Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Plan, Re-plan, and Plan Again

I'm a planner. I don't cope well when plans change. But, with horses, that's what planning is - it's planning to be ready to change your plan! Ugh.

The past couple of weeks have been such a flurry of changing plans that I can hardly keep up! Katchi came back into work after his short summer vacation, only to promptly come down with cellulitus. Luckily, I figured out the culprit very quickly and had him on antibiotics before things got out of hand. But, it still meant 5 more days out of work, followed by a few light days of work to be sure we were in the clear. And then the hurricane blew in. More changes in plans. In the past 10 days, Katchi extended his vacation to miss 2 jump schools, 2 fitness days, and generally worry me to death. He also missed his "pre-fall season" vet check-up to be sure his joints are all in working order and get approved to charge into the fall season. While he's technically still entered to run Prelim at Seneca this Saturday, it's been a less than ideal lead-up, and I'm feeling under-prepared and a very worried mom.

So, tomorrow, we ride with Phillip. And I was able to just squeeze Katchi in for a make-up vet appointment on Friday. As terribly disappointed as I am, I think I will have to let Seneca go. If the vet says Katchi's 100%, all systems go, then we run. But, I have a fall season to conquer still, so if it needs to start 2 weeks later at Marlborough, that's okay. We'll adjust. Ugh.

As I was torturing myself today, thinking 'do I run' - 'don't I run' - I started thinking about how the top riders go through this over and over again in the weeks leading up to Rolex, Badminton, Burghley, or any other big event. How horrible that must be. It's a weird thing, this sport we have and our relationship with our horses. To scratch, in some ways, feels like we've given up before even trying. If I was the only athlete in this game, I'd give it a try and see how I feel. I wouldn't give up on my goal until I'd tried my hardest and just couldn't pull through. But, adding a horse (that you LOVE and would do anything for, and who trusts you with everything he's got) into the equation complicates things. While we listen to everything our horses say, they don't always say what they should. So, sometimes we walk away from goals to be safe and fair to our horses - to save them for the long run. Wow, is that ever a painfully hard decision.

So, maybe we'll see you at Seneca, maybe we won't. But, we'll see you soon - and we'll have fire in our eyes and big goals to conquer, that I can guarantee you!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cross Country Camry

My Camry didn't come with the towing package. It didn't come with a sticker on it's side that says "off road" either. But, today, it was the Cross Country Camry. It went all over Waredaca's Cross Country course and it didn't refuse, run out, or eject me! Good Camry!

With Katchi not competing this month, I decided to sign up to volunteer at Waredaca today. Of course, it's a good thing to do for our sport - but I also needed to get my required volunteer hours done for the Area II Year End Awards (have you signed up yet?!). But, aside from that, volunteering is a great opportunity to learn (or remember!) stuff about eventing. Here's 3 things I remembered today while jump judging...

1. Running an event is incredibly hard and complex! All of us riders who LOVE this sport should be seriously thankful for everything done for us by event organizers, officials, volunteer coordinators, jump builders, and everyone I don't even know exists!

2. If you have been eliminated, it sucks. But it's not okay to be walking off the course and give your horse one more smack with the bat - or two. Let me repeat, Not Okay.

3. Your horse can jump from a standstill, so long as the jump is less than 12 inches high (I looked it up in the rulebook tonight, and it actually says 30 centimeters, which according to the internet is 11.8 inches, but anyhow..) - interestingly, apparently the small log into the water for (I think) the Novice course was 11 inches high, making it perfectly legal to stop and step over it from a standstill. Do you carry your 12" ruler in your pocket when you walk your courses?! :)

So, here are some pics of the Cross Country Camry hard at work!

Manning its field.

A careful eye on the Intermediate 1/2 Coffin.

The Training swail.

Oh yea, and it rained too - in August - so much for the tan I was planning to get during my day of jump judging.

Now lets talk Trakehners for a minute. Here are Waredaca's Prelim and Intermediate Trakehners. If we were to play a little game of which one is more like the horrible evil Prelim Trakehner at Loch Moy, which one would win?

Prelim Trakehner -

1. Nice solid ground line (nope, not at Loch Moy!)

2. Ditch underneath (yep, Loch Moy too - oh, but, Loch Moy's is about twice as deep and twice as wide).

3. Pretty minimal space between ditch and rail.

Intermediate Trakehner -

1. No groundline.

2. Huge ditch.

3. Freaking enormous.

4. Shit, this one's even the same color as Loch Moy's!

My conclusion: Loch Moy Prelim Trakehner = Waredaca Intermediate Trakehner.

Well, the good news is, when Katchi runs Intermediate at Waredaca, I can pretty much tell him to suck it up and jump the Trakehner, because he jumped one just as hard at his first Prelim!!!

