Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dressage doesn’t have to hurt to be right

Like most eventers, I think of dressage as the icky wall of fire that I have to pass through to earn entrance on to the cross-country course.  Or maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, this weekend we did a sort of mini-clinic with USDF Certified Instructor Camilla Fritze at the gorgeous Whitethorne Ranch up in Somis that may change my mind about dressage.  It was - dare I say it? – actually a lot of fun!

The two days were terrific, with Camilla taking the time with both Carolyn & I to work out whatever issues we had picked for the day.  Day one was naturally the most interesting.  While Junior had a brief turn out on Friday & Sat before we left, due to high wind/faint hearted mummy Reese spend Fri in his stall and had a brief turn out on Sat.  All things considered, both boys were great, but it was the first time I’ve ever felt like Reese was running off with me!  I didn’t really think the tiny little dressage rails would keep him contained but ultimately we managed to stay in the arena.

Here’s some of the homework we took away from the weekend that we can continue to play with on our own:

Rhythm: Numero uno on that Dressage Pyramid thing and in Camilla’s lesson’s as well.  Establish your rhythm – key point, YOUR rhythm, don’t just follow the horse – and keep it no matter what.  The rhythm needs to match the horse’s stride so for a horse like Junior, who hasn’t learned to use his front legs yet, the rhythm might seem painfully slow until he figures his shoulders out.  Don’t assume that a faster rhythm will get you a better gait; it may just come off as rushy rather than more energetic.  It’s too bad that Garmin doesn’t make a watch that makes the tick of a metronome so people like me who are rhythmically challenged (you do NOT want to see me on the dance floor with less than 3 drinks in me) wouldn’t have to conquer genetics AND riding all in one fell swoop!

Don’t obsess about his head:  Trying to fake dressage by working with your horse’s head down when he really isn’t coming through doesn’t accomplish anything.  Camilla’s focus was on rhythm first and usually, eventually, once the horse kept a steady rhythm with equal, steady contact on both reins, they were more willing to work through their back and naturally lower their head to the dressage picture we all carry around in our heads. 

Turn the shoulder, not the nose:  Simple concept that I’m sure every instructor has tried to ingrain in me since I put a foot in a stirrup but somehow the way Camilla phrased it really made it pop.  I could give a little reminder “hello” with the inside rein if need be but for the most part, but focusing on turning the shoulder/feet and not the head I reduced (not eliminated – please!) the amount of times that I lost his shoulder in a turn. 

Sitting (or stepping) in: This sounds much easier than it is, but was pretty transformational for a horse like Reese, aka Captain Klutzy, who throws you to exactly the spot where he doesn’t want you to sit.  Trying to break it down in simple terms (‘cause that’s all I remember!) you want your outside seat bone over their outside leg, while putting weight in your inside stirrup.  You’re not leaning in (though sometimes it felt like it) but you should feel more pressure on the inner thigh of your outside leg.  (At least until you get used to riding this way.)  Make sense?  Think about it next time you ride and it might suddenly become clear. I had to think of it not just around the turns, but with every single stride, particularly on his oh so sensitive right lead.  It was amazing how much straighter it made him.  Which leads to…

The straighter the horse, the stronger the engine:  With his engine/hind end really behind us, Reese’s gaits felt even stronger and he was able to lengthen out just a little bit. 

The connection mystique:   While I wouldn’t go so far as to say we accomplished true connection by DQ standards, Camilla did make it easy to understand the feel of having your horse in both your reins.  Another one of those concepts that sounds easier than it is, but boy when you had it, the horses looked and felt like a million bucks.  Bottom line: you have to get the horse to accept both reins before any dressage magic can happen. 

Look straight ahead: Years of trying over come the beginner habit of looking at my horse’s ears has gotten me (and most of you out there if I had to guess) into the equally bad habit of looking too far ahead.  Every time I looked through his ears to maybe 5 or 6 strides ahead, the turns just flowed in perfect(ish) balance.  When I turned my head too early, I couldn’t help but throw my hips one way or the other and my little house of cards of balance/rhythm/ came crashing down.   As much a part of me as putting my heels down, this habit may prove to be a tough one to break, but it was really obvious how much of a difference it made.  

Staying in balance with your horse:  For me, this was actually one of the toughest concepts to wrap my head around.  Shoot, you’re in a jump saddle you lean a bit forward, you’re in a dressage saddle and you lean a little bit backwards, right?  If only life were that easy… Camilla pointed out the importance of staying in balance with your horse rather than slavish devotion to the idea of sitting upright for dressage.  Yes, your shoulders should always be open (or your collarbones opening up, or your spine pushed into your body, or your shoulder blades touching, however you need to picture it) but if your horse has fallen a bit on his forehand, go with him and slowly rebalance him.  Sticking with the sitting upright no matter what he’s doing only makes it harder to regroup and after all, this is a partnership like a dance, not a wrestling match.   (Ok, I came up that last little bit up as a way for me to think of it.  I sincerely doubt Camilla has ever seen a wrestling match, nonetheless referenced it in a dressage lesson!) 

And finally….

Intent:  It sounds weird and all new agey, but it’s amazing how much simply focusing your intention on what you want makes a difference.  Having a clear picture in my head of what I wanted made it easier for Reese, me or both of us to understand and therefore achieve the goal.  And while I may not always be able to police myself on whether I’m in rhythm, balance, sitting in or having him in both reins, I can control what my little pea brain is focusing on (mostly)! 

Thanks again to Camilla for a great weekend and the folks at Whitethorne Ranch who could not have been nicer.   

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 3 Ram Tap HT: Rain, rain go, screw it

After a brilliant, albeit it chilly, Saturday I found it hard to believe all those predictions of rain on Sunday.  Come on, what have they got, radars or something that tell them when clouds are coming in?

Needless to say we woke up at 5 to see it pissing rain outside.  Again, thank you Holiday Inn Express for sending us on our way with coffee, warm bacon, eggs and biscuits!  We got up to go to the barn anyway for Nahmi's cross country round on Simon.  We looked at the horse, we looked at the footing (as much as one can in the pitch black).  Discretion being the better part of valor, Nahmi decided that she'd be just as happy not running cross-country. Like any good Hobbit, we went back to the hotel for second breakfasts of fresh baked cinammon rolls.  Ironically, Sherry reports that the announcer kept calling out, "Nahmi Jones on Simon the Likable clear at fence three" etc. until "Nahmi Jones and Simon the Likable finish with a clean score."  How awesome is that - Nahmi got to stay in bed AND have a clean round in the rain?  I just feel bad for the poor bugger who actually rode and never heard their name called!

