Friday, October 28, 2011

VA Horse Trials Day 1

You know it's going to be a rough day when then first item on the agenda is a riders meeting to determine wheter or not to move the cross country forward a day because of the impending snow! My vote obviously was a very definate YES! Let's not cross country in the snow please! Cole's dressage was a 39, not the best, not the worst. The cross country was challenging enough, not so much with the jumping efforts, but with the time. I wasn't able to get going in the first part of the course, however the second half rode a lot better and faster. I was happy that Cole jumped confidently into the water. After a 3am start and a non stop morning/afternoon (literally) I thought it would be beneficial for the younger guys to go in the showjumping competition in the Coluseum. This contest is (from what I could understand) based on Take Your Own Line rules with style points thrown in. So in preparation I put on my best (only) Kingsland jacket and headed to the Coleseum! Let me just point out that this structure is a little bit disappointingly named, there AREN'T any lions or gladiators. Ron and Lightning didn't actually get that memo, (I think Ronnie thought he saw a lion, lightning definitely thought he was a gladiator) so it was good to get them in there jumping around before they actually have to compete. Tomorrow is dressage for Ron, Lightning and sj for Lightning, xc for Ron. Cole has the day off before he has to sj on Sunday. . I'm hoping to wake up tomorrow to clear skies and 70 degrees. Judging by the falling snow outside the windows of my Days Inn hotel I don't like my chances....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Liberty is back!

Liberty. Le Cheval photo.

As you recall Liberty was injured (self inflicted after he picked a fight with the clippers, blades: 1, horseflesh 0) a couple of days before Bromont. Not one to do things by halves, he then proceeded to get sick and required a trip to the vet hospital. This part all happened while I was at Bromont with Cole. I was only gone for 6 days but when I left he was a happy, healthy (albiet with a limp), fit horse that was 3 day ready and rearing to go. I got back and he'd been so sick that he was almost unrecognisable. Even tho he'd had the best care imaginable, he's a bit of a worry wart when he doesn't know what's going on and the antibiotics he was prescribed where a bit strong for his stomach. He then proceeded to colic at which point I decided it was best if I stay with him in the barn for a couple of nights. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a HUGE deal because I'm afraid of the dark (only thing other than snakes and odd numbers that I'm afraid of) AND we have a couple of ghosts in the barn. At least that's what I'm told and the power of suggestion can be quite real, ask any psychologist.... Also a HUGE deal for Liberty because he has read 'Stranger Danger' and takes the idea VERY seriously! Or at least at that point he did. Therefore a stranger (me, even tho he's seen me everyday since we bought him) sleeping outside of his stall wasn't his idea of a relaxing night in full of colicing and other strategies to cost us more money or send himself to an early grave. He got over that then his original leg injury become complicated which set us back a bit further. All very frustrating for a horse we had just bought and I'd only had to chance to compete half a dozen times! And each time he showed me that he's an absolute superstar in the making. By the time he was over the complication to his leg it was still only a couple of weeks since his injury. So I had a horse that was stall bound dying to get out (almost literally), a bit highly strung and still basically 3 day fit! And our good friend Dr Williams tells me I have to hand walk him! Not a hope I'd be able to hang onto him without him leaping free of the constraining shackles (aka lead rope) that I'd insisted he wear (again, just a lead rope). I had a better chance of staying on his back. 8 weeks of walking with Liberty takes you thru many phases: Denial - I'm NOT injured, I WON'T walk. Only bucking. Anger - I'm injured, but I STILL WON'T walk. Only bucking. Bargaining - If you let me trot I'll stop bucking. Depression -If I'm only allowed walk, then what's the point bucking? O, that's right, it's fun! Acceptance -I must only be allowed walk for the rest of my life, but at least I can still buck!! I have to point out that the bucking wasn't a pain or anger type thing, more of an entertainment ploy for (for Liberty not me!). Some days he would come out bucking, others he'd leave it till he heard something distracting outside of the ring, other times he'd go for days on end without bucking leading me into a false sense of security. Then when I'd finally think it was safe to answer my phone while on him, the bucks would return! After a few weeks of trotting he was allowed to start cantering again.

