Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's that time of year again!!

Long time no chat!! I know that it has been far far to long since I have touched base with everyone. For that I apologize. But, have no fear, I am here! So while some of you are carving those pumpkin's, baking those seeds, and putting on your best scary mask, I am thinking of....wait for it....AIKEN!

It is no secret that I am a planner, an organizer, and a little over eager to track down that golden recipe for success. Vaunted is getting ready to go to Virginia Horse Trials and run the Intermediate. He is all clipped and ready to see that VA Horse Center sign. I can not count how many times I have hauled that horse into the horse center of the great state of Virginia. Most people have that one place that they really, for whatever strange reason, just can't make the stars align right. For me that is VAHT. I have no idea why...3 young rider stints, so many horse shows on so many horses, not to mention the jumper shows, clinics, and xc schools that I have been to at the great VA horse center, some odd component always comes up. Be it almost running out of gas getting there to getting lost on course to missing the exit...good golly miss molly. Any who, Vaunted and I are very excited to get back and give it another go. If at first you don't succeed-- just keep living the dream.

Vaunted feels great and is very sad to have not gone to a three day this fall but I knew that, while it could be done and he was sound and ready to go, getting him fit and happy the way that I wanted to for a three day was just not a good horsemanship decision. He ran at Plantation in the prelim. I just let him go out and have a bit of fun, no stress, to real kicking on my part, and it was great to have him with me. Andrea, Will's groom, was still with Nevada Bay on his way back from England, so Will and I had to wrangle 7 horses together. It was a bit crazy. So much so that I even sprayed myself with Wrap Last...not on purpose, it was an accident and let me tell you it sucked. So Will tells me to go get some milk. With my face on fire and actual tears falling from my eyes I run up to the food stand and no milk...just half and half. So Will poured half and half on my face to keep me from literally jumping into the water tank. A picture was taken and yet another horse show story was born!

A moment must be given to something much less comical. The loss of Jennifer Simmons horse at Fair Hill was tragic and my heart aches for her and all that loved that great horse J.B. She had an amazing relationship with him and it is sad time for her. I am wishing her the best and know that the future will bring her great things. It has been said many times before and I will continue to say Eventer are a true FAMILY. I can not express how great it is to get out of the truck after a 15 hour drive and see a face that you have not seen in months and carry on like you just sat with them for that 15 hours. While we are all competitors and looking to get our next meal, we really all have 2 things in common at all times, we want the best for our horses and we want to see everyone come across all finish lines safe. I also want to give a large high five to all that went to Holland last week. Doug, Sinead, Will, and Tiana did an amazing job and it was awesome to hear how positive and educational the trip was for both horses and riders. Education was the purpose of this trip and it sounds like everyone had a great time.

Next on this weeks bulletin is the SOUTHERN MIGRATION! Will and I are looking for a few more horses to bring down south with us. If you are thinking of selling your horse, just want it tuned up for the spring competition season for you, or would like to get the ball rolling on your horses training, we can handle it all! Please feel free to email me or call with any questions. Most people think that sending a horse south is more expensive but it doesn't have to be, so please feel free to give me a shout! Here is to a great VAHT!--I'm packing an extra 4leaf clover just in case. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Go, Go, Go, and then...

It's a bird--It's a plane--It's Nevada Bay!! The big "stinky", as he is known in the barn, is currently overseas representing the US at Blenheim. Oh yea, and this guy named Will Coleman tagged along for the ride. I did get a text from Will and all seems well over there now. I am sure they are fussing over Neville, as it is a fairly standard way to go about the overseas business. When you are used to riding/working with almost 20 horses a day, and you suddenly have just learn to play a mean game of UNO for a few days until the show starts. The other week Will came up with this "wonderful" quote that I am pretty sure he wanted to get put on a plaque to hang on Nev's stall. I think it went something like this, "When you can figure that out you will be able to drink from the streams that lead into the Nevada Bay." I swear he really said that. All odd but slightly poetic quotes aside, I am wishing them all the best and am looking forward to giving you all the updates!

Vaunted is doing very well and liking his new digs. I have been working on getting him stronger and back in action. I am not looking to do a 3-day this fall with him as he really does not need to be pushed to get back to do Fair Hill just because I want to. He has proven that he can jump around anything and while I want to do it, he does not. I am looking forward to having some fun with him this fall and doing some horse trials and working on me. This is where the title of this blog comes in. Working for Will, I have been able to ride a lot of different horses and really think about my riding and thought process.
The other week Will was going up to David O'Connor's for dressage lessons on 2 of his horses and he asked me if I wanted to go and ride his mare Rosetia. I have never had the privilege of working with David before, but it was great. I know everyone raves about him and now I know why. He was able to explain every detail of what he wanted and why he wanted it. The next day, Will and I were out on two horses and he started to explain to me where my head should be right now.

You see, when you are bitten by this riding bug, this ever growing hunger, never ending desire, sometimes frustrating just go, go, go, and go! Then, we all for whatever reason have to take a unforeseen break. So at this point, that bug goes nuts! While I know that taking this break for Vaunted was the best thing for him and it was what he needed, it was still rather hard to watch others leave the driveway and see my suite cases so lonely! Will was telling me that now is the time to take all that "go" that is being put to the side and use it at home. With more horses to ride in a day than you can count on your on you! We are always working on our horses and making them better all the time, what about us. So that is what I am doing as well as working on teaching tactics. I then pick up the phone to chat with my fellow bug bite victims and hear about all the WEG-ness that is going on. There is a lot of energy and "going" taking place out there and, well, when the going gets tough the tough get going!

I am very excited for this fall and what it is going to give to the horses that I ride and students. Also there is a fair amount going on in the world of eventing this fall...this little event in KY or something like that. I think we all need to start making good luck banner's now, you know so they are big enough, KY style!

I have attached a few pics of the farm that I took on a hack the other day. It's nice to remind yourself that you do this everyday because you love it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So little to do, So much time...WAIT reverse that....

Do you all remember the first few weeks of school; you wore all your new clothes, did all your homework with all your new binders and notebooks, and you were always up before the alarm went off...well there was not much time for that at Will Coleman Equestrian! I am working on completing my first month as a Will Coleman Equestrian team member and I hit the ground running! There is so much to cover since my last be prepared for the roller coaster ride that is this post!!

I brought Vintage Trial and Pixie over to Will's on the first of the month and just a few days later we all shipped off to Stuart horse trials. Will had 6 horses going and I took Vinny in the prelim there. Stuart was a blast! It has been a little while since I have traveled with a large group of horses and an actual "team". Andrea, Will's head groom, and JD, one of the working students, left on Wednesday to ship up with the majority of the horses and Will and I left on Thursday with the final few horses. Stuart was the first outing in a while for allot of Will's horses since his injury earlier this spring. It is such a great event and is so well run that it made for a fun weekend. The courses were challenging but asked all the appropriate questions at the appropriate time. Vinny was a STAR! He is so much fun to ride around any course! Even though I had just been apart of WCE for a few days earlier, I was already starting to see and feel the affects of it in my riding at Stuart. I really believe that you must surround yourself with the situation that you want to be in. What I mean by this is that, after even just a few days of hitting the ground running at Will's farm, watching him ride his horses, riding his horses, and listening to him teach, I was able to take that level of dedication and thoroughness and it shinned through at Stuart.

I am rather hard on myself as a rider and, as most of us are, a bit of a perfectionist. While it is important to always strive to be better, Will was quick to point out to me how detrimental this could be. On the second day of me riding for him and us talking about all the horses, he stopped me and shared a few tips on tackling my mental game. Then, just a few days later, I trotted into that show jumping arena at Stuart like I owned it. Granted, Vinny is an unbelievable jumper, I jumped a clean round to finish in the ribbons. Go's your birthday...go Vinny. Oh--and get this--after Will jumped 6 horses and was indeed in the last division he got in the car and drove back to Virginia to be at home on Monday to ride the horses that were left at home! What a beast! Being surrounded by people that are willing to bust their butts for each other and for their horses alike is truly addicting. As most of you know it has been hot enough to fry and egg on your head, therefore we have been starting the barn early and at one point Will was on his first horse at 6 and I was on mine at 7!

