Sunday, April 28, 2013

Whoa there!

To be honest, there has been so many times that I could easily have written a new post but I didn't. No excuses..I have run out of them now!

The 2012/2012 Florida winter season was a sheer whirlwind. So much was done, as in riding/working/visiting/spectating/competing....the list is as long as my hair at this stage.

I left off after the Palm Beach leg of the World Dressage Masters that was held at the end of January. It is from here on that I really had a mind blowing time!!

I spent most of February riding LC and any other horse I was told to! LC was getting better and more confident as time went on. We even took her off the farm and hacked her down the loop to another arena to work her in. It was amazing to feel how confident she has become since she first came to Foster Meadow.

And then the best part...

I was told I was to compete and so off I went and joined both USEF and USDF

I am deemed here as a professional (since I earn my living from horses) so I have to compete as one. Not that I care!

Under USEF and USDF with each level there are max 3 tests. As in Training Level Test 1,2 and 3. No more. Each one progressively more complex aiming towards the next level. In opposition to BD tests which have like 20million tests in each level.

Here is the breakdown of each level and which level is equivilant to BD ones:

USA                                                  IRE/UK

Training                                             Prelim
First                                                  Novice
Second                                              Elementary
Third                                                 Adv.Medium
Fourth                                               Advanced
PSG                                                  PSG
Inter I                                               Inter I
Inter II                                              Inter II
GP                                                    GP

You can see that they don't have an equivilant to Medium. There is a big jump in the levels here from Second to Third.

Here is a link where you can read each test from Training to Fourth. I am a big fan of the US' way of doing these tests. All progressive, all reviewed at the exact same time so no unnecessary confusion just as you start your test!

Pam wanted LC at a show a 5 min hack from our base in FL so we didn't have the worry of trailering in. All the better for LC anyway to be able to hack to and from a show. The norm here is that a horse does one test a day, of course it is allowed to do more, but it rare.

We entered for the Welcome Back to White Fences I for Training Level Test 3 on the friday and First Level Test 1 on the saturday, so at least she still gets her normal day off (sunday). It is a great show ground, three competition arenas, two warm ups (one with mirrors) and a large lunging arena. Lunging IS permitted at shows here in the USA provided you do it in the assigned places. Again another good idea, more so for the young horses who have never been exposed to a show before etc. Mind you, this show grounds are deemed as the "small showgrounds' in White Fences, but the show I was entered in with LC was the size of our Summer Nationals in Cavan. It was over the course of 3 days, with a schooling day on the Thursday. Go big or go home, right?!

Oh Wait!

The tues before our debut, Pam said I had to ride LC in a demo for a web based company called:

I'm sorry but you have to be a subscriber to the website to watch all the online clinics. And of course I am not!

So of course, not only was I going to get to compete that week I also got my internet debut lol. So it was really just a lesson from Pam with the founder of videotaping it. Pam used LC for anyone to know and understand what a typical 5yo in training should be doing and what is expected of that age. It was over 30degrees celsius that day. And it was late in the afternoon. I will never forget it! It was the best session I had on LC to that date. I was so syked for the show.

The show went great. She went around, did her job and did what was asked of her. Which is a seriously far cry from where she was at when we first got to FL. We placed 2nd on the first day with a 73%! The second day was not so good, she was long and flat, tired and tight! But still managed a 65.3% at a higher level. Pam was delighted, she now knows what LC is like at a show. And I was delighted to have shown in America!!

Above is the video of the first day :)

At the beginning of March I ended up riding a clients horse a few times a week. He is a 14.1hh Lusitano stallion bred in Mexico called Tome. He trains the GP  but has shown successfully at PSG. His owner Wick is fabulous and a seriously great rider.

One lesson, Pam made me ride out all the canter and trot tour from the PSG. Sure I thought this was brilliant! I am getting to ride a sportscar of a pony AND do some cool stuff too. Turns out she was testing me as I got told a week later that I was going to compete Tome at a show the end of March. Nearly wet myself! I loved riding Tome, he taught me so much... canter pirouettes, piaffe, spanish walk, how to ride my corners and half passes better.

He truly is a great horse. I am now bitten by the pony bug, its an addiction...I have a problem!!!

We were entered for the Welcome Back to White Fences II for Fourth 2 and Fourth 3. We won our first class on a 66% and we were placed in the second on a 62% :) It was my debut at that level and I am still shell shocked.

Video of our winning test

I was so sad when we had to leave Florida and I could not ride Tome anymore! I had such a blast of a season and I feel so lucky to have been given a chance. This past Florida season was by far the best, we knew what it was all about this time. We met loads of new people, went out socialising more, rode more, saw more...the list is endless! (Plus I won't rub it in what with all the fun and sun we had) :)

We soon after had to pack up the barn and think about the drive up north. I stayed behind again this year to get the horses on the shipper and close up the barn. Shauna and Ali left a few days earlier to get the NH place all set up and ready. Had a really bad drive back up north, stuck in traffic all through Georgia and some of South Carolina. Instead of being on the road 13 hours, I was on the road 16 for the first day. Got a few hours sleep and was on the road by 6.30am the following morning and made it back to Foster Meadow by 8pm. You have no idea how happy I was to see my little bed!! I was not happy to be back in the cold though :(

                                            X marks the spot in Georgia

So I must love ye all and leave ye all, we have clients moving in today (YAY! This place is too quiet without them all) My dearest Philip is coming back to me for another summer of torture (he really hates to see me) but I am actually happy to see him and his owner Kelly back. She really is great. And Jen is moving here from Florida for the summer with her Grand Prix horse Vito. Can't wait to see her too!!


