poll and overbent.(my pictures said it all in the end)

Peter up next.He was quite civilized and I was pleased with his test and he did not try and stand up in the final salute as he done in his previous 2 outings.We were happy with that.

Pickles has been extremley tense lately.He was very nervous and out of sorts at Kentucky.we put him in a very fat snaffle to try and get him to hang down( instead of stand up).It worked well in the warm up.I did not risk cantering him before entering the ring.A real test of my nerve.He was OK but twisted his head around in his canters.

The Dressage judging was unusual to say the least.HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM we all muttered a bit afterwards but whats done was done.

The show jumping course was not my favorite.There was one line I was particularly not fond of,but I was ready to go after watching the World Cup the night before.The warm up for show jumping is small to say the least and difficult because one has to pay more attention to the other horses in there than jumping ones own fence.Harry became completely undone,crashed through a few fences,then started stopping,THEN I FELL OFF!!!!!In the mud I might add.Oh great.

Number 6, we need you NOW!!!!!! Great.Harry was a mess .I got back on, jumped a fence about 2 feet high,swallowed hard and went in.I had 2 down ,a REFUSAL!!!! and ten time penalties.I was devastated and really hoped I had not done my horse a disservice in that ring.I was very worried.

No time for tears,got right back on Peter that just threatened to take no prisoners if anyone got in his way and he jumped around but I still had 2 down.I tried hard to push Harry from my mind.OK Pickles,come on you are my mainstay.He was a PERFECT STAR as usual in the show jumping though I STILL had the number 2 fence down.But he was great and adjustable and happy. That was all I cared about.I am always looking for a round that I can have those soft hands and releases and Pickles has really been consistant lately.

So I went back to the stables in a real funk ,full of self doubt and worry.Maybe I need to back Harry down,maybe this and that.Hold on,Lellie,it was just a bad day and a strange warm up.Don't freak out.Head games......................A word to the wise.IGNORE THE COMMITTEE.

Cross country didn't look too bad.There was plenty to do and I was looking forward to it.

No AC that night.We stole a few fans from a friend and roasted to death.Barbie cried in the movie and I went to sleep praying about Harry.

Harry was definately backed off in the cross country warm up.It was deep footing and again awkward.Barbie and I knew we had our work cut out for us if I was to get my friend around with confidence.I managed (after walking the course twice) to jump the training third fence instead of the prelim on Harry so had to circle around slowly on slippery going to rejump the proper fence.Harry jumped clear but had time due to my stupidity.I still have a few balancing issues to deal with but he was confident and full of running so I can put all those worries in the disposal now.

Peter was the bomb cross country.He is really starting to sight the jumps and he was straight as an arrow over the left handed corner.(My leg breaking favorite)So that memory can also go in the disposal bin.I had a lot of bugs on my teeth after Peters ride.

Pickles ran around on a loose rein inside the time.I was delighted and I told him in the wash stall afterwards that he can hate dresage as much as he wants if he continues to be so great to the jumps.One day we will find each other on the flat. It will be worth the wait.

So a happy end to a traumatic weekend.Up and Down and Up again.Pickles came up to 5th from last place with his double clear round.Peter was 6th and Harry 8th even after all his drama.So we were delighted.Our now filthy mudsplattered trailer,full of wet ,nasty laundry hit the highway again and we were home by 9.30 pm.We had made it home from the war again.

We are returning to Kentucky the end of August. I am not fond of the drive through the mountains,but once we get to Lexington it's great.Till then,I must cram for my ICP exam and our entries open for the September 19 event here at Paradise,so it's crunch time again.And its time for the Fox Hunter Saftey Clinics to resume.So stay tuned.And be ready for anything!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All The Time

Obviously I spend a tremendous amount of time riding and watching horses work.I ride at least six to eight horses a day and usually teach two or three people a day.

I am constantly trying to improve my communication skills to the horses and the people I teach.I take lots of lessons myself,I talk to a shrink about sports,the horse business,people,life in general.Having riding lessons to me is a combination of a trip to a spa and a visit to the shrink with a chiropractor thrown in for body realignment.

