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.