Sunday, March 1, 2015

Results from a busy Aiken Weekend - March Madness & Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials

Friday, February 20, 2015

Aiken is in Full Swing

We are in full competitive swing down here in Aiken, hence the seldom updated blog. Although we should garner much sympathy from most this winter this past week has been downright freezing!

Our horses have had a great start this spring. We've been to two jumper shows at Highfields here in Aiken as well as our first event of the season at Paradise Farm. I've picked 3 of the most exciting performances so far...

The first is Eli (owned by Mike Rubin) who finished 2nd in the $5,000 Welcome Stakes and 6th in the $10,000 Mini Prix.

Second on the list was Marshall's (owned by Fred & Wendy Luce as well as Doug) first event at Paradise. He had a very good outing at the beginner novice.

Last but not least was Quantum's great performance at PSJ as well as his first event at Paradise in the beginner novice level. Unfortunately following a discussion with our accountant we are forced to sell Quantum. I hate to do so, but we are left without a choice at the moment. I'm completely convinced he will make an excellent partner for someone. If you might be interested, click here for details. 

We are heading back to PSJ with the jumpers for a schooling show this weekend. The eventers will be back in action next week at Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials in Aiken. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kicking 2015 Off in Chilly Style

I just returned home from the first clinic of 2015. I was graciously invited by the North Texas Eventing Association to teach for the long weekend at Kim Willnow's beautiful, Charismatic Moon Farm. I have to firstly thank Kim for her organization as well as hospitality. We had a tremendous group of people participating, and tough to say the least. All endured freezing temperatures with a great attitude.

Randy and Ashton Willnow were able to get a bunch of great pics, a few are below.

We had a great variety of horses and riders from intro through preliminary. We had scheduled flatwork sessions on Friday, poles and small combinations Saturday finishing up with some more complicated combinations and course work on Sunday. I was excited to see how each horse and rider combination progressed each day.

I've always found clinics a great opportunity to help both horses and riders better understand how to work with each other. This was certainly no exception, with many progressing beyond my own expectations! I'm very lucky to be in a position to help, and with each weekend I'm always impressed how much I learn from each of the combinations.

I'm looking forward to the next trip west. The clinic scheduled for the end of January held at Meadow Creek. Click for details!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A New Endeavor for Crown Talisman and I

Tali at Chantilly about to head to Saumur CCI*** 2014

This is a post I never, in a million, years envisioned writing; however, here I am typing away.

A few weeks back Jess and I met with a good friend and supporter to get some advice about a lot of raw land available for sale just behind the farm which we currently rent. Without much in the way of financial resources the inexpensive acreage looked appealing on the surface. That evening, after checking out the land, we started looking into comparable property in the area to better evaluate our options and the prospects of development. While Jess and I had searched online before, we were shocked to find what appears to be perfect farm. The question then becomes how in the world could we afford it!

Two days later I received a call from Liz Millikin on behalf of Joanne Bridgman (both Agents) asking whether I'd ever consider parting with Tali. My initial thought, was not a chance. After discussing with Jess, Larry and Amelia and sleeping on it, I decided if it meant we could buy the farm I'd have to consider it. A week or so later Nick Gauntlett arrived at our place in Raleigh.

I'm as attached to him as much as I've ever been to a horse. He has been with me now for 6 years from his very first event to Saumur this spring. The thought of selling him has literally woke me up multiple times during the past few weeks. However, after speaking to a number of people I respect both in and out of the horse world, I'm confident this is the right decision. Certainly doesn't make it an easy one!

I'm comforted by the fact that after getting to know Nick, his riding style and care of his horses I know Tali will have a great future. I will always be his biggest fan and hope nothing but the best for the two of them. I'll be rooting for them at Rio! I would also like to again thank Larry and Amelia Ross for their continued support, I certainly wouldn't be here without them.


**Updated 6:45 PM**

Larry and Amelia wanted me to include the following and I was more than happy to oblige. I want to reiterate that I can't thank them enough for their advice and support throughout the years.

