Monday, June 27, 2011

This week was super hectic with horses from my barn representing us at SIX shows from Thursday thru Sunday! This included the biggest recognised Horse Trials within an 8 hour drive (Surefire), the biggest dressage show within an 8 hour drive (Ride For Life) and the biggest show jumping show within an 8 hour drive (Swan Lake).Not a bad effort when most of my horses are on a summer break with only Titanium, Lola, Mario and Jerry in full work. We brought home all colored ribbons from blue and downwards. Kaden did a super job on his own Ronnie to convincingly win the local jumper show at Pleasant Prospect. The same day I took Mario to Swan Lake in PA to do a warm up class for the Lightfoot Grand Prix on Sunday. He was great and brought home a ribbon. Saturday was Surefire with Ti. I really enjoyed having him as my only horse at the show, something that hasn't happened before. He relished being the focus and did a good test to score a 36 followed by a great cross country and just tapping down a couple of rails. The rails I was a bit sad about but he just tapped them and they came down, could have just as easily stayed up... This is a quality horse that is using his time well to learn the levels.

Sunday for me found us back at Swan Lake for the Grand Prix. Let me remind you I'm an eventer through and through even tho I can be quite good at the showjumping, I can just as easily make a mistake. Just ask Cole what happens when I try to put 5 strides in a 6 stride line to a double of verticals ala Bromont! So to say I was a little apprehensive sitting by the ring to walk my course may be an understatement. I was relieved to see the jumps weren't as big as I thought a breathed a sigh of relief and started to tell Ben (Meredith, Marilyn Little's husband and my sj trainer in her absence) they weren't as big as I'd anticipated. He looked at me a bit weirdly and went on talking to someone else so I looked back to the ring to see the ring guys raising each fence at least another foot! So much for that! By the time it came to walking the course Ben seemed to find some amusement in my abject terror and the fact I could almost walk under each fence without ducking (if you ever do a grand prix, don't walk under the fences, it's frowned upon..). But his advice and plan of how to ride each stride (the showjumpers count any line 10 strides and under, basically the WHOLE course) made sense and I put together a strategy. After warming up over about 6 fences we went into the ring to do both mine and his first Grand Prix. I thought I would be a lot more nervous about the course but I actually felt quite confident given that I'd done my homework, done my schooling and most importantly of all trust my horse and know he's a super jumper. And jump he did! I had a straight forward vertical down coming into a line that I can easily correct and other than that he didn't even go close to another rail as you can see from the photo above! That's the great news! If you ask the people who know me I think you'd find that I'm pretty easy going but do enjoy crowds and being the centre of attention. It's not a conscious action but just seems to happen. So no one who knows me would find it too hard to believe that after jumping a really really good round that I fell off at the last jump. Yes, I'm serious! Initially I thought I'd just been jumped out of the tack but on further inspection and recollection I figured that my left stirrup leather got stuck behind the knee block of my saddle catapulting me heaven bound. Thankfully I do have a guardian angel up there who advised me strongly to hang onto Mario's neck for all I was worth, telling me the finish line was very close and I wouldn't be eliminatied if I could make it over that line. So hang on I did and make it over the line we did! Thereby completing our first grand prix with a very respectable 1 rail. So the biggest lesson I learnt is why the show jumpers DON'T use cross country saddles and why they DON'T have back knee blocks! Beyond that we had a super experience beating far more seasoned competitors and proving that both Mario and I deserve to be and belong in the Grand Prixs. So now we look forward to Culpepper and New York.

Eventing wise I'm back with my students at Loch Moy I and Ti at Loch Moy II. Ti gets a great chance to show us what he can do this summer. Congratulations to all my students who competed this weekend and thank you to the Taggart family (Ti) and the McCuan family (Mario) for the rides on their wonderful horses. Please take the time to watch the video, link below, of the GP. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Link to video :

Also if you add Kate Chadderton and Victory Sport Horses on Facebook there are more photos.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bromont cross country

