Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jimmy Wofford Clinic at 3 Day Ranch

Jimmy Wofford:  "Ride like you’re going to live forever"

Despite some bad weather on Saturday, it was a “double rainbows all the way” kind of weekend at 3 Day Ranch with Sherry, Nahmi and Brent at the Jimmy Wofford clinic.  (If you don’t get the reference, go hit You Tube and then come back to the blog.) It rained, then it was hot, then it was cold, then it got windy… and that was all just by 11:00 the first day!   Still, if you’ve never been to a Jimmy Wofford clinic before, I highly recommend going even if it’s just to audit.  From the very first morning, it was a completely game-changing experience. 

 Jimmy starts every day of his clinics with an hour of lecture beginning with, “Ok, who’s got the first question?” It’s an open forum, although both days once the group started on a particular topic most of the questions were all related to the same topic as we all hungered to learn more details about whatever he was discussing.  For instance, the first day was about training an event horse and rider, the fitness schedules that he’s been successful with for over thirty years, and the techniques he advises to keep our horses sound and sane at any level.  The most effective tool is the calendar, as he drew up an example of how he picks a “destination event” whether it’s Rolex or a Pony Club horse trial, and back times as far as ninety days, planning what the horse will do each day to be prepared for the show.  A lot of walking for the horse is a big part of that plan, and in the process he hates gadgets of any kind for riders but most especially iPods!  Even at the walk we should be communicating with our horses.
Boy being walked by new friend

After possibly too much red wine and a freezing cold, sleepless night in Nahmi’s usually cozy trailer loft, I was perfectly happy to skip the lecture and remain bundled in both hers and my sleeping bags for my first warm moments in what seemed like weeks.  (I’m a wimp about being cold, I admit it.)  But, as luck would have it, nature called and I had to get up anyway so I begrudgingly joined the lecture.  It turned out to be another amazing one, getting through even to my fuzzy brain the importance of rider position for the horse to be able to do his job.  Another fascinating point was the absolute necessity for the horse to be relaxed every time he’s ridden.  For upper level horses to achieve dressage movements, for instance, they must have a relaxed enough back to be able to move correctly.  Otherwise, it’s like trying to touch your toes when your back is too stiff – all you get is a sharp pain in your back and can’t achieve the motion.  Sure, there are times when a putting your heart into a good smack is required, but overall for any horse to be that relaxed, every ride needs to build their confidence and be a good experience. 

“You get the horse you ride”

Watching the riding portions of each day, I didn’t learn so much specific information (that was often given individually to each rider in a way that was often hard for us railbirds to hear) but learned A LOT about how we affect our horses.   For instance, in nearly every group, from Novice to Prelim/Int., there was at least one person whose horse looked hot and explosive as the rider battled to keep their heads lowered and in a relative frame.   Jimmy had those riders turn their reins around in their hands; that is instead of the rein coming up under your ring finger and back out between your thumb and forefinger, the rein came directly in and out between your thumb and forefinger.  In that position, the rider no longer had as much pulling power and guess what?  The horse’s stopped pulling.   The rider in the Novice class even said her horse has never been this soft before.  One rider in the Prelim class rode that way, came off over a fence, got back on and continued to ride that way, seeing marked improvement over the next fences.  My hat was off to her – if I’d have come off, I’d have been tempted to sneak my hands back to the way I was used to riding, but she gamely stuck with it and was rewarded for her efforts. 

That’s the big thing about riding in a Jimmy Wofford clinic; you really need to bring you’re A-game and be willing to do whatever he tells you.  One rider, for instance, stopped doing the exercise Jimmy set up for them to do and by the end of the weekend, they had the least improvement in their riding.  The man’s a legend, for Pete’s sake, why would you spend all that money to get his feedback and then ignore him?  Naturally, both Sherry and Nahmi definitely brought it to the clinic and had amazing rides.  I’m in particular awe of Sherry who rode without complaint with a smashed up knee that she could barely walk on between rides.  If it were me, I’d have put on some kind of bionic man/Mad Max knee brace contraption so that it was clear I was playing injured.  On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t have gotten much sympathy from Jimmy, who in his late 50’s is still an amazing force of nature.  Sherry is definitely tough as nails and is my new hero.  Nahmi rode spectacularly as well, going over some jumps that would have required a change of pants for me.  And she did it all in style on cross-country day, with butterflies flying in formation on her vest and saddle pad as her Halloween costume. 
Nahmi gave Mr. Wofford a bottle of Edradour scotch from the “Sapphire Girls” and it was pretty cool to get an e-mail the next day thanking her for the gift (did he not realize it was a bribe?:p) and reported that it was definitely being added to his list of favorite scotches.  The man is undeniably a real gentleman. 

