The Road to Rolex...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Well they say the road to Rolex is never easy, apparently that holds true for spectators as well as competitors. Wednesday was my last day at home before we headed down to Kentucky and of course it was busy and I didn't get the nap I hoped for. Carol was nice enough to let me leave early since I hadn't taken a lunch the day before. That part was nice. Of course though I couldn't just go home and go to sleep. I had to make a few stops and pick some things up before the trip. And then I had to go home and finish packing, and take a shower to wash my hair, since I wouldn't have another opportunity for a shower until Thursday night. And I had to and see my Mom before I left. All that adds up to Jennifer not getting any sleep before driving to Kentucky.

Picked up Astrid a little after 11 and then headed to Zelie to pick up Ethan. Got to the barn a little before midnight (agreed upon plans were to leave at midnight) No Bonnie. So I text Bonnie that we are there and head in the barn to say good bye to His Poniness. Heather and Ari pull up, followed by Taryn. And then finally Bonnie shows up. Turns out we have to hay the horses and move hay bales around for Tricia. So by the time we get all that done it's much closer to 1:00 than 12:00 when we actually get on the road. Hop on the turnpike, drive into Ohio, stop for coffee at McDonald's. Get back on the turnpike and promptly get a flat tire. FML! Couldn't find the jack in the CRV, so we used Bonnie's AAA. About an hour and a half later, tire is changed and we can finally get on the road again. We made it to the horse park just in time to get in our seats and see Phillip Dutton's first ride of the weekend. Whew!

We got to see some incredible dressage on Thursday, Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, and Becky Holder, among others. It was a long day at the horse park, and after getting no sleep the night before, I'll admit I was a little bit goofy. After Rolex dressage finished up we headed down to Lexington to find the hotel and check in. And lo and behold there was a Fazoli's right next door to the hotel! Awesome! Checked in and headed over to Fazoli's for dinner and then it was back to the horse park for the Kentucky Cup Freestyle Dressage. Oh My God! Was that amazing to watch. The winning pair was Tina Konyot and her horse Calecto V, and they had an amazing ride.

It was late by the time we finally made it back to the hotel, like after 9 and I pretty much just crashed! I was so tired by then and we would have an early morning on Friday.

Friday morning we headed out early to watch the horses gallop at Keeneland. Unfortunately it was raining and just generally yuck, so I didn't want to take the camera out. We watched the horses for a while and then headed back to the hotel for breakfast and then back to the horse park. Since it was still raining and gross, I only stayed in the stands long enough to see the first two horses of the day, Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin. Then Astrid, Ethan and I headed over to the Trade Fair, where we spent most of the day. Unfortunately we ended missing the Kentucky Cup Show Jumping Warm Up class when they moved the time and didn't really announce it at all. We all headed back to the hotel then and well, Taryn and I weren't quite ready to turn in yet. So we headed over to the bar that was attached to the hotel. Ended up having a good time there, drank more than we should have. But it's okay cause we had like 4 different guys buying us drinks. It was a lot of fun, of course though we paid for it the next morning. Not with hangovers but with Bonnie's somewhat snide remarks.

Saturday was cross country day. Woohoo! They were calling for some pretty bad storms Saturday afternoon and evening, so they ended up eliminating the lunch break and sending out horses every 4 minutes rather than every 5. Taryn and I slept in a little bit and didn't head over to the park with the others so we did miss the first few rides of the morning. But that's okay. Got to see a lot of careful riding this year, not the run around at top speed and hope and pray you get over the fence. Laine Asker was back with Anthony Patch (her first time back at Rolex after the terrible fall with Frodo Bagins two years ago) and I was really impressed with her. She took her time and from the few fences I saw she was jumping really well. Good for her that she was able to come back to Rolex and do so well, I'm sure that it wasn't easy for her. Read more about how it felt on her blog.

Laine and Anthony Patch over the Keeper's Brush

Finally, their third year running I managed to see our local eventer Kelly Sult at fences other than the Sheep's Shelter and the Double Diamonds.

Kelly Sult and Hollywood over the Offset Brushes

And then of course the highlight of my day was seeing Boyd Martin on his three horses.

