Tuesday, May 28, 2013

KDA Wrap up

Back in Cleveland, we have returned to humid rainy weather, after a fun weekend playing with a couple dressage horses in Kentucky.  The show finished on a great note with Angela scoring a 68.8%,  winning 3 of her five classes, and qualifying for Regionals!  She rode amazingly all weekend, and York was up to the task of showing off his big gaits.  Goodman, also owned by Angela, blew away our expectations (honestly we weren't sure what to expect!) and placed in the top 5 every day in the FEI Prix St. George.  I could not have been more proud of him! We still have ALOT to work on, but to be in the mid sixties everyday was more than I could have hoped for with this guy.  I think that we are slowly turning some big corners, and with a bit more collection we will be in the high sixties. Goodman is sometimes tight through his back, so I tried the Cavalor FreeBute Pro the second two days of the competition, instead of the typical therapy that we give him.  He was much looser in his topline, and felt generally more comfortable with less warm up time needed.  I was pretty impressed with how well this product worked, and I will be sure to use it again.   It has been such a joy working with this horse and bringing him up the levels; I just love seeing him having fun and being successful, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to ride him!  On Saturday night and Sunday morning we took some time to watch the CDI Freestyles, where we witnessed Anna Marek (Tsjesse's previous rider) WIN the Grand Prix freestyle with a 70%, and saw Silva ride a beautiful (and fun) freestyle with Rosa Cha to Alicia Keys Girl on Fire. 

We did some shopping in the wonderful trade fair, and bought some new jumps for Angela's new stable, River Edge Farm.  This is an exciting adventure as the property is adjacent to White North, and will boast two Attwood Equestrian Surfaces for her riding pleasure.  It is going to be such a gift to have an amazing arena with mirrors for dressage and good footing for the horses to jump on!  I can hardly wait! I also got to welcome back my little Sister Mary, and her family to the show scene! Its  so good to have our supergroom back, and she did a great job keeping us all at the ready.  Its special to have Mary back with us for the summer...I MISSED HER!  Probably my clients did too, because it takes a sister to keep the other one in line!

On Monday I was invited to judge the combined test at the Bath Pony Club, and had a blast!  This is the second show I've judged, and I really enjoy it.  Maybe this can be a second career??? I tried to give each rider positive feedback and offer a helpful tip that could help boost their scores in the future while giving them a good experience.  Personally I have been on the receiving end of some tough comments from judges, and I always appreciate when the official has some positive constructive suggestions to help improve myself and my horse.   This weekend we go back to South Farm for the Combined Test, and then Grand Haven the following week for a dressage show.  Hang onto your hats, June is going to fly by!

Friday, May 24, 2013

KDA part 1

Today was the second day at KDA in Lexington KY, and our horses were amazing today. Angela rode a brilliant test with York to garner a 68.8 at Training level test 3, and I could not have been more excited for her! She was tactful while really being brave and riding bigger gaits and a more uphill horse.
Goodman was absolutely outstanding getting a 64.3 in the Rolex arena today in the FEI Prix St George, coming in 3rd out of 12!!!! We all got a little emotional about this because it has been quite a journey for Angela (and me) with this horse. We had one bobble in the changes but otherwise rode a fairly clean test. He was less than a point from the leader, and I know I can ride a better test, so cross your fingers for tomorrow. It's going to be very fun!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Epic" weekend with Boyd Martin

This weekend we had not only amazing weather here in Cleveland, but we also had Boyd Martin one of the top Event trainers and riders in the country grace our town for two days.  Boyd is on the injured reserve list as he rehabs his ankle, and he graciously came in short notice to teach us all a thing or two about jumping, and a lot about what it means to be good horsemen and women.

Friday night the crew from White North and South Farm were treated to an Indians game with Boyd courtesy of Jessica Hart and Matt Dolan.  They made our evening very special by generously giving us each a ticket to sit in their season seats which are right in the front row behind the dugout on the third base line.  Jessica and Matt also gave Boyd a grand tour of the field, and made sure he had an amazing experience at a classic American Baseball game, with Matt giving him the play by play and strategy commentary while discussing the differences between cricket and baseball.  The Indians put on an outstanding show coming away with a win against the Mariners in an exciting home run finish in the last inning, and topped it off with a stellar fireworks show set to Beatles music to kick off the summer season. 

