Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Final Blog 2014

First, let me address the blog followers who have taken the time to reach out to me and ask if/when I will start blogging again. I am so flattered that there are people that have enjoyed reading this little blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I appreciate your encouraging words, and hope that you continue to read as I move forward with more writing in 2015!

Second, I really never wrapped up blogging of my showing in 2014. Derbies! Classics! And Crashes Oh My! I am indecisive as to if it is worth revisiting my experiences at this point or not. Perhaps I should just for my own memories, we will see how it goes. If anyone has an opinion, let me know!

Third, what the heck happened to me??? Honestly, life just got on a run-away train and blogging went by the wayside. Sadly it’s just what happened.

And last, there are some exciting things that are planned to happen in 2015. A hoped for return trip to Wellington, and maybe some exciting moves for my writing and blog!

For those of you still reading, thanks for sticking around and I hope you’ll continue to do so in the future. Even if I am the most sporadic working rider blogger ever.

Happy Holidays from mine to yours!


The Working Rider, DH, Koramonster, Konan the Survivor, DtroublemakerC, and the Saintest of all Saints, TJ.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Colorado Day 10

Day 10 was all about redemption.  I woke up with an “I AM NOT A TRAIL RIDER, I JUMP HORSES OVER STICKS FOR FUN AND I WILL DAMN WELL ENJOY IT” attitude.  In other words, I needed to shake off the Colorado blues, and go out and ride my best.  I felt like this was a grand plan until I walked up to the ring to inspect my courses.  It was handy day in the A/Os, which is a class that I can either nail, or completely blow.  It never seems to be anything in between for me. 

The day was set up with no warm up, and the handy going first.  As I looked at my courses, and the jumps in the ring, my hands literally started to sweat.  I was staring down my biggest fear of all, which is a canter directly away from the in gate to the DREADED hay bale jump.  On the bright side it was not astroturf.  On the not so bright side, DC and I have a history of jumping hay bales which is not pretty.  I don’t know why, but he finds them to be the SPOOKIEST kind of jump out there, second only to giant astroturf walls.  


I think at that moment my text to Matt read something incoherent like.

Haybales, ring, canter, handy, 911 911 911 911. 

I’m only exaggerating the appropriate slight amount. 

His response?

You own the haybales. 

At this point I feel as though the haybales own me and not vice versa, but I’m glad someone is confident. 

I toddled around basically doing nothing except thinking about the dreaded haybales until it was time to show.  One track mind.

When I did finally get on, DC felt absolutely great.  We had experimented with a different hoof packing and a little bit of electrolyte and vitamin paste, and honestly I felt like he was moving and feeling about 100% times better than the day before.  He was never ever sore or off, but his body just felt looser and more comfortable.  The technical footing is great for being all weather, not so great for feet. 

After warming up, I walked up to the ring, took a deep breath, and was sent off with a typical Mattism “Have fun rider.”  I stepped into the ring, and immediately picked up a beautiful right lead for an approach to the DREADED hay bales.  Good canter, good canter, there it is, the jump, there it is, slightly gappy DC jump NOW.  And jump he did. 

I know, it seems like I’m making a bigger deal out of these haybales than they ended up being, but honestly, it’s 80% a mental game for me, and this was a moment that I FREAKING CONQUERED.  After that, the world was my oyster.  I had a lovely left lead roll back to an Oxer, a fantastic inside turn to a vertical in of a line, followed by another lovely right lead roll back.  Next was an inside turn up the inside line, to an immediate left hand turn to the trot jump (trotting only 5 feet away, go me).  The finish was a long bending line, I was a little close coming in and a little long coming out, but quite honestly it was hands down the best trip I had turned in in Colorado.  I even got a whistle from Matt.  Whistles are hard to earn.  As I walked out of the ring, he says to me “Haybales, owned.”  Truer words could not have been said.

My second trip was also quite good, though I did have one bugger of a swap to a left lead line.  But overall, super.  I jogged 2nd and 3rd.  Well, I jogged, DC dolphined, played, squealed, and then took at least 5 normal trot steps so the judge could watch.  Thank God. 

Someone was both feeling super proud of himself, and super good.  

For me, I actually managed to jump my horse over sticks in a reasonable way, which seems to be the singular goal.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Colorado Day 9

So yeah, I was all caught up and stuff, and then…..well…I wasn’t.

So therefore, I’m very late with this blog, and the rest of the blogs that are to come. But hey I’m sure someone out there is still reading right?

Day 9 started as a fairly unremarkable with hardly any emotional shenanigans from yours truly.  Sadly it did not end that way. 

