Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rolex 2011: Cross Country Day!

We schlepped 900 miles yesterday, leaving Rhode Island at 5:30am and making it to Lexington, KY at 7:45. We got here before the sun even set! Not a bad trip!

We woke up before the alarm went off because we were SO excited! We may be a quadruple of hunt seat riders but I am pretty sure after today we will be dreaming of XC courses only.

The weather forecast called for sunny skies, temps in the mid-70's, and a slight breeze. Mother Nature treated us well today and the weather was PERFECT.

And now, the photos!

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential

Martha McDowell on Gaelic Marriage

Lainey Ashker on Anthony Patch

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master

Tiana Coudray on Ringwood Magister, who later was eliminated after a fall :(

Oliver Townend on ODT Sonas Rovatio

Clayton Fredericks with Be My Guest

Kristi Nunnink and R-Star, who had no idea they were heading toward a scary fall.

R-Star hangs a leg :(

R-Star flips over after hanging a leg over the corner jump.

R-Star and rider Kristi Nunnink land hard.

The vet rushed right out to the horse and the medics were called for Kristi.

R-Star appeared to be ok and was walked off the course. Kristi was provided with a plastic tarp for some privacy while she was evaluated by medics, and then she was transported off the course.

Hamish Cargill and Sandhills Tiger thundered by after being held on course for quite a while when Kristi fell.
(and I would just like to take this time to say that Hamish is CUTE and he is a great rider and he has a kick-@ss horse)

Allison Springer on Destination Known, who I believe were later eliminated.

James Alliston on Jumbo's Jake

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential

Jessica Phoenix and Exponential

William Fox-Pitt and Neuf Des Coeurs, the last pair of the day

We are going mechanical bull riding tonight! I can't wait! I figure I have some pretty good real-life practice with Lucy so I may just have a chance to do well...wish us luck!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Article about Lucy and I

Off-Track Thoroughbreds' author Susan Salk has published the most wonderful article about Lucy and I. Here's the link to it, and if you have an OTTB and would like to share your story, Susan is always looking for new subjects to write about! :)

My preparations for Rolex are winding down, meaning I have spent all afternoon zipping around town running errands, after a full day at work and then going to do Lucy's stall. Did I mention that we have had super high winds and terrible rain all day? That's what we get for enjoying those lovely warm days earlier in the week, I guess!

Tomorrow is Lucy's last day of GastroGard and my wonderful leaser is going to give it to L, but I thought I'd get some video to show just how awesome she is about the medicine. Battling with her daily would have not been fun and I am so thankful that she is tolerant of daily medicine administration. I think this is a trait of OTTB's because they are constantly being poked and prodded at the track. From day 1 Lu has been fantastic about receiving any veterinary attention, and she happily gobbles down powdered bute when it's necessary in her grain (along with any vitamins or other supplements). Just another reason to love these Thoroughbreds!

Here's the video (and please ignore my wild hair):


If you watched the video that I posted yesterday, you probably saw Lucy's new fun game: switching her lead as an evasion.

Let's review a brief history of Lucy's evasions:

1. Running around like a giraffe with her head in the air and singing "Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" to herself constantly.

2. Grabbing the bit and going for it (this was built on evasion #1).

3. Leaping through the air like a Lipizzaner.

4. Bucking.

5. Standing in one place no matter how hard I kicked her (and I was NOT nice about it).

6. Standing in one place and kicking out every time I urged her forward.

7. Rearing (this lasted two short days because there was NO delay in swift and severe punishment for this behaviour, AKA, she got her little dappled heinie kicked).

8. And most recently, the swapping of leads.

You may think, "Wow, how wonderful! A horse with a built-in lead change!" and yes, it is quite wonderful, but not when I am trying to do everything humanly possible to prevent her from swapping her lead, i.e. bend her around my inside leg, block her outside shoulder with my outside rein/leg so that she can't pop it out and change her lead, etc. Despite all of that, my athletic-to-a-fault little mare still manages to do the most even and perfect flying lead change, and around a corner no less.

My instructor watched this happen in our lesson four times. The first time I took the blame. "Well that was totally my fault; I had a half-ass bend going on and I probably wasn't even supporting at all on the outside." He just replied, "well fix it!" and then he coached me through it. So we picked up the canter again and wham, she did it a second time. This time I got mad. I didn't want to be asking her for a flying lead change at this point in her training, so I had to bring her down to a trot, and then I had to spend time getting her balanced again, and then I could ask her to pick up the canter. It just took so LONG that by the time we were cantering again, she had already finished celebrating her victory *and* planned her next move. I said this to my instructor and he assured me that she hadn't won because she was still moving forward, but I know the way the female brain works and she had totally won.

