Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dancing Horse Challenge - Videos!

I've attended the PVDA Ride for Life Dancing Horse Challenge the past 5 years, and it has gotten better and better each year! This year, I really missed last year's horse that kicked the beach ball across the arena (I squealed like a little kid when I saw that trick!), but even without the trick horse, the show was spectacular!

It was also SO exciting to watch my own trainer, Silva Martin, riding her OTTB Sea Lord in the show - he looked stellar in his racing gear and the crowd loved him! Silva has posted pictures and video on her blog, but I thought I'd go ahead and post my video too as it's from a little different angle and catches her exit from the arena (full of smiles, waving, and big pats for Sea Lord)!

But, Bent Jensen as Lady Gaga stole the show. There are no words. Watch the video! Yes, those are high-heeled go-go boots. He couldn't put them into stirrups, so the entire thing was done without stirrups - next time Ryan Wood tells me to drop my stirrups, I'm going to insist on putting on my white go-go boots!

Here are a few other clips from the show - take special note of the first rider, Shannon Dueck - she is a breast cancer survivor! GO GIRL!

I heard that 6,000 people attended the Dancing Horse Challenge this year - I hope to see you there next year too!

Monday, June 27, 2011

PVDA Ride for Life - Dressage at its finest!!

First and foremost - THANK YOU to everyone who supported the 2011 PVDA Ride for Life. I set my pledge goal this year at $1,000 and thanks to your generosity, I met and exceeded that goal! $1,870 was donated in my name to the Johns Hopkins Avon Breast Cancer Center. WOW! That was the 11th highest amount raised and 3rd in the "open" division. And I was also so excited to have so many friends turn up to watch Katchi and I perform and to attend the Dancing Horse Challenge on Saturday night. Things like this are so much more fun with friends!!

As you can see from the picture below, Katchi and I had a very successful weekend! Katchi earned a ribbon in all 4 of his classes which was the icing on the cake to the really exciting part of the weekend - Katchi performed his first two Second Level dressage tests and we didn't embarrass ourselves!! My two primary goals were 1) not to finish the test and have the judge ask me why I entered this poor horse in Second Level, and 2) to score a minimum of 50 (or mid-50's to be optimistic!). Not only did we meet these goals, Katchi scored a 59.143 the first day and a 60.286 the second day! I could not have been more thrilled! And I had so much fun riding that 2nd level test - it was hard, I was trying for my life not to bounce out of the saddle during the sitting medium trot, and I was about ready to pass out by the end - but it was FUN! There was so much to do, it was like my own mini-Grand Prix! I looked through the show schedule this morning to see if I can get to another dressage show this fall, but I'm not sure I can make it work with my horse trial schedule. Too bad, because I am on a dressage high!

Don't you just love my new gray Charles Owen helmet?!?!

Leading up to R4L, Katchi and I didn't have the greatest week. After Phillip's Camp, he took a couple days off and worked lightly Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, we went to Waredaca's evening jumper show. So many people turned up that they were running quite late. And then all of a sudden there were only 4 of us for the 3'3 class so it was my turn before I knew it. But, Katchi was not warming up well at all. I couldn't recreate that canter we had at Phillip's - I was more than frustrated, as you can imagine. His jumping was okay - based on the standards of performance from 2 weeks ago. But our standards are higher now, and we weren't cutting it. I opted not to jump the courses, and I went home with my head hung low and totally beating myself up. When we got back to the barn and were hosing Katchi off, I got the sense his back was bothering him. So I checked him out closer and discovered his entire back was in spasms. I'm certain that didn't happen because of our less than stellar warm-up - it must have been the cause. And didn't I feel like a jerk for getting after Katchi for not coming together properly when he must have been screaming in pain! Katchi's favorite person in the whole world, Courtney of Hands on Horses came out for a visit the next day - she confirmed his back was in spasms from withers to tail. Ouch! She worked her magic, and I followed-up with my kindergarten-massage work on Friday morning and evening and every chance I could get on Saturday and Sunday. He hung in there for me this weekend and his back is definitely better, but I'm going to have to be very careful with it leading up to Loch Moy.

Katchi's ribbon quarter mark

Also a huge congratulations to several of my students - Kerry and Atticus have confirmed themselves as solid Training Level competitors, finishing in the ribbons both days in Training Level Tests 2 & 3 in very large classes! Each time Kerry heads into the competition ring, she's a notch better than last time - just the way it's supposed to be! Kerry was so funny warming up for her final test - she finally got to ride over in the "big boy" area and happened to be warming up with about 5 Grand Prix horses. When I arrived to help her, I asked how Atticus was doing and she said, "He's great, but I so do not belong in here!" - I told her to watch out for those canter pirouettes because they'll throw off the 'pass left-to-left' rule every time! I don't think she thought I was very funny!

