Saturday, August 27, 2011

An earthquake, a hurricane and a tornado.

Either Voldemort is angry because Harry destroyed another Horcrux or this is what an approaching hurricane looks like.....

Each week is pretty well flat out here but this week there was even more going on than normal in the way of natural and unnatural phenomena! First the tornado, aka Heath Ryan. Being the highest level rider in my immediate area has it's obvious advantages, however one of the disadvantages is that it's quite lonely when it comes to bouncing riding ideas around. I've made no secret of the fact that my dressage skills have been on a confusing downturn since moving here which has been very frustrating. So I jumped at the chance to ride with my old trainer, Heath, at Phillip Duttons farm last week, then again for two days at my farm in MD. And worth the wait it was! In Australia I didn't remember any horse NOT being able to do dressage! Suddenly all mine can again, to my HUGE relief. I had been getting a little too clever with 'managing' my horses in front to create a frame, rather than riding them from behind. Heath soon fixed that with a series of encouraging (for want of a better word) terms and expressions! It felt so great to be back in the system I grew up in and rode under for such a long time.

Mother nature was also obviously VERY excited with my breakthrough providing us with an earthquake! So I'm sorry to all those who suffered damage, it was my fault... And now, just a couple of days later, I'm sitting here watching a hurricane build up and throw things around my house! My active imagination is has concluded there isn't one Mother Nature, rather a few, and right now they're in the equivalent of a WWF bout playing tag team wrestling!

On the competition front I kept my horses at home this weekend with only Alex MacLeod on Jimmy competing at Loudoun Horse Trials. She made worthwhile my trip to train her by winning the open prelim in fine style. In fact she showed her true Australian training by being the only person to finish clear and winning by 65 points!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jumperland or Hollywood?

I did get a bit confused myself yesterday at Culpeper when I found myself sitting in the bleachers next to Robert Duvall! I was there with Mc Cuan Mario (Pat and Jill Mc Cuan) in the grand prix and was waiting for the course to be set. Feeling a bit weary after a whole morning watching hunters and counting Ralph Lauren shirts (I can't count beyond 99 so stopped at that point), I took a seat on the bleachers to renew my conserves of energy. The guy I sat next to did look a bit familiar, I thought he might be a farrier I'd met somewhere or a groom. Then, as there was a storm coming, I was going to ask if he could check the weather on his phone (I'd lost mine) when I started having flashbacks to The Godfather! So in my confusion I figured out it was better to look at the sky instead and figure it out myself! So after a quick 'hi' I went back to studying the course. Mario and I have done a few grand prixs now and I've gotten over the fear of the size of the fences and now can make much more technical plans and ride a lot better lines. The bigger they are, the better he jumps which is pretty handy. The line I was most worried about was the last one. It was a liverpool oxer (which looks the size of the Great Wall of China), 5 short strides to a vertical (tallest on the course, maybe the whole world), one stride to an oxer (easily big enough to double as a garage if you put a tarp over it), one stride to another vertical. The liverpool really encourages you to gallop at it, the danger however is that you land a bit strung out and struggle to get the 5 strides in. Then finishing with the triple is always and bit tricky with the horse being tired (there were 16 jumping efforts). To make it even more challenging it was lined up directly in front of the out gate! Anyway, everything went to plan, ESPECIALLY the last line, and we jumped around clear to finish in 6th place. At the beginning of this year I wouldn't have thought I'd be jumping around Grand Prixs, let alone clear! But then that's one of lifes delights, not knowing what's around the corner! I swear the eventing is in the forefront of my mind and am very much looking forward to Seneca with Cole and Ti. That IS after another jumper show tho......

This week I'm hosting a clinic with my old trainer (and guy I most look up to in the world!), Heath Ryan. I actually went up to Phillip Duttons last week and rode with him there too. He will be at my place on Tuesday and Wednesday teaching my students and I. I look forward to updating you on how it went. Then it's back to Culpeper for some more showjumping!

Mario is not in the least bit impressed by the hunter jumps... They're too small AND rustic looking....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Leesa Miles

See the trademark smile?! Loved by many, never to be seen again.