After a last minute walk of the course this morning (to check if the worlds biggest 2 star skinny was still in place, it was), a Red Bull and a bacon, egg and ketchup sandwich (try saying that in French) I was ready to make up for the lost ground at Jersey Fresh. And after a brief chat with Cole, in which he told me not to miss coming out of the water (and I told him he's my idol), we set off for cross country. I don't always go fast at the horse trials for two reasons 1, I'm pretty well always on green horses and 2, I like to look after their legs. But a CCI is the time where one should go fast and that was my plan today. We were up on our minute markers and doing great till we got to the first water. At this point we were held for a fall on course, in fact I could see the poor girl laying in the water jump. Now I've been stopped on course more than once in the past for a variety of reasons from the obvious rider falls and fence fixing, to the more obscure waiting for a plane to land on course (the course was partially airstrip, that's how we do things in Australia, versatility!). I've also been the cause of several course hold ups, the odd one involving a trip to the local health facility. But I would have to say this was the biggest fence/line I've been held in front of. In all it was about 10 minutes of walking around, which is quite a while when you're trying to stay in the moment with your horse. As we walked around I tried to keep Cole's attention settled but ready to roll as soon as we needed to. It worked. After jumping a training level fence to warm up we hit our stride and cantered through the water no problem. We even received a huge cheer from the crowd! I like to think it's because he jumped thru there so well, but it may easily have been because the previous rider failed to stay between the red and white flags and left in a beautiful red French Canadian ambulance! It took us a few fences to get back in our rythym. We ended up 11 seconds over time which I know we lost in the mid part of the course. I guess if there's a time to not get the time it's when you're not winning the dressage! We were still on the faster side of things and he jumped like the cross country machine he is. I know he can make time so I'm no too worried. By all accounts the fallen rider is ok too. I do owe her a thanks tho, walking around in front of the water allowed me to sus the crowd out for hot guys whom I may want to impress! Allas they all looked Canadian, and I need an American one... And thanks for the concern, yes I found my missing credit and debit cards. They were in my jacket pocket.

Friday, June 10, 2011

5B, previously known as the Corner Of Death, now known as the Beautifully Made, Very Jumpable Corner at 5 Right Before the Second Minute Marker!!!

Well our dressage on Thursday was somewhat improved but still off the pace. There were a couple of places that could have been better (ie Cole could have NOT put his head in the air!), but his placings are improving and he's definitely getting better. And frustratingly the horse I know would have put in a super test, Liberty, I had to leave at home... But he won't suffer from his break and will still progress at the same pace with or without this event. And Cole is slowly but surely improving thanks largely to the opportunities his owner provides me with. Today for me was all about course walking. I tend to walk a CCI course 4/5 times (compared to 1/2 times at a horse trials) which is bad for me because I'm quite physically lazy, but also good because I can eat a LOT more M & M's! The two star course is quite big with several related lines that will be influential. I was particularly worried about 5B, the biggest corner ever seen in a 2 star! That was until I walked the course with Phillip and he helped me realise that is in fact well within the height and width regulations for the level. So now of course it'll be no problem! However, I'm now afraid of 13B, a VERY tall skinny which follows a VERY big table! All jokes aside, I'm quite confident. I have a plan for each fence, I know my horse is fit and well schooled, and I know I can ride the lines easily. So, to borrow a line from my 2nd favourite movie Dodgeball, I'm fully pumped and super physched!

Honestly, this does look more jumpable in real life..

Certainly the feel is different to Jersey. I have the same horse, the same training, the same skills, same fitness but this just feels right. Something at Jersey was off. So tomorrow I'll be the only one holding up this Australian flag at this very international event, 6 nations represented (I think). And trying to ignore the fact that the organisers didn't mention Australia (best country in the world) in their promo material about the diversity of this event! This is actually my favourite event and will be back next year and every one after that I'm fortunate enough to earn a living from my passion.

On a side note, if anyone has seen my credit card or debit card please let me know, I've managed to lose both in one day. Also if anyone has any ideas of how to get from Canada to Maryland without having to pay for fuel should I not find said cards, please let me know.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I guess this is how they roll in Canadian Eventing.... My active imagination likes to think that someone evaded Border Control at the border and the local constabulary are on the job!

