Sunday, September 5

Wow, that was an amazing summer.

So, trying to look back at the whole summer I just had and sum it up in a few words is a pretty daunting task. I’ve gotten back to school now and everyone (as we always do) keeps asking how my summer was. It’s so hard to explain to non-horse people (actually nix that, non-event people. I love my equitation trainer but she totally doesn’t get it!). It’s not that they’re ill-intentioned, or aren’t interested. It’s just so hard to explain how ridiculously hard we worked (12 hours or more, 7 days a week. I had 4 days off the entire summer); the amazing caliber of horses we rode (even the little 4 year olds are fancier than most people’s main competition horse); the huge amount of stress and responsibility we dealt with every day (taking care of 3 short listed horses and a world class rider); how much we complained; and how I wouldn’t have changed any of that for anything. Someone summed it up best as ‘it’s always hard and we always complain, but come rain, snow, sleet, sickness, or amputation – we’re going to show up for work every morning with a smile on our faces.’ Dealing with horses teaches you to trust not only the people you work with completely, but also yourself. In any other aspect of life, there are always things that need to be done, but they can often be ignored, or put onto others, or put off until a later date. If there’s a dirty saddle sitting in the tack room, or a water trough that needs to be scrubbed out, or a horse that needs to be handwalked, you can’t just hope someone else will come pick up your slack. It’s a highly demanding job, and one that I’m so incredibly lucky and thankful to have had. (Also, side note, I now have the biggest muscles EVER. I came back to school and everyone was asking what diet I did this summer. Working all day every day in the blazing sun and never having time or money to eat does great things for your body!!!).

It’s a very hard dichotomy to explain – because the work was grueling, the situations were difficult, and horses are not always cooperative; but it was so rewarding, incredible, and something I could never replicate in any other situation. I need to throw a couple of BIG thank you’s out there as well. First of all, of course, to Buck. Thank you so much for letting me come to BDJ sight unseen, for giving me the chance to prove myself, and for rewarding all of my hard work. For letting me ride the most amazing horses I will ever sit on, and for coaching me and my pony to a perfect season. He is an incredible teacher and I find myself spouting his words at every chance possible. Thank you so much. Also to Linda Bamann for introducing me to Buck and making this whole summer a possibility. To Brandon Showalter and Emma O’Neal – my trusty compatriates for the summer. I honestly couldn’t have asked for better coworkers – we worked our asses off, cried together, laughed together, and had an amazing time doing it all. To everyone who's wished me well and been excited for me - it makes this process all a whole lot more exciting and fun knowing I have 'fans' backing me up. Without you guys this wouldn't be possible so really, thank you! Last but totally not least, my parents. Mum, Dad, this summer would have been completely impossible without you. Not only the monetary sacrifice, but shipping Charm out yourselves, helping me move in and out, listening to me rant when I had a long day, always being more impressed by my achievements than I was, traveling out to see my shows, and being the most incredible support system in the world. You guys are amazing and I love you!

All in all, an absolutely AMAZING summer. Oh, and Buck invited me down to Ocala for all of January so that I can work and the pony can go Preliminary. Don’t worry – you’ll be hearing from us in the future!!!

Saturday, July 24

Perfect Season - check :)

Yep. It's true. My pony is AMAZING. 6 for 6 in her first season of recognized events? Moving all the way up from beginner novice to training in just one season? Surviving Buck boot camp? Saving my butt when I mess up every single jump? Not sure how much more I could ask of her.

Let's see, since last time...

Maryland II was her first training event. It was nice to be at the same facility as the weekend before, so everything felt familiar and I had already seen the XC course the week before so knew what to expect. We had had a XC school during the week at home and Buck had written in the book next to Charm "XC - H2O" as he knew I was nervous about the water. But we schooled a prelim level question (a log drop into the water) so were feeling pretty confident. Big Kerry (yes, there's a girl who schools with Buck who spells her name like I do - so confusing!) let us stay the night at her barn with 11 horses, which was greatly appreciated. Charm and I had a really good dressage test. I finally convinced myself to actually ride during a test (usually I get nervous that if I try too hard in the ring she'll fall apart, so I just fake it) and I managed to get her really up and together and it paid off - we got a great score and were in a 3-way tie for first! It was a one day show so we did stadium in our XC gear. She was a lot more in front of my leg this weekend, but still accidentally got 2 strides in the first one stride. I opened her up around the second half of the course and we made the rest of our distances and looked good doing it (if I do say so myself!). Then we headed out onto XC where Buck was walking the prelim course for the next day. As I was coming up to the water I passed him, Andrea, and Caroline, and it totally made me sit up and ride harder and better into the water and it worked! She barely even looked at it and jumped straight in. We galloped around the rest of the course and had to slow down at the end to get close to optimum time so that we could win the tie-break. And we did! 4 for 4 for the pony :) I then had to drive the little rig home with Reggie (Ballynoecastle RM) in it... he's only a short listed horse for the world equestrian games... no big deal.... SO STRESSFUL! We made it back successfully though :)