After Stuart, Will went to Katie Prudent for a few lessons on some of the greener horses. Naturally, I tagged along to watch and Kassidy, another one of Will's students, went as well. On the way up to the lesson Kassidy shared on of her entrepreneurial ideas with us...a PB&J shop. I feel as though road trips really bring people together. They are also fun for some sight seeing...hence the picture of the Viking ship that I saw on 81N. On an educational note, the lessons were great to watch. Katie really touches on all aspects of a persons riding, from position to technique, and the horses really respond.

Vaunted is up and running again and ready to go! I am planning his fall schedule out and due to some financial constraints, I plan on attending some horse trials and the Plantation CIC***. I am very excited to get Will's help with Vaughn soon. Vaughn is still at Bonnie's farm right now as I have Pixie over at Will's. I am looking to find Pixie a new situation as she is super calm, sweet, and brave, but I really do miss having Vaunted with me. It is strange I know, but think of this: You know how when you get dressed in the morning, go out the door, and just as you are in the car driving out your driveway, you feel a large hole in the big toe area of your sock....yea that is what not having Vaunted with me is like...a large hole in my sock...and it's there all day. Everyone knows that feeling. So I would love to find Pixie a home through a lease to buy or something along those lines.

I am very excited about what the future holds. Will and I are looking to do some more teaching out of the farm and get involved with the eventing community more. So if you are interested in any help with your horse or just have a question please feel free to contact us! In the mean time, I am going to go do some laundry as I have gone through all my "new school clothes".

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thank GOODNESS we are Not all Royalty!

There has been allot going on in my head since my last blog. First I must address something that plagues me and just about every rider out there, no matter what their sport. I have been lucky enough to have been competing a great horse named Vintage Trial. He is for sale and was sent to me because his owner is going to college and the family needs to sell him. He is an amazing horse. He is good on the flat, a very scopey jumper, and bold on the cross country. However this past weekend his score did not show how great of a jumper he really is. This is due to me not riding him to the best of my ability.

I must admit that I do struggle with my show jumping, however I know that my mistakes are just that, mistakes. There is no catastrophic issues that I have, no mental breakdowns, no drastic bad habits, just simply mistakes. However when my mistakes reared their ugly head this weekend, poor Vinny was unable to fix them for me. This is the hard part for me and most riders out there. The feeling that you let your horse down. That feeling when you come out of the ring and you know that what just happened was the result of your horse listening to you and you telling him or her the wrong thing. It makes that area in the bottom of your stomach just cramp up and at that moment you just wish you could wiggle your nose like Samantha off of Bewitched and poof be gone! For me it is not so much that others were watching, while it is embarrassing, it is more about the communication with your horse. The fact that you train so hard, you push you and your horse to keep getting better, and at the moment when you want to show how great your horse is and how hard you have been working...and your silly mistakes cause your horse to look bad. I must say Vinny shook his head when I pulled up after show jumping and I gave him a pat, said thank you and I'm sorry all in the same breathe. Of course Vinny went out of XC and rocked it! The footing was rather hard and therefore I did not push him...he is such a fun horse and I wish I could just buy him myself and keep riding him. He is so much fun and talented.

We all have bad days right. I mean look at Prince Harry falling off at a charity polo least when we make a silly mistake it is not on ALL the news shows out there. Could you imagine if every little mistake you made was broadcast all over the place. I think that the only thing worse than having it broadcast all over the place to the masses, is to keep letting it get broadcast in your head. It is no secret that Vaunted and I do struggle in show jumping. While he is not the most careful horse in the world, I am not the most confident in the show jump ring. I spoke with my future boss, (in 3days) Will Coleman, this weekend and he told me to stop trying so hard and stop being so hard on myself. We chatted about it and I know what I did and could tell him immediately what I did, he said you know how to ride and you ride well so just do it. That is allot easier said than done. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I understand that everyone has bad days and everyone makes silly mistakes, however, how do you take that mistake and learn from it without harping on it. I believe that being honest with yourself, not making any excuses, and facing the issue head on and calling a spade a spade is the best way. Therefore, since Vinny is for sale, when people ask me why at this one show he had rails when he has not had rails in his past at all, I will say it was my fault. I plan on really just changing me, not the horse in the future training. I like to think that really there is no bad horse just a poor communication with a horse.

If Prince Harry can pick himself up with a smile so can the rest of us! I am very excited about my joining forces with such a show jumping king as Will. We have been working on getting a few things off the ground together. We would love to have more students and working students in the barn. With my ability to teach younger students and adult amateurs and Will's extensive ability to get allot out of the horses, we believe that our collaboration will be a force to be reckoned with! I am also looking forward to being able to help him with the young horses and getting the basics on the youngsters. I will be sure to share any and all help that I we eventers have to stick together! In the meantime, I'm just thankful that when I fall off my front door steps, you don't see it on Good Morning America...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Virginia HT, Rubicon, and Cha-Cha-Changes

Summer is here! It has been so hot that you could fry an egg off of the show jumps! I love it. I must admit that I do enjoy the heat, the more I sweat, the more productive I feel. Vaunted on the other hand is not happy with me right now. He is full blown wild. He is usually this very reserved and quiet horse in the barn that just minds his own business, does not run around in the paddock, makes no fuss kind of a guy. Well not right now! He is talking to everyone, making a fuss, and trying to be a race horse again out in the paddock! He is going to give me ulcers...but it does make me happy to see that he is ready to actually start doing something other than just walking. I do miss competing him very much. I have never had to give him any real time off and I have to say that it really is not that much fun. However, I know it will be fun when we get to go out on that first course together again! We have been having working students arriving by the truck load this past week. It is very fun to have people that are excited about learning and respect the horses. I do enjoy teaching and showing everyone all the ins and outs of the sport. This means not just from the horses back, but when the vet shows up, the farrier, braiding, trimming up, packing for a show, the whole 9 yards! However, when you have so many people that things get done in like point 2 seconds, we have to come up with other things to do. So we gardened! (I do not think that is the correct way to say that, but seeing as how I could not have less of a green thumb, it seemed appropriate). I also have been able to get away for a bit with all this extra help and I was able to go back to my parents house for a day. My family, the Adams Family, has an Alpaca Farm. Their farm name is Empty Pockets Alpaca Farm. I have never actually seen an Alpaca before but they sure do look funny.

I have been very lucky to have 2 other horses to compete this summer. Isbond, a very promising young horse of Bonnie's, and Vintage Trial, a SUPER nice sale horse that I have in. Izzy is a young horse that Bonnie got off the track about 2 years ago and has proven to be the kind of horse that needs the slow and correct starting method. He is such a great horse but is rather large and a bit strong sometimes so while I am sure that you will see him in those big time arena's one day, it may just take a little bit. Vinny on the other hand is so much fun to have! He was sent to me via a friend, Jane Murray, to be sold as the owner's kid is going to college. Vinny is very easy to ride and loves his job. I have just started to get his name out there so I am sure that once he is seen he will go fast. Horses like Vinny make you really love the sport and all it's components.

