Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seriously, how big was it??

My mom loves to tell people how Mike Huber said to me over and over again, "Well, you found another way to get eliminated."  I know she's exaggerating, because I was only eliminated a few times (now I did find a lot of ways to lose out on a ribbon!).  Sadly, my eliminations had no plot twists - the same horse, at the same jump (water), that the Area V course designers so creatively always put in the same place on course (second to last).  But, at Fair Hill this weekend, I got to say to poor Kerry, "Well, you found another way to get eliminated - and it's a way I didn't even know was possible!".  So, this post is for Kerry - not to scold or humiliate - but to take at least 50% of the blame for her elimination!  Coach FAIL.  Rider WIN.

This was Kerry's third time running Training level, and it was meant to be redemption.  Her first run was at Fair Hill in April, and Atticus' eyes just about popped out of his head.  In bitter cold rain, Kerry was galloping him at the largest things he'd ever seen - not that he hadn't seen them before - but he hadn't seen so many of them, one after the other, and did I mention the rain?!  She rode her tail off, completing the course, but having 1 stop at 4 separate fences added up to elimination.  Right after, Atticus went to Lucinda Green boot camp and Kerry came home with a new pair of HUGE spurs.  Lucinda told Kerry she would have to be the brave one for a while.  And the spurs would help.  And they did - Kerry brought home a double clear XC at MCTA.  So now it was back to Fair Hill for a do-over.

But, this time, it was an absolutely brilliant moment in show jumping that created a total snafu in the day's plan.  Kerry and I walked show jumping prior to the start of Intermediate - I'm not sure there were any course maps posted at the time; neither of us saw them.  Near the end of the course, there was an in-and-out down the middle of the ring.  While the final line was a quick turn to the right, the course actually made a roll-back turn to the left to jump a Swedish Oxer before heading towards home and the final line.  Kerry and I discussed how easy it would be to forget that Swedish, and we both said over and over - don't forget the Swedish. Don't. Forget. The. Swedish.

Kerry was the second to show jump at Training level.  We weren't able to walk the course again after the re-set as she needed to be warming up.  We noted the triple was now a double.  Everything else looked the same.  I walked up the hill to be ready to video.  Kerry stood at the in-gate to watch the ride before her.  The girl jumps the first in-and-out, and turns right, skipping the Swedish and heading for the final line - OH CRAP - see, I knew it would be easy to...  Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.  That Swedish is still set at Intermediate height - it's off the course, it's off the course!  I run down the hill yelling at Kerry.
Kerry:  "I got it.  I know."
Me: "You know?"
Kerry: "Yea, I know.  I'm okay"
Me: "Okay, she's got it, she's okay"
Total. Miss. Communication.

Kerry comes out of the in-and-out, and turns left.  OH MY GOD.  All I could stammer out in a whisper was, "she's not okay, she's not okay, she's not okay."  And then Kerry York on Atticus the superstar jumped that Intermediate Swedish Oxer like they had wings.  It was magnificent.  And I didn't know whether to cheer, pass out, cry, yell...

And then the judge blew the whistle.  Elimination.  Deviation from course.  Jumping an obstacle not marked as part of the course.  I pleaded, I begged - I said, but didn't you see how nice the jump was?  Can't you just give her a refusal for crossing her path and forget it even happened?!  No such luck.

Kerry had no idea what happened.  Her mom had to break the news to her while I consulted with the judge and TD.  All she could say was - "I thought it felt big in the air".  When she asked me just how big it was, I refused to answer, but I said - "lets put it this way, if he even hints he's going to whine about one of those Training level galloping fences, you tell him to stuff it - he he just jumped that Intermediate Swedish Oxer and there will be no more whining at Training level!"  The TD graciously allowed Kerry to run XC, and run they did!!

By way of the rulebook, I feel I need to speak out.  The TD was correct - the rulebook is clear - Kerry (and I as her coach) made a mistake; she deviated from the course and jumped an unmarked obstacle; this requires elimination.  He was also right - we should have checked the course map (is there EVER an accurate map at show jumping??) But, fair enough, it was our responsibility.  But, when I asked him why the jump wasn't crossed off (the judge and ring crew had already told me they tried to cross it off, but the TD had specifically told them to leave the jump in place, set for Intermediate, without crossing it off), he indicated that the rulebook did not call for unmarked jumps to be crossed off and that actually, recently, (and I can't remember his exact words), it's a trend or common or encouraged... to have obstacles (jumps) in the ring that are not on the course.  I asked if that was to make our show jumping more in line with jumper shows, where courses change every class and riders have to navigate between and around jumps, only jumping the ones designated for their course.  He agreed.  Interesting, I thought.  Until I came home and read the rulebook.