And lately I have been watching a few new videos thanks to a recent sale at Bit of Britain.Badminton 2009 is an EXCELLENT video.The course was GREAT! The new dressage test this year (the same performed at Rolex) is a WONDERFUL test that really requires riders to ride better and I agree(with Mike Tucker) the movements are so exactly what we need for cross country and show jumping.Oliver townend and William Fox Pitt ride so very well.Oli deserved the win and great to see a new face on the scene.( Not that he hasn't been around for a while slogging away)His horse was perfection over the 4 days. Oli had 3 great rides and I thought his horse such a perfect type.I watch the video over and over and over.Thats the way I want to ride.I think about it all the time.William Fox Pitts show jumping was superb (as was his dressage and cross country).There were also many other greats.Having been to Badminton so many times it is fun to watch the courses,horses and riders change,but great technique never does.

Another great person jumped back into my brain and is off the bookshelf and within my daily grasp.I fiqure if I can just look at her pictures all the time,something may creep into the necessary gaps between my bones.Ginny Leng.She was a MASTER.I had a discussion the other day about the word through and the concept of throughness.I can't wait to see my friend again and show her some really simple phots of Ginnys horses that are so straight.I remember watching her ride a lot and wow was she direct and straight.She had such control and balance it was SCREAMINGLY GOOD!I hate to say was.Anytime you get to watch her you will receive a master class in eventing.I am thinking about this all the time.

Looking for the straight lines,the releases of the muscles and the horses attitudes is what I look for all the time.WhenI can see it in a lesson,video or a book I think it is great.When I can see it,I can feel it.The more you know where you want to go,the easier it is to get there.But you have to look for it All The Time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Champagne Run Horse Trials

After much anticipation ,we made it to Kentucky for Champagne Run.The eight hour drive was well worth it.I haven't been to that event in quite a few years.The cross country course alone made the trip for me as I had hoped.

I did learn though that the next time I travel for eight hours with this batch of horses and most likely all my horses I will go a day earlier to let them settle for a day and then have a work day on the property.I felt the devils had drawn up quite a bit from their trailer journey.I decided not to ride them the afternoon before the dressage on the next day.I do feel that decision had a negative effect on my tests.I was hoping a day off would allow the horses more relaxation the next day.They were sharp and unattentive and I was a bit dissapointed in the way I rode them in the dressage phase.Harry was distracted and Peter was also not connected the way I like him to be.Pickles had a huge nervous breakdown having come down to the dressage area way too early.He stresses tremendously in the small arena and the less time around it the better.It is very hard to get the timing of three horses in the same class just right,especially when the stables are very far away from the arenas.There is tremendous pressure on Barbie my groom to get it all done on time.She does a great job but this time we messed up the timing a bit with disaterous results.

I have learned a lot in my old age.Even though the dressage phase did not go especially well.I was pleased with myself for not getting ragged out about it.I knew the jumping phases were very important at this event asI knew Champagne Run would be a step up in the degree of difficulty for my devils .We trained methodically for this step up and I was not dissapointed.

Three double clears in the show jumping made up for the not so great dressage.Again,I am so happy to be putting my show jumping demons behind me.No matter how awkward Pickles is in the dressage sometimes.He is like putting on my favorite loafers in the show jumping.He has gotten very reliable in there and I have waited for that for a very long time.Next dance gave me the smoothest jumping round I have had in YEARS! And Peter Pan ate up his round though I have a lot of work to do on his front end. Last week in preparation for the event ,we took off the running martingales and it made a world of difference to Peter and Harry (Next Dance).

The cross country course was GREAT FUN!! The ground was good as Kentucky has had lots of rain.We were anticipating very hot waether but it was breezy and pleasant enough.we didn't even hook up our fans in the stables!It helped that I had all three of my rides completed before 9 am!

