A Quick Update

Well, someone or something in the universe is conspiring against me it seems! The same day I posted my last blog about how wonderful it is to be back out, I went to the barn and saw Oh So got an injury.

It’s a small nick on the outside of his right front, which unfortunately is right over top of his old suspensory.

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He was pretty lame in trot, so I decided to get the vet out on Saturday morning to ultrasound. Luckily there were no significant issues upon examination, so we’re wrapping, icing and confining to a small paddock this weekend instead of competing.

I think it’s just the actual blow that’s making him lame, so I’m hoping with a few days of rest he’ll be OK.

I know people always say, “Oh, it’s horses,” but I am getting a little sick of my luck. I’ve waited a year to compete and now that we both can, we can’t.

I finally had some sense of balance and happiness where everything was finally going right, and now it’s gone again. And people wonder why I’m a pessimist!

I ‘m hoping against all hope that this is minor and he’ll be feeling better before Loudoun in two weeks. Wish us luck!

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Back On Course

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Janet Gallay photo

Yesterday Oh So and I finally got to leave the start box for the first time in nearly a year. I really can’t believe it’s been that long, but with my injury and then the fall and winter weather, the timing was bad, and it just didn’t happen.

I’ve been dying to get out all winter, but we had a very cold and then wet winter, so we haven’t been able to cross-country school much.

We went to Loch May last week before I went down to The Fork and had an easy school just getting us both used to cantering and jumping up and down hills. When you’ve been on a flat surface all winter it takes a little while to get that feel back!

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Janet Gallay photo
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Janet Gallay photo

I’d never done a Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy. It’s basically a full event, except for maybe a few less fences on cross-country. We kept it fairly conservative in the dressage warm up to keep him chill, and I thought the test was OK. We scored a 31.9. Not our best, but it’s just really hard to “show him off” in a novice test when we’ve been working on second level stuff all winter. There’s just not enough for him to do in the test. The judge actually thought he needed more impulsion, and gave him a 6.5, which was surprising. Maybe he needed a little more in the canter, but any more in the trot, and he would have been verging on quick.

I actually thought I rode fairly well in the show jumping. I’ve been getting in my head a lot recently, mostly about the fact that I never feel practiced enough. Jumping one or two times a week is hard to do, but I’ve only got the one horse. It’s a perfectionist’s nightmare!

It can get frustrating when I’ve ridden fairly competently around prelim and training for many years to have trouble in novice show jumping. I think I really just need to get out of my head and just do it in a competition setting. I find I ride better in both jumping phases when I compete regularly, which is why it’s been so hard these last couple of years. Schooling is very hard for me.

Despite my perceived issues, Oh So was super excited to head to the start box and was prancing around, just like the old days!

I’m going to keep the feeling in my mind of the jump we had over the first fence. It was forward and lovely; the perfect spot! The rest was quite good. He was very on, I didn’t screw up too much, and we finished well. He’s a bit out of shape so he was little puffy at the end, but it was a good fitness run for him.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of being able to compete again. It’s that high at the end of the course you get, that feeling of ticking off each fence along the way. It’s something that’s been missing from my life for the last year. I don’t care that I’m running my prelim horse novice, I still get butterflies before I go in the ring for show jumping or the box for cross-country.

I love my job, but sometimes watching other people have fun and not being able to experience that same feeling of euphoria and accomplishment is tough.

In a way, I feel complete again.

I’m a pessimist by nature, so I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I feel like this year is going to come together for us. We’re back on course, literally and figuratively. He feels better than ever, and he’s 18. We have to keep the jumps low to keep his soundness, but I don’t think he really cares how high they are. He treats a novice course the same as a prelim; pulling all the way home!

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Post cross-country bliss.
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We had a great lesson in March at Morningside, working on cross-country skills in the ring.
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Early spring snow storms…ugh.

I’ve been on a few more trips since my last post. First up was Red Hills in Tallahassee. It’s always a unique event since most of the spectators are locals who know nothing about horses. It’s great that the event does such a good job of bringing in the public and educating them.

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Red Hills is one of my favorite places. Tallahassee is so beautiful!

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Next up was a super cold and rainy Carolina International. It’s another favorite of mine because you really get the best of the best in a highly competitive CIC***. The rain held off until the advanced division for cross-country day, but it was a cold and driving rain for the last hour!

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Then it was onwards to a cloudy, rainy and freezing Carolina International at the Carolina Horse Park.

In between Carolina and The Fork I moved Oh So to a different barn. I’ll just say that while the barn I was at before was lovely, it just became too much of a personality clash with the barn owner, so I had to leave.

I found a lovely place right across the street from Surefire Eventing, and only 15 minutes  from work. I really can’t believe my luck! The hacking is incredible. It’s something we’ve never really had before, so we’re going to take advantage of it for both of us.

He has a nice, big grass field with no mud, and seems to be very happy so far.

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Exploring new places.
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Hanging with the crew at home.
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More hacking adventures. To cross or not to cross?
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Working on our fancy prancing with Heidi.
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Schooling in the freezing early April weather at Loch Moy.

I headed to The Fork last week, which is held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The WEG will be there in September, and right now it’s really hard to believe it. There’s so much construction going on, and the cross-country course hadn’t changed much from the AEC in the fall, but we’ve been reassured it’s happening!

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Media friends at Carolina! Three Leslie’s and a Lindsay.
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Golf course cross-country at The Fork.
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Tryon International Equestrian Center for The Fork!

