Monday, April 29, 2013

Goodbye Rolex!

Who knew Tsjesse was such a good blogger? He kept us, and alot of other people, entertained this weekend, and really hammed it up every time he was out.  If we weren't sure before, we are certain now that this sweet guy LOVES to show off.  The last exhibition was right at the lunch break on XC Saturday, and by the time we all went back in the arena for the "victory lap" the ring was lined all the way around with people.  Thankfully, Tsjesse had gotton over playing with the carraige in the ring, and had some great lengthenings, lead changes, and really got into it!  It was wonderful to show the versatility of these spectacular horses with Barb Renico and Lena, the Steenbeeks and Stone Creek Friesians, and Stacy Posthumus and Alert.  We had TONS of fun chatting with the crowd, taking pictures, and being ambassadors for the breed.  I think my favorite moment was when a young girl in a wheel chair asked if she could pet Tsjesse.  Her mom helped her up, and he bent down and stood very still so she could pet his nose and take a picture.  It was really neat.  There were lots of fun conversations, making new friends, catching up with old ones; we met SO MANY people!  I cannot thank the Shaughnessys enough for the wonderful opportunity to ride this special horse, and for supporting our trip to this event.
 It is a real gift to ride this amazing horse, and be able to share his talents.

Speaking of talent.... 

There are so many things I took away from watching all the outstanding riding this weekend by the most talented, gifted riders and horses in the sport of eventing.  From watching Erin Sylvester masterfully try to ease her horse (who was melting down) through the dressage, to watching Andrew Nicholson ride cross country like it was a Sunday hack, I was awestruck.  Having never been to Rolex before, it was so amazing to stand next to the jumps and watch these amazing athletes jump right out of stride and tackle some serious questions.  I think my favorite was the double brush and the coffin...watching the look in the horse's face as they read the question was so cool.  On Sunday we got VERY lucky and stood up against the exit gate under the scoreboard in the Rolex Arena, smack dab in front of fence one.  We couldn't have been any closer unless we were in the ring!  I was most impressed with the quality of Buck Davidson's horses...they all looked amazing, and I felt so bad for him to have rails at the end of what was looking like a masterful round on Ballynoe Castle. My friend Mary and I also took an opportunity to stand at the warm-up and watch a few riders prepare to go to the ring; I found this to be VERY interesting, and also enjoyed hearing commentary from several riders' entourages as they warmed up.  We left a bit early so that we could get Tsjesse on the trailer, and beat the throng of spectators out of the park to get home, luckily dodging the deluge of rain for the most part. 

After seeing all the sights, sounds, and unbelievable riding, Rolex has made me resolve to ride better, be more determined, and seek out the BEST training possible.  I hope that someday I will be blogging about not only having ridden a Friesian at Rolex, but with a little Irish luck, and alignment of stars, starting a special Irish Sport horse too.
 We have goals.  We have to have dreams.  We have ALOT of work to do.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Xc day!

Today is my last performance and the biggest day for the four star horses. Cross country day is HUGE because the horses will be galloping full tilt for 11 and a half minutes and jump 28 obstacles some with combinations of fences. Therese and Mary are so excited that they got here early and left to go watch. I hope they get back in time to get me ready for my ride at 1145! I will update you throughout the day as to how it all shakes out!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friesians can gallop!

Dear Captain,
As promised, I was able to watch a bit more today and have much to tell you! Some of the four star horses did their dressage test today, and I can't believe that they have to gallop and jump cross country and then do stadium jumping too. Captain, good luck buddy because I get tired just doing a dressage test!
There are tents flags and people everywhere- it's very exciting! Therese took me for a lot of walks and I even got to ride in the performance arena before our musical ride. It was fun because lots of people came to watch me practice. Our ride was at 1 and I was lucky enough to be the first one in. As soon as my music started I got very excited and wanted to do lots of flying lead changes. I had a lot of fun dancing around and everyone was cheering and taking lots of pictures! I wish my Mom, Marian had seen me because she would have been very proud of me! At the end all of my new Friesian friends and I went in together and did a victory lap to a traditional Dutch song. My friends that do the four in hand carriage driving were right behind me, and I did not want them to catch up so I told Therese to hold on because I wanted to gallop! I know how much she likes to gallop and jump so I decided to run AS FAST AS I COULD and jump over the cones that were set up in the arena. Therese did not seem to think this was a could idea even though she was laughing because she kept trying to make me go in a circle. When it was all over, I got to stand and take many pictures and meet a lot of people.
This morning Therese and her friend Mary got to the barn very early and I got to go for a long walk. They told me they were going to go watch the four star horses do dressage and I kept telling them I wanted to go to, but they said I would have to wait my turn and go at 3 o'clock. It's very hard for me to be patient! I will post more later....
Ta ta for now,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dear Clover Joe