Ribbons, Ribbons, Ribbons!

I also had great fun helping a friend from the hunter world who wanted to take a voyage into dressage land - on her 21 year old thoroughbred! "The Full Monty" was a total gentleman in his Intro tests B and C - earning a 2nd place in each. Rumor has it that he got a doughnut for his efforts too!

It was also excellent to see two of my jumping students, Debi and Ilkim, out perfecting their dressage work. And I ran into other eventing friends everywhere I turned - with lots of ribbons in hand! Those DQs must have thought EN had invaded from all fronts!

Two very tired event horses at the end of two days of dressage.

Check back tomorrow as I should have videos posted from the weekend - including some highlights of the amazing Dancing Horse Challenge!!

PS. Dover's pink horse pictured at the top of this post made it's way to PG Equestrian
Center in my friend Beth's horse trailer! I think she got some pretty funny looks!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

PD Academy Camp - Going for Gold!

It's actually really hard to write this final post about yesterday's last day at camp - sitting at home, on my couch, enjoying coffee with my happy cat helping me type. Camp week is so hard to say goodbye to - as we were packing up yesterday, Alyssa described it as 3 months worth of training packed into 5 days. For anyone who wants "this" as bad as I do (whatever your "this" is), it's hard to let that kind of intense progress go. But, we were all exhausted and our horses especially are ready for a day off! HOWEVER - Mr. Katchi, when released into his field last night (despite walking him all the way out to his friends and distracting him with treats) proceeded to run around like an Arabian with his tail up over his back - showing off his extended trot and passage - with a few gallops and Quarter Horse sliding stops thrown in too! I should have brought the video camera out. That'll teach me to feel sorry for him - he got over tired and scratched up real fast.

Day 5 was "test" day. A dressage test and a short SJ round (5 fences) followed by a short spin around the XC course (9 fences or so). At the end, I said to Phillip... "Okay, million dollar question: Katchi is entered in Prelim at the second Loch Moy - does he stay entered?" And Phillip's answer? You'll have to read to the end to find out!

Each of us performed a dressage test of choice for Ryan Wood - the first time he talked us through some corrections, and then we rode it again, making those corrections. Katchi and I rode the Prelim A test, and it went really well - much better than when we tried it at Loch Moy's combined test earlier this year. Ryan gave me a couple of precision pointers about reaching the peak of the counter canter earlier and getting back to the rail earlier - he also said I may need to lean my upper body slightly forward during the ridiculous "give the reins forward" movement in order to get Katchi to show enough of a difference in his profile for the judge to credit him with stretching forward to follow the bit. Excellent pointers that should grab us a couple extra points which are so important!

I was really pleased with the look of Katchi's scratches when I got to the barn Friday morning - there was minimal swelling and he didn't seem too stiff. When I got up to ride, he was definitely a bit uncomfortable, but he seemed to be working out of it, so we carried on and kept listening to anything he had to say.

Just before lunch, we all met Phillip in the jumping ring for a course walk. We all had the same SJ course, but the heights/widths would be "personalized." In the morning, the guys had been out moving around the portable XC jumps so we had some new questions to tackle on the XC course - we all had approximately the same path, but at the end of the walk, Phillip discussed with each one of us which options we would take and whether we would skip certain questions. Katchi was assigned all the biggest fences and toughest questions - which included an angled rolltop 5 strides to a corner, followed by a narrow and larger rolltop, 90 degree turn to another corner and straight up the mound!

After lunch, we all congregated at the jumping ring to watch and cheer each other on - we were all laughing at the horses' reactions when we came in to tack them up again - it went something along the lines of "Noooooooo! Please, no riding again today!!!"

Katchi and I were the last to go. I started my warm-up with the 6 strides galloping, 6 strides collecting, 6 strides galloping, 6 strides collecting - with a few 10 meter circles thrown in there. When Phillip started us jumping, we started cantering a very small oxer that he slowly moved up and out as we cantered back and forth changing direction. He really emphasized making Katchi gallop on, then putting him together - light in front and active dancing hind legs - all the way to the jump, but not past his distance. Then Phillip had us finish on a quite tall vertical - the same kind of fence as our fence #1 on the course, but larger. Then we were off on our course. The first thing that really struck me in watching this video was that Katchi almost doesn't look like Katchi - his canter is entirely different! wow!