The jumps across the country were up to size.Lots of brush fences which encourage bold jumping.This course really made one feel you could really ride up and attack the fences and get a solid jump.There were some nice combinations, a bounce,ditch and brush,skinneys and the two water questions were serious enough and the coffin challenging enough to make one ride well!Peter and Harry jumped around this bigger track well.I did not get near the optimum time as I felt it was too much of a push for these youngsters.I did feel I could go for it on Pickles,my final ride and I made two CLASSIC ERRORS!!!!!!!,resulting in TWO STOPS!!!!!!!!!!

I was too confident and made a CARELESS approach to 4a ,a sizable drop question with a house after it.SHEAR CARELESSNESS and over confidence got me my first 20 penalties.Then I balanced Pickles too close to the bounce and he stopped again.It was another rider error and I have to say that one caught me a bit offguard.He zoomed around the rest of the course with ease and I was happy with him none the less.It was a GREAT WAKE UP CALL to this rider to NEVER EVER LET MY GUARD DOWN AGAIN!!!!!Pickles is VERY sensitive and it was MY fault.I can correct it and I am glad I am clear on what I did. Now hopefully I won't make those mistakes again for a while.

Riders NEED to make mistakes and learn from them and try again.Harry finished a credible 7th in his first prelim run and Peter was 8th,Pickles was 14th.

So with Champagne Run behind us we are going to go to River Glen next,then I think back to Kentucky in September AND OCTOBER because of the quality of the cross country courses there.I also feel the my horses can benefit from the big atmosphere of the Kentucky horse Park.It is a longish drive but I feel the track is worth it for the horses.But I would consider going a day earlier next time and see what that does for the devils.

We are happy to be home.I am thrilled with the boys.I am happy to say they are all laid out flat in the fields today,snoring away.Sounds like a good idea to me!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Out Of My Box

Recently,I attended another (third this year) ICP teaching workshops.This one was a level 3-4 given in Bluemont,Va. by Karen O'Connor.There was an impressive group of people there and we all worked very hard.The ICP workshops and system is no joke.It requires a TON of knowledge and confidence.The days are long and very hard work.I teach clinics all the time for as much as fourteen hours straight withought sitting down sometimes and they are a virtual piece of cake compared to these workshops.

One is required to teach a lesson with an introduction,a safety check, a few minutes observation of horse and rider to make an assessment and lesson plan,explain the lesson to the instructors,teach the lesson,and then explain to the instuctor whether or not you felt you were sucessful in producing results.This all happens in 35 minutes.

There is masses of imformation and required reading and I tell you ,you need to know it ,no matter how comfortable you are in your own skin teaching at home.These sessions really take you out of your own box and comfort zone and it's easy to get bogged down.

Taking myself and my system to Virginia ,and being so against the clock I ran into time management and verbage issues.There are alaways differences in degrees of importance and I left out a multitude of things in each lesson and was mostly humbled at the end of each teaching session.

One has to teach a dressage,show jumping and cross country lesson.There is a lot of required imfo for the three diciplines.Everyone worked hard.One gets back to the chair feeling rather small and thinking "yea............. But", a lot.

Self Doubt was there with me.Confidence was not in my pocket ,the way it normally is.The pressure I put on myself was similar to the way I used to beat myself up at a competition.Self mutilation is my specialty.So ,I think it is great to get out there and do all that stuff.The imformation and requirements are fair.You just have to be able to produce on command and not get wrapped up in the small stuff.One step in front of the other........we all put our pants on one leg at a time."Now,now Lellie....CALM DOWN....................................."

I am taking my exams soon .I know I will have to be in the books to pass this test.It is not done by charm alone.So,stay tuned.I enjoyed my three days in Virginia ,but have to admit I was VERY HAPPY to get back to Aiken and ride again back in the box I am more familiar with.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dedicated Troopers and the Marine Voice

My horses are in full work gearing up for Champagne Run Horse Trials in Lexington in a couple of weeks.We try and start the week off(Mondays) in the shade of the Hitchcock woods.After hacking out on day one,which is a strenuous workout for everyone we try and get all the serious faltwork and jumping done early in the day(Tuesdays thru Saturdays) before the sheer brutality of the sun kicks in.We usually do dressage back to back days and have one roadwork hack.I Jump about once a week.Hard to fit it all in.We have great hills and perfect footing here at Paradise so fitness is not to hard to come by.