Dear Captain-
Greetings from the Kentucky Horse Park! Your Mom told me that I have to take good notes about all the goings on here because she wants me to give you advice for when you come in five years.
First of all, I think your Mom drove too fast because we made it in under 6 hours, but she is a very good driver, so my trip was very smooth. Unfortunately I had to wait on the trailer for some time in front of our stalls because they were late delivering my fluffy bedding. I tried to tell her I wanted out by stomping my foot, but she just told me to stop and made me wait for the shavings. It seems like there are less horses here than when we usually come. Some of them must be very important because their stalls are sectioned off by tall metal fencing, and you have to have a special pass to see them. I got to be one of those important horses in the fence when I went to Dressage at Devon and maybe someday you will be too. However, I am very excited to say that there are four other Friesians in my row! I haven't seen this many Friesians in one place since I lived in Holland! There are lots of people bustling around and they all look very serious and important. I got to go out and graze for awhile-the grass here is much higher than at home and much more lush! I tried to see the important horses from afar between mouthfuls, but there was only one gray one out. Your Mom had to go talk to the people from Cavalor about your new grain, and they gave her lots of cool stuff that I get to wear this weekend. They even gave her a banner just like the one she has for County. I am going to talk to my Mom about getting some Cavalor for me too because it smells amazing!
Tomorrow we are going to go check out the ring in the morning, and then our ride is at 1pm. I can't wait to show everyone how much I like dancing to our music! I will try and watch more of what's going in with the important horses and report back.
Your Friend,
Tsjesse fan it Beielan

Monday, April 15, 2013

You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you just need smelling salts!

Yesterday we went to the Chagrin Valley Farm Schooling dressage show for some practice with the alphabet in the white rectangle.  I was very excited because four of the five horses were horses that I purchased with the owners, and it was either the combinations first dressage show or the first show back after a long break.  The only thing I was a little nervous about was hauling four horses with the truck for the first time since it broke down, and getting up the hill out of the valley.  "Big Momma"  was a champ and she hauled like a dream; especially since on the way to the barn I drove her like a bat out of hell trying to "tune up" the tranny!   Cindy and Bill brought Promise in their own rig for the first time too, and safely there, we started preparing all the horses.

Cindy and Promise
I had Promise up first as I was riding him in a test before Cindy.  Cindy and I found Promise last year while we were in Aiken at Silva Martin's farm.  He is a home bred Thoroughbred that was owned by Nina Fout, who competed him in the eventing world up to the two star level. She had hoped him to be her next Olympic star as he is the brother to her famous partner Three Magic Beans, but decided to send him to the dressage world as he has very special talent for dressage.  This was Cindy and Promise's first competition, and they didn't disappoint!  Cindy rode him to a 60 and 63% , and we were all very excited!!! I personally can't wait to take these two to a rated dressage show!

Margot and Toro
Margot Luria and her lovely Welsh Cob TB cross "Toro" were next, competing in the dressage arena for the first time. Margot was previously a hunter pony rider, and she and her Mom thought they would like to take a stab at some eventing this year. We searched high and low for a suitable mount for Margot, and came home with Toro aka "Hastening Patriot" a talented little guy we bought out of Virginia.  After working out a few kinks in the first test, Margot rode Toro to a 38.5 in Beginner Novice test B!  I was so proud of her; did I mention she is only 11 years old?! If this is our starting point, then these two are going to be very competitive out eventing this year! 

