Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What an incredible week in Montana at Rebecca Farms. Between the riding, competing, walking courses, taking care of horses, parties & dinners there was hardly any time for sleeping! I had a wonderful time and Rebecca Farms and everyone who makes it happen really made an impression on me.
Thursday went quite well for me, having Harbor Pilot win the dressage in the P3D division. His owner, Mrs. Mars, and the head of her farm in VA, Sue Clark, were able to fly out and watch "William" go.
Friday was a bit more interesting with St. Barths dressage in the afternoon. He is a very firey little red-head and the mountain air must have really gotten to him because despite all my efforts to calm him down (wear him out), he was still very wound up going into his test. His canter work was quite tense, but fortunately his trot work was pretty decent so we scored a 57.6 putting us into 19 place. I was disappointed sitting on a horse who could be a top contender on the first day, but that's eventing & horses for you! Lots of course walking followed my test and I was racking my brain trying to remember everything to pack for the 10 minute box for William in the full-format the next day.
Saturday started quite early for us with William going out on Phase A at 8:18. Steeplechase was great fun, I think for both myself and William, and he really opened up his stride and it improved his rhythm. He recovered well from A, B, and C in the box and started XC with a giant stride and great enthusiasm for his job. We jumped double clear and kept our lead.
Nike went out at 11:40am so I had enough time to run back to the camper and check out my pictures of the CIC*** course, have a gatorade and focus on my next horse. He was really on fire out there--eating up every combination and really covering the ground. I was worried about the 3 water jumps because he had recently been a bit sticky into water, but he was very bold and quick through all of them. I put the pedal down between the fences but took some extra time getting him back to the angles, corners, etc. because I wanted to make sure I didn't make a silly mistake and get a 20. We had 8.8 time penalties & I was thrilled with him.
Karen had an awesome day with her two, Mandiba being double clear and maintaining his lead, and Quintus picking up a few time and keeping her in the top 3. Overall, a great day for team OCET!!
Sunday went by very quickly: starting with a jog at 8 for both my horses and then William jumped at 9:30. He put in a very classy round (except for an exuberant leap after a lead change...) and jumped double clear, winning the division on his dressage score. I'm thrilled to ride such a well trained horse (thanks David :) and honored to have the privilege to ride for Mrs. Mars. She's wonderful and I'm so thankful to be apart of her program.
Nike (St Barths) jumped at 1:30 and was very obedient and quiet. He warmed up wonderfully, you wouldn't have guessed that he had run such a tough and fast course the day before! We had one rail down because I dropped my hand in the middle of the two-stride to try and shorten him instead of just using my upper-body and voice. Darn! He couldn't have been better and I have a big, bad habit to kick now that I'm home!! Dick Thompson was proud of his horse and once again I'm so honored to ride for him. He is Karen's first owner and has owned for Jimmy Wofford also and I can't explain how appreciative I am for his support and kindness.
Karen had 2 double clear rounds and was 2nd on Becky Broussard's Quintus in the 2* and won on Mandiba in the 3*!! I'm pretty sure she was the only rider to have 2 horses double clear on Sunday--way to go KOC!
We all went to dinner at "The Brick House" on the farm and then got ready for our big flight home! All the horses acted like pros getting on the plane (I guess they are pros now!) and we had a great flight back.
A huge thanks to Sarah and Drew Kelly, the Broussards, Rebecca Farms staff and volunteers, PRO, Samantha Lendl, OCET crew stuck at home in the heat, Karen, David, Max, Brewster Walker, Sue Clark & my friends and family for the help, support and the opportunity to go on and enjoy such an awesome trip!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
They don't call Montana "Big Sky" for nothing...
I'm not sure if any of us from the east coast are going to go home! This state is magnificent. The panoramic view is impossible to capture on camera. Even the horses stop and look around! Yesterday we went white water rafting, which was a good work out and we got a good icing with the glacier water. Sharon White and I jumped in during a calm part of the route and my feet were numb for an hour after we got off the river! The water was 46 degrees--refreshing to say the least!
It's hard to write much about the horses because we're basically vacationing out here, but my two are working-in quite well. They are feeling pretty fresh in the mornings with the temperature difference (about 40 degrees warmer in VA in the AM) but the sun quickly warms us up and the breeze is excellent.
