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Team Challenge Horse Trials Recap

Nov 01 2012
21
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On October 18, my friend and I got up at 4:00 am, loaded the horses onto the trailer, and headed to Kentucky to compete at the Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge Horse Trials.  The plan was to go a day early so that we could get jump lessons from Megan at Team CEO on Thursday, and then dressage lessons from Megan on Friday, before competing Saturday and Sunday.  Unfortunately, we never made it to our jump lessons as we got two flat tires turning our 6 hour drive into an 8+ hour drive. 

One blowout on the passenger’s side of the trailer in Indiana and one blowout on the driver’s side in Kentucky.  Luckily the horses, my friend and I were all safe and sound.

Tires

When we finally arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park, we were pleasantly surprised to find all of the Team CEO stalls decorated.  Since my Novice team’s theme was “Animal Kingdom,” Owen’s stall had zebras and monkeys.  How fun!

Stalls

Friday: On Friday, I started my day by watching a couple of Prelim Team CEO riders do dressage.  Then I tacked up Owen and had a dressage lesson with Megan.  I was super happy with my ride.  My transitions, especially my downward transitions, are getting much better.  After putting Owen away and grabbing a quick lunch, I was able to volunteer as Gate Stewart for the afternoon CCI* dressage tests.  What a great experience to see all of the upper level riders compete.  It definitely gives me something to strive for.

Dressage:  Owen and I rode our dressage test Saturday morning.  Owen warmed up well and then we headed to the dressage ring.  As we were trotting around the outside of the ring, Owen spooked at a pile of white vinyl fence boards.  Right after the spook, the judge blew the whistle so we had to head into the arena to start our test.  Owen put in a steady and consistent test, but I could tell that the entire first half of the test he was tense from the spook.  

Look at those muscles!  At the end of the weekend, my Kentucky vet performed a wellness exam on Owen and mentioned that Owen is looking and feeling great.

Dressage 2

Kelly and Owen–Team Challenge HT– Open Novice D–October 2012

Show Jumping: After our dressage test, Owen and I had a few hours to relax before heading to show jumping.  Owen warmed up well for this phase, but I could tell that he was very strong and full of it given the cooler temperatures and the wind.  I was pretty happy with our show jumping round despite riding a bad line to jump 1 and having one unlucky rail when Owen got a little strong coming to jump 5.

Here is a video of my show jumping round.

Kelly and Owen– Open Novice–Team Challenge HT October 2012

Cross Country: Sunday morning was cross country time!  My team and I spent over an hour getting our costumes prepared.  We had a cheetah (Owen), a zebra, a tiger, and a giraffe.  It was strange not wearing my signature Navy blue and Kelly green, but it was fun. 

Here is a picture of Owen and I showing off our cheetah costume.  I bought a stencil off of eBay and blond highlighting spray from Walgreens to paint Owen’s body in a reverse-cheetah motif.

Costume 1

Owen was very strong and spooky in the cross country warm up.  I think a lot of it had to do with the weather.  It was 81 degrees in St. Louis just days before horse trial, and then it was 40 degrees and windy for the horse show.  I think all the thoroughbreds were feeling fresh! 

Once on course, I ended up with very sticky rides to jumps 1-4 (including a stop at jump 3).  Once I got Owen focused, we had a very fast run for jumps 5-13 (I was happy with the enthusiasm so I decided not to have a discussion about the speed).  Once we got to the fiesta table, Owen decided to half halt himself and listen to me for the rest of the course, jumps 14-18. 

Owen and I jumping the fiesta table.  Less than a year ago I was terrified by how big the table was.  Now we jump it with ease.

Fiesta Table

Owen and I cantering towards the water complex.

Water Approach

What’s Next: I will have 4 days to relax, do laundry, and repack for my next horse trial – the Area IV Novice Championships at Heritage Park Horse Trials in Olathe, KS!

Brody Robertson Clinic Recap

Oct 15 2012
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This weekend I got the opportunity to ride in the Brody Robertson clinic at Brody’s Altamonte Show Stables just outside of St. Louis.  Brody is a top ranked Grand Prix rider and trainer, judge, course designer, and winner of both individual and team gold medals at the US Olympic Sports Festival in 1989. I have taken lessons with Brody (infrequently and as time permits) for the last 3 years.  It is always an privilege to school Brody’s professional show jumps, on his gorgeous property, and to feel like my horse and I make huge strides each and every time we we ride with Brody.  Brody has a systematic approach to training horses which includes “chipping away at the things you want to improve; just as an artist is chiseling a piece of stone to create a masterpiece.”