We came back to the Ram Tap to help Sherry and Poznan get dressed for their go.  By then it had stopped raining but the wind was still blowing up big pony's skirt.  Quite by accident, Sherry discovered that what Poznan really needs as a warm up is a good, brisk 10 minute gallop around the warm up area.  Unfortunately, he decided to do it all on his own.  One replacement set of reins later and Sherry was back in the irons (leg ups for your wife are definitely your domain, Brent) and doing lovely over some warm up fences.  A little coaching from Nahmi and she was on her way. 
Nice fashion statement, Nahmi!

Are those Pony Club clean?
It was a gorgeous round fit for a movie.  The first few fences were a bit slow, making the round as they disappeared over the hill a real cliff hanger.  Would Sherry kick him into the next gear and avoid time faults?  Or would she stay safe & secure in hunter land?  As they popped out of the water over the hill, the answer was clear.  Poznan thundered proudly around the last third of the course and came in at the perfect time. 

Another irony in life -- with all the techno-gadgets at her disposal (see the app reference in the last entry) to ensure she was running on time, Sherry ended up going by mostly feel.  

Dear Santa: Nahmi needs new windshield wipes for Christmas
We went out to celebrate the day with lunch, only to hear reports of ice on the Grapevine forming around three o'clock.  Not nearly enough time for us to get over it before that happens.  We changed our orders to lunch to go and headed out the door and on the road.  Fortunately, all we found was snow near the Grapevine but no ice on it.  Still, we end up home before 6pm and cocktails served before 7.  All in all, a successful weekend!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ram Tap November Horse Trials - Sat 11/19/11

A new day dawning

So very, very proud of both Sherry & Nahmi today!  They're both showing commando style -- no, not that kind of commando.  They're both wearing underwear, but are showing without the help of a professional trainer to coach them in warm up.  Relying on their own skills acquired from hard work all year (life?) long, experience from past shows, and helpful notes/suggestions from trainers Susan Friend, Gina Economou and the ever awesome Brian Sabo, they're doing it on their own and really shining.

It's really inspiring to see them showing "without a net" as it were, flying or falling on their own wits.  At the end of the day, isn't that what we all should be able to do? Not at every show, but if the point of showing is testing your own mettle (and for the kind of $$$ it better not be for the .98 ribbon) we all should consider doing this on our own from time to time.  Just a thought...

Hair club for geldings?
Anyway, back to the ladies: of course Sherry had to be an over achiever, scoring the lowest dressage score of the entire show with a 20.  (For non-eventers, our sport is like golf, the lowest score wins.)  Nahmi had a really great, relaxed, flowing ride on the folliclely challenged Simon - see braid pic) and scored one of their best tests at a 35.  I was really happy not just with her ride, but her terrific attitude of looking at this as a building kind of test.  She achieved what she set out to do - bring a relaxed partnership into the arena - and will continue to push from there.  Considering it was such a brisk, chilly day that even the judge commented on it, that was quite an accomplishment for Simon!

Fortunately, the dawn's arctic breeze blew the gray, overcast sky away to give us a brilliantly sunny late morning for show jumping.  Simon's round continued on the same theme of learning and growing.  They had a rail and some time faults, so I suppose on paper it doesn't look as successful as rounds from previous shows, but Nahmi was extremely happy with the outcome and rightfully so.  Simon wanted to be a pisser in the warm up, but as Brian says she choose to disagree with his choice to lengthen to the fence with her upper body, resisting the urge to pull or or lock up her elbows.  Guess what, it worked!  In the arena, they rode straight to the fences, Nahmi's form was awesome, she made choices to get Simon to particular spots and achieved those goals.  A few wide turns turned out to be costly time wise but she had goals and met them -- what else could you ask for?

Poznan proved to be interesting and entertaining to watch in the warm up.  Every time another horse would jump a jump towards him, he went leaping about the place putting poor Sherry's back to the test.  At one point he nearly went over a coffin combination that was next to the warm up arena in his exuberance to show his disdain of other horses & riders.  All the rails stayed in the cups - good Lord, he cantered over one or two instead of jumping them - but they did have time faults thanks to his laid back style.  If only he was the over achiever that his mummy is...  Since her one and only goal was to finish with no time faults, Sherry was disappointed, but it's kind of hard to feel sorry for someone sitting in first place! :)

Sorry, no pics of rides as I was busy with the video camera.  Maybe videos to follow if Carolyn will be kind enough to link them here?  

Have to say, once again Ram Tap's staff and the facility make the unpredictable weather worth enduring.  The jump course was challenging but not daunting, the footing in remarkably good shape and everything running pretty much on time and according to plan.  For those who know me well, you know that the thing nearest and dearest to my heart is the bathroom situation.  Happy to report after touring nearly every port-o-potty on the place that they were all clean, had paper, had hand sanitizer and all in all a pleasure to use.  Thank you Ram Tap!

We walked the cross-country courses with a new companion - the course walking app.  (Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the word "app"?  It sounds like a burp gone wrong, but I digress.)  More on that later in another blog entry but clearly we weren't the only ones out there with this handy new device that measures the course and gives you minute markers as you walk.  Hard to tell, however, it people were using the app or just texting while walking.... (if you zoom in on the pic, you can just barely see it at work.) 

On a very sad note, our dear friend Larry Sawyer lost his eventing partner Caboose today. More than just a successful Intermediate and one star competitor with Auburn Brady in the irons, he was a friend and will be missed. 

November Ram Tap Horse Trials - Friday, 11/18/11

It's freezing, it has rained/is about to rain/just rained and windy -- it must be Ram Tap in November!

When we left LA, it was chilly and foggy so to be fair, crummy weather isn't really Fresno's fault.  On the upside, the Ram Tap showgrounds were, as always, really well organized and the folks who run the show were super friendly when we checked in.  Nahmi and I got Simon the Likable settled in and shortly after, Sherry arrived in the rolling Taj Mahal with his majesty Poznan.

The ladies hacked around a bit while I snuggled in the nose of Nahmi's trailer bundled up in her (purple, of course) sleeping bag on her surprisingly comfy new mattress.  With the shorter days, Sherry and Nahmi both ended up braiding by head-light - literally, with those little miner helmet lights you were on your head. If you show and braid your own horse, this is an invaluable little gadget to have.  Thank God Carolyn owns one so Nahmi could borrow it! :)

Working all day made the steaks that Sherry was gracious enough to grill out on her awesome BBQ that much tastier.  While it looked like way too much food, magically it was all gone by the end of dinner.  (If you look closely you can see Sherry's malibu & firefly lights twinkling - does she know how to do horse shows or what?) Great company and the traditional horse show round (or two) of cocktails almost made you forget how freakin' cold it was!  Well... that and we all piled inside Sherry's warm, cozy living quarters for after dinner toast before Nahmi and I made our way to our hotel.

