Friday, April 25, 2014

New Beginnings

Finally visited Quillins.  Got Linday and Carly hooked; there are halters in their futures.  :)

I really enjoyed the dressage I watched today; not only did I get to see Phillip Dutton have a great test, I watched Kim Severson make the best of things on her new ride, Lauren Kieffer show off Veronica, William Fox-Pitt put in a text book test on Bay My Hero, Buck Davidson do a great job with Ballynoe Castle, and I also saw the first place ride that Allison Springer gave Arthur.  THAT was worth getting wet for earlier in the day!

Really brought home today how hot/wired some of these horses are.  A lot of really good riders had to either tone down their rides (I think Buck and Kim both did this), or quell things that were bubbling over.

Several of the women rode with canary gloves/shirts, and a few even had saddle pads to match.  I thought it was STYLIN'!

William Fox-Pitt actually rode with black gloves.  Hmmm...

Once again, all the men wore high hats (not sure if Buck or William Fox-Pitt's is the highest....or just what, exactly that MEANS.....), but many (most?) of the women wore helmets  Women really must care more about their brains.  Men are too busy worrying about their top hats.

I stumbled upon a course walk with Lainey Ashker today, and at first I was a bit....well, uncomfortable.  She seemed knowledgable enough, but she kept letting people into the galloping lanes, offering them opportunities to walk the line, see the distance, line up flags, etc.  We're not supposed to be on the galloping lanes, let alone around the jumps!  Initially, I thought she was being precocious and a little bit cocky, and I wasn't sure if I liked that.  But I stuck with it, because it was a good way to see the course, and she did have interesting things to say.  

So as we went on, and she made an attempt to speak to everyone in the group, I realized that she had taken ownership/responsibility for us--HER group--and she was going to make sure we had the best walk she was able to give us.  And that might mean coming inside the ropes so that we can really understand what she's talking about.

By the end of the course, I was a fan.  She gave us some good advice (turn with legs, not hands...don't pick before fences.....give more direction from seat and legs than reins....etc.  all things we'd heard before, but things that, in the context of those jumps, really meant something huge).  So thanks to Lainey Ashker (and her mother and Stella) for giving us a wonderful experience.

Walking to the 5:00 briefing, I ran into my old grad school buddy, Danvers "Bob" Child, the man who passed on a glorious future in Rhet/Comp to become a farrier (and a dang good one--he's "official" here, sponsored by Smartpak...he's even got his own Dubarrys!).  I only saw him briefly, but he looks mighty crusty.  I looked at myself, and I realize he's not the only one.  How the H*$@ did that happen?!?

I attended the fence judge briefing (joined by the indefatigable Catherine Texter Baker and my Fence Judge Buddy Nancy Their).  I hope I get to catch up more with both of them tomorrow.

I'll be at Fence 16 tomorrow!

After the judging, we ran to catch the end of Ellen Doughty's wedding at the head of the lake. She and Allistar Hume are not legally wed!  Ellen rode in on Obie, then dismounted to say her vows.  We had a reception at the Governer's tent, and it was nothing short of dreamy.  David O'Connor and several other riders were in attendance.....they were all glowing.  I'm really sorry that Ellen didn't get to ride this weekend, but this was a nice "consolation prize"!!

Split Decision

Well, it's spring in Kentucky....which means that it's raining.  Looks like today will be the only rainy day, though; tomorrow is supposed to be spectacular.

And today, around two, it should clear up and be beautiful...just in time for Ellen's wedding!

But real eventers aren't detoured by a little off we go!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dressage Musings

Today was glorious--cool, partly cloudy enough that you didn't feel you had to slather on the +40 sunscreen, but bright enough to see clearly those manicured barns/fences, the green pastures, the grazing broodmares/frolicking babies, and, most importantly, the dressage riders.

I watched all morning.

Well, until noon.  When I made the HUGE mistake of leaving RIGHT BEFORE Michael Pollard's test....and, of course, he's the overnight leader.

BUT I got to see William Fox-Pitt on Seacookie put in a good test.  He was consistent:  fluid changes (a lot of sticky changes still here), and I noticed that WFP's substantial body was fluid as well.  I wish I could move my hips like that.  His horse didn't "wow" us, but he mirrored his rider's suppleness.

