Monday, November 28, 2011

Paradise Fall Horse Trials

Another month has come and gone my my.Zoom Zoom.

Today is the 28th of November.I have really slowed down on my writing.But we haven't slowed down with anything on the farm.

My Horse trials ran perfectly smoothly ,thanks to the great team we have here at Paradise.Karen Kelly's abcense was huge.I can't believe I made it through an event without her. But Marcia,her best friend kept Karen o the go and she handled the volunteer coodinating and ,fence judge placements from afar.Keeping all the volunteer stuff organized is a huge job as the names seem to shift constantly.Communication is always the key. We like everyone to be notified way in advance but the way eventing has evolved,things seem to really pile up at the last minute which always adds to the stress.

We had a beautiful day and all the courses looked great as we had a ton of bright green brush on many jumps and restained lots of fences to make them have an upgraded look to the course.We added stabling this year and had 23 stablers. I hope the added onsite stabling will help increase interest in this nice event.We started 83 horses.75 horses breaks even. The man hours of labour and the hours I lose riding my own horses and teaching hardly makes the event seem worthwhile.Putting on a competition is a huge effort.The spring event here is a gas to put on as we know we have entries on an early date. Therefore we can put money into the event and hire the proper labour necessary.When an event runs on a complete shoestring due to lack of entries it is a sad state of affairs where everyone knows there can be no improvements done or additions to the event.We keep going as we want to support the sport. We just wish more riders would support the event.Paradise farm Horse trials has excellent footing I challenge anyone anywhere to contest the quality. We have super technical show jumping courses and state of the art dressage rings.We do not have permanent stabling with rubber mats and electricity but neither do Fair Hill International,Burghley or Blenheim Horse Trials.

So the Horse trials was in fact not the great positive I had hoped it would be.But it's now gone to bed and we are already working on the next one.I wish there had been funds left over for my next project here but now that will have to wait.I can assure all riders if you help us by entering this great competition we will not dissappoint with great additions to the courses!SO COME AND ENTER PLEASE!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I am very sorry. I do not have control of this blog. Sometimes it lets me correct things and other times it won't. So sorry. I do try.Thanks for your patience

Aiken Hunter Trials

We had the MOST beautiful day on October 1 for our third annual Hunter Trial. This yearwe shortened the outside course and made it much easier with fewer hills.This not only decreased the degree of difficulty but let riders go a bit quicker,to avoid endless waiting around. The new jumps and the new system worked well.

The Hunter Trial really should be aimed at Fox Hunting horses but it is my intention (having learned in England) that these trials are incredibly valuable to all to have a nice slow go round over excellent fences and JUST SCHOOL AND BOND with one's horse.
All courses and jumps were open to school the day before. Most people that came to ride in the Hunter Trial came and schooled to familiarize themselves with these more open courses. They all had a great time. AS schooling was only $15.00,One can not get a better opportunity anywhere to school such beautiful jumps.

We also had a hunter ring that started with cross rails and then went to more substantial courses with gates,walls ,roll tops from 2'3 to 2'9 and then culminated with a three foot Hunter Derby. The course was fabulous with a mixture of hunter show jumps and a few cross country jumps and a ditch.

The riders in all classes were amazing and I have to say that this is what Paradiuse farm is all about. EDUCATION! These people came out here and rode WAY out of their element and had a fabulous time.

Paradise Farm offers the most perfect venue for horses with a huge variety of jumps and terrain and PERFECT footing but also A venue whereby owners trainer,parents and all supporters can stand on a hillside and watch every step of their horse.

My heart sings with joy to see these people realize their own huge accomplishments.This is not about high powered eventing or high powered anything. I am just so happy to be able to offer an INCREDIBLY WONDERFUL facility for these people to learn about themselves and their wonderful horses.

The dog show was a HUGE hit with 20 in the prettiest eyes,16 in the best wagger and 6 costumers.To see the children have so much fun was almost as good as winning ROLEX. (Not that I really know what that's like)

I have to Thank out loud my dear friends,without them,none of this would have happened. Barbie,Antonio,Nanu,Mimi(cook)Barry Doss(cook),Penny Kaster(painter ),Marsha Styger(painter)Bob Shellhouse for his trailer,Rose Hill as a class sponsor,Our great judges Susan Timmerman and Grace Vance,Anne Kinney,Betsey Minton,Lynn and Joe Kramp. A Huge thanks to Mike Sharp for being our announcer again!

I want to THANK EVERYONE that came to support Paradise farm. It was SUCH a fun day.Laura Hall brought all the children. We need MORE. WHERE WERE YOU GUYS?

Paradise offers a very unique opportunity and it is our wish to give this to the horse community here in AIKEN.WHERE WERE YOU GUYS? We miss you and hope you will come next year. You are quarantied fun and a great day.So put on your calanders for next year the first saturday in October. See you then

Where is the time?

I used to be able to write almost weekly,now it seems to be a monthly occurrance. I apologize for that.Thank you to all that have been so complimentary about this blog.It is always fun hearing from you.

So Southern Pines turned out to be a dissappointment for me ,mostly because I rode SO badly in the show jumping. I seem to be getting consumed with all that bad stuff again. i was gone for awhile but.....I know it will go away again.

