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.” 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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Colorado Day 2

Although it was officially only Colorado day 2, you have to imagine for me it was like an eon of time since day 1 as I had spent the previous 5 days in Las Vegas. 

As I have mentioned before, DH and I do a couple of trips to Vegas a year, and always have a great time.  This trip was no different, except he had a pesky work conference getting in the way.  I guess pesky work conferences are to be allowed when it provides for a free place for me to stay as a “third wheel.”  DH and I work for the same company, so luckily at very least I know and am friends with many of the other conference attendees he was with.  We had quite the fun time with lots of eating, drinking, shopping, and gambling.  Not to mention a lot of time doing this:

which is my most favorite "activity" of all.

Although DH did not go with me, a group of work friends and I went to see Michael Jackson One.  If you like MJ AT ALL put this on a must do bucket list.  It was freaking awesome.

Another highlight was a trip to a small joint in the Palace Station called the Oyster Bar.  It’s a total of 18 seats, and the line gets up to 3 hours long.  They make the most amazing soup like dish called “pan roast” (it has nothing to do with a pan or a roast, I take no credit for having any idea where the name comes from).  Heaven in a bowl I swear.

Fast forward to our flight back to Colorado.  With no mani/pedi involved we arrived in plenty of time to grab some food and think about how hungover I felt.  It’s kind of like a hangover from 5 days of non stop fun, sooooo I’m thinking my riding is just going to go super. 

I arrived back to a bustling horse show, with Friday classes in full swing.  Matt asked me to get on TJ first so his leasee could do her ride after I was done.  The Colorado Horse Park footing for the hunter rings is a technical footing made by GGT ( TJ has always been a horse whose movement is greatly affected by what he’s on, and he absolutely LOVES this type of footing.  Starting off he felt so powerful with so much suspension, really just showing his big black stuff.  He schooled beautifully and I was once again reminded why I love riding him so very much. 

Historically, TJ has been my 3’6 A/O horse, and has done some international derbies.  Given that I hadn’t really jumped a course on him in 6 months, and that he was probably going to be a bit rusty in the show ring, we decided to give him a simple weekend in the Adult Amateurs (A/As) which is only 3’.  I was simply looking forward to riding him again, even if it was over poles on the ground.

After TJ, it was time to school DC.  Honestly, DC did not feel as good at TJ did.  Matt had done the 3’3 Performance on him during the week.  The reports back to me were that he was good, but definitely rusty in the ring and not as responsive to leg as Matt would like.  When I got on he simply felt tired.  He lacked the spring in his step and great attitude he normally carries.  Maybe it was the thin air, maybe it was the relatively warm day, or maybe he just wasn’t into it.  Either way we kept the school short and sweet, looking to save him for my 3’3 A/O classes that weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, he was good, just lacked a spark he normally carries. 

After finishing with riding, I headed back to the hotel room for a desperately needed nap.  I do have to say, given my level of exhaustion and previously mentioned hangover, I rode rather well.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t hit my head on my pillow and immediately crash.  That night at dinner all I could think about was more sleep which meant instead of joining in on some fun at a bar, I actually chose the responsible route and went to bed. 

I have moments of acting like a grown up.  Thankfully they are few and far between.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Colorado day 1

Colorado day 1 is really Colorado day 1 + Vegas day 1.  If you follow my blog, I’ve mentioned before that I may or may not have over committed myself for the first week of Colorado.  To recap:

  1. Drive to Colorado
  2. Fly to Vegas
  3. Fly back to Colorado
  4. Show
  5. Attend a wedding in Vail
  6. Show again
  7. Drive home.

We are currently sitting at #2. 

But of course, instead of just taking the easy route and packing up my stuff and heading to Vegas, I had PLENTY of time (read 4 hours) to head to the show, check on my boys, do a hack, then catch a flight.  Plenty of time.  So I did.

When I got there, the guys were doing all of the show set up.  If I thought I required a lot of stuff for a show, I’ve got nothing on a 20 horse operation and full show set up.  Although I didn’t take any pictures of the chaos, I probably should have. 

First I did a quick check on TJ.  Matt’s assistant Meghan arrived from Dallas the evening before at around 7pm and reported that he was up and talkative (good sign, he’s a big time talker).  Matt himself arrived around 11pm and also reported that he was “fine.”  They are so good at feeding my neediness.  As confirmed the night before, TJ seemed back to his normal self, so I chose to hack him first. 

A few things about Tj.

