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Weekly News from KY (week 14)

Aug 01 2012
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I’m not very talkative this week, so I’ll share some pictures instead.  :-)

Owen and I cross country schooling at River Glen Equestrian Park on July 21 (ditch, coop at the bottom of a steep hill, 2 stride combination roll top, 1 stride combination cabin).  He is such a good boy!  I have definitely become a better rider over the last few months and Owen is jumping so much better (and is so much happier) as a result.

Ditch

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Roll Top 2

Cabin 5

Owen and I cross country schooling at Masterson Station Park on July 29 over a Training level oxer.

Owen - Training Oxer - Masterson Station - July 29

In non-horse related news, I got to spend some time seeing the sites in Central Kentucky on July 30.  I took a tour of the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, had lunch at The Grey Goose in Midway, toured the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, and sampled wine at Equus Run Vineyards.  It sure was a fun filled day!

Here is a view of the exercise track at the TB Center.

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Weekly News from KY (week 13)

Jul 23 2012
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We had a super busy, fun week here at Team CEO – riding the competition horses, training the 3 year olds, spring summer cleaning the lower barn, volunteering at the NAJYRC eventing competition, and cross country schooling at River Glen.  In addition, I recently learned some exciting news….

Young Event Horse Challenge: All of the working students have spent a lot of time over the last several weeks training their assigned project horses – Rose, Audi, Mo, Eve, Chaos, and Fizz.  I have really enjoyed my time working with Fizz.  I don’t know who is learning more – me or her!  Fizz and I have worked on cross tying, grooming, picking out hooves, clipping muzzle/ears/bridle path, wearing protective leg boots, saddling, bridling, round penning, lounging, and riding.  Today, I rode Fizz in the jump arena at the walk and trot.  We trotted a series of 3 ground poles.  We also trotted 2 small cross rails on a bending line.  Then I cantered Fizz for about 5-6 strides.  Fizz tends to be a very laid back warmblood, so I think we will work on our trotting and steering for a few more days before we try cantering again.  She needs to learn to move forward off my leg.  I apologize for the lack of pictures of Fizz….I will try to remember next week.  :-)

Volunteering: The North American Junior and Young Rider Championship (NAJYRC) competition was held at the Kentucky Horse Park this week.  Team CEO volunteered to run the dressage phase of the CCI* and CCI** competition Thursday morning.  I was assigned as the Roaming Delegate.  Basically, I got to drive around on an “official” golf cart and make sure that everyone was where they were supposed to be on time. Luckily, everyone was great, so I was able to hang out and watch the horses and riders in warm up.  It was very inspiring to watch the riders who are competing 2-3 levels above me.

Team CEO riders in uniform ready to volunteer.

Roomates

Cross Country: On Saturday, we loaded up the horses and drove 4 hours to River Glen Equestrian Park in New Market, TN.  We spent a couple of hours schooling the cross country cross and then headed home.  Owen and I rode some of the Novice course, some of the Training course, and even a Prelim table.  I am now feeling better prepared and more confident for the River Glen Horse Trials in 2 weeks.

If I get additional pictures or videos from this trip, I’ll post them in a future blog entry.

Owen (far right) on the trailer with his buddies Koda and Ski.  Megan has a 6 horse head-to-head trailer which is so cool!

Trailering - Koda Ski Owen

Exciting News: Owen and I have had a great 2012 competition year.  In fact, we are qualified to compete in several regional and national championships!  Due to scheduling and financial considerations, I do not think I will actually attend any of the championship events, but its an honor to know that I qualified.

  • USEA American Eventing Championships at Beginner Novice
  • Region IV Championships at Beginner Novice
  • Region IV Championships at Novice
  • Region VIII Championships at Beginner Novice
  • Region VIII Championships at Novice

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Champagne Run Horse Trials Recap

Jul 21 2012
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As usual, Team CEO had a large presence at the Champagne Run Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park last weekend.  It is so much fun trailering, grooming, competing, and cheering with a large group of people.  I competed Owen in the Novice division and, even though our scores don’t show it, we improved in every phase over our last time out at Novice.

Team CEO riders cheering on another rider during their show jumping warm up.  I am on the far left in the white hat.