The AEC's were next. WE had great times. I think I was second to last to go in the OI champs. Peter is a definate afternoon boy. I was pleased with his dressage. It's coming. Another year and I think we might be OK.A couple of small blips but his attitude was good and he was very workmanlike.Cross country was a perfect ride. He never ever picked up the bridle one time. My intention was just to jump around and have a very settled ride and he made the time easily bringing us to show Jumping in 7th place.My nerves got the better of me again although I have to say these current nerves are not so much riding nerves but other demonic possesions that are taking me away from riding a clear round.That being said I had three rails and finished 13th.Watching the video I know what I have to do to fix the riding which is good,but the other stuff is a little harder.

Poplar PLace CiC 2 * was next. Again I was pleased with Peters dressage. He's going to be the real deal in time and I have to be patient.Cross country I had a stop by overchecking to the water ,trying to prevent (in my mind) over jumping a brush to a one stride. Of course I kicked myself as I shouldhave left Peter alone and LET HIM JUMP!!!! DUH!Peter is a definate goer and very good with his feet. I have to say it was a REAL error on my part and I paid the price. Other than that he pinged around and the big A is not far away as far as dressage or cross country goes. ON THE OTHER HAND, Lellie will not be going anywhere fast until a few things at home get settled so I can show jump better.

I chose to show jump in a hackamore. WE had practiced in it and were very happy with it.Peter got progressively stronger during the duration of the course. I actually dropped my right rein after the triple and Peter took off and ran away with me for a good ten minutes. Flat out.It was a clasic run away. Not at all funny. I was completely helples and he ran as fast as he could without the slightest fatigue. It was very unsafe and I was not a happy camper but knew from my racing days eventually it would have to end so I sat chilly but terrified everyone watching. I apologize for that as it was truely scary.

I was very upset but again more with non riding issues than Peter and went home with my tail between my legs.So we have decided not to run the two star CCI as planned and step back a little till other things can settle down.I will never put the horses at risk and I need to get a few things sorted to ride better in the future.Al;ways something!!!

So I am now officially done with eventing for a while and going back to show Jumping again for some more education.

Not the way I wanted it to go but the horses cme first. WE have since Jumped Peter at home with the help of a good friend and all is very well. So stay tuned we'll beback.!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Work In Progress

How things change. Two years ago,I had the amazing luxury of riding three strapping young thoroughbred horses around events every other week.And they were rarely out of the money. It was a great feeling of success and accomplishment that gave me great strength and the fortitude to fulfill all the challenges this sport requires.

It takes tremendous willpower not to equate ones self worth as a human being with how one ends up on the weekend.I am currently down to one eventer,Peter Pan.Ninety Nine percent of this darn game is confidence. I am currently standing on about 10% in my ability.

Show Jumping once again seems to be eating me alive. Even though I had a great summers jumping at proper shows with Peter and Zidaan.For some reason my last event brought me to my kneees with a charming 5 rails down. And this week ,,,well I'll start at the beginning.

Peter is entering into the power stage of his career and it is not an easy one.I always tell everyone riding well is an illusion.(Except if you watched the top 5 at Burghley this week!OMG do they ever miss?)(Another blog entirely)

I was very pleased with my dressage warm up and test this week only to be hammered by the judge.Hurrumph!Grump Grump.

The cross country looked great,although I said to Barbie at a small ditch /bounce combination...."I hope they read this....This ditch is not much to look at." Peter pinged around inside his minute markers easily until,splat ...that darn little ditch.He Left both his hind legs in it and I pulled out quickly to avoid hitting the skinny out. There was no room to do anything except pop back out over that ditch the wrong way and represent to the combination. Well
he saw it that time and off we went. He finished the course with 20 jumping and 20 time as there was no point in running his legs off at that point.I was not happy.

Most importantly I had to make sure he was OK. He had some pretty good scrapes on the inside of his hind legs. I felt I had let him down in my presentation.

Show Jumping on Sunday I had another disappointing 4 down and felt I rode really badly.UGH. WE forgot the camera. My only source of info.

So It was a long ride home. I miss Pickles. I miss River Dance and Harry too.I need to clean up my game. AGAIN!

Upon arrival at Paradise,the grass is long and untidy. It looks overrun. Ugh. We are killing ourselves to keep it all going.Doom and Gloom.

We leave again in two days for The AEC's.Hopefully things will go better there.I can't stay in a slump for too long.I look at Peter and I see great things. I feel it.Just not this week.Karen O'Conner's groom Max told me to go to the movies and forget about it.Good advice.

So we'll be washing,mowing ,jumping and teaching again till we leave and see what happens the next time... Stay tuned...I am going to keep telling myself it's going to get better and remind myself how lucky I am to be this miserable at times.. Horses are great levelers!

Any of you guys ever feel this way?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bare Bones Farm

Last weekend Jack and I zoomed our way down to Shorter, Alabama to judge a dressage and show jumping on the Saturday and teach a clinic on Sunday at Lorna,Duffy and Erika Aho's FANTASTIC Bare Bones Farm.

It is a PERFECT venue with great footing,similar to Paradise.Duffy has built super jumps. WE had tons of ideas for new banks and the future cross country course. Lorna has her sights on stabling and ALL SORTS of stuff in the future.

Lorna and I have been great pals for over twenty years. WE have blasted through England together,bought out Badminton,and traveled extensively together while eventing in the past.She has a n excellent eye and was bread to event. Her auntie is Dame Maxwell of famed Badminton dressage commentary'.