We had one weekend off, and then went to Jersey Horse Trials at the beginning of August. This was really cool as it's where Jersey Fresh is located, so the course was huge and impressive. We showed up at 6:30 - the first of the show - as usual. I ran around the intermediate course with Buck and Callie first thing of the day. They managed to start walking at jump 12 (which was closest to the trailers), get to the end, then walk the first half of the course, and actually remember it all in order! I was thoroughly impressed. I got to hack out Snip, one of Buck's prelim horses, in the morning to see if he would be crazy (which he wasn't really) and then help everyone get ready all morning. My dressage test was fairly consistent but nothing stellar. I forget, however, that I'm judging myself on 'real' aka Buck-level dressage, not what the judges are expecting for training level. So yea, sure, her lengthening wasn't real or great, but she's a super cute mover and we're very accurate and she's on the bit, so we usually score well! We were 8 points ahead of second place moving into the jump rounds. I was the last ride of the day (literally), so Buck walked the training XC course with me while Callie threw jump tack on the pony and Brandon packed up the trailer. So I got on Charm and Buck came down to eat his lunch and watch me warm up, which was really nice of him. He got her going really well, and we had a GREAT stadium round. Really flowing, made all of our distances, and it was pretty! The course had taken a lot of victims all day (people pulling up to 5 rails and 3 people falling off in the division before me) so I was very pleased with my clear round. Buck waved at me from the end of the ring and called good job, and then ran off and the trailer was already gone by the time I got back up from jumping. Time #2 that Kerry and the pony have been abandoned in the middle of a field with just a trunk. Haha. This time we were also getting randomly drug tested, and the vet was very worried about me. I told her it had happened before! Luckily Caroline was going fairly late as well, so they hung out and waited for me and helped me out a lot. XC was a pretty easy course, big and galloping but with a couple of intricate questions. 2 steps down with a stride in between (which Charm tried to jump both of at the same time... oops) and the water was just a log, then a couple strides, then run into water; but the water was more like a pond than a water jump - complete with weeds growing everywhere! Very spooky and a lot of people had had issues with it, but my pony is a super star :) The prelim water was very spooky - had to go over a bridge and jump down then out over a very skinny triple brush. Buck nearly flipped over on 2 of his horses! Charm finished her course up great, but my watch hadn't worked so I totally had to guess on the time. I was actually very accurate and managed to come in 20 seconds under time. Kinda proud of myself! So there was win #5 for the pony :) Buck did not have such a great weekend - had to retire on 3 of his horses and had stops with all but 2 of the others. Callie won the intermediate on her mare, tho, so we represented BDJ well!

The horses that had shown got Monday off, so we went galloping with the big boys. I got to gallop Ty (Titanium) and Ben (May I Tell Ya, who's also an Advanced horse), which was so cool! All of Buck's horses have such great attitudes for being such high level competition horses. They should all be crazy but they're really good and level headed!