Boyd Martin and Remington XXV over the Dray

At the end of the day William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain held onto his overnight lead with a double clear cross country round.

William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain

It was a good thing they shortened up the day because we made it back to our hotel just in the nick of time. We had only been in the room a few minutes when it started pouring down rain. Of course though I still had to go out in. Had to get that pesky tire fixed. So I stopped at the front desk to ask where I can get a tire fixed. The guy there tells me to go to Walmart. Said to make a right out of the parking lot, go about a mile down the road, at the redlight with the liquor store on the right you'll make a left and Walmart will be on the left. So I follow his directions, make the left at the light and I drive for about 10 minutes, no Walmart. Finally I search for Walmart in the GPS, it tells me I have to turn around. Turns out, at the light I should have made a RIGHT turn. Ok, no big, I find Walmart, pull into the parking lot, drive around looking for the service center, don't see one. Of course they don't do tire repair. So I ask the woman at customer service for help, she directs me to a place further down the road. It's closed. Finally I just start searching for Walmarts in the GPS and called them to find out if they have a service center. Find one about 10 miles away so I head there to get the tire fixed. And of course I find out it can't be fixed I have to replace the damn thing. Finally the tire is taken care of and I can head back to the hotel. I get changed quickly and we all pile into the van to head back to the horse park for the Kentucky Cup Show Jumping Grand Prix. Only we get there to find out that it's been canceled because of the weather.

Sunday morning we did get to sleep in a bit. Checked out of the hotel and headed over to the horse park. Since stadium didn't start until noon, we had plenty of time to wander around the horse park and check out the trade fair one last time. Bonnie and I went on a mission to find a nice leather spilt lead shank that we could have a plate with the farm name engraved on. Plus we spent a lot of time drooling over pre-fab stalls and expensive leather saddles. But soon it was time to head back to our seats and get ready for stadium to begin.

After the very first ride (and the competitor in last place) had an easy double clear we began to worry that the stadium course was too easy and it wouldn't be very excited. But then they started dropping rails left and right. Kelly and Hollywood had an unfortunate stop in stadium, but that still moved them up 2 places to finish in 28th.

Kelly and Hollywood

Of course things got really exciting as we headed into the top 20. Lots of great horses and riders up there and it was pretty exciting as falling rails started moving the placings around.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch finished in 14th place

Boyd Martin and Rock on Rose finished in 11th place

Phillip Dutton and The Foreman finished in 6th place

Will Faudree and Pawlow finished in 15th place

Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos finished in 4th place

Karen O'Connor and Mandiba finished in 7th place

Phillip Dutton and Woodburn finished in 2nd place!

Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, unfortunately a rail dropped them down to 3rd place

Kim Severson and Tipperary Liadhnan had some problems that dropped them out of the top 20

William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain

Cool Mountain finishing a double clear stadium round to win the 2010 Rolex Kentucky

All in an awesome weekend. Of course I was not at all happy to be leaving Kentucky to head back to Pennsylvania. But at least I have the combined test at South Farm to look forward to next weekend!


It's Rolex Week!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Woohoo! It's finally here! Wednesday night we'll be leaving for the annual pilgrimage to Kentucky. But first one more weekend at home to recap.

Stopped out at the barn Friday night after work to spend some time with my Bupi. Worked on grooming him for about an hour. Really trying to put some elbow grease into getting his winter coat shed out. And then after I finished with him, it was time for Bugs to come out for a good grooming and mane pulling session. Of course he just loved the mane pulling. I still can't believe that horse and his little issues. Bonnie pulls his mane and he has a fit, he has to be drugged to pull it. However I can pull all I want and he really could care less. Bonnie taught me to pull manes, I do it exactly the same way she does, so why does he tolerate it from me but not her? Who knows, one of life's great mysteries I suppose.

