Monday, September 26, 2011

Bacon's daily ritual

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Flora Lea Canceled!!...Pre-Morven Notes...

It just doesn't seem to stop raining...we got another 2" in the past 24 hrs, our rain soaked fields, ring and horses just can't get a break!

We had a brief respite yesterday morning, I took advantage of the opportunity to install our new EquineLite Mats which came last week. I had run into Justin and Will from EquineLite at Rolex this spring, after stepping on them once knew I had to figure out a way to get them in my trailer. Their just about 1.25" thick, very soft and durable. I'm sure the horses are going to arrive in much better condition than they had in the past!

Bacon enjoying the new Equinelite Mats
After finishing up with the mats the daily riding began. I always start off with the big guys first. Both RO and Trevor are walking for an hour in addition to their normal work. So of course, I was rain free when we left the farm, but about 30 min later the rain came down as if I were in the heart of the the amazon rain forest. Running Order of course loves the rain, harkens back to his racing days in Ireland I'd imagine. He is not bothered in the least. I, however, really do enjoy being dry. I rode Trevor next after scrounging through the trailer for a dry shirt. He didn't seem to mind either, after finishing his ride I ran home for a complete change of clothes.

I rode the rest of the horses who were supposed to be competing today (Saturday) at Flora Lea. Until the 1st of the month we're down one person in the barn, so I braided the 3 babies and nearly finished packing when we got word they canceled the event. So frustrating...especially after braiding, no less (not a job I enjoy or do frequently :) )!

On to this morning, Conor and I headed out for our gallop. I wasn't convinced we'd be galloping, I figured it'd be too wet and we'd be trotting on the dirt roads. We headed over to the fields anyway to see how wet they were. I was shocked, it really wasn't that bad.

At this point they're going up the hill 5 times, the 3rd walk down I was serching my iphone as you do when walking and came upon a very cool GPS app. We have always wondered exactly how long the hill is, now we have an answer. 6/10th of a mile. The very cool thing about it was it would overlay your gallop on google earth. It also gave real time info our normal pace up the hill was roughly 17-20 mph or just around prelim speed. The 5th time up the hill is posted here:

So at the moment their doing 3 miles on a good grade.

Of course we didn't actually gallop through the house...but close enough

The nerd in me found this very interesting. Not only on the technical side that I could post this on facebook/twitter instantly, but also that it could overlay the path etc. This in addition to the fact that we could now actually compare gallops across the country to gauge what we're all doing to get horses fit for the fall 3 days. On the walk back I called DOC to find out how long 'the mountain' in the plains is as well as it's change in elevation. Still awaiting word...

Running Order and Trevor on their gallop today...
I'm heading over to my Mom's place tomorrow with RO and Trev for some dressaging...then a little xc schooling Tuesday and on to Morven Thursday. It's going to be an exciting check back in a bit for updates...and stay dry.


Monday, September 12, 2011

The video's are up from the AEC's!

Running Order's XC Helmet Cam

Then Running Order's SJ finishing up in 3rd Place!

The last of the long road trips is over for this year!!

Bacon and Mom on our road trip...

My Mom, Bacon and I returned home last night around 10 pm following another long of a day on the road. I woke up at 3:30 hoping to get to the barn by 4 and leave by 5. That didn't quite happen. Going back a week or so Buck Davidson had asked if I'd drive his rig down from Pa. It's not too far out of the way and he'd cover the diesel. He was returning from the UK and flying directly down to the AEC's. Buck's rig is a bit more than your normal truck and trailer, it's obnoxiously long. I paced it off to just a hair under 100' from nose to tail.

Yes it was too long to capture the entire thing in the frame...

It's a Freightliner tractor and an Eby trailer. To say you need to make wide turns is an understatement. I have to say once on the highway, it's exceptionally comfortable. You're basically sitting on your couch and driving this mammoth beast down the road. It's shocking how you really don't get tired driving it, a very good thing when it took 16 hrs to get down and 14 hr back.