We spent most of Tuesday packing up the trailer, then headed out for Millbrook on Wednesday morning. It was a three hour drive, then we quickly unloaded the entire trailer into a tack stall and started tacking up all the horses so that Buck could stretch their legs out. This was the first show I'd been to with BDJ where we stabled overnight and did a real 3-day event, so it was a fun new adventure. Charm did her dressage on Thursday along with Bobby, Ty, and Libby (I think...). I have never been so entirely soaked in my whole life. It started spitting rain when we were tacking up, which turned into a steady rain by the time I was warming up, and when I went into the ring it was a complete deluge. Literally couldn't open my eyes down center line, and Charm was of course very tense. And even more frustrating - the second I walked out of the ring the sun came out!!! Just because that's the way life works. The judge must have not been able to see me or something, because we still scored in the low 30s and were put into first by a couple points. Buck walked the training XC course with me and Caroline early on Friday morning after his ride on Reggie, and this course was definitely much tougher. The time was a lot tighter and there were a bunch of difficult questions. The hardest by far was coming down a steep hill there was a hanging log, then straight down 4 strides to an open ditch. Buck told me to lean back as far as I could and keep kicking, and it worked! Same story at the water - not nearly as hard of a question, but Buck always says to lean back and it always seems to work! The rest of the course ran really well, but the only big galloping stretch was at the beginning and we hadn't really made up enough time so I was kicking hard at the end! We were 10 seconds under time and she was barely breathing hard coming off the course, so I was thrilled. We did our stadium on Saturday when all the big boys did their XC and my pony saved my butt multiple times! Buck came up to help me, which was great. It was a pretty big ring so I actually got her out in front of my leg which was crucial as I then made her add a stride to every single jump. Poor pony! Luckily she's quick with her feet and the most honest horse one could ever ask for. She went clear and we were officially 6 for 6 and had an undefeated season! We won a new bridle from Five Star and 60% off of Maui Jims, which is pretty awesome :) Buck did stadium on all of his guys on Sunday and I dubbed myself director of affairs, haha! I went up with Buck on his first horse and left Brandon down in the stabling area (which was pretty far away) and called him every half hour or so and relayed to him which horses to bring up and which tack to have on them. It all ran very smoothly, even when we had 4 horses going all at the same time in the Advanced division! The ring steward (Mark) became my new best friend as I was asking him every 2 seconds when each horse was going. It was crazy doing jump crew for the advanced divisions as you have Will Faudree, Buck, Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, and everyone else all asking for the jumps set at different heights the entire time. You have to fight to get what you want! It was all very effective, though, and Buck came first on Reggie and second on Ben (and would've been third on Ty if he hadn't pulled rails!). He was ecstatic and made a point to call me on the way home and thank me for a fantastic weekend and all of my help. This was a huge compliment coming from Buck and made every ounce of sweat totally worth it!

I can't believe I only have 12 days left here - I remember so clearly rolling up on the first day being absolutely terrified!!! I'll do one more wrap up post to look back on everything here and see what I've learned and accomplished. It's been an absolutely incredible summer and I couldn't thank Buck and BDJ in general enough if I tried. I'm going to miss it so much!

Here are some pictures from this last weekend - dressage really does look like a water jump!

Tuesday, July 13

This is going to get old after awhile but - 3 for 3!!!

My pony is the coolest mare in the entire world. Just putting it out there :)

So we've finally gotten back into a bit more a routine the last couple weeks. Buck has still been gone at some clinics (at his last one he had 30 people a day and 19 on the wait list... definitely not going under-appreciated!) but is back and around a bit more permanently now. He had one of his big training camps out at Phillip Dutton's the other day and Bobby and Reggie got put on permanent Legend and Adequon - things are slowly starting to heat up for WEG!!

We were stuck in a huge heat wave for about a week so kept the horses in all day for about 4 days, which lead to a bit of cabin fever for both us and the horses. We took all the horses over to Bucks County Horse Park for long trot sets one day, which was really fun. It's funny trotting around, especially when we're not with Buck, and none of the other trail riders we see really know that they're passing some of the fanciest horses in the country!!! That was fun, though, and one day we jumped in the heat, which was crazy but we definitely kept ourselves entertained...

We started jumping at 6am to try and beat a bit of the heat, and I got to set jumps while Buck jumped Bobby, Reggie, Titanium, Ben, and everyone else. It's fun just to hear his little side comments and have him explain a bit about how he jumps the horses. He says that each horse only has so many jumps in their legs and so each jump needs to be used to better the horse. Once they've gotten better than where they started, they're allowed to be done for that day. He's not cocky or arrogant, but knows that what he's saying is right and makes both his horses and workers very confident!

We had a lesson of babies about halfway through the day. Andrea (Buck's girlfriend) rode Cosmo, a client's horse; Caroline (whose parents own the barn) rode her pony Icy; Emma rode Baby Jay (a 4 year old she's about to buy); Susan rode Archie (a 4 year old); and I rode Simon (Buck's OTTB 4-year old). We jumped around a bit and since it was so hot we had a sprinkler going the whole time in the middle of the ring trying to keep the dust down. At the end of our lesson Buck decided we should have a competition to see who could have the prettiest round. I was on one of the greenest horses but made Katie Schaaf proud, put my equitation to work, and won $5 out of Buck! Woo! This was managed while he chased us around with the sprinkler to add an element of fun and excitement to our rounds... gotta keep ourselves entertained somehow!