  1. He is huge.  I mean really huge.  17.2 in height, enormous head and just about the length of an elephant.  I wish I could impart the level of enormity of him in description, but I will just simply say that the braider texted me no fewer than 3 times stating “that horse is HUGE.”
  2. He’s black.  Ok this goes without saying, but so many people are impressed with my huge black horse, it leaves me a bit mystified.
  3. He’s a gentle giant.  Seriously, this is one of the most kind, quietest, gentle horses you’ll ever meet. 
  4. He’s stoic.  You really have to know TJ well to understand how he’s feeling.  He hardly shows any emotion to anyone.
  5. He’s got a lot of bravado.  TJ acts like he’s going to make a big deal about something, but actually doesn’t.

Funny enough, all of these attributes are noted by everyone that he meets.  It’s usually something like “wow he’s big, and so black!  But so sweet, and what a great personality. He’s so impressive.” Our first experience in colorado was no different.  Two separate people stopped me when I was out with him and made similar comments.  If nothing else, he definitely stands out. 

As we made our way to the hunter rings for a light hack, his bravado was showing its face.  He was 100% ears pricked, snorty, with huge giant impressive steps of being so awesome.  Thankfully he was just simply the so awesome part and we had a lovely light hack.  TJ is the epitome of long and low and can really turn it on when moving out. 

After hosing off TJ’s legs and setting him up to dry, I got his Grayness out for a hack as well.  I often say that DC is TJ’s yang to his own yin.  I love them both dearly but their personalities couldn’t be more opposite.

  1. He’s tall but 100% refined.  Refined bone, cob sized head, long slender legs.
  2. He’s gray.  Again obvious, but just as much as people love black, they love gray.  (I’m more of a chestnut person myself, which is why I have a black and a gray.)
  3. He’s all about being in your pocket.   Me me me me me me me me me hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi is DC’s daily mantra.  Think Lab personality in a horse body.
  4. He’s ALL personality.  Whatever he thinks or feels, you know about all the time, every day, every minute.
  5. It’s all about reaction.  He’s all about doing first, thinking second.  All the time. 

Typical DC he was fascinated by the bunny in the ring, wanted to say hi to every one as we walked to the ring, and was pretty happy and distracted for our hack.  I can’t say we reached the goal of long and low, but certainly we had improvement.  

When I finished my rides and got the boys cooled off and dry, I finally decided that they were going to be just fine without me and headed back to the hotel.  At this point I was only running 30 minutes late, which as a horse person, I find this to be very impressive.  My saving grace was that my flight was delayed an hour, and thus I was able to get ready and get to the airport with time to spare.  At least that is what would have happened had I not also chosen to get a mani/pedi “on the way.”  This may or may not have lead to us getting to the airport only 45 min before our flight, late checking our bags, and then having to wait in the Las Vegas airport for them to arrive with the next flight. 

Sometimes my decisions are questionable, but never ever boring.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Colorado Day 0

Sadly, Colorado day 0 did not involve any bucket list items, and was just the final trek of the beginning of my summer showing.  That said, given that it is me, there was just simply no way that it would be as easy as dropping horses off and calling it a day. 

Stephen and I woke early in the morning with another 7 hours of driving ahead of us.  I immediately went out and checked on the horses.  One of the nicest things about Bed and Bale is that they have both bedded stalls for horses and cute bungalows for people to stay in.  Ten steps and I was at their stalls. 

First thing I noticed was that both horses had drank two full buckets of water, and TJ was snoozing. 

Ok, pretty normal, and he looked super comfortable, no biggie.  He popped up and nickered when he saw me.  I went back inside and got ready to leave for our drive.  When we were ready to go, I walked to the barn, only to find TJ down again.  This time when I talked to him he laid all the way flat instead of popping up. 

O.K. small red flag time.  I mean I understand sleepy, but down twice in one morning?  I went in and did some quick rundown of diagnostics.  All seemed well, gut sounds, gum color, heart rate, and capillary refill rate all normal.  He drank another half a bucket, so I decided my best course of action was to continue on.

We had a smooth ride all the way to the outskirts of Denver.  At that time, off to our left was a large, ominous looking storm.  I checked the radar, and sure enough it was on track to follow us directly into Parker and the horse show grounds.  I also noted that the temperature had dropped to 50.  BRRRRRRR 

As we continued to drive, the temp only got colder, and the weather more nasty.  At one point we passed through an area that had had so much sleet, the ground looked like it had snowed.  Fantastic. 

Keep in mind that last year as I was making this drive it was 105 degrees and a horrible forrest fire was raging.  We drove through smoke, ash, and fire.  As we were driving they were evacuating the area around us, and closing down roads.  Quite the opposite welcoming weather this year!  We arrived to sopping, freezing show grounds, with rain coming steadily down, and the wind howling.  It is a good thing we only had about three hours of unloading and organizing to do before we could call it a day (does sarcasm come across in blogging?).