Margie Molloy, owner of 3 Day Ranch, was a fantastic hostess for the weekend.  Breakfast and lunch were included with the clinic and I have to say, the lunches were amazing.  For Saturday night’s dinner, Margie was kind enough to loan us her grill and Brent BBQ’d some awesome steaks while Sherry manned the microwave veggies – ah, nothing like roughing it in a live in trailer!   Nahmi got to deal with her own soy-cutash – don’t ask. 

The facility was just gorgeous, perfectly ridable to most all the fences both days despite the rain.  The range of fences they have to offer on the course designed by David O’Connor is great, with small fences side by side with progressively larger ones asking the same question of horse and rider, allowing both to learn and build their confidence in relative safety.  It would be nicer if it weren’t so hard to get to, but it’s definitely worth making the effort once you’re there.  

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Greg Best Clinic At Flintridge Riding Club

Olympian Greg Best giving advice
It’s amazing to me how much you can learn at a clinic even if you’re just hanging out.  I went to the Greg Best clinic held at the Flintridge Riding Club Oct. 23&24 just to cheer on Cappa and Sherry.  With my pony (and riding) sidelined for the foreseeable future, I wasn’t really looking to learn any great revelations, but it’s interesting how much you absorb if you keep your mouth shut and eyes open.  (That, by the way, is probably not one of the lessons I learned, so don’t count on that happening too often!)

Here’s some of the “Best-isms” that I picked up:

Riding a jump course should be like riding a dressage test with 8 – 12 “elevated steps” along the way.  Each jump should be approached like a movement in a dressage test; if you biff one, get over it and focus on the next movement.  Like a dressage rider, you can make an error on one movement (in our case a jump), but if you focus on doing your job on the next element instead of lamenting about how you screwed up, you can still score a 10 on the next movement.  He also pointed out how the lines and the turns are connected, you can’t just ride the jumps, you have to ride the turns as well, it’s all part of the same dressage test/jump course. 

A rider’s job is to ride straight, with impulsion, and some third thing I forgot.  Hey, it was cold out there, give me a break.  Hopefully Cappa or Sherry will remember.  That’s it.  When he asked the three riders (Cappa, Sherry and a 10-year-old girl who as an obnoxiously good rider and student) what your job is over the fence, there was a lot of hemming and hawing before the most popular answer came up – staying out of the horse’s way.  Makes sense, right? Wrong!  According to Best, your job over the job is exactly the same as your job on the flat and in between fences.  If you have to correct for your horse’s left drift coming up to a fence, that’s still your job over the fence.  Feels like it all relates back to the idea that this is like a dressage test with elevated steps, not a journey tackling one obstacle after another.

Cappa was not so happy to demonstrate how much the shape and consistency of your back, especially your lower back, can influence your riding not just on the flat but over the fence as well.  It also dramatically affects your leg position; the more curled your back, the farther out in front your leg slipped.  According to Best, while a dressage rider wants their butt to stay connected to the saddle, a stadium jumper keeps their back more still, causing the saddle to tap the rider in the butt with the canter rather than keeping their buns in the seat.  (Mind you, that’s my paraphrasing; not his exact explanation but you get the picture.)  Though he did smilingly admit that for an eventer, whose main focus is “to survive” (his words that time) he could understand the need to sit a little deeper in the saddle to a cross-country fence. 

To me, it looked like a very light version of two-point, with your crotch being the point of consistent connection as the horse’s back and your saddle comes up to meet your butt.  By putting an upside down crop through Cappa’s belt so that is smacked her in the face every time her lower back moved, Best demonstrated both how important and how difficult it is to keep your back still.  As always, Cappa endured the torture like a sport!