Katchi was doing so well, but I was afraid of pushing him too far, not sure how much his scratches were bothering him. I talked to Phillip about whether I should run him around the XC jumps - but clearly, Phillip wasn't going to make the decision for me! After a bit of debate and cheers from the camper audience - Phillip declared that we just had a few fences left to win our Gold medal (HA HA HA!) - and with that we left the "start box" and had an easy-as-could-be spin around the XC course, with just one tough moment at the rolltop-turn-corner (it all worked out just fine, but jumping big jumps and turning quickly after remains on the list of areas for improvement!).

So, after my round, Phillip called me over for a talk. He was clearly pretty thrilled with our SJ round (as was I!), and his only comment about our XC round was that I gave him a bit of a "scare" whether I would make the turn back to the second corner (I totally agreed as well!). So, then I asked that million dollar question: To Prelim or Not To Prelim? Before I got the question fully out of my mouth, Phillip interrupted me and said "He's Ready!" - So, just to be sure I didn't misunderstand, I asked "And am I ready?" - Phillip said, "You're Ready!". So the Loch Moy II entries stand! I asked Phillip about coming up for some extra lessons, and he suggested coming up the week before the Loch Moy event (to re-fix whatever I mess up in the next couple of weeks!). I'm probably making this up, but Phillip actually seemed kind of excited about getting me moved up a level - which sure made me excited too!

Phillip sporting his new hat from my friend Kim Clark of Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue. If you haven't checked out her work in placing OTTBs - you should!

So there you have it - the last of my 2011 Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy Camp reports! I know there are about 1,000 things I forgot to say - it was a crazy week of learning, laughter, and holy cats improvement! I cannot thank everyone at TPF enough for welcoming us into their family for a week - I think I speak for every camper when I say it was life changing!

PD Academy Camp - Goodie Bags!

Good Morning from home. Camp is over, and we made it home safely last night. I'll post my final day's blog shortly, but first, I wanted to tell everyone about all the awesome goodies provided to the campers (and a few to grooms too!).

Academy Award nominees receive 6-figure goodie bags - Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy Cadets didn't quite get 6-figure bags, but we got a ton of awesome stuff!!! THANK YOU to everyone at True Prospect for organizing the goodies, and THANK YOU to all the sponsors for all our way cool horsey loot!

Wise Equestrian (hats & Wiseguy's children's coloring book - and congrats to Alyssa who fell in love with the new WisAir saddle during camp and bought it!!!)

Flair (nasal strips and cleaning cloth - and thanks to Emma for showing us how to put them on!)

Equifit (hats, horse ear plugs, silver wound cleaner and ointment - already put to good use on Katchi's chevron scrapes - plus 20% of all camper orders were donated to the TPF Fire Fund!)

EZall Green (during Emma's grooming tips presentation, she gave us 2 of her favorite products from EZall Green: Show-n-go detangler and antiallergen shampoo).

Nutramax Labs Cosequin (buckets of stuff!!! Hoof supplments, probiotics, Cosequin qith ASU, pens, hats, cooler lunch bag, fish oil.... wow!)

Bit of Britain (in addition to the 20% off coupon we each received when we arrived, Bit of Britain also sponsored the farewell dinner - giving each rider and grooms the new event pinny holders - and stuffing the pinata with goodies like bellboot key chains! And it was great to have John, his wife and daughter, at the dinner as well!).

We also received a hit-air air vest demonstration - and massages!

Not quite a 6-figure goodie bag, but everyone left with a full trailer of super cool goodies - as if our tremendous riding accomplishments didn't already have us feeling like champions, coming home with all this loot definitely made us feel like winners of our own personal Rolex!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

PD Academy Camp - "Gotcha" Day!

Mexican Fiesta P Dutty!

I'm not quite sure where to start in writing today's camp report. I've probably already forgotten half of what I've learned from Phillip. He knows that much. But, let me tell you one lesson I'll never forget - lesson #647 of this week: always come ready for XC when you have a "show jumping" lesson scheduled with Phillip Dutton, especially on Day 4 of camp - all rules are off, and you have surrendered all control to P Dutty!

