Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bucky at Middleburg
Photo: GRC Photo

After over 30 000 miles in travel I wrapped up my 2013 competition year at VAHT. And as I'm addicted to Sugar Free Red Bull, I'd hate to think just how much taurine I've ingested in that time! I like to take this time of the year to reflect and make improvements for the next year. Somewhere near the top of that list is to give up Red Bull and to change the thought process that tells me that because it's sugar free it must be healthy... Also on that list is to join a gym (who knew there were so many options!) to strengthen my problematic right knee. And rather than making them 'new year' resolutions I like to implement them straight away so that I'm already in a new habit before the holidays hit and my motivation sinks! Plus there are the endless loose ends to tie up eg: resewing the buttons on my show coats, repairing my show boots, fixing the Velcro on my xc vest, order more show breeches etc etc.

Cole winning Middleburg Horse Trials
Photo: GRC Photo

On a whole I was very happy with the first half of my year and felt as tho all the horses were on super form. We were largely able to maintain that form into the Fall although there were a couple blips that I would've been happy to have avoided. In 2014 I'm looking to bring on some new horsey faces to add to my already super team, so keep an eye out for those!

Liberty at Fair Hill 2 star
Photo: Tami Beauchamp Tritapoe

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's been a busy few months and I have a lot to catch up on! Our fall season has been heating up starting with Richland, MI. This year was my first time at this CIC held in Kalamazoo. Apart from not believing Kalamazoo was a real name (like Abu Dhabi it features in a lot of Garfield cartoons!), I loved this event! I made the trip with just Cole in the 3 star and Liberty in the 2 star. Liberty put in a fast, clear xc to finish 11th in a field of 70. Even tho he did make his own small detour into the corn field, we'll have to work on that.... He followed that up with another strong showing at Plantation in the 2 star but I'll get to that a bit later. Cole was also super on the cross country at Richland, posting a lovely clear round on the big, bold Ian Stark designed course.

Cole at Richland.
Brinkman photo

Plantation for me was the event of the year that just didn't come together. For a multitude of reasons! Liberty did a very nice test only to be scored fairly conservatively. His xc was excellent. The showjumping was the real downer for him tho. He warmed up extremely well and was very very focused on his job. As I was to jump the final warm up fence before going into the ring a well known trainer/horse dealer walked RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM! As he was 2 strides from the fence! In his efforts to avoid her and jump the jump he went down on the landing side. For a horse that works as hard and is as careful as Liberty he took it very personally and was a bit taken aback. So he had 2 down which was a bit disappointing. The said trainer was so oblivious she didn't even notice what she had done... I went quietly back to the trailer so I didn't relay my emotions to her as I came out of the ring, no one wants to see me mad! For Cole it was a forgettable event. After one off only a few clear rounds in the sj I was happy to head into the xc. However it wasn't a course that rode well for us and, with Fair Hill in mind, I pulled him up to save him for another day. I did love the event tho, the organization was fantastic, a true destination event!

Liberty at Swan Lake

And that other day was the very next weekend at Middleburg! After a strong dressage that left him in the lead, he show jumped clear and was fast around the cross country to win yet another competition for the year! I'm glad I listened to my horse and kept the big event (Fair Hill) in mind. Bucky was also back in fine form with a very strong 4th place finish.
Last weekend I took advantage of no eventing to brush up on my showjumping skills at Swan Lake. Cole won a decent class with the only clear in the jump off. Bucky also won a blue ribbon and Liberty won a nice 3rd to Cole's 1st.