Best pointed out that your back position is something you can practice while just sitting on the horse, you don’t have to wait to be in motion to work on it.  I’ve taken it one step further, trying to maintain that perfect posture now in the car, mowing the lawn, even while typing this.  And no, I’m not so dedicated that I have a crop hitting me in the face when I lose my position.

An interesting idea Best brought up was that just like when you’re driving a car, you need to slow down around turns.  Like a car, your horse needs that collection to maintain (or re-establish) his balance.  It’s the rider’s job to get the horse to move forward up out of the turn, however.  Gunning them isn’t the answer, much like gunning your car out of a turn is ridiculous, but getting back that forward canter you had before the turn is pretty important as you head towards your next jump (or dressage movement if you want to keep with that analogy.)

Along those lines, Best asked another crowd stumper (ok, except for Carolyn, who gets all these theory questions right) – what should your upper body do as you come out of the corner then?  Most of us went with stay still – wrong!  Best points out that if you lean forward, what does your horse do?  It goes faster.  So a little lean forward will encourage them to move up.  Conversely, a horse slows down if you sit up straighter and taller in the saddle – not if you lean backwards, which only drives them with your seat.  So sit up tall – and by that he actually means sit, have your body connected to your saddle, not hovering over it – to collect in the turn. 

It was a little bit of a mind blower when Best told Cappa and Sherry’s class that he doesn’t really worry too much about changing his speed to adjust for the next fence being a vertical versus and oxer.   Keep the horse straight, keep it moving, and that third thing that I forgot and that’s all you need to do.

Leaving no illusion unshattered, in Michelle’s class Best corrected a rider who looked at her next fence as she went over the one in front of her.  He knows that’s what we’ve all been taught, that’s what Pony Club tells us, but “they’re wrong.”  Again, thinking of a jump course in terms of a dressage test, you don’t see a dressage rider complete a move and then look 100 yards forward, they consciously ride every single stride.  In a jump course, how you ride the turn is just as important as how you ride over the jump (maybe more from some of the riding we saw this weekend) so you have to be looking at where you’re going in the next two strides, not ten away.  He advocates using landmarks when walking and memorizing your jump course, not just learning the jumps in the order they appear.  For instance, from jump #5 go around the corner and at the third tree turn left towards jump #6. 

I was truly impressed with how fast Best was able to get a handle on both horses and riders.  In no short order he pegged Poznan as being lazy and Jack as truly lazy.  Sorry girls, that’s what he said.  He liked them both, don’t get me wrong, but while it’s possible for a horse to have good initiative or bad initiative, Kong and Poppy had “no initiative on the first day and even less on the second day.”  It really didn’t seem all that unusual nor a bad thing in young horses.  Much of that, including Poppy getting over his “butterfly brain” is something that they’ll gain with maturity and training.  Now Cappa’s self-professed butterfly brain, hmmm…..

Apparently, after a week of rain and hand walking, Gordo apparently found his “on” button out in Flintridge’s cross country field.  Michelle bravely agreed when Best suggested removing his bit (holy socks!) and using a very simple English hackamore.  It’s really just a noseband with a place to attach the reins and while it seemed to reduce Gordo’s fussiness, it exposed a whole new steering issue Michelle didn’t even know they had!  Undaunted, she came back the next day with a similar simple hackamore (as opposed to the mechanical one with the long shanks) and had a beautiful go with Gordo over all the fences.  Ok, sure, collecting him back on the downhill line as a little tough, but she got the job done. 

Hats off to Cappa, Sherry and Michelle for great rides.  Kudos to Flintridge as well for a really well run clinic.  Despite the fact that their arena footing had taken a beating from the rain, the footing out on the cross country field was in great shape so they adapted and held the stadium jumping clinic out in the wilds where many of their riders aren’t used to going.  Special shout out to Chris Warner, who was so friendly to everyone during the clinic and kept a nice, warm crackling fire going in Flintridge’s massive fireplace.  Wish we had one of those at Day Creek for the damp winter days ahead!

