Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An American at Burghley: Arrival Day by Michael Pollard


Burghley arrival:

I have finally made it to Burghley 2010 after quite a journey. Though my season and trip have not gone fully to plan thus far, I am happy to report that Wonderful Will has arrived here in good health and form. As the only American competing here this week any blog reports had only to come from me, and in an election with one contestant I can usually come out on top. So, I will be sending along some commentary to PRO, and I hope that it will be enjoyable and filled with great news!!

It has always been a dream to compete at Burghley, and although it was not foreseen in the beginning of my trip to Europe to compete here, I am nonetheless thrilled to have the opportunity. My biggest goal is to produce three good days of competition this week. If I can achieve this I should be competitive. Will and I have been helped immensely by Bettina Hoy, who graciously helped keep Will in work while I went back and forth home to America, and I hope to be able to produce the results of that work while here. Thank you for your support back home, see you all soon.

Trip and arrival:

Will has been stabled at the German equivalent to the USET headquarters in Warendorf following his abcess on the Saturday of Luhmuhlen. The trip from there to Burghley I thought would take about seven hours on the continent, two on ferry, and five once on the British side. I left at 5 pm on Sunday with the hope to limit the amount of traffic I would face. The drive was uneventful until the ferry crossing.

The company who I had booked with would not take me across because they said it was too rough for horses. I have to admit here that the wind was perhaps blowing...a bit. It was suggested to try the other agency, as they are more "relaxed". I was not 100 percent sure that this was the description I wanted associated with the boat that would take me across the channel...in the middle of the night... in a significant wind storm, but I am nothing if not adventurous (stupid).
The new ferry company agreed to take us, but only if we understood that they had no liability. I am not exactly sure how this agreement would have helped either party had we sunk, but I told them that I believed Will would be fine and so we boarded.

The sea was very rough. We were sIx stories up, and the spray from waves were still regularly soaking the deck. The boat was swaying to the point that it was not possible to stand, and although I was not sick, there were more than a few green faces. Safely on land two hours later, roughly 1 am local time, I began the drive up to Stamford. This took considerably less time than predicted, presumably because of a lack of traffic, and I only drove on the incorrect side of the road once (I considered this a decent attempt due to the fact I was driving a left hand drive car).

When I arrived at Burghley it was quite unfortunate that all the gates were locked. Will and I caught some sleep for a little less than two hours until the morning staff started to arrive. We acted like we knew where we were going and they let us in without too many questions. Proceeded to get Will taken care of (luckily he is a pretty chill dude and handled the whole experience quite easily) and went to sleep (7am). We went for a hack at around four that afternoon, and after another good night sleep, I think we are both feeling pretty good. Our groom, Katie Thornton, gets in shortly, so I need to run, but will keep you updated as things progress.

-Michael

Monday, August 30, 2010

Richland Park HT Final Day by Doug Payne


Sunday was a very good end to a great weekend at Richland Park. It was an early morning, with jogs at 7:30 I was on Running Order in the dark to help loosen him up. The jog strip was moved due to the condition of the original location. Unfortunately, the new location was less than a level surface. Running Order had a minor heel grab on Saturday, so of course on our jog back he tripped in a hole and took a few funny steps. We were held for re-inspection and passed. All was good, but being held is never fun!

Next on the agenda was Slick's XC. He was very good. It was a difficult training course. It was a perfect preliminary prep. He jumped around great and finished in 7th. He's now slated for prelim at Plantation Field just a few weeks from now.

Running Order's SJ was next. He jumped well, we had an unfortunate rail at the 2nd fence but still finished in 6th in the CIC***. Pretty damn good for his 3rd advanced, especially considering the other horses in the field! I can't say enough about how good he was this weekend.

The drive home was brutal, we didn't actually get back to the barn until 2:30am or so. Despite the drive, I'd have to say Richland will again be on the calender for next year. From here we have a few days of down time, then up to HITS in Saugraties at the end of the week for some Show Jumping. The next event on the calender is the AEC's then Plantation and Fair Hill or maybe Boekelo.