If you've been to Ram Tap before, you know the hotel choices are either a dump next to a crack house or something that's pretty pricey & farther away.  Behold the new destination hotel for anyone going to Ram Tap -- The Holiday Inn Express on Kathryn Ave.  I shouldn't even be publicizing it for fear that the rooms will fill up all that much faster but who am I kidding, this blog doesn't have that big of a following!  Don't know what the price is since, being a mere groom it came as part of my payment package, but I'm in love with the hotel.  The beds are firm but comfy, the staff really helpful and most of all FOOD!  The gentleman in charge of such things had the continental breakfast ready - and I mean coffee, sausage, eggs, the whole nine yards - by the time we left on Sat. morning at 5:30!!  Usually hotels get kind of pissy when you ask if they can open a little earlier than their 7 a.m. posted time so we can have a little sustenance to face the long days at shows.  Not only was food ready, the young man was pleasant, eager to please and downright chipper!  This happened not just one morning but both days!  I am officially in love...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Allowing Mistakes

Mistakes Happen!
By Carolyn Bahr

 It’s okay to fail. 

Mistakes can be good. 

Without fear, there is no courage.

The last was spoken to me by eventing legend, James Wofford.  I had just had the privilege to be the first and only rider to part ways with her horse on day one of a three-day clinic at Eventful Acres.  It was a spectacular fall, with my green horse, Junior, managing to duck out in a one stride gymnastic line of three oxers.  I got up, dusted myself off, mounted, and tried again.  His words help me ditch my embarrassment, self-recrimination, and yes, stage fright in riding with Mr. Wofford.

Perfection Rarely Happens
Being a closet perfectionist control freak (or not so private if you talked to fellow eTwisters), this summer was pivotal in my growth as a rider.  Discovering that perfect isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be, that sometimes, allowing mistakes can be the biggest learning experience of all.  Which was true for both my horse and me.

Most Eventers know teaching your green horse to have a “fifth” leg is necessary for both horse and rider.  The ability of your equine partner to save your ass is essential for safety and competitiveness, especially for an amateur.  But in order to achieve it, you have to be willing to give up control and allow your horse to make mistakes so he can learn.

Because, guess what?  No one is perfect, neither horse nor rider.  I really hate that.  I found that out at the clinic.  It was impossible for me not to rate Junior to the fences, especially when he came out like a fire breathing dragon.  And of course, the hotter and stupider he became, the worse I rode.  Talk about a never-ending cycle of embarrassment.  But I did learn from it.  The times I managed to shut my over-active brain down and do what Jimmy asked, Junior improved and I grew in my horsemanship.

Getting It Done
It wasn’t the weekend I was expecting, but it was probably the weekend I needed. 

The clinic was a second in my lessons learned this summer.  The first was riding my horse in his first recognized competition.  I didn’t want to do it.  I normally would have had a professional ride him first.  I was afraid I’d mess up and give my boy a horrible ride and wreck him somehow.  You know, the one ride that would ruin him forever?  It took an amazing amount of faith in my trainer, Susan Friend Le Tourneur, and fellow eTwisters, bashing me upside the head, telling me I could do this, that I sent my entry in as rider.

Learn From Our Mistakes

Did Junior place as high as he could have with a professional in the irons, most likely not.  Did my confidence shoot skyward when in a class of 16, I managed to finish in 6th place on my dressage score and just three time penalties.  Absolutely!  By allowing myself the room to fail, I accepted a challenge and let go of some control.

Allow mistakes.  Give it a try.  It just might be good for you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 3 XC Day

by Nahmi Jones

Master Instruction
Cross country is dressage at a high rate of speed.

Rushing to get ready to ride is a recurrent anxiety dream for me. I do my best to give myself plenty of time to get ready for important events, so I can tack up and warm up methodically and calmly. But the early morning beat the heat schedule on cross country morning, maximum green spot abatement and fussing with Susan's borrowed air vest for the first time and oh no!! suddenly we were late for the fun of cross country day at the Wofford clinic!! Rushing through my warm up was no way to lull the fire breathing dragon into submission.

Jimmy pointed out that my strategy of throwing my shoulders back, standing in the stirrups and hauling on the bit was probably not the most efficient way for me to put on the brakes in the inviting open spaces of Eventful Acres. He had me practice instead holding 2 point position while asking for downward transitions to the halt and all the way through the reinback, just as he describes in the current issue of Practical Horseman.

He suggested a single bridge as my fire breathing dragon is rather strong. That way Simon pulled against himself and not me. He reminded us that just like in dressage, we need to be quick to reward and release the pressure on the reins once the horse softens, even at speed.

When I stabilized my shoulder position and found better body balance, Simon was happy to oblige with more sensitive brakes and we both got a little softer between the fences. Fire breathing dragon placated for the moment.

Simon was brave and bold and definitely up for the challenge of Rod's Intro to Prelim course. The gentle progression in degree of difficulty at the bank, ditch and skinny combinations gave me confidence when we moved up to the prelim sized questions. By the time we got to the water complex we were ready to tackle the whole exercise without any rehearsal. Jimmy's comment? See how much fun Prelim can be on this horse?

I finished the weekend confident and satisfied and clear on what areas I need to improve on at home. It is rumored that Jimmy might have mentioned Simon and Kilkenney's names in the same sentence. Whoa boy, I'm really going to have to get my homework done and raise my game. The fire breathing dragon's going to extra cocky if he gets wind of that kind of nod from the master.

When we were finished, after Simon was hosed off and iced, we snuck into the perfectly manicured Stadium arena for a post XC roll. Up drove Rod in his gator. Uh oh Simon, we're busted for screwing up the footing! But no, Rod just chuckled, "Spoiling your Ferrari? Good, he deserves it!"

Thanks Rod. Good job pony. I hope we can do it again next year!

Day 2 Stadium Jumping

by Nahmi Jones

When you feel nothing....add
Jimmy's sage advice for Simon

Jimmy's lectures are free form which is cool. He opens the floor for questions about anything that is on our minds. Today's lecture led to a discussion about seeing one's distance.

