Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memories of Kentucky...and visions of spring!

If you've been reading Eventing Nation this week - I've got so much Eventing Nation karma going on, I'm just about swimming in it! Even the "Chauvin DOG" (a fluffy maltese/poodle mix who lives with my mom in San Diego) made it on EN this week - seriously, that's good EN Karma! So how did the California dog make it on there?? My mom made a visit to Galway Downs to watch Friday's dressage, and she took "Muffin" along to meet a horse (first time ever!) and instead (it was raining and muddy, so her precious white fur had to stay away from the ponies) she met Samantha Clark, EN reporter and photographer extraordinaire. And she managed to get my name pasted next to her photo on EN. Wow. (See last photo on this EN post to see Muffin.)

Right, so back to the title of this post... just as the memories of Kentucky were starting to fade, the video from arrived! I realized that I never gave a full report of our show jumping round, so it's with great pleasure that I provide video! And I'm thrilled to say that it looks as good in film as it felt in person!

I've been thinking a lot about the Three-Day experience - whether I'd do it again; how it was different from my one-star long format in 1994; whether I'd recommend it to students; whether it was everything I thought it would be. And I think the answer is yes. On Sunday night - when the Horse Park turned into a sudden ghost town - I was so relieved to see that the horses stabled across the aisle didn't seem to be getting packed up. When I inquired whether they would be staying the night so Katchi would have a few friends, I was offered a cocktail, which I promptly accepted! Turns out, I was enjoying a cocktail with the T3D winner (THAT woman who just edged me out of the win!), her 2 sisters (ALSO competing in KY that weekend!), mother, and a whole gang of a support crew! And they got me so laughing so hard I was almost crying! Not only did we talk about the highs-and-lows and general craziness of the entire competition process, but also the process of getting there. The process of horse and rider getting fit together especially: getting out of the ring and off the groomed XC course, and into the "wild" of trot sets and sustained gallops for what felt like hours at a time! For a horse like Katchi, and Lela's winning OTTB, whose fear of mushrooms, sticks, and leaf piles is serious business - just going through that fitness process and arriving at the first jog with out a broken anything was a serious accomplishment. It made me push out of my comfort zone - just me and Katchi, off on our own, with a plan. It's so easy to say, "oh, well, he's a little spooky today, so we better stay in the safety of the ring" - but when you're faced with Phases A, B, C, and D just weeks away - you have to suck it up and get your butt out there. You can't show up at the 10 minute box and tell the vets that your horse hasn't recovered enough to run XC because you missed 4 conditioning days because he was a little spooky. That just doesn't cut it. So, as I enjoyed my cocktail and laughed with these lovely ladies (and gentlemen!), I thought - yea, this is what the long format is all about! It's not what it used to be, but it's still priceless, and I'm so thankful to have enjoyed it once again!

With Kentucky behind us, Katchi enjoyed a few days off, and is now back to work until Phillip and Silva head south (when he'll get a proper 3-4 week vacation). So, yesterday, it was back to work with Silva, and wow did we work! I always find this time of year hard for motivation - show season is over and Katchi's vacation is on the horizon. It would be so nice to just go for a lazy walk (in the ring - safety zone!!) and pat my good pony over and over again. But, we've got work to do if we're going to come out in the spring in the shape I have planned for us! So, I spoke with Silva yesterday about filling in some holes in Katchi's Second Level dressage work and even looking towards the Intermediate dressage tests. Flying lead changes being one thing that we've just never been able to tackle. Katchi's canter was such a disaster for the first 3 years I was riding him that I could barely sit in the saddle - he just towed me along and it was horrid! His canter is my favorite gait now, and while it's still reminiscent of his OTTB past, it's getting pretty darn good and he's even earned a few dressage judge's comments this past year of "the canter was the highlight of this test" - Really, Seriously?? When I mentioned the lead changes to Silva, she basically grimaced and said something along the lines of, "well, it's gonna be ugly." I knew that was coming, but I was still a little heartbroken. But, we went to work - with Silva drilling me with 20m, 15 m, and 10 m canter circles - to walk - to canter - to counter canter - to 10 m circle - etc etc. Relentlessly followed by the horrid sitting trot for leg yields, shoulder ins, and renvers (which thankfully I read about on wikipedia last week - and translated into the English "haunches-in" [CORRECTION: Thanks to my readers' comments for setting me straight as I STILL had this wrong. Yes, okay, got it - "renvers = haunches-out"... "travers = haunches-in" - now to figure out how to remember that!]). Just at the point when I was pretty sure I was going to die (has anyone actually died in the middle of a dressage lesson? It must have happened.)... Silva said she'd get on Katchi and give his lead changes a try. She thought she might be able to get something close in at least one direction. And wouldn't you know it - it was sort of okay! When she got off, she said "well, I thought that was going to be a total disaster, but that was pretty good!" OH KATCHI! GOOD BOY! I never really saw a flying change, but after the scuffle of dirt, Katchi came out on the other side on the other lead, and Silva was singing "good boy!" and patting his neck profusely, so something worked! We ride with Silva again next weekend, and we already agreed that we have the same lesson plan. Now I remember why I love winter training - it's the time to throw caution to the wind and see where you can get! No worries about making a mistake this week that costs you a point in the show ring next weekend - it's all about pushing yourself to the next level without all those worries of being perfect.


  1. Muffin is adorable! Maybe not a barn dog but cute city dog.

  2. Renvers is haunches out! Travers is haunches in.
    wiki re-directs you from renvers, but the second line explains it.

    I'm so glad your dressage is coming along. I'm fighting with third level and changes myself.

    You are exactly right, winter is for throwing caution to the wind and trying something new. At the barn I ride at, November is no stirrup month and December is bareback month.
    And me? I'm trying side saddle...

    Good luck! I love hearing about your riding.

  3. Great equestrian blog! Why not come along and post this at Haynet an Equine Social Blogging Network - Hope to see you there!