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...