Saturday, May 29, 2010
Advisory: only watch the video if you really like horses. They don't do much when they sleep!
Katchi's fat leg looked much better yesterday! I rode him lightly for about 20 minutes, and hope to do the same today. Have decided against taking him XC schooling on Monday with a group of students, and I'm still taking plans for Rubicon day-by-day. Fingers and hooves crossed that we'll see everyone out there next weekend!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The USEA put together an outstanding 3 day training program for 21 of us budding-course designers. Some of us were more wannabe's than others (I definitely fell in the wannabe category) - and we came from far and wide... My 3 hour drive was easy compared to those who came from Ontario, Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota... It was comforting to learn that all over the US (and Canada!) there are others who suffer from the same affliction I do - constant obsessive sighting of perfect materials for XC fences!
Note quite a PhD dissertation defense, but close! Finding just the right flow to a course may be more art than science - but, then again... maybe it's all in the physics!
On Sunday morning, we headed across the road to the XC fields that had been used on Saturday for the FEI courses. Tremaine divvied up the land so that groups of 4 each took a grid square to "build" something on (with orange flags, graph paper, and an unlimited imaginary budget!). After just over an hour of planning, we had to present (defend) our plans to the rest of the group (and Tremaine, of course!). Luckily, we all took to heart Tremaine's advice on the first day - don't try to be too clever! And, very interestingly, each group came up with a different question - we had (imaginary) complexes with a corner, coffin, banks, steps, and jumping into space. We talked through our vision, considering things like material available, the effort required to move earth, setting jumps with the flow of the terrain... It was a fantastic exercise that forced us to get creative and make decisions - which can be quite a bit harder than simply critiquing the existing work of someone else.
Just before yet another downpour, we managed to squeeze in some time flying a couple of trucks around the FEI courses to take a closer look at the coffin, bank, and water complexes. Wow! I'm pretty sure my one-star, way back when, was just as hard, but my eye sure has a long ways to go before those jumps look doable again! We ended the day watching the BN horses tackle their course - actually, those guys may have gotten into the tequila too, because straight lines were not so much out there! Wobble this way, wobble that way... It really made you appreciate the importance of considering the lack of steering in a BN horse when you design a course for them - if you think they can steer around anything - they can't! :)
Our fearless teacher, Tremaine Cooper.
Thank you to the USEA (especially Nancy Knight and Tremaine Cooper) for putting together such a great weekend!
So, after soaking up all the course design knowledge I could, now it's back to reality. Meanwhile, back at the ranch... I found Katchi on Thursday morning with a fat leg. I iced it heavily Thursday morning and evening, and Friday morning too. Then my wonderful new friend Kerry took over with Katchi's physical therapy for the weekend! Last report is that the leg looks almost normal, which, no doubt, is the direct result of Kerry sacrificing her weekend to repeated Katchi icings while I was off playing with orange flags and tequila! I definitely got the better end of that deal! When I let Katchi go in the field on Wednesday morning, he bucked and racehorse galloped across the entire field (he had been in for 2 days on account of storms), so I pretty much know the idiot did it to himself in the field. I really had the feeling it was nothing major, just a little sprain, but I will reassess where we stand tomorrow morning. It's such a terrible feeling to discover the dreaded "fat leg" right when you're getting started with all your plans for the year. But, hopefully with 4 days off, Katchi can go back to light work tomorrow - still 2 weeks until Rubicon, so we're not out of the game yet...
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
I was so tickled with Katchi at MCTA yesterday, even if the scoreboard looks less than fabulous. Jimmy always says, "any number is better than any letter", and after letters at the last 2 events (WD at Loch Moy last October, due to vet issues I wasn't cleared to jump but couldn't get any money back so just rode dressage; and the infamous hind-boots R at CDCTA) - I was super happy to have a number this time around!
A dressage friend of mine just shared this with me: Good, better, best...never let it rest until good is better and better is best.
We have work to do for better is best, but the good was great and the bad was less bad and less often. That definitely means we're headed in the right direction.
