Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wrapping up the Season

Well, I never managed to get a post up directly after Fairhill International, so I'll go through a recap of stadium and awards. Stadium day began with jog outs....which to eventers means 3am wake ups to go walk and walk and walk and walk, and walk some more, along with removing all poultice, bandages, mud(of which there was still an abundance) and everything else on the horse. After excessive walking and grooming and touching up of the braids put in the night before, I scrambled to get dressed and practically ran up with my white pants tucked into my wellies to stay clean. With friends trailing behind with various grooming supplies, we heard them calling numbers close to mine, and realized my nice boots were still back at the barns! Mark ran back to get them, but upon arrival I was immediately sent down to jog, wellies and all. With pants pulled out over them, I was lucky they didn't get coated in the gray soup. We weren't winning the turnout award today, but Zara jogged well behaved and was accepted immediately.
After walking around the course alone, then with Sally Cousins, we were ready to go prepare. Zara warmed up great with the help again of the wonderful Sally and we headed in the ring, surrounded by people! As we made our way around, I held a little too much to the first fence, pulling a rail. Not the right way to start!! But a good reminder that I needed to ride Zara the way Sally had me warm up. For the remainder, I put my hands forward and kept Zara in front of my leg and she went around just perfect. We added only 4 faults to our dressage score for the weekend to land us in 25th place of 61. We also earned the young adult champion award for the competition as well as for the CII** level overall for the year. Very proud of Zara! Now on to plan our Winter in Aiken!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cross Country Day!!

Despite the tons and tons of rain, todays course rode great for many including me and Zara! She warmed great and confident in the footing with some nice big studs borrowed from friend & neighbor for the weekend Jessica Bortner-Harris. The first few fences rode great, building confidence as we made our way around. The early water was a good first challenge, followed by the table to corner challenge at #7. We handled them in perfect stride! The next few questions were also well handled, with a confident jump through the road by the vendor area and a great step through the giant drop down, 5 to the table and 5 straight to the corner. Jump #12 was the first "breather" fence on the course, so I relaxed a bit since we'd been going through tough combinations -- big and nearly disastrous mistake. Zara and I took a bad spot to #12, the fish jump, where she hit pretty hard in front, and her back end caught up very quickly. She was nearly knees to the ground before she managed to pick herself up, and I was luckily right where I had to be, in balance and out of her way. She picked herself up quickly and went back to gallop. I was very worried, so pulled her up to trot a few meters to check her soundness. After making sure she felt good, we continued on course to the tough skinny bending tables. We didn't ride quite according to plan, as my eye was a bit off between our earlier incident, along with the stadium jumps that were now set up that were not there when I walked at 5pm the night before. We ended up riding an alternative route that I had walk that was a 5 stride line taking a decent angle to the second table. Following this question were a few gallop fences before the next big set of challenges. First up at #16AB was the double brush, which she did foot-perfect. next, the sunken road. We rode exactly where planned on my walk with Sally, and had a great go there as well. Following that was the big ducks water. Zara decided she was taking a longer spot than I was interested in, and we got over the duck and I sat up and pushed her with wide hands to stay on the line and make it through the tough 3 strides with the hill, over the brush, and 2 strides down to the other sharply angled brush - She was a super star! On the next gallop, I felt her lagging a bit, so after the big ditch and brush we eased up our pace a bit and focused more on safety and not missing any more distances. The issues on # 12 were too close for comfort! She jumped through the table to chevron question at #20 brilliantly, bumped the next table a bit before preparing for the water. I can definitely feel her lag now, and gave her a good strong push to and through the water to make the four strides and get to the skinny. She caught a bit of a second wind after the water, and got a great step to the big red table, pretty good step to the second to last, and a nearly cantering spot to the last. She took a bit extra to cool out, but I learned later that we came in under time, which was a great feeling. She recovered well once we got her temperature down, and will hopefully be feeling OK for the jog and stadium tomorrow. We will see and hope!! I'm so very proud of her for keeping it going even though I know she was very tired, and giving me her very best.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Days 1 & 2 at Fairhill International!!!