Yesterday was another really cool day. We went galloping at Michael Davidson's place. He's retired now, but was one of the top racehorse trainers... ever. He got sponsored by someone or other to have all the money he needed and go off around the world for a year and develop the best footing in the world. So he has a mile and a half long track up a hill of this incredible footing. AMAZING! It was also on an absolutely gorgeous property - perfectly manicured and upkept even though it's now retired, too! We took 8 horses and I got to gallop Libby, a cute little Intermediate mare. We do the track twice and the first time I got to gallop next to Buck and Bobby, which was really cool. Buck was helping me through the gallop - making sure I was standing up enough and explaining why you gallop horses side by side (when they do it like that they feel like they're racing, so work almost twice as hard while still going the same speed for their legs). Pretty awesome. When we got back to the barn later I had to poultice and standing wrap Bobby, Reggie, Ty, and Ben. I have never been so paranoid about my standing wraps!!! Luckily everyone trotted up sound and great this morning so I'm off the hook :)

This past weekend was Maryland Horse Trials 1, and I feel like it's almost getting old but Charm won!!! Again!!! I headed out late Friday night with Andrea (Buck was in Kentucky at a clinic) to the show. We dropped off Bruce Sr.'s rig and one of his horses, and stayed there overnight. Charm has now officially stayed at Bruce's place! Fancy pony :) We left at 4 in the morning for the show and I helped Andrea get all tacked up/untacked/course walked/bathed/all those other necessary things in the morning, and then she did the same for me in the afternoon. Our dressage was pretty good - a very solid Novice test. I still get nervous in the actual ring and don't put her up and together enough, but we still managed to get into a 3 way tie for first after dressage. Kelli Temple (Olympic rider for Canada) was on a fancy little baby gray, which Charm ended up beating. GO PONY!

Anyways, since it was a one day we had show jumping next, which went really well. I still don't get her quite in front of my leg enough, but she has a lot of pony preservation and takes care of me. The first 8 jumps were great, and then there was a two-stride line bending to a very upright vertical away from home. I shortened a lot coming into the two-stride (even though I knew it was long and my pony has a short stride...) so Charm patted the ground and added an extra stride, but she made it work!

So I knew at this point that I was tied for first and needed to be closest to optimum time on cross country to break the tie. As Novice is only 350 meters per minute, and I've always come in almost a minute under time, this was going to be difficult! The course rode great, and even though I didn't quite have her in front of my leg at the beginning, she took care of me and didn't even look at anything. Optimum time was 5:16 and we got to the second to last fence at 4 minute... oops... so we trotted for about 30 seconds, then did 2 huge canter circles and galloped home! There isn't a whole lot of space at this horse trials, but they have gorgeous jumps and make it work very well. SO FUN!

So we are moving right on up to Training level this weekend at Maryland Horse Trails 2, so might not bring back another blue ribbon but we will have an amazing time for sure!!!

I'm ordering pictures from the show so will post those when I get them :)


galloping (wrapping), sprinkler, maryland,

Monday, June 21

Charm's a winner - 2 for 2!!!

So - my pony's kinda a super star. Just a little bit. She may or may not have won the first two recognized events she's been in, and both with scores of 25!!!

Buck's been gone a lot for clinics the last two weeks, trying to cram in as many as possible so that he can be home for a solid 2 or 3 months before WEG (fingers crossed!). He was in Michigan for half a week, then home for a day, then off to California for a couple days, then home for a day to give us a good cross country school. Charm jumped SO great! Andrea (Buck's girlfriend) had been really nice about helping us earlier in the week while Buck was gone, but Charm and I definitely crashed around the jump course a few days earlier. It was not pretty. Charm took care of me and managed to keep every single 3'6" jump up even when I totally shoved her underneath them, she's pretty awesome! But anyways, it was nice to have a real school with Buck for the day when he was home. We jumped a trakhener (big one!), a single chevron skinny (prelim height), a prelim corner to corner 6-stride combination, and an intermediate table into the water that Charm cleared with more than a foot!!! Buck was really happy with her and said, again, that she could run Advanced, and was totally serious. My pony's pretty cool. Buck left again that afternoon, so we got all ready for the show - big bath, and I learned how to braid for real! No more rubber bands for this chick :)

So Buck's County horse trials was yesterday was the real excitement. Brandon and Emma had the day off so we did all the barn chores in the morning, then headed off to the show at a little after 7. The horse park is literally around the corner, which was really nice, too. So we headed straight over and Andrea and Susan had their dressage tests a little after 8. Andrea and Emmy did great and were in 2nd after dressage and Susan had a little bit of a tense test, but for only having done a month of serious dressage training they were very happy with a solid 35! Caroline (whose parents own the barn) had 2 pretty solid dressage tests on Nacho and Icy, which didn't earn great scores but were much better than her schools the day before so I think she was happy. Then Charm and I went and she was FABULOUS! They kept pushing back our time, so we ended up warming up for over half an hour, which was a little ridiculous, and it was super hot, but she was great. Got a little downhill and behind my leg, but still got a 25.7 and was in 2nd after dressage!