Bucky at Middleburg
grc photo
So I think we're ready Fair Hill next week, esp with the trot up gear Jackie Gilbertson has provided me with! Let's just say it involves tights....! This weekend I'm eventing at Loch Moy on Bucky and Charmer if this darned rain ever stops!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer is well and truly in full swing here with temperatures heading towards 100 (37c) this week! As is usual for this time of the year we start riding at 5am so the 15-20 horses can all get worked in the relative cool of the day. Coming from Australia I should be acclimatised to the heat and humidity, but I can't say I enjoy it! I tend to back off competing thru July as it's just too bloody hot for the horses and the people to be performing at their best. Plus my team has been competing since January and they're always looking for a break mid year. Having said that I did compete at Loch Moy I and II, they always do such a super job of cooling everyone down. With fans and water stations wherever you turn, it's hard to be too hot for too long. At Loch Moy II I had 7 rides, amongst them were Cole and Liberty fresh off from their post Bromont break. And when I say fresh, I quite literally mean it! Cole was feisty in the sj, and Liberty was just plain feisty. It's great when you can tell these horses really love their work, champing at the bit so to speak! Charmer put in a super performance finishing on her dressage score and bringing home 4th place. And I had yet another win on Jane Gilbert's Larry! The only dampener on the weekend lay with me and my DDD - Directional Deficit Disorder! I jumped the incorrect 9 b on Liberty and had to circle back to find the right one.... This coming weekend I have another clinic with Nick Fyffe, he has been a massive help in getting my scores back down where they ought to be. Then my next event will be Millbrook in NY. I love this event and can't wait to get back in the thick of it! Until next time, wherever you are, stay cool! Or warm!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bromont Run Down!

What an up and down week I had at Bromont! Firstly the down: Charmer (owned by Beth Sokohl) captured an untimely rock between her shoe and hoof and went lame as I was to trot her in the first horse inspection! Not even my yellow dress was good enough to convince the ground jury that she would in fact be fine by the time her dressage came around.... They did however give me every chance, calling the farrier to the grounds then allowing me to represent her at the very end of the trot up (some two hours later). However it was not to be. While the ground jury did the right thing, it was so frustrating to see that Charmer was sound as a pound and ready to compete by Friday. She loves competition so I left it up to Jenny and Jordon to tell her she wouldn't be taking any further part in this show, I daren't face her wrath! AND I let them be the ones who would soak, wrap and walk her for the next 4 days! I felt so bad both because Beth is a massive supporter of mine who can't seem to catch a break this year, and because I absolutely adore Charmer to bits (most of the time) and really wanted to have a chance to shine with her. Alas it wasn't to be. I'm sure there was a reason in the greater scheme of things but I can't see it yet! Anyway, that was the only bad part of my week.

Cole and I into the 3rd water.
Cole and Liberty (3 star and 2 star respectively) really stood up to the challenge and jumped extremely well around the very big and imposing courses Derek Di Grazia designed. I've really come to love Derek's courses as they always seem to reward a positive, forward ride: my horses are OTTB's that LOVE positive and forward! For Cole this was a big of a leap into the unknown given he is a little light on experience at this level. Walking the course I initially thought to myself 'Holy Guacamole! How's he going to do this?!'. Then I looked at each of the questions separately and figured he had seen each one somewhere along the line and all I had to do was convince him to put them together. That is all except the Drop Of Death! Which was immediately followed by the Skinnies Of Death! This (for those who didn't see it) was a 5 foot (more like 6ft, I think they measured wrong) drop on a curving 4 or 5 strides to the two tallest and widest skinnies you've ever seen! My only strategy here (NOT what Phillip told me to do) was to jump down fairly quietly, get Cole's eye on the first skinny then close my eyes and pray to God! Obviously God answered and we successfully negotiated the obstacle, although I am glad there isn't an photographic evidence of our ride thru there. Just imagine it was foot perfect!

Jenny and Cole
While Cole feeds off my confidence, values my opinion and defers to my judgment, Liberty is a WHOLE different kettle of fish! He could not care less what I think and actively tries to contradict my opinions! At the 2nd fence I gave him a slight tap with the whip to let him know that today wasn't a day to mess around and buck me just for the fun of it (does he KNOW how much money it cost to get there?!). He rewarded my valuable input by going as fast as he possibly could from fence 4 to 5! Whereupon I was able to slow him down enough to negotiate the tough 4 stride line at which point he thought speed was again the best and only option! Gosh I wish his racing trainer could see him now, Triple Crown winners have nothing on him! After the second display of 'enthusiasm' I decided to call his bluff and tell him to go as fast as he wanted, in fact to go faster than that. It worked and he decided to come back to me and appreciate the fact that I may have seen the course prior to him (I had walked it three times) given that I seemed to know the general direction in which we were headed. I then had an absolute dream ride and was treated to just how athletic this wonderful horse is. I have to thank Mr Patrick McCuan for allowing me the opportunity to ride and compete such a gifted athlete.