Saturday morning we took it pretty easy with Kaye, so I didn't ride. The blacksmith had been out Friday and she was done. He actually took quite a bit of hoof off of her but she doesn't really grow much in the heel. So he changed her angles quite a bit. So she got bute Friday night and again Saturday morning. The kids were all out. Rachel rode Naughtie on the lunge line and then had a jumping lesson on Airy. Astrid had a short lesson on Kaye and Tricia rode her evil little pony. Pele was being something of a snot, but Tricia stuck with him and they had a pretty good ride. I planned to take a lunge lesson on my horse, in fact I even had him all tacked up. But it was getting late by the time the kids all left and Bonnie and I needed to get to Costco's before they closed at 6. So untack the pony and head home for a quick change of clothes. We made it to Costco and Walmart for supplies for the trip this week. Plus a trip to Best Buy so Bonnie and I both could get an extra battery for our respective cameras.

Sunday, I had a short lesson on Kaye. Still trying to break in the new boots, which is a slow process. I think I need to take them home and just stand on the steps in them. I'm having such a hard time getting my heels down because the boots are so stiff. But the jumping was pretty decent.


Equestrian Bucket List

Friday, April 16, 2010

This was sent to me a while back and I didn't really pay much attention to it.

  1. Gallop on a beach.
    I would love to do this. Of course here in Pittsburgh we don't really have beaches to ride on. Someday.
  2. Win a blue ribbon, even if it's for the egg and spoon race.
    Check! Miss and I took home a couple of blues back in our mini trial days. More recently I won a couple of western pleasure classes with Dalal.
  3. Enjoy an evening of equestrian theater, from major touring productions such as Cavalia to local performance troupes.
    Have not had the opportunity. But will definitely take advantage if it is ever presented.
  4. Try your hand at cattle work. Find out what it means when they say a horse is “cowy.”
    Maybe one of these times we'll get Airy down to do some team penning.
  5. Jump! From crossrails to cross-country obstacles, experience the thrill of soaring over fences.
    Check, check and check!
  6. Fall off and get right back on again. Conquering fear is empowering.
    Lost count of how many times that's happened. But I always get back on and try again.
  7. See the majestic white Lipizzan stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
    One of my dreams.
  8. Come to a sliding stop on a well-trained reining horse.
    I'm always game for trying out other disciplines.
  9. Take a lesson with your equestrian idol, _________ (you fill in the blank.)
    There's so many I could fill in the blank with. Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Lucinda Fredericks, Bettina Hoy
  10. Nurse a horse through a crisis and back to full health.
    Bully and Miss
  11. Experience the smooth ride of a gaited horse.
    Not really a fan of the gaited horses. But I'm game to try anything.
  12. Watch the horses come through the Head of the Lake on cross-country day at the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event.
    One week from tomorrow I'll be doing this for the 4th year in a row. And it never gets old!
  13. Have the courage to do the right thing for your horse, even when it’s not easy.
    I was prepared to do so. Luckily it did not come to that. But at 22 I know that day will be here sooner rather than later for Miss.
  14. Attend the Kentucky Derby dressed to the nines—including hat!
    This used to be a huge dream of mine. Now if I'm going to head down to Kentucky in the spring it'll be a week earlier for Rolex. But I'd still like to go if I ever got the chance.
  15. Tackle a trail accessible only by horseback and enjoy the view.
    Done! Beautiful views and quite the experience to share with my pony.
  16. Take your dream vacation on horseback.
    An Irish riding vacation has always been a dream. Hopefully someday it will come true.
  17. Master the sitting trot.
  18. Ride a fine-tuned horse in your discipline of choice, be it dressage schoolmaster or barrel champ.
    I'm lucky enough to experience this every time I climb on Kaye or Bugs.
  19. Watch polo. Even better, try your hand at it!
    Something new, I'm up for trying it.
  20. Feed, muck, groom, ride. Repeat daily.
    Every summer for several years. Unfortunately now I have to work to afford the ponies. So it's only on weekends.
  21. Wake up to a whinny every morning.
    Someday I will.
  22. Fly down the track on a thoroughbred.
    I've flown across a cross country course on a thoroughbred, does that count?
  23. Meet one of your favorite famous horses in person.
    Got to meet Cigar down at the Horse Park. I watched every race he ever ran in as a kid.
  24. Ride bareback, bridleless ... or both!
    Done both, just not at the same time. Maybe this weekend...
  25. Share a bond with your horse that’s deeper than words.
    There's nothing better in the whole world.