Most importantly, many thanks to Greg Best for an entertaining and educational experience.  If you want to learn more, go out and buy his videos

New List of Nicknames for Poznan that came as a result of the clinic:

Scuba – due to love of water. 
Scoobie – because Tina totally ruined Scuba for me – ask her to explain
The Dude – because of his sun bleached tail and surfer dude attitude
The Dude – re: The Big Lebowski (same name, different reason)

Let the name game continue this weekend at the Jimmy Wofford clinic…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Schooling Day at Shepherd Ranch

All the cool kids from Sapphire Eventing went up to Shepherd Ranch yesterday to school the cross country fences as a prep for the upcoming show.  It took 3 trailers (and a little bit of persuasion to get Junior into one) but the group got there in time for what felt like the highest temps of the hottest day of the year.  Still, everyone had loads of fun.  Sherry, LOVE the Aloha pad - I'm voting that as the official barn show pad!

A big "thank you" to Dusti for catering the schooling and taking one for the team when someone left the door open and killed her SUV battery.  Sherry came to the rescue by being one who actually KNEW how to use jumper cables.

Important to note: Barkley cannot be trusted loose on his own.  His spirit of adventure caused him to go missing twice.  At least he didn't eat a tent...

In the first group, Gordo and Michelle E. look good and on their way to a great partnership. Tina & Destino are getting more and more professional - like, been there, done that.  Chris and Prince had some tough rides, but both preserved (my money is always on Chris).  Our adopted German exchange-working student Isa had perhaps the most interesting ride on Vinnie, who returned to his racehorse roots after having not one, but two pasture horses gallop at/past him.  Fortunately she met the challenge with a smile and laugh!

While waiting for their turn, Junior and Poppy amused themselves by taking turns splashing in the water bucket, forcing Sherry to refill it at least four times before it was their turn at cross-country. 

(Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?  Seems like Sherry was doing all the work!  ha ha)

In the second group, Michelle E. was up again, this time on Junior who was a super star!  The new place, the loose horses and of course, being well-hydrated brought him out a little wound up, but from the very first log he jumped you'd have thought he'd done this a hundred times before.  His mummy was very proud!  Michelle C & Jack put on their big girl pants and showed their stuff by going over some Novice jumps with ease.  Each time Sherry & Poppy go out, they just keep getting better and better - it's so exciting to see the baby of the group grow up!  (and Poppy too - ha ha).  Have to say that with Isa giving Louie just a brief warm-up, Madison and Louie were just adorable.  They are turning out to be quite the young event team!

(Evidence that Marla was not there -- no G&T, all business that day!)

click here for more pics

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jimmy Wofford at Eventful Acres: Sunday

Jimmy Wofford Clinic:  Day Three by Dr. Nahmi Jones

Last day of the clinic. Cross country! The fun stuff!! Time to play on the Hisken's beautiful property and sample Rod's creativity in fence building.

My videographer and now professional dog wrangler Carolyn was still hanging in there. Invaluable as a groom, networker and drinking buddy also, I shall forever be in her debt for allowing me to drag her along on my little summer vacation.

Of course since things had been going far too smoothly so far, I had to find a way to complicate things. I spent most of the morning worrying about my double reins...keep the snaffle rein? yes or no? Brian Sabo had suggested them the weekend before. They seemed to be working well and the emphasis so far had been on a softer feel with my hands so far but Jimmy was working on a hand slap technique for shortening reins after a drop. Geez, that was going to be complicated with four reins....

In the end I decided not to change anything but still had the choice on my mind. Several times I thought of asking Carolyn to remove my snaffle reins since Simon was more than high on Canadian goose impulsion. You know that kind of impulsion? The kind where you don't know which direction you're going to go next? Jimmy's generous description of our warm up? "Like a hog on ice".

What happened to my co-operative pony of the past two days? The professor had gotten the memo that it was cross country doubt. Perhaps after 18 months off from cross country jumping, the four XC fences we did last weekend with Brian may not have been enough to knock the rust off.  Perhaps I was just overthinking everything as usual.

Jimmy's sage advice had nothing to do with riding position today. " Are you riding this horse?"
"Yes" I answered meekly, unsure of where he was going with this line of questioning.
"If you're riding 
this horse then you're going to be ok"

Clearly Simon, now nicknamed the professor, had earned Jimmy's approval, although I'm pretty sure my abilities were still suspect.