Jordon and Digger at the Drop of Death
At the end of the weekend Liberty ended up 5th, Cole 11th. AND Cole and I are now qualified for ROLEX! Good boy Cole!! Thank you to Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone who own and support Cole. They are such wonderful supporters. Many of you will also know that several people supported my efforts to get to Bromont: each of these big events costs a lot of time and money, a substantial amount coming out of my own pocket. For Bromont I had some great people who really made my life so much better and enabled me to concentrate on the event and they are: Dale Bowman of Bowmans Feed and Pet (my feed supplier), Sarah Thompson of Estrella Equine (my Aiken vet), Seema Sonnard (owner of Lightning's brother Thunder, now Keegan), Adrienne Wisenberg (owner Pierre Renard embroidery), Chris Arthur, Amanda Pommery, Cheryl Wist, Jane Gilbert, Nancy (Charcoal's best friend!), Gibby Booth and Lauren Bond (with her pies!). My biggest thank you's lie with the owners of these super horses: Beth Sokohl, Pat McCuan, Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone. How incredibly lucky I am.

Liberty and I at the second jog. He looked better than I!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Xc at Bromont

I had a great day with my two OTTBs! Despite time faults on both of them they jumped like absolute superstars in really rough conditions. Cole just kept on trying and trying and came home clear with quite a few time faults. I'm just thrilled with how he answered every question and wanted do his best for me. Liberty started out a bit wildly and very much wanting to take control. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it's bad! I wasn't sure how it would work out but he must have seen the course map because it all worked out well! The Bromont organizing committee did an amazing job to look after the footing, but it was an uphill battle that no one could win. Thanks Jenny and Jordan for doing all the foot work today and keeping the horses and I on time and happy. Cole is currently sitting in 12 th and Liberty in 4 th.

Thanks to Sylvain from Volvo for the photo of Cole jumping the 3rd.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bromont update!

Liberty did a really good test yesterday, I made a couple of little errors for which I'm kicking myself! But I couldn't be happier with him. He's a much stronger and better schooled horse this year. Cole almost did a good test, just getting tense before entering the ring. It was a better test than Fair Hill CIC so I was happy. And, it's not a dressage competition is it! The cross country is big and tough but the questions are fair and I really love jumping around Derek's courses. I have to say though that in the lead up to a three day I can't wait to get to the event and compete! I count down the hours and seconds and can barely sleep (that's actually a lie, I'm great at sleeping, but you get the idea). Yet when it gets to the night before cross country I am happy for tomorrow not to come so I don't actually have to face those bloody big fences! Yet time waits for no man, or woman, and tomorrow this woman will leave the start box at 12pm and 3.08. Wish me luck! Actually wish Cole and Liberty luck, they're the ones who have to fix my mistakes when I miss at the 5th and they still have most of the course in front of them!

Thank you for the concern regarding Charmer. She is actually 100% as of this morning, just terrible timing. She still thinks she's going cross country, don't tell her though. She'll get grumpy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bromont Prep

In the morning I start my journey to Bromont! The horses are prepared (dressage lessons ALL weekend!), everything is packed, my gps is set, health papers and passports in hand, trot up dress wrinkle free (almost. work downy work!) and we are ready to go! I'll keep updating you here and on Facebook but I thought I'd just share with you a couple of stages of Three Day preparation.

Step 1: Invinciblilty
This comes after winning a couple of your lead up comps and knowing the horses under you can jump the moon! Not to mention they're very capable of beating Totillas on the flat. Don't even get me started on the showjumping, do you know who you're talking to? Yes, that's right, we are the king/queen of leaving every coloured pole untouched. O, and my yellow trot up dress will TOTALLY be the best!

