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.