Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter, wonderful winter.

Every now and then I am reminded of just how great a climate Australia has and this week has surely been one such example. We've had a serious ice problem. My recent meteorological learning's (thanks Norm!) have taught me that this occurs when the snow melts and then refreezes as ice. Everything is covered with a deadly coating that is akin to walking down a water slide blindfolded and with your hands tied behind your back! Needless to say Cherie had to make the very wise decision to keep the horses in for a few days in order to avoid any accidents.
I was really fortunate tho to be able to go cross country schooling at Loch Moy right before the bad weather. For both Buddha and Royal this was their first ever schooling session and they both excelled themselves by jumping beautifully. Roy in particular was a champion. Boo is really starting to feel like a grown up and he is such an exciting horse to me. He did however have a rather unfortunate misinterpritation of directional control resulting in Robyn (co owner) meeting the wall of the arena at Walnut Pond with her shoulder. Robyn's one tough cookie but even she was agreeing she needed a few days off riding, at least until the swelling in her shoulder reduced so it looked like a shoulder.. Come back soon Robyn, we miss you!!!! Back to Loch Moy and Gibby Booth with her fantastic little Connemara horse, Delaney, also had a successful schooling session. All indications are that she'll have a great year ahead. Rocco is still in Florida showjumping and enjoying the much warmer weather.

This week my dressage trainer also arrived to teach a clinic at Tewksbury. I train on Tony with him and as always he helps us find even more gears. Today was an especially good day with Tony really showing us his unlimited talents. I've never had a horse that could passage as easily and with so much fun as this horse. Lets just say, if he were an eventer he would be a four star horse!!! Several of my students also train with him, in particular Linda Lewis and Anna Uchmann. Anna has really improved in leaps and bounds with her horse Roccoco. It's so great to see her hard work paying off, and I know Wout was VERY impressed with her improvement. Particularly that now Cocco can pass an open door without spooking at the monsters lurking outside!

Our barn is very busy at the moment with Cathy arriving early in the morning and the last riders (usually Mary Beth) finishing at around 9pm. Tonight Alex was still riding at 10.30pm, not bad after a whole day at school, then hockey and then two horses to ride! If she keeps up this dedication she'll do very well this season. Both Liz and Amy started the barn off to a great competition year with a win (81%) for Liz (and Sam Smith) in the Pas De Deux and with Amy picking up a couple of placings at a local hunter show.

I had very unhappy news this week with Confetti (Australia) breaking her pelvis. Unfortunately it was severe enough for her to have to be euthanised. This is distressing for both mum and I as she was a charm to own and a valuable horse. Mum is such a star in these situations by taking care of everything and keeping things in perspective. Adding to this sadness was the news that Becky Gordon (from Australia) lost her awesome little horse Prince. While Becky and Prince were training with me I developed a huge respect and affection for this horse. Both he and Becky were able to progress through the ranks winning against the 'big guys' at prelim.

On a better note we welcome Pam Evans and her cute Morgan Tuck to the barn. We have such a great bunch of people and horses in the barn at the moment, we are truly blessed!!! I also have to take this opportunity to sing the praises of the Nutrena feeds. We have 37 horses, all in different amounts of work, with different personalities and needs. Nutrena has a feed solution to suit each horse perfectly and for that I wholeheartedly thank them!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back to Work!!

Holidays are so called holidays because they break up long periods of work! I must say tho that I have one of the best jobs in the world. I ride horses for and train some of the nicest people in the world. Also for some that aren't as nice, but we don't generally talk about them!! I had a fantastic time back in Australia, from race days antics with my friends to my brothers wedding just hours before catching my flight back to the US. One of the highlights I must say was doing a bit of event training on one of my mum's cow ponies, Penny. She didn't really take to the dressage component but she really got the hang of the cross country!!! Aside from increasing (in my mind!) the value of mum's ponies I took the opportunity to catch up with old clients and friends. Unfortunately I missed meeting up with many people who I wanted to including Rocco's proud owner, Marg Warwick, also Jenny Brown on the Central Coast, Lara Dombrovskis, who is heavily pregnant with her first child and STILL taking care of a couple of my horses, John and Sharon Carroll, Gordo and Emma Bishop (actually Em's still an Armstrong, I think..) and of course Heath Ryan. I wish I had twice the time I had, 2 weeks just doesn't allow one to see everyone, especially with such vast distances in Australia.

