Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, it's been a busy few weeks.  Between work and finishing up my studying for the PHR exam, I haven't had a lot of free time.  Of course I still manage to make it out to the barn on Saturday mornings.  Since South Farm I've had some good rides on Naughtie, going to the combined test really did her a ton of good.  And then 3 Saturdays ago (June 11th) I got the chance to ride Bugsy again.

Bonnie had let Astrid ride him a few times and so she was riding in a lesson with Naughtie and I.  And when it came time to jump, Astrid decided that she didn't want to jump.  So Bonnie asked if I wanted to take him over a few fences.  Now I haven't been on Bugsy at all since like August.  But I was game to try him.  Astrid and I switched horses and she took Naughtie in to put away while I got used to Bugs again with a few circles.  Then we headed to the jump and it was so much fun!  It wasn't that big of a fence, only a baby oxer, maybe about 2 feet.  We jumped that a few times and then Bonnie bumped the back rail up a bit.  We didn't do much jumping that day, but it did remind me how much fun Bugsy is and what a blast it is to ride him.

Then I got to thinking.  I wasn't planning to ride in the Boyd Martin clinic this year.  I just couldn't justify spending the money.  But now after riding Bugs, I was itching to go.  So I got in touch with Therese from White North Stables and asked if it would be possible to ride just on Wednesday for cross country.  She said yes and so Bugsy and I will be strutting our stuff for Boyd!

As usual with me, I did take a step back when I rode Bugsy the next week.  I was getting him rushing into his fences and it was just bad in general.  So we scaled things back and went back to jumping cross bars.  We really concentrated on just taking my two point and keeping my legs light and not rushing.  And I got him back to a nice sane jump.  Unfortunately, ending a lesson with cross bars just a week and a half before I'm entered to ride Novice with Boyd is not really all that confidence inspiring.

So fast forward to this weekend.  I was determined to do better.  It ended up being a nice day at the barn, quiet, none of the kids ended up coming out.  So for a while it was just Bonnie and I, then Katie showed up after a while.  I tacked up Bugs and we headed out to the arena for a last lesson before the clinic.  And guess what?  Going back to cross bars the week before was exactly what I needed.  Bugs was listening to me, and I wasn't rushing him into the fences.  We worked up to an oxer that was just shy of 3'.  And then Bonnie added a 2nd fence as a one stride, set at just about 3'.  My first ever combination with Bugsy!  And we nailed it!  We ended the lesson with some canter work, which wasn't the best.  Bugs really needs the half halt before the canter and I was struggling with that a little.  Once again I've just gotten very complacent riding Kaye.  She knows what I want and just does it, regardless of what I'm doing.  Bugsy not so much.  He knows what I want, but he won't do it unless I ask for it right.  But overall, the lesson was great and I was feeling very well prepared for the clinic.

Then on Sunday I was able to get another ride.  So nice, it's been months since I've gotten to ride twice in the same week.  We warmed up on the flat first, including a bit of canter and well, the half halt lesson sank in and my departs were much, much better!  Then Bonnie had us start jumping.  We started out over the same oxer from the day before, novice height the first time.  Boyd won't start us out over little stuff, so need to at home.  The first fence wasn't perfect, but it was much better than I normally do over my first fence so I was pleased with that.  After we jumped the oxer a couple of times Bonnie decided to get creative.  She dragged over the piece of indoor/outdoor carpet and made a "coffin" with it.  She set it up one stride after the oxer and put a ground line to help Bugsy see it.  First time through the combination he did jump it.  Tried going through again and he figured out he could just canter over it.  Put a raised pole over the middle, and he still cantered over it.  So then Bonnie dragged another set of standards over and set up a 3' vertical one stride after the coffin.  Bugsy still just canter the coffin and then jumped the fence.  We tried to get him to actually jump it a couple more times, but no luck.  So we took a bit of a walk break and Bonnie set up a vertical over the carpet.  The last challenge of the day was 3' oxer, one stride to 3' vertical, one stride to 3' vertical.  First time doing a triple with Bugsy.  But Bugsy is awesome.  All I had to do was set him up and ride him to the first fence and then let him do his thing through the combination.  It was great!  Doing that with Bugsy was really just proving to myself how far I've come in my riding in the last couple of years.  It wasn't all that long ago that I was afraid to jump Bugs at all.  Let alone through a novice triple combination.  It was a great way to leave off before the clinic, I feel so ready to go and show Boyd what we can do!

Bugsy trying on his new ECOGOLD xc pad


Why I Love Ecogold

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I know I said I was getting back to regular posting today.  And I am working on a post about Naughtie's first show.  But I just had to put this up.

You've heard me talk about Ecogold on here before.  I was lucky enough to blog for them at Rolex in April and I'm continuing to do so on their new site Horse Junkies United.  I am honored to be connected to them even very loosely through that site.

