Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ram Tap: Sunday, Nov. 15

Its late on Sunday and I'm happy to report that the day went spectacularly well overall.

Sara and Calvin were the first up. They took a rail or two but after the show was over the two of them schooled some cross-country fences and they looked AWESOME. Whatever imperfections showed up in the show jump arena they clearly worked it out in the field.

Reese was a superstar (she says modestly about her own horse) but his success didn't come without Michelle working her buttocks off to keep Captain Klutzy from stalling out completely. Oddly, he was pretty calm in the morning but after the show was over and people started schooling the cross-country ski-jump he could see, he went BERZERK just like yesterday. Either he's anxious to prove he can do the big boy jumps or he's thinking "are you freaking crazy?".

Still, I couldn't be happier that he finished on his dressage score to take a third place ribbon.

Next up was Carolyn and Ceilidh. To quote Carolyn, "I don't bounce as well as I used to." 'Nuff said.

Ok, not quite enough... Her one boot with the broken zipper was fashionably held together with black duct tape. It looked a little odd to have one shiny, almost patent leather boot and one normal one, but later we saw that her fashion statement is becoming all the rage. There was one other competitor following in her fashion statement today with the bold slash of silvery tape! It's the look that's sweeping the nation!

Nick and Buck pulled a rail and had some time faults but still managed to stay in second place to win Training Level Reserve Champion for Area VI. Way to go boys!

Breaking down was, as always, filled with a little sadness and a little relief. Sad that the fun was over but some relief that, after four days of 5am - 7pm days fighting the damp cold of Fresno, we were going home. It was great to be showing with Nick and Sara, who were super helpful every single step of the way. It was also great of Dusty and her friend Sherri to come up and cheer the riders on with food, drink and moral support. Their sometimes bawdy revelations kept the mood light, that's for sure!

Sorry there's no pictures; the one tragedy of the weekend is that I can't find my digital camera (yet) so no more pics until Carolyn can pull them off the videos or Dusty can forward to me what she took.

Off to bed now for me, it's been a long but fantastic weekend. Thanks to one and all for their help and support!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ram Tap: Saturday, Nov 14

CROSS COUNTRY DAY -- better known as the day my four year old turned... three (no....more like the terrible twos! - cjb).

The day started off at a balmy 38 degrees as we left the hotel at 6:30. Brrr! A little coffee and we were off to walk Carolyn & Michelle's course one last time before the rounds started at 8am in the crystal clear frost covered grounds & jumps. After hoofing it around the tricky end of the year course that shared most of the fences (most? try only two additions..... whine..... - cjb) with the championship class we went back to the barn.

As much as Carolyn may have been suffering some show-day butterflies, Ceilidh was IN THE ZONE. Suddenly, the nutty persona was replaced by a cool, calm professional. She even deigned to nibble at her heretofore untouched breakfast to get enough calories to take on the task in store. She studied the back half of the cross-country course, plotting how she would tackle the ski jump-to-the-corner combination that was causing so much trouble for the division ahead of her.

Reese, on the other hand, became the four-year-old baby that he's never acted like before. He saw the first training horses galloping across the course and suddenly, he had a HUGE SPAZ ATTACK in his stall. Running and calling and stomping and kicking - it was like he was doing an immitation of Ceilidh. Once I took him out and walked him around, he calmed down almost immediately but every time you put him back in the stall, he went kooky all over again. Fortunately, once we got him tacked up and Michelle rode him up to the warm-up arena, he was back to his old, dependable self.

Then it came time to go into the start box. Or not. Later, Michelle confessed she could have really used a hand getting in there, although it looked ok from where I was standing. The first jump looked dramatically squirrely and according to Michelle the next five or so were just as weird from where she was sitting. Bottom line? They got around clean though a little fast - a huge surprise to those of us who thought she'd be getting off and pushing by the end!

The only problem was he didn't go to sleep from exhaustion like he should have. Each rider he saw going on the course only revved him up even more. I'm writing this hoping that he's still in his stall tonight - you can only stay so long at the showgrounds before it becomes obsessive after all.

Carolyn had issues to deal with even before she got on her horse. Her inexpensive zip up field boots broke as she was getting dressed to ride!! This is why I HATE zippers on boots. She made quite the colorful picture with silver duct tape holding both boots together. However, Ceilidh was so in the zone and powering around the course all you saw was a silvery blur! The pair re-entered the eventing world after five years with a double clear round, finishing in the middle of the pack.

Sara and Nick both had excellent rides as well, ending the day the best way possible - with every horse and rider combo coming home safe and sound. Sorry, no pics today because my tired, gin soaked brain left the camera at the barn. Look for a retrospective next week sometime.

