Finishing Out The Summer Season And Saying Goodbye

It’s been a relatively busy summer for me with lots of changes, but I finally have a couple of minutes to sit down for an update!

After Seneca, Oh So and I had a decent cross-country schooling at Surefire and headed to Oatlands in Leesburg for the new Loudoun Hunt PC Horse Trial date at the end of June. I hadn’t competed there for years, since Sam was going prelim, so I was a bit nervous honestly!

The dressage rings were near the highway, and we had a pretty decent storm the day before I rode, so my test ended up being not-so-great. He was a bit spooky about the sound of the cars/trucks/motorcycles through the trees, then the footing in the grass ring was actually a bit sucky. We rode a different test than we’ve been doing, and I forgot the stretchy trot circle! Oops. We ended up with a 35, even though I thought the work wasn’t horrible. Definitely not our best test, but I don’t think it was 35-bad. Oh well!

Show jumping was on a grassy slope, and I don’t know why, but I was so nervous! It wasn’t the smoothest ride we’ve ever had, but after watching my video, it definitely didn’t look so bad.

Cross-country was also not so smooth. I just couldn’t really find my rhythm, but thankfully he doesn’t care and carried on! We ended up third.

 

 

After spending the weekend sweltering at the Maryland International to cover the Pan Am team final outing for COTH, I headed back to Loch Moy for MD HT 2. It was still horribly hot, but we ended up with a good second-place finish and the TIP award for novice!

We got a 27.4 in dressage, and had the excitement of jumping in the big ring over some new fences Loch Moy had used for the international classes the week before; think lots of fancy standards and fillers. I barely had time or energy in the heat to walk the course before I had to get on, but somehow it ended up being one of our nicest rounds in recent history. I didn’t touch his face, we kept the same rhythm and a decent pace, and he was jumping really well.

Cross-country felt pretty good, save for one fence were I missed my line and had to weave through some trees!

 

 

It also marked the last time my parents will likely see us compete together since they’ve now made the move to Kentucky. I’m never saying never, but at least for the rest of this season I’ll be on my own, which will definitely be strange.

I had one free weekend to hang out at my parents’ farm before I was off to Rebecca Farm for a week. We dropped Rocky off at his new boarding barn on that Sunday, which is about 15 minutes from where Oh So is, and he promptly had a colic episode by Thursday which required tubing.

So while I truly enjoyed my trip to Rebecca Farm, I was trying to deal with that, plus my parents’ uncertainty about actually moving by Aug. 1 due to some issues on the buyer’s end, and just endless days with lots of work to do.

I did get a chance to have a relaxing vacation day in Glacier National Park before this all went down though, and I stayed with a couple of good media friends, so in the end, it was a great trip.

Of course on my way home on Monday I was told Oh So sprung a shoe. No big deal I thought. The farrier put the shoe on on Tuesday, but when I rode on Wednesday he was very lame.

Me being me, I immediately thought the worst, but after hoof testing and pressing on his heel, I realized he was likely lame due to a heel grab. He gradually got better over the week, but unfortunately, we’d had a dressage show scheduled for Sunday, and that wasn’t going to happen.

Add in a ton of work to do in the office and the stress of my parents moving with only one cat, and last week was not fun. I honestly felt like I was headed towards a mental breakdown.

 

 

About three weeks ago one of our cats, Lucky, disappeared. It’s unfathomable to my parents and I, and unfortunately, they had to leave for Kentucky without him last week. He’s never been gone for more than a day or two, and we just don’t know. He was 15, but in good health.

He was always “my” cat and a bit of a weirdo/anti-social, so the only thing we can think of is that with the increased activity, like packing, around the house, maybe he was freaked out. Maybe it was his way of telling us he didn’t want to go. We’ve had him since he was left in a box on the steps of the Fredericksburg SPCA as a kitten. I was in high school! I know it would have been hard to transition him to being a mostly indoor cat with a small backyard, but to leave him behind, wherever he is, is truly heartbreaking, and the not knowing will haunt me. I haven’t been able to look at any photos of him because I know it will just hit me that he’s gone, and I’ve kind of been trying to avoid any other stress at the moment.