So back to leaving, we had to reconfigure the trailer. We had 5 with us going down and 7 coming back. The whole process of reconfiguring and packing for the 7 just seemed to take forever. We didn't pull out of the event until about 6. Then off to pick up my mom on the way to the highway. Sounds simple enough, gps routes you to the exit, Mom will be waiting coffee in hand and we're off. Well if we were 65' shorter it would have been a much faster process. I pulled out, and within the first few mins went to turn on a road that would cut straight to our rendezvous point, the sign read, "35' max trailer length." I'm usually one to say bring it on...not this time. Being more than twice their max seemed like a bad idea. We had to back out on to the main road and on we went for a bigger byway. Finally made it, Mom hopped in and we're off. The great part is that we only had to stop twice for fuel, might have actually got away with once, but didn't think trying to cram into a normal size gas station was a good idea.

Once at Bucks, I pulled my truck up which now felt like a mini cooper, loaded my 3 up and off we went. For those paying attention I did say 3. Running Order, Tribute and Trevor. Trevor is making the trip back with us following the AEC's to allow my girl friend, Jess, time enough to concentrate on school. I don't envy her course load this semester, organic 2, bio chem and physics, but am very proud of her for going back. She's working on going to pharmacy school next year and was missing a few pre rec's required.

Once all loaded up we made the hr long trip back to my place and finally off to bed!

So as for the weekend. Dressage was covered here. XC was great for both horses. I don't want to jinx myself, but I think I've got it. Running Order was completely on. We had a few striding options throughout the course, and we were able do do the short and the long options. The water was riding in 4 all day for people, but quite short. There was a direct 3 stride option, where you jumped a jump in the middle of the water and straight to the corner in the water. I thought this would be a better for us. I got a great jump in and it rode great. Later in the course there was a large drop to two skinny chevrons. This was again riding in a very tight 4 for most, although Jess did it in 3. I jumped down and waited for the 4 and it again rode very well. Thanks to John at EN I have a short video clip of it here. Running Order finished up clear and under the time. I did have the helmet cam on, it's uploading as we speak and will be posted soon.

Tribute was the best he's been by a long shot on XC. He's only 5 and jumped around the very technical course as if it were a walk in the park. It was not the biggest, but the hardest training course I'd ever seen. He was more responsive and lackadaisical than he's ever been in the past about anything presented to him. He's going to be one spectacular horse in the future! Speaking of training, my Mom also had a great ride on her horse known around the barn as the princess. Jumped a double clear where time can be an issue for this pair, Mom found the petal on the right and was looking great.

Show jumping was up on Saturday. Running Order was first up, actually Trevor was...Jess had a very nice round, just one rail to finish off her weekend. Trev was jumping great. Running Order was up next, the course went well. We had one hell of a spook at the triple bar where I ended up in the back seat, but all was good and finished up with a clear round and 1 time penalty which didn't effect our placing. I was in 5th going into SJ and with a few issues ahead of us we finished up 3rd! It was a great weekend for him, and I have to say what a relief! I think we're back on and going to take over here soon enough. Or at least we'll give it our best shot. I forgot to mention looking at the dressage test on the way home, the two uncharacteristic late changes were both x2! He's usually good for a 7 or 8 we got 4's leaving 12 raw pts on the table!! Next time...

Tribute was next up, and to say it was an epic clean round was an understatement. I often say it's better to be lucky than good. I was very, very lucky. He is a phenomenal athlete, just still figuring out where his legs are being that he's a 17.3hh 5 yr old. I think he was a bit tired from the day before, but long story short there were very few jumps in warm up that remained in the cups. Some how, some way they all stayed up in the ring securing our 3rd place finish.

Yellow is a good color...

My Mom finished up 8th in the same division, and my sister finished up 4th in the prelim..

I want to thank everyone at the USEA, Land Rover, Bit of Britain and all of the other sponsors which made this championships possible. Carl Bouckaert deserves a special thanks, for all of his incredible facility, perfect conditions (although I'm not sure he controls the weather, but it was perfect) and support of our sport. Without people like him, the sport would not be what it is today. 