Saturday, we got down to business with  Jessica and I each taking a private dressage lesson.  The lesson I had was hugely beneficial, as Captain is difficult to ride on the flat, and we worked ALOT on his lateral suppleness especially on the right side.  Boyd helped me find better "gears" in both the trot and canter, and reminded me to use transitions ("5000 times") to make my horse "great".
 I was extremely pleased with how rideable Captain was, and we have lots of good homework.  As a side note, one of my clients had asked me why I, an upper level dressage rider, was taking a flat lesson.  My response in a nutshell...there is ALWAYS more to learn, and the moment you think you know everything is the moment that you never really got it in the first place.

As we transitioned into the jumping portion of the clinic, it was apparent that Boyd wanted to drive home some specific points.  He prefaced each group with a chat about why you come to a clinic and what you hope to achieve and take away.  He also stressed that WATCHING the OTHER riders and deciding what you could add or not may be very beneficial.  Here is a basic diagram of the course:

We started out jumping the vertical in the diagonal treble away and figure eighting back to the oxer in the middle and halting in a straight line to get the horses jumping.  We then progressed to the grid of oxers, which had a balancing pole 3yds before each jump to help the horses make a better shape and work on our positions.  We proceeded to work through the course addressing proper rhythm, and the five phases of the jump as it pertained to each rider.  For me, the landing and departure phases were what was stressed, and that I stay in my two point just a bit longer on landing, as well as riding MUCH straighter away from every fence.  We had a wonderful BBQ at White North afterwards organized by Jami and her husband Rick that was a great opportunity to socialize and recap the day.

Sunday took us to South Farm, where Boyd and Chris Gable devised a fantastic course that was very different from anything we have done there before.  Chris moved over a dozen portables, and utilizing the field behind the dressage rings they set a variety of questions for all levels.  They made some interesting exercises at the bank and water complexes that tested horse and rider commitment and ability to maintain a line.  For the seasoned group he stressed adjustability to the coffin and riding a VERY accurate close distance to the "A" portion of the combination.  I have to say that on a personal level, I found out just how special a horse I have, and I want to take this opportunity to once again thank Courtney Cooper for finding this horse for me in Ireland.  He makes everything feel easy and fun, and handles everything in style.  I had a great time watching all my friends and clients jump around, and have to give a shout out to Sarah Greer and Sara Welsh who dusted off the old XC vest and looked amazing on their new horses after a several year hiatus!

Looking back, I think this was one of our best clinics ever, and I appreciate everyone's hard work for making this such a successful event.  I had the fortunate circumstance to develop a solid competition plan for Captain with Boyd, as well as a stricter conditioning program.  We will compete at Training until Richland, and then hopefully (fingers crossed) move him to Preliminary by the end of the year.  I feel very blessed to have this horse to ride and am so grateful for the people that continue to sponsor and believe in me to ride him.  Thank you Boyd for taking the time to come out and coach all of us...it was invaluable!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Boyd Martin Clinic this weekend!

XC from 2012
We are welcoming Boyd back for a clinic this weekend May 18-19th for our 5th year in a row!  Its hard to believe that he has been coming to our community for 5 years! We are truly blessed to have such an accomplished rider and superior clinician continue to come to Ohio, and we can't thank Boyd enough for the opportunity and sharing his time and expertise with us! 
 Below you will find the schedule.  Auditors are welcome Saturday at White North Stable, 3160 Chagrin River Rd, Chagrin Falls Ohio, and Sunday at South Farm on Bundysburg Rd, Middlefield Ohio.  Thank you to Cavalor Feed for supplying our goody bags for the participants!
 Hope to see you all there!

Boyd Martin Clinic Ride Times

Monday, May 13, 2013

Winona Horse Trial

We had a fun weekend Eventing (finally!) at Stonegate Farm in Hanoverton Ohio.  It rained just enough on Friday and a little on Saturday to make the footing very good, and although there was a little *snow* on Sunday as I tacked up for cross country, it was perfect weather for eventing.  Cool, breezy, and mostly sunny.  This was Captain's first time out since last year before his vaccination episode, and I was very excited to get him back out competing. 