One last thing.... I am hitting Eire hard in a few weeks for a holiday! I will hopefully be back on my Irish number (087-9136900) so text me, I could be anywhere so maybe we can meet up! (p.s. mine's a pint)


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Craziest Season so far

Apologies for lack of correspondance, but my lord the past three months have passed so quickly!

First of all Florida came around so fast. It was an uneventful drive down, we all arrived safe and sound. All being the horses, ourselves, Pam's dogs and our beautiful "daughter" Mischa. You all will be glad to know she still lives on! She has escaped the wrath of the NH coyotes and our resident alligator thus far. She now walks in a harness with a leash! So proud :)

December was a hairy month as we would say back home. Shauna unfortunately had to leave us for the month as she was scheduled for surgery and needed the month to recover etc. All is great now! She can smell, taste and breathe well again!! We did miss her though, both at work and outside of work!

So December was manned by Ali and I. With some help from one of the clients, Jane aka "Mom". Oh man we love that woman. She is a miller to muck out stables I can tell you!! I won't lie, December was a tough month. We worked a hell of a lot, but on the otherhand I rode a ton too. I had the two four year olds, a grey that was destined for the jumper ring and anything else that needed riding.

Ziggy was having a tough time of it, he just recovered from a really bad abcess in his right hind that had him laid up for easily 2 months. So his right side was as weak as water. As he got better, his opinion and attitude shone out a bit too much for our liking!! It was understandable... he was only pushed as much as he was physically able to take, but now he was doing much better physically and he didn't like the idea of having to go back to big boy school. He turned to bucking. And I sat all the bucks until one day.... he was being a pup, I smacked him with the crop on the shoulder and he gave me the finger basically. Well actually he made me eat dirt. I had it, until he threw in a dirty one and dropped his left shoulder and ducked out to the right. Needless to say, he didn't do that again in a hurry!! He is now going fabulously. Walk, trot, canter, leg yields, transitions up and down, centre lines. He basically had an issue with me taking a contact and getting my legs on. He is learning now that he can complain, but can't be an asshole!!

LC on the otherhand has just been a superstar. She took to Florida really well, she likes the heat and all the goings on has helped her become more adaptable. I cannot say how much I enjoy getting to ride her and learning how to ride a 4yo turning 5yo. To know what they should be doing at this age and teaching her along the way is invaluable. Everyday I am learning and everyday she is too. I always struggled at home with knowing the time to start upping the ante and why. Pam has taught me to be vigilant and having the insight to know when new things need to be introduced and what needs to be better before moving on to teaching them new things, what is age appropriate, was is not, how much to ask, what not to ask, understanding the biomechanics as to why this or that is difficult for her at this stage or that stage etc etc. Lads the list is endless!! The connection now is getting quite good. She is carrying herself really nicely - up and out to the contact. As I said before, these thoroughbred types need contact, but need to ride out and up to it. It is said for all horses that they need to be "in the box" but it is vital that you ride the horse UP INTO the box and not PULL it BACK INTO the box.


So Remi was the jumper horse I rode for a few weeks. He actually belonged to a client of Pam's that had him as a dressage horse, but it wasn't his calling in life! So he came to us to get fit and get back into the jumper mode. I had a blast, I haven't jumped in donkeys years!! Pam taught me how to do "jumper changes" where you ask for a flying change over the jump with the aim to land on the correct lead after. So I learned some jumper things too!!

                                                      Remi and I - Christmas Day 2013

Christmas Day was one of the best that I have ever had. All of the people at the barn that had nothing to do, converged at Jen's house (a fabulous client and great friend of ours) for the evening's festivities! It was a potluck kind of dinner, we all brought something and we also did Secret Santa!! It was a great day. We rode the horses in the morning, while listening to Il Divo's christmas CD blaring on the music system. Twas a funny day!

January followed really closely, Shauna came back....YAY!!!!!!! We though Jan would be nicer since there were more peeps to man the barn, but with over 22 horses on 3 different properties.... I think you get the idea. Oh and yeah, we had over 18 horses in December between just Ali and I. Wowsers.

The Palm Beach leg of the World Dressage Masters was on this past weekend, it also had a 3* CDI incorporated which Pam competed in. She came 4th in the PSG and 8th in the Inter 1 with Bernie. He hasn't been shown since last year and for Bernie, it was a fantastic result!!

Had tickets again this year, wasn't as big a show as last year which was slightly disappointing, but then again... Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud were scheduled to compete!! But then Gal dropped out due to illness (I can confirm that he was sick, as I stalked him and saw him cough and wipe his nose a lot). The Hans dropped out of the freestyle due to soundness issues with his horse. So then there were only 7 in for the freestyle. Was pretty bad to be honest. The only one deserving to be at this supposed high level competition was Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven. She stole the show and I am not exaggerating. Her freestyle was harmonious, flowing, in time to the music, the music was perfect. She was the only one that gave me goosebumps. Last year I had goosebumps with her, Charlotte, Anja Plonkze, Stephan Peters, Carl Hester....get my drift?!

Here is the link to Tinne's freestyle of the weekend just gone

PS See if you can see me.... I am in the front row on the left of A as you watch :)

Tinne.... talk about a really good rider. She is just amazing!! She deserved that win.

I shall try and keep this updated I promise!!!