Our cross country was soo fun. It was super hot by the middle of the day, and once again people kept getting to go before us so our time got pushed back by like 15 minutes, but Charm just hung out and then got fired up again to go round! The first three jumps were a little sticky, but then she really got into it and was fabulous all around the roller coaster, up over some big tables, through the water, into the woods, a little sticky at a set of off-set pallisaides but went over them, loped up through the outside of the woods to waste some time (novice time is still pretty slow!) , then galloped out over the last two jumps. CHARM IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!

She lost a shoe somewhere out there, so we got one just tacked back on and then got ready for stadium. They were running about 20 minutes late (seemed to be the theme of the day...) so we hacked down there and watched Caroline's round on her Novice mare, Icy (which was awesome!), then Andrea helped us warm up real quick and we were ready :) I still shoved Charm under a couple of the jumps on our round, but she totally took care of me and the last combination was a 2 stride that was a little long, so I kicked her through that and she finished up GREAT! I really have the most amazing pony in the entire world. :) :)

And apparently the person who had been winning pulled a rail, so Charm and I got to keep up our winning streak! Got a nice black and gold pad to boot! Team BDJ did great all around. Charm and I won Novice Amateur with our 25.7, Susan and Luke won Training Rider with a 41.1, Andrea and Emmy came 5th in Prelim/Training and would've won if they had been going for time :), and then Caroline came 5th on Nacho and 13th on Icy. GO TEAM BDJ!!!!!!!!!!!!

It should be another pretty chill week with Buck and Andrea gone visiting Reggie down in Florida, but after this weekend Buck'll be back (at least for a bit!) and we can start getting ready for both Maryland horse trials. Charm and I move up to Training at the second one!!! Ahhh!!!

It was awesome having my parents out for the whole weekend, too - love you guys, thanks for all your help!

Monday, June 7

Charm the Wonder Pony!!!

SO I know it's been a little while since I wrote on here, but I haven't gotten home before 10:30pm for the entire last week!!! It's been pretty crazy but a whole lot of fun. And the highlight is - Charm won her first recognized event on Saturday!! She's got a pretty Plantation Fields halter and big blue ribbon to go along with it. We'll get to that in a minute tho...

This past week has been pretty much jam packed with getting ready for Bromont. We spent two full days packing the trailer, a gallop set for the big horses as well as lots of trot sets. Buck is riding 5 horses, which is pretty insane and might possibly be against USEF rules - haha! One horse, Haifa, was supposed to be doing the 2 star but 6 horses was way too much so he ended up not going. Today was lots of washing the horses, packing all the trunks, finding mismatched pairs of boots, and the like. I got to wash Cruise Lion who has to have a chain permanently in his mouth, which should tell you something about him... he's actually a really cool horse, though and even though he snorts like a dragon he listens really well. It's sad he'll be going back to Bruce's after this show! The barn is actually cleared out a lot, between horses going back to Bruce's after Plantation, Reggie going down to Phillip Dutton's place for awhile, and the big horses going to Bromont - the place is going to feel so empty!

So Saturday was Plantation Field - a one day event that ran up through Prelim. Buck had a ridiculous number of horses, I think 7, and so was running around and switching horses all day long. We took the big rig (a 9 horse!) as well as the 4 horse little rig so there was lots of space, which was greatly appreciated. Charm was fairly well behaved. She rubbed her braids out in the trailer (of course) and got a little bored standing in the trailer all day, but really wasn't too bad at all. Our dressage wasn't til 1:10 so we waited around all morning and I helped Brandon get all the horses ready for Buck. Before the show Buck took each of us out on the back of the dirt bike to whiz around our course once with him offering tips and advice. He offered to move me up to novice because the beginner novice wasn't going to be enough for Charm! At the end of the day decided one beginner novice would probably be enough!!!

Our dressage apparently went a lot better than I had expected. I think I was still thinking in a Training level mentality, but for beginner novice all you need is to be forward and even thinking about a bend and you get scored pretty highly. So Charm got a 25.5!!! One 9 and lots of comments about how cute my pony is, which is true :) We hung out for a little while and watched Buck ride a couple of the babies, and then everyone else was finished and I still had 2 hours before my jump times, so everyone else left in the big rig and I was left standing in the middle of a field with my tack trunk and pony at the end of a leadrope. A little sad, but there was plenty of grass so Charm really wasn't going anywhere!