I arrived at the show at a very reasonable hour of 9 am, with plans to once again do a little watching, a little shopping, and a lot of reveling in the amazing Colorado weather.  I succeeded in doing much of the above, including playing with a French bulldog puppy at one of my favorite show vendors Exceptional Equestrian.  http://exceptionalequestrian.com/  Seriously, this woman gives me a bad addiction for all things cute and unnecessary in my life.  And she has a puppy.  I think it’s a marketing ploy. 

I also got to watch TJ bring home his second champion in rusty stirrup in as many weeks. 
When it was time to finally get on I decided to play it smart, and load myself up with my ring side back pack (a new addition to my showing necessities that I now cannot live without), throw a cooler on DC, and hand walk him up to the ring.  It only took me two weeks, but finally the light bulb went off.  Walk the horse to the ring, and eliminate all stress of back and forth!  Well, it almost worked; we only ended up heading back to the barn one singular time due to ring delays and a trainer that was supposed to be in 4 places at once. 

Regardless, we stood nicely and quietly waiting for our rotation.

By nicely and quietly I mean the typical “hi my name is dc, hi you over there what you doing, can I play with your bag, how about the sponge, I like sponges, do you have a whip, I play with whips, I like to bite, here I’ll bite your water bottle, yes so fun yes hi.”  There is a reason holding DC at the ring can seem like a bad idea.

Our warm up was honestly less than stellar.  I just didn’t feel exactly on my A game, and as we all know feeling on my A game doesn’t always result in amazingness so I was a bit concerned about what our trips would be like.  And honestly, they were another group of just ok.  And I was awarded with…..just ok.  4ths and 5ths abounded. 

One fact about me is that I am NOTORIOUSLY hard on myself.  I really want to do well, and ride well, and WIN ALL THE RIBBONS.  And once again in as many weeks as there had been horse shows, I simply let myself down.  I’d like to say that I went on with a devil may care attitude, but in reality I was seriously contemplating taking up trail riding.  I mean I’d never take up tennis, I lack the eye hand coordination, but I bet I’d be one fierce trail rider.  Matt somehow managed to talk me down off my ledge of my new found goal of trail riding excellence. 

I took the rest of the afternoon to watch some of the Woodhill riders, and catch up with the working student at Woodhill, Miguel.  Miguel is one cool kid who works very hard to have opportunities to ride, doing anything he can for more time around horses.  As we were sitting there chatting, he says to me “I have a confession to make.”  I’m thinking “ok this is about to get awkward.” Then he says “I read your blog, and I love it.”  Well…don’t I just feel famous now???  If Miguel is reading my blog, that means maybe some other cool junior kids are too.  Or at least they were until I didn’t write for 20 or so days.  Oops.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Colorado Day 8 – 4th of July!!!!

Look how almost caught up I am!

First I have to say.  I love 4th of July.  I love summer, I love fireworks, I love watermelon, I love America!!!!  Ok love fest over, but really, 4th of July is probably my most favorite holiday.  I even have nails in support of the Red White and Blue.

On my flight to Denver that morning, there were four members of the Armed services on the plane.  The pilot took the time to honor their service, and spoke to the spirit of 4th of July.  Pretty cool. 

Sarah picked me up from the airport and we headed directly to the show.  My only agenda for that day was to school DC, but somehow managed to pass the time with various antics such as….

Admiring TJ’s equal love for the 4th.

Can’t you tell how enthused he is?

And holding Luna for Courtney

Courtney and her sister Madelyn are two of the girls that ride at the barn TJ was located for his previous lease.  I got to know that entire barn family pretty well, and they often referred to me as an associate barn member.  Since the two girls wanted to do some out of state showing this summer, I recommended coming along for some fun in Colorado with Matt.  They came for the last two weeks, and I can't wait to hang out with them!  Goofy, fun, and loveable are the three adjectives that come to mind when I think of these two gals.  (yes they read this blog, yes they might have bribed be to say awesome things about them, but yes, it's all true nonetheless). 

I finally got on DC in the late afternoon, moseying on up to the warm up ring to do a little schooling.  For this week, Meghan, Matt’s assistant, had gone home, so Matt was alone with 21 horses, 14 riders, and 7 different rings.  It was going to be a busy weekend for sure.  Matt was signed up to do the Ride and Drive which was of course starting right at the same time that I was supposed to school DC.  We put our patient hats on and proceeded to wander around the show grounds waiting for the walk to be completed. 

When Matt made his way back to our warm up ring, he was dressed to impress with a 4th of July shirt that was not to be believed (more on that later).  We schooled beautifully, and didn’t want to spend too much energy, so at six jumps we called it a day.

The Ride and Drive is a super crazy fun event that they do in CO one week each year.  The horse jumps a series of 1 meter jumps, any knock downs are added as 4 seconds to the time.  Then the rider jumps off the horse, jumps down a bank, through a set of military style tires, and then on a golf cart navigates a course of golf cart jumps, water, reverse, and cones.  I wish I would have thought to take a video, but at least Phelps Media got a great pic.

