Monday, July 18, 2011


WE DID IT! And it was amazing - absolutely amazing! But before I tell yesterday's story, I want to say a bit about how far Katchi has come. Sometimes it's easy to feel like things are moving so slowly, and feel like you're just not getting any better - but looking back over time, you realize how far you've come!

In April 2006, I returned from 6 months in Afghanistan working for the Department of Defense. I finally had enough money in my bank account to make owning a horse possible again after 10 years of riding whatever I could find available. It took me another 6 months to get the guts to start the search. Katchi was the first horse I looked at. Under the name "Sportin' Merle" he had raced 12 times with 2 wins totalling $11,783. His current owner had taken him off the backstretch and spent a couple of months showing him what a ring and jumps looked like. He spent the next year or so in a field, and that's where I found him - a fat and dirty 5 year old!

Katchi - picture taken the first time I saw him!

The day after I signed the papers to purchase my very own pony, I left to spend a month in Asia for work. I spent the entire month trying to come up with a new name for him - Merle had to go! I was in the De-Militarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea, when I saw a military coin that said "Katchi Kapshi" on it. I quickly pulled out my notebook and added it to the list of about 100 other possibilities - later I discovered it's English translation - "We go together". And that was it. Katchi had his new name.

Katchi and I have been together since the fall of 2006 - it's been a roller coaster of a ride for us as we've both had to overcome demons we didn't even know we had! During DC's "Snowmageddon" in 2010, while I was trapped in my house, I put together this video of "bad Katchi clips". When I made the video, I promised myself that I would share it when I had successfully moved Katchi up to Prelim - so here we are... Bad Katchi!

And, on July 17, 2011, my little bad Katchi officially became a Prelim event horse! We started off with a solid dressage test that I thought was a little stiff, but very respectable. It wasn't until the day was over that I learned Katchi's 31.5 led the OP-C division of 18 horses! WOW! High Noon - it was me against the show jumping course. When I walked the course, I almost got down on my knees and kissed the ground! The footing was ENTIRELY different than the week before - it was a bit deep in places, but I could walk on solid ground! And the course had long flowing lines with choices for wider turns if you got into trouble! I thought I might just have a fighting chance. For those who have looked at the scoreboard, you might say I had a rough go of it. 12 jumping faults, 20 time penalties. But OH NO! It was by far the very best show jumping round I've ever had!!!! When I came out of the ring, Kitty from L'Appogee Saddles (who I bought my amazing dressage saddle from) said - "YOU RIDE THAT BEAST!" - and that's just what I did! Oh, how I wish Phillip could have seen it. I rode just how I promised him that I would. Katchi was in a bit of shock at how powerful I was riding him, but he jumped those 3'7" jumps better than any course he's ever done! We pulled one rail at #2 when I got him in a little deep and pulled a second rail at the oxer in the triple - that's okay - triples are a big question for him, but he's just about to figure it all out! We also grabbed a stop at the oxer after the bending line from the liverpool (hence the time penalties too). That's the one part Phillip would have not been pleased with - I jumped too big over the liverpool and couldn't land, turn, and keep going - the oxer was just too big and Katchi admitted he couldn't do it. But, let me tell you, he SOARED over it when we came back around. So, 32 points added to my score - doubled our dressage score - and I must have been the happiest girl at the show!!!

And then it was XC time!! I really can't say much more than brilliant! That damn trakehner was on the course and I was terrified. I rode to it like I don't think I've ever ridden to anything in my life - and it's a damn good thing because Katchi couldn't believe his eyes when I turned him at that THING! He actually jumped okay from the front side, but he went so high up, he didn't cover enough ground on the back side. His back legs landed just on the edge of the ditch. It never ceases to amaze me how horses can take care of themselves, because I'm certain his hind end was headed back into the ditch when he somehow extracted himself. If I was Phillip Dutton, I would have recovered seamlessly and kicked on. But, I had to stop for a moment, and tell Katchi that he was the best horse in the world because he didn't want to do that jump at all - and he did it for me - he went because I asked him to. He got a huge pat, I think I said thank you 10 times, and we were off. I didn't quite get him going again enough before the steps up, so we crawled up those. But, then the course just absolutely fell into place for us. I don't think he took a wrong step the entire rest of the course (I discovered at the end of the course that he'd pulled his hind boots down around his fetlocks at the Trakehner, so he jumped fences 6-19 with galloping boots smushed around his ankles! Guess he's over his hind boot phobia!). Katchi was cautious in the second water - trotted over the water-to-water rolltop (he's only jumped one teeny tiny water-to-water schooling about a year ago!) - but he was never not going. He jumped the huge tables on the back side of the course like they were little cross rails! The 1-stride brush combination was a walk in the park. And he was an absolute cat through the turning ravine rolltop combination. Coming back up the hill to the last fence, I kept saying in my head "Don't fall off Ronnie!" - my mom and I watched Secretariat Saturday night, and that's what the trainer was yelling at Ron Turicott as he was just about to win the Belmont by 31 lengths!!! When I pulled Katchi up at the finish line, he blew his nose twice and shook his head a little. I laughed out loud! I'm sure Katchi was saying "Holy cats mom!! That was AMAZING!"

