Thursday, February 12, 2015

WEF Day 1 (2015)

A quick synopses of the day after our arrival in Wellington:

  1. Go to barn, check on horses
  2. TJ isn’t eating, generally seems unwell, and is dehydrated. Panic panic panic, make a million phone calls, panic panic some more, rush around to find the meds that I (accidentally left at home), panic panic.
  3. DC is pacing and pawing. Panic panic, he’s not going to settle, panic panic
  4. Realize I’m about to miss my plane, panic panic, oh God, my flight leaves in a half hour panic panic

Right, so that went well….

On to day 1!

Honestly? I’d prefer if I didn’t have to call this day one given how well day 2 went (foreshadowing), but nevertheless….

You can imagine my excitement as I arrived to the show grounds bright and early, with such confidence as I

  • Knew my way around and
  • Had nothing but glowing reports about DC all week

We were starting in the unassuming Rost arena, where we had had much success in the previous year.

With this confidence, I walked to my stalls only to get a (ping!) text from Matt. “You’ve been moved to Grand, make sure you hack there.”

I can promise you, at this moment a few choice words were muttered by yours truly. Grand was where the epic melt down happened in the previous year. And although horses might not have memories like Elephants, I do.

With trepidation, I walked to the Grand to do my morning hack, and joined about 5,000 of my closest friends

Immediately I was reminded that although a “fancy” horse, DC has NOTHING on the quality you see of the average competitor at WEF. Cresty necked beauties that were 10 movers (if you think you’ve seen a 10 mover, think again) sauntered merrily around the ring looking all perfect.

Meanwhile me and a DC tried to manage a reasonable hack without

  • Biting anyone around us
  • Squealing with joy at the sight of the pretty bay horses (him, not me)
  •   Making a general fool of ourselves.

I had obtained success and was feeling generally good about my hack. I should learn to be less confident.

As we walked around sniffing the jumps and thinking about how amazing we were going to be later in the day, we walked up to a particular jump that had a nice astroturf ground line. Great, fine, all good, and then as I turned him to walk to the next jump, he thought maybe the ground line was actually meant to be stepped on. Except it wasn’t. His knee buckled he fell over himself taking a walking step, and we ended up on our knees blinking stupidly as he couldn’t quite figure out how he went from standing perfectly nicely to on his knees on the ground.

Please note that my #1 goal for this year was to not make a fool of myself at WEF.

This is why I do not make goals.

For our plan for the first show day was to do the Ariat adult  medal as a nice warm up for the A/O. Fantastic plan. Until it wasn’t. Honestly, I’ve not had a worse moment of absentee-riding in my entire life. I walked into the ring and froze. Call it PTSD, call it nerves, call it the horrific. Whatever it is, it was bad. I will save you the recount of the horribleness fence by fence, but know that we had one stop, one run chip, one pull pull pull and nothing, and a horse that was grinding his teeth in anger by the time I walked out of the ring.

Please note that my #1 goal for this year was to not make a fool of myself at WEF.

This is why I do not make goals.

I came away feeling like I should either quit riding, drive myself and my horses back to Texas with my tail between my legs, or at very least, drop down a division. Matt loves when my confidence plummets. It’s his favorite part of having me as a customer, I promise.

A series of pep talks and a little ride on my favorite TJ, and we decided to stick with the plan of the 3’3 A/Os on both horses. For that, I am thankful, as we will all find out about in DAY 2!!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Countdown to WEF!

In trying to prepare for Epic Winter Tour (EWT) 2015, I decided I needed a strict program, lots of lessons, and a strong exercise program so we could be as ready as possible. This pretty much worked just about as well as weather, horses, and work would allow it.

Stage 1 – A week at Woodhill

After ending on a sub-par note at the Thanksgiving and Christmas shows in December in Texas, Matt and I agreed that spending a week at Woodhill in January couldn’t be the worst thing in the world for either of us. The plan was to take the horses on Friday, lesson over the weekend, and leave them there until the next weekend for Matt to ride and then more lessons before heading home. Unfortunately due to my work schedule, I absolutely had to be in Austin Friday afternoon and Sunday morning (remember Woodhill is 3.5 hours away north of Ft. Worth in Northlake). As a result I coerced DH into going on a one day turn around trip up to the Farm, ride 5 horses, and back to Austin. Leaving at 5 am, some excellent lessons, a truck stuck in the mud, and a shutdown highway later, and we were back in Austin just shy of 2 am. Seriously, my husband is the best.

Over the next week I got excellent reports on DC with texts such as “considering the weather, he wasn’t bad” and “well he’s straighter now, I hope.” Raving reports I tell you.
The second weekend I was actually able to do consecutive days of riding and got to school both TJ and DC in the big field. We prepared for WEF by jumping this:

And this:

And this:


Just kidding, that we tried to walk by, spooked 5 feet and I almost came off. How great of a story would that have been? “How’d you come off?” “Oh I was walking by the water jump.” “Jumping the water jump?” “No, just walking.”

Both horses were great all weekend, and I felt like I had some good homework for the next two weeks.

Stage 2a – Two weeks at home with lots of work

Stage 2b – Pray it stops raining

Stage 2c – Realize it’s not going to stop raining and pick my way through some grass like areas trying to just keep the horses in shape.

Stage 2d – 30 degrees and freezing rain -- Just give up and start dreaming of Florida and 85 degrees. Who needs prep anyways?


Fantastically, the drive to Wellington was mostly uneventful. No polar vortex related traffic, no colicky horses, just the awesome BFFs DC and TJ hanging in the trailer being their angelic selves.

However, I can tell you that if you need a friend at an Ag station, Howard at the Escambia County office is the man to know. Howard and I became close as the coggins I printed wasn’t signed, my Health Certs didn’t match the other paperwork, and the State Veterinarian wanted to quarantine me for 24 hours. I placed a panicked phone call to my vet, had new paperwork emailed to me, and then sent to my new BFF Howard. Bless his heart, he printed it for me, sent an online copy to the State Vet, and got me out of the quarantine restrictions. Thank God for small favors by Howard who clearly went above and beyond to help get me to my destination.

Stage 4 – Arrive!!!!

We arrived to the PBEC at a decent time of 5pm, which seemed decent until I realized the daunting task of everything that needed to be done to settle the horses. We are stabled this year on the show grounds instead of one of the farmettes offsite. Our long term stalls were full, so we had some layover stalls on grounds. After finally heading to my winter home (I’m the sometimes roommate) at 11pm, I crashed with dreams of those blue ribbons that I was sure to win, or something.