"Obstacles not included in the course should be crossed but failure to do so by the arena party will not preclude the elimination of a competitor for jumping an obstacle not forming part of the course."

To me, this says that every effort should be made to cross them off - but if someone forgets, this does not become an excuse for a rider to protest their elimination - they still deviated from the course and will be eliminated.  But, this statement clearly DOES NOT encourage nor permit the willful, purposeful, and intentional inclusion of jumps in the arena that are not crossed off (especially when set for two levels above the competing class).  Had the jump been crossed off, Kerry would have come around to it, realized our mistake, ridden past it, received a refusal for crossing her path, and carried on to complete the event.  Instead, she was eliminated and told she could have received a citation for dangerous riding (which very thankfully, she did not - can a coach receive a "dangerous coaching" citation??).  Jeeze.

At the end of the day, Kerry said to me, "I've never had so much fun getting eliminated."  And the wonderful thing is that Atticus has no idea what the scoreboard said - to him, and to me, and most certainly to Kerry - that horse is a superstar!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ignorance is Bliss. Knowledge is Power.

Mary Wanless.  Have you heard of her? Do you know her books?  I didn't either until about a year ago when a reader of this blog tuned me into her.  And I will be forever grateful. 

In November, I audited a clinic with Mary - read my blog post here - and I was stunned.  In a turn of fate, with Katchi off the horse trial circuit for the moment, I had the tremendous good fortune to ride with Mary for three days this past weekend at Great Strides in Damascus, MD.  But, I'm sort of at a loss for words to describe the clinic.  Was it amazing?  Oh yes.  Was it shocking?  Oh yes.  Was it exhausting?  wait, what, I think I nodded off for a moment.  I actually think I'm a bit on sensory overload.  In the course of three days, I've felt it all:
Anticipation of a miracle.
Surprise at what I can't feel.
Pride at what I can feel.
Awkward in my reshaped body.
Grateful for the patience of those with wisdom.
Determined to make a change.
Pain in places I didn't know could hurt.
Confusion over what I might feel or don't think I can feel or ... can't someone just tell me the right answer?!
Elation.  Has a horse ever felt so amazing?  Now I know I've felt a glimmer of the centaur Denny Emerson says we should strive to become.

But how do I explain the magic of Mary?  I don't think I can.  It was that special.  No two people will ever have the same lesson with Mary.  It's not only about individual corrections and needs, it's also about the individual mind.  How I understand and perceive something may be entirely different from the way you understand and perceive what presumably is the exact same thing.  And Mary gets this.  Katchi and I (mostly I) have loads of homework to do, but if I can keep it together, we may well have some seriously stunning dressage scores in our future!  So, go buy a Mary Wanless book, seek her out on you tube - it won't be easy, it may even hurt, but if you want to be a centaur, she will change everything for you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rolex (Shopping!) Photo Recap

Finally!  The much awaited Rolex post!!!  Sorry for the delay - sometimes technology is not your friend.  Thank you Blogger for upgrading yourself right out of my technological capabilities.  Took me a few days to get the hamsters in my computer realigned.  But, nevertheless, I have pictures and a full Rolex shopping report to share!!!

This was only my second ever trip to Rolex.  My mom and I went to WEG in 2010, and I kept telling her - WEG is great, but Rolex is all about eventers!  My mom didn't quite understand, but when tickets went on sale for this year's Rolex, I convinced her we should make the trip.  About 4 hours into our first day there, I said to her "You pretty much LOVE Rolex, don't you?"  And what did she say??  "I SO LOVE Rolex!"  And as we left the KHP on Sunday afternoon, the truck full of goodies, she said "I hope I live long enough to come back to Rolex."  I think I'll have to be sure that happens!

Of course, everyone reading this already knows the results.  You know who sucked at dressage, you know who fell off in the water, and you know who won!  But, what you don't know that I'm sure you're all dying to know is....  what did I (my mom!) buy at Rolex?!?!  What were the best deals?  What was the most exciting new thing that I just had to have (for my horse's most basic needs, of course!!)?