That shirt y’all.  That shirt. 

I actually considered doing this with TJ, but I didn’t perhaps think it would be his best set up for rusty stirrup……so I remained a spectator.

After that, Courtney, Madelyn, Sarah, and I all took our horses out for a graze.  I tried really hard to get all four in one pic, not so successfully.

But I did get an awfully cute one of yin and yang hanging out together.

That evening I met up with some friends for dinner and a few fireworks, excited about showing over the weekend, but mostly excited about FIREWORKS.  I really do love fireworks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Colorado Day 7 – Rain rain go away!

In my last blog I mentioned an evening of winding down at a campfire in the camper park.  By winding down what I really meant was sipping on wine until 1 am swapping stories about showing in days of yore.  It was a good time, and sooooo worth it to get my mind off my aforementioned awful riding. 


The next morning my 7am to the show call did not look so good on me.

That is officially my “I’m the luckiest girl in the world and I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for anything else” look.  I swear that was exactly what was on my mind.  You might ask where exactly I took this picture.  Well I couldn’t bear the idea of going straight to the show without a morning wake me up chai, so I stopped at Panera.  My stop at Panera ended up being an hour long pep talk of how much I love doing this, and how I needed to get my butt to the show.  It took a while, but it worked. 

First order of priority that morning was to purchase Himalayan salt blocks for my boys.  Yes. They are spoiled.  Yes. I bought them salt blocks for their show stalls.  No. I don’t mind the fact that I was hanging DC’s in his stall he just about pushed me down in excitement to get to his precious block of salt.

He has a serious obsession.

I spent some time at the show watching a few rounds, looking at my photos (the photog got some GREAT ones), and finally going up to the jumper ring to watch the group of Junior jumpers from my barn go.  Since Matt had a little down time in between the Junior Class and the Low A/Os, I took the opportunity to pick his brain on my anxiety and riding issues from the day before.  I think that being a trainer must be one of the more complicated jobs in the world.  Human emotions, horse emotions, equine welfare, sports psychology, and riding all rolled into one. 

Unfortunately the break in time between classes meant that Matt had a direct conflict with my division.  The “plan” went something like this.

Go first go first in the division! HURRY GET ON NOW.

No, wait, he can’t make it down, go back to the barn.


Nope, sorry not going to happen, you’re on the list for last now.

With as many back and forths, I had plenty of time to snap a pic of his adorable blue braids and head puff.  Who says hunters can’t have fun?

Hurry up and wait is a particular specialty of mine.  Fortunately, my friend Zheila came to watch and keep me company.  We chatted for a bit, when she said to me, “you know that storm behind you, it looks kind of nasty.”  Um, what storm?  I turn around.  Oh THAT storm.  As we the division was winding down, the wind started picking up and things started to look really bad. 

I hopped on DC and got exactly 4 warm up jumps done when they called the show for a weather break.  UGHHHHHHHH  This was the third time I took my horse back to the barn in one day!  Poor DC.  On the bright side he sure did look pretty with the stormy background.

Sooooo I hung out at the barn for another eon (hour) before the storm passed and we were able to start again.

DC felt really pretty good in the warm up, considering all of the back and forth and waiting, I was honestly fairly pleased.  For the show I had two hunters and a second classic round.  It was one of those days where simply SOMETHING happened on each course.  Our first course we had a smashing round going and then on the long approach to the oxer a banner flapped right as we were at the base of the jump and DC jumped more sideways than straight and over.  On our second course a girl fell off in the ring next to us with a whole lot of yelling and people screaming whoa, I can only imagine the horse was running around wildly never to be caught.  It distracted BOTH of us (concentration is key) and left a meh of a line, scoring a 76.  The last course the line closest to the gate DC somewhat decided an early exit might be the key to being the winner.  This gave us a huge drift to the left and a crooked jump coming in, and scoring a 78.  So, we ended up with blah, bleck, and blah. 

It’s not to say that those weren’t respectable scores, just nothing that’s going to leave me with blue ribbons raining down in a parade like setting. 


Spoiled?  Nah. 

So, the second week of Colorado wrapped with some good, some bad, some really not good, but overall still the most fun show I’ve attended.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Colorado Day 6 – Suckage & not so much Suckage

We all know that a green horse can be like living in a Forrest Gump movie, an adventure at every turn.  And we all know that DC has certainly had his green moments over the last 6 months.  But what we haven’t covered is how much it sucks to have a horse that is downright awesome and amazing and perfect in every way, but your riding is so bad that you feel like you should take up tennis.   If only I had any eye hand coordination at all, that might have been my back up plan for Day 6. 

Since TJ had already done double duty of a derby and rusty stirrup, Matt and I decided that it would be best for me to not do a division on him.  No real need to tire him out further, and he had another day of rusty stirrup yet to do in finishing his division. 

