Monday, November 29, 2010

Pine Top Thanksgiving Horse Trials

Once again,Janet and Glenn Wilson and company put on a great show for us all last weekend. Pine Top is a class venue.They were blessed with great weather,bumper entries and a safe weekend for the horses and riders.What more can an event organizer ask for?How grateful we all are and give THANKS to The Wilson team and Pine Top farm.

Team paradise had a great time,though I think Barby was freezing all weekend. She did a wonderful job as usual keeping myself,Arthur and Becca in line and on time for our respective rides.

The A team stayed home over Thanksgiving weekend and watched football in their paddocks while Rasta,Daisy,and Bisto made the trip up and down to Thomson.

Dressage was a success for us all. We are managing to remember tests,keep shoulders up and produce softer rides. As usual,when I like my tests ,they don't score well but ,that's only a matter of opinion!

Rasta buzzed the show jumping literally as I had to beg the officials and Teresa Brookins to switch my ride time so I could help Arthur and Becca with their dressage which all went at the same time.(Can you say multi tasking?)I am more comfortable being very busy than standing around as I do not have time to over think so I was pleased with the way it all worked out.

Becca had a good solid show jumping after a grueling weeks worth of very hard whip cracking at the farm. She had very little Thanksgiving holiday as it was more like marine boot camp for her. Arthur,got the same treatment. At least he has his drivers license and can escape the farm in between lessons!Becca was a true prisoner!Arthur's show jumping showed tons of improvement. Sadly it was one fence short of the required number. Ugh. Time to up the Ginkgo Biloba.

Cross country was a real whiz for Rasta. I got a speeding ticket but ended up with bugs on my teeth for sure and the owner is now requesting a move up.I could not bring myself to pull him back. It simply was too much fun.

Becca and Arthur are climbing the really hard part of the eventing ladder. With each event comes a new damn challenge.Eventing is a really hard sport that takes tremendous tenacity and strength to hang in there and wait for it to come right.There are SO many aspects to the sport,it is VERY VERY difficult to get it right and make things work.Success brings confidence. These gallant riders are very close to making it over the hump.Each of them have mounts that are extremely well suited to their riding styles and abilities.

Horses are our best teachers. I have learned (the hard way) one really has to ride hard and work hard to make it all happen. Good riders create illusions of ease.One has to try to be ready for every ride, every damn step .You just never know when a small surprise will pop out and ruin your day(or make you day ,to be more positive).So Becca and Arthur are dealing with mini surprises that are making them far better riders.Eventing is a game of horse and rider reaction.It is a tortuous combination of being very relaxed ,but with lightning fast reflexes for the unexpected.

I have two other friends that also rode at Pine Top and deserve a mention. Sallie and Christy that braved the big Prelim course.Good on them for their move up and future successes. They both have lovely horses and I shall look forward to seeing their dreams come true.

OK. The eventing year is coming to a close. Though we have lots of horses in work on the farm I am going to try hard to have some sort of slow down period till Christmas.We will still train every day. I would like to hunt some more and see people and do "Christmasy" things.

The February Horse trials is rapidly approaching and then the next season will be upon us.

To be honest ,I will be glad to see the back of 2010.This has not been a great year.This has been the year of learning how to let go.Pickles the wonder horse taught me how to let go of my riding . I rode well this year. I feel much happier with my riding and the confidence that he gave me while in the saddle with him is priceless to me.I cannot let him go. He is with me always.

Letting go of the love of my life plagues me endlessly.I am failing in that department.But I figure,if I can learn to wait and be quiet and patient to the base of a 4'6" square oxer ,into a triple, with a vertical of planks on the other side,I will learn how to relax my hold, breath and go on without him too.I just never wanted to have to let go like that.

Letting go of the Aiken Hounds is easier with each day. At first I was fooled into believing that integrity and honesty would prevail. I was fooled into believing that family history and tradition were important factors into my association with the hunt.But I now know that is a true gift from God above,that I am well away from that association as my interpretation of what drag hunting was all about is obviously incorrect.I am mad at myself for not seeing it sooner.What was I thinking for over 20 years?With each day and each story that I hear, it is very clear to me now why I was no longer welcome there.I have very different views about hunting,history,etiquette,principle , and Aiken than most,that is clear.Not to mention my views on preparing horses and riders for hunting and safety issues. I think we are clear on that as well.WE all know about opinions,they are like........... and everyone has one.

So bring on next year. Bring on the Christmas merriment! I want Santa to bring me strength to help me free myself from the downsides of 2010. Life goes on. I am going to go stare at big oxers some more..........Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seeing That Light

The Horse business is far from easy. Years ago ,when I fell off my great horse The Travelling man ,I came back from the hospital with a knee bigger than my head,and asked Bruce Davidson what I should do? He said sell the horse to me.I did. Long story short,I bought Paradise Farm with my Olympic hopeful.