I had the helmet cam on for XC in the 3* the link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXNTcvxhKLo&feature=player_embedded#!


-D

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Richland Park - CIC3* XC Day By Doug Payne


It was another spectacular day here at Richland Park. In general the day ran smoothly without a significant amount of trouble on course. Time was a factor, being that the scores were so close even a couple of points could make a big difference.

Running Order was nearly foot perfect for the entire round. We had one small hickup that was sorted quickly at the corner combination. He handled all of the other combinations as if he'd seen them 1000 times before. We were well within the time and moved up to 5th!

Nate is still in the lead with a clear round, Boyd is second, Selena in 3rd and Will Faudree in 4th. Tomorrow will certainly be putting everyone on edge.

We have the jogs at an obnoxiously early 7:30 tomorrow so after the competitors party not a whole lot of sleep will be had...but certainty with it in the end.

-D

Richland Park: An Engineering Degree Doesn't Always Help! By Doug Payne


It was a very unusually slow day for us, considering its Friday at a big competition. With two horses in tow we didn't quite know what to do with our free time. Slick was the only horse competing and he didn't go until nearly 1 pm. We had a leisurely morning which included breakfast, walking the dogs/horses and generally hanging out with the 400+ riders and horses here this weekend. Richland certainly has a big stage feel, always a bunch of activity and with 4 rings going the warm up was packed all day.

I rode Running Order first, just doing a bunch of stretching etc. Nothing too strenuous, but enough to get his blood flowing and muscles warm and loosened up. Slick was next. I rode him twice to see if it might help. I have to keep in mind how few events he's ever been to in his life. I might as well take advantage of the opportunity for him to experience all of the atmosphere here.

So with my dressage time coming soon, I decided to review my test once more. I logged onto the USEA's site, typed training B into the search box and learned my test. I did think it was a bit weird. I've had nearly 100 starts this year and didn't really recognize the test. Oh well...must be different than most events I've done recently. Yeah...it was different. I hadn't done this test in a while being that it was the 2006 vintage rather than the 2009. So the test actually starts off identically, all was good until the first canter. Then 1 whistle...wrong letter for the depart. Then 2...wrong circle. I obviously realizes something was drastically wrong...asked the judge what test we were doing...training B correct? Yes...but not the same training B. Long story short, learned the test quickly, I've done it countless times, and we finished with 6 pts in errors. He was actually very good and finished in 7th with a 38.

I walked the *** course again, actually twice more. All is looking good. I think its a very good course. Should be challenging, but I feel prepared and will certainly make a go of it tomorrow.

The day finished up with a riders meeting with the judges, safety, medical and other officials. They made some quick changes to the time schedule, but essentially the same for our horses.

Slick gets to do show jumping tomorrow and XC on Sunday. The show jumping course looks good, it will be challenging and will have its share of rails. Lucky for me Slick is a good jumper and shouldn't have too much trouble. Again keep your fingers crossed, anything can happen!

We had one other very funny thing happen. Were staying a friends place about 10 mins from the show grounds in a guest cottage. Last night a bunch of us were certain that on display were a bunch of African instruments. Knowing us it soon became a contest of who could play them better. In order to get a good tune we had to play them like trumpets. All was well and good. Fast forward to tonight. We went to dinner with Sallie our host, they came up in conversation. Turns out their actually a collection of yarn spools that have been turned into candle sticks which happen to be candleless at the moment!!! We were laughing so hard we were crying.

Were off to bed...and looking forward to XC tomorrow!!

-D

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Richland Park - Dressage Day 1 by Doug Payne


Richland Park is certainly living up to its reputation. The facility is great. The rings, warm-up and XC all are in near perfect condition. The entire course is being irrigated as we speak. While were on the subject of xc, I can't wait until Saturday. Ian Stark's course is very inviting and certainly will encourage and reward forward positive riding. I'm sure there will be a fair amount of problems...hopefully we're not among them :).