I enjoyed Will Faudree's test--once again, it wasn't spectacular, but he was consistent and workmanlike. Will, too, seemed to have the fluid body that translated to his horse.  I need to learn to do that.  Can an arthritic old woman learn to be that supple?

Marilyn Little had a great test, too.  Her horse came the closest of those I watched to having "presence"....well, maybe "Tate", too (Manoir De Carneville, Sinead Halpin's horse).  He had a few tense moments that marred an otherwise lovely test.

Several horses were obviously "wound up", and the applause pretty much made them lose it.  Several horses had a solid first half of the test, then lost it a little at the end.

So things I'm taking away from today:

  • Your horse mirrors you.  If you are tense, so your horse will be tense.
  • You need to ride the WHOLE TEST as if it were the only thing.
  • You need to practice the boring/hard stuff.  A lot.
  • A horse doesn't HAVE to be a big mover to score well.
  • ALL these horses have their hind legs underneath themselves.  The difference in who scores well/not so well seems to come from suppleness/relaxation and channeled energy.

And lastly, women today outnumbered the men in wearing helmets.  Are men more vain?  Are women more concerned with their brains?  Hmmmmm.....

I "missed" the second half of the dressage tests because...well, I felt a need to acquaint myself with the free markets available at the horse park.  I bought some Animals to Wear, ordered a LOVELY brow band from Crown Jewel Designs, and had a lovely chat with the Stackhouse folks.  :)

I ran into some old friends--Stacy Curwood, Tre and Janet Book, and I got to meet Ellen Doughty's parents (who were delightful!).  I'll be attending her wedding reception tomorrow after the fence judge briefing!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hopes and Dreams

Once again, I'm headed to Kentucky for the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, the only four star event to be held in the United States.  And once again, I'll be staying with the best bro around, who happens to live about 30 minutes from the horse park--I am one lucky sister!  I've been lucky enough to come here for the past nine years as a fence judge at this spectacular event.  It makes me feel downright special--I actually get to help this incredible thing happen!

One of the highlights for me here this time around was the fact that a WONDERFUL Area V woman, Ellen Doughty, and her horse, Sir Oberon ("Obie," who Ellen brought along herself), were going to compete in their first four star event....AND Ellen was going to get married in the middle of it!  I have my official Pegasus Eventing shirt to wear, the armband as well, and I was prepared to wish the couple well on the cross country course Friday evening where they are to be joined in marital bliss (after my fence judge briefing, of course!).  But while I was flying to Kentucky, the riders were doing their jog up....and Obie was "spun" (not accepted) because of a heel rub.


Ellen, like the champion she is, is being graceful and sportsmanlike.  I know she's devastated, but she's bouncing back, looking forward to the wedding.  Bravo, Ellen!

I had a clinic this past spring with Will Faudree, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I have great respect for Will as a horseman and a person, and I will be cheering for him and Pawlow (Ernie),  He's a former Texas rider, and he's proven that he can do this on multiple horses.  My fingers are crossed that they will, as Jimmy Wofford says, have "three consecutive good days".

I'm sad, too, that Jessica Phoenix chose not to present Exponential at the jog.  I met her over a year ago (buying a horse!), and she, too, impressed me as a good soul.....AND Jimmy Wofford chose her as one of his "Top Ten" finishers (along with Will and Pawlow).  My heart goes out to her (and to Laine Ashker, whose horse is suffering from an abscess).  SO tough to be this close and have the door slammed in your face.

BUT these guys know that there WILL be another's all about the journey.  Something I would do well to remember more often!

Driving here from the airport, I was VERY glad I didn't run into any policemen, as I'm sure they would have wanted to check my blood alcohol level.  This happens every time I come here.  No, it's not from the bourbon (or even that wonderful Kentucky Bourbon Ale)'s from me gawking at all the GREEN.....grass, trees, shrubs......not to mention the expansive fields with mares and foals grazing. And the beautiful manicured buildings. What's NOT to gawk at?

I enjoyed a lovely evening with my brother and sister-in-law at a local Paris restaurant called Thyme.  Looking forward to seeing more family later this weekend, as well as checking in on some old (and new) friends.   Here's to hopes and dreams, and good souls who handle things with class.  Dressage tomorrow after my yearly pilgrimage to Quillin's.