This left me with a plan to only show DC, and a warm up and two hunters to do.  I got to the show a bit early, and decided that due to a burned forehead the day before, I needed to buy a hat.  And buy a hat I did.

I know, everyone is jealous of my pink and orange visor, seriously cool there. 

Since DC was being so great, we chose not to hack and save a little energy for my classes.  Amazingly enough, there was absolutely no drama getting ready for my classes.   For once I simply got on, walked to the ring, and warmed up.  Perhaps the lack of stress and panic was my downfall, as I can honestly say that my riding was just flat out terrible.  My first class started with a left lead going away from the gate.  I kicked for all of my might for a gap, and then did the sensible and logical thing and abandoned the leg at the base and dove up the neck  in an incredibly graceful way.  Cardinal sin of jumping, abandon the leg and jump up the neck.  My saint of a gray horse faithfully leapt of the ground as best he could with the monkey clinging to his ears.  I’d love to say this was the biggest issue of the day, but it was not.  I saw nothing, I rode to nothing, I was underpowered when I needed to be supportive, I was overpowered when I needed a soft ride, I was just bad. 

Walking out of the ring Matt was no where in sight.  When Matt is truly disappointed in you, he wanders away from the in gate, and takes a minute to provide feedback.  I tell myself it is to give the rider a minute to compose before discussion, but in reality it’s likely more a combination of shame and a desire to collect himself and try to find some sort of inkling of a positive thing to say.  This day, he was across the aisle and over by the warm up ring.  I knew that was a bad sign. 

Me: “There you are.”

Matt: “yes, here.”

Me: “so um.”

Matt: “yes, um is just what I was thinking.”

Me: “right.”

Matt: “your canter started well?  That’s about all I’ve got.”

From there we had a long discussion about how I am not trusting my decisions, second guessing myself, and generally look like a lost puppy atop a horse. 

I went in for my second round with much trepidation.  There’s nothing more mentally crippling for me than not trusting a decision, changing my mind, and having a worse outcome which then results in not trusting my decision. You can see this is a vicious cycle that I have a hard time climbing out of. 

My second trip did improve for the first three jumps, and then one of those tricky long approaches to an in and out had me making about four different decisions at once.  Once again it was ugly, I won’t talk about how ugly but a winning round it did not make. 

For my last round, we had a handy.  Matt tried a different tactic telling me to just relax and have fun!  In my ever so bizarre place of that day, I then put the utmost amount of pressure on myself to GO HAVE FUN.  I plastered a smile on my face that would rival Toddlers and Tiaras and cantered into the ring determined to HAVE FUN.  It was fine, not great, not even good, but no major horrible mistakes and I’m sure that I HAD FUN.  Or something. 

I ended up jogging 5th and 5th, so I mean it wasn’t world ending, but I certainly didn’t feel successful. 

Thankfully I had a full day of agenda left including…..

Watching TJ bring home the rusty stirrup champion AND win the classic!

Ice cream social!

Admiring Tino for his love and care of my beasties

Watching the pre-Grand Prix entertainment

Seriously these guys were crazy.

I think I was so mesmerized by the flying flag horses that I forgot to get any pictures of the Grand Prix, but I didn’t.

The day finished up with what is probably my favorite part of the Colorado shows, and that would be the exhibitor party.  They had a camp cookout for the entire show, live music, roping demonstrations, and a MECHANICAL BULL.

The evening winded down (or up? depends on your perspective) to a campfire in the camper park.

Other than that whole sucking at riding stuff, pretty much a perfect day in Colorado.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Colorado Day 5 - Derby Time!!

I really do hope that the title “Derby Time” initiates a rendition of “U Can’t Touch This” in your head like it does for me.  In fact from now on I imagine myself walking into the ring singing (rapping?) “Can’t stop, derby time. Ohhhoooohhooohhooooo oohhhooohhhohooohhhoo”

So, yes my first show day in Colorado after a fun filled week of work and more work was Derby Day.  I have to say that it is not my ideal situation to get no prep rides and go straight into the Derby.  I need practice.  It’s not like I’ve been practicing almost every day of my life for 25 years, no not at all.  Matt and I discussed it ahead of time, and we agreed my best course of action was to do the Ch/Ad derby instead of the National.  Less entries, less pressure, more fun.

Let me start by saying this, for some reason in my head, the National and International Derbies were running in the derby field (an arena  normally reserved for jumpers), and the Pony and Ch/Ad were running in Hunter 1.  I arrive at the horse show at a leisurely time of 9 am (yay for a sleepy pony and no hacking), and meander up to the ring expecting to find the pony derby running.  What I found instead is no ponies in sight and a derby underway that was most definitely horses.  I think to myself OH GOD THEY STARTED EARLY, I NEED TO GO GET ON RIGHT NOW. 