Working Stdents in Warm Up

Dressage: Our dressage test was scheduled for early Saturday morning.  The weather was perfect and Owen and I were feeling great.  Megan was able to warm us up for 10-15 minutes and then we were ready to trot down the center line.  Owen was light in the bridle and on the bit.  His gaits were fluid and he was very focused on his job.  My riding position in dressage has also improved.  (Shoulders back!)  We executed a lovely test scoring almost all 7’s…except for the 5’s we got in the walk work.  I guess that will be added to the list of things to work on!  The competition at this event was tough, and we were sitting in 8th place after dressage on a score of 35.

Owen and Kelly–Champagne Run HT–Novice Test B

Cross Country:  Saturday afternoon, before my cross country ride, I had a little accident in which the fingernail on my left pointer finger was forcefully removed.  Yes…it hurt as much as it sounds.  After driving around the Horse Park and getting medical care from various EMTs and medics, I was bandaged up and ready for my cross country ride.  With my injured left hand, we opted to put the 3-ring bit on Owen’s bridle to give me a little more control on course.  Owen was wonderful in warm up.    I saw several dark storm clouds rolling in, so I walked down to the start box and asked them to send me out early so I could beat the rain.  Luckily they obliged. 

The Novice course was tough.  Despite lots of maxed out fences, technical questions, and terrain questions, our cross country round was one of our best yet.  Owen and I were so in sync on pace and rhythm to the jumps.  Jumps 1-3 were straight forward.  Then we had a maxed out brush through the fence line, to a half coffin, to a maxed out roll top down the hill, to a sharp left hand turn to a big table, and eventually to the water complex which included navigating the gates used for combined driving competitions. 

Owen and I handled all of the questions like pros…except for one minor blimp.  In the middle of the course, there were 2 log jumps flagged A and B that were set on a 3 stride bending line.  Next to these jumps were permanent ditches in the ground that were not being used on course.  As we approached the A element, we were angled so that Owen was looking straight into the ditch and trying to figure out how to jump it.  I sat up and kicked, and ineffectively tried to pull him off the ditch with my injured left hand.  Owen propped when he jumped the A element, tossing me forward in the saddle and onto his neck.  He then slowed to a walk so that I could scoot back into the saddle and gather my reins.  Then I had to circle to make it over the B element of our log combination.  That circle caused us to get a cross country “refusal” which added 20 penalty points to our score – dropping us to 14th place.

Here is a picture of my handsome horse jumping the planter jump right before navigating the water complex.  (Oops!  I forgot to wear my navy and Kelly green helmet cover.)

Image by Xpress Foto

Show Jumping: Saturday after my cross country ride and all day Sunday we got some much needed rain.  Unfortunately, the rain turned the show jumping ring into soup.  Owen is a show jumping pro, so he handled the poor footing really well.  He took a little extra care at each fence to make sure that we did not slip.  Jumps 1-10 were great, and then I got anxious and pushed for 4 strides (which wasn’t there) in the final 5 stride line which caused us to have a rail at the final fence.  Lots of people ended up having problems with the show jumping course, so Owen and I moved up to 11th place to finish the weekend.

Kelly and Owen–Champagne Run HT–Novice Show Jumping

Conclusion: Overall, I was super happy with my weekend.  Even though we didn’t go home with a ribbon, I know that I am making strides in becoming a better rider and strengthening my partnership with my horse.  As my friend Holly C. recently wrote in her own blog entry “Ribbons are certainly not why eventers event … it’s about the bond you get from training your horse in three disciplines while keeping him fit and happy … and the smile on your face as you fly around a cross-country course, up and down the hills, through the trees, over logs, into the water … knowing your horse is having every bit as much fun as you are.”

Weekly News From KY

Jul 18 2012
40
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I have officially been in Kentucky for 12 weeks this summer.  I am having an amazing time and learning so much about horses and eventing.  Megan and everyone else at Team CEO have been unbelievably great to learn from and work with.  We have had record high temperatures, as I’m sure the rest of the country has as well.  Other than a few minor aches, pains, bumps and bruises (ok, and one lost fingernail), I’m holding up surprisingly well to a summer of manual labor.  (The worst injury I’ve gotten in the office is a paper cut!)  :-)

Show Jumping: Here is a video of Owen’s show jumping round from the Georgetown HT that I summarized in my last blog post.  This is my first time jumping Owen 3’3” in a competition setting.  Owen has a fairly big stride, so the 6 stride lines ended up being a little tight.