Brodys Field

I rode in the 3’-3’3” group with 3 other riders.  The weather was gorgeous both days and the footing in the grand prix field was perfect.  Owen was soft and relaxed both days.  I was able to move his body around (laterally and forward/back) with ease.  Brody had challenging questions for us to ride including angled jumps, roll backs, and 90 degree bending lines. 

Kelly and Owen–Brody Robertson Clinic–Oct 14, 2012

Throughout the weekend, Brody and others mentioned how much Owen and I have improved since last year.  Everyone can tell, including me, how valuable it was to ride and train at Team CEO for the summer.  I was afraid that when Owen and I got back home, that we would regress back to where we were before, but I’m glad that most of what we learned seems to be sticking.  I still have a lot to learn, and a lot of goals still left to accomplish, but I’m excited about the road ahead. 

 

Clinic

A special thanks to my Grandma and Grandpa who were able to come out on Saturday to see me ride, and to my boyfriend Nathan, Aunt Linda, and Uncle Bret who were able to come out on Sunday.

Jump Start Horse Trials Recap

Oct 05 2012
31
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I have been in St. Louis riding on my own for the last 4 weeks.  Things have been going really well.  Owen has been super happy and cooperative and seems to enjoy our limited time together (2-4 hours a week) working on dressage or jumping.  I can tell that Owen isn’t as fit as he was back in August, but then again, neither am I. 

Last weekend we headed back to Lexington, KY to compete in the Novice division at Jump Start Horse Trials.  In eight years of eventing, this was the first event in which I felt like all 3 phases “clicked”.  Everything seemed very easy and fluid for Owen and I in the sense that we were competing well within our level of mental and physical ability.  On paper, we ended up 1.5 points away from first place (we tied for second place but got a 3rd place ribbon) in a very tough division, but in my heart this was our best outing to date.

Friday: I woke up at 3:30 am and headed to the barn in order to get Owen loaded in the trailer and on our way.  We arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park a little after noon to find that it was overcast and raining.  I quickly setup my stall and gave Owen 30 minutes to relax before tacking up and heading down to the dressage warm up area to ride.  Megan was gracious enough to give me a dressage lesson on Friday since it had been 4 weeks since she last saw me ride.   Owen and I did fairly well in our lesson considering that it was pouring rain and the footing was soupy and sloppy.  Owen is very sensitive so I know the footing and the weather were very distracting to him.

Banner

Dressage:  Despite being foggy and overcast, it didn’t rain at all Saturday morning; however, the damage was done in the fact that the dressage warm up rings and our show ring were very sloppy.  Megan was there to warm us up for dressage and had a worried look on her face the entire time.  I couldn’t get Owen on the bit and engaged at the walk, the trot, or the stretchy trot.  I think Owen was overly distracted by the amount of wet sand on his legs, tail, and belly.  Finally I was able to get him “through” at the canter.  Megan and I decided to change my dressage warm up strategy for the first time ever.  We decided it was best to keep Owen cantering in the warm up ring and around the show arena and then break to the trot when the bell rings to go down center line. 

The new warm up plan must have worked!  Owen was very professional once we entered the show arena.  He performed a very consistent, lovely test and was momentarily able to forget about the distraction of the bad footing.  We scored 8’s on the first and last movements and 6’s and 7’s on most of the other movements (like we have all year) .  The biggest change was that instead of scoring 5’s on our walk work, we scored 7’s and 8’s!  I was thrilled when I saw that we earned a 30.5 for dressage – my lowest score in a recognized event to date!

Cross Country:  In contrast to the dressage footing, the cross country footing was perfect – not too hard and not slick at all.  Owen had a great cross country warm up (a little bit of trot/canter, then jump the cross rail, the vertical, and the roll top) and then we headed to the start box.  Once we started tackling the cross country course, I could tell that Owen and I were totally in sync.  In between fences, I would 1) balance Owen’s canter, 2) get him straight and 3) point him to the next fence.  In response Owen would 1) prick his ears, 2) seem to say “I’ve got this mom”, and 3) continue up and over the fence and off to the next one.  I was so excited to feel our partnership come together in what has traditionally been our hardest phase!  This Novice course felt SO easy even though it had a couple of maxed out fences and technical questions (2 stride coops, down bank to a hanging log, 2 red tables on a bending line, etc.). 

Owen – ears pricked and ready for the next jump!