Day 4 of camp is pretty special. Phillip opened tonight's farewell dinner by saying - "In order to improve, sometimes you have to push yourself to the next level, and I really hope everyone understands that from today." I stopped counting after the third rider came back to the barn, announcing they had fallen off today! But, it was all in the best possible way, and as Phillip said, it is a fact of our sport. Trust me, the falls weren't about being overfaced - they were about developing the determination to do the things you're fully capable of doing! Secretly, I think no-one wanted Jodi to walk away with all the glory for being the "hardest" camper for falling off twice! Anyhow, today's riding was about taking us all to the next level, and it was amazing!

Day 4 is also pretty special, because it's the day we all start to realize the bond we've developed over 4 days of being P Dutty Cadets together. I guess it's like being on one of those Outward Bound trips. Together, we've survived the PD rope ladder across the ravine; we've bungee jumped off a PD cliff; and we've swung across the PD river on a rope swing. At tonight's sort-of assessment ceremony, there were more than a couple teary eyes. Phillip again commented on how inspiring it is to him to see us all come to him, to try so hard, and to want to improve - no-one comes to this week of training who doesn't desperately want to improve and he loves seeing that. He promised that they would keep offering camp week, no matter how many people sign up! We all cheered very loudly to that announcement!

So, my XC school yesterday went quite well, and at the end, Phillip asked what we wanted to do today. I asked if there was any way I could have another show jumping lesson instead of schooling XC a second day. Alyssa (fellow camper from 2009) also wanted another go at show jumping. So, at 11:30, Alyssa and I met Phillip in the jumping ring - no studs, no vests, no XC boots. Phillip started us off straight away at the canter - 6 strides lengthening, 6 strides collecting, 6 strides lengthening, 6 strides collecting. Repeated until we really got our horses cantering in front of our legs - light in front, and powerful behind. And then Phillip took the gloves off and started drilling us over fences. I got a good talking to about the importance of not riding Katchi past his distance. Phillip said that if I've got the canter right, and I come around the turn, looking at the fence, and see nothing... make Katchi's hind legs jump under me until I see the distance. He said that for me to move to the upper levels, it's no longer going to work to just come around and hope it all works out. The key is in the canter. For those who know Katchi and my infamous show jumping rounds, I think this video of today's ride says it all...

We'd been working for almost 45 minutes, and as I pulled up from the corner to angled vertical line in the last clip of the above film - I saw Phillip walking away. My first though was, jeeze, I thought that was okay! Was it that bad??? And then I thought, well, I guess we're finished here. And then I noticed Alyssa following him - and I said, "what's up?" - and she said, "um, well, I guess we're doing XC now". No one really understands that I am actually a really big wus and a seriously low-risk person in this high-risk sport! HELLO?!?! I have no studs or a jumping vest on! WHAT ARE WE DOING?!?! But, by then, Phillip had already sent Alyssa off jumping, so what was I going to do? Let me just say that we jumped some crazy ass XC shit today. (At the end, Alyssa and I had a great hack around the track screaming and laughing about how we each kept waiting for the other one to tell Phillip this was insanity, but neither one of us had the guts to do it, so we suckered each other into his cunning little plan!) Phillip did for me today just what no-one has been able to do for me since I was about 15. He made me throw caution to the wind and jump the damn jumps. I needed it more than he can even imagine - and I know he knows that. He pushed me to the next level. Unfortunately, I made one big mistake today, and Katchi suffered (he'll be fine, but he's a bit scratched up and I'm hoping he's not too puffed up from it tomorrow) - I let a stupid little argument draw out way too long, and poor Katchi never even saw the chevron I slammed him into. I give my students the exact same lecture I got today - rip his teeth out for 1 second and then get back to work. Letting a half-assed argument go on for stride-after stride-after stride, right into the base of the jump is nothing short of dangerous. Stupid, I know. Luckily, I learned my lesson and we finished up really well. Check out the video clip below. Phillip said it was "brilliant" - and later tonight, he said it was the best he's seen me ride. Wow.

Tonight was the Mexican Fiesta Farewell Dinner - totally heartbreaking to say goodbye! Phillip opened the night by reading us a list of the book titles he came up for each of us, if we were writing a book! Here are a few samples...

"How To Fall Off In Pennsylvania"

"How To Keep My Horse's Head Down"

"How To Fall Off on My Back"

"Now I Can Jump Ditches"

"How to Fall Off"

And mine?? "Have Mom, Will Travel!"

