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

Red Hills

Ashley and Vaughn experienced a disappointing weekend in the advanced horse trials at Red Hills in Florida. After leading the pack going into cross-country she and Vaughn were near the end of a foot perfect cross-country round when Vaughn jumped in big to the second-to-last fence, a combination with cabins set on a turning line. Ashley blamed the miscalculation on pilot error and said that he had to add a half-stride to get out of the combination and hung a leg over the "out" fence and she came off over his shoulder. Vaughn stayed on his feet, and both horse and rider are fine.

"There were some tough questions on course but they were good questions and you had to be aggressive," she said. " He was foot perfect and I was upset with myself because it was pilot error. He's not the type of horse to get rattled by something like this though. It sucks that it looks bad on paper but I can’t think about that, he was really good"

Though it was not the result she was looking for, Ashley was ultimately very encouraged by the rest of the round and said that she practically cantered around on a loose rein, Vaughn was going so well. With undaunted confidence Ashley is sticking to the plan and continuing on her journey to the Rolex Kentucky three-day event in April.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ashley and Vaunted Take the Lead at Red Hills

Ashley and Vaunted are in the lead in the advanced division at Red Hills in Tallahassee, FL following dressage. Follow their weekend with live score updates here. Also catch up on all the news at the USEA website and on the Eventing Nation blog.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Join Us for Rolex 2010!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Life in the Truck and a Tack Trunk

View from the front door at the Gibbes Pine Top Morning

Vaunted made his Advanced debut this year at Pine Top this past weekend. He was very good. I am so lucky to be able to ride him. We have been trying a few different things this year and I put them to use this past weekend. Jaclyn Burke and Marley Stone also competed this past weekend and too had a great weekend.

It was great to see all the big horses out this past weekend. The way that the event was run the Advanced horses had Saturday off and I got to do allot of watching. It was great. Vaughn's dressage was accurate and steady. He was loose and obedient. He tries so hard in the show is something that I am still struggling with and he does not take it personally. Cross country is why this horse is worth his weight in gold. He was impeccable. He is so clever and has great foot work. Not to mention he is so honest you could trust him with your first born.
The day was riddled with bad luck. Jan Bynny had a bad fall on a young horse early in the morning. Bonnie was there just after the fall and collected her hat and sent me back to tell the rest of her crew that we could help in anyway. Also she wanted to let all of Jan's kids to know that she would be there all day to help them in the warm up of they needed it. In just about any crisis I would want Bonnie with me. She is so calm and dedicated to helping get the best out of others. Karen also had a fall in the preliminary and Rebecca Howard fell in the Advanced. When I was in warm up there were several holds and my mind started to race. I always try and stay in my own head at these moments. I know my horse and I know that I trust the plan that Bonnie and I cam up with. Non the less when you see riders that are of the caliber if Jan, Karen, and Rebecca it shakes your nerves a bit. There was allot of idle chatter in the warm up about striding and bad jumps. However there were just as many horses that were coming across the finish line that were fine. I knew that Vaunted is a machine and all the distances were right there. The jumps that I was a little apprehensive about I asked a few riders that had already gone around the course and I got a little bit of affirmation from them as well as my coach, Bonnie Mosser.
Vaunted went out on course and was true to form, stellar. As I jumped the 9th combination and jumped the skinny to go down the hill to the corner I saw Cindy Deporter standing in front of me with her hand up. I was being held on course for what I found out later was for Rebecca's fall. I did not know what had happened at that time but it was a while before I was let go. I luckily was help before a nice gallop fence. I guess that Boyd was held twice on the course. I have the up most trust in Vaunted and he was great. He ended up 4th in the Advanced.
So we got back to the barn and got the horses taken care of and got on the road. Only to stop at a gas station to find out that I had a flat tire on the trailer. So at approximately 8:30 pm Jaclyn and I had to change a tire. We did a pretty good job if I do say so myself, it got us home! All the way home Jan and Rebecca were in our thoughts. These two women are amazing riders and sometimes bad luck just happens. The nature of the beast I guess. I do somewhat believe in the power of positive thinking, while I am not sure if this is one of those times to use it, I am going to. I have so much respect for both these riders it is gut wrenching knowing that they are still in the hospital bed as I write this. **Come on girls...we NEED your smiling faces around the barn soon!!!***
As one of the "younger"riders out there it is always a bit difficult to keep your head in the game when you see some of the best not have their plan go as they thought. I know I say this all the time but thank god for the partnership I have with Vaunted. He gives me the confidence to go out there and get it done. I also must thank Bonnie and all the of support that all of my friends and fellow competitors give me. Without that we would all be lost. We are at the end of the day all out there with each other and we all need each other. The barn is off to Red Hills this coming weekend. Merloch will be doing the CIC***, Vaunted the Advanced, Conor Rollins will be doing the Prelim, and Jaclyn will be doing the Intermediate.

I have to go do some laundry now....