Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Greenstone Dressage Recap & SVF June Show Update

Things are happening fast and furious around here it seems.

Greenstone Dressage Show - June 14

Took Shirley to the dressage show.  It was... educational and interesting.  We entered Training Level Test 1 and the USEF Rider Test (Training Level).  Arrived in plenty of time to have a nice LONG warm up with lots of reward breaks.  I think that worked but she was still "up" when we walked over to the other side of the trees and went in the ring.  We've been trying to work on keeping her in front of my leg... and thus soft, forward and straight.  Yeah... that didn't work very well initially.  I'm sure people who watched us enter the ring for our T1 test thought for sure I'd started drinking really early that day!!  "Not straight" doesn't even BEGIN to describe our entrance... or the trot from the halt at X up to C.  It was really funny.  Even funnier was the judge's comment which simply said "haunches left" or something mild like that. 

We did have some nice moments.  And our final centerline and halt were wonderful (scoring our only 7).  But we still have a LOT of work to do.  The second test wasn't even as nice.  She really fell behind my leg and would go hollow.  I was told it was almost like she simply didn't want to try.  Like she was saying "I already did this and now I'm not sure what you want!"  Frustrating but we'll get there I guess.  Finished with both scores just a hair below 60% (that dreaded 40 that I try so hard to break) and a 4th and 2nd ribbon.  Just don't ask how many were in the class!
Training Level Test 1 - the final centerline

After the final halt - Training Level Test 1

SVF Show - June 28

The show is rapidly approaching.  There was still room in the schedule when the closing date for the dressage and CT entries came so we extended closing date to Wednesday (today).  Yikes!!  Probably shouldn't have done that as between Saturday and Monday's mail delivery we received over 25 entries!  It will be a VERY full day!  Entries are officially closed for non-jumper classes today and no late entries will be accepted.  Of course pre-entries and day-of entries for jumper classes are still being and will be accepted.

We are so excited about the show.  We're currently working on not only the Ride Times schedule but lining up plenty of volunteers (if you can help, we'd REALLY appreciate it!), getting all the paperwork in order, and looking at ways to make the show really nice for all participants.  We'll be at the park Friday afternoon/evening to set up the rings and of course all day Saturday, including tearing down after the show and putting the dressage rings and jumps away.  Please help if you can!

Farm Update

We currently have a contract for the purchase of the farm!  I'm so excited about the change.  The process itself is amazingly convoluted and difficult, but really looking forward to a fresh start.  I don't yet have a purchase contract on the new farm so that's yet to be announced.  Closing date for the contract is currently set for July 25th.

Upcoming Events

In addition to the whole packing and moving, Shirley and I will be at Red Tail Ridge in Johnstown this weekend for a Jimmy Wofford clinic (Ella and Thumper will be there on Saturday as well).  And July 5th is the Leg-Up Horse Trials in Indiana.  Cannot wait!!  Also it looks like the farrier was able to locate Spider's recent abscess so she'll be going back to work.. which is exciting as usual!  Things are definitely looking good around here.

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nad Noon Adult Rider Clinic Recap

This weekend, Shirley and I trekked out to Twin Towers Park and participated in the Nad Noon Adult Rider Cross Country clinic.  We rode with Nad a couple times last year and this was our first XC schooling for 2014.

Summary:  WOW!!  There's obviously work to do, but we both learned a ton and had a blast!!  It was SO much fun, not to mention so worth the money spent.

Saturday:  Up at the buttcrack of dawn as we were scheduled for the 8am ride time.  We were in a small group of 3 starter/beginner novice folks.  Day 1 was more grid type exercises using XC elements.  SJ fences were set up around the water or near the bank for example.  We started out in our typical fashion and I think really got things sorted out.  Lessons for the day -- MORE LEG, especially at just before and at take off.  Shirley, in typically hot OTTB fashion, has really taught me to take my leg off lest she bolt after the fences like she used to last year.  She's doing so much better now, but if the fences are at all "different", because my leg is off she peeters out on her energy and looks.... I get worried about the fence and throw my upper body forward so I don't hit her in the mouth at what will most likely be somewhat of an awkward jump... and my lower leg flies back.  Leg on keeps her in the contact and she has much better jumps... and so do I.

Sunday: Late afternoon ride time, though Reilly did NOT let me sleep in.  I think both of us were a little tired. We started out a bit off.  Shirley was backing off too much with the curb rein so Nad had me ride with it really loopy so I could ride her up into the bit more.  I was a bit off with my position... staying "stuck" in the folded position instead of opening my shoulders on landing.  And of course when Shirley backed off, I jumped up her neck with threw us REALLY off.  Sunday was more gallopy mini-courses.  Jumped BN... a few Novice and even a couple Training size fences.  Really got her going and I could definitely feel the difference in how we jump when she's really in front of my leg and in the bridle. 