Well we have successfully gotten through our first jog out and dressage in our first CCI**! For the jog on Wednesday, of course it was raining. We got spic and span with the help of my wonderful grooms for the weekend, Mark Shuck and Jeannette Lazzaro. Zara and I passed with no questions and she was very cooperative. I even kept up well in my heels!
Day two was dressage day for Zara and I, which is always our most stressful phase. We spent lots of time getting her primped and beautiful, tacked up in her dressage saddle and jump bridle and headed out to warm up -- AKA, hacking around the horse trials cross country course. Zara and I worked to get a longer and lower frame while still going forward out in the fields and on the driveway. With about a half hour to my ride, we returned to the barns since I was dressed in my schooling clothes still to keep everything tidy. Zara was re-polished as I changed (in our sopping wet tack room!) into my tails and dress boots. We headed out to the ring a little late, but luckily they were running a bit delayed. Zara and I continued our warm up in the practice ring, working on some light trot work, as well as canter transitions. We entered the ring a tiny bit more tense than our warm up, but went through with a smile! Zara gave me great trot work with a steady connection, good trot-walk-canter transitions and despite anticipating her right lead transition a bit through her turn on the haunches gave me fabulous right lead canter! Unfortunately, she still shows some tension through her movements, so we were scored a 72.2 gaining us a low spot on the list. But that's OK for our first one, and we're definitely improving!!
Now we get a nice day of less stress to include a course walk with the wonderful Sally Cousins, as well as a light jump lesson. Looking forward to cross country day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ending the Summer with Success!

MARLBOROUGH: Baby was my only ride for the day as she makes the move up to preliminary level, and had a great day! Our dressage was consistent, accurate and relaxed, earning us 3rd so far with a 32.2. The stadium at Rosaryville Park is always a tricky question, as it is situated on a hill and had a pretty twisty course to ride. Baby tackled the first half of the course like there was no difference in height. She escalated a little after the first long-strided line, which got us in a hair too tight to the triple combination, pulling one on the vertical, and later I missed my spot on the last jump. Sorry girl! Cross country had some wet spots on it and I wanted it to be a good confident ride for her, so we planned to take it easy. She was bold and strong through the cross country, showing a great step to almost every fence. Coming across the finish with 10 time penalties, she held onto 3rd for the day. Someone should buy this fabulous horse before I decide to keep her and keep moving up!
(photo by Katie Cawood)

SENECA VALLEY: Two horses again, Zara at intermediate and Baby at her fourth training. First for the day was Zara's dressage, which we have put blood, sweat and tears into over the past few weeks to improve. Today, it paid off! Zara was much better, much more relaxed and instead of taking the back of the pack after dressage was tied for 4th with a 38.0. After the long delay for the thunderstorm, we went into the stadium and had a great round, with one rail down that wasn't due to any real issues. Despite the bit of rain, the footing was great and we had a fast and great cross country round to finish 4th for the day and got the last qualifying score we needed to sign up for the Fairhill CCI**. Baby had a decent day as well, despite the delays and waits for the rides and a loose horse through the dressage warm up. She was a bit tired after waiting to go for dressage, so had a little more tension than usual. Another long wait for stadium plus a few mistakes on my part lead to two rails down in the stadium. I considered withdrawing since she wasn't on her toes today, but decided to go ahead and see how the first few fences felt and then decide. Baby sure showed me! She had a great cross country round, pulling me to the fences with ears up and great scope. She definitely confirmed that we were ready to move up as planned at Marlborough.

WAREDACA: In the mid August heat I took on the challenge of competing all 3 of my horses in the day, with Zara in the intermediate and Baby and Zoomer in the training. I was lucky enough to borrow Steuart Pittmans fancy 4 horse living quarters trailer, since I only have a 2 horse, which made things much easier! The day started with back to back dressage rides on Zoomer and Zara, followed by Zara's jumping. Zara showed our work may be paying off giving me a great consistent test. There was still some tension through her work, but definitely an improvement even if the judge didn't agree, I was happy with her. In the jumping, Zara was fabulous, with one rail in the stadium due to a late eye on me and good fast cross country. Next was Zoomer's jumping, which was a blast of course! He went clean all round, and besides trying to climb out the trailer window, was a star all day. Baby's jumping went well even with the long wait due to the rain delay. A rail down in the in & out and a few seconds of time which was just due to caution in the slick footing. we ended with a 9th for Zara, and 7th for each of the others.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Busy Busy Summer Season!

Wow, it's been a long time since I updated this thing!! So well do a recap of the remainder of the Spring season and so far this Summer!

