Friday, April 29, 2011

Dressage Day 1 By Kaylin Medlin

The day started off calm but a bit chilly. Thankfully no more crazy weather like we had yesterday!

From what I hear, everyone had a great dressage test. I didn't get to watch much dressage today, because even though Susan doesn't go till tomorrow, there's still lots of work to be done. I'm still so excited and thankful that Susan asked me to come and groom for her. It is such a great learning experience for me and lots of fun too.

This afternoon I was able to walk the cross country course with Susan. These jumps look gigantic compared to my training height fences, but look like they're a lot of fun. All the rain has made the course messy in some places. The coffin was a bit flooded and a few places had puddles. Other than that, the course looks amazing!

Tomorrow Susan does her dressage test at 11:39. I can't wait to sit in the groom box and watch her test. Tomorrow morning will be very busy for us to get everything ready and to get Prowler cleaned up and ready to go put in an amazing test.

It's late, so for now I will sign off and I look forward to filling you all in tomorrow about my very first time grooming for a dressage test at Rolex.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Horse Inspection at Rolex by Kaylin Medlin

I've been here since Monday night with my trainer Susan Beebee who is competing in her first Rolex. We arrived around 11:30pm from Southern Pines, NC and I don't think I've stopped working since we arrived.

Yesterday was an easy day because there wasn't much going on. I had time to figure out where some things were on the grounds and to get into a good flow with the horses. The weather has been a little touchy since we arrived, but the worst of it was today. We were evacuated for about an hour for a tornado warning. Everyone - horses, dogs and people - had to go to the Alltech Arena to wait out the storm. The horses had been a little anxious this morning before we were told to evacuate. Guess they could sense the change in the weather. It was a crazy scene inside the arena with all of those horses standing around. Thankfully most of the horses were good, (there were a few who managed to run around loose).

Once the tornado warning expired, we had to hurry back to the barns to get ready for jog. Yesterday they had changed the time to 10am to try and avoid bad weather we were supposed to get this afternoon. Well, because of the bad weather this morning, the jog got pushed back to 11am.

Thankfully Prowler was already braided, so all I had to do was finish cleaning him up and get him up to the jog lane. Susan got dressed while I got Prowler ready. While I took Prowler up to wait his turn, the sun came out and the skies cleared. Prowler was passed and Susan has the "all clear" to compete.

It's a little strange being the youngest groom at Rolex, but at the same time it's really exciting. Susan is stabled next to Boyd Martin so we get to see he and his wife Silva. There are lots of people always around and I always get nervous when I speak to someone for the first time. These are the same people I've been looking up to for the last few years and never thought I'd get to meet them, let alone pitch in and help them or have them call me by name!

Tomorrow is dressage day one. Susan doesn't go till Friday, but we will have another full day ahead of us. I'm in the barn by 7am and out (sometimes) by 6pm. Grooms are the hardest working people behind the scenes. It is something that I hope I will never take for granted when I have a groom. For those that do have grooms, I hope you share with them how much you appreciate their hard work. It's hard work being a groom, but definitely something everyone should do.

I'm very excited to be here. It's a fantastic learning experience and one I will never forget. Someday I'll be back to compete here myself. I can't wait!!!! Hopefully the rain is gone by tomorrow. I think it's safe to say we are all sick of this crazy weather!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A First Foal, Rolex and Competition Round Up by James Alliston

I write this in the midst of packing for my cross country trip to Rolex. I leave tomorrow with Jumbo’s Jake and Parker on what will be a grueling 39 hour haul to Kentucky. This will undoubtedly be tough on the horses and it pains me to watch the weight drop off Parker, who always seems to step off the trailer looking like a greyhound after these long drives. Other than the drive, I am very excited to be going and am relieved that the final run at Galway Downs went well. Both horses jumped very well and were competitive which is what I was hoping for heading into the big one. It will be a nice occasion for me as my Mum, Dad and brother are flying over from England to watch as well as many friends and students from California.

Meanwhile, last weekend we showed again at Ram Tap in Fresno. The weather was glorious for this event and everybody turned in great performances that made me proud. Peggy and Chuck Moore’s Luke Skywalker is a horse that we have high hopes for and he justified our faith with a win in the Preliminary. Tivoli also made a welcome return to eventing with a pleasing performance in the same class. He is a horse who has an incredible jump but a somewhat fragile mind and was ridden to great success in England with Oliver Townend. He is one of my personal favorites in the barn and I hope that in time he will relax a little more and be really cool.

