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Midsouth Pony Club HT 2014 Recap

Jul 19 2014
14
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Four weekends ago Owen and I competed at the Midsouth Pony Club HT.  This was my second Training Level event and I was excited but nervous about cross country and show jumping.  The cross country course was big and had a lot of questions that Owen and I hadn’t seen in competition before and the show jumping course had a lot of twists and turns and jumps with challenging related distances.   

Friday: I had an early Friday evening ride time for dressage which gave me plenty of time to bathe and braid Owen during the day before heading over to the Horse Park.  When I arrived at the Park, I tacked up and headed down to the dressage complex.  Because of the bad thunderstorms earlier in the week, Owen had been locked in his stall for a few days straight.  He was full of himself during dressage warm up and I had to try to keep him focused on the job at hand.  When we went into the show ring, I had to work harder than usual to keep a steady tempo and to execute all of the transitions on time.  Despite what I thought was an average test at best, Owen and I scored a 30 and ended up in first place after dressage.

 Trot Lengthening

 

Saturday: Saturday afternoon we were back to tackle the cross country course.  The very first jump was spooky so Megan encouraged me to ride strong out of the start box and attack the course.  After that, the plan was to keep Owen in a controlled canter throughout the course so that I could add leg and encourage him to the jumps. Except for some trouble at the A element of the coffin, the course rode better than I expected.  I was especially thrilled at our ride at the water complex.  Owen handled the huge log into the water and the up bank out like a pro.  What an awesome experience!

H175-L_3596 MSPC Rally 2014   H175-L_3602 MSPC Rally 2014

  

H175-4_2173 MSPC Rally 2000

H175-4_2170 MSPC Rally 2000

   

Sunday: Sunday morning we headed back to the Horse Park to ride the show jumping course.  The course was great for Owen because all of the twists and turns helped to keep him focused.  The one thing I learned from this round is that I need to support Owen more going through the combinations.  Owen is an extremely careful jumper, so he tends to land in the combinations and get “stuck.”  I need to make sure to ride out of the combination as positively and encouraging as I ride in.  Definitely something to work on!

H175-L_1584 MSPC Rally 2014   H175-L_1583 MSPC Rally 2014

H175-L_1587 MSPC Rally 2014

IMG_2099   IMG_2096

What’s Next: We are headed to Champagne Run Horse Trials in July to compete in the Training Level division. 

Team CEO Eventing Weekend (June 2014)

Jul 12 2014
15
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Team CEO hosted a clinic the weekend of June 14-16.  The clinic focused on all aspects of eventing and promised to challenge and improve horses and riders alike.  The top notch instruction, good weather, gorgeous facility, and great company helped to make the eventing weekend a success.

Friday: Owen and I had a private dressage lesson Friday evening.  Megan had us focus on our working trot and working canter and then threw in various exercises to enhance the collection and get Owen to engage his hind end even more.  After 20 minutes of various exercises including 10 meter canter circles, riding deep into the corners of the dressage arena, and stretchy trot, Megan had us trot a lap around the dressage ring.  The result?  A perfectly balanced, rhythmic, trot that was oozing relaxation, impulsion, and engagement all at the same time.  It was brilliant!  Then we did the same thing at the canter with similar results.  Owen, usually a very tense horse, was now supple over his topline more than ever before.  Owen usually scores 8’s on his gaits, so the ride we were able to achieve must have been a 9 or a 10.  Very exciting!

Saturday: In the morning, Owen and I participated in a small group show jumping lesson in the indoor.  The lesson focused on tight turns and serpentines to the jumps with the purpose of establishing the appropriate canter at the beginning of the exercise, and getting the horse to land from a jump and listen to you in order to successfully complete the exercise.  Since Owen and I spent 6+ months over the winter working on these concepts, we didn’t have too many issues; however, it is always a good idea to go back and practice the basics.

Green Oxer

Yellow Oxer

In the afternoon, Megan invited an exercise rider from a Thoroughbred race track to come talk to use about training Thoroughbreds and riding in a good galloping position.  Her talk was very interesting and informative, but the fun part was getting to ride a horse in full racing tack and practice the jockey position.  The hardest part for me was remembering to keep my chest down and my back parallel with the ground.  If felt very strange!