The days are a race against the sun and heat.I have a bunch of very dedicated people that still come for lessons and they get the brunt of the sun.I try to fit in at least one or two lesons after the eventers are done about 11 ish.So between 11 and 1 there is some serious cooking going on at the farm.Then we go again usually after 6 pm or so when its cooler.

I have several great girls that are helping out or else we would all be dead.We are bringing up a few young horses here and the girls all bring their own to work a couple days a week.

I am so proud of all the hard work these people are doing.It is very rewarding to see the riders and their horses improve.I always warn them,the better they ride,the harder it gets.There is no easy way out around here!

I even have a couple of really dedicated men that come round and work hard too!So Cudos to them!

Themes tend to arise in the lessons .We are all still making great use of Lucindas recent visit which has improved our focus and control no end.Another current theme is what we term the "Marine Voice".This is to try and encourage a positive,take charge mindset,that helps the muscle memory kick in to improve steering,pace,direction,size of stride.The Marine Voice is a slow deep voice often used by counting out loud that helps the rider translate their body language into a better rythm,control, and frame of mind.The horse goes like the rider rides it,so I try to conjure up ways to improve what I call fairy riding or the helpless housewife scenario.These things all sound very basic and simple.I assure you ,there is nothing simple about what these people are accomplishing.Everyone here is practicing all the same questions and priniciples I am trying to improve on myself and my with horses.Size is not the issue but the quality of understanding from the rider.Once they understand, they can tranlate it to their horses.It is all great fun and very exciting.

As always we have tons of laughs.Safety,Balance,Control,Confidence and FUN.Thats what is all about.Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

War Zone

Anyone that thinks living on a farm(,especially with the name of Paradise )would be a quiet tranquil place with chirping birds and cool waterfalls should try and spend a few days here.

Boy what a few days we have had....Not only has it been VERY VERY HOT but we have been through hell and back with one of our horses being very very ill.The great news is that he has pulled through.

After about five of the most stressful,anxious days and nights,the team at Paradise can barely walk, talk, or think straight.The operative word here is team and I cannot thank everyone involved for their unbelievable dedication.The inside of the stable was transformed into a warzone like hospital,complete with beds,fans,cups of tea,red bulls(I have now reached my personal best ....5 in one day!),,telephones that buzzed every 20 minutes incase someone dozed off.Sleep deprivation is a very very powerful thing and none of us had anytime for that.Not only did I set my phone to super shock me into consciousness but I tied a rope around the poor horse and if he moved a certain way he'd pull me back into reality and I was there ready with an arsenal of meds.

WE read books,we even had bug races.I have never seen so many different types of bugs that appeared past dark but dissapeared by daylight.WE listened to the horses snoring.Pickles moans all night while sleeping.Then we have the chickens that are deliciously silent until one wakes up.WE also had bunny the cat on night watch.She was a welcome cuddle when it wasn't going well.We also made many a night drive around the block in the giant trailer.I am sure my neighbors love me even more after all the night commotion.Putting the horse on the trailer works a treat and was sucessful each and everytime.

I try to leave names and specific details out of the blogs to keep things simpler but I am completely honored to work with the team here at this farm and would head into any battle with all of them again.No one caved in even when things were looking very grim.WE were in definate crisis and came out the other side.The people that work here at Paradise farm are top notch and I am very very very lucky to have them all on board.I do not know how our vet is still alive after putting up with us for so long.Good thing she has a great team too behind her that can replenish her with peach fuzzies!Next time I'm definately going to hook us all up IV with those!

WE have about 11 horses in full work,plus lots of lessons to teach plus plus to keep everything going.It is definately not an easy place to be and with no shade at all it makes things very hard on everyone.I cannot thank everyone enough for standing by and keeping the mother ship afloat and this incredible horse up and about.

Churchill is our man.We will never ever give up..............