Next up is Flora Lea in a week or so and the big guys are back out for Morven in 2 then on to Fair Hill 3*!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

AEC's dressage day

The first day of dressage is always exciting. With talented horses you always feel as if you have a shot to make a run at the top of the leaderboard. I am very lucky to have two of the nicest horses I've ever ridden here this weekend. Neither of them disappointed.

Running Order built on Richland, He was the best he's been in the ring yet. He was through, and active for almost the entire test. I was annoyed with myself when we finished knowing I threw away a number of points in the last two time will be different. I have to thank my Mom for her help this summer, I guess she knows what she's looking at afterall! :)

Tribute was next up. I really don't know what to say, he his just phenomenal. For a 5 yr old to come out as he did today, he is very special. They don't come around like this often. I have to thank Kristen Burgers again for her support, and for picking him out as yearling!! The judges did not agree in the least about our score, leaving us in 3rd. Luckily it's not a dressage show, and the future for him couldn't be brighter.

The courses look good for tomorrow, and the footing couldn't be better. I'm very excited to implement the new plan for RO tomorrow. Fingers crossed! RO is around 10 and Tribute around 4.

Best of luck for all competing tomorrow...


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Revamping Life...

Bacon and Nolan of Course

We've spent a lot of time in the truck recently, and I hate to say it but I've got a bunch more time on the way being that the AEC's are in Georgia next week. I'd say 35+ hrs in the past 3 weeks, and another 28 to go next week! The great thing about the long rides, aside the road coma induced uninhibited conversations, is you have plenty of time to reflect on the past. More importantly how you're going to improve conditions for the future. At this point in the year I've had a bunch of great things happen, but also my fair share of disappointments. Fortunately, I think the light at the end of the dark tunnel is coming near.

Lets start with the DL (disabled list for those non-sports fans). The DL is diminishing by the day. Tali, owned by Amelia and Larry Ross, who if you remember had a freak injury to his stifle at Pine Top this spring is more or less fully recovered. He's 100% sound, which is such a relief I can't tell you, and is up to 8 mins of trotting. He should be back in full flat work within the month. When their on the DL you tent to forget what each horse was really like, and damn this horse is a freak of nature (in a very good way).

Simon, owned by the SNS Syndicate, who ended up having a minor tear in his minicus of his right stifle in the dressage warmup at Jersey is also on the same path as Tali. He's up to 6 mins of trotting.

We had a few other random minor cuts, bumps and bruises all now on the mend.

A lot of this reflection has been focused on Patti Springsteen's, Running Order. He's had an inconsistent year. He's sitting in 5th place for USEA horse of the year and had a number of top placings. He's also had few minor hick ups which have simply highlighted holes in his training. Following this weekend, I took a quick trip down to Phillip Dutton's on Tuesday to get another set of eyes on the topic. His assessment, which it's not like I hadn't heard before, was a simple one. He just needs to be better jumping out of a bad distance on his own. Up until now I've been able to keep things very calculated for him, but by Advanced he's got to carry more of the burden. Phillip was able to whittle it down to a very easy fix which I'm confident will resolve this issue once and for all. Long story short I just need to get better at training him. I've got a plan so we're set!

That's the best thing about working with horses. I can't tell you how many horses I've started who have developed into upper level competitors, each one is different. They find a way to keep you on your toes, and keep you thinking and learning.

Other happenings, a big weight is about to be lifted from my shoulders. My book will go to the publishers tomorrow, it's subject is training/rehabilitating difficult or problem horses. It's been in the works since the spring, and what a process. Funny thing is that being an Engineering student in college, the longest paper I'd ever written was 10 pages double spaced of course. The book is just around 150 pages at the moment. It's been a great experience, putting ideas things on paper has a way of becoming clarifying what it's all about. Without a doubt it's helping my riding. Being this is the first time I've gone through this process I don't know the exact next steps, but it should be out by summer of next year.

What's on the horizons this week? We come out of the hurricane relatively unscathed, our barn still does not have power. We're lucky that's the only issue we have at the moment. I feel horrible for the people east of us and up in Vt. We'll have a crew going to the Briarwood jumper show on Monday. Then in the truck again, this time heading down to the AEC's Tuesday with Running Order and Tribute.

Until then...