I was screwed before I even picked up the third canter, and once again, she did it. Now we were just trying to get once around the ring at the canter without any changes so that I can ask her for a trot transition on MY terms, and not because she's popped her lead. It took four canters to do this, and she was absolutely tickled pink with herself. So crafty, so clever, SO INFURIATING.

And don't doubt that as soon as I master this evasion, she will come up with another one. It's just the way it goes with this horse!! I can't say I'm excited to discover what new fun games she devises, either...

But yes, when we eventually do start schooling changes, I am confident it will be a breeze.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rolex preparations

I am working on uploading video from my ride yesterday but in the mean time, I thought I would discuss my Rolex preparations. I am stuck at work until tomorrow afternoon but we are leaving bright and early at 5am on Friday and driving straight through to Kentucky. It is about 650 miles and we are guesstimating around 13 hours of driving, plus or minus depending on traffic.

Today I prepared all of Lucy's things for my absence. Since I rough board, going away means that someone else has to take on all of Lucy's chores. Kenny has volunteered to do some of it and my barn owner will do the rest, and the same for Claire's horse Boe.

Whenever I go away I try my best to make caring for my horse as easy as possible for whomever is helping me. I rationed out all of her grain today and put it in gallon-sized ziploc bags so they are ready to dump into her bucket. I also wrote out all the details of our trip for my BO so he knows exactly when we're leaving and returning. I threw down extra hay from the hay loft for Lucy so that he doesn't have to worry about any of that, and I bleached her buckets so that they'll stay cleaner easier. I refilled her fly spray container and built up the banks in her stall with extra bedding so he won't have to add any more.

I also called my vet and let them know I'd be out of town, and told them Kenny and my BO have permission to make decisions for Lucy if they can't get in touch with me. I did the same when Kenny and I went on our honeymoon last October. Having Lucy insured gives me peace of mind and I had a discussion with my BO to outline what I would want her treated for (colic, even if surgery was needed) vs what I would want her put down for (any broken bones in legs or other major injuries with little chance of recovery). It wasn't a very pleasant conversation but I felt it was necessary to be on the same page as it wouldn't be fair to him or the horse to leave them hanging and not able to get in contact with me if a serious crisis arose.

As for ME, I am readying my camera equipment by going through all of my lenses and making sure they're in good working order and clean. I recharged my extra batteries and dug out my waterproof sleeve in case it pours so that my camera and lense will be protected.

I still have no idea what to pack so I think I will just pack everything (typical, huh?!). I really need a pair of Wellington boots, especially since KY has gotten so much rain and the XC course is rumoured to be a mud pit right now, and I went to Dover today and drooled over the Hunter boots but I simply canNOT bring myself to spend $110 on a pair of boots. Sigh. I really want some, though.

I think that about covers it; there's really nothing else I can do that I can think of!

And now that my video is done processing, here it is:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

photos from today's lesson

Happy :)

"Good girl, Lu."

exciting news

I have mentioned here that I will be traveling to Rolex Kentucky this weekend. I am SO excited! But what I haven't revealed until today is that I will be a part of the Social Media Crew for ECOGOLD, a company that is sponsoring a few of the riders. Let's just say this week at work is going VERY slowly for me because I cannot wait to get out of here! ECOGOLD has a website, a blog, and a Facebook - check them out!

Here's the blog post that introduces me along with some of the other members of the SMC :)

In other exciting news, I am going to be interviewed today for Off-Track Thoroughbreds, which is a fantastic blog that is devoted to promoting OTTB's through sharing stories of success. I read through about five pages of stories that are already on there last night to get a feel for the kind of information they are looking for, because I was worried that Lucy hasn't officially shown yet. However, I reasoned with myself that "success" is not all about ribbons. So far with Lucy I have had many successes, and though none of them have included beating the socks off the fancy warmbloods *YET*, they are equally as important. I think the most challenging but worthwhile one was getting her healthy and feeling better. I will post the link here when the interview is published! I told Lucy about it and she was like, "Well DUH mom, of course I'm famous." And then she demanded an apple. What a piece of work that horse is!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reflections on yesterday

My saddle was my main concern last night. It was soaked with salt water and covered in sand. When I took a good look at it once I was at home, I kind of wanted to cry. My lovely Stubben looked like crap.

Last night was like a spa night for the saddle to make up for almost sinking it in a watery grave. I first loaded up a soft sponge with a lot of Tattersall soap and went to town on every square inch of the saddle, including under the flaps, the panels, the billets, and of course the seat. I wiped the soap off and repeated that process to make sure I got all the salt off. While the leather was still a bit damp, I coated it in Stubben's magical Hamanol. I had surveyed all of my various leather care products to plan my attack, and I decided that was probably the best bet. I let the saddle sit and soak in the Hamanol all night and this morning when I got up for work, I breathed a sigh of relief because it looked like new. Not only that, but it got a bit darker from the whole ordeal, which is an unexpected but welcome result!