Galloping

Kelly and Owen–Jump Start HT–Novice Cross Country

Show Jumping:  By Sunday, the weather was sunny and mild and the footing in the jump rings was perfect.  Similar to cross country, Owen and I had a great warm up and a consistent, lovely show jumping round.  If you compare this video to ones from previous events, you can tell how much we have improved.  We jumped double clean in cross country and show jumping so I ended up finishing on my dressage score of 30.5!  This is by far my best finishing score at a recognized event to date.  I think Owen and I earned our 3rd place ribbon and then some!

Jump 3

Kelly and Owen–Jump Start HT–Novice Show Jumping

What’s Next:  In October, I will be heading back to Lexington, KY to compete at the Midsouth Team Challenge Horse Trial.  Then the following week I will be heading to Olathe, KS to compete in the Area IV Novice Championships held at Heritage Horse Trials.  This will be my first Area IV horse trial since June 2011 and Owen’s first time at Heritage Park.  I can’t wait to see how we do!

Victory Gallop

Random Thoughts from STL

Sep 19 2012
38
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“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

Inspiration: I think the quote above has been my motto for the entire summer.  It is really easy to find an excuse for just about anything, but it takes a lot of courage to step up and make something happen. 

Step 1: Determine what it is that you want
Step 2: Figure out what it will take to get it
Step 3: Make it happen

Believe it or not, Step 1 can be just as hard as Steps 2 and 3.  My other motto would be “don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.”  If you never ask, the answer will always be “no”.  If you ask, then you have at least a chance of a positive response.

Modeling Debut: A friend of mine asked Owen and I to model in a photo shoot for Horse Illustrated magazine a few months ago.  Apparently we were not horrible models since we actually made the cut!  The 2013 annual edition “Your New Horse” has been released and is being sold in stores throughout the US.

The cover of the magazine looks like this:

Magazine Cover

Pictures of Owen and I can be found in an article on horse nutrition. 

IMG_0594  IMG_0595

From Lexington to St. Louis

Sep 17 2012
35
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Yes, that’s right.  I am writing this blog entry from St. Louis.  Once Owen and I completed the Kentucky Classique Horse Trial Labor Day weekend, I packed up my truck and trailer and headed back home.

A lot has happened over the last 2 weeks since I’ve been back…. 

Owen’s Transition: Prior to moving to Kentucky, Owen spent 14 months living at an amazing boarding stable, Avalon, which is 30 minutes from my house.  Transitioning Owen back to Avalon was fairly minimal….he is happy to be back in his old stall and turned out with familiar friends.  I am lucky to have a full service facility to take care of all of Owen’s needs while I am at work - feeding hay and grain twice a day, stall cleaning daily, watering daily, 12+ hours of turnout on grass pasture per day, etc.  I am also fortunate to have great training facilities at my disposal – round pen, outdoor sand arena, outdoor grass arena, large indoor arena, full set of show jumps, a handful of cross country jumps (more to come soon), and 85+ acres for trail riding and conditioning.  The biggest difference for Owen will be that I now only ride him 2-4 times a week instead of 6+ times a week.  Another big difference is that I wont have a professional (Megan) to help me 6 days a week. 

Here is a picture of a group of people trail riding at Avalon.

Avalon

Living Situation: My boyfriend, his cat, and my dog all lived in a loft apartment in St. Louis City this summer while I lived with three female roommates in the 3 bedroom apartment at the barn in Kentucky.  Now my boyfriend, cat, dog, and I are all moving into my 2 bedroom townhouse in the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis.  We planned it so that we would have the entire month of September to make the move, but time is going by fast.  Moving is such a pain, but I can already tell that this transition is a big positive step in the right direction for my life.

Here is a picture of my townhome when it was first built several years ago.

Townhome

Work Situation: I was able to work from home for the first 6 days that I was back.  This greatly reduced my level of stress and helped me transition back to my desk job with ease.  Last Wednesday was my first day back at a client site.  Going to work at a large Financial Services firm is definitely different than working at an Eventing barn.  Differences include:

1. Applying make up instead of sun screen every morning
2. Wearing heels instead of paddock boots, and a business suit instead of breeches
3. Commuting in rush hour traffic for 40 minutes instead of walking out the front door from the apartment to the barn
4. Carrying around a purse and a laptop bag instead of a saddle and a riding helmet
5. Listening to the hum of computers and fluorescent lights instead of horses rattling their buckets and whinnying

On top of all of this, I have been fighting a summer cold for the last week.  I’m on day 11 of being sick, but I’m definitely getting better.

All in all, I am thrilled to be back at home, with friends and family, and back at work.  I love my job and I enjoy being with my co-workers and clients every day.  I love my family, friends, horse and dog and enjoy spending time with them in the evenings and on the weekends.  Sounds like a winning situation to me!

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