It seems as tho I've had some pretty sad blogs this year amongst all the wonderful goings on in the barn. This one will be no different unfortunately. But no matter how bad it gets (floods, fires, family deaths and sicknesses in my own and friends, lost horses etc) the prevailing lesson is: when the going gets tougher, the tough gets going. That and the horse community pulling together. Some people are in your life for a short period, others long but everyone is there for a reason. Leesa Miles presence in everyones life was to somehow better it and support one in only the way a mother/sister/aunt could. And she played that roll to so many people, whether she was giving someone a thoughtful card at their first 3 star or teaching the Korean team how to keep their horses on the bit (VERY difficult!) or to just listen to a youngster who just realised being a working student isn't all cheese and crackers. It's mostly full of crackers... Not that she was all nice and friendly, goodness help you if you didn't take care of your horse! I've never had such a bollocking then when I didn't wash my horse off properly one day, I learnt that day to wash ALL the sweat off! That is, until the water runs clear! There may have been the odd cuss word.... Don't ask who's side from tho! Cancer took Leesa too early from all of her dear friends, as they say 'heaven needed another angel'. Back to the 'tough get going' bit. Please allow me to introduce Paul Pudner. There are two things you need to know about Paul: should you ever need advice on the quality and properties of wine, he's your man. The other is that if you need a guy in your corner, he's there. I know this because I lived with him in semi third world conditions aka The Bunkhouse! Those who knew the bunkhouse would know what I mean.. Anyhow I digress, cancer is one of those things that anyone except science can help with. Paul couldn't save Leesa alone however he's doing everything in his power to ensure as few people as possible feel the heartache and devastation of the loss of a loved one to cancer. I'll let you read his story in the link below. Please please please take the time to do that and pass my blog and link onto anyone you think would be interested in his cause. Imagine being ONE person starting out with an idea. Just run to raise money. I'm a fairly brave person when it comes to backing myself with ambitious ideas but I couldn't imagine doing this. Not to mention all the RUNNING! Read his story. Tell your friends. Oh, that it's a great chance to check out a hot guy in running gear. AND for all the non Australians, he has an accent..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Congratulations Julie Scott!

Julie and Lightning testing the waters at their first ever show together..

Congratulations to Julie with the purchase of her wonderful new gelding, Lightning!! I purchased and started Lightning from the track and look forward to continuing to work with him and Julie. He is a beautiful chestnut gelding with all the athletisism of a gazelle leaping thru the grasslands of Kenya! AND the wisdom and thoughtfulness of an owl planning his dinner!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I love my sport

I love horses that stand for ridiculous photos. This was back in Australia. photo bellaphotoart.

I also love that I can earn a living from my passion. That is eventing, not watching episodes of Entourage and the Simpsons! Although if I thought it were financially viable I would..... I'm home from a weekend competing at Millbrook with Ti, Charmer and Cole. Ti continues his successful run with another ribbon and Charmer felt great, for the most part, around her first xc in quite a few months. Both are classy horses and I'm super happy to be riding them. I was very disappointed with my ride on Cole to the water jump, I got caught pulling when I should have been kicking. This horse is generally super reliable cross country and I was caught a little off guard at the water jump. It comes up quite quickly off a blind turn and I think a combination of me still trying to balance him, the crowd and seeing the water made him rethink his honest nature.. In the past I would have had a bit of a tantrum and it would have ruined my next week, but in light of some of the horrible things that have happened to my friends recently, it's not the last chance I have with him and we sure as hell won't repeat that mistake... Anyway, I digress! What I love about my sport is the home away from home atmosphere, and the friendly rivalry between mates of all levels. I spend a third of my life at one show or another and it doesn't matter where we are, it's still the same. The same friendly faces, the same happy horses and the same crazy dogs running around with their owners (predominantly riders) swearing that that particular dog doesn't belong to them and that theirs is DEFINITELY on a leash...... I love the commentary on cross country, whoever happens to be doing it that weekend. It has such a relaxing feeling that I'm contemplating taping the xc commentary at Waredaca this weekend to use as a sleeping aid should I become an insomniac! I love that if you get bogged there's always a tractor to pull you out. I love dodgy hotels I have to sneak my dog into. I love the new pinney system. I love being able to confidently converse with the truckers at the petrol station about the power in my truck engine. I love the joy on my owners faces when they see their horses do well. I by far and above all, tho, love the horses. Week in and week out they try their best to do the job I give them. They rarely complain, they are brave and look after their riders. At the end of the day they are a riders best friend and the only one who can really understand just how LOOONG that long spot was and how they got their rider out of trouble!

I also love the Smoothie Lady, but that's a different story altogether....

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