“Our support of Doug and the team’s quest for Olympic gold is long term. If this helps Doug finance a permanent base, so he can concentrate on building a string of Olympic contenders, he made a very wise decision. Further, this is the second Olympic contender Doug trained. We are confident that owning his facility, rather than renting where conditions may change,  will enhance his ability to assemble and train enough top horses to take the worry out of relying on just one mount.”

Tali at the Fork CIC*** - Photo by Samantha Clark via Eventing Nation

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Woah Podcast Interview

Check out the latest interview with John of 'The Woah Podcast' about 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual'.

For more information about training, competition or sales please contact Jess or Doug. Conveniently located in the Raleigh, NC area in New Hill.

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tribute's winning weekend at Dressage at Camden

Tribute on his way to win his Forth level class on a 75.857%

Tribute (who is currently offered for sale) and I made our dressage debut this weekend at the recognized Dressage at Camden show in South Carolina. He did both Third level test 3 as well as forth level test 1. He was incredible, as usual, winning both classes. Third 3 with a 73.08% and today a 75.857% in Forth 1!

His test is below, click on the image to make larger.

For more information about training, competition or sales please contact Jess or Doug. Conveniently located in the Raleigh, NC area in New Hill.

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Eventing Training Online video is live...

Just posted from Eventing Training Online is a cross country schooling from this past winter at Paradise Farm. Click here to view!

For more information about training, competition or sales please contact Jess or Doug. Conveniently located in the Raleigh, NC area in New Hill.

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Saumur Photo's have arrived!

For those not familiar click on the gallery name below to view all 18 additional competition photos

For more information about training, competition or sales please contact Jess or Doug. Conveniently located in the Raleigh, NC area in New Hill.

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tali finishes 6th at Saumur!

Tali on his early morning stretch before jogs at Saumur
Tali started off the day in great shape, no worse for the ware. We headed out for a light hack and stretch in the morning before the latest jogs I had ever seen. They started up at 10 am and being that just about half of the field remained, it was quite a bit quicker than Wednesday's inspection. Tali trotted up great and on to show jumping.

2nd horse inspection in front of main arena

The course didn't open for another hour so Jess, my Mom, David and I headed out on to cross country to watch the CIC** which was running all morning. We returned to the main arena at 11:30 for the course inspection.

My first impression of the jumping course was that it would reward confident, forward riding with just a few options in regards to variations in the lines and striding. It may have been a little less technical than some of the courses we've seen this spring, but the jump placement and crowds made it a challenge to say the least! When it was all said and done there were very few clear rounds.

As warm up can often be it was chaotic but this was a bit more than I've experienced. Not only due to the area's small size, the limited number of jumps, the pressure on the riders and crew but also the language barrier. We all used one oxer to get prepared, so as you can imagine there are people yelling in Itallian, French, English and Spanish...a proper cluster. Tali handled it all quite well, I'm very excited to see that when it comes down to working he's 100% in the game. Walking around warming up, hanging out etc is still another story, but when we're going he's been great!

I tried to be mindful of his energy and kept the warm up on the shorter side of things. When called, we headed up to the arena for our round, entering with just one rail in hand to remain in 6th place. Often times Tali is slow to start, but he was great this time from the very first jump. Unfortunately, there was a skinny jump at the far end of the arena that did fall. He twisted just a bit in the air, watching the video afterwards I might have been able to get him square to it earlier for a better jump. He finished up very strong, clear the remainder of the course.

When all was over we finished in 6th place. Always a good consolation, the rail wouldn't have changed the standings. To be honest, I'm very happy and relieved to have the weekend wrapped up. It's a funny thing, every day since the 1st of the year I knew this very well may be the focus of the spring season. Once I was notified that I had received the Land Rover/USEF grant the vague goal was solidified and the pressure was on. Everyday since, every ride you are thinking of how to make the most of the time you have to prepare. Of course anyone in my position wants to do well, but without a doubt you end up wanting to make the most of this rare opportunity and prove to those who have given you this chance that they were not wrong. At the same time, it's absolutely still a learning experience for Tali and me. We will be better still, next time from what was learned here.