Dressage was interesting, with very tough judging and some interesting comments all around.  Captain garnered a 37.8 putting us in a three way tie for second, while Jessica and Zophie earned a 41.3 putting them in fourth in their AA Novice division.  The stadium course was nicely flowing and good forward riding allowed us to get around within the time and leaving all the rails in the cups.  Sunday was cross country, and with a mix of sun, hail, and a little snow, it was VERY blustery and made for some completely wild pretty fresh horses. Zophie and Jessica had a good run around, and came in within the time to finish up Third in her division, after a little drama when they misrecorded her time on course as 9.05 minutes and gave her 88 time penalties!  It was pretty funny, but they had it sorted out in no time.
 Captain just could not hold it together and walk down the hill to the warm up so I had to hop off and hand walk him to the lower drive.  I was laughing the whole way because he was REALLY UP!  In the warm up he was spooking and snorting and while he warmed up well over the fences, he was struggling to keep a lid on.  I have to say its actually fun for me to have a tough horse like this because, I really needed a challenge to up my riding level, and he is like a hot little Ferrari when he gets amped up.  I can't imagine what he would have been like if I had not switched him to the Cavalor Pianissimo!  Anyways, off we went and by the second jump he was locked in hunting down all the jumps, and never looked at a thing.  Captain is very bold and probably the best cross country horse I have ever sat on. He just loves it and it is such a cool feeling when he locks onto the fence from so many strides out. Its funny because obviously people breed horses specifically for dressage or showjumping or whatever discipline, but for some reason it never occurred to me that you could do the same for making a good cross country horse.  I can tell you the Irish have this one down, and as a rider it sure is FUN to sit on one!  After the nonsense in the warm up, I just wanted to let him cruise around at a speed comfortable for him, so I didn't concern myself with riding to Optimum Time for the tie break, and just focused on a consistent positive rhythm throughout the course.  We finished well within the time, and he barely broke a sweat.  We ended up second due to the leader of our division having a time penalty, and being second closest to OT, so not bad for our first event out!  It really would not have been possible without our team of amazing vets, acupuncturists, trainers, sponsors, clients and friends who have all helped or given support (especially a hug when I really needed it!)in some way to get this horse back to normal. 
Aside from having a blast riding Captain, I GREATLY enjoyed watching two ladies compete horses that I helped them find to excellent placings this weekend.  The first being Jessica of course, but the second was Myra Chudakoff Buczek and Mikey...she has worked her tail off to train this green little guy, and mostly on her own.  It was wonderful to see how the partnership has developed over the last few months, and she finished fourth in a VERY competitive starter division that consisted mostly of pros who have ridden at Training or above on their talented up and comers.  What an accomplishment!   Myra and Ted have been big supporters of mine, and it was awesome to see her having fun and being successful. 
This week we have Boyd Martin coming in for a clinic, so I will keep you updated on everything as we go! Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I had the occasion earlier this spring while sitting in a hotel in West Virginia to reflect on what I need to work on to be a better rider. It was a long list starting with, 1. consume fewer donuts,(Dunkin Donuts how do I love thee let me count the ways) but also allowed me to identify showjumping as a phase in which i would like to become much better. I was able to take ALOT of jump lessons in Aiken and made the commitment to myself that once I was home I would MAKE TIME to continue this endeavor as well as go to a couple jumper shows to check our progress.

Progress as measured at the two schooling shows I've done has been good, and I felt like it was time to sharpen up with some fresh eyes on the ground. Today took me to Jeff and Holly Taylor's beautiful Blue Ridge farm for a jump school. Jeff has helped me in the past with a few horses and I knew he would impart some great advice. We worked over one fence doing walk canter transitions, 10 meter circles, and a figure eight exercise that all drove home Captain carrying himself, and me being more quiet, light in the rein, and pATIENT! I am still getting used to how well Captain jumps and how soft and slow he can come into the jump... I have to do a lot less! It was a great lesson, and fun to see Jamie, Holly, and Jeff on their home turf.

I really do love taking lessons, and there are so many pearls to add to the necklace of learning. For me, one of the most important things I can do for myself and for my students is advancing my knowledge base, and constantly seek out fresh perspectives. So be the little grasshopper. Go take lessons!