Step 2: Self Doubt
This comes after winning a couple of your lead up comps. Can I keep my form? Did I peak too soon? Did I imagine it all? I MUST have because now I can't even ride a 20 metre circle! Let alone a half pass! Posting on the correct diagonal? Forget it! Do I even know my horses? What if Charmer thinks I'm not nice? What if Liberty thinks I AM nice? What if Cole forgets who I am? And what if someone ELSE wears a yellow dress?! You get the gist!

Step 3: Refocus
This comes from riding under the best in the business and treating each day as a normal day. Phillip Dutton saying, yet again, 'try to go with him.'. Nicholas Fyffe saying 'arch your back, more medium trot' and Boyd Martin saying 'just ride the horse you have underneath you'.

Step 4: Packing
This comes about mostly by begging, pleading and cajoling anyone and everyone to 'be involved' with carrying and carting everything minus the kitchen sink to the trailer. AND goodness help them if it's not NEAT!

Step 5:
Driving to the show. Also an adventure in itself with border control added into the 11 hour trip.

Step 6: The Show
Ask me in a week!

Anyway, as I always say 'it takes a village to raise a child' (someone other than me may have used this quote before..) and my village is a pretty awesome one. Every person in my barn and my sponsors help to shape where I go and how and when I achieve my goals. So thanks guys. Hopefully this week Charmy, Libby, Cole and I will do you proud! And if we don't, please be gentle on our return!

The biggest thank you of all has to go to the owners of my beautiful, wonderful and slightly stressful horses: Patrick and Jill McCuan. Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone. Beth Sokohl. Thank you from the bottom of my hearts and I hope I can bring you something to show for you support!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fair Hill

On Saturday I took Cole and Liberty to Fair Hill for their final runs before Bromont. Liberty scored his best score to date to lead on a 29. The only intermediate horse to make it in the 20's! He show jumped well with one down to lead into the xc. Unfortunately I had a run out at a corner after he jumped way to exuberantly into a line! So we'll be practicing a LOT of corners over the next two and a half weeks! Cole also showed the results of our recent dressage focus by scoring a 36 to be in 4th going into sj. After jumping a clear round (the only clear!) he went into 1st. We were able to hold onto the top spot in spite of some time faults. Both horses felt great and on form for the big one.

On Sunday I competed Phil in the 5yo class at Morven as well as training Adrienne.

Charmer and Baby go to Flora Lee next weekend. This will be Charmer's final prep for Bromont and it'll be my first prelim on Baby.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mid Spring catch up!

Liberty and I winning at Shawan Downs.
It's been a pretty busy Spring so far with some very good results from the horses. I've been particularly happy with Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone's Collection Pass. He's had some great runs at advanced and, with a super run at Fair Hill CIC 3 star finishing 7th, he's well on track for Bromont CCI at the beginning of June. VS McCuan Civil Liberty has also been going very well with wins and placings setting him up for Bromont too. The third Bromont horse will be Checkout The Charmer (Beth Sokohl) who has had quite a nice spring too, although she did miss MCTA.

MCTA this year was another excellent event with 3 of my 4 entries going well. I'm still getting to know Brilliant Truth but was happy with how she went, the beginner novice horse 'Nibs' was super at his first event and Liberty won the intermediate along with the perpetual trophy for best score! The advanced track was not as good as it could have been causing many problems to experienced horses that perhaps it shouldn't have. Hopefully they can improve on it for next year as it would be lovely to have the event as a stand out in Area II. It's one of the few advanced horse trials in the area. I personally had a problem with my stirrups while on Cole and, despite my best attempts to 'Mark Todd' it, I wasn't successful...!

This weekend I'm at Fair Hill and Leesburg, followed by Flora Lee, Waredaca then onto Bromont. If I can I may try to squeeze a quick trip to HITS Saugreties to put the final sj touches on the Bromont horses.
Cole showing his scope at Southern Pines.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My last event of the Aiken winter season was very successful for me! Both Cole and Charmer were 2nd in their respective divisions. AND both of them won highest placed OTTB, Charmer in the prelim, Cole the intermediate. The courses were very tough at all levels and required a great deal on control and commitment. Cole just feels wonderful at the moment and can take on just about anything.