Our dear friend is up and about and looking great.Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lucinda Green Day 2

Day 2 is out on the cross country course and the riders get a chance to put together all their tubing skills with more skinnies and difficult small lines.This time they have the added element of undulating terrain.So balance and instinct become even more important to the horses and riders.Independence from the riders hands and reins as the horses need their necks more for their fifth leg is critical.

AS I did not get a chance to ride this time,I watched a lot and it was interesting to see those that knew what to expect ,verses the first timers.Either way it didn't matter.The first timers started their classes with intrepidation but were quickly put to ease by their newfound knowledge."Oh we did this yesterday"

IT DOES NOT MATTER how much one does this.One can NEVER EVER PRACTICE ENOUGH!Practice leads to muscle memory and when the riders can get in the right places and have some sort of instinct about what they are doing thats half the game.

Lucinda starts by putting the riders in their tube.She gets them glued on in the beginning employing thier safety seats so that they will be ready for the rest of the stuff.While Americans tend to work on galloping position and standing up balancing,this is the other end of the spectrum.This works on those critical last few moments before the point of take off that ensure a better jump.There is NO Emphasis placed on speed or galloping in the clinics.

I think that all that comes later anyway.I personally subscribe to this system as a teacher because I do not think you can get to stage two galloping and speed with a bunch of people and horses that you do not know having met them for the first time at a random clinic.

Stage one ,safety and balance and setting up is the name of the game for me.I was asked by one of the riders if I had other clinicians come.I do not have many.Then she named a few of the riders on the upper level circuit and I cringed because though they are great riders,I do not feel they are great teachers and communicators.It is not personal it is about specific technique and being able to explain feel and instinct.Not many riders are good at that.Lucinda is very good at that.To me,Lucindas principles are THE BOTTOM LINE to SAFE and EFFECTIVE riding.If you want to do anything for the sport of eventing,TAKE CLINICS WITH LUCINDA GREEN!!!!

AND SHE CARES A LOT ABOUT THE HORSES AND THE SPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I look forward to her return and hope I get to ride next time.I chose not to ride mostly for finacial reasons.The farm came first.But I did learn by watching and can't wait to experiment.I was very greatful to all of those that made a huge effort to come.This clinic is well worth the investment.These people were dedicated riding in the heat (though it wasn't too bad we were very lucky).They took time off from work and really really tried hard.Thankyou to all the riders.Thankyou to all my helpers Barbie and Antonio who helped me get the farm all ready.Paradise really loks great right now.Thanks to God for all the rain.And Thankyou Lucinda.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lucinda Green Day 1

Finally after an ominus start we all got going and a great day was had by all.The weather could not have been better (not too hot).

Lucinda pulled her usual great rabbits out of her teaching hat.It amazes me that I have actually had people say to me "oh I have done a Lucinda Green Clinic before,I already know that stuff".Yikes!

The very simple course she laid out this year transformed horses and riders into little jumping machines that were attentive,respectful ,and THINKING combinations instead of zooming,strung out scary images that we read about on the statistics pages.

There was a lot of jumping,talking ,bit changes,rearranging and very practical applications put to use and the results were progressive and definate.Riders were positive and hungry for more.

Lucinda is without question one of the best cross country teachers ever.Her theories do not change,nor do they need to.I was thrilled to have so many people come from all over again this year.we had so many that I did not get to ride but was happy to get the chance to listen and watch.

I kept seeing the principles applied by the the better riders at Rolex over and over again.The opportunity to have a go with Lucinda Green should not be missed by anyone interested in good riding PERIOD!!!!!!!!

A good friend of mine said from an auditors point of view,"she just gave me a personal lesson in my position and not to get ahead of my horse"! YEA YEA YEA!!!!When one gets to SEE this over and over.To watch all the whoopsies and grunting and steering ,ballancing,control(the lack thereof) issues over and over it fills one with excitement and the desire to practice and work it out for themselves.

Lucinda Green is an inspiration.What an honor to have her here and to listen and watch.I can't wait till tomorrow out on the cross country course to see what unfolds.Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Full Gallop Horse Trials

Thanks to a great team of helpers,we made it through a busy day.All in all I rode 5 horses in three divisions and had a few students there and we all made it home safely.