Running Order did dressage today. He had his best test to date. We're sitting on a 52.2 in 7th place. I'm very happy especially considering the field he's in. He's less than two points back from Karen O'Connor's Mandiba and just ahead of Buck and Ballynoecastle RM! Both horses should be bound for the world games in a month. Nate Chambers is currently winning with Boyd Martin close behind. All is quite close so I'm sure we'll have a very exciting Saturday.

Slick is going tomorrow right around mid-day...so check back for updates! Meet my new dog Bacon - enjoying the view on xc!

-D

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ON THE ROAD TO RICHLAND HT by Doug Payne


Richland Park is still seems a figment which only exists in my GPS at the moment. We left NJ this morning just after 3:30am. The trip should take just under 11 hrs, getting us there mid afternoon with plenty of time to set up and get the in barn inspection complete in time for dinner, and of course the world revolves around the consumption of food! I would expect this story is not uncommon amount the hundreds descending on Richland, well with the exception to my dependency on food :)

I'm looking forward to a light weekend. We've got two horses on board. Running Order, owned by Patti Springsteen, is going in his first CIC***. Hopefully all goes well and we'll be qualified for the Fair Hill CCI*** this fall.

While we've got time I figure we'll give a brief history of the horses. Running Order is an 8 yr old Irish bred TB. He started as a steeplechase horse. Actually he was a cross-country racing to be more specific. Enda Bolger, a very well known jockey and now trainer started him. I was lucky enough to visit Enda last year after Fair Hill and got a first hand view of what it's all about. So XC racing is more or less hunting at racing pace, and all the stories you hear about Irish hunting are true. We jumped banks, ditches, gates, walls, hedges and wire. Often times a combination of two or more of the above. I instantly understood where Running Order learned to be so quick on his feet. Darwin at work...he's still here and he's exceptionally good. There isn't a horse I'd rather be on when walking in that start box.

After his lack luster racing career ended, he made the trip over to the US to Patti's beautiful farm. He made a brief stop in jumping land. That too wasn't his cup of tea. Just over 2 years ago he arrived at my place. He's certainly found his niche. He won the full format Va CCI*, he was 2nd last fall at the Fair Hill CCI** and won the USEF young horse championship. He was then named to the Developing Riders list. 2010 has been equally as good winning the OI at the Fork. He moved up to advanced at MCTA, again winning then 5th at the Stuart CIC** and most recently 4th at Millbrook advanced.

Where do we go from here? Well in an ideal world Fair Hill this fall, maybe Rolex in the spring. Then London 2012?!? Just keep your fingers crossed...that's a long way away.

Slick...well Slick's story is just beginning. He's a 9yr TB who again had a limited racing career. I bought him just a few months ago. Richland will be his 5th event ever. He is still confirming his jumping style but is showing great promise. He was 3rd at Waredaca just a few weeks back in training. The tentative plan is for him to be at prelim by the end of the year and see what happens.

So that covers the horses. Megan and her dog Baloo are along to help. Without them I'd be in deep trouble. Last and certainly not least is Bacon, my dog.

So why Richland? I've heard from all who have attended that is a truly world class facility. In addition to the facility, Tue field should be quite strong. Nearly all of the WEG horses from the US and Canada should be competing. It's also a PRO tour stop for the PRO/AM Team Competition. For all who don't know about PRO yet, we're an organization of riders which have come together to bring to sport of eventing to a new level. Not only in the quality of competition, but also increase participation of competitors, sponsors and fans alike.

Dressage is tomorrow for the CIC horses. Upon arrival I'll get some more detailed info on who's here and what all is happening. Until then...back to driving...

-Doug

Monday, August 16, 2010

Waredaca Horse Trials - Day 2 by Courtney Cooper


Well so much for the perfect weather of Saturday, the forecast for Sunday was for scattered showers, and as anyone at Waredaca will tell you, it was hardly scattered and quite hard at times.