ANYHOW, long story short. Yesterday was Liberty's first full day of serious work (where he's considered to be a competition horse again) and today he will do a little jumping. Very exciting for me to be able to pick up where we left of in June again. I absolutley love this horse and am very excited about the winter season on him. Speaking of winter, I have several very nice horses that MUST be sold by the end of November, email me for more info.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Good bye and good luck Mario

This post comes, not with sadness, but with the bittersweet feeling of losing something that was not quite mine in the first place. Everyone who follows my blog knows that recently I've branched off into the showjumping world in my spare time with a wonderful horse, McCuan Mario. Although I'm an experienced eventer, he has been my first grand prix showjumper, something I never thought I'd achieve, nor did I set out to do so. With every horse I'm lucky enough to ride and compete I'm always well aware that they ARE NOT MY HORSE! My job is to sell horses and I've sold more than I could recall. Therefore I am prepared at any time to lose one of my close partners, sometimes because they don't make the grade, sometimes because the owner has changed directions in their personal life. But after a certain time with a horse I do admit to developing a closeness that is hard to lose. Mario is obviously a super talented jumper and it's become time for him to persue that career. So he's off to a new owner to continue along that path. Pat and Jill McCuan are wonderful supporters of my career and goals, it was thru close communication and a mutual decision (and my absolute blessing) that we decided to let him go in his direction and I continue mine. The difficult thing for me is that I have only a handful of close friends, equine or human, and I've considered this horse one of my best friends. I've spoken openly about a select few horses that guide and support every rider and for me Mario is one of the most special horses I'll ever come across. He failed as an eventer and I've spent hours hitting my head against a wall (explains a lot of things, I know!) trying to make him into something he's not. Then with the guidance of Marilyn Little-Meredith and her husband Ben (he's also an Aussie!), we found his calling in life. Along the way he has given me some great owners, a super farm to be based at (along with Taylormade of course), improved my jumping skills, some wonderful new friends. And the benefits run down the line: Heather, my barn manager, has many horses now under her care. John, working student, is flat out. Kaden, now back in Australia but a very integral part of the group, had a job in a big active barn. Paula Bollinger (Sunset Hill Manager for the McCuan family) was responsible for choosing me as his rider and has been an integral part of his career. I know Mario can't be credited with all of this, I do have other wonderful horses and owners! But he's certainly been a special partner and his influence will be seen for many years to come. Always there's the 'what-ifs': yes I'd thought about pursuing the showjumping further to see what we could do. Instead I have to think about the 'have dones'! Thank you Pat and Jill, you gave me a great gift with your horse and I hope to repay your faith with Liberty and Ronnie!

Thank you Mario. Good luck. I'll miss you. So will your best buddy Cole.

Interesting Mario facts: Imported from Ireland by Jan Byyny. Lillian Heard's mum was also involved with him. Hans Gerling (P and J McCuan) bought him and campaigned him until he went back to uni. Kelley Williams (A Bit Better Farm) also has been a part of his career, riding him until I moved to Sunset. I'll leave you with my favourite video of us, our first Grand Prix where I fell off at the last jump! Of course I hung onto his neck until we crossed the finish line so we still got a ribbon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First time helmet cam!

Loch Moy Horse Trials today and tomorrow. Today Pam Patton brought along her helmet cam for me to try out on Cole. I can't say I've been a fan of the old helmet cam, that is until today!! What a great way for everyone to see what it's like! I know everyone else has already figured that one out! Check it out and let me know what you think. It didn't fit well with the helmet I used and my helmet kept slipping over my eyes, hence the great views of horse neck! Click on the link below.

Monday, October 3, 2011

One big happy family!! Kaden centre back.

Kaden's first winter here was pretty hard work....!

My year began so grandly is coming to an anticlimatic close! A poorly timed allergy means Cole won't go to Fair Hill as he missed a couple of gallops and Morven which means his fitness is not where I want it to be. A bit of a bugger but in the scheme of things it's not life changing. He already has his qualifier from Bromont and we can finish the year with a few more intermediates. This weekend at Loch Moy I have Cole, Ronnie (Pat and Jill McCuan) and Lightning (Julie Scott) so I'll be busy enough. A couple of my students had successful weekends at Morven in the pouring rain; Gibby Booth and Laney 4th. Alex MacLeod and Jim were 3rd in the intermediate after taking it easy xc. She broke her jaw in multiple places only a few weeks ago so it was a good test as to whether or not she's fit enough to head to Fair Hill next week.

This week also saw the end of an era with my favourite working student, Kaden Weaver, heading back to the motherland, Australia. Almost with me in tow, such is the homesickness I often feel particularly for the Australian foods and scenery.. But I digress! After 2 years working with me here he takes back an American wealth of knowledge, experience and great stories! He leaves behind some good friends and great stories that we'll be telling for years to come! For example: the day he went to the feed store and came back with a ferral, all devouring ferret! Or the time I was followed home from dinner by an unwanted suitor and Kaden got out of the car at the first stop sign and told him kindly to go in the opposite direction. And kindly I mean there was a large amount of shouting and the odd fist thrown! Kaden also was the first to put his hand up to get on any horse the was giving anyone trouble. He had the odd nap in the aisle. He was Diggers best friend. He always had everyones best interests at heart. He was the best customer in our vending machines! The hunt will miss him, all of my students will miss him and of course I already do. I had to bed the stalls this morning myself....! Thank you Kaden for everything you have done!!! You left the barn a better place than you found it!

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