As I said, we both learned a TON!  Shirley jumped SO well (and at one point too well when she left out a stride in the 2-stride small SJ vertical to 3' bank up combination.... too much speed and too long of a stride... but she jumped VERY well).  I think she gained a ton of confidence and so did I!

We have the Greenstone Dressage Show this Saturday, where I entered us at Training 1 and the USEF Training Rider Test.  Next weekend we're off to another clinic... this time with Jimmy Wofford.  Then there's the SVF show... then we head to Indiana on July 5th for the Leg Up Horse Trials!!  Cannot wait!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

3-Day Eventing thoughts... and plans!

I spent the first day of June announcing the Show Jumping phase at the IEA Horse Trials.  This is a job that I look forward to every year.  Saturday I started in dressage then moved to Show Jumping, with making the announcements and raffle drawings Saturday night at the Competitors/Volunteers Party... and did Final Inspection wrangling first thing in the morning and then did SJ the rest of the day Sunday.  It's a fantastic event with a wonderful organization. Even better, IEA Horse Trials also hosts one of a handful of Classic Format Training and Novice Three-Day Events.  If you've never heard my rant about the FEI and what they did to eventing when they nixed the classic format, or how much the classic format is important for horses and rider... be prepared... it's coming up next.

Eventing, for those who don't know, evolved from the cavalry. Dressage = parade grounds, obedient, relaxed, etc.  Cross Country = battlefield, endurance, speed, bravery, etc.  Show Jumping = soundness after the battle, obedient, responsive, etc. Cross Country day in the Classic Format used to entail 4 phases -- Phase A Roads & Tracks (a warm up), Phase B Steeplechase (speed), Phase C Roads & Tracks (cool down + added endurance) and Phase D Cross Country (test of endurance, bravery, etc.).  A decade ago, for what I'm sure are entirely monetary reasons, the international governing body of the sport, the F.E.I., dropped the speed and endurance portion of day 2 (phases A, B and C) and left just a longer Cross Country track (to distinguish between a 3 day and a horse trial which has always only had cross country). They decided it would no longer be part of the championship events - WEG, Olympics, etc.  Then those changes trickled down... they no longer became part of the events used to qualify for the top events.  That is the only part that makes sense.  It's silly to qualify over a different type of event than you are competing.  However, that change spelled doom for the classic format.  Soon it was no longer even an option to use a classic format event as a qualifier.

There are currently no longer ANY Advanced or Intermediate classic events anywhere in the country (I'd guess the world, but I don't know for sure).  And in the US there is only 1 Preliminary Classic 3-Day.  Thankfully that is close by in Kentucky and has a fantastic organizer who understands the value of the classic format. 

A classic format 3-day horse is, in my opinion, the epitome of the equine athlete.  They are very much akin to the Ironman triathlete... extremely fit and capable of doing a variety of work. They aren't always "easy" but to me, there's nothing like them.

I have participated in 4 classic format events, all of them with Char.  My first was a Training Level 3-day in Canada before they existed in the US.  Unfortunately, lameness issues meant we drove north of Toronto and were unable to compete.  The following year (2000) we made the trek north again and were able to complete the event!  In 2001, we were entered in the Preliminary (CCI*) event in Kentucky. I even borrowed a top hat and tail coat to wear in dressage (the ONLY time I've ridden a horse without a helmet since an accident in 1993). 

Lameness issues plagued us again leading up to the event and we made it a little over halfway around the course before calling it a day.  In 2003, we completed the Training 3-day at Mayfest in Kentucky.

Events that host Classic 3-Day Events should be praised and helped as much as possible.  To have 2 such events in my "backyard", IEA hosting Novice and Training and MSEDA hosting Training and the country's (world's?) only Preliminary, is amazing to me! I hope those organizers (IEA and Lee Ann Zobbe, and MSEDA and Mary Fike) know how much their continued commitment means to me and to the sport - even if the sport doesn't always recognize it!

I'm not sure I have the energy to compete at the Preliminary level again.  It's quite a time commitment, but I haven't ruled it out either. What I do know is that I have a 10 year old extremely talented mare who is quite capable of that level. It may take us a few years to figure out if we can do it again, but we'll figure it out.  In the meantime, I KNOW she can go Novice and Training... and so can I.  So we've developed a plan...

2014 - get her going smoothly at Beginner Novice. Part of the reason for not pushing is because the farm is still for sale (I've been told I will be receiving an official offer THIS WEEK!) and will need time to set up at a new farm AND get used to what that entails, both financially and effort-wise.

2015 - renew my USEA membership so I can get her to some recognized Novice horse trials. We need to have numerical results (aka "finish") 4 Novice horse trials in order to qualify for....

2016 - forgo my beloved announcing job at IEA and COMPETE in the Novice 3-Day Event.  Shirley will only be 12 at that point and I have no doubt she can do it!