*8th in Preliminary at the April FairHill Horse Trials
*9th in her first Intermediate at Loudoun Hunt PC Horse Trials
*11th in her and my first CCI* in Virginia
*7th in Intermediate at the Waredaca Horse Trials on dressage score
*9th in Intermediate at the Seneca Valley PC Horse Trials
*6th in Intermediate at the Maryland Horse Trials II

*1st in Novice at the Waredaca Starter Trials with the best score of all thoroughbreds at the event, earning the mid atlantic horse rescue trophy
*9th in Training at the Maryland Horse Trials II
*3rd in Training at the Olney Farm Horse Trials

Is back in full work and is signed up to go training level at the end of Summer Waredaca Horse Trials!

So overall, we've had a pretty successful Summer! I will try and keep this updated, although I have been crazy busy with riding at Dodon Farm, riding my three and my other obligations.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Understandably Grumpy Mare at Morven

Sunday was a very early morning in Chestertown, with a departure from my dorm by 4:00 and a departure from the barn at 5:00. Despite some complications, we managed to leave only 10 minutes late and arrive early! After setting things up, and pulling Zara out of the trailer for some pampering, she proceeded to angrily paw and gnaw on my trailer. Lovely mare. As we got ready, she was super antsy and dancing around while we tacked up, tried to escape as we put the bridle on, etc. And then we got on, and shes still grumpy and uncomfortable, and even gave me a few little bucks! Unusual... We headed down to warm up, aiming to just work on getting her relaxed when I noticed a horse in my ring doing a free walk along a diagonal that I do not do my free walk on.... Or so I thought. Through a nearby rider warming up, I discovered that to my surprise, we are riding preliminary test B today, which I have not done since Rubicon in November. learned the test quickly and proceeded to try for relaxation out of the mare with little luck. We warmed up on many straight lines and soft turns to keep her happy, but the twisty, turney test left us appearing completely unprepared for preliminary level that morning.
Disgruntled from our poor test after we have put blood, sweat and tears...literally... into our dressage problems. I seriously considered withdrawing and stomped, and by stomped I mean rode the little motorcycle, up to the stadium to discover I had missed the walking period, and there was not another for quite a while, aka until after my rides. I watched for a while, learning the course and cooling down from our dressage disaster. Upon learning the course and seeing that it was nicely flowing, I decided I would see how Zara warmed up in my jump saddle and then determine whether or not to continue. We got ready as if we were going xc also, studs and all, and headed to warm up. Although I didn't really think I would be doing either jump phase since something just seemed very off with her today -- and she shouldn't be in cycle because shes two weeks out of her 3 week Depo injections.
Zara warmed up for jumping well, with one rubbed rail, but still more resistance than normal. She was definitely happier in the jump saddle than earlier, even for working on the bit during warm up. We decided to go ahead and do stadium, but withdraw from cross country unless it felt absolutely perfect. Zara and I went through the course very well and relaxed, even on (a little too much of a) loose rein through the triple at the end. We pulled the last rail, which took a good 6 seconds to clunk after I had gone past and circled about to leave the arena it falls. Really?? Even though we had a successful, nice feeling round, I decided to still withdraw from the cross country. Better safe than sorry, and sticking to my gut feeling seemed right. After that dressage score and rail, it's not like we would have been in the ribbons anyways. Oh well, saved for another day.
Upon returning home, Zara definitely seemed uncomfortable through her back, especially where my seat bones would be in my dressage saddle. I knew the saddle didn't fit her quite right, but have used pads to compensate until I could get the saddle properly fitted in the Summer. I'm thinking Zara was simply fed up with whatever discomfort my saddle was giving her, and said &^%# you, I'm not working in that! So now we begin a new challenge: learning to ride good dressage in my jump saddle, or find a saddle to borrow or rent for a few months.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playing in Aiken