So from Australia, recreation and tanning, I returned to MD refreshed and ready for the New Year!! With 26 hours of travel time I had plenty of time to plan the year ahead. First up my work involves preparing the horses for the first competitions. Robin Doser kept our future superstar, Boo, in work and he feels FANTASTIC! Robin made a big effort to keep him going, she has a family and it was the holiday season. Cathy Butler also made sure that Tony was on fire when I got back. Amanda Cross kindly helped us out by using her extensive skills to bring him back into work. I'm very excited with how he's going and what our year holds. Sydney had a month off so needs a couple of weeks to get back with the program. I love this horse and he really wants to do the job!! Sunny (my awesome dog/co conspirator) hung out with Toby and Skipper Doser and was suitably happy to see me when I got back.

I was impressed with how everyone had worked whilst I was away. Deborah and Gwynn improved their right canter, Lisa and Royal pushed their boundaries in every way, Mary-Beth has Classy going I've never seen her, Anna found the forward button, and Linda has Chevy ready for 1st level, training 3rd!! I'm humbled by what has gone on whilst I was away tanning by the pool, a LOT of blood and tears (no sweat, WAY too cold!) has been shed in the indoor arena! I'm thinking of making a new policy, if the horses have to dig thru the snow to find grass to eat, then I'm not leaving the house!!!

I'd also like to welcome Carla and Alex McLeod and Amanda Cross to the team, absolute pleasure to have such dedicated and keen eventers on board. Check back soon, I'll keep you up to date with the latest goings on. Please feel free to add your thoughts to my blog, the more feedback I get, the better it'll be!! I love hearing from everyone, whether it's on my blog or via private email. Stay warm, or cool, where ever you are!

Tony, Sunny and I enjoying our time in the MD snow! NB the sunshine, almost enough to bring out the sunnies!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!!

I love this part of the year, the competitions are over for a while and I use this time to set my goals for the coming year. 2008 was really successful for both myself and my students with wins in eventing, showjumping and dressage. We competed at the American Eventing Championships and the BLM dressage championships. I was so happy with how Rocco moved from Australia to America and kept performing so well, he really is such a fantastic horse. In 2009 I look forward to continuing my success with Tony. I have also recently acquired a partnership in one of my favourite horses, Buddha, and am very excited to see just how far he'll go. Robin, who part owns him, is currently riding him, so hopefully by the time I get back he'll be ready to go advanced. She will also do some competitions on him. Sydney will be started his eventing career in Feb which will be fun. Merlot made a lot of progress in 2008 so I'm looking forward to continuing on him until he sells.

As 2008 involved a lot for me, not the least of which being relocating myself and business to America, I took the opportunity to travel back to Australia for the holidays. I arrived back in Brisbane on Christmas eve and spent Christmas with my family. For Boxing Day I travelled to Sydney and spent the day at the races with fellow Aussies Eventers from America Boyd Martin, Ryan Wood and Dom Schramm (soon to relocate). We all had varying successes with the our bets with Ryan being the most successful. I started out well then got a little biased by backing horses that I had previously ridden (Tommifrancs above, Smashing and Scorched Earth) whilst riding racehorses at Limitless Lodge. I think I was even bucked off the one above once or twice.... The jockey had no trouble with him so I think I must have schooled the it out of him! And judging by my gambling success, I'm much better at picking an eventer than and racehorse!!! But I do get a huge kick out of seeing horses I had ridden going around the racetrack, they look so grown up!

Back at home in Queensland I've had the chance to see my young horses which include a really nice yearling filly by Falchrik that was born last Christmas. My other favourite is Astra, a 3 year old mare by Aspen. Really growing into a nice horse. My mum has been in poor health recently so I've also been clocking up a few hours in her takeaway shop making hamburgers, and I must say I'm pretty good at it! Unfortunately it's about 45 degrees celcius in front of the cooker. Needless to say I'm looking forward to returning to the horses and hopefully snow!!

Happy New Year to everyone.

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