Lara did an excellent job at schedualing all the rides and I even had time to sit in a chair a few times and have a drink!

I think Pickles got the star of the day award.He tried his hardest not to get nervous in the dresage work and again (after Chattahootchie Hills)I was very proud of his composure.He does not let go enough for lengthenings to be true but good things come to those that wait.(Whats another 5 years!)But his Show jumping and XC were without fault and I felt it was very easy for him and he was happy.He finished 2nd.I was delighted and he got tons of cookies and apples and carrots afterwards.

Peter Pan was very good in dressage but at the last halt ,left a leg out andI went to catch it and he said,Oh rein back again?No problem.Naughty Boy!But he is really getting to be fun betwen the boards.I thought the Show Jumping track was enormous for Peter.They only put it down one hole from the IP and it was definately the biggest thing Peter had ever seen.I had two down.One was from my right knee whacking the wing standard hard enough to demolish the jump.I think he cleared it but I tore it down,then I rattled the double as I was a mess.Fortunately we regained our composure to jump the rest clear.I left the ring knowing I have a lot of homework to do but that Peter can jump the biiger jumps if I can get in the middle!

There were two first time questions for PP on the XC.A downhill skinney to two drops to a chevron thing and he handled it really well.Then a bounce that was made of two beautiful round roll tops encouraging great jumping.The ground at Full Gallop was VERY VERY Hard and I didn't fancy blasting them over it.I could feel them stinging and I did not over push for speed.Peter finished fourth in his first prelim.I was delighted.

Harry had his first outing of the year and was good in dressage though the footing in the ring was challenging to say the least.I did not push in there.As it was my first go due to my leg and scratching him from Chatt Hills I ran him training but this is the last for him.I made a BAD error and was not straight to the skinney in show jumping and tapped it out.My fault entirely,sloppy riding.The rest was ok but I need to tighten up.An expensive rail that dropped him down to eventual 7th place.His XC was clean and fast but I wish I had had him in the prelim.I feel he is ready and will jump better with the bigger jumps.

Cinder was a super star in the BN though he tripped a few times in the dressage ring.He was a tiger in the jumping and I wish I had had him in the novice or maybe even the training.He is such a great little jumper! GREAT FUN!!!!! He will make a SUPER horse for someone.A REAL PACKER!!!!! He finished in 3rd place.Yea cinder!

And Spotty was good for his first event.It is interesting how things can change from schooling at home to a party.We had a few wobbles and bobbles.But he went.A great horse for the future.

Beth and Layton also had great rides and went home smiling and confident.Thats what its all about.

So thankyou to all .Barbie, the uber meister kept everyone on their toes for sure.It felt great to have so many rides.lLike the old days.I am far better when I don't have time to think.

Stay tuned:Next Stop Champagne Run,Kentucky.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lucinda is coming!

Lucinda green is coming to Paradise june 7-8 and I am happy to say we have filled the clinic with all kinds of riders.Lucinda is in my opinion THE BEST TEACHER of cross country riding I have ever seen.Her technique is extremely unique aimed at RIDING THE SAFE WAY!!!!

She has taught me more about not just riding but teaching and what is really important at getting riders and their horses confident and connected.And thats what its all about.Her lessons are the foundation for all my teaching both with the eventers and foxhunting safety clinics a like.Good riding is good riding no matter what discipline.

We have been a little bit naughty here at Paradise and have been practising before her majesty's arrival.We are not really supposed to do that as she wants to see things go a muddle so people can fix them.But I wanted to assure a few new people and green horses that they will survive to avoid anxiety and drama so we had a practice session the other day which was a riot and very productive.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than having people call me on my cell squeeling about their lessons and that I did it ,I get it feeling."Sorry to bother you but I just had to call!!!!!"You all have no idea how much that helps me get on the tenth horse of the day or back on the mower.

Yesterday (monday) we took a string of five eventers to the woods to just hack and have a stretching,marching day for 2 hours in the woods.I try to do that twice a week if I have enough riders.The point is to get the horses to march up and down hills working walk,not wandering aimless walk.It makes the riders ride ther whole time and its great for the horses to have an outing.The point is a combination of working,stretching and relaxation.