There are countless people that I have to thank. First off Larry & Amelia Ross who have been partners of mine with Tali for years, I'd also like to thank Land Rover and the USEF for the grant opportunity and Joanie for her incredible management. Of course I have to thank David O'Connor for his massive help over the past years as well as Silvio Mazzoni, both have made a tremendous difference in my riding. Last but not least I have to thank my Family, friends and Michelle (Tali's second mother) whose unending support can never be repaid.

Tali is on his way not to Amsterdam for his return flight home, he should be back in NC by Friday. As soon as I get some reliable wifi I'll get both the show jumping and helmet cam videos of the weekend.

All the best,

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Clear Cross Country at Saumur***!

Forgive the awkward angle, but this was taken in the vet box following Tali's great XC!

Tali was again exceptional on a very challenging course. Cross country for the 3* didn't start until 12:30 pm so it was a long day of waiting. There was a short delay on course which put my start time up to just around 4:30 pm. Tali warmed up great and headed out on course strong as ever. He improved as the course progressed and he finished up very strong. During the last few minutes on course he still had energy to spare, which was incredible considering the deep conditions in much of the course. I wore the helmet cam again today so a video should surface here as soon as I can find wifi that is fast enough.

I can't express how proud I am with Tali and how thankful I am to have the support of Larry & Amelia Ross, the entire Land Rover US Eventing Team and of course my family and wife Jessica. I wouldn't be here without all of their help.

Jogs are at 10 tomorrow morning with show jumping not until 4 in the afternoon.


Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

4th Place at Saumur after dressage! **Video included**

How cool is that?! Tali was excellent, not without room for improvement but he put in his best test to date!

I rode him earlier in the morning where we worked on basic suppling as well setting him up for the test. He was reasonably settled which had me hopeful for my 2:05 pm ride time. Just after we headed out to walk the first portion of the cross country putting us at the arena in time to watch Liz's tests. She did not disappoint...they put in a very solid test which placed them 8th at the end of the day!

We finished up walking, the footing continues to improve. The countless volunteers have been working non stop to improve the conditions. The depth of the water with the amount of rain we've had was a big concern, but it is improving my the minute.

Following our walk and lunch, Jess and I grabbed a power nap at the car. The alarm went off and it was show time! I got changed and hopped on. I had ridden a lot this week, more than ever before leading up the dressage, so I wanted to be mindful that I didn't do too much. I got on about 30 minutes prior and headed down to the warm up. He warmed up well and was just about as settled as he's been all week. Good timing!

As I entered the arena he did get worried, but right back to the same suppling exercise I went. He returned to earth pretty quickly and put in the best test he's had yet. Crazy to think that it could be a whole level more in time. I keep reminding myself to enjoy my time with him and of course I have to thank Larry & Amelia for their long time support. The day finished up and we're sitting in 4th place, just a few points from the lead!

Following dressage we headed out to walk the course again. I finished up in time to head over to the trade fair for a bit and catch the riders meeting. Nothing too terribly exciting was discussed aside from permissible route options on a few of the combinations.

I plan to head out to the event in the morning, walk the course once more and get ready! Luckily for me I head out just after 4 pm which gives me 3 hours of watching the course being ridden.

Fingers crossed!


Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The day before Dressage at Saumur

We had a fairly light day today. I was very happy to report that the rain, for the most part, did stop today. We had a number of showers roll through, but luckily they would never last for more than 10 minutes then returned back to sunshine. The ground, being primarily sand for 95% of the course, adsorbed a massive amount of water. The footing is significantly better than it was yesterday. If the weather continues as it's predicted we should be in great shape come Saturday!

I rode twice again today just as in the previous days he was much better the second time out. I was struggling a bit initially not only with keeping his attention, but also figuring out how much support was needed through the deeper sections of mud. I felt much better in the afternoon's ride.

Uptown Eventing captured one of the brief showers perfectly!

Tomorrow my dressage is at 2:05. Being that Tali's been so much better the second time out each day, I plan to ride in the morning again. Following the first ride of the day, I'll head out on the cross country course again in what will probably be my second to last walk. Not to forget that Liz also does her dressage test tomorrow. Scheduled for just after 10 am, I think the US is in great shape to make a mark on this competition!