Evil in Wood.

Second water complex: tiki house, into water, water-to-water rolltop, out water, skinnier tiki house = FUN!

Now it's time to regroup and figure out what's next! Katchi won't compete in August, but I'm thinking big for September and October. When I woke up this morning, my phone was already notifying me of opening dates for Seneca and Loudon in September. Time to sort out the fall schedule for my big Prelim horse! :)

AND - I have to give a huge shout out to Diane and Susan who I coached at Loch Moy on Saturday - they were absolute stars! Diane moved her awesome big boy Lincoln up to Training - and they WON!!! After winning the dressage and adding nothing to their score in SJ or XC, they came home with the blue ribbon! Not too bad for a move-up event! I think Diane was most thrilled that her Percheron-Thoroughbred-Paint cross made XC time - and he pulled up in good form! Hot, but recovered quickly and looked oh so pleased with himself! Susan and her green-bean Eeyore completed their first BN, with just one stop at the water. Eeyore reminds me a lot of Katchi, and I'm so excited to see how he develops. Susan definitely had her hands full out there, but she rode very sensibly and gave Eeyore a great confidence boosting trip. Just what every horse deserves at their first event!

I cannot thank everyone enough for all your support and encouragement the past couple of weeks! Jimmy always says that preparation is your best defense against nerves, but I have to admit, I was pretty sick Sunday morning. I knew we could do this - but the question was would we?! The jump from Training to Prelim is huge - I've done it twice before, but to do it again, 15 years after the last time I ran around a Prelim course, wow - I'm gonna be on the top of the world for a while! Thank you so much to everyone who cheered us on and who was there to give me a hug at the end! To Kerry who woke Katchi up from his traditional nap before jumping and who ran the video camera. And especially a huge thanks to my mom who has always been my #1 fan. She was groom extraordinaire this weekend - and chief treat giver when it was all over! We wouldn't be where we are today without her support. What a lucky girl I am indeed.

My mom working out the knots in Katchi's neck on Saturday morning - while she was working on him, he did his cat stretch, sea horse stretch, and downward dog stretch!!! HE LOVED IT!

Katchi's winning dressage score must have been due to the beautiful button braids I learned to do from Phillip's Emma Ford! He looked smashing!




  2. Loved your bad KATCHI video. Sometimes it is hard to share those tough moments. Wow, you have really done right by your horse. Go Cherie!

  3. What a great post... and the Bad Katchi video was priceless!

    Suzanne (somehow I can't post with my google account profile_

  4. Congrats!! I love the bad Katchi video--definitely gives some perspective. You are a lovely rider, though--you stayed in the middle and stayed on, and look where you are now. :-) So happy for you, and I've never even met you.

  5. THANK YOU for all the kind comments! You all have really made my day! :) I'm especially glad the "bad Katchi" movie is such a hit - it hasn't been easy, but well worth the effort!

  6. i'm so thrilled for you cherie!! you've earned that fantastic day and then some. i'm so sorry i had to miss it (30th bday festivities), i would have loved to cheer you on and congratulate you in person. you've done incredible things with squirrely merley - and his "new" name is much more fitting of the entirely new horse he became. keep us updated on your fall prelim calendar! i'd love to catch a show before i head for the west coast.

    ps his jump looks PHENOMENAL.

  7. Cherie, I was anxiously watching the scoreboard that day to see how you did, and I was floored by your winning dressage score and your awesome completion.

  8. Larissa & Nancy - THANK YOU! I cannot tell you how much it means to me to be part of the eventing family again - your smiles, laughs, encouragement, and reality checks mean the world to me!!! What a wonderful feeling to meet your goals - but it wouldn't be half as wonderful to not have great people like you guys to share it all with!!!

  9. Cherie,

    Words cannot express my deep gratitude for the bad Katchi video. This is exactly where I am with my mare and her behavior is perfectly mirrored in bad Katchi - will go forward after having mini mind-melts. I am so encouraged by this video. These mini meltdowns are incredibly discouraging and I feel like I'm grasping at an impossible dream. I've been following your blog for a little while now but didn't watch this video until it was posted on Off-Track Thoroughbred's blog today. I just assumed the bad-Katchi video would make me feel worse because obviously this horse excels at cross-country so "bad" must be relative and be entirely composed of clips of incorrect leads, non-responses to half-halts, and the occasional treat stealing. I can't say enough how appreciative I am that you put the bad out there with the good. I have so much hope now! Go Cherie and Katchi!

  10. Paradise Regained... Not sure if you will see this reply, but thanks so much for your comment today! I'm thrilled that you finally watched the bad Katchi video! I can't tell you how many times I've gone home crying - and its not over yet! But he (we) have come so far that I have to keep reminding myself that even if I'm not satisfied yet, I'm moving in the right direction! And, for the record... Katchi is on the wrong lead about 50% of the time (he doesn't know flying lead changes and Phillip won't let me trot to change them - we have to ride into the jump on whatever lead we're on or we get in big trouble!); his half-halts and full-halts are actually pretty awesome so I can't complain there; and he never steals treats because he can have whatever he wants!! :) You inspire me as much as I hope we inspire you!!