Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saugreties update

After a midnight dash to get back home last night and a full day of teaching and riding today, I can finally give you my Saugreties update! Firstly to Cole, he was a bit of a superstar by jumping a double clear on Friday and picking himself up a HITS on The Hudson ribbon to add to his fairly extensive collection. As I mentioned, it was his first time back in the ring since Bromont and it was a super experience before we head to Millbrook Eventing this weekend. He was careful and jumped a pretty good round. As an eventer it's invaluable experience to be able to get in big rings and jump around. We really only see them when it comes to CIC's or CCI's. Not to mention the courses are a heck of a lot more technical.
Mario was super as always. The ring at Saugreties is huge and it's only the second time he's been in one that big. For him that's a challenge at the moment as it gives him a bit too much of a chance to look around. I had a disappointing rail on Friday that he barely touched and on Saturday he jumped a super round, spoilt only by his first experience with an open water. He remembered back to his eventing days and calmly popped in and bounced out! The amazing thing about that is that when he was eventing I could NEVER get him to calmly jump into water! He's a super jumper and I'm pretty lucky to be along for the ride.
I may have spent too much time in the sun or my glass of wine is potent but I have to say that I really do feel lucky to ride all the horses I do and have the students I have.
Culpepper is Grand Prix is next for Mario and in the mean time I'm taking Ti, Charmer and Cole to Millbrook.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mario, Cole and I getting ready to leave. It's impossible to get all three of us to look at the camera at the same time...

Now that the so called 'deadly heat wave', all two days of it, has finished it's the perfect time to get back into full steam ahead again! Today after a full day of teaching and riding (we start early) I headed to Saugreties in New York where I'll spend the next two days competing Mario and Cole. It's a 7/8 hour drive but from what I've heard it's one of the best jumping shows around making it worth the effort. For Mario obviously this is now his career. I'm not doing the grand prix on him tomorrow, not because he's not jumping well (he is, he's jumping out of his skin!), but because I want to consolidate what we've been working on in the 1.40m. And from the research I've done the course designers ask some pretty complicated questions here. We'll be back at the grand prix in Culpepper in two weeks so it's only a brief respite from having to jump that big! I'm also being very careful about using his legs wisely and not just jumping him for the sake of it.

Cole is here to do the 1.20m. For him these shows are all about getting exposure in a high atmosphere ring, something very difficult to get in the eventing until you get to a CCI. After Bromont two star he had some time off (as it was a CCI and he had been competing since January) and I've only jumped him a couple of times since he's been back in work. I have to digress here and tell you about his first jump session after his break! Most horses will give you some type of 'fun' ride jumping after a break,whether it be a playful buck, cheeky spook or other high jinks designed to test the security of your seat! This time Cole's game plan (I could tell he was plotting something as soon as he saw the jump saddle) was to jump his first fence beautifully without changing his rhythm or balance. At this point I was pretty happy with myself for a job well done when he landed and cantered around the ring. This may seem pretty normal to you, but when I say cantered around the ring I mean he put his head down like a Thelwell pony and just cantered. I couldn't stop him! Fortunatley he decided he'd better start working after he'd shown everyone where I stood and proceeded to jump really well. I took him for a lesson with Phillip yesterday and again he jumped super. He just gets better and better with his showjumping. His xc is great, the dressage is coming. So back to the show here, the experience he gains at this shows directly relates to how he showjumps in the eventing. I'll just do two classes on him here as he's doing Millbrook intermediate next weekend.

Please check back again tomorrow for more updates!

This video is from my last show with Mario a few weeks ago.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 'Team Chadderton' Synchronised Swimming Team. Pool time occurs only if we start really early and once all of the horses have been ridden. Note the very brown arms and very white bodies...

Summer for my horses is easy, mostly taking a break or learning newer movements (Cole learning changes? A cruel and unusual torture according to him!!) but for Mario and Ti it's a bit more full on. Ti had another great result at Loch Moy and is looking good for the AEC's. With Mario I'm breaking new ground for myself, an eventer competing in the grand prix jumping ring! To be honest this is the most challenging and fun thing I've done for quite a long time, it reminds me of my first advanced season eventing 10 or so years ago. Except if I miss at these jumps they're way scarier because they are HUGE! So aside from tuning up my eye and seeing my distances, I've been working with my students helping them upgrade. So, whilst I'm busy, I'm not quite as busy as normal which gives me a chance to take a breather and prepare for the rest of the show year which kicks off with Saugreties (show jumping) in NY this week then back eventing again at Millbrook, also in NY. This spare time has also allowed me to check out my suggestion box (first time in 2 years, actually first time ever) and it turns out there have been a couple of requests from my working students. Some of them mundane; 'please may we have more food', 'please may we have a heater', 'please may we have an air conditioner' (not sure how tough this crew is...!). Another popular request is that I stop my obsession with watching Entourage. The note reads 'YOU ARE NOT ARI GOLD! You don't run a talent agency in LA, you run a show barn, we don't like when you walk and talk Ari Gold. Plus you're a girl, he's a guy'.