This morning, I checked on Lucy before work. She was covered from ears to tail in mud, she had a smug look on her little face and overall she seemed just fine. I made sure she had enough bug spray on and put her fly mask on so she'd be protected from the bugs, which are already horrible this year, probably no thanks to all of the rain that we had this spring.

I am quite sore today but then again my horse did basically sit on my head.

My camera is still in the bag of rice. If that ever works again it will be a miracle, but I am not going to lose hope ;)

This week is going to fly by because on Friday at 5am we are leaving for Rolex! I am very much looking forward to a little vacation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the funny thing about swans

Claire on Boe, and me on Lucy

Today was the trip to Goddard Park, which is a state park about six miles from the barn. It is a beautiful park with perfectly groomed wide trails, a ring with grass footing, and a beach you can ride on. Claire has a gorgeous new trailer but no truck, and we have a gorgeous new truck but no trailer, so we got very excited when we figured out that together, we had what we needed for an off-farm adventure!

The weather today was absolutely perfect: high 60's, bright clear sunny sky, and we were both really excited to go. The trailer was hitched up without an issue, the horses both loaded well, and we made our way to the park and unloaded them without any problems (YAY OTTB'S!).

Lucy, bless her little GastroGarded soul, was AWESOME. She looked around at everything but not once did she give off the "I'm a freak!" vibe. I lunged her in the little ring that's at the trail head just to be safe, and she didn't even want to canter! She just wanted to trot around and check everything out. I felt totally safe getting on her, and she calmly followed Claire's horse Boe out onto the trail.

And that's how she behaved for the rest of the ride. In fact, I felt good enough to give her some decent time on the buckle, which she gladly accepted. She kept breathing these huge sighs and just seemed really happy!

There is a beach area on this trail and Claire and I were both very excited to ride in the water. Boe had never been to the beach before, but Lucy went in the water last year and loved it, so I was hoping she would be excited to get back in it this year...and she was! She wanted to go deeper and deeper and I had to actually steer her back to the beach to stop her from getting all of my tack wet (this becomes funny later on).

There was a random man with his grandchildren on the beach and he had a Nikon D3 (a very nice camera) and he was snapping away and taking lots of photos of us, so I asked him if he'd email some of the photos to us, and he said he'd love to! Thank you so much if you're reading this, I really appreciate it!

He photographed us walking and trotting in the water, and I also had my compact Nikon camera with me, and I asked some random woman on the beach to take some pictures with it of Claire and I, which she was happy to do. Thank you random woman!

So everything was going smoothly, and we were making our way back to the trail after spending about 20 minutes on the beach. There were a pair of swans right at the water's edge and I tried to give them a wide berth but they chose to expand into horse-eating *flying* swans right as Lucy was coming up on them. She spooked and tried to spin but because she was in about a foot of water, she couldn't get organized enough and the water made it difficult for her. She FELL OVER in the water, which of course meant that I, along with my cute little Nikon digicam, also went into the water. God it was embarassing! It was scary for a moment because I bailed off her left side, and she kept falling and actually fell on top of me but because she was in the water she didn't squish me. She tried to get up several times and kept falling back down on me and I was just trying to get out of her way. At this point we were in water up to my waist, but it was very scary to be pinned under her. I found myself thinking, why does this shit always happen to me?! Anyway, she finally got her feet under herself and stood up, and we both kind of stood there for a minute looking at each other. She looked very sheepish. She had completely forgotten about the swans, given that she was convinced that she almost just drowned. I was like, "Well you shouldn't have been such a moron, Lucy. The funny thing about swans is that they sometimes fly."

And of course, my camera was soaking wet :(

We walked back onto the beach, where literally 50 people were all staring at us. Some people came up to me to make sure I was ok, and I assured them I was fine, just soaking wet. Claire was almost in hysterics and I guess Boe got very upset when Lucy and I disappeared underwater. I checked her over, fixed her boots because they had slipped down on her legs, and got back on her, absolutely soaked. Both of us were soaked. My saddle: completely submerged in salt water...awesome. I am going to have to google how to fix that (any tips?)

And then I rode the rest of the way back to the trailer like that! She was very good, probably exhausted from the events, and got back on the trailer fine to go home. Once we got back to the barn I hosed her off to get all the salt off of her and she had a nice roll in the mud, so she was happy.

And that was my ride!

Overall I am pleased with her. I mean, it's unfortunate that we both had to go swimming today, but other than that she impressed me with her calm attitude and happiness.

As far as my digicam, it's spending the next two days in a bag of rice, but I did manage to get my photos off the memory card, YAY!

Now for the photos. We'll start with the good ones:

And now, the photos of me eating dirt...erm, water:

this was about the time I realised that I wasn't going to be able to sit this one...arghhhh