Katchi sat in 3rd after dressage - I came out of the arena laughing at how all the lengthenings seemed to fall on the downhill side of the arena! Each direction, and the diagonal! All downhill! Is that even physically possible - where is a topographic map when you need one?
Show jumping was my demon for the day. And watching horrendous ride after horrendous ride did not settle me. Thank you to Sharon White and Jennie Brannigan for actually having nice rides before my round - I needed those more than they did! In passing, Sharon told me not to worry, the course was perfect for me - "know it, ride it, live it." 3 rails down was not exactly fabulous - but 3/4 of the course jumped perfect. Now to just fix that other 1/4 - but, in watching the video, even the ugly wasn't that ugly. What a relief.
And then it was XC time - woo hoo! Katchi hasn't run a XC course since September, and he must have been the happiest horse at the event! He was a dream, in everything except where he wasn't! Those stupid 1-stride stone walls were just about as icky as I thought they would be (but I did not end up slammed against the second one!) - yes, I did a quick circle to gather ourselves up before heading into the line. Didn't help. I know I scared the jump judges. We very nearly took out the flags on the right. But, good boy Katchi for being so honest - putting 2 strides into a short 1 stride (AGH!) and still managing to jump the jump. No hope of going prelim until we get that kind of crap under control, but at least he was honest and gave it a go. And I wasn't wrong about the huge green produce stand (pictured in post below) - Katchi thought it was huge too! At 4 strides out, I suddenly felt like I was on a cutting horse. Apparently the grass path both to the left and right of the jump looked like much better options to Katchi. He cut to the right in one stride. Then he cut to the left on the next stride. And I just sat right in the middle, trying to channel Lucinda Green's tube wrapping my legs, knees, seat, hands and eyes, right around Katchi and tunnelled him right to the jump in the last 2 strides. And he jumped it beautifully! Katchi was such a dramatic baby at the log into the water - I think he felt a bit silly when he realized how simple it was. But, that's okay - he went. The best jump on the course for us were 2 logs on a bending line through a very narrow gap in the trees - the first was up hill, then the ground cut away hard to the right downhill - to a big fat log, landing downhill too. Couldn't have ridden better - Lucinda would have been so proud! And then I had a bobble at the trakahner which cost us 20. Katchi jumped the ramp coming up to it great, but I just didn't have enough time to get the canter I should have had for the trakahner. I really thought the log was so big that he wouldn't see the ditch and he'd just go. I should have known better - he saw it and stopped. He took a good look, decided it was okay, and almost went from a stop. I told him no, lets go around and do this better than scrambling over the top. He jumped it on the second go without batting an eye. Shame on me for not giving him the ride he needed there. Katchi was perfect at the turning bank complex, and galloped home a star in my eyes, even if the scoreboard didn't give him the fame he deserved.
As a consolation, I was thrilled to learn that Abby of the Sandpiper Diary won our division! She was stunned that she won with 2 rails down in show jumping - but that just goes to show how much the rest of us mucked up! No win is ever undeserved, and I was thrilled to see the real blue ribbon go to someone who has been working so hard. Honestly, I think Katchi and I were just as happy with our light blue ribbon! Now its back to work until good is better and better is best!
And a huge thank you to Kerry, my groom for the day who kept Katchi and me well hydrated and as cool as possible - although that wasn't very possible. Wow, it was HOT. What happened to all that snow we had this winter??
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Inspired by Eventing Nation's Rolex coverage last week, I decided to take a couple of video clips during my course walk today (yes, I realize the "squirrels" are actually chipmunks). Overall, I think the XC course looks quite good. I'm really anxious to see what my fellow blogger, Abby, posts about it on her blog (Sandpiper Diary)! But, for me, after the last time out, it's one phase at a time. I watched some horrendous Prelim show jumping rounds today, which didn't exactly help my own confidence. I really do think it will be fine, but even more than that - I don't want it to be icky!
Below is a picture of one of the jumps that looks awful big to me! I know it can't be any bigger than maximum height, but there's something about this one that just looks enormous to me!