Lorna knows her stuff.She put on this show with aplomb,managing all the secretarial stuff as well as the layout etc. Duffy does GREAT FOOD and all the mowing and all the other STUFF.Erika rides around like a mini Lorna. Look out world ,she comin' on strong, getting the BEST experience on millions of hairy ponies.(the best kind!)

The dressage classes were great. Lorna brilliantly left enough time for me to pop out after every test and elaborate on the goods ,bads, and how to get betters.A great group of people and nice caliber of horses too! Great Fun for me. I LOVE travelling around seeing all these different places and people enjoying their horses.A few brave dressage riders even opted to have a chance flat lesson the next day. They were GREAT!(And very very brave....)

The Show jumping was fun. Courses were challenging enough. There was a fault and out class,Power and Speed and jump off rounds . Lorna also had a super derby class that had a few extra questions(bonus fences and skinnies). She plans to have lights up so evening classes can be a great addition. Her Show Jumping is in a natural amphitheater type setting, so there is ample room for all sorts of banks and terrain questions.There is a super flat place for a Hunter Ring ,that can double for a large dressage arena. She already has one super large arena now.

The clinic was well attended. Everyone worked very hard on my usual themes. Safety,Balance ,Control,Confidence and FUN!Gatorade was the word of the day.I had them jumping over the ice chest so they could only drink if they went clear!(Just kidding)

It is always an honor and a pleasure to be invited to Judge and then teach. It is as much fun for me as for the people.It is very inspiring to be able to give back to the sport.

So stay tuned for news of this great venue. I have ridden all over the world and I can recommend this place!

Thank you Lorna,Duffy and Erika! Thank you to all that came to support Bare Bones Farm and me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gearing Back Up

It's amazing how things change.I haven't ridden in an advanced competition in almost 6 years. After having brought 10 horses from scratch to advanced,I hope I am still on the track for number eleven. Peter Pan is my only eventer at the moment. Next Dance will soon be jumping in the Show Hunter ring as he we think he will excel at that discipline. Zidaan,my new jumping machine is too great a teacher for me to mix up his expertise with eventing.That leaves Peter until I can come up with more horses.

Times have changed for us all for sure. I used to have more students and clients and horses than I could possibly manage.Now that I have tons of experience and a complete facility to train horses for any discipline ,things are painfully slow.

I have a great group of new people coming for lessons but as I look around this incredible farm ,I really have to wonder what happened?Paradise Farm is an amazing facility only lacking an indoor school and an aqua tread. I am blessed to have what is here but I wonder where the people are? It seems to be an active rider or known these days at all one has to be a marketing expert rather than a true horseman.

I often hear from people,Oh I didn't know you taught lessons or rode other peoples horses. I thought you just rode for yourself.(REALLY?)Advertising hasn't seemed to do much good. It is costly and well worth it if there is a return ,but not so worth it if there isn't.

I hear from some people they think I am too tough. Riding is tough. Getting hurt is tough.Competing is tough.A horse spooking and bruising your foot or leg is tough.Trying to prepare people for the REALITY horses may bring is a tough game and there is no room for sugar coating.Losing weight is tough. There is no easy way. Saving money is tough.But the sacrifices, hardships,excercise and practice pays off. Those people that come here and take a few lessons quickly see results and few leave dissatisfied.They may be very tired but they are smiling and satisfied with their investment both physical and financial.

Peter is gearing up for a fall season of Intermediate.After falling off at Jersey Fresh I feel I need to do my homework and clean up my act.I am looking forward to a preliminary run this week at River Glen,then shall be making my way to several events in area III.We are still not sure about fair Hill or Chattahoochie for our fall 2*.

Barbie and I decided not to travel as much this fall and stay closer to home in my efforts to clean up.Money is also a major factor.I would not be going anywhere without the aid of the American Horse Trials Foundation.I have been a member since the 1990's. That foundation kept me riding throughout England and Europe and is still helping me today.Many thanks to all of you that have helped me keep my dream of riding going.

I do not have my eye set on making the team as much as I once did,as I know it is not realistic at the moment,primarily because of money.Having this big farm is a huge undertaking.Paying employees and farm maintenance takes away from the endless road trips of the past. But it does not mean I am not out there still going.

Peter shows signs of making it a lot further in his career.Zidaan is going to do wonders for my career.And I am hoping Harry will have a new career that he loves. Riverdance is being brought out of retirement so I can have another horse to jump big on again.If I only knew then,what I know now.

In watching a Burghley video,Kai Ruder from Germany said he rode Burghley as a young boy then it took him 20 years to get back.An inspiring message to us all. Horses take time.Practice Practice. Barbie wants me to go on and get going. I feel I am going to be conservative with Peter so I do not blow it.Peter is only 8 and there is no rush.

So hopefully this will inspire someone out there to hang on and keep going too.Horses are an addiction. No doubt I am hooked.It's worth it in the end.We're gearing back up for the fall. Let's hope good things are out there for all. Kick on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Time News

The summer is flying by.

It's been very hot here in Aiken but we have been busy as usual.Fortunately we are getting enough rain to keep the farm in grass(which means more mowing) but it's worth the time and effort. Eleanor, my super tractor has been very well behaved this summer. I am proud of her performance.Let's hope she can make it through another mowing season.Eleanor is named after a Mustang Shelby featured in a great film entitled Gone in Sixty Seconds.Nicholas Cage always steals her and she breaks down at the most inopportune times."Not now Eleanor"I know the feeling.