I had two in the novices today, one we own, Neveah a young 4-year old TB mare with a bright future, and one a sale horse, Macbeth.

Neveah did all three phases before Macbeth started, and she was super, second after the dressage with a 24.5 and then unfortunately she had a rail in show jumping as she jumped greenly over an oxer which I am not sure she saw real well given the rain at this point was coming down in torrents! Off to cross country a bunch of us went when the organizers and officials decided it might be best to put a hold on course. Luckily for 4 or 5 of us who were well drowned, soaked, and with puddles in our boots, they did let us go, and Neveah was a star jumping around boldly in the muck.

Then it was off to Macbeth who was good but not his best in dressage to receive a 36, and then he show jumped again greenly with a stop and then was very much off his game and I decided to retire him cross country. I am not sure if it was the mud, or if he does not want to play this game, so we will go home and rethink his career path....

Overall Neveah ended up finishing second and will continue to Loudon, the AEC's and then the Young Event Horse Championships at Fair Hill.

I want to also give a huge THANK YOU to all of the volunteers and staff at Waredaca for continuing with smiles on their faces given the weather yesterday - you were great. And to the Butts' Family, our thanks for your lovely facility, which I am sure will need much work to return it to its normal great state!

Hope your next event goes well, Courtney

Final Day at Woodside by Tamra Smith


We had a very successful ending to a good weekend here at Woodside Horse Park. The Show Jumping proved to be very instrumental here at the Horse Park.

Both of my Preliminary horses jumped clean which moved them up quite a bit in the placings. Fleecworks Fernhill placed 3rd finishing on her dressage score and Gem Dandy finishing on his dressage score finished 5th in the Open Preliminary.
Although I had the trouble with CSI in the Open Intermediate yesterday, I was very proud of him today! He has made so much progress recently that it amazes me that he has so much more in him to give.
The Pro/Am Team's finished well. Gold Medal Equestrian were the winners this weekend as Gina Miles as there Pro. Allie Slusher's team was second. I really thought it gave people a sense of team competition. I can't wait for it to really take off in the future.

The weekend overall was quite good....and I really feel reguvinated after a few rough go's the last couple of months.
CSI felt like he is starting to grow up.....although we had a stop on cross country, today in the show jumping he was so ridable. I'm really lucky to be riding so many nice horses and even more so having great owners to support them.

We are off to the AEC's in a few weeks. Looking forward to competing for the first time at the AEC's! I hear the venue is 1st class and it will be well worth the trip!
We will be driving to my best friends Heather Morris, and then onto Georgia.

I will post some pictures....hope you like them!


Thanks again to all of the PRO Sponsors and the wonderful prizes they provided for the PRO/AM Team Competition.

Best!

Tamra Smith
PRO Member

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day Two at Woodside by Tamra Smith

t was quite an eventful event for many people here at the horse park. The Advanced divsion, athough it looked bad on the results page it was alot of bad luck with riders popping off there horses by the minute. Only 2 riders left in the division show jumping tomorrow will speed things up in the ring. The track was the same as it was the last event and not really any major problems on the course. The last competition the Advanced was one of the only divisions to have everyone get around clean. I guess you just never know what is in store.
I rode both of my Preliminary horses around and was extremly pleased. A vetran at the job Gem Dandy zoomed around effortlessly, and Fleeceworks Fernhill completed her 2nd Preliminary clean and inside the time. I was so pleased with her and her progress. We are looking at competing Fernhill in the full format One-Star at Galway Downs which I'm very excited about doing since I haven't done a full format in ages!
My Intermediate horse had a stop at the first water after being a bit green and having some equipment failure. A bit disappointing.....however he jumped the rest of the course with ease and acted like he' d been doing Intermediate for years. Although I've had a few bumps in the road with him, I really feel he has such an ability to be a big time horse. My plans have changed for him and I won't be taking him to the AEC's. I'm going to be staying close to home with him and work out a few kinks in hopes to resolve our miscommunication problems. Although I was bummed to not have gone clean I was thrilled for Allie Slusher and her mare Juicy Couture moving into the lead!
Tomorrow will be the results of the PRO/AM Team competition. The Teams are very close so it will be interesting and very exciting how it all ends. I included some video footage of the course.....I'm not sure if the quality is good enough for you to see, but at least you can see the West Coast gallops on groomed tracks and not grass, which is very odd for the East Coasters to think about.....the wonderful thing about that is we never have to use studs!!!!
Hoping to end on the score I enter the ring in tomorrow. Will check back with you tomorrow evening.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8Dk5sN0aSU