We had had an uneventful ride (except for Peter Pan doing constant airs above the ground)until we came to a large puddleOne of the four year olds took extreme exception to crossing this large ocean and WOULD NOT GO!!!!!!We were truely stuck for about 15 minutes.The rider was purple with exaustion and frustration .I sat there laughing my head off knowing the feeling and also knowing she would get through it.The other riders looked away sheepishly and I barked,next time it may be you so pay attention!

Anyway I told the rider to ride the challenge the way she was jumping skinneys the other day.To ride the tube with her ankles seat and hands.I call it channeling.Her horse LEPT in, flying way out to the side into the trees nearly decapitating the rider.OK thats part of it,now go straight.HOLD on,don't lean forward and make sure you look where you want to end up!.Pretty scary when you have zero control over a terrified obstanant baby giant Irish horse.(big boy).So then she got her steering under control and we got him to stand in the water.Then all was right with the world.

The horse simply did not undertand the question and wanted no part of it.So we broke it down til he said Oh is that all you wanted?

Lucinda's tube.The concept of walking not launching is key.Horse and rider found communication and confidence with each other.Relief and understanding were enormous.The rider REALLY LEARNED how to put her ringwork into place in the woods.GREAT.THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT!!!!!!!

Also it was great teamwork on the part of all the other horses and riders.That is something that is also very important here at Paradise.We all work together as a team.No one is ever left out.

So it was a very happy day.That four year old is jumping this week at Full gallop.We'll see if the rider remembers anything.I think she will. Stay tuned.

This weekend should be fun.We have about 10 horses going.I am riding 5.I have two prelims,one training and two beginner novices.Hope the old grey mare (me) can keep up with the big guns!I think we have about 20 helpers too.We are going to need them!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Taking Lessons.

We have been having a lot of fun and productive sessions at the farm lately.I do feel strongly that to make real progress we need to be consistant and fairly committted to taking lessons.I personally feel I cannot go longer than two weeks before I start to lose it.Before those loose ends start taking over and my communication with the horses gets muddled again.

Having an outside eyeball helps to keep things in line,in perspective and in order.So much can change in a matter of days,sometimes for the better,sometimes for the worse.After my lessons I often feel like I have been miscommunicating whatever messages to my horses.They are quick to talk back and say HMMMMMMMMMMMM thats not right for me.My lessons are a combination of a trip to the spa and a trip to the shrink.After lessons I feel like my bones and my brains are realligned.And that helps my horses.Whatever it takes to help my horses.....

I often compare the knowledge I am gaining from my lessons to the rings of an oinion.It is such a challenge to get through each ring and get closer to the center.Trying to find the center of a transition,the center of multiple flying changes,or the middle of a straight line is something that continues to intrique me with all the different personalities and temperaments that get muddled up along the way.

As a teacher.it is SO rewarding to see people and their horses work through their respective rings.As with all onions there are often tears but sometimes they are deliciously sweet too.There are a lot of people that have made a SERIOUS effort to come to Paradise and practice riding and it is really starting to show.It is getting very exciting for me as a teacher to be able to really get these people going and one can see their hunger for more with their horses.It makes it all worth it.

Sometimes teaching is not so much fun.When people think that riding should only be fun (easy)and not hard work that makes it harder on everybody.One thing I have learned over the years is that we riders have to learn to repect what an illusion good riders create.That they didn't get that way,without pain,tears and sweat.Again the words committment and consistantcy come to mind.Good riding makes good horses."A horse goes like the rider rides it!"

There is no easy way to learn how to live.There is no easy way to learn how to ride.There are no substitutes for taking lessons and getting that overview.Everyone needs lessons.Everyone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

At Last

We FINALLY made it to an event.The Area 3 Championships at Chattahootchie Hills.Sadly Harry couldn't go as he had hurt his back,so Barbie and I went down with Pickles and Peter Pan.Rain was in the forecast and boy did it ever.Poor carl ,I know exactly how he feels to have his beautiful facility destroyed by all the trucks.Mud was everywhere (though the tracks for the horses were good)But Five hundred people can definately tear up a field.Our stables were soup.The horses did not want to even go in them!