Because it was a one day, we threw on her cross country tack and headed over to show jumping. One of Buck's owners was around and helped me out, as well as Buck's mom who is the cutest lady EVER. So sweet. So we popped over a few warm up jumps with Boyd Martin in the ring (who was in my division). He was on a little thoroughbred that had only been off hte track 6 weeks but already looked super cute. Boyd was very chatty and was saying he liked my pony, I love that everyone loves her! Buck and Andrea showed up right before I went in the ring to watch too, which was awesome. She overjumped a lot in the warm up, but was great in the ring and I practiced my defensive position that Buck has been working on non-stop. She felt AWESOME. Rubbed one rail pretty hard because I got her in too deep, but it stayed up, which was nice as we were winning!

So after stadium you go straight to XC, so basically just use it as your warm up, which is awesome. We hung out for a couple minutes, and then were off! Charm was a SUPER STAR. Didn't look at anything, and had a nice big flowing gallop the whole time. As this was beginner novice this meant we had to waste an entire minute in the back field to stop from getting speed faults, but it was totally worth it :)

Came off the course and Buck gave me a high five and rubbed my pony on the nose, both of which were pretty cool. I then had to quickly shove everything in the trailer and drive the gooseneck home - something I've never done! I managed not to hit anything and Charm got back safe and sounds, which was the important part.

All in all a very successful week - hopefully Buck will do great at Bromont and I can report back on that!!!

Charm has her eyes closed in this picture... but she's still adorable and a winner!!

Friday, May 28

Day 12 - charm's a big jumping pony!

It's been a fun week! Totally flown by, I can't believe it's Friday already. If the whole summer goes this quickly it's going to be over before I can even fully wrap my head around the fact that I'm here!

Most important fact - EVERYONE loves Charm. I obviously think she's the best pony in the entire world because she's mine and I've known her since she was 5 minutes old, but it's pretty awesome that everyone else thinks she's so great. Andrea and Caroline (the girl whose parents own the barn) are betting against each other to see who will steal her first :) Charm's been going through pony boot camp, tho! I don't think she'd even jumped above 2'9 before coming out here and is going Beginner Novice at her first event - Plantation Field - which after jumping a 3'6" square oxer on her today seems a little unnecessary!!! It'll be fun to put it all together in a show context, though.

So, what's been going on these last couple days. Buck and Andrea didn't come back til Monday afternoon, so Monday was still a pretty chill day. I got to ride Fergie again, she's an awesome mare. Obviously not as cool as mine, but she's just so big and powerful and really fun even just for a trot set, which is saying something! Later, I got a dressage lesson on Charm. Getting her to really step under with that inside hind going to the left is always her big issue, but she's going great. Buck says to the right she's the winner, and to the left she's about 5th. So we just have to get that left side stronger and my pony will be unstoppable :)

Tuesday was to a real day with Buck riding lots of horses, so lots of running around tacking everyone up! It's fun getting to know the routine a bit more, though. I still check pretty much everything with either Kenzie or Brandon, but they're now more likely to just say 'yes' instead of having to tell me what to do, which is a nice feeling. I got to ride Archie, a 4 year old OTTB mare (why someone would call a mare Archie is beyond me) who was really sweet, and apparently will be really fancy one day! It was fun riding a baby again, haven't done that since Charm was little! I then got to go with Buck to his lesson with Marilyn Payne - the FEI judge. That was really cool to see - Buck and Bobby in action - but it was also awesome just to hang out for a couple hours in the truck with Buck. When he's not attached to his phone he's a very funny chatter. No radio, and you can see his brain work in cycles. He's very quiet for about ten minutes (and I would never start a conversation, always wait for him to make the first move), and then would randomly launch into a whole story about how he was a high school All - American athlete in soccer, ice hockey, and baseball. I said, 'oh so you didn't ride in high school?' and he said 'oh not seriously, I mean I went to Kentucky when I was 17 but I made a total fool of myself'!!!! Definitely impressive :)

Wednesday was a big riding day. I got to ride Haifa, a fancy two star horse who was actually SO lazy and impossible to get his head down, but once I got him working (this took almost 15 minutes) he was great! Then rode Libby, a sweet bay mare that I switched onto early last week, and then Lilly another cute baby mare. Although a HUGE brat on the ground, Lilly was actually really fun to ride and went about her job very happily. Not what I expected! I got to do a short trot set on Mensa, Andrea's fancy show horse who was just coming back after being off a couple weeks after Fair Hill. He's SO sweet, it's a little intimidating riding Andrea's horse in front of her, though! After riding everyone else, we got to go XC schooling even tho it was boiling hot. Charm was SUCH a super star!!! Started off jumping all the normal little stuff, and then Buck said to go jump her over a training roll top, which she actually jumped a lot better than some of the little stuff. Combination of me riding harder, and her having more to look at. We ended on a HUGE corner - Prelim height I'm pretty sure. Charm was amazing! Not phased in the slightest, just picked up her little toes and took care of me when I stopped riding the last stride. Katie Schaaf may end up killing me - Buck's getting me much more in the back seat to make sure that Charm GOES after each XC jump. It's a weird feeling, but is really nice when she lands already galloping like she's supposed to.