Pretty much - my Rolex shopping was all about BOOTS!  I've had a really hard time with boots the past few years, so mom and I went with the mission of sorting out a long term boot solution.  And we may have gone a bit crazy.  In 3 months, I will have a lovely pair of black classic beautiful dress boots arrive from La Mundial Custom Boots.  With great luck, while my mom and I were agonizing over the details of said classic (read: should be very simple) boots - zippers, soles, spur rests, decorative details - my old coach from Texas, Mike Huber, turned up at the boot store and as if I was still a young rider carefully tucked under Mike's wing...  I said, Mike, HELP ME PICK OUT MY BOOTS!  And he did.  Bless him.  And then I said - wait, no girl can have just 1 pair of boots!  So we picked out another pair for home and lessons and clinics...  and, oh won't brown with black piping look so lovely!  Mike convinced me to get a fancy curvy zipper and I'm even having my initials stitched on the back.  Fun!!!  I'm in love with them already, and I won't get to meet them until the summer is almost over!

And then boot shopping got really really fun when I won a raffle!!!!   And now I'm the proud owner of RED - and this is serious shiny fire engine red - paddock boots and half chaps.  THANK YOU Dublin boots!  It will take me a bit to get them broken in, but then I am going to be THAT GIRL IN THOSE SHINY RED BOOTS!!!!  I'm imagining a red polo, black belt, white pants, and RED boots!!!  HOT!  But not at a lesson with Jim Wofford.  These are definitely not Jimmy-approved boots.  Although, he hasn't had a heart attack over Sharon White's ORANGE get-up yet... I don't want to tempt fate.  Although my mom already asked Phillip if he would send me away from a lesson if I showed up in RED boots - and he said no!  Yeah for Phillip!  Woo Hoo for RED boots!!  Check out the Dublin website here - you too could have a pair of RED boots and we could be twins!! :)

And the best t-shirt award goes to Bit of Britain.  I'm not sure whether #2 or #3 is my favorite. Maybe #2 is mine and #3 is Katchi's!

The best deal of the weekend had to go to the clearance store selling beautiful Anky designed shirts and jackets and even show shirts - all for $5.95 each.  Now that's a deal!  Katchi got himself a bucket of treats and a beautiful new leather show halter AND new super padded stall mats from Equilite Mats. My mom and I got them all set up in Katchi's stall and I think he loves them - he laid out flat to sleep last night, and he never does that!

Rolex is pretty much like going on the Hajj to Eventing Mecca.  Everyone is there.  And what good fun to run into an old pony club friend from Texas - who I must not have seen for 15 years!!!  Yet, so many years later, Joanne Cheville Redmond and I are still horse crazed little girls!!

Not only did I get help with my boot selection from Mike Huber, I also was so lucky to be able to walk the course with him and Heather Morris on Friday afternoon - along with a whole gang of Heather's fans from Texas and California.  Mike, being the head US Olympic Team selector, had some very interesting insights into the course, expectations, and the team selection process.  His key point: Rolex is only one of many selection trials, and the selectors have a very tough job ahead of them (which is very very exciting for Team USA)!

Heather's dog took quite a leap off the squirrel log!  Too bad I missed getting this into the Eventing Nation Rolex dog photo contest!!

And now a few cool XC pictures - Will Coleman and Twizzle up the bank, and William Foxpitt and Parklane Hawk bounce over the rail.

Where's Waldo?  Er, I mean, my mom??  Wondering why fence 9 (the coffin) caused so much trouble?  While 9A and 9B had their fair share of victims, 9C was brutal.  We spent the better part of the day about 30 feet from it, and while it looked impressive, didn't look THAT impressive.  But, when we walked up to it - Holy Cats!!!  I don't think it could have gotten any skinnier, taller, or furrier!  When my mom walked around to the back side - she became nothing but a green hat and sunglasses rims (as documented in the picture below - can you find her in all that brush?!).  And we especially loved the teeny tiny single red flower at the base - I'm sure more than a few riders took a glance at that pretty red flower as their horse scooted right on past.  Wow.  Now that's a 4* question.

 And one final very exciting bit of news - yesterday, Katchi and I went up to Phillip Dutton's for our first jumping lesson with him since December!  WOO HOO!  Phillip kept everything to no more than 3' but Katchi was jumping like a star and we had SO MUCH FUN!  After our lesson, Katchi didn't feel too tired, so we went up and puddled through the water jump and went for a few spins around Phillip's gallop track.  SO SO happy to be playing again!