We were able to carve out a few hours in the mid-morning to head over to see the show at the Cadre Noir de Saumur. The production is held at the French national riding school and instruction center just a few minutes from where the event is being held. They did a great job showing the full range of what horses and riders are capable. As David explained to us, it's amazing to think that our foundation and style of modern riding in the US is rooted in the teachings developed right here. Saumur was where Jack Le Goff was taught, and master for more than a decade.

Cadre Noir de Saumur

I'll try to get an update following dressage posted as soon as possible.


PS Just in case you missed this on Eventing Nation earlier. Sally Spickard wrote a fabulous post about Tali's progression. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And the rain as Saumur gets worse!

I hate to report that the skies opened up today...and really never closed!

Rain pours off the roof at the stables...

We did our best to hunker down for the day an avoid the rain, we failed. I rode with DOC first thing with in the morning, Tali and I were completely soaked. He was a little less settled than yesterday so we decided to ride again this afternoon following the first horse inspection.

Next up for the day was the briefing. Difficult to say exactly what was said, but I think we got the general gist of things. My french certainly hasn't improved enough to determine what was said aside from the English translation given by the show manager extraordinaire Joelle Stafford.

During the briefing was the all important draw. Each nation, 20+ of them, was asked to come down an pick a bottle of sparkling wine with a number on the bottom. This indicated the order in which we would jog. We ended up with number 14, placing us just about an hour into the inspection.

Our view of the briefing and draw
 Following the briefing Michelle and I headed out on the cross country course. I've complied the course below in a collage with the size of the picture roughly indicating the importance/difficulty of each jump or combination. A quick run through with regards to striding etc.

Fence 5: There is basically has no good approach to the first element due to trees and an unjumpable fence. Once at it, the combination is a 2 stride line. The challenge is really getting the first element done, once over the A portion B shouldn't be too much trouble.

Fence 8: You just don't want to miss, it's not terribly tall but the ditch is massive.

Fence 9: This combination should ideally ride in a 3 stride to 3 stride line. Left side of the first, again your approach is restricted, bending then right to the second skinny and more or less straight to the last.

Fence 11: This is off quite a tight turn and again on 3 strides (although my memory might not serve me well, if not 3 then 4 strides, but a decent distance regardless).

Fence 12: Triple brush in the water....this should ride well as long as they see it early enough and you get there with enough energy. It's certainly not one you can just gallop on down to.

Fence 14: I don't remember the striding, but probably 4. The hill is steeper than it looks, it's a blind approach. Luckily for Tali he saw this identical combination 2 weeks ago at Jersey.

Fence 16: 4 strides on a bending line.

Fence 18: The direct line, which is my intention is the corner of the boat bending 4 strides to the corner of the second boat in the water. The A element is quite vertical, so make sure it gets done well! The option is the white to the second boat backwards.

Fence 21: This is a slightly long 3 stride, but should ride normal after a long gallop around the track.

Fences 23 and 24: The hill after 23 is significant again the photos don't do it justice. It's a bending line to 24 AB which is a bounce then 3 strides to the C element. I expect this should ride well, but will require you're still on your A game.

Fences 25-27: With all of the rain this was nearly a water to water, with a bounce in the middle. I'm glad I practiced some bounces last week!

Fence 29: Possibly the most important fence of all!

I'm very happy with the course. I think it suits Tali well, again not to minimize it's difficulty. If you're off your line at any of these combinations or fail to get their eye on the next element soon enough you'll absolutely have trouble! 

Click on the image below to enlarge, or right click to save and view on your desktop.

The day continued with the horse inspection. The rain continued to fall with some intermittent lightning. After our first time up and back on the strip I was asked to represent, but alas all was clear and we've officially begun!

My dressage test will be at roughly 2:30 on Friday, which is just about ideal for us. I can't wait! Tomorrow we plan to start with a lesson at 8:30. We're going to make a quick trip over to the Cadre Noir de Saumur at 10:30 then back to the show grounds to walk the cross country again!

More details tomorrow.


Don't forget to get your copy of 'The Riding Horse Repair Manual' by clicking the cover image below!