Saturday, February 19, 2011

Introducing Zophie!

After much anticipation, I would like to take a minute to introduce you to Jessica's new horse, Zophie. She is a 6yr old, rose grey, Tb cross mare by none other that Salute the Truth. She has a lovely temperment, and goes nicely on the bit not to mention that she can really jump! She has been with us for a week now, and is settling in beautifully. She schools perfect cross country, taking on the tough things like water and banks with ease. She is going to be a blast for Jessica to ride, and I am sure they will be giving everyone in Area VIII a run for their money.

Congratulations to Jessica on the purchase of such a terrific mare!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ted's Big Day

Today was a busy day for all of us here in Aiken, and the horses were no exception. We started the day out with taking Theodore over to my friend Courtney Coopers so she could have a look at him. Since Mary and I had never taken Ted anywhere we weren't too sure what to expect. Ted's owner, Becky, had told me that she took him places all the time so he would be used to arriving somewhere new. He stepped off the trailer at Full Gallop (the farm where Courtney is stabled while in Aiken, and incidentally the site of several rated horse trials) and took everything in stride from start to finish.

I know I have been raving about this horse and how he has improved over the last few weeks, but this was a real test. The ring was busy and filled with "scary" spooks, like liverpools, brick flower boxes, narrows and about half a dozen horses and dogs going around. Ted walked in and never put a foot wrong. He flatted beautifully, relaxed and elastic, and then jumped the best yet. We started with a trot fence and then worked up over a smallish oxer, finishing over the small vertical box painted like stones. He was suuuuper brave, and actually started drawing me to the jumps. I am continually impressed by this horse and his willingness to try to please me. He wants to be a good boy and told how wonderful he is. He loves feeling important and like he is the best thing since sliced bread. It seems that the more we tell him how great he is, the greater he actually becomes!

So, not only is he super fancy on the flat, but he has a jump that absolutely rockets off the ground. Check out the air between him and the jumps set to about 2'6 and 2'9". As one of my friends said about my chestnut horse, "he wants bigger jumpy jumps"! I have to admit it has taken me some time to figure out how to not get jumped out of the tack (I thought Z had a big jump!) and get him to use his body more efficiently. I think its finally paying off though, as he had his best day ever.

This is a super special horse and I would love to keep him for myself to compete and see how far he can go. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to be involved in the sport with a horse that has the makings to go far in the dressage arena or possibly eventing. Thanks to Becky Salinger, Ted's owner, for allowing him to come down to Aiken with me (and Jessica Hart for her co-sponsorship)so that I could spend some time figuring him out and also hopefully find an investor/sponsor to assist in his competitive career.

I think that if Ted has anything to say about it, he is just beginning to show us what he is made of!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Goodman and I had a truly amazing trip to Apopka Florida, showing at the Sweetheart Cup. It was a long trip and we arrived to the show grounds around 8:30pm. This meant that Goodman didn't get to see the showgrounds till the next morning which actually had me quite worried due to his little sstage fright. After tucking him in for the night, Rose and I proceeded to the Hampton where I was pleased to find out they do not allow dogs. At this point it was about 10pm, and I was beat. I looked at the lady and explained what a small cute little dog Rose is, and that she is "more of a small human than a dog, and will never even know she is there." After much prodding (and threatening to cancel my reservation) I was "allowed" to sneak her into the hotel through the back entrance. Rose made herself right at home (check out the picture on Facebook) and I think I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

The next morning came quickly and I was at the show by 6:15am. Goodman was perky as I braided and shined him up; he taking me for a walk instead of the other way around. I was lucky enough to be stabled with Nancy Smith, the trainer I work with back home and her team of lovely people and horses. Kathy Dennis was kind enough to offer to read for me and off we went for our 3rd level test 3 qualifying class. Goodman warmed up well and I kept hearing Silva in my head saying "Tell him medium trot but don't go. Dont Go!" We went in and had a good test...not a single spook, and fairly good except for the left walk piroutte. I was so proud of Goodman going in there without having seen the show ring and trying his best.

I was just finishing pulling his braids out when they announced the results of the class last to first. When they got to 2nd, and still he had not placed, I thought the judge must not have liked him. However, much to my suprise he WON THE CLASS on a 67.9!!! I was thrilled. I called Angela right away and let he know what an amazing job he had done in his class.

Sunday came and while Goodman was a little tired, he still tried his heart out and made a good score of a 60.2 for his first time at 4th level. I can't tell you how excited and proud of this horse I wasn't too long ago that we were stuggling with acceptance of the bit! Thank you so very much to Angela Hambrick his owner, for trusting him to my diligent care, and giving me the ride and ability to train this exceptional horse. She has made so many opportunities come to fruition and I am very grateful for her continuing support.

The drive home was very long... there are no highways once you get to a certain point in Georgia, so you end up on state routes going through little towns with a single flashing light...(think the town from the movie Cars) and it seems to take FOREVER! About a half hour from home Nancy called to tell me that Goodman was Reserve Champion at Third Level for the weekend. Now if that doesn't help time fly by I don't know what would. For someone like me, who if I'm honest, was a little intimidated to compete in Florida, showing up in my Dad's SUV and a borrowed trailer (thank you Kathy Goss!) to end up Reserve Champion was more than I could have ever hoped or expected.