To paraphrase his take on the subject: If you feel the fence leaning away from you, you're going to be long, better add leg. If you feel the fence leaning towards you, you're going to be short, better half halt. Then every once in a while, it just feels sweet and you don't have to do anything to get to the fence and its a good day.

But what if you feel nothing? Then you're on the perfect half stride kid.

Isn't it wonderful when you can take what you just learned in lecture and apply it to your riding to solidify the learning process the very same day? Yeah, grrreat.

We warmed up for stadium jumping and started to string together a course in Jimmy's ring of related distances. I was just getting over the pucker effect caused by facing a whole course of Prelim sized fences when on the approach to the second line....nothing, yup I felt nothing.

My solution to the nothing feeling was to drop my shoulders and pray--Simon, please get us out of this! go. And this was how I demonstrated for the class what the perfect half stride looks like. Jimmy pointed out that we get that nothing feeling because our brains can't sort out whether we're long or short on the perfect half stride and that the solution is to fill up the empty feeling with ANOTHER STRIDE. Ok, got it Jimmy, another stride, not prayer.

We went on to complete the exercise in the ring of related distances. There was a 4,5 and 6 stride line set up in a ring and we were to connect them with circles in between each line. This simple stadium course allowed us to practice asking for the correct leads over the fences, adjusting stride length in lines with related distances, and balancing in the turns (or in Simon's case, regaining some semblance of control), all the details we were going to need to have a clean, flowing stadium round.

I finished the day with the wonderful, confident feeling of staying softly connected with my horse as he stepped lightly over a series of large fences. And lots more details to add to the homework list.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Birthday Fun

by Carolyn Bahr

A few weeks ago, Marla ditched work and heading out for some cross country fun. With Reese, keeping both Sparky and Simon company in the trailer, we headed out to Shepherd Ranch for a day of Schooling.

Nahmi and Simon, rocked the course, taking most of the preliminary jumps in style. I think a move up is in their near future. They both looked amazing. And of course, we all loved the huge grin and pigtails Nahmi wore throughout the day.

Next up, Marla and Reese had their first serious cross country schooling. By the end, they were jumping smoothly and having fun. What a great way to spend your birthday.

Nahmi with Sparky started knocking off the rust tackling combos of training and preliminary jumps. Sparky certainly showed his enthusiasm being back in the field.

And me? With no room in the trailer, Junior stayed at home, but I was able to get some great videos, though risking life and limb to capture the shot. Hey Santa, how about a high definition camcorder this Christmas?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gymnastics day: Pat the head, rub the belly

by Nahmi Jones

"Going Training, schooling Prelim" was the chorus for our one sentence intros to Jimmy this morning. Whew, maybe I'm not the only rider who foolishly said "yes" when Karen Hisken asked if I of course wanted to be in the Prelim group for the 2011 Wofford clinic at Eventful Acres. It was a great comfort to be with many of the same horse and rider combos who joined me in the training group last year. Maybe I am in the right place...

Last year on day one of the clinic, the sea of white poles in Rod's huge stadium arena intimidated me. This year, I welcomed the challenge (er...the speed bumps). Simon, the veteran, had the gymnastics game figured out as soon as he set foot in the arena and was eager to show off. Clever with his foot work and able to lengthen and compress easily, he didn't start to settle in until the exercises got more complicated. Bring on those bounces please!
Sea Of Poles

Although Simon had his job figured out, Jimmy was quick to point out that I needed some reminders of where we left off last year. Let go of the reins, ease off on the heels, don't make him anxious and flat by kicking too much. Relaxing the tension in my body came a little quicker this year thanks to all those hours this winter of doing my homework with Susan and Brian's encouragement.

The rest of the day's lesson was about focus. Ironically, focusing on riding the whole course and holding off on celebrations until the whole exercise (or round) is complete is something we've been discussing at home this year.

Jimmy's advice today was about the opposite end of the party spectrum. Focus on setting the horse up straight, let him do him job through the gymnastic, and the focus on pulling up in a controlled fashion. Only after the round is complete should you let the hyper-critical internal dialog start. If you start thinking about what you've done wrong while the horse is still in motion, then he's going to start driving. And Simon definitely likes to drive.

We finished the day with a few encouraging words from Jimmy. "Give yourself permission to be better. You are better, but you don't believe it yet."

Focus the mind, relax the body. Pat the head, rub the belly. We know what this year's homework is gonna be.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Show Jump Day at Shepherd Ranch

Finally, the last day of our show at Shepherd Ranch.  The first thing that greeted us was the spectacular prank that someone (who shall remain nameless except I think they spelled Pepperwood out in the prank) pulled on the Mill Creek gang.  All their tack trunks were placed in a very festive pile in the middle of the barn aisle.  It was pretty funny, actually.  Too bad that most of the riders, including their trainer Joe, came down with what we’ve now dubbed The Mill Creek Crud.  Food poisoning, flu bug, or nefarious activity?  Hmmm.  I’m in the clear since all of Joe’s kids already handily beat me in our class.   Or am I?  :)

As with all shows, the big boys – Nahmi and Susan riding training – went at the a** crack of dawn while the rest of us went at the end of the day, right when the sun had melted both horse and rider into submission.  I’m looking forward to both Susan and Nahmi’s move up to Preliminary in the very near future, but dread the thought of how early we’ll have to be at the show for that!  My only hope is that Carolyn and I will continue to move up the ranks (and seriously folks, I can’t really move DOWN the ranks, can I?) so we can close the gap between the rounds to something short of mind-numbingly long. 

Simon ended up taking a rail, but Sparky – as usual – tied himself up in knots to keep mummy in the clear.  It may have been the masterful job that Carolyn did hand-walking Sparky around, lecturing him on distances and speed before his go, who can say for sure. 

And then came the wait.  Yee gods, it seemed like forever.  Let me insert right here before I forget a big thank you to all the folks who kept the show running fairly smooth all weekend long.  The crew at Shepherd Ranch did a great job of keeping it together when all of us competitors were losing it.  An event like this requires an immense amount of volunteers so be sure to at least try to volunteer at the next event you compete in. 

Finally, Carolyn was at bat.  After a looooonnnnnngggg walk warm up (note to self: have someone go down and check where the show stands before getting on the horse, no matter how the math works out) they got their shot in the arena.  Other than one fence that seemed to take Junior by surprise, it was an excellent effort. 