Speaking of components of of them is the wonderful 4 and 5 am starts for the horse shows! I took Vinny and Izzy to VA HT the other week and we are just located about an hour or so away so we shipped in both days. I was the lucky one that got to see 5am on both days! Then the monsoon happened on XC. Poor Vinny, he needed that hat that had the little windshield wipers on it!! The place that they chose to hold the show jumping was a bit was rather small and went right to the edge of the ring so you could see the drop off. Both horses were OK with it though. Vinny had a cheap rail and Izzy is just a bit of a spook so the arena was a bit tough for him. Non-the-less I was happy to be back at a competition on a horse! This past weekend we headed out to 4am! Rubicon is the event in the fall that everyone enters because, well, your still in the eventing season but you are almost ready for a break, and then at the last minute you scratch because all you want to do on the weekend is sleep and eat! So up until this weekend I have never actually been to Rubicon, I have entered Rubicon, but never actually been. It was a very nice event. They ran ahead of schedule and everything went rather smoothly. However, I did not know about this "VIP Parking" thing. I guess that there is this list that is on the fence as you drive in and you if you are on the list then you get to park at the front of the field by the water...well usually, I always check the list but this time I did not... and I was on the list!! It was like we were in the some fancy city trying to get into a snazzy bar. As for the event itself, Izzy was much better in the show jumping and just had 2 down due to his greenness. The cross country was a good test of where he was. He was very good at all the fences and was more than happy to jump everything but was just a bit strong in between. Bonnie is going to ride him at Surefire on a couple of weeks and I am sure that she will be able to make him look amazing! Vinny was a STAR. He is going to go prelim at Surefire and hopefully move on to a new home and teach someone how to go out there and have fun! Vinny ended up 3rd in the training.

I do have a bit of rather large news to share. On July 1, I will be working as Will Coleman's assistant trainer. I was helping Will out with his horses Twizzle and Nevile when he was broken after The Fork and he offered me a job. I feel as though it will produce many new opportunities for me and will allow me to continue to grow as a rider in a strong competitive enviroment. Will has so much to offer the eventing community and he is looking for me to help spread the word. We are looking to expand the teaching and coaching program. I strongly feel that between the two of us we will be able to cover any and all needs of students. From his strong show jumping background and my versatility with the horses we will be able to help everyone! I am excited at the possibility of being able to teach more and do a bit more riding. For me personally, I do feel that Will is going to bring a new spin on my riding. He is not like others that I have worked for as he does have the strong show jumping back ground that will make my thought process a bit sharper. As for Vaunted he is going to stay living at Bonnie's for a bit until he is back in full blown work. He is happy here and I will continue to live at Bonnie's so I can take care of him. I am going to be bringing Vinny over with me as well as the little mare Pixie. I am hoping to be able to sell both of them soon. Pixie is doing well and jumping around little courses as well as going in and out of water and up and down little banks. Bonnie has been very supportive of this move for me. While I was not looking for a job when Coleman approached me, I could not turn down the possibility for growth. I always say that in any position you stand to learn something and I know that this will be no different. Will and I are both very eager and excited to get going not only with more teaching and coaching but also getting horses in on training at all levels. We both share a focused and determined passion for making the best out of every situation. I also have a great respect for how much he cares for his horses. He made a decision not go to Germany with his four star horse Twizzle because of a small irregularity, that to many professionals would be nothing. However to Will, it is everything as he does not want to ask his horse to do something that may be 100% successful. I can relate. So if you are interested in lessons, coaching, or just stopping by to check us out at Tivoli Farm in Gordonsville VA, give me a call! As someone who listens to her gut professionally, I have a good feeling about this. Until next time, drink lots of water!

This is a sign that the farm manager put up because taxi drivers were driving through our farm becuase they said their GPS took them that way. If you look closely the bottom of the sign says, "GPS is wrong".

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not So Horse Related...But Horse Person Related

I realize that most people write their eventing blogs about their horses only. Well I think that is far to normal and typical. I strongly believe that everyone has their own spin on just about everything. It is clear by the vast types of riding styles, clothing styles, warm-up styles, etc. As I have said before, this job being a full time rider, is not just a job. It is a full blown lifestyle. Therefore when I think of "so and so Eventing" I think of all components of their style and flair. That being said I have to share this life story with you.
OK so, I was driving into town for a meeting and about half way there I was going around a curve and witnessed an accident. There was a motorcycle rider that totally wiped out right in front of me! He slid clear across both lanes of traffic right in front of me! I immediately pulled over to the side of the road. Now I must explain that I was driving my truck because my 1996 Subaru, is well, a little not so reliable. I was on a rather busy road and in a big truck I decided to pull all the way off the road to help the biker. I mean this guy totally ate it right on the pavement and for all I knew he had a concussion or a broken bone! So I jumped out of the car and turns out the guy was fine...he was really embarrassed and busted a few things on his otherwise very shiny bike, but all in all was fine. Chuck, I know his name was Chuck because he was a mechanic and it was on his shirt, started his bike and drove off. So I go and get back in the truck and go to take off...and then I didn't. The truck was stuck in the mud....I flip it into 4x4....I spin...I back up...I spin...I get out and take a look...I'm axle deep in the mud. Freakin' great. I was now going to be an hour late for my meeting and my truck had to get towed out, of a ditch, because I tried to help this guy on a motorcycle. So now my truck is covered in mud and I totally looked like that blonde girl that cant drive her truck. And I swear, all of this really happened!
Another recent traffic incident that I was in took place last weekend. Bonnie gave me the weekend off and I took it! I usually love to work. I try to take as few days off as possible as a day missed is a dollar less and a lesson lost. However, everyone reaches that point where you just need to take a day off. My very best friend Danielle Feiner was having a birthday celebration on Friday, the only thing was that D lives in Philadelphia. So I got in the truck and headed for 95 north. Only to get there and be halted rather quick. It should only take 4 hours to get to PA from our took me 8. uhg. It was worth it though. I got to live in the city for 2 days! I actually went rollerblading in the streets of Philadelphia! (insert the Bruce Springsteen song in your head and me on roller blades, trust me it's funny) I then went to Unionville, PA. I have several friends there and there was a bonus treat there in Unionville. A deep fryer. That's right a deep fryer. My city friends informed me of the proper way to deep fry just about anything. So we did! We deep fried everything from potatoes to a cookie cake!! It was great fun. Then I got back to VA slightly sick from the fried food. Oh the life we horse people can lead.

I just had to share these stories...when I actually get out of the barn I really don't know what will happen. Vinny and Izzy are going to VA horse trials this weekend and I will be sure to let everyone know how it goes! In the mean time check out these video's of both of them as they are both for sale. Cheers and make sure to drink lots of water after eating massive amounts of fried food. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jersey Fun and Thoughts

So Conor and I just got back from Jersey earlier this week. While the event did not go quite as he had planned, it was a very successful event for him. He was able to ride his horse in a very smart way and reacted to what was happening. That is a hard lesson to learn let me tell you, I still have to remind myself it it. Kim used to always tell me that I must ride what is happening and not what I want to happen or what I think is going to happen. After Conor had his second stop on course he was very smart to throttle back on the pace and just ride the horse home on a good confident step but not pushing him against the clock. While we were watching him go around and waiting for him to get home, I must say that I was very proud to say that I was apart of his team at that moment. He made a few mistakes but the issues he had on course were his and very easily fixed. This he knows and therefore he was thinking of his horse out there and what the horse needed at that moment. If I am able to teach someone any one thing while they are here at Bonnie's, I would be so thrilled that it be the "listen to your horse and think of your partner" lesson. Well done Conor.

The course at Jersey was much different than it has been in the past. It was much more galloping and, in the CCI** at least, you were at your second minute in the early part of the jumping test. So that was great for the horses to get going. However John did make the course a bit more challenging in the back with the terrain. There were two long "pules" up the back hills. Everyone was saying that those pules really made their horses work. It was a good FEI course. The dressage judging was a little different at times. From what Bonnie said, you had three judges that all like specific things and those specific things really were not anything that the others really wanted. So that was a bit odd but clearly the horses that did well were very good. Show Jumping I feel is always hard there. I don't know why but I have always thought it is a challenging course and definitely makes you thing throughout the course. Which is good! So overall I quite like Jersey and think that the event is run very well and I hope to be back next year. Now if only they could get rid of the turn annoying! I now know why people up north have road rage. You have one group of people that is going like 12 mph and another that is going like mock 10. uhg.