When word first came out about the fire at True Prospect Farm, my first thought (after I could form coherent thought that is) was how can I help?  But I am also a cautious person.  I didn't want to just donate money to something unless I know that it was going to help Boyd.  As much as I like to believe people are honest, I know there are some who would take advantage.  And I wasn't the only one who felt this way.  When no word had come out by the afternoon of a way to help Boyd and the others, Patricia (marketing VP for Ecogold and our commander in chief for HJU) decided to donate 6 of Ecogold's Secure XC pads, one for each horse.  100% of each of those pads would go directly to Boyd.

As soon as I saw this I jumped on it.  I wanted to help Boyd, and it didn't hurt that I'd been drooling over the Ecogold pads for a while now.  I just couldn't justify spending the money.  But spending the money to help a truly great horseman through such a difficult time, and get a great saddle pad?  That I can justify.

The 6 pads sold out in record time.  So Ecogold is continuing to donate 50% of their sales to Boyd.  Already they have almost $3000 to donate.  This is continuing through this weekend.  So go buy a pad and help Boyd.  As an Ecogold sponsored rider you know he will be getting the money.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I am so proud to be a part of this community.  They way we all band together to help each other is amazing and inspiring.  And to see that not only from individuals, but also from companies like Ecogold and Five Star Tack, who is donating 10% of their sales for the month of June, is just incredible.  Go buy tack, support Boyd. 


South Farm or how Naughtie Earned Rockstar Status

Memorial Day weekend officially marked the start of the Windhurst Event Team's show season.  We had three horses and four riders entered at the South Farm Combined Test on Saturday, May 28th.  Of course we had a tiny bit of a problem.  Three horses and only a two horse trailer, you do the math.  So Friday night, Bonnie hauled Kaye and Naughtie over and then we took Mystic Saturday morning.

So first thing Saturday morning when we got there, the kids and I fed and watered the two mares while Katie got Mystic ready to ride.  After the marsies finished eating we gave Kaye a bath and the kids got her tacked up for me.  I started to warm Kaye up a bit for Victoria.  She was rather, um, excited to be back at South Farm.  So I worked her down for a while and then got Victoria up.  While I was riding Kaye, Ethan and Astrid were kind enough to bathe Naughtie for me, so I could get started tacking her up.  Since it was Naughtie's first show, and I wasn't sure what she was going to do, I figured it would be a good idea to lunge her in the indoor a bit.

Astrid and I took Naughtie over to the indoor and started her on the lunge line.  She was a little perky for all of about 2 laps and then settled right into the routine.  I lunged her about 25 laps each direction, just in case. And then I got on.  She was as god as gold.  We walked some small circles around the indoor and she just relaxed and walked.  It was almost time for Victoria to ride her dressage and since Naughtie was being so good, I figured we could head over to the dressage ring and watch.  Well, just as we were leaving the indoor, some birds flew out the door right above us.  Naughtie spooked a bit, and by spook I mean she trotted off about 4 or 5 strides.  Then she realized it was nothing and settled back into a walk.  Good girl!

So we headed over to the dressage ring and got there in time to watch both of Victoria's tests.  And she rocked them!  She had very nice, relaxed rides.  Really proud of how well she did.  After that we had a bit of time before the rest of us rode.  So the marsies got to chill in their stalls for a bit and get some water.  And I was able to change into my show clothes. Naughtie and I hung out in the barn for a bit and then we headed back over to the dressage rings.  Ethan, Katie and I all rode our test right around the same time, so I was able to watch their tests.  Naughtie was a rockstar for dressage really.  The first test we rode was USDF Intro B for the very green division.  She was a little fast in her trot work.  But that was my fault, so I can't really be mad at her for it.  Our figures we good and symmetrical, our transitions accurate.  Really I couldn't have asked for a better first test from her.  We had a few minutes then to pull off the running martingale and take a few canter departs and then it was back in the ring for USEA Beginner Novice Test A for the baby beginner novice division.  The trot work was much better and the canter work was pretty good.  Our second canter depart was a little ah, explosive.  But again, entirely my fault.  I was asking for way too much for the depart.  After the depart though she settled into a nice forward canter. And we finished up with a fairly nice test.

We headed back to the stalls, and Naughtie got a chance to drink and chill in her stall for a bit before it was time to jump.  Victoria and Ethan were up first for jumping.  And well it was eventful.  Ethan was up first in the cross rail division.  And he had a nice round, Kaye was listening and just trotting around like she usually does with the kids.  Then it was Victoria's turn, and well, she did the same thing she has a tendency to do at home.  She grabbed with her legs and did nothing to slow Kaye down.  And so Kaye went faster and faster and faster.  And Victoria got scared and bailed.  Right into the wooden fence around the ring.  She was ok luckily, scraped up and bruised a bit, but mostly ok.  So I borrowed Ethan's helmet and got on Kaye to settle her down.  Lots of walking and s-l-o-o-o-o-w sitting trot around the warm up.  Finally Bonnie and Victoria come back (with my helmet, so I could see!) and since Victoria wasn't going to ride her second Bonnie suggested I take her in and do a schooling round at the 2 foot height.  Which actually really exciting me since I had the chance to take Bonnie up on a challenge. 