IT Band Syndrome

As I've started to ride more as spring has arrived, of course the knee started hurting more. I was actually in tears during a lunge lesson a couple of weeks ago because it hurt so much. So I made an appointment with Dr. Yakish.

I went in to see him on Tuesday and his diagnosis is IT Band Syndrome. Basically there is a ligament that runs along the outside of the leg and it can sometimes rub against the bone and become inflamed. That's what's happening at my knee. So Dr Yakish gave me a cortisone shot there Tuesday. Which was sore for a few days, but it's feeling better now. The real test will come this weekend when I ride.

I've really been thinking about it, because my knee doesn't really hurt during flatwork. It's only when I shorten up my stirrups to jump. And as I've been jumping bigger fences with Kaye, I've actually shortened my jumping length another hole. I think that when I close of that knee angle to jump, that's what aggravates my knee. So we'll see how well the cortisone shot works. And maybe I'll just need to get one or two shots to get me through the summer show season. I can always rest it during the winter months. We tend to work on dressage more during that time anyway.


The Countdown Is On!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One week from today and I will be getting ready to leave for Rolex in the evening! Woohoo! I am so excited for this year. For the first time we will be going down for all four days of competition. No more missing the best dressage rides because we didn't make it down for Thursday. Plus they are also running the Kentucky Cup Test Events. So Thursday night we have tickets to see the Dressage Freestyle test and Friday and Saturday evenings are some Show Jumping test events. So excited to get the opportunity to see riders from these other disciplines. And of course all the fantastic event riders that will be there as well.

In other news, I finally got my new boots. I'm actually pretty pissed that I had to buy new boots. I have really nice Ariats that I have worn maybe 5 times. But I tried to put them on and I was able to get the one on but it was so tight across my calf that it was painful. Couldn't even manage to get the other one on all the way. I have always worn a regular calf boot, but not anymore. So Friday after work I headed out to Luster's and tried on every boot they had. I liked the idea of getting something with a zipper, easier to get on and off, and probably won't be as noticeable if it gets a little tight. I ended up buying a relatively inexpensive pair of Devon-Aire boots: the Hampton Not too bad for the price. I wanted to get them now so I'd have some time to break them in and ride in them for a few weeks before South Farm.

Saturday morning I rode in my new boots for the first time. I had a short jumping lesson with Kaye before the kids rode. Overall it was pretty good, we started over the liverpool (which now has a big blue barrel in the sled) jumped that a few times and then added the swedish oxer. Then finally we ended with a little mini course. Blue barrel with the bending line to the swedish oxer, big left turn to the tarp and then the diagonal line to finish over the blue barrel. Overall we had a good jump school, but my first fence is still crap. I hate it, no matter what I do we always have a crappy first fence. We almost always chip in and take an extra short stride, and I'm usually all over the place. Then once I have that crappy fence I can usually settle in and actually ride the rest of our fences. I just want to be able to do it right from the first one.

Then later in the day after the kids all rode, I tacked up my little dirtball for a ride. Started out pretty well. He was tense when I first got on but we worked through that and he relaxed at the walk. And then started with some nice trot work. I didn't put the draw reins on, just rode in his running martingale. He was actually, going with his head down and mostly on the vertical. Then I asked for the canter and everything went to hell. He would not pick up the canter for me. Then he just turned into an all around jerk. Fussy with his head, not listening to my outside leg at all, dropping his inside shoulder, and just being a jerk. I've been asking Bonnie for months to get on him and school him a bit. However as of yet, she hasn't done so.

After I finished at the barn for the day I had to head home to help Mom empty, clean and refill the spa. We also got the brilliant idea to try and pull down the dead tree in the backyard. Yeah didn't end up working so well. Needed Todd's help to pull it down. And then to finish off the night I met Bonnie and Lee and introduced them to the goodness that is Wooley Bully's. It was a little bit weird being there on a Saturday night. Different crowd, different bartenders and no Victor. But the pizza was still good so I can't complain.