If the weather holds tomorrow, I've got 4 headed back out to Win Green for another day of XC schooling - I really should buy a time share down there!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Prelim Photo Montage

I HAVE PHOTOS!! I LOVE PHOTOS!! My package from GRC Photo arrived today with their new very cool thumbdrives in a wooden case engraved with my name, Katchi's name, and Maryland Horse Trials - and on that wooden thumbdrive are 113 pieces of photographic evidence that Katchi completed his first Prelim horse trial! So, here's a mini-montage of some of my favorite moments captured on film! It is sort of sad though how pictures just don't do the jumps justice. I keep wondering at what point I'll feel like the jumps in the pictures actually look as HUGE as they seem in person?? Cuz let me tell you, some of these jumps are BIG - I was just sure they'd look like Rolex jumps in the photos! Oh well, they aren't exactly twigs on the ground!

Katchi in his winning dressage test!

Um, yea, this one wasn't part of the plan. That might be "SHIT" coming out of my mouth! Poor Katchi, I put him where he just couldn't do it for me.

That's okay - I got it right the next time around, and Katchi soared! And it wasn't even a helicopter - it was just huge!!


Run Katchi Run!

Take note of the red number above the green number - that's means we shared this HUGE table with the Intermediate course! I think Katchi might be looking down, thinking "how freaking far out does this thing go, mom?!?"

Big Freakin' Table!

Outta da' water!

And over da' house!

And even a water to water!

Oh, I love these pictures!!! Thanks so much to GRC for capturing my memories forever!

In other news... last weekend was full of dressage! Katchi and I were able to get our first dressage lesson with Silva Martin in ages, and Katchi was a star! Silva rode him for quite a while, and he was dead pooped by the time she turned him over to me! But, oh, didn't he feel lovely after she worked her magic! Kerry and Atticus also came along and had a stunning lesson - I'm still in awe with how much they have improved in the brief 1.5 years since we first met. Last weekend, I also had the great privilege of sitting on my good friend Eeyore for the first time! I think one of the most rewarding parts about riding is helping a horse to see that first glimmer of light about connection, forward, and relaxation - I think Eeyore got a good glimpse of his future, and he felt stunning! Watch out folks - he's gonna knock your socks off very soon! AND, lastly, a HUGE congrats to Karrie and Baggio who survived their first dressage show together (PVDA at CDI) - they scored in the 60s in both their tests, with Karrie making a solid 5 point improvement between tests. As a coach, it's absolutely fabulous when a student listens carefully to your thoughts, makes the changes, and reaps the benefits!

August continues to be a month of refocus and re-invigoration for me - Katchi has enjoyed 4 days vacation (part of a promised week-long vacation that will end prematurely tomorrow as he's getting into WAY too much trouble being too fit and too bored) - and I've been taking some time to ramp up my fitness work and refocus my mind in hope of taking on the fall season with full power. If anyone is looking for a rider-focused fitness regime, give Debbie Rodriquez' DVDs a go - she'll hurt you - seriously!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cupcakes, Beer, & A Gag Bit

I bring news of victory! The gag bit succumbed to my pliers. But it did not give up easily - it took me over an hour of carefully applied torture by plier before those cheekpieces admitted defeat! Seriously, gag cheekpieces should come with some sort of consumer warning about risk of injury or death. No joke.

But, it was not in vain! On Sunday, Katchi and I took 3 others out to Win Green for an absolutely beautiful day of XC schooling. And Eeyore got to try out the new gag bit - and there is strong evidence that he likes it! At least, he had a fantastic day of schooling in it, so that's a start! And his mom brought be a big ol' beer for my troubles!

Eeyore & Susan at MDHT II - after he enjoyed a little extra distance on the course! :)

I cannot put into words just how much I love going to Win Green! It is Disneyland for baby eventers (and big eventers too!). I am in absolute awe of the puzzles that Leslie has put into action at her farm. And all 4 ponies were fantastic in her puzzles! Katchi was a bit bored, as he was only there to pop over some ditches and into the water (and get a few reminder wacks about the "look AND jump" rule). But he was a good sport. Karrie and Baggio made their first real XC voyage and wow did they impress! As we were just about finished, I asked Karrie if there was anything else she wanted to do - she said, "I'm feeling brave, challenge me!" That from the girl who 2 hours before was happy to have trotted around the big field and still be alive! And Eeyore, sporting his fancy gag bit, was perhaps the bravest of all! He's right on the cusp of figuring out that XC is just about the most fun any horse could ever wish for - and what fun it is to watch his eyes and ears (big floppy Eeyore ears!) as he sees how amazing life can be! I'm actually not sure who was wearing the bigger smile - Eeyore or Susan! And then there was Lincoln - don't be mistaken, he is the President! He took on the big boy challenges one by one and said - is that all you got?!

And to end an absolutely lovely day in the XC field - we sat around in the shade for a bit, talkig horses, and enjoying cupcakes and beer! Is there any better summer day possible?! Cupcakes, beer, and a gag bit!