Phillip took a few minutes to speak about each individual camper - the rider they arrived as, their progress over the week, the things to address in the future, and his assessment of their future. Bits were funny, bits were encouraging - but above all, his assessments were honest and helpful. Two years ago, Phillip's comments to me were mostly about areas for improvement. This year, they were mostly about - get 'er done! He said things are really coming together for Katchi and me and that great things will happen this next year. It's an amazing feeling to have that kind of input and encouragement from someone whose opinion you respect so much. And, as Phillip said to me tonight, "I wouldn't say it, if I didn't believe it."

At the end of the dinner, the kids went after the pinata with a crop. A 4 year old broke the crop while beating the pinata. John Nunn from Bit of Britain (who sponsored the dinner) declared that the crop was NOT purchased at Bit of Britain. A broom replaced the crop, and then things started getting a little crazy!

Tomorrow is combined test day. Katchi and I will be doing Prelim Test A, but we'll have to wait to receive Phillip's verdict tomorrow about what jumps we'll be doing. Which pretty much will also determine whether Loch Moy II is on or a scratch! Judgement Day.

P.S. Alex, stay Gorgeous - at least until you're legal! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PD Academy Camp - "Kick Him" XC!

Day 3 at the Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy Camp - which I am calling "KICK HIM" XC as that was pretty much what we heard Phillip yelling all day! Thanks again to Lee Lee for taking so many great pictures - be sure to check out the PD Eventing Academy Facebook page for loads of pictures of all the groups out schooling XC today!

As for me, I am exhausted and in serious pain! Katchi had straw imprints all over his side and neck this morning - he must have slept flat out last night. I imagine he's even more exhausted tonight! All the campers were walking a bit slower today - big smiles, on slow legs! And then, after XC all morning, the evil physical trainer made us do squats and the plank and all kinds of other evil things. I almost fell over when my leg gave out trying to do a one-legged squat. My mom took a nap (in front of us!) while the riders suffered this main - it was cruel.

So, let me just do a quick XC update, so I can get to bed! Bottom line - I LOVE MY HORSE! He really was great today, and I had such a wonderful ride! Phillip had me try him in a new bit - we replaced the happy mouth with a big fat loose ring single jointed snaffle. Phillip liked it; but I've got to get used to it (Katchi too!). Pretty early in our session, I had a little "discussion" with Phillip about whether the bit was working - I said that I felt like Katchi was tucking under to evade it. And Phillip said, "when he does that - where's the problem - in your hands or your legs?" - yea, I get it, he's behind my leg, not the time to take back and then complain the horse hates the bit. So, I was then made to gallop around to the corner and KICK HIM - on a loose rein. He sure jumped better! Funny that!

My one big ick today was over a HUGE table that we'd already jumped several times - then I started jumping it like crap, so I got called in to talk (felt a bit like being sent to the Principal's office!). Phillip said that Katchi is more careful than most horses, and because he's so careful, I have to ride stronger than other riders. I have to ride him stronger so when he's careful and goes up - we still jump across the fence. And sure enough, I came around much stronger, and just sailed over the table!

We had one really interesting situation in my group today with a greener horse who was really facing some big questions he'd never seen before. We were jumping a quite large narrow rolltop, 2 strides, to the ditch. The horse had cantered in and stopped twice. Phillip then told his rider to trot the rolltop. Considering it was at least Training, if not Prelim, height - I know the rider was thinking - really, that's trottable?! Horse came around in trot and hopped right over it and the ditch - like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. Phillip called us all in to have a quick talk about the importance of slowing things down sometimes to let the horses understand the question. He said that the answer is not always in getting more aggressive and faster - sometimes the most simple fix is just buying the horse a little extra time... trotting!

Here are a couple video clips of Katchi from today...


Phillip and Evie welcomed us to their home tonight for a pool party - with EXCELLENT food compliments of Evie's culinary talents! We also got to ask questions about anything - fitness, flies, falling off, and even how Phillip and Evie met!

Phillip said that it's really inspiring to see all the campers who are willing to take a week off work and other responsibilities to come spend their time here, trying to improve. He said that it's very important for our sport that we all try to be as good as we can be at the level we're riding - we owe it to ourselves, our horses, and our sport.

My personal favorite question of the night came compliments of a request from the Chronicle of the Horse Forum - Does Phillip like being called "P Dutty"? And his response????

Phillip: "It's fine" (said with a very sly grin!)

Evie: "I think it's great!" (said with a huge grin!)

If I got this right, I believe Phillip said that Holly Hudspeth started calling him that first - or maybe she was the first to say it to his face! :)

And here we have Connaught - "Simon" - enjoying retirement in Phillip's backyard! He's hanging out with Lee Lee's Model Cadet (resting from Bromont) and an OTTB give away that is Evie's horse!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PD Academy Camp - "Okay, so..." Show Jumping!