Today David arrived and Karen and I had a quick jump school. The horses truly jump great on the soft, almost springy footing. We're looking forward to the jog tomorrow starting at 8am (Montana time:) and then I do dressage on Harbor Pilot in the Preliminary Three-Day at 5pm.
More soon...enjoy the pictures!!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Today started bright and early, to make our flight at BWI we had to leave High Acre Farm in The Plains, VA at 4am to arrive & start loading at 6am. Despite a rather interesting detour to get back to our plane (where I may or may not have run numerous red lights, one of which might have been in front of a cop), we had easy travels and met all the other grooms, horses, drivers & riders…almost on time.
After everyone’s ID was checked we were allowed back to the airplane to unload all of our gear & start unloading the horses. The crew at Tex Sutton were amazing, everything was loaded promptly without rushing the horses. I was a bit nervous having a crew of men that I knew nothing about leading and caring for our horses on the flight but they couldn’t have been more professional or kinder. The plane was quite a bit smaller than I had expected-the normal-sized horses were loaded 3 across & the larger horses were in the very front and back of the plane, 2 across. The ceiling was low enough that the horses on the sides’ ears were touching the top.
Everything went very smoothly & the young horse I’m competing in the Preliminary Three-Day, Harbor Pilot, definitely ships better in an airplane than a horse trailer!! They hardly even moved the whole flight except for when we were landing because of all the noise. All the passengers were in the rear of the plane. It was funny cause we didn’t have any supervision. Just us, our seat belts, and a cooler of drinks!
When we landed in Kalispell, we stepped off the plane and immediately felt like movie stars! There were a crowd of around a hundred people to receive us. Thanks to Hawley Bennett, Brewster Walker and everyone who brought their trailers to ship us to Rebecca Farms. The horses unloaded great and before we knew it we were pulling into one of the most beautiful farms I’ve ever seen.
All the horses recovered well and although we’re all a bit jet-lagged with the time difference, we’re excited for our day Tuesday. Some of us are going white-water rafting!! Thanks to everyone at home for holding down the fort and a huge thanks to the Broussards and Sarah Kelly for making all this happen. We are all truly grateful and honored to be here.
I’m off to bed! More tomorrow…
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Horses are such humbling creatures. My ride for the weekend was Holly Erdely's 7-year-old appaloosa/belgian/thoroughbred gelding Maine Moose Tracks. I started riding Moosetracks regularly when Holly was recovering from surgery this past winter, and continue to help develop this talented big guy as he goes through a bit of the terrible teens. This horse has made huge steps forward in his training over the past few months (with the help of super trainer Kelley Williams), so I had reason to look forward to his first recognized competition this weekend.
Then comes the small step back. Any competitor can tell you that one of the biggest challenges is recreating the brilliance from home in the show environment. For whatever reason, Moosetracks didn't want to play the game yesterday. And let me tell you, when you're 5'2" and your 17.2h draft cross decides he doesn't want to play, there's only so much you can do! Thankfully I avoided taking out a few pony clubbers as I tried to settle my partially rearing and lunging beast. After my somewhat embarrassing dressage test, I came out the ring and continued working until good behavior was re-established.
Stadium was another step forward. Warm up went according to plan and he jumped quite well, although a bit green, with me taking the time to do simple changes to ensure he was balanced to the fences. Cross country started out as planned. A nice easy canter over the first few fences. I knew I needed a little extra encouragement going into the first water and promptly dropped my whip. Argh! Not what I wanted to happen at fence 5! But onto the next challenge. Moosetracks continued to jump well, but I could tell he was getting a little tired. I stayed super strong in my rides to each fence, determined to give him no excuse to do anything but jump the jumps in front of him and then let him cruise at his own speed between fences. Then we get back to the little girl on a big horse syndrome, and Moosetracks quit on me at fence 10, for reasons unknown to me and my friends watching. But he finished the course and cooled out well.
As Holly (aka super owner!) cooled out her spotted pony, I changed into my trusty purple crocs and went fishing for my whip. Some people have lucky socks ... I have my lucky whip. And I've had it since I was a pre-teen, and wasn't so happy at the idea of leaving without it. I think everyone shook their heads as I went off to search. It only took a few minutes, and a few weird looks from jump judges, and VIOLA! My beloved whip lives to see another day!
So onto the next step. More lessons, more schooling shows, more conditioning. See you all at Waredaca!
Photo courtesy of Holly Erdely