Now onto a few other fun facts from Jersey. While I do like to help and was very happy to help Conor and his horse at Jersey, grooming for one horse, can be a little slow sometimes. Therefore I like to walk around and talk to EVERYONE and maybe create my own fun. Most of this fun at Jersey took place around the food. The Furlong's set up a breakfast and snack table at the end of the barns for all the riders and grooms and really anyone who is in the barns working. It is super nice and they had some of the biggest donuts I have ever seen! They were, no kidding, as big as my was AWESOME. They also had bagels with peanut butter and jelly...there is nothing better than a good pb&j on a bagel. Ok so anyway back to the funny morning Doug Payne, Lillian Heard, and myself were chatting and eating and Doug challenged Lillian to a thumb war contest. Doug loves this contest. He is crazy and a huge cheese head. I can say this because he is one of my best friends. Well seeing as how Doug is built like the jolly green giant, his thumbs are as long as that darn New Jersey turn pike. Lillian was putting up a good fight but to no avail. Doug is still the thumb war king. BUT on more important news I was deemed the best dressed groom at Jersey! I must admit that I did actually make up the award, but that is neither here nor there. I like to wear nice blouses when at the barn. I just feel as though the "look" is part of the image. Therefore I was getting comments on my blouses and my naturally I ran with it...straight to Eventing Nation. I may have an "in" with Eventing Nation as one of the vet's, Dr. Jeff Brashear, is the owner of the place where John keeps his horse in Virginia. Use all your resources, right! The way I see it, a win is a win! :) I was not able to ride at Jersey so I had to come home with something! I was proud of my win. I now need to go get some new blouses. You see I was so proud of my outfit that I was showing everyone...and I do mean everyone. I like to talk to people. So now I can't show up at the next event in the same blouses. That just would not do for the best dressed eventer. (Which is my long term goal, good thing that Silva Martin does dressage!) I have to at least rotate right?!

With Vaughn finishing his healing from his surgery, I have not been to an event since late March. As we did not plan on having time to take the young ones out much until after the spring three days. So needless to say I was so happy to be back at an event. It is funny when you try to tell "normal" people what you do for a living. The best way I have to describe it is that this job is not a job, it is a lifestyle. You are either willing to give up all your time for it or your not. I am. That being said all my friends, all my fun, all my stress, all my nerves, all my tension, all my laughs, all my jokes, all my energy is placed and takes place at events. I think of all the people and friends at events and to be honest I consider some of them as close to me as my family. This sport/job is so intense at times and so demanding that you don't see it as just a job or a sport and no one, but those that do it, understand and can relate. So for all of your people out there that have listened to me cry, stress out, freak out, wine, and overall ramble....I thank you ever so much!! I also encourage you to do the same to me! Chances are I have been feeling the very same way that you are and it all always comes full circle. I was so happy to see everyone at Jersey and see how many people were making smart decisions when it came to their horses and a few riders were quick to pull up on course and make the decision that today was just not their day and were looking to the future. I was so proud of Lillian Heard who finished 6th at her first CCI***. It was great to see her do so well. This is Lillian at the first classy.

Next on the calendar for me is Virginia Horse Trials. I have 2 horses going, Isbond and Vintage Trial(Vinny), and they are both for sale. Also make sure to check out the Eventing Radio show next week as I will be Co-Hosting it again and guess what......wait for it......I am getting my own segment!! That's right, they must have gone full on crazy or have nothing better to put on the air than me! Just kidding, it is going to be the best thing that you have ever heard! :) Be sure to listen in and see what it is all about (as I am not really sure what it is going to be about, I am just going to run with it.) Vaunted is going to get legged up soon and I am going to make a plan for him. As far as the distant future I would love to get him over seas next year. It is very rare that you have a horse in your lifetime that you know will do everything in his power to get you through the finish flags and complete a big event. Seeing as how the cost of doing this is going to be very hard to cover I am looking at doing allot of fundraising now. I am looking to schedule clinics, lessons, talks, and sponsorship anywhere and everywhere. I am a member of the American Horse Trials Foundation which will make any and all monies tax deductible. No amount is too small and any situation will be helpful, so if you are interested in setting something up please feel free to contact me. The sport is sometimes lending riders to believe that you need to buy an expensive horse and have allot of money to make a go of it at the top levels. I am hoping to be living proof that you just need to have a good work ethic, never stop asking questions, and never turn down and opportunity to do anything! So until next time, keep kicking, go buy a nice blouse, and eat a pb&j that is all. :) Happy Driving.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cheeseburger in Paradise!

WOW! I want to start by saying a HUGE HUGE congratulations to everyone at Rolex 2010. I am honored to say that a few of good friends were competing at Rolex this year. Everyone looked amazing and there was allot of talent galloping around as well as leading the way. From an onlooker the weekend was a success. Oliver's fall was unfortunate and I know that we are all wishing him a speedy recovery. In allot of the reports about the course and the layout of said course, the general comment seemed to be that it was easier this year and more of a generous track. From a personal soap box I must reply with this, a four star is a freakin four star! I realize that to some extent the technical stuff may have been a little less than years past but the heights, widths, distance, and atmosphere is still that of a four star. After Vaunted and I jumped around Rolex in a confident, quick, and overall pleasant way, (in my personal opinion of course :) ) I was lucky enough to then travel over to Badminton with Bonnie. When I walked around that course I will say that it was a bit trickier with a few combinations and it never really let you take a breather. However, Badminton is known to have the reputation of being one of the hardest four stars in the world. Rolex, mind you, has the reputation of being the "largest stage" of the four stars. All that being said, when I heard people saying that Rolex in 2009 was like a 3.5* I must say it was a hit to the gut in some small way. The guts that it took for me to go out there on my little OTTB and jump around with all those people watching and warming up for the first time with the likes of Lucinda, William Fox-Pitt, Tim Lipps, and all the other big riders from all those other countries, was huge! To walk around the xc course Saturday morning with my number on and have people taking my picture, who mind you have no idea who I am, and then to walk up to the Normandy Bank and have Lucinda ask me what line I'm taking....almost made me vomit! The moral of this "rant" is that I want to give a MONUMENTAL high five to everyone that even entered that little event they call Rolex! I hope to cross that finish line a hundred more times in my life but I can only imagine that nothing can replace the feeling of crossing the finish line for the first time aboard my best friend. Non-the-less I will be sure and test that hypothesis out many times over and let you know my findings.