Check out Katchi flying over the triple bar!!! (Thanks for the photos Lee Lee!)

Today, we left dressage behind and the horses were so happy - until we came to tack them up the second time! They all took good naps this afternoon!

Over the painted poles today, Phillip had two catch phrases...

"Okay, so, we'll do that again. But this time we'll..."
"Come Again."

And, my personal favorite...
Jodi: "Phillip, I'm really scared."
Phillip: "Yes, I know."
And then she jumped the line perfectly, and we all cheered!! :)
Jodi was our first fall of camp - and it wasn't even jump related! She jumped her two fences just wonderfully, and then was so excited she forgot where she was going, so her horse pitched left, then right - and Jodi went left! When she yelled out "what happened?!" - Lee Lee ran over with her iphone to show her the video! Instant replay!!

Katchi actually gave me a good attempt at being the first camper to fall - when the arena sprinklers came on without warning, catching us meandering around the ring on a long rein, waiting for our 8am lesson to start. As I was trying to stop Katchi from bolting and pull myself back up from reclining on thin air... I thought, "I so do not want to fall off before my lesson even starts!" - I'm pretty sure I've pulled the few leg muscles left that Ryan didn't damage with the no-stirrup game yesterday. My whole body hurts. And then we jumped and galloped today. I gimped myself into the hotel tonight. I can't wait until the massage lady shows up tomorrow afternoon - oh, wait, crap. I think she comes right after the physical trainer comes to get us fit. This really is a bit like signing up for the fat farm.

Today's show jumping lesson was very much about making the horses rideable, all the way from the start of your warm-up. Phillip emphasized that you have to get through these rideabililty issues in the warm-up, because you have to have them sorted out before you start on course. It was true about all of us to varying degrees - from the puddle jumpers to the 2 of us in my group (1 just moved up to Prelim, and me - the Prelim wannabe). Phillip was adamant that the horses should jump and immediately be responsive to your aids - to turn, speed up, slow down, stop, whatever - it's just a part of the job.

Here are a couple of clips of Katchi towards the end of our lesson. In the first part of the video, Phillip talked me through several circles to get just the right canter before we headed to the one-stride. Too bad I can't take Phillip with me into the show jumping ring!! One thing Phillip had me do a bit differently was to look at the jump MUCH earlier than I normally do - and I look at the jump VERY early normally! He had me looking so early that I could hardly turn my head that far - and then he wanted me to absolutely keep fixed on it - and then he noticed that I switch my vision about a second late on the related distances. BINGO! He's absolutely right, and it's taking a way a second or two of my reaction time which makes a big difference when you're only talking about a matter of seconds to make corrections. Okay, the video now...

And, if you ever thought that you're just not advanced enough to ride in Phillip's camp - check out the puddle jumper group! And, honestly, I think these 2 are having the most fun of everyone! I'm so thrilled they're here, because you just can't help but have fun around them!

In the afternoon, all 13 campers signed up for pace work with Ryan. What fun!! Everyone just loved having a spin around the track, but it was so hard to follow the instructions - 400 mpm for 2 minutes (without a watch on the first go, and with a watch on the second go) - I was so close to just saying "oops! I must have misjudged!" and really let Katchi open up. But, I behaved... and came in the closest to time for my group. Just 5 seconds under without my watch, and spot-on with my watch.

Tonight we learned about the Equifit product line, and received a very cool goody bag! And they offerred 20% of any sales tonight to the TPF fire fund. I ordered some of their silver antibacterial/fungal/etc stuff and the "shoulders back!" brace. Yea, I know, the whole concept of the sort of weird looking non-bra is just weird, but I tried the thing on, and it felt really good for my posture! I'm thinking of wearing it at the office (UNDER MY CLOTHES, of course!) just as much as in the saddle. Maybe I won't look like such a turtle sitting at my computer! Even a few of Phillip and Boyd's MALE riders tried it on and I think they may have ordered one too!!! :)

That's everything I can think of to report today - and it is definitely bed time! Tomorrow is our first XC day - and THE POOL PARTY!

And don't forget to "like" the Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy Camp on facebook and check out all the photos and videos that Lee Lee took today!

TPF Photos!

Had 2 great rides today, but I'll update on that later! For now, I've got pictures!! I walked around True Prospect for a little while today and took some snapshots of stuff - I took about 50 pictures, so let me see if I can narrow down the selection a bit...