"It's ok to be nervous, after all you do need to feel 
something while riding cross country. But try to organize your butterflies so they fly in formation"

After a few bad jokes and a couple of deep breaths, I was able to coax my butterflies all to fly in the same general direction and the rest of the day went pretty smoothly.

Most of what Jimmy was trying to teach on XC day will have to wait until I can practice at home: quiet galloping position without posting the canter, the transition from 2 point to light 3 point in front of fences, slipping and gathering the reins efficiently, proper position on up and down banks.

But perhaps learning to being still in my mind was the most important lesson. After all, as Jimmy pointed out, my horse knows me better than I know myself. Maybe I can control the agitated energy that gets in the way of finding my version of Nirvana, jumping out of stride at 520 mpm now that I've had a glimpse of how being an intelligent passenger leads to a happy horse.

Thank you Jimmy Wofford for your patience and generosity with this duffer. I was amazed by the individual attention I received at your clinic. Your attention to detail and useful insights are very much appreciated.

And a huge shout out to Rod and Karen Hisken for hosting this clinic at their beautiful facility. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jimmy Wofford at Eventful Acres: Saturday

Jimmy Wofford Clinic: Day Two by Dr. Nahmi Jones

Day 2 was showjumping, but deconstructed.

We watched the preliminary group go from the comfort of the stands, while we enjoyed yummy french toast and fresh fruit. Have I mentioned yet how fantastic the food was all weekend? Many thanks to Carol Von Brandt, the wonderful woman who slaved over the hot grill all weekend to bring us our gourmet meals.

The emphasis was the same as the day before in the gymnastics. Steady rhythm through the lines, don't build to the second fence, soft in the upper body so we don't influence the horse to have a rail either in front or behind.

Jimmy broke the show jumping down into small logical pieces and the gradually introduced more technical questions.

I started out the day with my usual bad habits, locking my hips and elbows over the first few fences. As we warmed up I was reminded to incorporate the lesson from the previous day. Softer reins, then softer leg so I didn't chase Simon out the front door. Simon remembered also, jumping up more lightly over the fences with a softer neck. Wow Jimmy! This stuff really works! He just laughed "Yeah, the professor is actually simple, now you just have to ride him that way!"

Our deconstructed show jump course was a series of simple lines that progressively became to more technical. We jumped a 5 stride oxer to oxer line, then one stride rails on 45 degree angles then on to squeezes.

Jimmy had me concentrate on softening my arms by straightening my elbows every other stride on the approach to fences. By the time we moved over to the corner, the logical progression from the angle/ squeeze questions, I was slowly unlocking my body and Simon and I jumped the corner easily and accurately on this first try.

Jimmy's final comments after our last line of the day, "See those little adjustments you made to make the oxer come out right? That's what we call riding."  I have the proof on video, I may have graduated from duffer to rider. That's a good feeling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jimmy Wofford at Eventful Acres: Friday

Jimmy Wofford Clinic at Eventful Acres:  Day 1

By Dr. Nahmi Jones

I usually think of gymnastics as simple, straight forward exercises. A couple of innocent standards set up as a chute. The instructor sneaks the rails up. The next thing you know, you are jumping a challenging question without realizing what's been built up.

For the Jimmy Wofford clinic at Eventful Acres last weekend things were a little different. Rod Hisken's huge jumping arena was full of freshly painted white rails and standards, laid out everywhere like an albino logging disaster.

As I rode in I thought: Uh oh Simon, you and I are going to have to do a lot of thinking today. There's nothing simple about what Jimmy has in store for us today.

I knew that at least Simon would get the benefit of the doubt from the 3xOlympian from his comments at our early morning lecture/ introduction. Jimmy's amazing enthusiasm for our sport and our equine partners was summed up in his response to a question about selecting a young event prospect. "I'm automatically going to like it if its a horse". 

Jimmy's message for day one, in fact the message for the whole weekend was to teach us to be intelligent passengers.

The goal of his gymnastic exercises was to allow the horse to jump in a way that simulated his natural balanced jumping style unencumbered by the rider.

