Friday, April 29, 2011


It's day two of the dressage at the Rolex Three Day. Thanks to the USEF's live streaming coverage, I've been able to watch most of the dressage as it happens. I missed some of the morning rides this morning while I was out riding my own horse in her lesson (such a good girl), but I've seen the majority.

My thoughts.

1. Holy mackerel are there some nice horses out there. Several of those horses I just want to feed carrots to and convince them to follow me home. Little Shiraz reminded me so much of Fiona that it was instant love. Of course Arthur was gorgeous in the dressage, but I would rather take Manny home. Just something about him made me think that was a nose I would like to see and kiss every day.

2. Mary King may not have the big wins that her compatriots have, but she deserves every bit as much attention. King's Temptress was elegant and athletic through her test and I was very impressed with her homebred mare. I'm really looking forward to seeing them cross country, since Mary's horses always seem to shine in that phase. It's easy to cheer for Mary, since she's so classy.

3. Phillip Dutton's horse stopped to scratch his nose, another horse whinnied during their test, and I saw some flying changes that were very, very 'expressive'. Horses broke gaits and Boyd Martin had an error on his test. It gives me some hope that even the very best in the world have their oopsie moments.

4. Somebody is riding in their very first Rolex at the age of 50 on their own horse. Dreams really can come true.

I'll have to watch the cross-country as a replay since I'm out for an all day hike tomorrow. I have to get fit for a hiking trip in June, so I'm on a conditioning schedule. Sunday is a spa day for Fiona. She's started rubbing her tail recently so I'm going to take that as an excuse to make her shine from top to bottom. We've got two weeks until her next outing, so I can start working ahead to make her look the part of a show horse. After watching the 4* horses, I'm inspired to turn her out to within an inch of her life. I may even learn how to do quarter marks . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seasons change

Spring has sprung. Living in New England, this means mud everywhere, completely unpredictable weather, and some very wound up thoroughbreds. All winter I've been enjoying 'indoor' Fiona. There's no reason to worry about where the barn is and what the other horses are doing, she is still inside. Now we have returned to the summer barn. It is the return of the 'season change' Fiona. The one that thinks the chipmunk army is after her, that there are gremlins in the woods, and that the above ground pool is a portal into hell itself.

I almost forgot about her and the above ground pool. She's seen it for a couple months, she's used to it. No problem. Right?

Not so much. Our first ride down the hill to get to the ring and she just stopped dead to stare. There was her nemesis, shifting in the wind with its so very dangerous green tarp cover. Every muscle tensed as she waited for the threat to make the first move, but the pool is a wily opponent. It just waited, making plastic rustling noises. The princess waited in turn, ears quivering and nostrils flared. At the first sign of attack, she would certainly get her rider back to the safety of the barn with all possible haste.

The stand off probably would have gone on for hours if I hadn't gotten bored with the whole thing and kicked her along. Instead she had to head down to the ring to work in the great big sandbox all by herself. She darted and spooked and spun, just like I remember from the fall. It didn't help that the temperature was in the forties with a stiff, twenty to thirty mile per hour wind. A new barn, fence repairs, and a cold front? We were doing well that we were able to do the ride at all.

On Sunday we had our two-phase. Rather than blather on about that, here's the video of her rides. We did get a spiffy red ribbon to add to her collection, and she certainly seemed to enjoy herself. We did learn that she must wear boots for dressage warm up. She managed to kick herself just before going in and I was having a heart attack while she walked that off. Such a klutz.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sometimes it's the little successes

Today we had a breakthrough. Sure, it was a mini-breakthrough, but it was still an important one. Fiona went for a walk all by her lonesome and didn't melt down. We just went to the end of the very long drive way, but we did it on the buckle both leaving and coming back. Seems pretty simple, right? And you'd be right, but it opens one very important door.

Conditioning rides.

Yes, I am still fixated on the idea that the princess could handle a Limited Distance ride. 30 miles isn't a world shattering distance. I think she'd have a blast, since it means getting outside of the ring and just going for hours on end. Even if we don't do that, I want my horse to be properly fit for her job. My work on her fitness has been pretty haphazard, and I intend to fix that. I have the start of a conditioning plan courtesy of this site and a map of the local trails.

We are going to get so lost. Even on hunter paces I'm not supposed to be in the front because I can't seem to figure out where we're going. I'll have to borrow my husband's GPS unit that he uses for geocaching so I can find my way home. It's good practice, since we're planning on going hiking on the Appalachian Trail in June. I'm going to see so much of the great outdoors this year. I'm getting pretty darn excited about it.

Tomorrow is the first day at the summer barn. It really is time to get out the fly spray and hit the trails.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Camp Artwork

I finally got a chance to sit down and draw the ideas I picked up from camp. Part two is on it's way!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Data entry

Yes, I did actually ride my horse today, but that isn't what's on my mind. Could be that I'm blotting out that horrible four beat thing we were calling a canter in my lesson tonight . . .

But more to the point, I'm still thinking about the amount of data I'm collecting. I had no idea how many entries there were in 2010. None. And as I collect them all and put them in a spreadsheet, I have to touch each one to get the data cleaned up. I haven't even made it to Chatt Hills yet! I keep plugging away at it (I'm about half way through Area 3) since I think it's something worth doing. It would be terrible if everyone got up in arms about a petition over something that was, in the end, a non-issue. So far the most horses I've seen at one horse trial with one rider is twelve. I can't even imagine handling that, even if it's over two days and you have an army of grooms. That's a lot of rides!

I can barely handle getting the princess ready for her lesson. Mud season is in full swing and she's taking full advantage. She was just covered in mud today when I pulled her out. Of course she was, because I was running late. I swear they have some sort of traffic radio being piped out to them.

Traffic is slow on 495 northbound, keeping riders from showing up with adequate groom time. We recommend all horses with riders coming from the south and lesson times around rush hour to go get as much mud on them as possible. And next is sports, with an update on the scores from the stupid trotting around in circles phase from the Fork.

It's time to get back to the data entry grind, even if I'm going a bit cross eyed from it. Areas 1,2, and 3 are a large chunk of the trials, so I'm feeling somewhat accomplished that I've made it this far. Hopefully I'll have this part of the project done by the end of the weekend so I can get to the fun part.