Thursday was fun - I got to ride Titanium!!! He just got shipped back from Bruce Sr.'s place where he was relaxing after Kentucky. He got his shoes put back on in the morning, and then I was the first person to get on him since Rolex! Pretty cool. I hacked him out to the XC field where Buck was teaching a lesson and got to trot him around for 20 minutes, then Buck asked me to jump him over a little log, which was so cool! I've jumped a 4 star horse!!! Ty is sooo fun to jump. He's an incredibly chill little horse and just hangs out, but the second he gets jumping he gets soo into his job and felt AWESOME. I did some dressage on Charm in draw reins which helps me be able to really use my legs, but have enough contact to actually push her into. She went great! It ended up thunder storming really hard Thursday night, so we left the barn at 6ish, but ended up going back at 8 to haul all the horses back in. Long barbers were never so appreciated! We moved as many horses in as possible, and put the other ones in the top paddocks close to the trees, so hopefully the lightening would hit those before the horses! Everyone was still in one piece Friday morning, thankfully :)

Today was much cooler, which was very much appreciated. Buck was heading out to a weekend full of clinics at 11:30, so it was a fairly rushed morning, but I got a jump lesson on Charm which was fun. I rode with Susan and Caroline, and Charm kept up with the big horses just fine! We did 3 canter poles into a big oxer, trying to get us into a defensive position so we could trot, and then canter a stride out over another oxer. Charm jumped a big red skinny, and an outside line of 3 one stride verticals, then two strides to a BIG oxer! The first time Buck dropped the front rail, but then second time she jumped a 3'6" square oxer! GO CHARM!!! She can cover the distances too, even if the other horses are pulling and she's pushing to make them, she was doing great. Everyone oo's and ahh's over her, which is always a great feeling. She got called the baby Teddy O'Conner - I was OK with this!!!

Heading out to Buck's County Horse Park for some long trot sets tomorrow in the rain, which hopefully will be fun!

Sunday, May 23

Day 7 - i've survived a week!

It's been a week! It's that thing you always feel - I feel like I've been here forever, I can barely remember being at school, but then it also feels so new and I'm still definitely learning new things every day! Susan, my roommate and the other working student, comes tomorrow so that'll throw a whole new loop in the day to day plan I've almost gotten good at! As I'm literally going to be around her 24/7 hopefully we'll get along and she won't be too 'pointy' ;) (my dad and I have inside jokes... aren't we cute!)

It was awesome having my parents out here. While I do like being grown up and taking care of myself, coming home after 13 hours of hard physical work to a home cooked meal is totally OK with me! They left yesterday after cross country schooling (I'll talk about that in more detail in a second, haha) and my house has felt very empty since! I do like having a single though. I had one all year at school as well, so having a roommate tomorrow is going to be a bit of a reality check!

So, what's happened the last few days. Day 4 we went galloping at Bruce Davidson Sr.'s place. SO COOL. Packed up the trailer nice and early with 8 horses including Bobby and Reggie standing next to each other. Wonder how much those 5 square feet were worth!!! Took about 2 hours to get over there - it was Buck, Andrea, Kenzie, Callie, and me and it was nice and relaxed in the truck, even though the 550 was struggling a bit to pull the 9 horse trailer!

We got to Bruce Sr.'s, which was absolutely gorgeous. Field of mares and babies at the front, jack russels running all over the place, and a lovely day. My parents came along to watch, and Bruce actually remembered them and Charlie from 10 years ago working with Jacek! Impressive.

I was in the first round of gallops, so tacked up Sal, who was actually one of Bruce's one star horses. Only slightly intimidating to ride Bruce's horse in front of him! It took about a 15-20 minute trot to get over to the hill to gallop, which was a nice warm up. Sal was very sweet, if not the auto-framer that all the other horses are! Bruce and Buck's relationship was very funny. Bruce felt the need to lay out every little detail on how fast to go and where to go for Kenzie, and Buck just laughed in the background knowing that Kenzie knew it all perfectly, but let him get away with it!