Signing off til then.......

Tamra Smith
PRO Member

Saturday at Waredaca HT by Courtney Cooper


So here is the blog part one...

Hello everyone, a late Friday email from Pro Executive Director Samantha Lendl finds me writing about Waredaca Horse Trials in Maryland.

Day One... I had three rides, one in the Intermediate, our first homebred, Who's A Star, aka Tag, and two sale horses in the beginner novice.

One of the things that is always a concern to most in the Mid Atlantic region in the Summer is the footing and I have to say Waredaca was blessed with torrential rain on Thursday which left the footing ideal, along with mostly overcast skies led to a perfect weather and footing day!

All three horses did dressage first and all put in good tests with Tag being fifth at this stage and the other two fourth and fifth in their division, not a bad start!

Then it was off to show jumping and cross country for the Intermediate. There were quite a lot of good horses in the division as some of the WEG short listed Canadians were there and then Sally, Boyd and Phillip also were among the usual suspects. The rails were deceptively falling in show jumping and I was super pleased with Tag for jumping a clean round as we have been working on keeping the rails up!

On cross country one of my goals was to try and really gallop away from fences and come close to time which again is always difficult, at least for me at Waredaca! I was thrilled when I came in very close to time, just one second over, and had jumped a great fun cross country course. The icing on the cake is that he won....

So then it was onto the green beans, Sport jumped first and he was clean in show jumping but then unfortunately balked a couple times going away from home since he had not been out for a while, so it gives me something to work on.

Comrade was last but certainly not least and added only one rail in stadium before going cross country. He had missed out on his cross country school for a variety of reasons and although he had seen some cross country he had never seen 30 feet of water. I chose to get his feet wet away from the flags and this took a lot of time but we got it done, presented to the water cleanly, and he was clean in jumping but had a heap of time penalties which moved him down the order.

Overall it was a great day for Tag and a learning experience for the others, two more go tomorrow, so I am off to bed....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Woodside Horse Trials Begins by Tamra Smith


Its the first day of competition here at Woodside Horse Park, in addition it will be PRO's first PRO/AM Team competition here on the West Coast. The weather is beautiful and the dressage competition was stellar today.
The facility here at the Woodside Horse Park is first class! We entered in the future event horse competition and the 2 yr old we entered "Irish Blend" bred as an Irish Sport Horse placed 2nd in the class. I was a bit nervous as I have never
shown in that type of class before. The mare has been stellar and really had a wonderful experience as her first time being braided and shown. Looking forward to more to come.

C.S.I. is a young horse that I have been riding and he was pretty amazing in the dressage today scoring a 30.4. This is his first Intermediate so I'm hoping tomorrow for cross country our last few weeks of boot camp will pay off.
While looking over the scores in the dressage today, I noticed that every division's leader is under a 31. It looks as though people are really starting to get the basics of dressage down and doing their homework!

The cross country courses all look challenging. Derek DiGrazia is the course designer and as always provides a big, solid track with good questions. Woodside has quite a bit of terrain so that will also play a part in how the results pan out tomorrow.