Now it was our turn, the first show jump round Reese and I have ever done.  Would I be as slow as the day before?  By God, not if I had anything to say about it!  And considering my performance the day before, I probably don’t have as much say about it as I think I do… I have to confess to getting a little bit impatient for our round, which probably was for the best.  By the time I got in the arena I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted to be done.  After a tiny little spook at the crowd, I kicked Reese up into a canter and we were in 3rd gear (for better or worse) the rest of the way.  After a gasp (or laugh if you’re Nahmi) inducing leap over the same fence the Junior was shocked at, we had a relatively good run for a double clear round.  Take that little children who have yet to experience puberty!  I leapt over um… one kid who was sick as a dog to raise my standings.  Doesn’t feel as satisfying when I put it that way…

The show was a terrific experience for one and all, showing us what we need to work on while letting us bask in the glow of our successes for an hour or two at least. 

Next:  The Wofford Experience!

Chip's Blog - Day One Eventful Acres

Chip & The Tres Guuiness
Hello, Chip here again. Thursday was Travel Day to Eventful Acres for the Jimmy Wofford clinic. Its was a good day. No one slept through their alarms. Like a well oiled machine, the tres hermanas rolled out of Goldspirit at 10 min till 4am, long before any sane cock would be crowing.

We flew over the grapevine, ducked the heat and landed at Eventful Acres before lunchtime.

Simon and Junior were settled into their corrals, bedrolls unfurled for the girls. Now what's for lunch? Why Guinness please...its a drink and a meal rolled into one! A great start to the summer getaway!

Simon The Likeable's likeables

After a short siesta, a light hack was in order to stretch the ponies' legs and backs after the long trailer ride. Simon and Junior got a look around the property to familiarize them with the playground at Eventful Acres. Creeks, ditches and lots of inviting green grass...pony heaven. Everyone now relaxed and ready for whatever Jimmy had in store for us.

We enjoyed a great dinner served up by Carol and whoopee (cushions :-O) rootbeer floats for dessert! Yum, but at what age does lactose intolerance set in?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials Part 3: Reese's "Top Gear" is Apparently 2nd...

... ok, to be fair that's probably more about his Mummy being a chicken s@#t - could we have gone slower without going backwards???

Warning – spoiler alert!  All 4 ponies were cross country superstars today, gaining no jump faults and a few time faults spread amongst a few of us.  So very, very proud especially of Nahmi to run two nearly back to back training courses on both of her boys and do them like a champ (wheezing and all). 

Nahmi was up first on Simon, who like a grey ghost was a bit hard to follow in the early morning fog.  They energetically attacked each fence, getting lots of hoots and hollers from Bill and Maureen who came up to watch as a pre-wine tasting warm up.  It was awesome to see them finish the course.  From where I was standing I couldn’t see it, but I can only imagine the beaming smile on Nahmi’s face. 

After Susan turned in her second great ride of the day, it was Nahmi’s turn again, this time on Sparky.  Like an old pro, he just slipped back in to his job like he’s been doing this every weekend while Nahmi wasn’t looking.  Nahmi did have the cruel revelation that she is indeed NOT a 12-year-old little girl and had to pull up for a moment to get her air, but all around it was another super effort.  Again, pretty sure that her grin was from ear to ear when all was said and done.

There was a long, LONG break in the day until we baby eventers got our turn on the course.  Barn mate Lena went first and put in a respectable round with that was terrific save for one unfortunate course error near the end. 

Carolyn and Junior came out of the start box looking bold and confident.  Watching from the warm up arena, they were an inspiring sight as they smoothly sailed over every fence. 

Reese and I... Wow, were we slow.  Ouch.  Still, we got over everything and that’s what was important, right?  

Special thanks to Shepherd Ranch for putting on such a great course at every level.  Although to the pros, the intro course SEEMED small, to me and the other 9 little girls on ponies, our “table” seemed like the real deal.  Ok, maybe it was only me, but still…. And a BIG THANK YOU to the volunteers - no event could go on without you!

Can’t wait for the next one… hoping our horses feel the same. 

Our reward... turned sideways! Thanks Bill & Mo!
Tomorrow, show jump.  Fingers crossed everyone is sound and willing. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chip's First Blog

Hello world, things are all aflutter at the Jones household this week so I thought I'd take a moment to introduce myself...since the bird brains here don't seem to have the time to.

My name is Chip. I'm the official mascot for the next eTwist adventure and self appointed guest blogger. I'm going to give you a bird's eye view of clinicing with Jimmy Wofford.

Since birds of a feather flock together, the tres hermanas are gathering for a road trip to Oregon House. Yes, this summer time migration pattern is becoming an annual ritual. The eTwisters along with a gaggle of fledgling eventers are once again participating in the Wofford Clinic at Eventful Acres.

The etwist chicks have been hatching their plans for summer vacation, gathering camping gear, road food for the 8+ hr trip, bathing suits with at least a shred or two of elastic still intact, a fully stocked trailer bar and of course single malt for Mr. Wofford. Ponies on their best behavior clipped, cleaned and tack organized.

Eventful Acres, here we come.

Although the early bird gets the...well you get the picture...this sparrow's opinion is that the departure time of truly obscene o'clock is for the birds.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shepherd Ranch - LIVE!

Coming your way soon, on a screen near you - live on tape - Shepherd Ranch June 2011.  The videos of Training Level, Beginner Novice, and Intro Beginner Novice of our eTwisters are now available for viewing.  Check us out!

Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials Part 2: Dressage is hard

No one took pics of dressage so I just threw this in.  Isn't Sparky cute?
 So we all survived the first day of the show (the second day at Shepherd for us since we got here on Thursday and took the practice dressage test) and like any show there have been a lot of up and downs.  First up was Nahmi on Simon, who turned in such a great performance that someone asked how much she’s willing to sell him for.  And still she ended up with a less than stellar score.  Watching the test now on tape and it still looks great to me.  I didn’t get to see much as I was warming up but what I saw was awesome. 

Then it was me on Reese.  Ok, since no one else said it, I thought we did awesome.  Apparently I’m a fan club of one. :D Watching it now on video… nope, still think it was our best test yet.  Thank you Susan, for all your help getting us there.  I had a couple of light bulb moments in the warm up that I felt like I really learned something at a show other than dealing with the splashback effect from the porto-potties (beware of the blue sanitizer while wearing tan pants, that’s all I’m saying…).  And we were rewarded for our efforts with… yep, a less than stellar score.  Oh well, it’s all about the educational experience, right?  (In hindsight, I confess I felt like in the intro to beginner novice division, the judge should just be happy I achieved the right gait at the right time.  Apparently the judge was holding us to a bit higher standard – hence the reason I got my ass handed to me by a bunch of kids on ponies!)