The horses are in full work. Peter has been show jumping with Zidaan. We just finished another two week run up at Tryon again. I am having such a great time with all that I am learning. Peter is harder to be consistent on than Zidaan as they have such different backgrounds.But my percentages of double clears are getting higher at every show.This last time Zidaan was Champion at the Meter Twenties.I even won enough money to pay for all my fuel!Ha!

Horse Showing and lots of lessons are expensive business. Fortunately I have been able to teach lots of people this summer. Everyone has been so dedicated. We start around Six AM most days. I have to ride pretty steadily up to about 2.30 when I take off to go to Kenny my workout man.By 2.30 it's pretty hot for the horses so a good time to head to town.Evenings are generally spent riding more horses,teaching and or mowing.

Harry is gearing up for some time in the Hunter ring.I think he will like that and be very good at it. I am hoping he will jump in some of the bigger Derbies soon.It's been challenging changing jobs and jumping formats with all these horses.He let my 11 year old God daughter ride him in a walk trot class at a horse show last week. Cutest thing I ever saw. Then I rode him and he was local hunter champion. Go Harry!I find riding the hunters VERY VERY challenging even at three feet!

Peter will be my only eventer for a while. Zidaan is going to stay in the Show Jumping as he is so great at it and I feel it's really helping me ride better.Harry is such a beautiful Jumper I felt it unfair to hammer him around the events.Peter eats it up and I am aiming him for Fair Hill Two Star in October.

We have several interesting horses here in training ,and have been blessed with a few sales.This is what keeps the ball rolling.

It's been a fantastic summer. Lot's of really enthusiastic people all wanting to ride better.That's what it's all about.I love travelling with the horses. It has really helped put a lot of last years demons away.

While I am sad to have the memories of all the troubles of the last few years,new doors are definately opening up.I am extremely grateful for that.I needed some new doors.

The clinics have been well received, which enable me to take so many lessons.Finding good teachers is a rarity for sure.I have a few great ones right now at last.A huge relief to be with people that make a serious effort in changing for the positive rather than posing as instructors and saying little or nothing, riding a wave of a big name.

It's very interesting in the teaching game. I like to be corrected over and over again.Often,I can be frustrated at the mistakes that I make ,but teachers that let you make the same mistake over and over again are just as much to blame. There are few that have the fortitude to really correct you. To stop you dead and correct you.I like that. Yet people are often put off by that.They prefer to be told how well they are doing.Compliments and congratulations are well deserved and should be noted,but lessons are about progress and hard work.I am grateful for the honesty of the teachers I now have.

You have to like to teach. You have to want to see the person and horse get better.You have to take a lot of time. You have to give the person confidence. You also have to be smart enough to take them down when needed ,to make things easier,to achieve flow before going up to harder things.

It's so rewarding to help people with their horses.Thank God people are out there and want to ride.Lot's of people from all over are coming back to the farm again.Today a great family rode all over the cross country together galloping and jumping. That's what it's all about.I look forward to this years Hunter trial the first Saturday in October. I think we will have lots of children come this year,though sadly few will be from Aiken.I hope they will come one day and overcome all the scary stories they have been told about Paradise Farm. It is their loss that they do not come as this is truely a great place.Local gossip still makes me sick to my stomach but THANKGOD at last I am back on the road and doing what I am good at and away from the local level of indecency.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tryon Week Two

After three days of showing Barbie and I packed up Jack (my super truck) and "The Palace"(my trailer) and zipped on back to Aiken. It two days to do all the laundry,clean the trailer,rotate the tires wash the trailer and repack and we were back on the road to Tryon again for week two of serious training.

This time we were loaded with Beautiful Harry.Harry has been on the back burner since my pathetic show jumping crash at Pine Top in February. I seriously regret taking my eyes off that jump and looking away for a split second. The results of that mistake I am now really having to pay for.Slowly but surely we have made it back to the show ring.Harry is the most beautiful boy and we must allow him the time he needs to tell us what he wants to do.

As I am so focused on trying to ride better and be quieter I chose to let someone else ride Harry for me.I have never done that before.It was very helpful to see the horse from the ground and be able to detatch.It was not until the third day that we saw our boy come back into himself.Though he placed in two classes(again we only want steady clears no time)I was glad to be able to see the progress made.Clayton is a star on horses and rode Harry like a champ.

Peter,Zidane and I slogged it back in the jumper ring moving up all the way round. Peter won his first class again and we were flabergasted!I actually am starting to feel the magic back up I have missed for so long. I do not smoke but.....OOOOOOOOOOooooohhhh made me feel like I needed a cigarette if you know what I mean.Could I actually be getting a grip on this stuff?

Zidane was his usual delicious self.I am going to spend some more time getting him more broke on the flat now.Vick rode him for me in two classes. What fun to see him jump.Zidane is easier for me to ride than Peter as he is a different type. But what a luxury to have the chance to ride two beautiful boys!