So instead of doing the sensible thing and asking the paddock master what the deal was, I RUN back down to the barn to get ready, get DC, grab my saddle for TJ, and then hurry back to the rings.  It did not help that Tino was all, yes Anna, yes get on right now!!!!!  TJ was starting his day with the 2’3 Rusty Stirrup Hunter, so he would meet me at the ring after he was done (more on this in a minute). 

I walk (rush) DC up to the ring at a speedwalk pace, only to get there and see…ponies in hunter 2?  Professionals in hunter 1? So in a very confused and panicked way, I do finally walk up to someone who actually knew what was going on (paddock) to ask what the deal was. 

Me: (very casually) “um what is going on?”

Paddock: “with life, with the horse show, with the ring, can you be more specific?”

Me: “your ring, what happening how near now?” (essentially I’m incoherent with panic)

Paddock: “um well, National, I have 20 trips left.”

Me: “oh um ok thanks bye.”

Right.....my derby was in Hunter 2, not hunter 1.  And yes, so in a blind panic I drug my poor horse to the ring for no reason whatsoever.  Lesson of the day, ask before action.

I took DC back to the barn for a little more relaxation and the plan of another hour before I even walked the course. 

The course itself was pretty friendly, and even though there are options listed, they were not height options, just options to choose between the two jumps.

I got a plan together with Matt and Meghan for the two horses, and was listed as 5th in the order on TJ.  As I mentioned earlier, TJ was also in the 2’3 rusty stirrup with his new leasee, so in his ever so champion ways, he went directly from the 2’3 division to the derby with me.  He warmed up great, and although we didn’t do a full warm up since he had already done a full division down below, he felt awesome.  My plan was to do the inside jump of option 2 to the outside jump of option 3 in 9 strides, then the inside jump of option 6, followed by the left side of option 10 to finish. 

On TJ jump 1 was fabulous, but he was looking off the rail at jump 2.  I applied leg, not much response, more leg, still not much.  EVEN MORE LEG, and got a huge flyer of a jump and a very hard rub.  It was a gallop 9 up the hill to jump 3 (as expected, but even more so after the flyer).  Jumps 4 to 5 TJ landed left, and I pulled right for the bending line.  Since we are just a bit out of practice he swapped in front to the right lead an then back again.  6 to 7 was nice.  We jumped in the in and out at jumps 8 and 9 well, but he ticked both of them pretty hard.  Finishing on jump 10, he was quite strung out after landing off the in and out, and honestly, I did not do a good job putting him back together.  TJ strung out is not a good thing, he’s so damned long, I imagine it feels like riding an orca and trying to find a distance.  The result was another flyer at jump 10, combined with a swap at the base.  Given the issues, we scored a very respectable 70.

DC was in the lineup at 15th, so he once again made the trek to the ring to get ready.   He got there a little early, and Tino entertained my boys while I watched a few trips go.

I warmed DC up and he felt completely awesome.  Very much on our A game.  Even if there was some HIGH drama going on around us due to the stress of two derbies going on at once.  Bad idea.  

We started out beautifully at jump 1, and learning my lesson from my looky horse earlier, I changed my turn to jump 2, also resulting in a beautiful fence.  The canter up the hill to jump 3, I got less of a gallop and more of an open stride.  Given that it was an unrelated distance, I was able to change my mind mid line about the number of strides I wanted to do.  Unfortunately I had eaten up all of my room trying to make the 9 happen, so ended up with a tight 10 strides.  DC had a beautiful bending line 4 to 5 and 6 to 7 was gorgeous.  So far so good, right?  Down the hill to the in and out, we jumped in great, and I was super happy with that jump…and then…we just absolutely clobbered the out.  WTF????  I mean DC is known for over jumping by a foot, not so much for hitting jumps. Out the door went my great score, and handy round.  We finished  nicely on 10, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was REALLY disappointed in the rail.  Scoring a 46 was not exactly in my plans. 

As I waited for the last trips to go, TJ’s score hung in for the handy.  With only one horse to go, I was still in 11th, which means we made the second round!!!  You have to understand the number of times I’ve just missed the cutoff on TJ to understand how excited I was to have made it.  The only complicating factor was the fact that he still had a Rusty Stirrup eq on the flat and under saddle to do down below. 

They held the flat classes for him while I finished my second round.

I started with a GREAT right lead to fence one, followed by a super super handy inside turn to the trot fence 2.  I was supposed to go to the inside option at jump 3, but had to do a lead change so changed my plan to the outside option.  Then I did another handy turn inside the tree to the option at 4.  We then went all the way around the ring to a great fence 5 and 6.  I was very focused on my roll back to jump 7, going inside.  Unfortunately my focus on the rollback made me not focus on the ermmmmm lead change that was necessary.  Oooops.  Darn.  We completed the lead change late, and then had great fences 7, 8, and 9.  Too bad, otherwise it was really nice.  We scored a 68. 