Sunday morning I was at the barn early. Got the ponies all fed and then Bonnie and I headed out to the field to try and decipher the deed to the 5 acres she's selling. We got the property marked as best we could determine. And then took Chloe for a nice little run around the farm. I remember not all that long ago when she hated the quad, now she loves to go for a run with us. Back to the barn to clean a few stalls and then when Tricia showed up to ride I tacked Miss up with her. Apparently though it was not my day to jump Miss. Had a couple of stop (completely my fault) and that's when we decided to call it a day. She's just getting better and I don't want to risk injuring her again because of something I'm doing. I did get some pretty decent flatwork from her though, so the lesson wasn't a total loss. After that we pretty much just finished up with the ponies and headed home.

So one more weekend at home and then we'll be heading down to Kentucky. And then the weekend after that will be the South Farm CT. Show season is gearing up and I can't wait!


Happy Easter!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hope everyone out there had a great holiday weekend. I know I certainly did. My only complaint is that the weekend wasn't longer! Friday afternoon Ron was kind enough to let us out early, so I got to head home at 3:00. And traffic was pretty much not existent so it took me hardly any time to get out of the city. Quick stop at Tractor Supply to get Miss some more of the peppermint treats she likes and I was at the barn. Rob Moro was coming out in the morning to do coggins and shots so Bonnie and I just worked to get stalls cleaned, besides Rachel had already taken a lesson on Kaye that afternoon. We worked to get Bugs, Mickey, Twinkie and X's stalls all stripped and cleaned. And then it was time for the impossible task: getting X-tra cleaned up. He was disgustingly filthy. Brought Twinkie in and then hauled all my bathing goodies out to the arena to give dirtball a bath. Hosed down the first side and then tried to get some Orvis worked into his coat, but he was shedding so much that the bath mitt was caked with hair after one pass. So I just spent about 10 minutes grooming him with the bath mitt to get the hair off. Finally I got him to the point where I could actually use some soap and I at least managed to get the first layer of dirt off. He wasn't really clean yet, but at least I wouldn't be embarrassed to have the vet see him.

Saturday I had promised my mom that I would go look at new computers with her. I was up early and to the barn by 7. Fed the ponies and turned out the horses in the front pasture and then started on stalls. Bonnie came down and we turned Cuddles out in the arena and got his stall cleaned. And then I started to tack up Kaye so I could ride before the kids got there. Of course just as I was finishing Jim showed up to put hay up in the loft. So Bonnie and I headed up to move bales. Jim loaded us up with a dozen round bales so that should last us for a couple of weeks. Finally I was able to go down and get on Kaye. In the meantime the two Tammy's pulled in with Repo and Sugar, so they joined me out in the arena. After a good warm up, Bonnie got me started jumping and she recorded our lesson.

It was an ok jump school. I was letting Kaye get too strung out as the lesson progressed, forgetting to dressage between the fences. So I'm not real happy with myself for that. But on a good note, we didn't have any stops. Which for me is really good. Overall fairly pleased with how we did. Unfortunately I had to leave soon after I finished riding so I could get cleaned up and meet up with my mom for our Costco trip.

Sunday morning I was back to the barn early. Fed the ponies and then spent a little time with X after he had his little visit with the vet. He was a good boy for Dr. Moro and he now has his coggins and got his tetanus, flu and rhino shots. All for only $77 including part of the farm call. Not bad at all, I was honestly expecting closer to 100. The vet took at look a Tru's leg since his cellulitis has been really bad again lately. That hind leg is huge and again and the swelling has gone all the way up into his belly and sheath as well. He looks pretty miserable and he hasn't been wanting to put any weight at all on that leg. Dr. Moro did some acupuncture on the leg, he seems to think it has something to do with him lymph glands. Said to give it a week and then give him a call, if there's no improvement he'll give Katie some meds for it. So we'll see what happens. Miss got another adjustment and her coggins done. Dr. Moro was very impressed with how well she's doing. And then Kaye, Bugsy, Airy, Cuddles, Pele, Mystic, and Mickey all got their coggins and shots. So we are ready for show season!