For now its back to work on polishing up the Fourth level tests...lesson tomorrow with Silva!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This Week in Aiken...

Well its hard to believe that we have been here nearly two weeks! It has been quite a whirlwind. I have been trying to put videos together to post with the blog, but seem to be having technical difficulties, so I figured better to do the update and then post a link later to you tube.

I thought I would recap the last week since it would be a short novel to go the entire 12 days. Jessica Hart arrived and we had a blast looking at lots of beautiful horses. Much thanks to Courtney Cooper and her cohorts (visit her site at, Kelli Temple, Jessica Hampf, Liza, and many others who took time out of their busy schedules to show us horses. I would personally like to thank Jessica for her patience (there was lots going on while she was here) and congratulate her on the purchase of a beautiful dapple grey 6 yr old TB cross mare named Zophie. Zophie and Jessica are a lovely pair, and Zophie has competed through Novice. She gave Jessica her first cross country school in the pouring rain and never put a foot wrong. These two are going to be tearing it up in Area VIII so look out!

I have had the opportunity to ride with Silva twice now with Goodman, and the results have been astonishing. We worked on his throughness, collection, and impulsion, and have subsequently found a new trot. Its pretty cool to see his outline changing as he morphs more and more into a dressage horse. The fruits of our labor are definitely paying off as he won his first class this weekend in Apopka Florida on a 67.9! Tomorrow is our debut at 4th level, so cross your fingers.

Zigzag completed his first event of the year on Wednesday despite a bad heel bruise resulting from a sprung shoe. We did not have a good dressage score due to his discomfort, but he put in two stellar jumping performances stadium and cross country. His next event is Saturday at Paradise Farm where we are slated to run training. We are having a slight shoeing problem, but I hope to have it resolved soon, and have everything back in working order.

Theodore is growing by leaps and bounds, and he had his first lesson with Boyd. This horse has a huge jump and rockets off the ground like nobody's business! He is getting more elastic and free (not to mention happily relaxed...dare I say more focused) on the flat, and Boyd found him to be "quite a fancy horse." We plan to continue working on the dressage and honing his jumping skills, teaching him to gallop, and showing him to a prospective buyer this coming week. I also hope to take him over to see Silva and get her thoughts as well. On a side note, this horse has really begun to show us the cutest personality. He is a comedian, but also constantly seeking approval. He also has an affinity for Zigzag which is very endearing.

Tsjesse is the sweetest, kindest horse I have probably ever met. He tries hard every day in his work, and wants to crawl in your pocket. He loves to have his face rubbed, and he taps his toe on the ground for treats. Adorable! I am enjoying figuring out all his buttons, and can't wait for Marian to start riding him. He has started turn out in the big field with Ted and Z, and everyone is getting along fine, although Tsjesse guards his hay pile right down to the last wisp.

The barn has gotten very busy with two more trainers coming in for the winter, and the place is hopping! Mary is amazing and helps keep me in line and on time, and I couldn't do any of this without her. Together we went and watched one of the Team Training Sessions at Three Runs Plantation, where Boyd had two jumping lessons with Capt. Mark Phillips. It was great fun watching him jump his new horse as well as the horse he competed at the WEG, Neville.

Lastly, one of the great highlights has been all the new people I have met so far this year. I find it very fun getting to make new friends and contacts. Its great to hear other people's point of view and training techniques!

Well, tommorow is coming fast, so goodnight, and cross your fingers (and say a prayer) for Goodman and I tommorow as we make our debut at Fourth!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Adventures of ....

Welcome to the Adventures of Goodman, Theodore and Zigzag! They are having an exciting time in Aiken, revisiting the sand and sun. They have each had two dressage rides and are showing what great work ethics they have.

Goodman is ready to go see Silva Martin on Thursday, and demonstrate all his new fancy tricks as we prepare for our first horse show in Florida. We will post some footage from the lesson so stay tuned!

Zigzag is polishing his counter canter and doing some hill work to get fit for his first horse trial at Full Gallop a week from Wed., and he continually reminds us that he IS THE most important horse in the barn. Silly guy he doesn't know tricks are for kids!

Theodore has already begun to turn so many corners...this is a great horse for the future in dressage or dare I say it- eventing. He tries hard and is probably the sweetest horse I have had the pleasure to ride. He is handling the environment great, and is Z's new best friend.

Tsjesse, Marian Shaughnessy's new horse arrives tomorrow bright and early, and we can't wait to see him!

Lastly, Jessica has arrived in Aiken to do some horse shopping with us, and we had a yummy evening of Mexican at Mi Rancho to help prepare for the 12 horses we will see over the next 2-3 days.

Mary and I feel so privileged to be here working with all these amazing people and horses!Check back for pictures of Tsjesse and horse shopping fun!