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......