He ended up 9th and one out of the money, but I did get a long pretty ribbon out of the deal!
TJ then headed down to finish up his trusty rusty stirrup classes.

In summary the most amazing horse ever walked away with two firsts and two seconds in rusty stirrup over fences, won the hack, got 4th in the eq flat, and in between was 9th in a derby.  Have I convinced you yet that he’s the best horse ever???  Especially considering if I could pull my head out of my arse we probably would have easily been in the money in my class. Not bad for a horse I haven’t shown consistently in over a year.  

After finishing with my derby, I had no less than 4 conference calls to do that afternoon, so I did what any respectable working rider would, and found a quiet place to watch the international derby run, while doing my calls at the same time.  Multitasking is key.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Colorado Day 4 – Working, Flying, and Riding. But thankfully not at the same time!

Logistically speaking, showing out of state can be quite complicated for me.  Well I’m sure it’s quite complicated for anyone, but I can only tell you that from my perspective, it can take a lot of planning of travel time to make sure that I don’t interfere with work, am there on time for all of my needed schooling and classes, and that DH doesn’t feel like a peripheral part of my life just there as a side show to riding.  Who am I kidding, I’m sure that’s exactly what he feels like all of the time anyway. 

My flight back to Colorado from Austin was scheduled for 7:30 in the morning, with an arrival time of 8:30.  Plenty of time to land, and jump on my calls which started at 9:30 and lasted straight through to the end of the day.  I had scheduled them that way on purpose so I could

  1. Not miss any work.
  2. Get to Colorado to ride the beasties.

Wellllllll that was all fine and well until I got a call at 3:30 in the morning (yes 3:30 AM) that my flight had been cancelled.  When my alarm went off at 5 to get up for my flight, I thought to myself “hmmmm what is that strange 800 number calling me in the middle of the night, maybe I should check the voicemail.”  Ugh, the next best flight they could get me on was 11:30.  This means I had a major shuffle of my work day required so I could still

  1. Not miss any work.
  2. Get to Colorado to ride the beasties.

I was able to move most everything around, or to the next day (more on that in the next day’s blog), and happily started calls at home, all the way until I was boarding the plane.  Please imagine, “Hey guys, I’m about to go through security, can you please hold while my phone goes through the Xray?.....OK I’m back, what did I miss?”  I’m glad I work for a firm that has a lot of travelers.

I worked through my entire flight, and literally landed just in time to join yet another call.  I headed directly to the show where I concluded two more calls, and was happily greeted by these beaming faces.

I’m confident that it was me and not my treats that they were so happy to see. 
The plan was for me to school DC while Sarah rode TJ.  Since the show was still going on in the main hunter rings, we chose to ride in the lower rings so that I could get some feel for DC on a full course, and Sarah could actually school in the ring she was planning to show in. 

The lower ring was set up at 2’-2’3 for the pony/short stirrup riders.  Because the footing was better than in the lowest ring we started in there.  I will tell you, there is nothing more challenging for me than to try to put together a course around a group of ponies.  They are quick little devils and I have zero ability to climb into a pony rider’s brain to determine what devious move they plan to make next.  On top of this, DC sees ponies as his own personal play things, and likes to stare them like a dog eyes his favorite toy, and squeal when they get to close.  So imagine a giant gray squealy thing cantering around almost running in to approximately 245 ponies in a row.  Needless to say, my attempt at jumping around a course without pony rider beheading was feeble at best, and terrifying at worst. 

After about 10 minutes of this entertainment Meghan (Matt’s assistant) says to me…. “you know, maybe the footing in the lowest ring isn’t so bad after all, let’s see what we can do down there.”  Trainerspeak for “you might kill a pony at any moment, and you’re terrifying me, get out of the ring.  NOW.”

As a result we moved to the lower ring.  With only horses and not a pony in sight, DC became depressed, sad, and beautiful to ride.  We nailed two amazing courses in a row and Meghan said, “stop, just stop, you can’t get any better, and we certainly don’t want to make it worse, we’re going no further.”  From Meghan, that is a high complement. 

After Sarah finished up her school on TJ in the pony ring (which honestly was marginally better than me, she almost killed one, but not 245 ponies), we went on a lovely trail ride.  The Colorado Horse Park has 300 acres of trails, and although I have not been brave enough to go beyond the CHP proper area, someday just someday I might. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Colorado Day 3 continued annnnnnnd Day 4

Caveat of today: Has anyone noticed that I've had NO caveats in awhile?  I decided that now was as good of a time as any.  I am currently about a week and two days behind on my writing.  So all of this stuff happened previously.  I'll catch up I swear.