So one light went out and another big one went on.Paradise Farm. Owning a farm like this can be heaven and it can be straight ,pure hell. Sometimes watching the grass grow is enough to wake me up in the middle of the night in a complete panic attack.Everyday, it is a joke around here to see how much money can be spent before 9 am .It is often in the thousands.

EVERYTHING seems to need repair at the most inopportune time.And I have a fit and say ,,,,"all I want to do is ride.HA HA HA!"Riding is the easy part!If I can calm down long enough to allow myself near the horses. I have learned not to ride at certain times. The horses are too valuable and their brains are far too connected to mine. So sometimes,it's best to read a self help book and calm down.Mowing is thereaputic as is raking,walking ,and working out. Driving for about 12 hours straight will do it too.

Teaching is very theraputic.I love to help other people see the light.I love to be able to help them get through their issues with their horses. As I know how much it means to get to the other side.I know the feelings,the ups and downs. The ups and that moment when someones light goes off is easily visible and makes EVERYTHING else worth it.

Thank God in heaven the teaching is picking up.It was pretty dry for a while,due to very strange circumstances.I am seeing the light more and more. More and more people are out there riding all over Paradise and making the most of their riding time. That's what it is all about.

There are people and horses of all levels here.All anyone needs is interest and effort.In the words of the Hall of Fame polo player(and former employer) Davey Rizzo,,,,"It ain't easy baby".

No it definately ain't easy.But I wish to THANK everyone that comes here for help with their horses.Seeing a new friend cry with happiness at the purchase of her new horse and new friend, made my day.I asked her yesterday what she wanted to do with her horse that afternoon. Her reply was a classic."I want to go on an adventure".So off she went out on her adventure and found some action.Watching this lady transform back into a confident rider is great fun.

Feeling the horses change and grow is very rewarding too.From Peter pan growing into a sucessful two star horse to a young 4 year old filly I have. Fox Hunters. Eventers,jumpers,dressage horses. It doesn't matter to me.When they see that light,it's well worth it.No matter how big or small the job.Calm ,Forward and Straight is what we get a thrill out of around here.

It's great to be feeling good about things again.UGH ,what a year this has been.It is so great to be able to see the light again,instead of being plagued with drama and crap.I am getting stronger again . So to all you toads out there. I hope you can find your lights too as I feel sorry for your darkness.

My biggest light is Pickles.He is there everyday.He is right here in front of me with Percy the chicken on his head.Pickles showed me a real light. I OWE it to him. I PROMISED him I would hold on for him.

Thanks to all,especially big Pics .we love you always.Keep your lights on!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


So far we've had a beautiful fall in Aiken. The weather has turned. We got a little rain last week that really helped us out. The foliage is great. Lots of colors and the temperature has been quite good for houndwork.

I have been out with Why Worry and today with Whiskey Road for their beautiful opening meet.It's always wonderful to see everyone on opening day. Horses and riders were well turned out and Woody Baxt farm was a perfect venue to start off the year.

I felt very welcomed by both hunts. Everyone said they were delighted to see me out.Guess what I was delighted to be there.I have a stable full of nice horses and have the time right now. I have hunted with hounds all my life and will continue for some time to come.I love horses (obviously) and hounds and houndwork.I love being outside and enjoy the countryside.I was fortunate enough to ride right up with Alan Young that led the field beautifully. He knew every stump and stone out there and was very aware of his field at all times.

I had many flashbacks to the good old days before I went to England,when I hunted regularly with Whiskey Road while riding for John Ellis.The country has changed with developement but there is quite a lot of the old guard still on top of the saddle and we had a rip roaring time today as we did then.

A fantastic breakfast followed with great food and nice people. That's what it's about.I will only get to hunt during Nov. and December this year as I have a lot on the plate already for the future.

I am looking forward to riding with Why Worry as well.More good horses,hounds, people and good times.

I would like to announce in public TO THE WORLD,that I DID NOT EVER RETIRE from hunting as so many seem to think or may have been told.It is not about eventing. Please let me make it clear to all of you out there. I was thrown out of The Aiken Hounds after thirteen years of being a joint master and over 20 years on the staff with no explanation or discussion.As for my being told I was not "allowed to hunt again" ,that is about the best one I have heard so far.Keep dreaming you guys out there.I have finally reached the stage that I can almost laugh.

I have moved on from the AH with sadness for sure. Betrayal,Dishonesty and cowardice is never pretty. It's never pleasant.

But today was. And my time with Why Worry was too.So onwards to great times,more music and happy days.....ARF ARF