Camper Alyssa, trying out a WinAir saddle in this morning's jumping lesson.

Campers waiting for their lesson time.

Emma with one of the Dutton twins' ponies - Emma said the toughest thing about him is getting him past a bucket of grain!

Outdoor wash stall and drying rack - lots of Ecogold!

The drying rack even includes a wire bottom so brushes won't fall through!

Horses in waiting.

Looking at Phillip's office and the viewing area to the indoor arena.

Looking out of the viewing area into the indoor.

Ryan (on horseback) and Caitlin (in the TPF-Boyd Farm Shuttle)

The camp cheering section.

Even little ponies had lessons at TPF today!

Lots of horses were out walking and trotting on the beautiful track in the beautiful weather!

Boyd's ponies turned out in full fly armor!

AND.... for those who didn't see it in the 2009 blog... here is the famous wall of fame/shame!

Off to wine and cheese party...

Monday, June 13, 2011

PD Academy Camp - "Come On" Dressage!

I love camp! I love camp! I love camp! I don't want to ever go home!

In case you can't tell, day 1 was pretty fabulous. But, before I get to all today's news... when you're done reading my blog, be sure to check out the PD Eventing Academy on Facebook - Lee Lee Jones has posted some video there from today, and she said she'll be out taking pictures tomorrow. Thanks Lee Lee! :)

Phillip arrived back from Bromont at 4:30am this morning. He met me in the indoor ring at 8:00 am sharp. He was alive, awake, and fabulous. As if he didn't already have it, he's officially earned superhero status in my book! From 8:00am-3:30 pm, Phillip rode each and every camper's horse. He worked 13 individual miracles, and still showed up on time for dinner!

Today's catch phrase was "come on!" - we all heard it. Some more than others. Phillip explained that the horses must be committed to their work... it's not good enough to just plod along sort of going through the motions. You must inspire the horse to commit himself to forward power. Katchi got inspired real quick. In fact, all the horses got inspired. When I got back on Katchi, I couldn't stop giggling for almost 2 trot circles - he felt GREAT! One camper's horse (who came to reform camp for always being behind her leg) - he's been renamed "VROOM!" I was able to watch almost all the sessions with Phillip, and at the end of every one - the rider was smiling from ear to ear, and the horse looked like he needed a cigarette!

What kind of idiot posts a video of Phillip Dutton riding their horse, immediately followed by video of them riding that same horse moments later? I'm taking the plunge... enjoy...

The other half of dressage day was spent with Ryan Wood - who now has 13 not-so-secret lady admirers! Back at the stables, everyone was a flutter about how lovely Ryan is! Evie joked tonight that they set us up with the "good cop, bad cop" routine, and we fell for it! But, I'm not sure if Ryan was really the good cop - it took all my will power tonight to sit down and start this blog instead of crawling down to the hotel hot tub! When Ryan said to me, "okay, cross over your stirrups" - I almost replied, "Ryan, I'm an adult, and you can't make me do that!" - but instead I said "ah, shit." and mumbled something about not being in pony club any more! But, it's was good for me - and I survived, and hopefully when the pain and exhaustion wears off, some new muscle strength might show up in its place. After the no stirrup game, Ryan really helped me a ton with Katchi's counter canter work (i.e., my positioning and balance). Bring on that Second level test!!

Kim Clark and Willie, aka "will-he or won't-he" with Ryan.

Before dinner tonight, we got to check out the new WisAir saddles - very cool! I know I can't do justice to all the cool details Phillip and Ronald have put into this saddle, so I'll just tell you to check them out! They're beautiful and pretty special - and great to sit in too! Ronald said he has demo saddles if anyone wants to try one, and then he offered up some demo horses... Woodburn was the first on the list, to which I promptly threw my hand up to go on the list! Ronald said 8:00 tomorrow morning. Katchi, I love you dearly, but YOU CAN BE REPLACED! :) Speaking of loving a horse dearly - wow, Ronald is a man who loves his horse! After the demo, he took me out to the barn to meet Wise Guy - I tell Katchi he's a "ham and a half" with all his faces and begging and general shenanigans for attention. Katchi has nothing on Wise Guy. He's "2 hams and a half!" He actually smiles whenever he sees Ronald (pulls up his lip and shows his teeth) - and Ronald just eats it up. Treats, treats, and more treats! Watching Ronald and Wise Guy, I sort of felt like a deprive Katchi a little! HA HA HA!