I simply had the best time up there with The Russell family. Talk about great team spirit.Everyone roots and cheers for everyone else and the operation runs like a well oiled machine.It was hot in the afternoons,and some might say it's boring waiting for the classes etc. Not me. There was no time to be bored. Once I got done with my baby classes,the big boys jumped all afternoon and I was glued to the rail. Watching Vick and his team jump and jump and jump ALL DAY!!! was enough for me.

Nights were great fun too. Several really nice parties with great fun people.I am fully enamoured with the dark side.I have some really great memories from this show. My best birthday present was watching Vick ride Zidane,and sitting in the wicker chair during a thunderstorm laughing,listening to the summer rain,late at night. And watching the rains clear for himself to drive away in Whitey the MG without a drop on him...Almost as good as the back up feeling.....

We are back home now gearing up for another Better riding clinic. They have been well attended. We start early and are done before it's really hot and people have been great about following up with their lessons as that's what it's all about.I
can't wait to jump River,Norman,Pumpkin,Gunther all week. My goal is to jump EVERY EVERY DAY FOREVER!

But we will get back to dressage and cross country too.

Paradise is hoppin'. We are ready for another round of mowing and jump painting. Even getting geared up for the fall event already. Where does the time go.

I hope everyone out there is having a good summer too.Thanks to everyone for their support. Riding is just too much fun right now.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Then and Now

I do not seem to write much anymore.I sure think a lot and wish I had the time to write.

My Last blog was about Jersey Fresh.I was very excited to go and was ready to do the job. But I fell off. My memories of the event are not good. I like the facility very much. Though I thought the ground could have had more attention,I thought the Cross country was terrific and I was sad not to have been able to complete the course.The worst part for me was asking for advice from someone I thought would be helpful and constructive and I was dumbfounded by the response. I was told I wasn't committed enough to the sport. That I should make a decision to be more committed to the sport or more committed to the farm cause if I did not make more of a commitment to the sport I would just fall off every time I rode.

It was a very long twelve hours back from New Jersey and I wanted to just give up when I got home.The event was a bust. Though I was happy Peter was safe and sound.How could someone say that to me?WOW. And this person is an experienced rider. Well there was a lot of internal confusion for a while. I talked about it with a few people and got a myriad of opinions.Thank God for the opinion of one of the officials that saw my fall and I decided not to shoot myself after all and go on.

So,screw those words in NJ. Paradise Farm is so beautiful. All my flowers are in great bloom this year. The berries are popping out everywhere. The honey suckle smells heavenly.One of the days highlights are feeding our huge catfish.I may have fallen off but I am still a person and have worked damn hard for what's here.

I am not happy about the way some eventers are thinking and where they are going at the moment.As much as I would have loved to have won in New Jersey and be on the cover of eventing media,,,hey,,I am winning my own event.That event may not win any gold medals or gain me huge sponsorship,but there are other dividends.

That was then and this is now.I just came back from a Hunter Jumper show up in Tryon,North Carolina.Barbie and I went up there with Zidane and Peter Pan to learn how to jump better.It was my first show with Zidane.He has only been over from Holland a little over a month.

I had a fantastic experience. I cannot wait to go back.Instead of thinking of giving up ,I am encouraged.I had three days of excellent instruction.I had a teacher. I had a coach.I had every step and jump analyzed. I made mistakes and was reprimanded a few times,but on the third day ,I got real close to a few compliments.I was spoon fed. I needed it. And I want it. YES AT MY LEVEL!!!!!! Who the HELL wouldn't. That's what we want is support.When it's bad...OK Deal. Get better get over it. Work hard..Not committed? You must be joking ,blind,threatened, or jealous.

I saw a master at work this week.I saw a man ride 30 rides a day with amazing grace and style. A HUGELY popular man with class and style that I did not see in New Jersey I promise you.He rode all day,had horses and people coming out his ears.He gave everyone his time.He is a pro.I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to have had this time.

Peter was great. He was champion in the meter ten division,winning two classes.He was second in the meter fifteen. Zidane is like jumping into a swimming pool full of whip cream. He is so soft over the jumps.I didn't win at Jersey fresh but I won when I found Peter Pan in that field in Florida three years ago. And to have gone to Holland and connected with Zidane is a miracle.Zidane placed in most of his classes but I was there to learn not win. The ribbons didn't matter. I did not go for time at all. Just the steady clears.I am not ready for time yet.My goal is to own it at meter thirties one day....(If you had seen how nervous I was at the meter classes!)

Learning how to ride better is enough.I am not ready to win yet. I still have to learn how to ride.I'm going to try and keep my hand off the brake and just learn to use the gas better.

I have to Thank everyone up there this week for such a great time. Thanks to Barbie for all her hard work,Antonio for managing Paradise.And to the world's greatest for helping me buy Zidane.What an honor to have one like him to learn on.Thats another story.........And to my new inspiration.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jersey Fresh Three Day Event

Peter's spring season culminated at the Jersey Fresh Three Day Event.Barbie,Peter and I left Aiken on Monday at three am to get to the event site in daylight and have time to let Peter settle.As usual we were the first ones there. Luckily another truckload came in and were stabled next to us so he could have some buddies.We had an excellent stall location and set up the palace(our living quarters). Phase one complete.

The next day,we set everything up and let Peter have lots of grass and I rode him in the morning and afternoon all round the place.I was glad to have gotten settled in early as everyone seems to arrive at once. We like to avoid the melee.