It was a bit hard to be at home this past weekend. I must give a big thanks to EventingNation. John did a great job covering the event and even though my internet at the farm is rather slow, we were still able to get his reports. Eventing is a much different sport than most and for that I know that we are all grateful! It is such a emotional and mental roller coaster. Which leads me into the title of this blog. You see I am a massive Jimmy Buffett fan. My parents are parrot heads and I guess I just grew up with it. I have a few major goals in life; aside from the glaring one, I want to live in a fancy hotel, and have the lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett. That means operating on island time! Oh, and get little umbrella drinks with every dinner, but that is just and insignificant detail. Not having Vaunted at Rolex this year and making the decision to let him do his thing for a bit has given me a bit of time to try and bring everything back to the big picture somehow....insert Jimmy. I must copy some of the lyrics from his song Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes;
I took off a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year
All of the places and all of the faces
Wonderin' where they all disappeared
I didn't ponder the question to long
I was hungry and went out for a bite
Changes in latitude changes in attitude
Nothing remains quite the same
Through all of islands and all of the highlands
If we couldn't laugh then we would all go insane
Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of places I've been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again
If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I've seen more than I can recall

Oh, yesterdays over my shoulders
So I cant look back for too long
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just cant go wrong

I mean, if you are an eventer, you have to be able to relate to at least one line of this song! We change out "latitudes" just about every weekend, nothing remains the same with horses, and we are often times being asked to change our outlook on any given day! For goodness gracious everyone knows how much I love to laugh!! The louder the better. At the risk of over analyzing I really do think that we cant look back for too long, like good ole Jimmy said there is just too much to see! It is so easy to get caught up in the what's hot and what's not thing. It is so easy to see who likes who and who is the new kid in class. It is so easy to blame someone else or worse the horse your sitting on. Now I am not saying that I have a specific reference or anything at all with this, but it is for my own mental clarity that I say this. As in any profession, you have to "play the game" to an extent to roll with the big dogs. That being said the scoreboard and results don't lie and you know what...if something suddenly ended tomorrow, we could all adjust to the fall. Being apart of a couple upper level event teams, I know how easy it can be to get wrapped up in the right now, the visions of good times and how much you want something. However the thing that makes the good things so much better, the speed bumps along the way. Oh that Jimmy Buffett, he is such a wise sailor and a savvy business man! So the next time you are eating a cheeseburger at a horse show, holding your best steed, take a moment and try recall the whole year and all those faces...(insert umbrella drink)...then give a laugh

Here is a fun link to this song live in the 70's: Jimmy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Horse is WILD and My Phone is QUIET!

Bonnie told me 2 weeks ago that the next 3 weeks will suck for me. She was right. Last weekend the crew went to Fair Hill and I was at home by myself....I hate being by myself! I did have approx 6 horses to ride and chores to do so that was good fun.

However, any of you that know me know that I talk on the phone more than a Wall street stock broker...really I do. Not this week though. I want to wish all my friends at Rolex the very, very, BEST luck!! I also want to let them know that a phone call every now and again would not kill them! I love knowing whats going on from riders to grooms alike. On a side note, I am learning that this sport can be a funny scene as a profession. It is often times hard to describe the level at which you have to be dedicated in order to make a real go of it. Sometimes people get in and had no idea how tough it can be and decided that the upper level world is not for them. To each his own. For me, I love it, I thrive in it, the more I do the happier I am. That being said it makes it even harder when things don't go as planned.
I have said it time and time again, but it does take an army/village to get just one horse to the top. Therefore everyone invests their blood, sweat, and tears into that one thing. Everyone from the grooms, to the riders, to the owners, to the cheering squad, each have their own level of emotions involved. I have worked in several upper level barns when you have to go to plan B and it is amazing how everyone has to ban together. I must thank everyone for their support for Vaunted and I. Vaunted right now is such a pain in the butt!! He is wild...I have to graze him on a massive lunge line so when he tries to run away or leap, rear, buck, I can hang on. I am giving him all the time he needs right now. I am taking it rather slow and conservative. While he is sound, I just feel as though I need to let him tell me when he is fully recovered from the surgery.

Typically, I like to consider myself a bit of a realist. Meaning that I know horses get hurt sometimes and things don't always go according to plan. However allot of this sport is built on dreams. Isn't that odd, it is really a very odd profession, but we all love it. OK, so this is how I see it....please feel free to comment....but I've been doing allot of thinking and this is what I came up with; In order to be good at something, I mean really good, it seems to me that you have to devote 500% of yourself to said task. However, doing say may lead to some mild form of insanity and bad judgements and not doing the so called "right thing". Therefore how does one balance all of that while still being true to their beliefs and not getting sucked into the whole, "keeping up with the Jones' " thing. When I figure that one out I will be a freakin genius. I do think that it is different for each person. I believe that for me and only having one big horse, limited funds, and the strong desire to continue learning under someone, I have to keep moving forward. With that statement, it is important to me to make sure that I am true to my beliefs and what I know I am capable of. I know that I am capable of making the best out of what I have...I am going to hone in on those Mcgiver instincts. I am also going to take all the knowledge that came out of this and make sure I file it in the right place to one day pull it out again to help someone else. Not having Vaunted at Rolex this year does set me back a bit. However it has opened a few new doors that I might not have seen if I was at Rolex.

For example, a good friend of mine, Molly Bull is with child! Therefore she is wanting to send me her training/prelim youngster to ride and compete. Also we have been working on getting more sale horses in and riding and competing them. I have also been able to help a fellow competitor, Will Coleman, while he is healing from his fall at The Fork. All of this has been great. The bad part is that all of Will's stirrups are to freakin long and I have to roll them...all of embarrassing! He only kind of makes fun of me for that. I love opportunities like this. You get to see how someone else's thought process works and how their barn is run and it is just another bit of information for the future. It is amazing what you can learn by just being around. It is also a good time to really take a look at where I can make my role more present in Bonnie business. I do love riding and teaching the working students but I also know that I am able to take this very situation and use it to lead by somewhat of an example. Everyone jokes that I am just a bit neurotic when it comes to my horses and my stuff and that is just how I am. However that neurosis definitely paid off this spring, in the simple way that I will be able to have a fall season and more with my horse. I could go on about this for years, but you get the idea.

This past few weeks I have been suddenly allot more laid back! It is funny how once you make a decision and remove the stress you are able to eat, sleep, and laugh allot more! As many of you can attest to...I laugh often and loud! Conor and Liz, our working students, have been loving the "skip the 4*" Ashley. We suddenly go out for lunch a little more and I am not having a panic attack over every little scrape or bump. Liz is on track to make the big move up to prelim in a couple weeks and Conor is on his way the the CCI** at Jersey Fresh. They both make me laugh NON STOP!! My good friend and fellow "Team Vaunted" member, Betsy Harrison, just sent me single handedly the most amazing gift I have ever gotten. She sent me this picture of a T-shirt that she made for Vaunted and I. It is amazing. I laughed so hard, I scared the working students. Lainey Ashker has always called my horse "Deer Head", she thinks that he has a deer shaped head. It has just stuck with everyone. So Betsy put, "Got Deer Head", on the front of the shirt...glorious!

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and that I will be writing you next week about how wonderful all the training horses that I have are. I hopefully will not be telling you that Vaunted got loose and ran down highway 15. He might though, he is really out of control. I am looking forward to see what other doors are available and ready to prove that a little hard work will go a long way. Until next time GOOD LUCK TO ALL AT ROLEX!!! Vaunted and I are ready to hear all the details when all you guys get home!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Everything Happens for a Reason...It still Sucks!

First I must start by apologizing for the tardiness of this blog. I have spent the last week putting allot of information together.

Allow me to digress for a moment or two. When I purchased Vaunted as a 4 y.o. OTTB, he had a few chips in his ankle as most race horses do. He then went on to compete at the CCI**** level with these chips and proved to be the machine that I only dreamed about. After much deliberation with my vet, farrier, and coach I made the decision last fall to skip the Fair Hill CCI*** and have Vautned's chips taken out to only aid in his future career. All went very, very well and he was back in action and looking better than ever this spring. I followed all the recommendation and did everything that the vet's and farrier suggested. Anyone who knows me, knows that when it comes to this horse, I would rather skip meals then let him go a day without what he needs.

After he got a few good runs in this spring he came up a bit foot sore and through some diagnostic work I found that the shoes that I had him in were affecting a few of his angles which in turn could make his ankle sore. Therefore I allowed him the time to cool everything down while still doing his conditioning work as I knew from chatting with my team I was not facing any possible long term damage. I knew this because of all the diagnostic work that I had done just to make sure that everything was in top shape structurally. I changed his shoeing and made the decision not to run him at 2 events. Well on Thursday just 2 weeks before Rolex, Vaunted came up a bit sore again. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, I first thank you, and second I am sure that you are aware of the uncanny relationship that Vautned and I have. That being said, on Thursday I made the decision not to take my wonderful horse to Rolex this year. He just needs a bit more time to let that ankle calm down after surgery.