As soon as we unloaded the horses and bedded the stalls, TJ laid down once again.  He wasn’t acting colicky, just like he was simply tired and wanted to rest.  My equine paranoia was on full alert now.  What horse comes into a brand new place where it is freezing, storming, and crazy windy, and lays down?  UGHHHHHH. 

I once again did all of the diagnostics, including taking his temp.  All normal.  After a quick chat with the vet….I make this sound so normal when it was really more like


Vet: Um.  Slow down.  Take a breath.  What?

Me: I’m worried!

Vet: I got that much.

End result was to give him some banamine and check in an hour.

DH and I finished unloading all of my stuff.  Horses require A LOT of stuff.  On top of the unloading was my stress of a possibly sick horse, the weather, and being soaked to the bone.  

After an hour, TJ was up, perky, and drinking well.  Of course me being me, I felt the need to wait another hour to make sure he stayed that way.  DH thus gets gold star number two as he endured all of the rain, wind, cold, and stress to help me get my beloved horses settled and happy.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Colorado Day -1

There are a lot of people in this world who know Texas is big.  I don’t think a person can truly understand the size until recognizing that from my home in Central Texas, I have to drive a minimum of 3.5 hours to reach a border of the State (in this example Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico).  Converse to that, I can drive up to 9.5 hours and still not reach the state line in the panhandle.  Getting to Colorado involves one of those epic Texas drives where 9 hours is spent in Texas, about an hour in New Mexico, and 4 hours total in Colorado.  Yes, you drive a full day and still don’t get outside of the State. 

The route we selected for our drive involved splitting the time into two, easier, 7 hour drives each day.  There is a lovely little Horse hotel outside of Amarillo called Bed and Bale.  I overnighted there last year as well, and knew that the facility is top notch and my horses would be very safe. 

Driving through West Texas involves a lot of this:

And not much else.

Though I do have to say, Texas does have some awesome truck stops

And so fashionable!

Thankfully our trip was smooth sailing, and we arrived at the Bed and Bale at 3pm to some happy horses. 

Did I mention the Bed and Bale has a nice facility?  Their stalls are HUGE.  TJ approves.

We arrived and got settled just in time to watch the Belmont.  I was so sad that Chrome did not pull of the win.  Will we EVER have a Triple Crown winner again?  And no, I don’t believe in dumbing down the competition just for the sake of winning.

After that let down, THE MOST EXCITING PART OF MY DAY was about to happen.  A few years ago, CBS Sunday morning had a segment on The Big Texan in Amarillo

It went on the bucket list to go, though trying a 72 oz steak was not in my plans.  This place is a slice of Americana like you wouldn’t believe.

There it is!

They have a candy Store!

And a stage coach!

And a giant steer!

And a shooting range!

And a boot!

And a giant rocking Chair!

As you can tell, I was really excited!

If you wanted to try for the free steak, you get a stage and everything.

The food was honestly just OK, but sooooooo worth it just for the experience.  The most amusing part to me was that a large portion of the crowd was European.  Nothing like showing our great nation off like the cheese of all cheeseball places. 

The last thing to do for the night was to tarp the hay in my truck.  There were storms coming in from the north, and the last thing I needed was a bunch of wet hay.  Some might ask why in the world I was hauling hay halfway across the country.  Well, my precious TJ in all of his precious TJ ways is allergic to the world.  Corn, Wheat, Molasses, Oats, Beets, Pecan Trees, Privet Trees, Thistle, Baccharis, Ragweed, Marsh Elder, Nettle, Sheep, Cats, Flax, Mosquitos, Horse Flies, Timothy Hay, Bluegrass, Bahia Grass, Johnson Grass, Bermuda Grass, and Kochia.  In Colorado, they sell Timothy and Timothy Brome mix. 

I know from experience that Timothy makes my dear TJ look less like a horse and more like a Chenille blanket:

And thus being the good mom that I am, loaded my truck down with enough precious Coastal Hay to last him through the trip. 

Horses.  Seriously.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Colorado Day -2

So my WEF adventure started with days -1 and 0.  For Colorado I feel the need to reach all the way back to day -2 (T minus two days from arrival) as my adventure really began there. 

On Friday, the day before we embarked on our two day journey to Colorado, I had about 100 million things left on my to-do list.  I have this pension for over planning myself, and this trip was no exception.  The planned itennerary for the next week is as follows:

Saturday: Drive to Amarillo

Sunday: Drive to Parker, unload all items, settle the horses in

Monday: Hack both TJ and DC, Fly to Las Vegas

Friday: Fly back to horse show, school both horses

Saturday: Show both horses, drive to Vail for wedding, drive back to Denver

Sunday: Show both horses, fly back to Austin

In other words, I needed to pack and plan for a cross country drive, two horses living in Colorado for 5 weeks, a Vegas Vacation, four horse shows, an a wedding.