We are still educating everyone on the Professional Riders Organization and this weekend providing a PRO/AM Team competition will definantly get people more aware.

We thank all of the sponsors who donated the wonderful prizes for our Team competition!

Stay tuned for Cross Country Day tomorrow......we will post video footage of some cross country so you all can see how we do it on the West Coast! ;)

Tamra Smith, Next Level Eventing
PRO Member

Monday, August 9, 2010

Millbrook Wrap-Up by Lauren Bliss Kieffer

The organizers at Millbrook gave the show jumping a big time feel with lots of patrons there to watch, and a pretty tough track. There were very few double clean rounds and Ultra Tim was a bit tired after the hills on cross country Saturday, but he really jumped well although we had two down - both being rider error. The placings really did change up quite a bit after each phase so no one could really predict the winner and that always leads to an exciting finish! I'm thrilled with how Tim did at his first Advanced, I think he is going to be a really competitive horse. He put in a great dressage test and came out of the weekend feeling like a bigger, better and more confident horse which is what we look for at the end of any competition but especially after a move up. I had fun keeping you all up to date on my experiences this weekend and hope all of you can make it out next year!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cross Country at Millbrook by Lauren Bliss Kieffer

The weather could not have been more perfect today here at Millbrook for cross country. They did a great job getting the footing ready for the Advanced, I saw them out there aerating late last night and all the riders certainly appreciated their efforts.
This was Ultra Tim's first advanced and he could not have been any better. He really had a foot perfect round and never seemed surprised by any of the questions. In the end I regretted not going faster and I moved down several places from 2nd but hindsight is always 20/20 and in the long run hopefully Millbrook HT will not be the highlight of Tim's career.
The course ran very well for most of the Advanced horses with a lot of clean rounds and just a couple of rider falls. Nate Chambers was the only person to make time and held on to his lead in the Advanced-A division and Buck Davidson moved into the top two spots in the Advanced- B. I didn't hear of any scary rides and if anyone had taken a close look at the vertical gates at fence 8 and the vertical before the water they would have seen that they have figured out a way to frangible pin them so that if they are hit with force the top rail falls off.
There are some gaps in the scores but the placings could get mixed up quite a bit tomorrow depending on how the show jumping course rides.

Wish us luck and we will write back tomorrow!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kerry Blackmer Talks to Buck Davidson who leads Advanced Division B

Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM lead the Advanced Divison B on a score of 30.0 at the Millbrook Horse Trials, a PRO Tour Event.
video

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Millbrook Advanced - 2010 PRO Tour Event Series by Lauren Kieffer

Hey everyone, I'm happy to be blogging for PRO this weekend at Millbrook Horse Trials. Today was the start of dressage with alot of Advanced, some Training, and the Novice and Beginner Novice competing. I am competing Abigail Gille's Ultra Tim in his first Advanced this weekend and he was really great today. He scored a 35.9 and is sitting in 2nd behind Nate Chambers and Rolling Stone. Tim gave me a lovely ride, but he's a horse with a lot of heart and a real trier so it is always rewarding when his effort equals good results. He is a 10 year old rescue horse and has a tattoo so he is most likely off the track.

I had a walk around the Advanced cross country and it's a good track with legitimate questions and will reward horses and riders that have a good galloping balance with the undulating terrain. I have only been here once before four years ago doing my very first Advanced with Tigger Too and there have been some great changes since then, especially the lovely new huge arena across the street for the dressage and show jumping.

I have a quiet day tomorrow with only one to compete in the training, Chuck Akre's Take Two, so you will most likely hear from me again after cross country on Saturday. If you live in the area it would be worth the drive to come out and watch. There are several WEG potentials running so you will see a lot of quality horses and riding out there and you can see a good portion of the course from the hill next to the water.

Check back in for more updates and interviews from PRO!

PRO rider Madeline Blackman gamely does her very first video interviews of Nate Chambers, in first place with Rolling Stone II on a 32.2, and Lauren Kieffer video