  
Owen and Kelly–Georgetown HT–Training CT

Here are a few pictures of my jumping lesson on Owen on July 11.  We were jumping Novice/Training height to prepare for the Champagne Run HT.

Owen - Buckeye banner - July 11

Owen - red vertical - July 11

Foal Watch: A client brought their pregnant mare  to Team CEO on July 10 for us to foal watch and help with the mare as needed.  Saturday, July 14 at  4:45 am, the foal alert monitor alarm went off letting us know that the mare was in labor.  The delivery was quick and easy (I’m sure it didn’t seem that way to the maiden mare!)  And the foal arrived safe and sound.  It is so much fun having a new foal at the farm.

Elisha 1

Elisha 2

Elisha 3

Pony Camp: Three times this summer, Team CEO is holding a two day summer camp for horse crazy kids.  This week, we had eleven kids, ages 6-12, attend camp.  I spent part of the week acting as “camp counselor” teaching jumping lessons, bareback riding lessons, and playing mounted and unmounted games.  It is energizing to see the enthusiasm of the kids and to watch them interact with the horses.

Pony Camp - July 2012

What’s Next: I have less than 7 weeks of my leave of absence from work remaining.  I still have a few goals to work towards before going home, but I am definitely on the right track to accomplishing them.

Georgetown Horse Trial Recap

Jul 11 2012
40
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This past weekend, Team CEO hosted a schooling horse trial (sometimes called a mini event).  The mini event was a great opportunity for lower level riders to test out their skills in an affordable, non-threatening, fun show environment.

Last week, Megan and the working students (including me!) spent time preparing for the show – flagging the cross country course, painting and setting up the show jumps, dragging and watering the dressage arena, setting up a cooling station, setting up the show office, doing paperwork, stuffing packets, etc. 

On Saturday, we had 35 horses and riders show up to compete in the Starter Novice, Beginner Novice, and Novice divisions of the horse trial.  Megan was a genius and was able to arrange the schedule in order to have all 35 riders compete in all 3 phases prior to Noon which allowed us to beat the heat (the temps soared above 100 degrees later that afternoon).  Everyone had a great time and the show was a success!

On Sunday, Megan gave her working students the opportunity to show their skills in the Training Level and Prelim Level combined test divisions (dressage and show jumping only).  I was nervous about competing at Training Level for the first time, but I figured I had nothing to lose!

Dressage: Megan asked a Grand Prix Level dressage rider to come and judge our event.  This gave us a great opportunity to read the score sheet with comments from someone with real life experience in dressage.  I usually score in the 30’s at Beginner Novice and Novice, so I was super excited to score a 40 on the Training Level test (I was afraid it might be high 40’s or even 50’s)!  Owen was very good throughout the dressage test and did exactly what I asked of him….I just need to spend time practicing the new movements so that I’m more accurate in asking for them in the future!  I also need to work on keeping Owen forward and fluid in his gaits while getting him to release the tension in his topline.   

Owen Dressage Warmup

My favorite part of the video is frames 3:19 to 3:25 where you can see what Owen and I have been working on developing a medium trot (which is harder than a working trot).  Owen canters a little bit at the end, but we are trying.  :-)

Kelly and Owen–first time riding Training Level Test B in competition

Show Jumping: I am very excited to say that Owen stepped up to the plate and sailed around the 3’3” show jumping course (and 3’7” warm up fences) like the height was nothing to him – he didn’t even come close to rubbing a single rail.  In fact, it was so much more comfortable to jump him 3’7” than it is to jump him 2’.  I believe show jumping is Owen’s strongest phase.  As long as I do my job and ride him confidently to the fences, we shouldn’t have any problems moving up in this phase.  Since the working students spent the week painting and decorating the show jumps, 75% of the jumps looked completely new and unfamiliar to Owen.  This caused him to be very spooky to jump 1 and jump 9.  Other than that, we had a foot perfect round.

If I can find video or pictures of our show jumping round, I will post them later.

Coming Up: This weekend is Champagne Run Horse Trials at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Champagne Run is known to be a very tough competition, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.  I will be competing Owen in the Novice division, which should be a piece of cake after surviving the Training level CT.  Right?  :-)

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