I took the schooling opportunity to take Captain out for a spin, and we did the eventing test Training A...he was a bit spunky in the warm up, but the test rode very well.  This is a bit of a stretch for him still because I am just starting to get him loose over his back and swinging, so the trot lengthenings are still a work in progress.  He enjoyed the canter lengthening though, and was a good boy coming back to me in the working canter.  I am still figuring out his "formula"... how much warm up...what kind of warm up... so this was a great way to try and work some of that out.  I have no idea what our score was, but I was VERY happy with how he performed and handled the scary window in the indoor.

Our next combos were Sanae and her beautiful mare Leggs, and Stephanie and sweet Miss Killian.  I hopped off Captain and started warming the ladies up.  Leggs was her usual horse show self, showing off her fancy gaits and being much easier to ride than at home! Killian was also working well for Stephanie, and we took a break to discuss how we would go in the ring as they were riding two tests each back to back.  Sanae and I proceeded to the ring and she had a good trot around past the judges stand and went down the center line.  In her excitement, Sanae forgot to salute, and cruised right past "X" turning left at "C" and then the unthinkable happened.  Something startled Leggs, and she bolted out of the corner between C and H.  Sanae did her best to stay on, but unfortunately fell and smacked her head pretty hard on landing.  For those of you that know Sanae, she is probably the sweetest lady I have ever met, and really tries hard everyday to be a better rider.  She has had much success with Leggs, with the high point being Training Level Reserve Champion at last year's Prix de Ville at Lake Erie College.  Stunned, I quickly realized that Sanae had been knocked out and we called for the ambulance.  She woke up before the medics got there, but we took the ambulance ride and spent some time in the ER getting her checked out.  She kept telling me she was so sorry,(obviously this was NOT her fault) and I told her I always wanted to ride in an ambulance, just not like this! I'm not much for telling jokes, but I managed to keep her smiling through it all.  Sanae's husband was travelling from Japan to Cleveland, so we were able to get in touch with him at a layover,(orchestrated by her daughter Utako who is in Toronto and her son Yu in NY city)  and had a car waiting at the airport to bring him to the hospital (THANK YOU CLEVELAND LIVERY!).  Believe me, that is one of the worst calls you have to make.  Luckily, Sanae is no worse for wear, although I'm sure she will have a monster headache this morning.  Instead of earning a 70% in a dressage test, she got a night in the hospital and some one on one time with me, which I would have much rather spent with her some other way!  I am so thankful she is going to be fine, and it just goes to show you can be on the most quiet horse at a dressage schooling show and the unexpected can happen!

I owe a huge thanks to Cindy and her husband Bill, Stephanie and Al, Javier, Liz, Jami, Sara Welsh, and all who mobilized and got the horses home, dropped off Sanae's car, and picked me up at the hospital.  We have an awesome team at White North!  As for Stephanie, she and Killian called it a day and we will just have to go the next time. 

Horse training has always taught me to be prepared.  It teaches you to be calm, patient, and quick thinking in the most trying circumstances, but I never thought it would have prepared me for this.  As a trainer, you hope that nothing will ever happen, but at some point you know that there is a chance a student can get hurt, and you just hope that you will have the wherewithal to deal with the situation with a quiet sense of urgency, fast response, and a little grace.  As for me, I think I will be adding smelling salts to my horse show med kit!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rolex here we come?!

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was taking a lesson for the first time with an "Eventing" trainer named Elspeth Kick. At the beginning of the lesson she asked us what our goals were. I responded enthusiastically, "I'm going to ride at Rolex!" She smiled and said, "well then we have a lot of work to do!" It was a great first lesson, and I rode with Elspeth for sometime after that while she was a professor at Lake Erie College. I dreamed for a long time ( and still do) about riding in the only four star in the US.

Fate is interesting... This year I will be going to Rolex for the first time AND taking a horse-just not quite what I planned for my first ride at Rolex. I am honored to be helping to represent the Friesian breed in a demo Thursday Friday and Saturday riding Marian Shaughnessy's wonderful horse Tsjesse to a funky retro freestyle. Tsjesse has been working on his piaffe, and 1 tempis jamming out to our music, and we can't wait to bring some Friesian funk to the party! Thank you to Marian for giving me the opportunity to ride this very special horse, and to Barb Renico, Jason Tice, and FHANA for inviting us to their special demonstration at the Rolex Kentucky 3day Event!