Tomorrow - show jump day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ram Tap: Friday, Nov. 13

Dressage day. Blch. Bottom line? Everyone did GREAT.

The day started off at, as Nahmi puts it, obnoxious o'clock in the morning. One free breakfast later (thank you La Quinta Inns & Suites!) we were on the road to the barn. The horses were fed by 7am and then we sat around and waited for the dressage to begin. Odd foot note: Ceilidh once again got her stall door open but stayed put with merely her lead rope as a stall guard. Buck got out entirely and wandered the aisle until some kind competitor figured out where he belonged and put him away. Perhaps his show name ought to be "Houdini"??

Good news? Everybody's braids stayed in. Yeah! Bad news? It's still dressage.

Reese and Michelle did FANTASTIC for his first event dressage ever. Ok, he fishtailed a bit like the Mac truck that he is but he is the cutest Mac truck ever. Maybe I'm a little biased, I'm not sure. They got a 32.4 to finish in the middle of the pack at 5th.

Ceilidh has found her show spirit and calmed down a bit. Carolyn had a great warm up and a test that she described as the test of extremes. There were some horrifyingly tragic moments and yet some moments of brilliance. The good thing was that Carolyn stuck to the plan and kept riding no matter what Ceilidh did. She also finished roughly in the middle of the pack with a 40- something score.

Nick and Sara both put in really excellent tests. I've never actually seen either do dressage at a show and they did really well with Janet biting her nails on the sideline both times.

Show statistic: Ceilidh is the oldest in her class while Reese is the youngest in his division. Talk about extremes. (Ceilidh isn't the oldest horse in the show - that honor belongs to a 19-year-old stalwart, God bless!)

A few gin & tonics later, Carolyn and Michelle (plus the dogs) walked their beginner novice course. To see their course, click here.

Stay tuned for the results!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ram Tap: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

Reese's First Show: Part 2
A Lovely November Day in Fresno

Since Michelle took the horse's up on her own on Wed. night, Carolyn and I got to "sleep in" and leave home at 6am. We got to Ram Tap just in time to see Michelle riding Ceilidh in a vain attempt to try and beat the rain. In Scotland, today would be called "a soft day". Here in So Cal, it was "Storm Watch 2009!!!" Just kidding. It drizzled most of the day and was a balmy 60ish.

Ceilidh continued in her love-struck behavior, being an absolute freak in her stall and even under saddle until Michelle let her blow her jets out and gallop a bit. After that she looked great. Reese returned the nuttiness, bellowing from his stall for his new girlfriend until it was his turn to be ridden. No surprise to his mummy, Reese was picture perfect. He went right to work and didn't take a silly step the whole time which was really good since Michelle's neck and back are really bothering her. The only time he jumped is when he passed Carolyn and I as we got up to in the dressage judge booth we were sitting in to hide from the rain. Michelle worked him past it so hopefully tomorrow it will be no issue.

Braiding this afternoon was a real treat. No seriously, it was really nice to braid in broad daylight for a change instead of by flashlight. Ceilidh was a little wound up but Carolyn got the job done. Reese was stellar, standing there half asleep as Michelle braided him down as if he'd done this a hundred times before. Carolyn finished tying the braids up into buttons for Michelle in an attempt to give him a manly-looking neck. Did I mention Michelle managed to make about a hundred braids in an attempt to make his neck look long as well? We'll see how successful both were tomorrow.

It finally stopped raining late in the afternoon. A quick lunge for both horses, a quick scrubbing of Reese's legs in an attempt to make his white sock white, a few gin and tonics and the next thing you know, it's nearly dark. Carolyn had to clean her tack by lantern light - hopefully she either did a good job or the dressage judge is nearsighted.

Speaking of braiding by flashlight, poor Sara had to do just that since they had to wait for her to get out of school before leaving for the show. I'm sure it will look great --- or maybe she'll get the same nearsighted judge!.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the rain is over because soggy dressage would be a drag.

Here's the photos from today - enjoy!

Can't wait till tomorrow (picture me here biting my nails!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reese's first show: Part I

So Reese's first real recognized event is underway. As I sit here sipping my wine, Michelle is winging her way to Fresno with Reese and Ceilidh in the back... in the trailer, not the back seat. Although from her early reports Ceilidh is raising quite a ruckus just like a big sister. Or maybe a big sister from the south (since she is from Louisiana) as she is waaaaay too hot for her adopted brother. Four plus hours in the trailer won't helping the bonding issue. By the time the get to Fresno she'll be firmly in love and he'll be utterly confused. Sounds like the first boyfriend I had in college. Should make for just that much more exciting weekend for all!

Tomorrow... the day before show day and highlights of Reese's first haircut!