This is the first season that this horse will miss in the nearly 8 years of competition. After talking to Dr. Brady, I could run him and see what happened and have some amount of confidence that nothing serious would happen. For me that was, in no way an option. I was joking with Bonnie that she should really be paying Vaunted for me to work for her and not me. He is the reason that I am where I am and he is, as corny as it is, my best friend. It was not even a question for me when I found out that after his next to last "hard" gallop, he was not 100% happy, to take him or not. This horse is an athlete and a competitor just like us riders. Therefore I knew that if I placed those jumps in front of him he would do everything in his power to make that a good run. I also knew that I may be compromising something else in him by placing those jumps in front of him. There is just no need for that.

I think that, for me, the hardest thing about missing Rolex this year is that Vautned will be missing it. That horse deserves to be out there on that course getting the recognition that he deserves. It also makes me a bit mad at myself for putting a bit more thought into his recovery back in Sept/Oct. The standard protocol for this fairly common surgery is a month stall rest. Vaunted has never been on stall rest in his life with me. For that I am lucky, one, and two, should have put that into consideration. His body is not used to being in a stall for that long. In hindsight, which is always 20/20, Dr. Brady says that maybe he should have started being ridden sooner and had more turnout a bit quicker. Well you live and learn right...and then get Loves...what a great commercial.
Vaunted is just going to have a couple weeks off and then start up again (without the 8 min. gallops) and he will be back this fall. It is very upsetting to me as this is my only horse and he is my world. However I must say that I am so lucky to have gone this far without a glitch in the time table. Not to mention that this is really very fixable and very much so just bad timing. Everyone says that the key to a good relationship is communication and well here you go! I am lucky to have several other horses to ride and compete and with Bonnie getting ready for Rolex I have been working with her as well as helping all of the working students get ready for there three days. Vaunted is a bit confused and now kind of a pain in the you know what. As he is rather fit and does not really understand why he is not getting messed with 24/7. That is kind of my thing, to bother him all the time. :)
I find myself suddenly able to eat large quantities and I have also become rather laid back...ha go figure, the Rolex diet is over and the stress level just plummeted. I however am fumbling with a few questions. We all have seen the change in the sport and it goes without saying that there are allot more competitors of my generation that find themselves in perhaps another tax bracket than the rest of us. Ok fine, that saying "keeping up with the Jones' " had to come from somewhere right. So the game is how does someone that has limited funds, a couple horses to compete, and a smaller resource pool to pull from, play this game now. Well this is what I have come up with. You put your head down, work harder, market, and sell the knowledge that you have that those others will never have. They will never have that knowledge because somethings you just cant buy. Again with the corny saying but I swear it's true! I have got some wonderful sale horses that are going to be going training/prelim this spring and summer and you never know what tomorrow will bring. In my case last week, it brought some bad news, but this is a new week and that is horses! Vaunted has given me allot of his time to work on furthering my knowledge and skills, and now I am going to give him, in comparison, a small amount of my time so he can get back to 200%. In the meantime I am going to pick up all the extra work I can find in order to get these pesky three day bills paid for!

My next competition is going to be Plantation Field with a 2 training horses that are for sale. "Isbond", who is another OTTB and Bonnie owns, and "Vinny", who is a new sale addition to our farm and is proving to be a very fancy high jumper! I added a picture of Isbond from CDCTA that Brant Gamma took. Vinny is also pictured with his owner. I am also hoping to get my little "Pixie" to here first show this summer. It's funny how when I cant make Vaunted work hard these other guys get to step up to the plate! We do have several openings for sales horses or training horses right now and welcome any inquires.

I would like to close this rather long thought process with a few very, very, very, large THANK YOUS. First to you the reader, second to FITS and Sheryl Rudolph, thank you so much for your support and great product. Third to Beyond Indigo Equine. Kelly and her team and Beyond Indigo have been generous enough to sponsor a web site for me that you will be seeing soon. Check them out at I would also like to send a big thank you to Mike J. Mcnally. You can find him at He has some the of the best photos that you can ever hope for! Also to all my friends that have listen to me, supported me, and understand how important this great horse is to me. I know that everyone will be cheering him on in a few months time.

There is going to be allot "going down" here at Point Above Farm in the next couple of weeks. Bonnie told me that now that I will be the calm one for the next few weeks, I get to keep everyone on the right track...oh great....cause I am so good at not getting distracted by shinny things. Just kidding, I only get distracted by things that spin.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get In the Game

I am three weeks out from KY. I have been working hard on getting Vaunted where he needs to be at this point and I got the go ahead from Dr. Brady and from Bonnie to continue on with my plan. If I were to sit here and tell you that I am cool, calm, and collected, I would be lying so much that my nose would grow long enough that I could build a bridge to Australia.

Vaunted is looking good. He is at a good weight, well muscled, on schedule for his gallops, and has getting those half passes down. However I have got more things going through my head than a I-95 toll booth. It is now when I am so thankful to have such a great coach behind me. While Bonnie is also competing at KY and has her own demons to worry about she is so supportive of Vaunted and I. She just keeps telling me to be patient and to remember that I am on a horse that I have been doing advanced on for 4 years now and have a partnership that is iron clad. At the end of the day he knows how to jump, knows how to answer all the questions out on course, and knows how to do the movements in the dressage. My goal now is to put the polish on that and make sure that I don't let my insecurities transfer over to him. She just keeps telling me that Vaunted will tell me what he needs from me and what is right for that day.

Horses are horses. Each day is a bit different than before. Therefore each day has a new question to ask. I think that is really why we all love doing it so much, right? If they were the same everyday then we would all be on the Olympic team! That leads me into my next thought, "the team". I have been lucky enough to be approached a couple of times by either Mark or one of his group members about my horse and I. However there have been a few things that I still need to improve on before I go down that avenue. I admire so much those that are able to keep their composure while having the team and the thoughts of the team breathing down their necks. While I do want to be apart of that atmosphere and that intensity, I always think of what Kim once said to me. She told me that she thinks it is a blessing that she was not able to go to ride for the team in Atlanta. (I think that was when it was) At any rate, she was in her mid 20's and while she was very disappointed at that time she said it was in the long run maybe a good thing. She was young and she said she had allot to learn before she was able to go out and show everyone what she was made of. I must say, from what I have seen this sport is one that longevity is only going to help you. It is amazing to listen to stories of the true greats in the sport due to the fact that they have so much first hand experience with everything and their reasons for doing something is not just because they read it out of a book.

I take great pride in the fact that I am able to work for someone else and still compete at the upper levels. While it is with great thanks to Bonnie for allowing my to keep my horse as first priority, as she does with Murry, it is a learning experience everyday. I know that while I have been lucky enough to do all that I have at such an early part of my career, there is still so much to do and so much to observe. This game is very much mental as it is physical. That being said I think that for where I am at in this juncture, I have to work on my mental conditioning as well as my physical conditioning. Easier said than done but I will give it a go for the sanity of my horse and everyone around me! :) Without those people, I would not be here.

Having missed both Southern Pines and The Fork, I question myself and if I will be ready. Not my horse, me. I spoke with Bonnie about this and she said, "Ashley, how many horses did you jump today, 4, OK well you only have to jump 1 at KY and that one knows how to jump and knows your thoughts before you have them!" She is (as usual) right. I am lucky right now to be able to jump everything from Vaunted, to a training horse, to the little baby Pixie! Although these horses are at very different levels I have been able to work on myself and my position which will allow me to be better on Vaunted. So while I did steal a few of those "air sick" bags from the plane on the way back from teaching in KY, I will put them away for now and focus on today. Focus on what I can change and not what I can't. I know Vaughn, I know my coach's cell number,(and where she lives!) and I know how to ride my horse.

