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!