Anyway, Bonnie and I picked a few stalls and then I tacked up Kaye for a lesson. Had a pretty decent warm up again. Really getting her listening to me and in the bridle. And then we started jumping. Started out of the in and out, did that a few times and then Bonnie raised it, first fence was 2'10", second fence was 3'. And the best part, I never even thought about the fences getting bigger. I mean the last few weeks I've been really good about not asking Bonnie to put the fences down, or saying that I can't jump them, but I still have that thought in my head. That 'oh no the fence is bigger, I'm a little scared.' It never even crossed my mind. I just rode down to that fence and thought 'Ok, hold her, keep contact and drive her forward into the bridle.' It was pretty awesome. Then we did the tarp and the liverpool, the helicopter and the swedish oxer. Really good jump school, so much better than Saturday. And Bonnie recorded the whole thing.

After I put Kaye away, I tacked up Naughtie for a lunge lesson. I really need to do more lunge lessons, but I actually made some big improvements on my seat just from that one. I have been starting to sit too far back, so Bonnie and I really worked on getting me to sit up straight and relax. And it was working because Naughtie was moving so much better. She was putting her head down and relaxing into a nice frame. Lately she has been carrying her head and neck pretty high and that's causing her to hollow her back. Not a pretty picture. Obviously I was sitting on her properly otherwise she wouldn't have been going so well. Bonnie left me after that so she could get ready to go to dinner with Lee. I stayed behind a while longer to lunge Bugs and Cuddles. Gotta get their energy levels worked down a bit so Bonnie can ride them this week. Hopefully we can get Cuddles going in time to take him to the South Farm CTs.

Of course later in the day it was time for dinner at Aunt Sandy's. The food was delicious as usual. And it was great to be together with all the family.


2010 Show Schedule

Friday, April 2, 2010

Well I know I've had it out there on the sidebar for a while now, and I've alluded to things in my posts. But I figured it was time to officially go over my plans for the 2010 show season. Of course this could all change and it's pretty much dependent on how things are financially.


  • May 1 - South Farm CT ~ Valley Miss (Very Green or Baby Beginner Novice)
  • May 2 - South Farm CT ~ Special K (Novice)
  • May 21-23 - ICHA Red, White and Blue Show ~ X-Tra (Hunter Pleasure) and SA Dalal (Western Pleasure)
  • May 29 - South Farm CT ~ Valley Miss (Beginner Novice)
  • May 30 - South Farm CT ~ Special K (Training)
  • June 5 - South Farm CT ~ Nothinbutagoodtime (Beginner Novice or Novice)
  • June 6 - South Farm CT ~ Special K (Training)
  • June 11-13 - ICHA Double Points Show ~ X-Tra (Hunter Pleasure) and SA Dalal (Western Pleasure)
  • June 19-20 - Lost Hounds HT ~ Nothinbutagoodtime (Beginner Novice)
  • July 2-4 - South Farm HT ~ Nothinbutagoodtime (Novice)
  • July 31 - EHSC Dressage Show ~ Special K (First Level) and Valley Miss (Training Level)
  • August 6-8 - Catt Co. All Breed Show ~ X-Tra (Hunter Pleasure) and SA Dalal (Western Pleasure)


Good Day Sunshine!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I'm in love and it's a sunny day

Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

It's really starting to feel like spring in the Burgh! The sun is out and it's almost 80 degrees out. It's a beautiful day. Of course the downside of that is I do not want to be stuck in the office. I keep trying to convince my boss that we should set up a table out on the patio with laptops and work from there. I think it's a great idea. Fantastic customer service. Faculty and staff don't even have to come into the building to have their questions answered. Unfortunately John seems to be resisting the idea. I'll have to keep working on him.

Now that the weather's getting nicer Bonnie's been riding horses more. She schooled Airy over fences this week. And today she rode Kaye for the first time in a while. And the first time ever over fences. Yay! So Kaye's getting a little tune up. Of course this means that I'm going to have to fight Bonnie now to ride Kaye.

Almost time to head out, only an hour left here. Wooley Bully's tonight for the weekly pizza and beer evening. And then hopefully tomorrow we will get out early so I can have time to ride.