Charmer has really found her form and made the tricky and technical lines look like a pony club course. She also had the distinction of being the only prelim horse (of 45) to finish on her dressage score!!

Next week I have a dressage competition before heading back to MD via Southern Pines for the advanced. Thank you to the event organisers, Jumping Branch Farm and most importantly my owners who support me, for a great start to the year!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pine Top and more!

I've always been a fan of the thoroughbreds, particularly the Off The Track variety, and they seem to like me as well! I love how they're game for everything and are athletic enough to get you out of just about anything. That's not to say I intentionally find trouble, however I do miss on the odd occasion... Of course with 'up for anything' attitude comes a little less rideability and they require a little more training particularly on the flat. This winter all of my horses (bar one imported Irish jumper) are OTTB's. On the farm I'm staying at I'm lucky enough to have a gallop track. The dressage arenas are in the middle of the track. This makes flatwork VERY interesting if anyone happens to be galloping while I'm flatting!

Collection Pass
At Pine Top I rode Sunset Hill's McCuan Civil Liberty and R Dvorsky/J Leone's Collection Pass in the intermediate. I also had Beth Sokohl's Buckharo and Checkout The Charmer in the Prelim. Cole jumped his customary clear showjumping round after a 36 in the dressage. He then cantered around the cross country very well with a few time faults.

Checkout The Charmer. Photo: Cynthia Lawler
Charmer also jumped a lovely clear showjumping round followed by a super cross country to end up 5th. We were held on course right in front of the second water and had to walk for about 10 mins. It can sometimes be difficult to get them back on the job after such a long break, but she was right back into it!
Buckharo. Photo: Cynthia Lawler.

Bucky's is going from strength to strength in his dressage, again scoring a great score of 33. He had an unlucky rail but made light work of the cross country to finish 7th in a very strong group of horses.
After performing a VERY nice dressage test, Liberty was wild in the showjumping and had two down! He then skipped around the cross country like it was nothing at all! This is one special horse, one I'm very excited about for the future. Stayed tuned for how you could become involved with his career with me. I really want to make special note of the saddle pad Liberty is wearing in his photo, isn't it beautiful!! We have been very fortunate to receive some support from OTTB Designs, more on the later tho..

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Full Gallop

Eventing has started for the year! At Full Gallop Farm I had 5 horses competing from novice to prelim. In the prelim I took it easy cross country as they all have quite big shows coming up, Bucky starred in the dressage scoring a 29.6! That's a personal best for him!! Cole ended up 9th, Charmer 6th, Bucky 5th and Liberty 7th. The all jumped very well. On to Sporting Days next weekend.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Great start to the year!

Our first two weeks are done and dusted here in Aiken with our first show already under our belt! I like to start my year by getting my eye in and have used the AA rated show jumping competition in Aiken for this since 2010. I always feel a bit like the kid who has forgotten all my algebra on the first day back at school and the horses all feel and look a lot like rambunctious teenagers on their first day at school! They want to know who's wearing what, who did what and who got what for Christmas! Knuckling down to work isn't the first thing on their agenda. So as always it was an interesting couples of days showing. Beth Sokohl's Buckharo won and was second, her Checkout the Charmer was third in another class and R Dvorsky and J Leone's Collection Pass competed in the two feature classes! In the Welcome Stakes he ended up a very close 5th out of 20 something with one of the only clear first rounds. In the mini prix he had an unlucky rail but still jumped extremely well. I'm looking forward now to start the eventing in 2 weeks at Full Gallop Farm! As always, thank you to my supporters who make all this possible!

Photos: Steven Webb.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Over the last week we've moved to Aiken where we have we've been greeted with perfect weather! All the horses have settled in really well judging by the amount of rolling each of them are doing! This week Cole, Bucky and Charmer started by show jumping at Highfields and they, with the others, start eventing at Full Gallop in 2 weeks.

Bucky made a good start to my year by winning his first class. Cole made it even better by jumping clear in the Welcome Stakes! Not bad for an eventer! Charmer jumped well and is certainly looking forward to seeing done cross country fences!

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