 Jockey Riding

Sunday: In the morning, a small group of use headed to the cross country field to tackle several Training and Prelim cross country questions.  My favorites included the bending line toothbrush combination, the bending line coop combination, the trakehaner, the angled 2 stride straw rack to brush fence, and the up bank 1 stride to the angle brush.

Video of the double toothbrushes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmMJhgni1Zk

Straw Rack

Toothbrush

Derbyshire Horse Trials Recap 2014

Jun 13 2014
26
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I didn’t win my forth horse trial of the season in the traditional sense, but I definitely felt like a winner after successfully completing my first USEA Training level horse trial!  I could not be happier with myself or my horse.  Owen showed up at Derbyshire Farm confident and relaxed and performed to the best of his ability in all 3 phases.  The exciting part for me is that I was no more nervous than I am at all of my Novice events, a clear indication that I was well prepared for my move up.

Friday: This horse show weekend ended up being a family outing as Owen and I were joined by my husband Nathan and my German Shepherd Abby.  We headed to Northern Michigan early Friday morning and arrived at the show grounds around 2:00 PM.  When we arrived, I setup the stall, unhooked the trailer, rode Owen, walked my courses, went out to dinner, and checked into the hotel for the night.  I feel asleep that night feeling excited about the weekend and the challenges ahead.

Saturday: For dressage, the small warm up arena was very crowded and consisted of ankle deep footing.  Being aware of Owen’s old tendon issue (from his racing days) I opted to be creative and tried to stay in the grass during the majority of the warm up.  When it was time to enter the show ring; however, the deep footing was unavoidable.  Owen executed a very steady and professional test, but didn’t offer to change his trot or canter when I asked for the lengthening movements.  Even so, the judge awarded us a 30.5 to put us tied for first place after dressage. 

Note: I apologize for the poor quality pictures.  They are all taken from screen shots of the videos.

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A couple hours later, Owen was tacked up and ready for cross country!  This time warm up was in a grass field so I could warm up confidently.  After a brief warm up, we headed to the start box.  As soon as Owen and I left the start box and jumped fence one, I knew we were going to have an awesome round.  Owen relaxed into his amazing gallop stride which is naturally ~475 mpm (Yeah! No more fighting to go slow for Beginner Novice and Novice!)  I had a huge smile on my face as we jumped around hitting every fence out of stride. 

Half way around the course, we got to the up bank and I was surprised to feel that Owen hesitated as if he didn’t know how to read the question (he has been up and down a million banks).  Luckily I was prepared and ready to be supportive and kick on.  Next was a set of rails that dropped into a black water pit…again, I stayed supportive and was there to add leg and encourage him on when he hesitated.  The next 3 fences jumped perfectly (vertical, trakehner, oxer) and then we approached the sunken road.  Unfortunately, I didn’t ride to the plan Megan and I had discussed (jump the oxer, set him on his feet, turn to the sunken road and press up to it).  We ended up coming in too fast to the sunken road and Owen propped and jumped to the side at the last minute when he didn’t understand the question.  I was disappointed in myself, but I reacted quickly to turn him around to re-approach successfully and make it around the rest of the course without incident.  We picked up 20 penalty points, but still finished under optimum time.

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Sunday: Overnight, Derbyshire got enough rain to turn the deep dirt footing to tacky mud.  Several riders were had issues with dropping rails and refusals on course because they were unable to get their horses in front of their leg.  Megan encouraged me to ride very forward and use lots of leg to kick on and give Owen the power and confidence he needed to make it around the course.  I entered the show jumping ring ready to attack the course and make up for my mistake at the sunken road the day before.  Owen was a super star and did everything I asked of him and more.  He jumped bravely and honestly even when I missed a couple of lines and take off spots.  (Sorry Owen!)

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I had a huge smile on my face as we crossed the finish flags and I realized that we finished in the ribbons at our first Training level event!

IMG_1987 IMG_1999

What’s Next: Next weekend I am signed up to participate in the Team CEO Eventing Weekend clinic.  After that, I am entered in the Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park competing at Training Level. 

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Jun 01 2014
33
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As I mentioned in previous blog posts, “Life with horses is filled with incredible highs and devastating lows.”  I got Owen almost 5 years ago and have been eventing him for the last 4 years.  We have trotted down centerline in 25 recognized horse trials in 6 different states.  We have experienced injuries, falls, frustrations and setbacks in the past, and it is inevitable that we will do so again in the future, but for right now, I’m enjoying the incredible high.  I am feeling on top of the world having just won my THIRD horse trial of the season. 