While all of that is rather heavy, I wanted to mention the clinic that I taught in Lexington KY this past weekend. I was lucky enough to be asked to teach the UKY Event Team. What a great group of "Kids". (seeing as how most of them are rather close to my age!) We had a wonderful facility, to which I must thank Marty Whitehouse for the use of her farm Red Gate. When I was flying into KY it was amazingly beautiful. What a wonderful place. However I got off the plane and saw a million and one signs for the WEG's. While I do not plan on attending as a rider, I still got nervous!! There were even coasters at the airport bar that were adverts for the WEG's. The clinic was a great success and it was fun chatting with everyone Sat. night. Unfortunately the UK game was on at the same time and there was a little sadness in the air when they lost...I am not a sports fan but I felt their pain. Also, as a funny side note, the guy on the tarmak kind of looked like Charlie I took a picture, then I got yelled at by the airline attendant to turn off my cell phone. I have this secret plan in life to be an airline stewardess so I obeyed the rules. Thanks you guys so much for a great weekend and can't wait to come back!!!

I am only sure about the inner working of a few of the upper level riders but I know that for myself, at 3 weeks out from a huge event....I am going to STOP second guessing myself and ride. I am going to listen to Vaunted and trust my coach and my plan. Oh, I will also probably start packing...Bonnie gets so mad at me because I am such an over packer....I'm like a boy scout, always prepared!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ok...Here's the thing....

I am certain about a few things, and I do mean a few. They are: I am Ashley Adams, I ride a horse named Vaunted that I know, trust, and will do almost anything for, and we (being Vaunted and myself) are a month out from one of the biggest events in the world! People say worry about the things that you know, and folks, I gotta tell ya, that really doesn't make it much easier.

At the beginning of the season I had this great plan that was flawless.... well, shockingly, nothing goes as planned. I had to change a few things and skip Southern Pines and listen to my horse. I ended up taking him up to, my farrier, Doug Neilson in PA. Doug is the best farrier of all time! He is so receptive to my thoughts and to my talking and listening to my vet, Dr. Keith Brady at Old Dominion Equine. Doug looked at Vaunted's feet and spoke with Dr. Brady.

**Side Note** Dr. Brady is Kim Severson's vet and has been for a long time. Actually, Dr. Brady is the vet that did the pre purchase on Vaughn when he was a 4 year old for me. It is crazy to think that I have known him for going on 10 years and he has been with Vaunted from the get go...and it is crazy to think that he will still take my calls after all this time. I ask so many questions! He is also one of the few people that thinks my jokes are's the little things right. :)

OK back to business, Dr. Brady was concerned of the effects that Vaughns TB feet have on him when he runs fast and jumps high. So we took some pictures and did the works and came up with a solution, glue on flat shoes. I had him in a different shoe and turns out that good ole saying, less is more, is actually applicable. The only issue with this is that it takes a bit of time to get all things back in alignment when you make a change. That being said, I have made the decision not to run at the Fork for this reason. I know that I could run the horse and Dr. Brady and Doug say that it can be done and would not do any damage but may put stress on the angles that we are trying to fix.

Now comes the hard part. Going back to the things I know. I know that I have a horse that is good at what he does. I know that I have a horse that I have been running Advanced on since 2007. I know that the partnership that I have with this horse is not something to sneeze at. I know that the runs that he has had this season were good. I also know that I will not be missing any gallops or jump schools and that he will be fit. I can not predict what will happen tomorrow or next week, much less a month, therefore I will continue talking to my horse. That sounds silly and cliche but I think that is one training aspect that works for Vaunted and I.

Vaughn is my horse, my only horse. I had the pleasure of reading Sinead Halpin's blog earlier this week. If you have not taken a look at it, I highly recommend doing so. She was mentioning in the blog about making the sport bigger and getting more horses into it. I must say that I agree. We all know how hard it is to get the purse strings to allow us to get where we want to go. From vet bills, farrier bills, coaching, shows, board, costs, costs, costs, costs! Without help from others it is next to impossible to make the changes that need to happen in this sport to allow it to grow. For me personally there is no way that I could even dream of having another horse that is actively competing. I am facing some changes right now due to my finical situation. It goes without saying that we all are in this day and time. So the way I see it we must make somewhat of a "grass-roots" movement for the sport.

Personally, if I did not have a job that took care of my overhead for my horse and a small salary as well as side jobs, there is no way I would be able to compete at all much less the top level. We all question what we are doing and if it is all really worth it...give me a break that's life right. Life with an Advanced horse, or any horse of that matter, is no different. Until they can talk and Eventing can start producing more income and winnings, we are going to keep asking that worldly question. While I only have the one horse and a very limited budget, I cant help but think that if all of you out there that are on the same page as me, put our heads together and figure out what we can do to get more people into what we love to do, then that will make out sport better. That is a really long rant saying that it take a village to raise a child and a freakin event horse!!

My plan for Vaunted is to keep training and working on his fitness. As for me I am galloping race horses to make a few extra bucks and to get fit myself. It also teaches you to hold on. uhg. I am excited about the young horses that we have in the barn and I will be competing a few of them before I run Vaughn again, which will keep me sharp. Thanks Bonnie! I have full trust in my team and my horse. Now I just need to find that pesky Luck character and then I will be set. I am also watching some old Rolex and Burghley video's trying to get my head in the game. Thanks to all my friends that keep answering their phones when I call panicking and wanting to freak out! No, REALLY THANKS!!!

Until next time....somebody find me a four leaf clover!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What you hear when you LISTEN

It is Wednesday before Southern Pines and I am in Virginia. I did have Vaunted entered in the Advanced at Southern Pines and on Sunday made the decision not to go. As much as I would love to go and compete and see all my friends and have fun in my old stomping grounds I have to listen to my horse as he is a major part of my team...well he kind of IS my team.

He ran so very well at Red Hills, despite my error. I also feel as though his dressage is on the upward incline and doing well. However when I rode him last week he just felt a bit dull. This is unlike him on so many levels. He is not a horse that comes out to work and does not give his all each and every time. Therefore I stopped thinking about myself and thought about him and what he needs from me at this moment and this point in the game.

When I did that I came up with several things. The first being my partnership with him. I know this horse better than I know myself. We have been through oh so much together and I know how he works. This is something that I have to trust and be a strong believer in. I have to put out of my head who else is on the entry list, when they last did a hard school or a fast run, and focus on what I know works for my horse. The other thing that I came up with is that I have to stop being selfish about what I want to do this weekend and remember that if I did not have this horse, I would not even have a reason to be out there! Vaunted also has a long and strong history, not just eventing but eventing at the Advanced level. That being said just because I want to be out every weekend and going and blowing does not mean that HE NEEDS to. This horse is boarder line unnatural when it comes to showing up to compete. He knows when it is game time and I swear he knows the blue flags, red on right, and he can count. He has had good runs all year and is really stepping his game up. I was talking to a couple of other riders who have their Advanced horses that have done about the same amount as Vaughn and some of them are only running one event before Rolex.

When I stopped looking at the calendar and when I started looking at my horse and really listening to what he was telling me I actually started to feel better about making a new plan. While the end result is the same the side roads are a little different.
When we are down south there is a great facility but not great turn out and they often times suffer with their feet from the sand and the pounding on the sand affect their bodies. Vaunted last week was telling me that his feet were bothering him and his body condition needed turnout and green grass.