Today was the trot up (US speak, jog) and Cole obviously passed quite well. Almost equally importantly I thought I would be a leader in the fashion stakes. And although I'm sure I was right up there, I don't think I was the best dressed. That honour would have to go to Christian Landholt, who is a member of the ground jury. Hopefully he reads my blog and is sufficiently impressed by my shout out that he gives me an 80 percent tomorrow.... I'm quite excited for my test actually, this is unusual, I normally look forward the jumping more! We ride at 1057 which is the perfect time as far as I'm concerned. The course looks great and has obviously been prepared well. I can't say enough how much I love this event. They really go out of the way to make sure everything works for the riders. This event is obviously the focus, the baby, of the organisers and it shows. Check back tomorrow for more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


LOVING the Bromont quarter sheets!!!!

Yesterday we began our trip to Bromont CCI by driving the short distance to Phillip Duttons farm for a jump lesson which went really well. I was really happy to see a couple of my friends, who were involved in the fire, getting about their business as normal, albeit subdued. And that one of my students, Alex MacLeod, seems to be fitting in quite well. I unfortunately had to leave Liberty (Civil Liberty) at home due to a minor cut that will heal very quickly, just bad timing. I thought it would be counter productive for him to stand on the trailer for 12 hours trying to heal! Disappointing, but in light of the last weeks tragedies, I'm just glad I have a horse that is going to be fine in a few days, it could be much worse.

I know I'm like everyone else and finding it difficult to move on from the fire, even tho I wasn't personally involved. I have competed against each of the lost horses on many occasions and know Nev and Finn quite well from Australia. Plus the thought of what could of happened to my friends, and knowing they are in a place I can't imagine at the moment, just makes it still a topic close to heart. I can tell you I've taken extra time to enjoy each of the horses in my barn this week...

And therefore Bromont creates a welcome and exciting distraction, and proves life goes on! From TPF it's an 11 hour drive for me, which I have to say I started out in winning form by leaving the farm first this morning! AND arriving at Bromont first! So I already feel like a winner (no need to go into the fact that no one else was aware there was a race...!). Bromont 2010 was my first year here and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even tho pretty well everything is in French. I was a little apprehensive that the French I learnt last year would have escaped me, but my fears were unfounded! Arret still means STOP! Thank you to the stop/go sign guy for refreshing my memory... Anyhow, Cole has settled in well and I'm currently deciding which outfit to wear for the trot up tomorrow. I've decided that I need to be a little more proactive in my fashion sense if I'm to make any 'best dressed' list! I'll keep you updated through out the week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to help the victims of the barn fire.

This post is for my regular readers and supporters. As you will be aware now Boyd Martin suffered the incomprehensible and senseless tragedy of a barn fire on Monday night resulting in the death of six of his horses. Boyd absolutely adores and is in love with each of his horses so is obviously devastated. And also by now you'll also be aware that two of Boyd's workers (Lillian Heard and Caitlin Silliman) and his best friend (Ryan Wood) were also living in the apartment above the barn. They lost everything they owned and the roof over their head. It was these three who were first on scene and literally leapt into the fire to save as many lives as possible. Boyd was shortly on the scene dragging his World Games mount to safety with the help of Phillip Dutton. They all went against the laws of nature and self preservation and the orders of the firemen to rescue who they could. Unfortunately six beautiful horses (including Lillian's own wonderful mare) lost their lives, fortunately five survived and fortunately their were no human fatalities. For the last few days I've done what every other horse owner/rider/trainer/lover has done and recreated the scenario in my head. Going over everything from the first smell of smoke (Lillian, thank God for her or no one may have made it) to the ensuing minutes of utter chaos and terror. Waking up to the smell of smoke not knowing that your heart and soul are about to be ripped apart with no hope of repair. I couldn't bear it and know these guys are feeling a pain that hopefully none of us will ever experience. As a bystander our first reaction is to want to help, to give, to soften the pain. We can't do that. Time and life will. But I know that many of my regular readers want to help and below I've listed SOME of the ways you can. Also be aware NONE of them have put their hand out and asked for help. Right now all they need is each other and time to comprehend what happened. The other thing we can do is make our own barns as fire proof as possible. Fire extinguishers, sledge hammers, crow bars, escape plans. Have them ALL, KNOW how to use them. Above all thank god for your own good fortune and precious horses, and pray he helps our friends.

Ryan Wood and Caitlin Silliman scroll down to Ryan Wood. This is tax deductible.
Lillian Heard
Boyd Martin

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