But there was one request that I thought had some legitimacy. It was written in Kaden's handwriting and appeared to have been done in a famished frame of mind and a weakened body. It read: PLEASE CAN YOU BE ON TIME? WHY O WHY MUST YOU BE SO CONSISTENTLY LATE? YOU MAY NOT HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE BUT I DO, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THAT WE ARE STILL HERE AT 7PM? My first response is to answer that latter question; working, Kaden, working! Then I thought about it and saw his point, so I thought I'd use this blog to offer him (and Hannah and whomever else is in my barn) a small glossary of terms that are essential in the barn.

5 minutes away: more like 10

Please can you sweep the aisle: should have been done half an hour ago...

Leave the barn (for a show) at 4:20am: we'll leave at 4:38am

10 minutes away: probably going to be at least 15, closer to 20

Please can you clean the tack: why hasn't the tack been cleaned yet

Just ducking home to send an email: I'm going home to have an Icy Pole

I'm going to the bank: I'm going to Burger King

I'll be back in 30 mins: I'll be back in an hour

Change the radio station, the horses don't like it: I don't like it

30 mins away: haven't even left where I am yet. Don't expect to see me for an hour

Good job: well done

Well done: bloody well done

Bloody well done: great job

Great job: sarcasm, means bad job..

Thank you: Thank you very much, you run my barn and business with such efficiency and smoothness that allows me to do my job of riding and teaching!

Now that should clear things up a bit!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer eventing!

For me this summer is all about training my students and helping them move up, and personally all about show jumping with gaining experience at the grand prix level. My upper level horses are either in light work or out with Titanium the only regular ride of mine in work. And also at this time of the year I have a lot of sales horses to market and find good homes for. This weekend I competed at MD horse trials at Loch Moy on the Saturday with Ti who finished in 3rd place on his dressage score. He's really going well at the moment and he will probably be aimed at the American Eventing Championships in GA in September. Mario and I were due to compete at Culpeper, we didn't go but are looking forward to heading north to New York to compete in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rosco - Australian Champion

Everyone, Australian, American (and the rest of the eventing world) knows Boyd Martin. Everyone knows his strength of character, his competitiveness and his 'never say never' attitude. At the moment that strength of character and attitude are being tested by the death of one of the driving forces behind these traits, his father Ross Martin. In Australia the term champion isn't thrown around willy nilly, it's reserved for those who prove they have beyond normal reserves of energy and strength. Ross was just such a man. From competing in the Olympics to running a thriving business, to competing in road races, to competing in open ocean swims, to learning how to ride, to raising a strong, loving family; he was a true champion in every sense of the word. His athletic achievements are many and varied and all awesome but I wanted to use this blog to remember the man I've known for well over a third of my life. The time from his accident to his passing were blessedly short but the shock that such a man could actually leave us will stay around for a long time. The pain was so unexpected and real it took my breath away, and I like to think that I've seen enough by this stage to not be shaken easily. I can't remember the actual day I met Ross because as soon as I did I felt as though I'd know him from day dot. I know it would have been when I first started working for Boyd and it would have been in Lochinvar. One of my earlier memories that stands out clear as it had happened yesterday was stacking hay with Ross. As a working student I can tell you this is one of the most dreaded tasks and one to be avoided at all costs. It's hot, the hay is itchy and after the 200th bale your arms hurt. After the 300th bale you beg for mercy! This particular day Boyd was somewhere else (teaching or otherwise working) so it was left to Rosco and I to unload the trailer of hay that we'd baled the night before. Ross was more inclined to talk about his children than his own achievements but as we unloaded the hay I learnt about his Olympic career, his bike riding, his horse riding and his world travels. To begin with I thought he may be exaggerating, how could one person do so many things? So I did some background research (asked Toy, Boyd's mum) and confirmed it was all true and more! Therefore I developed a strong respect right from the beginning.

As I said, Ross was more about his kids than himself. He was always the guy at the events taking photos of everyone he knew. He was the guy standing by the side of the ring watching his kids proudly claiming them as his own whether they were first, second, last or fell off at the 12th fence. I remember my first CCI 3 star, he was there as always armed with his camera. After I fell off in the water and Danny ran away, he was there to pat me on the back and tell me well done for getting as far as the water! He was also the one to, for the next 10 years, tell everyone he introduced me to, the story of my terrible language sitting in the water in front of the crowd! And that my poor mum had driven 14 hours to see such a display! I can't believe I've heard his retelling of that story for the last time.

It's hard to regret the loss of a life so well lived, but the suddenness of his death and the energy he still had every day make it seriously painful for anyone who knew him. Knowing that the normal 'well done, Katie' or 'your name will be in lights soon' won't follow him reading this blog, is more upsetting than I thought it could be. And that there won't be anymore Ross Martin emails turning up in my inbox makes me not even want to check my emails. From stacking hay back in that boiling hot barn in Lochinvar to randomly running into him at an airport in America, I will cherish every moment and everything I learnt from Ross Martin. It's also important to remember Kevin Bloody Wilson (Australian comedian) also lost his biggest fan. Who will buy his cd's now?

To Toy, Boyd and Brooke. I'm so sorry. You are lucky to have each other. And your husband and dad meant so much to so many people, yet you were always his focus.

Bye Ross. (If you happen to run into my Nanna, can you tell her that I'm sorry I forgot her birthday so many times.)

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