So we all know about how I love me some TJ, and how great the show day went.  Now since I am all ambitious and all committed, what would be better to cap the day off than a “quick trip” to Vail for a wedding and then back to Denver again??  I can’t think of anything. 

I finished cooling TJ out, hopped off, got a few necessary tasks done before leaving, and then sped off to the hotel to get ready for the drive.  Vail is about 2 hours from our hotel in Denver, assuming no traffic.  Thankfully the trip was smooth, and we made it to the wedding with about 30 minutes to spare. 

Vail is absolutely beautiful and, even though it was mid June, there was still snow on the ground all over the mountains.  This literally baffles me with the amazingness that THERE WAS STILL SNOW ON THE GROUND.  I made a snowball and everything. 

The wedding itself was downright amazing.  Set outside along a babbling creek, it couldn’t have been more beautiful. 

The boys.  Mine is the one sitting on the fence with no jacket.

Why didn't he have a jacket? Well I was cold, so I stole it!

I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and this  might have been the most romantic I’ve attended.

After a late night drive back to Denver, I crashed with only about 4 hours of sleep available until I had to be on a horse again the next morning.  It was worth it. 

That next morning came much too quickly and before I knew it, I was back on DC hacking bright and early before the show day.  For show day 2, I had the second half of the division in both the 3/3 A/Os as well as the A/As, and I had a classic on each horse.  DC’s division went first thing in the ring.  I was feeling fairly confident about building on the success of the day before, and was excited about the classic. 

When I hacked DC in the morning, he felt very good.  Pleasant, happy, relaxed.  I got on for our division and found the same happy as can be horse.  I cantered up to our first warm up jump and out of the corner he did a lead change to the wrong lead.  Weird.  We did the same jump again, no problems.  We went back and forth in our normal warm up doing different oxer set ups, with no further issues.  But the random lead change was definitely on the back of my brain. 

Our first course started with a left lead single going away from the gate.  I got a decent canter going and saw a big old gap at the verticle.  Well, nothing says success like trying to run at the first jump for a leapy gap.  Or in other words, nothing says complete failure when the long leap doesn’t happen and you chip.  The rest of the course was quite nice.  One of Matt’s favorite sayings is “you can’t win at the first jump but you sure can lose.”   You can guess what he said as soon as I walked out of the ring. 

Our second course started on a right lead coming home on a single, followed by an outside line, inside line, outside line.  The course designers certainly weren’t straining their brains on this day.  On the last line it was a left lead coming home.  As soon as we turned the corner DC once again did a full lead change to the wrong lead on the outside.  This was the second time in one day that this had happened.  My internal worrier was immediately on high alert.  We scored a 75.  Not bad for the extraneous lead change. 

The last course was the second round of the classic.  This time we started on a left lead verticle coming home, and once again random lead change out of the corner.  He had never done this before, so now the red bells were on high alert.  We scored a 72 and ended up 5th in both classes, and 6th in the classic.  At that point I was less concerned about the ribbons and more concerned about how he was feeling.  To me, any time a horse starts showing out of the ordinary behavior, it’s time to get things checked.  He definitely was not off or limping at all, and we even got third in the hack, but he didn’t seem like he was 100% comfortable either.
Matt and I decided that our best course of action was to have a chiropractor look at him.  Sure enough, his first vertebrae was completely out (three HUGE pops later) and his left hip was slid to the side.  There are many people who don’t believe in chiro work on horses, but I have to say, after feeling the before and after, I know it helps my horses. 

I mentioned we got 3rd in the hack.  I should probably add that we got third in the hack while my left calf was cramping so hard I could hardly see straight.  Unlike Lebron, I have no ability to call a medical time out in the middle of a flat class, so therefore I suffered through while the knot in my calf crawled up and down my leg.  It started the first direction trot, and apparently this judge wanted to give us our money’s worth because it was THE WORLD’S LONGEST flat class.  Even the time in the middle was agony as I’m sure he carefully selected his top horses.  Forever.  As I walked out of the ring I was leaning over DC’s neck and practicing Lamaze breathing.  Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a leg cramp while riding, but I will tell you I certainly hope it never happens again.

Regardless of the fact that I was now hobbling around the horse show and needed a cane to walk, I still had TJ to ride.  I probably at this point sound like I’m a bit TJ obsessed, but really, he’s awesome.  We had a HARD rub at the first jump my first course.  As in “how did that jump even stay up?” kind of rub.  Our second course was nice, two hard rubs, and scored a 75.  Our last course was also good and scored a 78.  He was tired, and was less than impressed by the jumps.  But to his credit, he cantered around like a champ with a rider who had little to no use of her right leg, and was still slightly blinded by pain as the calf just wouldn’t let go of its cramp. 