1st at Spring Bay HT Novice
1st at Greater Dayton HT Novice
1st at May Daze HT Novice

IMG_1972

I received lots of kind words of congratulations on Facebook.  After seeing one such post by Megan, a writer at Eventing Nation decided to interview me and write a really nice article about Owen and I and our adventures with Team CEO.  You can read more about our journey here:

http://eventingnation.com/home/how-kelly-rover-learned-to-drive-her-ferrari/

 

EN Front Page

Once the horse trial scores were posted on the USEA website, I realized that I currently sit tied as the 2nd Novice Adult Rider in the country and the #1 Novice Adult Amateur Rider in Area VIII.

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I am also now qualified to win the following awards:

  • 2014 Blue Ribbon Award (by earning a top 3 placing in 3 horse trials)
  • Novice Eventing Gold Medal (by earning a 35 or less at 3 horse trials)
  • Bit of Britain’s Chase the Challenge Award (by winning 2 horse trials in a row)

I have to enjoy my 15 minutes of fame because I have decided to try my hand at Training Level.  This means that I will quickly fall off the Novice Leaderboard as other riders continue to gain points at that level.  That is entirely OK with me. The partnership I am building with my horse, and the experience I am gaining by being a part of Team CEO are far more valuable than any award or accolade.

Thanks again to Megan for her all her help and support over the last few years.  I can not tell you how vital it is to have a coach that you trust and can motivate and prepare you mentally and physically to perform at your absolute best. Some people are good horsemen, others are good riders, and still others are good coaches. Fortunately, Megan has the gift of being brilliant on all accounts.

May Daze Horse Trials 2014 Recap

May 31 2014
25
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Owen and I just finished our 3rd horse trial of the season and it could not have gone more perfectly.  We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to celebrate.  I can’t wait for the rest of the show season!

Dressage: The dressage rings were setup in the same spot where we usually do show jumping at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Since the warm up rings were so small, they had you warm up in one ring, then move to another ring to warm up, then move to the show ring to warm up at the end of the ring, and then finally go into the show ring to compete.  Luckily, none of this phased Owen and he took everything in stride.  We stuck to our usual warm up plan as far as the exercises and movements that we did and ignored the distraction of the three different warm up locations.  When it was time, Owen and I went in and performed a steady test.  When we left the ring, the volunteer ring steward looked me straight in the eye and said “Wow, GREAT test!”  Apparently, the judge agreed!  We scored a 35.5 to end up tied for first in a very competitive division.

 Dressage Warmup

Cross Country: Later that afternoon, Owen and I headed out to cross country warm up.  I must admit that I had butterflies in my stomach.  No matter how many times I got out on cross country, and no matter at what level, I think I will always be nervous right before the start.  Luckily, when I got in the start box, all the nerves disappeared and were replaced with concentration and determination.  The unique thing about this cross country course is that there were two low areas of the course that were filled with standing water.  Megan warned her riders to stay focused and ride those areas aggressively to keep our horses focused on the job.  I took her advice and it worked!  Owen and I clocked around the course with no problems at all, jumping every single fence out of stride.  I strategically crossed the finish line 12 seconds under optimum time which helped to break my dressage tie and put us in the lead after cross country!

Gallop

Log out of Water

 

Show Jumping: Going into show jumping, I think everyone at Team CEO was super nervous and excited to see if Owen and I could pull off a double clear round to win the event.  Oddly enough, I was super calm as I knew I needed to keep a clear head and Owen relaxed if I wanted to do well.  I went into the show jumping ring with a plan, rode a confident and steady round, and finished double clear!

Approach

Red Oxer

Yellow Flower Jump

Blue Verticle 

Black and White Oxer

I ended up winning the event by finishing on my dressage score of 35.5.  This win was special because it completed my “hat trick” by being my third win in a row.  Owen and I are definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with! 

Victory Gallop

Blue Ribbon

Awards 

What’s Next: Owen and I will get a weekend off before heading North to Michigan to compete in the Derbyshire Horse Trial at Training Level.

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