I’m got a quite rest of the month since I’m skipping Kentucky this year. I’m kind of sad to miss seeing all my friends in one place, but I really want to compete now that Oh So and I are both feeling good. I’ve entered the Loch Moy starter trial this weekend and then Loudoun on Kentucky weekend. After that I’m entering a licensed dressage show at Morven Park to start working on getting our scores for our bronze medal.

We need two scores above 60 percent at first, second and third level.

I’m also heading to Badminton in May with a friend. I’m super excited to be ticking this one off my bucket list. It’s mostly a vacation but I’ll definitely be taking photos for COTH too. Why not?

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It’s actually happening!

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Winter Doldrums (With A Little Sunshine Mixed In!)

Long time no update! There really hasn’t been much to talk about as far as my riding since my last update, but I did have a really good lesson with Heidi before I left for two COTH trips, and I’ve been hanging on that feeling ever since.

I’ve just gotten back from two back-to-back trips, first to the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival in Del, Mar, California, and then to Wellington for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Two weeks of fancy prancing, and I’m inspired to put on my fun-colored breeches and make Oh So wear his blingy browband, but I’m ready to jump!

Before my whirlwind trips I was finally able to connect with Heidi for a flat lesson. I haven’t been able to see her since late November because of the weather on the weekends, so I’ve felt a little lost working on my own, knowing that I’d really like to get the right to left flying change this year.

We had a very good lesson where we touched base with some shoulder-in and haunches-in on the long side to supple him, then went on to work on the changes.

We started just asking for them on the diagonal, but then we played with keeping the counter canter and making him bend his head and neck left and right, listening to me and not trying to change. Once he was supple that way, I asked for the change on the long side.

We mostly did it in right lead counter canter, and he did a couple of clean but ugly changes left. He still thinks it’s OK to slip in a trot step, so we’ve got a lot of work to do yet. I think a lot of it has to do with me just not being educated enough to have the feel and timing right, so we figure it out together! I’ve been playing around with the changes at home on my own, and found that if I just shift my seat bones and try not to swing my legs too much he’ll often have a quieter response, so we’ll keep working on that too.

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Dirt between the ears!

I was kind of inspired watching Laura Graves and Verdades do their changes this weekend. Rider after rider in the CDI would swing their legs wildly in the changes, and her legs didn’t even move! That’s really what it’s all about, the invisible aids.

Heidi has confidence we can get our scores for our bronze medal this year, so I’m keeping that as a soft goal in my head. He feels better than ever, but I don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed if we don’t reach a goal. The only thing besides the changes that’s holding us back is my inability to sit the medium trot, so I’m forcing myself to keep working through it and working on some flexibility and strengthening exercises at home.

Oh So is celebrating his 18th birthday today. How time flies! He doesn’t think he’s a day over 5!

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Welcome home Mom!

My trip to California was pretty amazing, and I wish I’d had more time to explore San Diego. I had a couple of hours before the jog on Wednesday when I arrived, so I drove 5 minutes from the airport to Balboa Park and wandered around. There were a ton of museums that seemed fun, but they were all randomly closed on Wednesdays!

The CDI was quite small with only three rings. The international covered ring was lovely, and I spent most of my time there. My hotel and the horse show was very close to the beach, and I had some time in the mornings to go have my bagel and hot chocolate on the beach, which was lovely.

I flew home Sunday and had two days to hack Oh So before heading off to Wellington for the CDI*****. My parents wanted a beach vacation so they came down with my aunt to visit Palm Beach, and they came to the both AGDF and WEF. It was fun to show them what I do, even if I didn’t have a ton of time to hang out.

I flew back Sunday and had enough time to hack Oh So before it got dark. We had tons of rain while I was gone, so everything is a muddy mess, but hey, we’re in mid-February, so we’re almost getting to the start of show season! I’m hoping to get Oh So out this weekend for a jump lesson, but Heidi’s out of town the next two weekends so we’ll continue to go it alone.

 

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2017 In The Rearview

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In the grand scheme of things, 2017 is a year I’d like to forget. I started off the year thinking positively and wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I was ready to embrace the first year of my 30s and make it the best year ever.

Things were going pretty well in the winter and spring. I was pretty busy traveling for work, but I was able to get Oh So out to a couple of shows. We could have won Morven Park in March, but decided it was a bit too wet to run cross-country and withdrew, but we had a good run at the Loch Moy Starter Trial in April.

Continue reading “2017 In The Rearview”

Favorite Photos of 2017

Despite being injured and off my feet for several months this year, I still had the chance to go to a ton of amazing competitions for my job in 2017.

As always, I feel incredibly fortunate to do what I love for a living, and this year I got to check off a couple of bucket list events, as well as go to some longtime favorites. I attended 18 competitions this year for COTH (14 actual trips total, counting the USEA Convention).

A photographer friend generously gifted me some Lightroom classes to work on while I was laid up, and I think my editing skills have gotten a little better this year! I’m always in search of the perfect jumping shot, but I’ve been trying my best to be aware of my surroundings and capture quiet, candid moments as well. My New Year’s resolution is to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and play with different perspectives as I continue to capture some of the country’s best horses and riders.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my coverage this year.

 

Wanderlust: Covering 2,000 Miles In Europe

It always takes me forever to write about my big vacations, mostly because when I get back it’s usually straight back to my normal, busy life, and I’m left with little time to absorb my experiences.

But taking a few weeks to do so actually helps, I think, so here goes!

I had been waiting for months to take this vacation. I had to reschedule it after my accident, and the dates at the beginning of November were just about the last ones available for the year and before the weather turned.

I’ve done several COSMOS trips of single countries, but this year I decided to try a multi-country one.

Continue reading “Wanderlust: Covering 2,000 Miles In Europe”