When I finally got off and was able to stretch my leg, it somewhat went back to normal, and I became slightly less crippled.  Victory. 

All that was left of my day was to go on a trail ride, do some laundry, pack my stuff, and fly back to Austin, with a planned arrival time of 11:40 PM.  With a meeting scheduled at 8 am the next day I sure was glad for all of the nice rest I had gotten over the previous week of Driving, Vegas, Flying, Showing, and Wedding.  Vacations are to relax and rejuvenate right??

Friday, June 20, 2014

Colorado Day 3 – Show day 1!!!

If you have been reading this blog regularly, then you know that it has mostly surrounded his Grayness, and all of the boisterous happenings of life with a horse who otherwise considers himself a royal subject.  TJ has never really been out of my life, but for the last year and a half he was on lease in a situation where he didn’t travel with me as much, and I rode him 2 or so times a week to keep him tuned up.  Over that time I did get to show him some, but less so since I spent more time on the road out of state. 

With his new leasee, he is back at my barn, and she has plans to do shows with Matt and Woodhill whenever possible.  Double bonus for me!  Since TJ is in Colorado, I’m taking the opportunity to ride and show him as much as possible.  Traditionally, he is my 3’6 A/O horse and we’ve dabbled in few National Derbies and even done couple of Internationals as well.  The fact that this horse is willing to tote me around an international derby with some 4’ high options simply means he is literally worth his weight in gold. 

I mean, should we even talk about how I was so nervous that I 3 legged the first jump on course and yet he still campaigned around the course like it was no big deal?  Really I love this horse. 

Since he has just come off lease, and we are easing back into showing, Matt and I decided to do the A/As for at least the first week.  Simple, easy, and confidence building.  DC was going to continue is “reign” as the greenest 3’3 A/O horse on the planet, and he did indeed live up to the billing. 

My day started with my usual hack on DC first thing in the morning.  His pep seemed to be back, and he was very straight and relaxed.  Although I wouldn’t say he felt GREAT, he did feel very very good.  Besides, he had a special purple puff on top of his head.

If that’s not good luck, I don’t know what is.  And people say hunters aren’t any fun.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a better pic of the poof, NOR did I get a pic of TJ’s braid charm.  I am a failure at picture taking. 

DC had a warm up and two hunters for his Saturday line up.  We started with the warm up, which is best stated as all over the place.  It wasn’t awful, but I’m not sure that a more inconsistent trip has ever been had by the two of us.  Up, down, fast, slow, lean in, lean out.  If there were moves, we made them.  Not exactly the goal of smooth and serene. 

The second trip we started with a single coming home, and then had a left lead 5 stride line going away.  Coming out of the corner to the line, I saw this big move up to a gap.  Trying to follow the mantra of, “if you see the move, stay the same and something else will appear,” I stayed the same.  Except then I pulled.  And then I legged.  And then I PULLED.  You know what is not staying the same?  Pulling, kicking, then pulling.  Oops.  We chipped coming in, and had about 15 years to get out of the line.  Since the chip was completely my fault and I didn’t feel like running for my life out of a line would be my next best move, I whoaed for the nice add.  Matt was not as appreciative of this decision as I was.  I’ll just say that.  The rest of the course was actually quite beautiful, which makes the add even more disheartening. 

Our last trip was the handy, and I have to say, it was quite nice.  I even have a video of it, but haven’t loaded to youtube yet.  So, sorry.  We did all of the inside turns, had a lovely bending line (maybe a little close out) and a great trot jump.  Thus we ended on a good note. 
TJ was just a rock solid little citizen in his trips.  We were in Hunter 2 and the jumps were decidedly small for 3’ and the lines decidedly short.  He wasn’t too impressed with either of these things, however he really just turned in some decent trips.  We had four trips total, two hunters that were also first classic rounds, and two second classic rounds. 

Our first hunter I had one of those OH MY GOD ARE WE GOING TO FIT THE STRIDES IN moments going down the hill.  Seriously that 5 was awfully close to a 4.  TJ is a big horse with a big stride.  We scored a 73.  My second hunter was very nice, but nothing fabulous, scoring a 75.  The second round of the classic (third trip) I cantered in to that 5 stride and was all “no way am I going to almost leave a stride out this time.”  So I pulled and pulled again, and was thinking to myself, “yes this 6 is going to work out great.” Right after which I thought to myself “oh shit this isn’t a 6 this is a 5, OH GOD TJ, JUMP!!!!!!”  Remember when I said TJ is worth is weight in gold?  He really is.  My last course was actually quite nice, and we scored a 78.  The 75 combined with the 78 was good enough for third in the Marshal and Sterling Classic!  I was thrilled walking away with a good ribbon against all of the adults (about 30 entries total). 

Love me some TJ.  Really I do.