The briefing was brief and the trot up went well for us.It is always a special feeling trotting up at a three day.Barbie had Peter gleaming so brightly you needed shades just to look at him.I had a late draw on Friday so there was plenty of time for multiple relaxed rides before our test.

Dressage went really well EXCEPT I FORGOT THE TEST!!!!!!!!UGH!!!!6 unnecessary points. What a waste.I haven't done that in forever. I picked a fine time!I am in good company though as even the best in the world forget occasionally.But what a waste!

The cross country course was LONG and UPHILL.9 minutes 14 seconds.The jumps were serious but reasonable.The course doable but there was a lot out there.I walked it 5 times. I had a plan and felt ready.

Well,I fell off at 5b a skinny coming out of water.There went all my big dreams of jumping round the course.Rats.I have more to say but shan't print it here.I have beaten myself up enough(it's now Monday).

Peter is only 8 years old. He has only had a few errors in his career and I am delighted with him.Apparently I did not make it clear enough to him where he was going and he went left,I went straight.POP went my vest.I landed on my feet holding Peter,so no real drama,except I ripped my breeches and didn't know it until after a long very public walk with my left cheek fully exposed.

Barbie,Peter and I were all sad by my error.It is a huge let down to blow it all with a fall,but better me than him.The ground was quite hard and maybe it was all for the better that he didn't run,but I sure wanted to.

Hindsight is always twenty twenty.You can believe I am going to put on my course designer hat and fire Eleanor (my tractor) up and rebuild Jersey Fresh(smaller version) out in my field and practice what I missed out on.How fortunate I am to be able to do that.Paradise Farm has limitless possibilities with it's great terrain.I'll give Peter a short break and then we'll get cracking again....

Jersey fresh did not go well for us but there were others that had the ride of their lives.Congratulations to them.This is a tough sport.Sometimes it all goes your way and sometimes it doesn't.Hanging on in those in between times is difficult.

This morning at about 3.30 am I woke up thinking about some not very good stuff.It was hard for me to leave my dogs that love ,me no matter what,stop or no....and get up and face the day at the farm.This place is just too damn special,so are my horses.

I love my horses. I love my farm and I am going to make this work out one way or another.Thanks to everyone for their support in good times and bad.Thank you to all in New Jersey for all their efforts.Special shout out to Barbie for her EXTREME dedication and support. To Arenus and Devoucoux for their support and to Dougie Hannum who went out of his way to help Peter and I.

I shall look forward to the next time.Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Allez Allez Allez Zidane

Just two weeks ago,I left Aiken for Holland to look for horses.I have looked and looked in the US for something to ride for a very long time and nothing worked out.Without question,I love the Irish horse but this time I chose to broaden my horizons and go to Holland,,,,,just 'cause.

I drug my great non horsey brother over there to be my protector and film director.He didn't want to go at first but my mother stepped in and "changed his mind".No body messes with Nanu.Off we went.

We left on a Wed.night,arrived in Amsterdam at 8.40 am their time and I was in the saddle by 10 am.I rode 12 horses in a row. All braided up. All terrific jumpers except for the fact that I could not really ride any of them.They went in a different balance than I was used to . Long story short,there were two that I like the most and we agreed to take them far away from their comfort zone of the jumper ring and go cross country schooling with them the next day.

After a delicious Indian dinner,the hotel bed was a welcome sight.Early the next day we zoomed off to a farm to go jumping again. It was windy and wet.The horses thought were crazy.But they jumped and jumped well.I could at least ride them in the field and started to feel a bit better about things.The jumps were harder than I would have jumped for a first XC school and they went.

My brother filmed it all through the gales and wet feet and basically froze his ass off while I was happy in my normal element of mud and tornadic conditions.The show jumpers we were with wanted to shut the American up and get back home to the six footers,while little Lellie could not tear herself away.

It was time to go.Off we zoomed to the train station where the two American tourists had 3 minutes to make the train. I am used to running from place to place and people often make rude remarks about how fast my fat little self can waddle when in a hurry(years of constant practice)You should see how fast I am on crutches.....

we rode in the first class upper level of the train down to the south . Whereupon my brother met a philosophy teacher at one of the universities. He immediately left my side and went to have intelligent conversation about the worlds education issues,while visions of Dutch horsey's danced in my head.......What else.....

We were met at the train station by a TRUE kindred spirit and whisked away to look at more Gigi's.Anyone thinks I drive fast has NO IDEA>>>>>>>>

First stop was the stable where Zidane lived.Out he came. Walked around for 5 steps,trotted for 6, cantered on each leg and started jumping.The Dutch don't waste any time.Bada Bing Bada boom!Ok ,,,my turn,,,,,,,,,,Got on did it........Got off and my comment was in the car after polite thank you's,"this was the first horse I have been able to ride in Holland"He was the first one that let me in...NO critisim to any of the preceding horses as they were SERIOUSLY nice,,but I did not ride them well.....

Zoom Zoom...two more that night.Dinner bed.

Next day off we zoomed all over the place,me with my notebook.Splint here,short neck there,pulled too much,not enough,bay ,grey had to take notes and my brother filmed everything with our trusty flip camera....Too bad we had no way to watch the films...

The only non show jumper that was presented to us by an eventer,,,I didn't even jump it. Go fiqure! Nice horse...not for me. But it was that one that I didn't like at all and spent the least time with that led us to THE HORSE!!!!!!!!!!Oh there's one down the road about another hour away....Out of our plan. We were down to the minute on our travels and this was not in the book at all.