Next came Nahmi again on Sparky.  OMG Sparky is so adorable with his floppy ears!!  Beautiful test, a lengthening to die for and…. Another lower than expected score.  Bummer.

And then came that ray of sunshine, miracle of miracles, Junior.  Junior, who spent the night apparently tearing up his stall and was a bit of a crazed maniac during the day showed up at the show ring ready to show his stuff.  After an accidentally long warm up, Junior was STELLAR!!  And by that I mean freakin’ amazing.  Beyond just the “no bucks, no running backwards, no balking” relatively low bar – it really was awesome!  And the score… well, it kind of reflected it.  She beat me anyway.  :)

At the end of the day, we all walked our cross-country courses and are looking forward to/terrified of tomorrow.  Gad, when did INTRO to beginner novice get so BIG?  It’ll be fun… and if I keep telling myself that, will it make it true?  You’ll find out tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials - Part 1

Finally, after all these years of riding together, Carolyn, Nahmi and I are getting to do our first show with everyone on board their horses.  Miracle of miracles (knocking on wood here) all four boys – Simon, Sparky, Reese and Junior – are sound, we’re sound (of body anyway), and ready to have a really great weekend. 

Getting up at obnoxious o’clock in the morning after a late night finishing up some work I’d been putting off (shocking!) should have been tough, but I think I was so excited that getting up early was easy.  And that’s without coffee!  (‘cause I wasn’t up early enough to actually make some and Starbucks has not succumbed to my brilliant idea that they deliver at 5:30 am :D)

Loading was great with everyone – including the sometimes sticky Junior – just marching right on.  Could it be that the babies are growing up?  With a little bit of teamwork we left Goldspirit Farm and were on the road by 6:28, two minutes ahead of schedule. 

Susan’s trailer arrived at Shepherd Ranch slightly ahead of Nahmi and me because – be prepared to be shocked – they had to stop to go to the bathroom and Nahmi and I didn’t!  I know that only people who have gone to shows with us before will get that, but usually Nahmi and I have the smallest bladders of the gang.  The one stop combined with the bigger truck and possibly heavier foot J got them there in time to stake out the best parking spot and find our stalls before our arrival.  After that, we moved together with the precision of a Swiss watch to get the stall guards up, waters filled and ponies fed. 

Ahhh, time to relax… for about two minutes.  Isn’t that the way horse shows always go?   We should have had hours to go tack shopping and unwind but before you knew it, it was time to get ready for the practice test we all signed up for. 

The practice dressage got off to a bit of an exciting start as Junior bolted on the lunge line, slipped, fell and skidded around the arena on his ass.  The cool part is that he got his brain back in gear and Carolyn rode a very respectable test with no bucks, running backwards or balking.  Simon and Reese put in respectable tests as well, and everyone got some good coaching from the judge.  If you have the opportunity to do a practice test the day before, I highly recommend it.  Seasoned vet that he is, Sparky got to sit this out and relax in his stall.   

Tomorrow – the real thing!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Playing Hooky

Dressage 101

By Carolyn Bahr

There comes a time in every working adult amateur’s life when a choice arises, especially when they own a green baby off-the-track thoroughbred.  Do they give their baby his/hers first show experience or do they let their trainer/coach do it?

I live in two worlds: my professional busy post-production television career, and my fun, extracurricular, equestrian pursuits.  With my first OTTB mare, I chose having my trainers lead the way, and not hopping into the irons until my horse had her show experience laid down.

But this time, I picked a different path.  I’m not the same rider I was almost a decade ago, and Junior, certainly isn’t the hot mare I use to own.  He’s a solid guy, talented, somewhat easy going, gelding -- the perfect partner in which to step up and challenge my skills.

Junior Studying Sarah's Words To Live By:  Be Bold, Ride Tough
Following the advice of both my trainer and my good friends, I entered our first show with me as rider.   I christened Junior with a show name, Playing Hooky (‘cause lets face it…. If I ever get to show, it’s ‘cause I skipped out of work!), chose both a level that would be easy for both of us, and venue that would be inviting.

May 1st, The Meadows of Moorpark derby day arrived.  The first challenge was met with success, loading into the trailer, and we were on our way traveling with fellow Eventer, Sarah Wood and her horse Tiberius.  As our coach, Susan Friend LeTourneur of Goldspirit Farm  and eTwister, Marla White, went to get our numbers, we were off to lunge.

Both boys were superstars and very quiet.  Things were looking up for my show nerves.  We left them happily tied to the trailer as we went to walk our derby jump course.  Mine was a combo platter:  Easy Beginner Novice was a combination of Beginner Novice fences mixed in with the Intro BN.  Nothing struck me as scary or undoable, though I was bit squeamish about the solid log jump back into the arena.  Course memorized, it was off to get ready for dressage.

Trek Back To Trailer
Tiberius was up first, and while he was gone, Junior held up well being left at the trailer by himself and only me for companionship.  It wasn’t until twenty minutes in when some other horse let out a bellow, that my quiet, well-behaved, baby decided he didn’t like to be alone.  Good timing, since we were already tacked and almost ready to head for our warmup.  Thank you fellow eTwister, Sherry, for helping me get on my fire-breathing dragon and was quite good-natured about us trotting away and leaving her behind. Warmup was interesting.  He tried very hard and at least settled slightly.  Off we headed to our arena.  Finally, it was show time! Still on the muscle, but trying to be good, as soon as the competitor before us halted and saluted, I was off trotting outside the arena to give Junior a view of what’s to come.  We stopped at the judge’s booth, chatted (to make sure he knew they were people in there and not horse eating monsters) and also passed it both directions.  After wishing us a good ride, the bell rung and I made our way to letter “A”.

Over Fence #1
With some encouragement after a slight balk, I got Junior into the arena and cantered partway down centerline.  Forward is good, right?  Or did he think we were going advance?  In my dreams.  It was an interesting test.  The wind picked up and blew down part of our court as we were trotting directly at it.  There were some more illegal canters and one tiny buck, but we managed a square halt and salute.  With a big smile I patted him and told him he was a good boy.  Definitely not the test I was expecting out my fancy TB, but not horrible for the first time out.  Hey, we stayed in the arena and didn’t get eliminated after all, and he did show moments of relaxations and throughness.  Next time we’ll get ‘em.
Into The Arena

Next up, his favorite phase, jumping.  It use to be mine, but after several mishaps with my previous horse, I‘ve learned I don’t bounce as well as I use too…  I was determined to put my luggage aside and give my boy the ride and confidence/support that he deserved.
Last Fence!
A few rides ahead, we waited outside the field to watch a few rounds.  That’s when I discovered something new about Junior – applause.  Apparently with his failed career on the race track, he hadn’t heard the crowds before, or maybe he did and he had a flashback, either way, I, all of sudden, had a very alert, springy, bouncy boy.  Needless to say, we left the area and waited for my trainer to tell me to head on in.