Dresage went well.Pickles was drawn first of the class and I thought went very well for him.He is such a sensitive horse and gets very worried.But he was really a good boy,yet was placed last in the class.Never mind.He was happy and so was I.I can't wait to get him in a large arena!Peter was all business.I was very happy with his test.The judge told me she was very dissapointed by my rides and expected much more from me!Humph!Back to the drawing board.Peter was tied for 5th after the circles.Again I was pleased with the horses.

We were stabled way far from the event and could not hear a thing up on the hill ,so we missed a great deal of the competition.Too bad as it would have been fun to watch the 2 star horses going.I thought the Training championship course was very soft and was disapointed to see us share fences with the novice ,rather than the prelim.But,as it was my first run of the year ,the most important thing was would my leg hold up?It has been feeling great but I have had a few balance issues,standing in the irons.The pain factor has really subsided.I did not feel a thing on the day and had two clears ,so things were spot on.

I am impressed,having missed basically the entire spring season,by the HUGE INCREASE in the numbers and degrees of angled questions out on the cross country.They are everwhere.We had a great angled coffin in the training.That was great practice for things to come.
Jon Wells was kind enough to buzz me around the prelim and Intermediate courses and there were some SERIOUS angles out there and I thought the intermediate water was also without joke.

I think these angles are a great way to make people ride better.You have to slow down and be very accurate.You have to PRACTICE!There is NO WAY to ride these things without PRACTICE and thats what riders need! AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!!!It's not enough to just go out and jump big fences.The Europeans at Rolex REALLY SHOWED us how to do it.I know that this is something I will have to work on to step up my game.

Show Jumping had to be moved to a second location as the intended place was destroyed by the first day of competition.So the Organizing committee at the event deserves great thanx from all of us riders for their efforts.I hear it took them all night in the mud and rain.

I haven't been practicing my show jumping on the grass much and I think that rattled Pickles a bit.He jumped a clear round but was muddled by the footing a bit(which was good just wet)It was a nice flowing course.Last time I jumped at this event it was a very hard course with few clear rounds.Peter was also clear and jumped like a lion.

So Peter was third and Pickles 8th.We were delighted.

It's nice to be home again and out of the mud.Lets hope the washing machine holds up!

I had lots of friends at the event and my sponsors ARENUS were there which made it even more fun.I am so lucky to have their support and they are more FUN than a million monkeys.

So Full gallop is next.I am thinking about moving Peter and Pickles up to the Prelim.Just have to decide.My concern is the ground over there can be a bit hard.Harry will hopefully run the training as he missed his first start.Then we shall hopefully go on to Champagne Run in Lexington.So stay tuned.Today its back to the drawing board and getting everybody back in work after their short weekend break.It is wonderful to be back riding again!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rolex 2009

What a great weekend.Very inspiring.The new dressage test is very demanding and it was obvious that the riders need more time to perfect it but there were some seriously nice rides and the standard has really jumped up.The hard work everyone did over the past year showed.The Europeans really gave the US a run for the money and I can't help but think and envy them for the way they are trained and presented themselves.The European system is so very different from over here.Their team spirit and presentation was very evident.

The cross country course was spectacular as always.I was most impressed by the increase in the number of angled questions the horses had to jump.A serious test of nerve and control.The only way to get good at that stuff is a lot of practice.It is a matter of OWNING YOUR LINE.Not easy to do for eleven minutes!

Show Jumping was absolutely nail biting right down to the end.The course was up to size and quite technical.I had a great appreciation for the questions asked by Richard Jefferies after attending his seminar in New Orleans last year.The riders were brave and talented and I envied every one of them.Forward riding was the only way to go.

The weekend was a master class for eventing.I saw so many great principles being put into practice and I returned inspired and energized.

One thing for sure,there was some GREAT STUFF this weekend.Well done to everyone at Kentucky!It was a great vacation for me.Now back to work.