So we trotted down the hill, hiked our stirrups up 4 holes, and then were ready to go! Buck, Andrea, Callie, and another girl who joined us were all on three star horses, so they went first, and then Kenzie on Catalina and I followed them. Kenzie told me to put my boot touching hers and shove Sal as close to Catalina as humanly possible. I thought that would just make them race, but it actually calmed Sal down a lot and showed me how to do a gallop. MacKenzie managed to find a speed to please Bruce, and we did the whole gallop up the huge hill twice. I don't think Charm would've made it halfway up! A nice big trot and we were back at Bruce's farm. I was left in charge of washing off all the first round horses, and the others went out for round 2 with Reggie, Bobby, Fergie, and Ollie.

We didn't end up getting back to our barn til about 5, and then with stripping down the trailer and doing all the days chores, we were there til almost 8! 13 hours of work is a LOT. Let me tell you. Came home to scalloped potatoes, though, so really couldn't complain too much :)

The next day we were just stretching out all the horses that had been galloped to make sure they were still sound and feeling good. I got to do a trot set on Catalina, and then... they announced that hay was coming. A semi truck full of hay. Which normally would've just been a whole lot of work, but this was ridiculous 200 lb bales of hay that I literally could not pick up off the ground. Luckily we got 2 nice guys that were working on a fence on the property to help us, but it was still a RIDICULOUS 2 hours of pushing, rolling, and attempting to pick up hay. Buck did take us out for lunch with his mom afterwards, though - I think he felt guilty!

I had a dressage lesson on Charm when we came back, which was fun (I said dressage was fun! No way!). Buck was working hard to get Charm to actually move her butt underneath herself and be responsive to my leg. As he says, 'She's really cute, and is obviously the winner, but needs to be really through, not just framed,' which totally makes sense. Lots of work with shoulder fore trying to get her butt to curve around my inside leg and get her to GO when I put my leg on. She was a pretty tired pony afterward! Buck promised XC in the morning though, which made everything worthwhile :)

Saturday morning was my parents last day, and my first cross country school since last summer! SO. MUCH. FUN. The property is wonderful as two of the big paddocks have lots of XC jumps in them, which are perfect for schooling. Buck came down on Bobby and Kenzie on Dinero, which was a little intimidating but fun. Pictures from my dad show that my position leaves much to be desired - sorry Katie! HEELS DOWN. That would help a lot. But Charm was a super star and jumped everything I asked her to, including lots of funny questions. In between the two paddocks there was a two stride of roll tops. So you jumped out of one pen, two forward strides across the road, then into the other pen. The first time through she backed off the first roll top pretty hard so I turned my stick upside down and hit her over it, jumped the jump with one hand on the reins, and she ducked hard left on the far side to which Buck and Kenzie were very impressed I stayed on! I have good 'sticking power.' :)

Charm jumped ditches, roll tops into water, banks into water (with all 4 feet at once...) and everything else. Very good pony! She was a bit shocked by the hills and was tired at the end but proud of herself. Andrea was doing a clinic for the rest of the morning, so my parents headed out and I did a trot set on Albert. He's the first three star horse I've ever ridden - SO COOL! He felt very fancy and easy to make go well. A little spooky, but totally worth it :) Buck and Andrea left that afternoon for the whole weekend, too.

So today was a very chill day as Buck wasn't around. Didn't have to come into work until 9 - those extra 2 hours of sleep felt AMAZING!!! Changed over turn out, and then Kenzie rode Bobby and I rode Fergie. Bobby is such a fun horse, he's a complete armchair when you want him to be (which isn't what you expect out of a horse that fancy at all), and then perks up and has the most gorgeous extended trot ever!!! Fergie was another three star horse, and felt incredible. I can never make them go as well as they should, but she was very sweet to me, and we had a nice forward trot set. Kenzie and I took an hour long lunch break to Subway, and then I rode Charm around when we got back. I made sure she still felt good after her XC school, and then we practiced our flying changes. She knows what she's supposed to do, her hind end just changed 3 strides after her front end. We'll get there, she's a very good pony.

I got to feed while Kenzie was riding Bobby the second time (he doesn't get turned out, so he gets ridden twice a day instead). I got a nice little crib sheet and was proud of myself for knowing who all of the horses are! I still get Ben and Bill confused (Buck chooses his barn names after famous people - Ben Stiller and Bill Gates), but pretty proud of myself for getting all the rest of them down!

Buck and Andrea come back tomorrow afternoon, so it'll be back to real life tomorrow, or if not then definitely Tuesday. It's been an amazing week, can't believe it's only been a week!

Also - CONGRATS TO TUFTS CLASS OF 2010!!!! Graduation was today, love all my seniors, miss you guys already :)