And finally, today ended with the welcome dinner - and we all officially met! What a great group of cadets - and all with such interesting stories! We have 2 fox hunters, a hunter jumper (who has never done this eventing thing, but thought it would be fun), my friend Kim Clark (with 25 or so years experience galloping race horses, and just 3 years jumping poles and logs), a mother-daughter team who were 1/2 campers in 2009 (Alyssa, the daughter had so much fun in 2009 - with her mom as groom, that they're back this year with mom riding too!!), and even one camper with a modest goal of jumping a log before Friday! We each have our own unique reasons for being here - and we'll all hit different milestones by Friday - but no matter where we come from or where we go to this week, it's bound to be one hell of a ride!

8:00 am tomorrow morning, if Woodburn fails to arrive as promised, I guess it'll be me and Katchi facing those painted poles together, with the mean little Australian miracle worker on our tail.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

PD Eventing Academy 2011 - Cadet Arrival

Greetings from the Phillip Dutton Eventing Academy! All cadets (and their ponies) have arrived - boots are polished, tails are show sheened, and tack is clean! I think I heard that Phillip is driving back from Bromont tonight - maybe I should bring him a cup of coffee to our 8am dressage lesson tomorrow morning! wow.

It never ceases to amaze me how much crap one horse requires to "survive" for 5 1/2 days. I felt a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies packing up for camp - someone suggested that I put my mom in a rocking chair on the top of the truck! :)

We arrived a little later than I had hoped, but safe and sound - and were immediately met by a welcome crew of happy faces - with water, snacks, the camp agenda, AND a 20% coupon to Bit of Britain!! Love it!

The view down the hill to TPF from Academy HQ - you can see Phillip's jumping ring in the distance.

And just to the left of the jumping ring is the cross country field! Notice the galloping track that runs just outside the fence line.

Camper stabling - we may have over run the place a bit.


(with my ride times in parens)


One-on-one dressage lesson with Phillip (8:00 am)

One-on-one "rider position and exercises to achieve dressage goals" with Ryan Wood (1:00 pm)

5:00 WisAir saddle demonstration (this is the new saddle Phillip designed with Ronald Zabala - have you seen it?? Way cool!)

6:00 Welcome dinner


Show jumping with Phillip (8:00 am - 2 riders in each group)

2:00 - Riders choice! Either XC pace and position with Ryan, or dressage with Kate Brown (I'm going for the XC pace - mostly because I'm dying to have another spin around Phillip's track)

5:00 Wine and cheese - and trunk show with Equifit

Wednesday & Thursday are XC schooling days - groups and times to be assigned on Tuesday night. Other activities are...


12:00 lunchtime Flair nasal strip demonstration/discussion

2:00 Grooming tips with Emma Ford

3:00 Exercise class for riders (too bad Jennie Brannigan is off in Germany - I would have liked to have seen her repeat her 7 minute plank that she did during a USET training session earlier this year!!!)

6:00 POOL PARTY!!!


1:00 lunchtime Hit Air demonstration

3:00 massages! (for the riders, not the horses!)

6:00 Mexican Fiesta farewell party (OH NO, is it already time to say goodbye?!)



Dressage tests in the morning, 12:00 walk jumping course with Phillip, and jumping tests start at noon.

Katchi has already conned my mom into much grass - and I think everyone at camp has already given him a treat! Total beggar!

I always find it difficult to write this blog when it includes news or stories or words of other people - I always hope it will be perceived right and that I won't cross any lines of "privacy" in this world of blogs, tweets, and facebook where there just is no privacy! I'm sure everyone reading this wants to know how TPF is doing after the fire... I'm not going to say much as I just don't think it's my place. But, looking around, you can't ignore that things have changed. For one... Boyd has got the spooky abandoned vet clinic stabling looking NICE! The place looks fantastic - so spic and span that I'm sure even Silva must be impressed by it! But, every so often you catch a whif of smoke from something recovered from the old barn. And then you notice something out of place for a normal barn - a table of flowers with cards and pictures of horses. A single large rosette hanging in the grooming area. Its long ribbon says - 2011 Rolex, 9th place... it's discolored and covered in ash. It broke my heart. Driving past the top entrance to TPF tonight, I caught a glimpse of the barn. I cannot put into words the magnitude of its presence. I lost my breathe for a moment.

So, that's today's news. Boot camp starts at 8:00 sharp tomorrow - so long as Phillip gets a BIG cup of coffee after his long drive!