Our time had arrived.  We galloped into the field, halted and saluted our judge.  She rang the bell and we were off.  A derby consists of both stadium and solid field jumps, and with a deep breath, we kicked on to the first of the colored poles.  I tried to clear my mind of past rides from other shows and concentrated on the here and now.  Five strides, four strides, three strides, I waited to see what Junior would do about his first competition fence.  I kept my leg, I sat up straight, and lo and behold, he cantered right up and jumped it.  Never once taking a “green” look or backing off.  Good boy!  I just had my first smile of many.  Ten jumps total, and he never looked at a thing, just happily cantering and jumping and asking mom, “what’s next?” Even my scary solid fence, he never thought twice about.  After clearing our last fence, I was grinning ear-to-ear, so proud of my boy and myself.  Jumping was fun again!  And boy was it great to hear:  “Double clear for Playing Hooky and Carolyn Bahr.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WINNING Weekend - duh!

Last weekend, Sherry and Poznan had a great showing at the Flintridge Horse Trials (March 12-13).  They must have had tiger's blood in their veins (last Charlie Sheen reference, I promise), earning an amazing 24.5 in dressage.  They had a couple of time faults for having a bit too much of a stroll through the country side during cross country, but that's just the way they roll.  (ok, THAT was the last Charlie Sheen joke... probably).  All in all, they ended up in first place, adding another blue ribbon to their collection.

Sherry showed in one of the hybrid classes that Flintridge offered, meaning that she rode the dressage and stadium jumping phases at one level (in their case Novice) and the cross country round at a lower level (Beginner Novice).  These classes are a great way for both horse and rider to build their confidence at a sort of in between step,.  More people really need to enter these classes to support the effort of keeping our sport safe and fun for all levels of riders.

Brent also got a chance to work on his latest invention - stirrup cam!  Figuring that the helmet cam doesn't effectively translate how exciting a cross country course can be, he placed this tiny mini digital recorder where it can catch the up close and personal view of the jump (frankly, a view none of us hope to have!).  Haven't heard how well it worked but Brent's attitude is if at first you don't succeed....

Carolyn treated herself to a little bit of winning attitude as well, buying a Hit-Air vest to wear at all the shows and schoolings she knows she and Junior are going to in the future.   Even magical Vatican assassin warlocks (ok THAT really is the last Charlie Sheen-ism) don't bounce so good against hard objects and the Hit-Air vest is an air vest that instantly expands when you become involuntarily separated from your saddle (aka fall).  In the spirit of e-Twisters hanging together, she's loaning it to Sherry for the event at 3 Day Ranch this coming weekend (March 18-20).  Hopefully we'll never learn if it works or not because we won't need it....

The most exciting thing about the weekend though was seeing Sherry and Poznan just continuing to get better and better.  Ok, there were a couple of chuckles as, quoting the judge, they "staggered to a halt" but their score also reflected a 9 for a canter transition.  They looked really amazing in all three phases and we're keeping fingers and hooves crossed for a great show for both Sherry and Cappa this weekend.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Moment to Mark the Passage of a Friend

Normally, Eventing With A Twist is here to report our hopefully interesting adventures following the pursuit of eventing.  Today, I'm temporarily hi-jacking our blog to celebrate a life of an honorary e-Twister.

Last week, I had to say goodbye to my horse partner of nearly 19 years, Tequila.  At the age of 30 something, she died the way she lived - playing hard and giving it 100%.   Some people called her a rescue horse but in fact, I'm pretty sure it was she who rescued me. 

Our relationship wasn't always an easy one.  I think it was actually mutual disdain at first sight.  As a working student at a local riding school, I typically got to ride all the psychos in exchange for my working student hours.  I opened her stall door and she came lunging at me, ears back and teeth bared.  After recruiting a friend to hold her while I tacked, riding wasn't any easier.  We had the "run" and "run like hell" gaits down pat but anything else was questionable at best.  (And remained so for months on end.)  But this was a gymkhana class, not some hunter eq thing, and when I pointed her at the barrels it was pure magic.  A few days later, pole bending was even better.  Her manners were still atrocious, but I was undeniably hooked. 

She failed out of being a school horse since no one else wanted to ride her and was about to be sent back to an owner intent on dumping her at any cost.  Suddenly I was faced with the dilemma of owning a horse for the first time in my life or losing her.  Thankfully,  three other friends were willing to take the dive with me and "the Tequila moms" were born.

I think our rocky start quickly turned around when disdain became mutual bitchy respect.  Soon into our partnership she tried to dump my ass, but riding western at the time I merely got "weaned" on the horn (use your imagination, you'll figure out what it means).  Shouting, "I saved your life and I can send you back" like a maniac, she paused and behaved like a lady thereafter.  Well, for about 10 minutes but it was enough to teach me about this communication thing.  The bond grew until not that many years later, all I had to do was think about turning or changing gaits and she'd pretty much do it. It's a connection I fear I'll never share with another horse - can there ever be another quite like her?

About this time in a blog is where the writer is supposed to share some insight on coping with loss.  Sorry to say, I don't have much wisdom to share in that department.  After going to the barn to take care of her 5 days a week for 19 years, there hasn't been a day since she's been gone that I haven't started to schedule my day around those visits only to realize she isn't there anymore.  I drove down the road that I took to the barn the other day and was suddenly lost, having no idea where anything was if I didn't start the journey from the barn.  There's a whole community of people at the barn that I'll never be a part of again.  She was my anchor (and I mean that in a good way), she gave my life center and balance right from the start.  A friend commented that losing her horse was like losing a spouse.  I'm sure people who have lost spouses (ones they liked anyway) would disagree but I will say I feel completely adrift without her. 

I started writing this blog as a way of expressing that grief, a catharsis for me even if no one else read it.  In the process, I started thinking about all the things I remember about her and I woke up smiling this morning for the first time since she's been gone.  So if I do have any wisdom to offer maybe it's to focus on all the gifts these wonderful animals give us in the short time we're blessed to have them in our lives.  My favorite was her sense of humor.  For instance...

