Thursday, January 17, 2019

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Irish Times

Sep 14 2014
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In 2010, I planned an extensive 10 day trip to Ireland.  I figured it was a good way to try out overseas travel in a place that predominately spoke English and had a reputation for being exceptionally friendly.  I am so glad I went as it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.

My two college friends and I did all of the typical touristy things:

  • Stayed in Dublin
  • Saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College
  • Visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle
  • Toured the Waterford Crystal Factory
  • Toured the Guinness Factory
  • Stayed at a Bed and Breakfast
  • Kissed the Blarney Stone in Cork
  • Ate dinner at Dromoland Castle
  • Visited the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry
  • Spent the night at Ashford Castle
  • And much, much more!

Guinness Factory & Waterford Crystal Factory

GuinnessWaterford Crystal Factory

Blarney Castle & Ashford Castle

Blarney CastleAshford Castle

Cliffs of Moher & Ring of Kerry

Cliffs of Moher 2Ring of Kerry

In addition, we spent two days at an equestrian center where we got to ride five times including show jumping lessons, cross country lessons, and mock fox hunting.  My friend Staci decided to ride the same horse all five times, but I got the opportunity to ride five different Irish horses.

I learned a ton about riding in Ireland and riding Irish horses.  I learned that, in general, the horses are:

  • Forward, but not hot
  • Alert, but not spooky
  • Athletic, but not over zealous
  • Patient and forgiving to adult amateurs
  • Brave beyond belief, but still with a good amount of common sense and self preservation
  • Friendly and enjoyable to be around on the ground

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I hope my next horse has all of the fabulous traits of a wonderful Irish Sport Horse.

Team CEO Eventing Weekend (July 2014)

Sep 07 2014
12
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We had a special guest at our eventing clinic in July – baby Hiccup!  Hiccup was born at Team CEO a few days before the clinic and lost his mother less than a day later.  During the clinic we learned about orphaned foals and nurse mares.  This little guy is a fighter and it will be so exciting to watch him grow and to see what the future holds for him.

HiccupHiccup 2

As with prior eventing weekends, Friday we participated in private dressage lessons, Saturday was small group show jumping lessons in the indoor, and Sunday was cross country.  Owen and I learned a lot and conquered a ton of challenges that Megan setup for us.

We jumped the single barrel during our show jumping lesson!

Single Barrel

Video clips from cross country lesson: Eventing Weekend - July 2014 - Owen XC 

One of our biggest accomplishments was learning how to balance the canter more effectively before a cross country fence.

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This Training cabin was our warm up fence!  We have come a long way!

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We jumped a vertical, down into the hollow, bending line out of the hollow, to the Prelim skinny brush!

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Jumping the brand new set of roll top cabins that the farm purchased for this clinic.

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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!

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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. 

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