The stadium course was a very twisty, turning course.  And there was this one section between fences 7 and 8.  Sarah intended for it to ridden with a large looping circle around to 8 like so:
Well you know Bonnie, why take a longer route when you can go shorter?  And so her challenge was to ride a direct line between the two fences:
While I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to do it on Naughtie, I knew on Kaye I'd have no trouble.

Kaye was her usual awesome self for me in the ring, and so Ethan felt ready to try his 2 foot round.  And Kaye was great for him.  He jumped everything well and then after he crossed the finish he leaned forward to pat her, and accidentally kicked her.  So Kaye took off a bit and Ethan bailed in pretty much the same spot.  So Kaye was in the doghouse, and Sarah was none to happy. 

Well by this time I needed to get Naughtie ready to go, ran back to the barn, threw her bridle back on and we made our way to the jumping ring.  She warmed up great, and soon we were ready to head into the ring.  She was Awesome!  She jumped everything for me.  At first she was a little confused by all the colored jumps and everything being crammed in the ring, but she listened well.  We finished the very green division with a double clear round to land us in 2nd place.   A couple minutes to rest and it was time for a return trip.  Unfortunately I let her get a little flat coming into the first fence and we pulled a rail, but with no other mistakes it was enough to keep us in 4th place.  Not too shabby for her first show. 


I'm Amazed

I'm still in shock.  I have lost count of the number of times I have started crying when I think of what happened early Tuesday morning.  Yesterday Boyd posted on his blog, thanking everyone for their support.  He said, "Your support has lifted our spirits in this very dark time."  Of course reading his post brought on a new round of tears.  When I saw that he and Phillip had gone into the barn after being ordered not to by the fire chief, to drag Neville out, I couldn't help but cry.  Because anyone of us would have done the same thing for our animals.  I would not hesitate to rush into a burning building for my horses, regardless of the danger to me. 

But as Boyd said, Life goes on.  It's hard, and it still hurts but we must move on.  And so in that vein, I will be resuming with the posts I had planned for this week.  Naughtie made her showing debut this past weekend, and we kicked off the open show season at Canfield.  I'll be back later to tell you all about our trip to South Farm.

One last thing, I would just like to say how proud I am of the eventing community.  And the equine community as a whole.  The quick way everyone moved to support Boyd and everyone involved at True Prospect Farm was just inspiring and amazing.  I'm proud to say I am part of that.  As tragic as it is, I'm sure it must bring some comfort to them to know how much everyone is here for them.  Stay strong.


Our Hearts Reach Out

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Like many of us I spend a good part of my morning procrastinating by reading Eventing Nation.  Words cannot describe the heartache when I saw the news of the barn fire at True Prospect Farm.  A barn fire is one of those things I can't even think about.  To see the pictures of that barn ablaze and know that 6 horses did not make it out is just devastating.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Boyd and Silva, his team, the owners and everyone else connected with them.  4 horses are currently being treated at New Bolton; Neville Bardos, Otis Barbotiere, Catch A Star and Ambassador's Rose.  I'm sending healing thoughts their way.

While I am still grieving for the loss of those horses, I am amazed and inspired by the way the eventing community has rallied to show their support.  Within hours Denny Emerson announced he was donating 50% from the sale of his book to Boyd.  Ecogold has announced they are donating 6 pads, one in memory of each horse, 100% of the proceeds going to him.  Both Boyd and True Prospect Farm have ways to donate on their websites.  Check out Eventing Nation for more information on how to help.

In the mean time, go hug your horses.  Be grateful everyday you have with them.  Tonight, I know I for one will be fighting the urge to sleep in the barn.


The Ecogold saddle pads quickly sold out (one will be on it's way to me) but they have announced that 50% of all sales in June will be going to Boyd.  Visit their site: Boyd Martin Fund

You can purchase Denny's book through Amazon.com and like I said, he is donating 50% of the proceeds through December to Boyd.

The True Prospect Fire Recovery Fund has been set up to help everyone affected by the fire.

Boyd has set up a tax deductible donation fund through SCES.

Doug Payne is donating half of the proceeds from his Rider's Eye DVD.  The DVD can be purchased through his online store.

Five Star Tack is donating 10% of all sales in the month of June to the True Prospect Farm Fire Recovery Fund.

As for the horses being treated at New Bolton, Ambassador's Rose has been released.  Both Catch a Star and Otis Barbotiere are still there, but they are comfortable and doing well.  They have changed Neville's medication and he is much more comfortable.  Minataure Du Passoir, the fifth horse rescued from the barn, has been transported to New Bolton for observation but he is doing well.  In good news.  Remington was turned out for the night and so he was safely away from the fire.

To Boyd, Silva, Caitlin, Lillian, Ryan, Faye Woolf, Abbie Golden, Bonnie Stedt, Anne Hennessey, the Juvonen's and everyone at True Prospect Farm-We are here for you.  I can't even imagaine what you must be going through, but I hope it helps just a little to know how much you are all loved and supported by not only me, but the entire eventing community.  You are in my thoughts and prayers.

In Loving Memory

Call Me Ollie ~ Charla ~ Ariel ~ Phantom Pursuit ~ Cagney Herself ~ Summer Breeze