Our first foal at Graceland Equestrian Center was born a few weeks ago. His name is Lincoln and he is by our lovely stallion Libero Star out of Pik Abou. He is a big boy with long legs and lots of chrome and is enjoying the celebrity status that he has achieved since his arrival with plenty of doting visitors every day.

So tomorrow I will embark on my road to rolex. My main concern at the minute is getting my gps to work and getting the horses to Kentucky safe and sound but I am sure with all that time alone in the truck the anticipation and excitement will build.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lows & Highs of a First Season at Advanced by Missy Miller

The last two shows since my previous blog were the definition of low to high. Grace and I traveled to Tallahassee, Florida with the amazing help of my dad and his driving so I didn’t have to miss any classes the week before finals and I was still able to be at Red Hills on time to show. The dressage went well but Grace was sticking her tongue out most the time, which definitely offended one judge more than the other. Oh well, it was my first attempt at a 3* and I kept telling myself like any first time experience, push through it, get it done and then improve upon it every time thereafter. For those of you who don’t know, the last time I competed at the fabulous Red Hills Horse trials my partner at the time, Leprechauns Rowdy Boy, tragically passed away half way through the course at the first water. So already adding more onto the stress of my first CIC3* I had many emotions tied into this weekend whether or not I wanted to admit it. Grace has been amazing all season and there was nothing more I felt me or my trainer, Leslie, could have done to further prepare us for this. As we started out on course it was amazing and rode very well. But as it can happen at this level my horse and I stopped syncing after the first water and didn’t make it much farther. As upset as I was, while walking her back to the barn I realized how lucky I was to even be doing that. At least now I know that she is healthy and able to come out another day and try again. It’s our first season at advanced, mistakes are bound to happen and not everything goes accordingly which is why everyone makes back up plans. It was nice to have gotten through the same water jump that changed my life three years earlier. As always, Red Hills was run beautifully and is still one of my favorite events to be a part of because the whole city really gets involved and supports it. Not many events can achieve that for an entire four day weekend and I look forward to this event every year.

After our first 3* attempt we decided to enter the Poplar Place Horse Trials to make sure none of the misunderstandings at Red Hills between Gracie and I were long lasting and have a positive run before attempting the CIC3* at the Fork Horse trials. I entered the weekend hoping Gracie wasn’t holding any grudges against me for not giving her my full commitment at our last show and planned on focusing on a steady, confidence-boosting weekend. I was really happy with how she handled herself (even keeping her tongue out of sight) in the dressage and despite me having a blonde moment, we scored one of our best dressage scores at this level! Cross-country was very intimidating when we walked it, I was especially worried about two narrow cannon jumps set on a hard angle at two strides. Grace came out of the box ready to attack the course and having me holding her back as I didn’t want her to run herself too hard and by the 4th jump I felt her settle into a rhythm and she handled the course like a pro, no grudges held. Again, I realize that Grace is nothing short of a tenacious little mare in ANY situation, be it out on course, not wanting to stand in ice, or being convinced that all vets are out to get her. Nonetheless, I feel very fortunate to have her even when she is trying to give me a close up of her hind shoes. Part of me thinks she does the opposite of whatever I think/say about her just to prove me wrong and make me look bad, thus making her look good. Which again she proved to do in stadium, jumping around like a pro until what Leslie so kindly referred to as my “village idiot move” at the last jump. Can I still claim that it was a young rider mistake or does that give a bad name to other young riders that can hold it together for an entire show jumping course of 12 jumps? Well, I’m aged out anyways, it was just one of my duller moments. Good girl Grace. Now we will head to the Fork next weekend for another one of my favorite events of the year to again attempt the CIC3*. I’m almost scared to admit it, more or less put it in writing but yet again I am feeling cautiously optimistic after how well Poplar went. But I’m also reminding myself that anything can happen and trying not to put too much pressure on myself, Grace, or the weekend itself.

Tragic events like what happened this weekend to Michael Pollard’s and Jane Rusconi’s lovely mare, Dekorum and Arden Wildasin’s, Mandar really make you realize that no matter what, if your horse is back in their stall at the end of the day we are lucky to be surrounded by these animals. I wish there was something more I could say to all of them but I can’t think of anything besides sending my condolences to all involved. My thoughts are with you at this awful time.
For everyone else, go hug your horses.