Ambitious?  Maybe. 

I’ve mentioned DH and his amazing, selfless ways before, but this trip he really gets a gold star.  To begin with, he was of course volunteering his time to drive with me, but that also comes with an enlistment to load and unload the unbelievable amount of stuff required for this trip.  This includes but is not limited to saddles, bridles, tack trunks, buckets, fans, shavings, hay, feed, suit cases, show clothes, schooling clothes, vegas clothes, snacks, ice chest, and of course the all-important horses. 

My truck ended up looking like this:

After loading, I thought that I was all ready to go and all we needed to do was pull out in the morning.  Unfortunately my trailer had different plans.  On my previous haul it came to my attention that my rear signal was not functioning.  It was an easy fix of just replacing the light, and it worked perfectly.  Or so I thought.  Stephen was following me on the way back to the house, and called and said “uh you know that tail light you fixed?  Not so much.” 


My only plans were to drive 15 hours over the next two days, who needs a tail light right? 
I put my handy hat on, and with some phone-a-friend help tried to fix the problem.

Unfortunately my efforts were in vain, and I was unable to get the darned thing working.  My professional assessment is that I have a faulty ground wire.  But by professional I mean I randomly poked around on my wiring with a screw driver. 

It was such that we had a 5 am call the next morning, down one tail light, but up one person who now felt like an expert in trailer wiring.  Regardless of my inability to actually fix it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Plans Plans Plans

So, I haven’t blogged in a while.  That whole real life thing is really such a pain, why can’t it be ponies and horse shows every day all day?? 

Post the mini derby, I had grand plans to do two weeks of showing at a couple of AA shows in Tyler and then off to a summer of fun in Colorado.  The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.  My own personal astray is a bout of bacterial skin infection, cellulitis, thorn stuck in the pastern, abscess under the skin, removal of abscess under the skin, shockwave, and finally normal pony. 

I am happy to report that I am finally in the normal pony section of this 2 week long drama, but here is a synopsis in pictures.

Vet: It's a bacterial skin infection. Ice, Medicate, wrap, and hand walk  for 7 days.  oh joy. 
<side note> I should mention here that the skin infection was very very very painful according to DC.  The first day of wrapping I was trying to gingerly place some medication and 4x4 squares on the inflamed area.  Apparently my ginger was not ginger enough as DC jumped side ways throwing his leg in the air in pain.  Unfortunately my head/eye socket was in the direct path of said leg jerk, causing a blow that made me see stars.  My friend Suzanne was quite concerned that I had perhaps fractured my occipital lobe and encouraged me to see a Dr.  I assured her I was fine as I had squished all around on my swollen black eye and all seemed to be in order.  Squishing around is a great diagnostic tool, I recommend it for all future injuries. </side note>

DC: "I don't mind I get to bury my head in a pile of alfalfa out of the deal"
"And look how cute I am on our handwalks!  This is the life."


That's all great until he BIT the CRAP out of my arm.
The next hand walk was not nearly as fun with added chain.  His expression shows his displeasure of this turn of events.  I am a fun killer.
Wait.  What's that hard bump under the surface and pink spot why has my horse gone from sound to a Grade 3 lame???
Vet: "Looks like the infection has a thorn or splinter on the inside that's trying to abscess out.  Need to cut it open and remove."

Another 7 days later, Suture is out!

Now with protectant Equifit bands and trouser socks, leg is back to normal!!

 As a result, there was no Tyler for me.  As a second result, DC and I trailered over to the trainer where TJ has been living for the past year and a half and did a lesson.  This trainer is particularly detail oriented, and focuses on how the rider’s body and emotions affect the horse.  She really worked on a lot of little quirks that DC and I have developed together, showed me some holes in both of our programs, and really focused on how to take his training to the next level. 

Since this lesson, DC has really been on his A game, which makes me VERY excited four our upcoming summer showing plans.  We leave tomorrow for 5 weeks in Colorado, 4 of which will include horse shows.  On top of this, TJ has a new Leasee, and she decided to join in on the fun and send TJ up to Colorado as well!!!!!!  Yes, I think that deserves at least that many exclamation points. 

My plans include Divisions, Derbies, Classics, parties, vacation, a wedding, and Las Vegas all thrown in the mix.  It should be an interesting month, and regardless of how many ribbons I take home I’ll have the best of times.  Who am I kidding, I want those damned pieces of satin to embarrassingly hang on my lamp shades. 

Stay tuned, for this Working Rider is planning to blog about it all, if for no other reason than I want the memories in writing!