We drove and drove and walked into this enormous facility and I saw him....I saw him before the stall door was even opened up.....ZAP.....Lightning struck.Done deal........

It was Peter Pan on steroids.A five year old mirror image,three times the size with that same ,let me eat you up look in his eye. Why do I like that so much??????I can deal with it in horses ,trouble is I tend to choose that in men too and then they do and then I cry.......I digress.

OMG>>>What a mover. OMG OMG what a jumper.Didn't steer that well and pulled like a train to the jumps but WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!Only 5. This was it.

BUT,,,,and theres ALWAYS a BUT......He paced in the walk and I had to turn him down for that after 2 trys and a sleepless night.The walk is just too important for our game.Rats.....

There were too many wonderful horses to talk about.The horses were great,very different. The people even better.We laughed more in 5 days than I have laughed in the past 5 years here in Aiken.I felt normal again....

We tried horses into the night and at 11 PM the only place to eat was at a Egyptian Pizza place.

Next day cross country for Zidane and a grey I especially liked but Zidane won.More hail,hock deep mud and training level jumps off blind turns was his maiden experience to XC. What a trooper

My brother went off to visit my uncles grave from WWII and a Hapsburg Princess, while we looked and more horses.About 11 PM before the 5 O'clock wake up call before our sad departure back to the states ,a glass of wine and a handful of hotel peanuts,the deal was done. Handshake,price ,,,,all wrapped up. I bought Zidane.

Came home on Monday night,went to The Fork with Peter , Intermediate, came back taught all week. Jumper show on the weekend on Sunday and left for Newburgh ,New York to Quarentine Monday afternoon at 1 pm.

I arrived this morning at 12.30 am with Zidane. He is here. He is beautiful and so far sensible.35.5 hours later. I love my truck Jack and Red Bull. Listened to great music and dreamed away like a kid again.

Dressage lessons today,Jumper show tomorrow with Peter and Harry.Who knows what after that?

Catch me if you can . I am on a rollll..............Good Luck at Badminton everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Great Weekend

This was a great weekend.I had some really fun lessons with people that really worked hard and earned the greatest results for themselves.That is very satisfying to me. Last weekend we were at the Fork,with everyone gearing up for FEI competition.The jumps were enourmous and the caliber of horses an riders very exciting.

This weekend most of the jumps were under three feet except for Harry,who confidently went back to prelim, size jumps after my incredibly stupid move at Pine Top a few weeks ago that resulted in a month off!Harry was back to his old self and with the help of Phillip Dutton's words in my ears,I remembered to ride him better..Amazing what a few lessons can do!

But my two lady friends sweated it out for three days resulting in much improved positions that opened up their worlds.One lady ended up going to her first horse show jumping about 8 clean rounds in the hunter and jumpers and my other lady left sitting like a real pro with a lot of new ideas.

It was really great for them. It was really great for their horses and it was really great for me. Working out with my personal trainer has really given me insight into how to control body parts and it corrolates directly into my teaching now.The leg bone is connected to the foot bone etc.Actually having control over one's body parts really make a difference!Seeing everyone so happy and filled with new knowledge makes it worthwhile. I love seeing people gain confidence with their horses.

Teaching and training horses and people can be fun. I had almost forgotten.....

The Eagle has landed.Welcome to America Zidane...Can't wait to go get you. I'll be there very soon.

Next week a big Jumper show for Peter and Harry.Zidane will get a few easy days to settle into his new life.Fingers crossed for an easy week for all. Good Luck at Badminton everyone....

Thanks to all the good wishes from everyone.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I have to admit I am always a little slow and behind the times. Only tonite ,April 14,2011 days before tax time have I had time to sit still and watch the DVD from the world games at Kentucky last September.

I have no doubts that I have learned the most about riding from watching old tapes and videos. One can watch them over and over and each time one sees more and more. Years ago,Sally Cousins had the most incredible collection of old Badminton tapes at her place in Pa. I would creep over there through horrible ice and snow and devour those tapes over and over and over.Each time,something would seep into our blood and indirectly tell us how to make our bodies react when the spring thaw would allow us to actually jump. Those were the days before everyone had the luxury of travelling south and riding all year long.....

Tonite was a new tape. A new group of incredible horses and riders at Kentucky.It boiled down to Ingrid Klimke,William Fox Pitt,Andrew Nicholson and the delicious Micheal Jung......Everyone was there. Karen,Pippa,Mary,,,,,Italy,France,Canada,,,,,,USA.....The world.It went well for some. Others had the most minute of problems.Some had career changing issues. That's horses.

I wonder if those people deal with some of the same things I deal with.Do they have financial worries? Do they worry every night about losing their farm and their house? Do people that live locally in their towns say things that are 1000 per cent untrue and out of character about them?I wonder. Do all those bad things go away with a world championship medal?

Today in my town I heard 2 incredible stories about this imaginary person that would stop Nora Roberts dead in her tracks.REALLY?DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT???????How does this happen?The riders I know have no time for such things to be true....The riders I know have no time for anything except staying focused and productive.I cannot understand some of the things that I hear and experience.....