There was time I worked for an hour to get a flying lead change - something I knew she could do because she hit every change doing pole bending. I finally got it, only to have her swap it back a stride later.  Or in dressage class once when I asked for a shoulder in and did a piss poor job apparently.  After struggling with it, she gave it beautifully, as if to say "you mean this?" then promptly stopped.  The message was clear.  "Yeah, when you learn to ask for it correctly, then I'll give it to you." 
The times that all I had to do was give her a slight twitch of the rein and she make a ferocious shark face at an on-coming rider who was rudely riding too close in the arena, whip lazily cocked in our direction.  She quickly got the game and seemed to enjoy scaring off the hunters.

The time someone asked me if she was a Paso Fino when she was being an exasperating nut on the trail.  How that grew into her slowing herself down from the canter to the walk when passing other people, then picking up the canter again a polite distance away.  Somewhere between those two was the time she took off at a gallop on the trail before I'd quite gotten up in the saddle.  There I was, clinging to her side like Spiderman before finally getting all the way in the saddle and bringing her under control, only to be chastised by other riders for galloping at them.  Like it was my idea! 

The way she'd behave differently with each of the four moms, a feat that stunned animal communicator Lydia Hibby so much that she devoted an entire chapter to her in her book.  

How she helped me grow as a rider, putting up with my one-lesson-a-week beginner hands and seat with the patience of Job.  Looking back, it's a miracle that I survived it.  I doubt very many horses would have put up with the things she did, including riding in reindeer antlers. I know I would never have become an eventer if not for the courage and thrill-seeking she inspired in me.

The way she smelled.  And yes, I'm vain enough to say I think we both loved the attention of people commenting on how beautiful she was, the last time being just the day before she died. 

The "thumbprint of Allah" that  friend pointed out on her neck, a pretty rare thing for a horse that isn't an Arab.  Sadly, that friend has long since passed away too.  Maybe she's with Teq now, grooming her up for me.  It's a nice thought, but I'm kind of hoping for that reincarnation thing being true.  Because if there is another horse out there for me, I'm going to look for one with that same slightly wicked twinkle in their eye.

Mostly I remember how she loved to run and finally thinking about her makes me smile.  To steal from Bob Hope a little, thanks for the memories Tequila, you were the best. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ian Stark Clinic; 16,689 steps to enlightenment by marla

This weekend marked the 13th annual Galway Downs Fundraiser Eventing Clinic.  It was, as always, an amazing experience for riders and spectators alike.

Poor Barkley!
Carolyn and I came down Sunday to watch Scottish eventing guru Ian Stark teach his cross country clinic.  The day started with the typical Galway welcome - high wind gusts strong enough to knock your socks off.  But what's a little free dermabrasion between friends, right?  The first group of riders with Ian, including Hawley Bennett-Awad, did an amazing job.
Jack and Cappa over the brush
Then we were off to watch Cappa and Sherry ride with Gina Economou.  Both riders and ponies brought their "A" game to the party, achieving the quality of canter needed to accomplish their goals.  They ended their session going over a Training oxer and corner.  Woo hoo!!!

Look at the snow!!
Later, Tina had her round with Susan Friend and wow, what a difference a year has made.  Destino looked like a grown up pony, doing his fences straight and right out of stride. Ok, Tina probably had something to do with it but the duo never looked better.  They also ended their session on the Training corner, so kudos to all "eTwisters" all around. 

The star of the day, as always, was the incredible Ian Stark.  The most fun was watching him with his Preliminary group, including our old friend Madison Loving on her dollar horse, Dan. No kidding, he cost a dollar.  They shaved a few tail feathers off the duck in the water complex but overall did an outstanding job.  All of us spectators had several laughs off Mr. Stark, including the moment he told Gina Economou to stop being such a woman and just go.  Or was he talking to the nervous mare she was on, a new partnership that was on their first cross-country go?  His decidedly dry sense of humor and brilliant insights into riding drew a bigger crowd of spectators with every set of jumps he tackled.   The great thing was that the man seems to have infinite patience for helping riders over rough spots, while keeping the session light and stress free as well as just darned funny.

Ian's biggest tip of the day that seemed to be recurring theme in all the groups - ALLOW, ALLOW, ALLOW.  The most gasp inducing jumps came from riders picking too much in front of the fence.  Words of wisdom I hope to use some day when my horse is back to work.

Other trainers who helped make the fundraiser a success included Fredric Bouland, Barb Crabo, Robyn Fisher, Erin Kellerhouse, Debbie Rosen, Alice Sarno, Kim Scheid, Tamie Smith, Sarah Vandenberg, and Wendy Wergeles.  Seriously, if you've never been and you're committed to the sport of eventing, you've got to make effort to come to one or both days of the clinic, either as a rider or an auditor.  It's worth the drive down.  

A special thanks to our friends Larry and Pat Sawyer, who wined us and dined us and let us drink all their Edradour scotch before crashing on their couch the night before.  Being an hour closer definitely made it easier (although not easy after all the wining and dining!) to get to Ian's first clinic at 8am.   Oh, and the 16,689 steps?  That's how many steps we walked during the day to keep up with everyone's rides.  Just saying....

Congrats to the eTwister girls and their ponies for a glorious day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moving Day by Marla

Sadly, a few of us had to leave the lovely Day Creek Ranch and head for a barn closer to home.  No, we weren't thrown out for bad behavior :) -- it's just the damn economy.  We needed to bring Junior (Mints) and Reese ('s Pieces) closer so we could assume the mantle of riders and ride our ponies ourselves instead of leaving their care entirely in the hands of our trainer.

The day dawned windy as heck on the other side of the hill, but perfect for our new destination, Lakeview Terrace.  Good omens all around. 

Thanks to the help of good friends, the move went smooth as silk and in short order we were popping the cork and drinking champagne toasts at our new digs.

Sherry, victim of silly horse accident #2 couldn't hobble around to help, resting her foot on a bed of ice instead.  (Hmm, darned convenient timing though, eh?)

The boys fit right in, and in not time Junior (how do you spell that again?  :0)  was cozying up to Reese.

Later, Carolyn thanked all the helpers with a fantastic meal at Sherry's house (ours was geographically inconvenient).  Suffice to say, as at any EWAT event, a good time was had by all. 

Sherry had such a good time, not only did she keep her ankle elevated, she got a chronic case of hiccups.  The cure, as seen here, is a bit dubious unless you have someone to help you hold your ears or plug your nose or some such thing.  Or is this just an excuse for Brent to get crazy with his wife?  :) 

Looking forward to all new adventures from our new barn in 2011!