So my eventing season successfully started off early this year with two long weekend trips to Aiken!! The first weekend, February 18-20, Zara and Baby competed at the Preliminary and Novice levels at the Paradise Farm Horse Trials. We arrived in Aiken around 3 in the morning on Friday and slept a little before dressage for the girls that day. Despite the tiredness from the long drive, I had a great test on Zara and a decent test on Baby; the beautiful weather certainly helped to raise my spirits for the day, coming from snowy rainy Maryland! Zara got a 34.1, putting her 9th of 23 entries, and Baby got a 35.2, putting her 12th of 27 entries. Saturday was stadium for Baby and cross country for Zara - the morning started off early with a great clean round for Baby, and success continued with a fantastic clean ride for Zara, with just a few time penalties. Her ride was by far the best that she had put forth for me yet in cross country, as she really focused on the jumps and seemed very comfortable in a couple of the more challenging questions of the course, like the skinny to the coffin combination, roll top to corner, and through the table and 1 stride over brush into the water. The next day was cross country for Baby and stadium for Zara. Baby went first, showing her first show of the season green side, with one stop at a spooky dark with light stripes table jump, and a bad moment where she became preoccupied with a nearby jump instead of hers. Im not sure if her second problem should have been listed as a stop, since we were pretty far out from the fence and weren't even facing it (she was spooking at a biig unlabeled corner to the right of our jump, before we made the left turn towards her jump). Besides these moments, she went around the course pretty confidently, without glancing at anything else and making time. Since Zara's stadium was after, I didn't have a chance to get to scores to question the second refusal. Zaras stadium was brilliant and smooth, pulling no rails and making time; she made her third prelim of her career and first prelim of the season look like a piece of cake!! With her clean round, Zara finished 6th in a big, tough prelim division. Baby will be schooling once we are home before her next one!!

The next weekend in Aiken was March 4-6 at the Sporting Days Farm horse trials. Unfortunately Baby was left behind for this trip due to a minor lameness from a lost shoe on Thursday morning, but Zara traveled fine alone. This time we arrived with a whole day to get rested before competing on Saturday, however since Zara was in season already I knew dressage would have potential for disaster. Dressage on Saturday morning went as expected, a little rushed and a little tight. We received a 48.6, which I thought was a little harsh considering our test may have had tense moments, but also had some very good moments which received scores the same as our poorer moments. Oh well. In stadium, Zara needed a little extra help lifting her feet; the course had challenged many riders with a few rails here and there. Zara pulled the second jump, and after this I rode a little harder to keep her feet up. She ended up one second over time also. Her cross country ride went great, with no jump or time penalties, and a good, confident, strong ride over the course. She ended up placing 14th of 22. I am thinking after this weekend I may get her on depo and not have to worry about "bad mare days," since prior to this event her dressage had been much more relaxed and smooth.

Our next event will be back in area 2, starting with the Morven Park Spring horse trials on April 2. Hopefully, both of the mares will be up and running properly for that one!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Well clearly I haven't updated this in a while! Life has been very busy between returning to college for my senior year, working and eventing every weekend. One major update it I now have a full website! I will still be updating the blog after events, but lots of information about me and my horses and services can be found on, please check it out!

As far as the rest of 2010 eventing for me, we had quite a few achievements. Aces Zoomin' Dude and I successfully moved up to intermediate level and completed a few events at that level in the Summer and Fall. Unfortunately Zoomer suffered a minor knee injury, causing a scratch from the Plantation Field CIC** and the Fairhill Internaitonal CCI**. He returned to preliminary in the fall and suffered a mild rebow to his right front. He will be resting until at least April of 2011, and hopefully make a full recovery and return to competition for the Summer or Fall.

Zara also made a big move up, form training level to preliminary level this fall. After ending on our dressage score at almost all events at the training level and finally getting our dressage complications a little more organized, we moved up at the challenging Fall Waredaca Horse Trials. Our division there consisted of Phillip Dutton on 7 horses, Sally Cousins on 3, as well as many other professionals and myself on Zoomer. Zara proved she was prepared for the challenge, ending on her dressage score of 35ish and placing 8th, just behind 6 Phillip Dutton horses and 1 Sally horse! She also completed the Rubicon Farm horse trials, though with slighly less finesse in the sticky footing. We have big hopes for 2011, with a few trips to horse trials in Aiken planned and our eyes on a CCI* this Spring.

I also acquired a horse by the wonderful stallion Salute the Truth by Steuart Pittman in the Fall. After competing in a few local combined test competitions and winning each at the novice level on great dressage scores, Brilliant Truth, or Baby, returned to recognized eventing at 2 novice level horse trials this Fall, ending on her dressage score at the Morven Park Fall horse trials. Baby is offered for sale this Spring, and will also be competing in Aiken and area II until sold.