OK. Eventers are supposed to have hard skins and be able to hold the line. Is it easier when you have medals around your neck?What does it take to be left alone?Isn't being honest and true to yourself and your clients enough? Apparently not.Does a stop at the very last fence of a world championship course constitute a reason for a client not to pay? If one is famous do the people around you tell fewer stories and stay truer?I am not sure. I am confused.

Well she went clear but had time faults......That must mean she is no good. Or the horse wasn't good enough.OMG .....Are you kidding?The average normal human has no idea.......And the unaverage human that chooses to event as a lifestyle,,,well we know we are nuts. But we still need to make it all happen.......

For some people horses are their life' s blood.We do not want to lose them. We would do everything in our power to make it work out,just to stay with the horses.But to do that other humans are necessary.. Oh I have no concept as to what makes it run smoothly I promise.

Such are the ups and downs between competition.I can't wait to get back in the truck and drive to the next competition.Scary when one feels safer having to face the immobile jumps of a huge cross country course rather than the people in one's own town.The anxiety one experiences in the start box is nothing compared to facing the stories one hears in the local tack shop.Telephone poles do not lie.........Food for thought...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Hey Guys
I've been under ground for a LONG time. Thanks for all the requests for the blogs. I just wasn't able to write.My book will be VERY Juicy I assure you because I plan to leave nothing out.But Blogs are a bit tamer I think for the most part.Therefore it was better I did not write.....

But the world has turned. My dear departed Pickles told me to keep going.His eyes were bright before the light went out and he told me things would work out.And they have and they are.

Peter Pan is turning out to be a star. I am very hopeful and confident that he will make it to advanced. This will be the 11th horse I have made from scratch.Peter came out of a field in Florida. I picked him from a bunch of 40 stragglers.He caught my eye from three paddocks over.I will devote a blog, maybe another book to the story of Peter one day, but today I want to write about something else.Harry is also a very special boy.He is a sensitive fellow that would be a brain surgeon rather than his special forces green beret secret service brother.Harry would sing like Frank Sinatra.He makes all the girls swoon around him.

The MOST HANDSOME SPECIAL MIRACLE MAN OF MY LIFE,Sir Riverdance is still going strong at age 20. His dapples are gleaming this spring and he hasn't lost a beat.I hope we can go to some jumper shows and some dressage competitions soon but funds stop me cold.The young bucks are stealing his money.....Dirty devils..

I am proud to announce Pickles took me to Holland recently and introduced me to a new devil.Gidan will arrive soon hopefully to fill lots of dreams and be my third horse to ride.

I have been looking for a third ride since Pickles left us. I feel very strongly one needs at least three rides at a competition to really ride well.The first ride is almost always a sacrifice.Nerves are often too high,judges are often not really warmed up early in a division,horses are fresh.45 minutes after your first ride you get on and do it again. Things become a little more instinctive. By the time one gets on number three...there's no time to think. That's when the real riding begins.That's when you make the time. That's when the real deal happens.

Going to Holland was one of the best things I have done in a long time.I went with my brother,a very level headed non horsey type that was great with my little Flip camera.We had a whirlwind time.25 rides,a flip camera,no phones,no idea where we were going or what we were going to see or do led me to Gidan.

I will write lots more later about all the horses and the FABULOUS people we met along the way.But now I want to say that this trip was life changing for me.There is NO WAY to know what will happen with my new partner Gidan.There are no guarentees. But I do know that I laughed more in 5 days on this trip than I have in the past 5 years. I know I felt better as a person in Holland with complete strangers and my brother than I have felt here in Aiken in a very long time.The beauty and the magic of that little trip did me the world of good.I really needed to get away from Aiken to regain my perspective.

I returned To Paradise late Monday night.The following Thursday Barbie ,Peter and I were off again to The FORK Horse Trials.This was one of the best events I have ridden in ,in a long time.

My dressage was not good.I had the worst score of Peters career in fact but I left the test with a sense of calm and well being I haven't felt in a long time.Peter was edgy and rusty.....(What did you really expect Lellie?) DUH?????But I KNEW what I needed to do to improve for next time and I KNEW Peter was OK.The cross country was MARVELOUS. Biggest yet for Peter and lots of grown up questions and crowds.PP bombed around looking for more. I NEVER put my foot down and had PLENTY to spare. I am saving up for New Jersey!Show Jumping was confident and rythmical. I had 2 down and ended 15th but had a fantastic time.

I respect eventing. I respect the people that were at the Fork. They were serious.They were on a mission.This event oozes the ambience of an international event in Europe. All the big guns were there.

Calm,Forward ad Straight.If you don't own that you will get caught out.Those three things inspire me.The big tables,The skinneys,the enormous oxers in show jumping don't lie.You cannot ride a shoulder in down the center line infront of the judges and lie.You cannot decieve your horse or yourself. Cheat on your training ,cut corners on your preparation at that level and it will show.You will know and it will follow you home.It will plaque you at the next outing.

I cannot wait for Gidan to arrive. I cannot wait for Harry to get his mojo back.I cannot wait to torpedo around on my supersonic Peter Pan.I cannot wait to jump huge oxers with River in a snaffle on a loose rein.This is what I do it all for.

Thank you Holland. Thank you Fork Horse Trials.Thank you Arenus,Mom,Micheal,Barbie,Antonio,Phillip Dutton,Carol and every one else out there that enjoys Paradise Farm and eventing. Kick on......