When we were at Kim's the horses lived out all the time. Therefore that is what Vaughn thrived on for many years, that is what transformed his body from race horse to event horse, that is what I know he likes. I also know that I am sitting on a TB. He is fast, easily fit, catlike, and has less than stellar feet. You take the good with the bad. But let me be the first to tell you, I sure am glad at minute 11 to be sitting on this TB of mine!! (shout out to all those OTTB!)
I hope to one day have more than one Advanced horse at a time, but for now he is what I have and I am damn proud of it! That being said I have to take all the little extra steps to make sure that I will be able to keep it that way! I am rather over cautious I must admit, but by george he is going to come out stronger for it at the next one. We are taking this week to work on the dressage and do a couple extra trot sets.

Being the first one back to the VA farm is kinda nice. It is quite and calm. However this means that I am to "set the barn up". While you think that it shouldn't be that big of a deal....let me tell you what thus far has taken place. I get back to the farm and all is well. I start to unload all the extra stuff that I packed up from the south, you know the extra blankets, pads, massive trunks, awkward shaped boxes, large tubs, etc. All this stuff needs to go up the stairs to the loft, OK great, one small problem....most of these things are almost as large as me and match or double me in I have developed a pulley system. I look like a darn FOOL doing it but the job gets done. I also re bedded the stalls, no biggie right...well kind of. We typically use a tractor as the shaving pile is a little far and the stalls are a good size and take a lot of shavings. Well...this kid can't find the tractor. So good ole fashion man power it is! It actually is good for me to get the extra exercise, I guess. :) Doing the shavings is kind of like dragging the arena or the paddocks, instant gratification which I am all about!

Little Pixie also came back with Vaunted and I. She is doing well and working on the adjusting. Before we left the Gibbes she jumped a log and actually jumped so hard and big over it I was almost thinking it was the head of the lake! Good practice. She is having a bit of trouble getting used to her large paddock now but I am hoping she will adjust and stop acting like a loony race horse. :) She is really funny because she loves people and being around people and being in the barn but she is not a big fan of her own kind. IF only they could talk! It's like those movies that you watch when the mom sends her kid to Kindergarten for the first time and the kid wont let go of the mom's leg. Well I have a 15.3 hand kid attached to my leg.....and it is really hairy. Classic.

I took some pictures of the re entering of Virginia via highway 29 north. You know your going the right way when you see mountains. Just like you know your going the right way to the south when you see all those crazy signs for "South of the Boarder". That is also how I give directions, "yea go down 'till you see that funny shaped tree, then turn left there and go to the store with the cat in the window and turn right...". No wonder no one comes to visit me.

Clearly by this blog I have been by myself for a little to long...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don't!

Let me first start by saying that Red Hills is a great event. It is very well organized, competitor and spectator friendly, and overall a great event. I was very glad to see so many spectators and the "big wig riders" out in full force this past weekend. Overall it was a good weekend for the event and for most riders. Just a couple miss-haps but nothing major. The courses were great and asked great questions. Of course in true Red Hills style the competitor parties were great! So thank you Red Hills!!

We left for the event at 4 am on Thursday morning. The trip was rather uneventful and smooth sailing for the most part. Until I got off of the exit ramp in Tallahassee. You see there was a large green sign at the top of the ramp that said "Horse Trials" with a large white arrow pointing to the left, so I went left, naturally. Now not only did I decide to go left due to the large green sign but also because there were several other horse trailers that were of the likes of John Holling and such, going to the left as well. A whopping 30 min later I finally found the freakin' place! I was within 4 miles of the event and I did probably 5 Uturns and drove up and down the same rode at least 3 times to look for these roads that are not to the left off the ramp but to the right....damn sign. Later I found out that if you go to the left then the roads all end up connecting behind the large bridge...gah. Bonnie, who drives this massive trailer with her truck (that is circa 1810 mind you) and can only go 70 mph max beat me to the event by a solid 40 min. I hate getting lost and being late! Anywho, we got there and unloaded the ponies, rode, and went off the the competitors party which was feeding us Bonefish, yum!

Dressage day was good. Vaughn was a little up with all the atmosphere as this was the first event that we have been to this year that has had "that show" feeling. The Advanced h.t. horses had to do the Advanced test B which in my opinion is the harder of the two horse trials test. Bonnie and I have been working on his ride ability in the arena and allowing the softness to show up through out the test. Brian seemed to like the direction that we were heading. Vaughn got a little up in the canter work but had clean changes and was rather obedient. My understanding of how he needs to be ridden in the dressage is finally starting to develop. He is not the biggest mover but very correct and has his share of cadence in the arena. We still have a fair amount of things to work on the polish up the test so watch out Brian! Vaunted ended up 2nd in the division just 2.5 points behind Buck's My Boy Bobby. All in all not bad for the first performance of that test.

On XC day I was the first out of the group. The course was challenging and I was really looking forward to having to jump through the crowds and questions. No question was to hard but the course definitely made you pay attention and hold a line. I was particularly worried about 2 main combinations. The double corners 6 strides to a large ditch and wall and a quick turn to the left to the 2nd water complex. The second water was a rather tall and long bounce in to a bending 4 stride line to a tall triple brush skinny out. People were talking about all sorts of lines and numbers in there. I know Vaughn and I knew that if I could get a good jump in and a good first stride and show him the flags he would go...but non the less I did have to make sure that I gave him a fair shot. I left the start box and he was SO ON!! He jumped the double corners so well I am pretty sure he could have done it without me and the water complex was done practically on a loose rein. This horse is a machine out on XC. He was good on the time and that course is NOT easy to make the time on. After the last water we had 2 fly fences which I was wanting to use as a test for myself. You see I have been working on seeing my distance farther out. I can usually see it 4 strides out but 7 is now my desired number. I changed Vaughn's balance and counted out loud starting and saw both fences 7 out. Sweet. Then you ran down a hill and went to the next to last jump and it was two cabins four strides turning to the left. I just never shortened his stride enough. He came down there on to much of an open step, jumped to far into the combo, landed slipped on the turn and got to the fence on a half step...there was no way for him to jump it...he did try though...this horse is a freak of nature. He is so honest someone should really nominate him for saint hood...he's nuts. I am fairly certain that he did not fall as I landed with the reins in my left hand and my hand was above my head leading me to believe that his head was then higher than the ground.....but I guess it happened so fast and it was the second to last jump so no one was there really to see it. Thank goodness cause I made a rookie mistake. A mistake that I know better than to make. I had such ride ability throughout the rest of the course that I took it for granted. I will not allow myself that freedom ever again. He jumped up as did I and both without even a hint of a scratch...not even a real dirt mark. So that is the good news.

The other good news is that as I was taking the long walk home I passed all the 3* riders. They all said "what happened you looked great?!?" I said (to all of them mind you I had to tell the story uhgg ) that i jumped in to big to the last combination and slipped in the turn and got there on a half step. Will Coleman came up to me later and said, "hey thanks man, I thought of you coming down to those cabins and almost did the same thing...I owe you one dude!" Well your welcome Coleman, glad I could help, no really I am.

I must say that even though my weekend did not turn out as well as it had started I know that it was a fairly good run. The horse jumped amazing and I made a mistake, that's all it was a mistake by me in the point two seconds that it happened. So that is very fixable. Also I know that we are on track which is comforting a month and a half out of Rolex. The horse answered all the questions and did it without even a second thought. I gave him a big pat and thanked him for all he does for me and I can only hope that is some horse way he understands. I then told him that if he does want to be naughty for the next couple of days when I ride him he is allowed to be...but only a couple. :)
I put in some candid's from Red Hills. The moon as we were driving, it was kind of creepy looking, Bonnie getting interviewed on Murry (what a ham he is), and that damn sign that confused the crap out of me!

We have allot of campers in for the week at Point Above Farm south this week. It is spring break for allot of I am sure they will do something note worthy that I will have to explain about in great detail!!
Until next time, go thank your horse