Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marlborough Horse Trials

What a weekend!  The weather couldn't have been better; the footing was perfect; and Marlborough Horse Trials was glorious!  This was my first experience really being a part of the "behind the judges box and XC flags" team that puts on an event. Over the years, I've jump judged, scribed, ring stewarded - done all the critical jobs that let you show up, put in one heck of a long day, eat a free lunch, and go home.  As a new member of the Marlborough Horse Trials Board, I have a whole new appreciation for the incredible amount of work that goes into hosting an event.  Thankfully my job as Cross Country Chair let me do the bulk of my work over the past month, so when it came to showtime, I really enjoyed sitting back and watching it all fall into place!

The Beautiful Marlborough Horse Trials at Rosaryville Park.  Right to left - dressage rings, show jumping, and XC in the distance.

Golightly students Zoe Nardo on Rachel (just finishing their first Training level dressage test!), me, Kerry York and Atticus (who is finally able to RIDE her Training level dressage test and not just survive!) and Kirsten of Shear Convenience (braider extraordinaire!).

Show Jumping Field
Zoe & Kerry with Kirsten - while some horses get psyched up for jumping (Rachel), others take a power nap (Atticus)
The front pavilion field of the XC course.

I'm proud to report that Marlborough HT was not only a great event, but it was a great event for Golightly students too!  A huge congratulations to Kerry and Atticus for finishing 3rd in a very competitive Training level class!  And a big WOO HOO! to Zoe and Rachel who completed their first Training level event, without any drama (well, only a little drama in the last part of the dressage test, but at least it was only the last little bit that turned into "Rachel's dramatic interpretation of dressage"!!!).  WELL DONE LADIES!!!

The beautiful bank/hill combinations

Super cool volunteer hats this year!  Thanks Cosequin!  And a huge thanks to Patuxent Nursery for the amazing decorations found all over dressage, sj, and XC - fall is in the air!

When I agreed to serve as XC Chair, I thought the job description pretty much included one task: flag all jumps.  That didn't sound too hard.  What I've learned is: 1) it isn't easy; 2) a battery powered big screwdriver is your friend; 3) a truck full of volunteers is priceless; and 4) calculus did not prepare me for the complexities of counting from 1-20 (red flag, green flag, yellow flag, white flag... A,B,C, or one A and 2 Bs... and black flags too - I'm feeling there may be a Dr. Suess book in there someplace!).

And, sort of as a result of being the right/wrong person, in the right/wrong place, and the right/wrong time... my duties expanded in the matter of a moment when Roger Haller officially delegated responsibility for the Marlborough HT Introductory XC course design to me.  OH MY! My first chance to "design" a competition course... 10 jumps, max height 2'3".  The pressure was really on!  There was a bit of a pinch to find suitable obstacles, and Tyson Rementer (course builder) was so helpful in his creative use of logs luckily discovered here and there in the woods.  I would have liked to have done some things differently, and I hope I get the chance for a repeat design engagement next year - but the biggest thing I learned in course design this year: IF YOU THINK IT'S OBVIOUS WHAT A HORSE/RIDER WILL DO, IT'S NOT.  I've read countless accounts of Olympic riders "back in the day" who took it as a challenge to find clever (and ridiculous) short cuts (especially on roads and tracks) that the course designer had missed blocking off and that would give them seconds or minutes advantage.  I always laughed.  Until I watched the Intro horses ride on Sunday!!  Everything was going great, until I got back to the far field and realized that I had made a tiny error in judgement about 2 tiny gaps in the tree line.  Turned out, either one was usable both coming and going, and should the riders select the same path as one was coming and the other was going - agh!  Luckily, someone on our team had the foresight to recognize this little crink in my clever design plans and placed some galloping lane ropes around.  Mental note...  Intro horses and riders, not so much understand galloping lane ropes.  It was actually quite clever the way the navigated the ropes (a bit like a corn maze!), eventually found their way to the next jump from an entirely different direction than I had intended, and all riders safely avoided running into each other!  I've already made a note for improvements there next year!!!

Like any good "course designer", I was very excited to see how my course rode - did my 10 little jumps challenge in the right ways; did they reward in the right ways?  So, I headed out with my video camera to see how everything rode - and now, for all those who think you might consider entering Intro level next year at Marlborough Horse Trials...  here's a little taste of what to expect -

And now for some real fun - my friend and fellow Board member, Diane Zrimsek aboard Lincoln, got a great helmet cam of the Training level course (and Diane came home with a pretty red ribbon at the end of the day - woo hoo!):

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

For pretty much having come to terms with letting the fall event season go, I sure have found myself busy the past few weeks!  Katchi is doing absolutely fabulous, and we finally made it to our 3rd jumping lesson with Phillip for 2012!!  Phillip definitely had his hands full polishing off our rust, but we ended well and I feel like we're just about back on track.  I'm already eyeing a few more jumper shows for this fall.  And I was extra fortunate to have a camera crew along for Phillip day, so I've got pictures to share (THANK YOU Sharon!!!).

Kerry & Atticus getting ready to be Duttonized!!

Kerry & Atticus storming through the water - no more water "issues" !
Katchi & me - VERY happy pony to be out of the show jumping ring and jumping some proper fences!!!
And I even have a video clip too!  Katchi and I were both a bit keen going XC, and you can hear Phillip saying, "slow down, slow down" - this was after we'd already zoomed around the course once apparently a bit too aggressively!

And while Katchi didn't make it to Seneca Valley PC Horse Trial this fall, I had a wonderful day coaching, catching up with friends, and enjoying their lovely event!  Kerry had a wonderful day finishing in 6th with one of her best XC rides to date and just one rail in show jumping - on a course that was plagued with rails falling all over the place!  It's going to be a great fall season for these two!

And I had the privilege of watching the lovely pair of Anna and Abe complete what will likely be their final event together.  I met Anna about 10 years ago when she was riding a little pony in group lessons -- I would have been there the first time she saw Abe for sale, except I was stuck in a total shut down of I-70!!  I rode Abe around his first "cross country" course at Full Moon Farm just to be sure that WILD OTTB wouldn't run off with his little girl.  And over the years, I've watched Anna and Abe grow up together - and her family has taken me in for more than a few holiday meals!  As Anna prepares to leave for two years with the Peace Corps in Africa and 18 year old Abe prepares for semi-retirement, it was such a hi-light to my year to watch Anna and Abe earn a 2nd place Training level ribbon at their final event.  And check out the awesome comment she got from her dressage judge "I loved the correctness of your training."  What a compliment!!!  Congratulations!!!

Meanwhile, my juggling act continues with the upcoming Marlborough Horse Trials!  Last winter, after a morning at riding Phillip's and teaching a afternoon lessons, I was handed a beer... then another... and then I was propositioned.  "Will you join the Marlborough Horse Trials Board" ... and I said Yes!  I'm that easy.  After taking the USEA course design training a couple of years ago, I have really wanted to find an opportunity to get more involved in the course design side of eventing, and it seems I found my "in"!  As the new Cross Country Co-Chair, my spare time has been more than filled the past few weeks unscrewing and screwing numbers onto posts, learning about installing safety flags, clearing sticks, clipping limbs, and I was delegated the "authority" to create the Intro course this year.  It's been great fun getting a glimpse into how experts like Roger Haller and Tyson Rementer work their magic, but wow - what a lot of work!  I will never look at a XC flag in quite the same way.  It's not just insanity in the middle. Those flags are insane too.