Through the wide and low oxer/ bounce line Simon had to reach out to stretch and compress his body horizontally. Though the double bounce/ hogsback line he got to reach up vertically to stretch through his bascule.

I was encouraged to ride with a longer rein. Did I lose Simon out the front door this way? You betcha. Jimmy's solution to keep a steady rhythm, to take my lower leg off to prevent driving.

I struggled to keep my position over fences by stabilizing my body with only my upper leg and without using my hands as a crutch. I was thrilled to find Simon responding to my efforts to find the happy balance between a lighter hand and a lighter leg, by jumping with more freedom through his neck and back in a happy relaxed rhythm.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jimmy Wofford Clinic: Thursday

By Dr. Nahmi Jones

Carolyn and I made the right hand turn onto Yuba Ranch Road. I was careful to check the speedometer and rear view mirrors to be respectful of the neighbors. No Dust! After 8+ hours of being in the truck, we were almost there!

Carolyn had been a total trooper, going along with my crazy plan of getting up at 2 am to make the long drive up to Oregon House.

But what was this? Mere yards from the driveway to the Hisken's playground for eventer, a maintenance truck parked on the one lane bridge!! Really?? Tree trimming?? Captain Jack Sparrow on Carolyn's new garmin did not warn us of this final obstacle. Argh mateys!

Bleary eyed and too tired to argue, I followed the directions of the guy in a hard hat confidently smiling and beckoning me onto the bridge along side his tree munching truck....keep coming...that's right...a little to the left...Simon, think skinny thoughts!

Just millimeters from the ditch, certain death or at the very least an embarrassing tow truck call, we made it, fenders intact. Hard hat dude grinned and gave us the thumbs up signal and we pulled past.

Whew, we made it! What a relief to see Rod jumping off his tractor to give us a welcoming hug and to take over driving the last few feet and park the trailer.

Simon unloaded calmly and immediately settled into his stall. "Is there hay? Then I'm cool" Rather than being upset about being alone, I think he enjoyed being the center of attention all weekend.

We pitched Carolyn's tent and stretched out for some well earned rest. I was too tired to be nervous about riding for the first time with Jimmy Wofford in the three day clinic at beautiful Eventful Acres.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cottonwood Derby by Nahmi Jones

Tales of the Cottonwood Clinic starting Friday 7/2/10 by our own Dr. Jones....

Hmmm, its almost 11p. I'd followed the clearly marked signs from the freeway off ramp to the Event Derby. But now the road has deadended. I hadn't passed a stabling chart, let alone anything that looks stabling. Turned off the engine. Pitch black. Started to rethink the idea of coming up the night before by my lonesome. tick. tick. tick.

Relieved to see Erin Bridges drive up just then to help me find the barn, the light switch, the stabling chart and Simon's stall.

The Cottonwood Ranch late night welcoming committee set the tone, I knew I was in for a relaxed weekend in a supportive atmosphere.

Simon and I were ready to go early the next morning with the Training group in the jump clinic taught by Brain Sabo. I was hoping to be able to demonstrate our progress since our last lesson with Brian a month ago.

Brian's simple, elegant definition of the half halt is taking a horse's power from extension to compression. In the case of horses like Simon, who solve their problems with extension, the answer to too much extension is a small control circle on the counter bend to engage the outside hind. Eventually, the counterbend translates to a clearer half halt.

Both height in the show jump arena and terrain on the XC field pushed beyond my comfort zone. I was able to see how my excitement/anxiety translated into increased extension and loss of balance as the questions got harder. Being able to focus on our new line of communication: counterbend=halfhalt, led to better balance thru compressing and maintaining our power and improved our jumping technique.

My clinic experience was confidence building and loads of fun. Brian maintained his patience, enthusiasm and humor throughout the whole day. He still had one-liners left at the end of the day for Sherry in the baby beginner group, equating Poznan's first attempt at an up bank to a high school kid coming home from his first party.

Thanks to Wendy Wergeles and everyone at Cottonwood.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Big Welcome to the newest Sapphire ponies

Congrats to Sapphirians Sherry H. and Carolyn B. for buying their next perfect event partners last Wednesday!

