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,