Sherry found the regal Poznan after months of searching and several heartbreaking close calls with failed vet checks, etc. Pozer may easily be the biggest horse in our barn, which is fitting since Sherry is easily the tallest rider! He's been with Michelle for a while and has some amazing gaits as well as a very cuddly personality. He also has this absurd amount of mane and tail that will satisfy Sherry's need to groom for hours on end!

Carolyn found Junior, a skinny diamond in the rough, after hours of grueling horse shopping. (Yes, hours... and that's really only if you count the drive down to look at him.) She sat on, er.... just one horse. Lucky for her he's exactly the right horse, with a big canter, a trot that's got potential once he gets used to his new digs, and lots of chrome. The big question of "will he jump" was answered this week as he nonchalantly went over the scary Sapphire plank as if he's been doing it for years. Ok, there were a few baubles at first but what an amazing baby to figure it out in just a few trips (and I do mean trips) over the fence.

Can't wait to see both ladies competing their horses soon!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twin Rivers Aptly Named???

The first day of the Twin Rivers show started off with a peak of sunshine just long enough for Nahmi to get in her 4th place dressage test. The overcast skies grew more threatening as the day went on, prompting the show folks to run the upper levels of cross country a day ahead of time before rain made the footing too dangerous. The Advanced, Intermediate riders were able to complete their rides but the last few got a little damp as the rain refused to hold off for just a little longer.

Fortunately, Tina got her dressage ride on Destino done in the nick of time. The rain held off really coming down until she was back in her stall. Of course, Nahmi and Carolyn decided to talk their ponies out for a hand walk just as the heavens opened and rain of biblical proportions fell right on top of their heads.

Rainy Day Blues

Overnight, wind and rain wreaked havoc with the cross-country course as well as, sadly, Tina’s County Saddle tent. The lower level cross-country rounds were postponed until Sunday, pending a decision about the footing then.

Tina, being the hard-core eventer that she is, rode Destino in the off-and-onish rain to have an extraordinary round with no jump penalties and two time faults. After an appropriate amount of time to allow a little shopping, the heavens opened up once again. And who do you think was out walking their horses at the time? You guessed it, Carolyn and Nahmi!!

Wine tasting seemed like a really good idea for the rest of the afternoon…

So that’s what we did! The rain seemed to conspire against Nahmi getting to jump her round so we all took off and tasted some really great local wines. Many thanks to the good folks at Tobin James Winery, Clautiere (the wigs were a blast!) and ESO Winery for the generous pours and interesting recommendations.

It’s the end of the day, the sun is out (as are the neighbors sheep) and it’s a brilliant sunset. Fingers crossed about Nahmi’s rides tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it’s bull-riding for all but the decrepit (me) and savoring our excellent wine purchases back at the hotel before an early lights out.

No Joy In Mudville – literally

Sunday morning brought a huge blanket of mist but no more rain. Still, the ring hadn’t dried out enough to make it worth risking Sparky’s legs, especially since the event suddenly (and very responsibly) turned into a Combined Test with no cross-country for anyone but the big boys. On the up-side, Cappa bought a suuuuper cool cross-country jump that’s a bench on one side and a roll top on the other. Donations more than welcome to pay for this really sturdy well made jump.

To see the slide show of the weekend,click here and hit "slideshow".

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Party Wars: Sapphire Vs. Equites

Carolyn & I went down to Temecula to audit the always amazing Ian Stark clinic (more on that at a later post) and made a side trip to 3 Day Ranch to see honorary Sapphirian Larry Sawyer and his new horse Caboose. It was the Holsteiner's first cross-country foray in this country and he was a super star.

Take a look at the size of their "refreshment" cups vs. ours, however. Honestly, who would you rather go to a horse show with? All kidding aside, the Equites folks were a lot of fun and great to hang out with. Best to all of them in the coming year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blue Moon brings New Moon to Day Creek

The year started off with a bang so far. Not only was there a (relatively) rare "Blue Moon" on New Year's Eve, Michelle brought her new horse, Moon, home to Day Creek Ranch.

A (nearly) 5-yr-old Irish TB, his official name is Race the Moon (I think). Michelle is open to any and all suggestions of show name that use "Moon" but haven't been done to death. Ideas?

Click here to see the whole Moon-shot album...