The silver lining to this is that our other 15-year-old cat Oliver did make the trip successfully and is currently hanging out in a swanky cat hotel until my parents move in next week from their temporary apartment. I hope having his family with him with help make the transition to a new house easier. I’m going to miss seeing him every weekend, but I’ll do my best to get down there as often as I can. I wish I could take him, but forcing him to live in a tiny apartment just didn’t seem fair.

We’ve been talking about this move for four years, and now that it’s finally happened, I feel a sense of relief, but just extreme sadness about Lucky. I’m really sad to be leaving behind my home of 17 years and officially closing the chapter of our lives together with horses. Walking through the empty barn and looking at the fields where Sam, Lad and Toppers are buried, I was sad to leave them, and most of my childhood and young adult life, behind.

I’m happy for my parents to get a fresh start closer to their grandchildren, but feel a little lonely without my family close by. I may follow them eventually, but for now it’s just me and Oh So and Rocky for awhile.

Luckily Rocky’s been having a good week after another mild colic last week that we managed with some Banamine. Oh So is sound, and we’re looking towards another dressage show to try to improve our third level scores next weekend. I’m actually headed to Lexington this weekend to help cover Pony Finals (there’s a first time for everything I guess!) so I’ll stop by to say hi to Oliver and see my parents and the house quickly.

Back On Track And Looking Ahead

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Life is finally starting to feel a little more normal as the weather’s been getting warmer. Oh So and I are about six weeks behind in our competition season due to the strangles, but we were able to get out to a combined test and Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy, both of which we won!

The dressage test at the combined test felt a bit tight, although it scored well, but I was fine with it since it was the first show of the season. He was much better for Twilight–very relaxed and supple and loose in his body.

Novice CT at Loch Moy. GRC Photography Photos

My show jumping round at Twilight wasn’t the smoothest since I’d had two rides on him after being gone for a week at Kentucky, but we were there for the cross-country anyways!

It was a pretty simple course, but it was open and gallopy, which is what he needed for his first run of the year. Now we’re looking ahead to the starter trial and some recognized events in June and July.

 

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Twilight Eventing!

He’s been looking really good lately and feeling even better. I decided to keep him on stall board through the summer to help put some weight back on after he lost about 50 pounds due to the winter and his illness. He’s happy to be inside eating all day and away from the bugs I think. I’ve changed up my routine so I go for a 20-minute hack before we work in case he’s a little stiff from being in. He’s also been extremely spooky, which is kind of funny!

I think his neck injection is really kicking in because he’s been very supple and working really well on the flat. We’ve had a few lessons with my dressage trainer Heidi, and we’ve been working towards improving his changes. He’s accepting leg yielding away from the wall and back for the most part, although this week every time I leg yielded off the wall on the left lead he gave me very lovely changes back right! It’s kind of funny because you could tell he thought he was doing the right thing. I just stayed calm and got the correct lead back and continued to leg yield until he listened to my aids. We also played with some canter/walk and walk/canter transitions and haunches in which will all help improve those changes.

We’ve been working on gymnastics with Lisa since he’s been getting pretty excited jumping lately, so we’re just dialing it back a bit to make him sit and wait.

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Photographing at Kentucky.

 

I’ve been on a couple of work trips since my last update, including The Fork and Kentucky. The Fork was a bit underwhelming as far as entries go, but Boyd Martin won, and it was kind of a cute story.

Kentucky was a lot of fun, but a very long time to be gone. In the end, Oliver Townend won, which was a bit of a bummer since everyone was rooting for Boyd to be the first U.S. rider since 2008 to win it. Maybe next year!

Now I’m off to Jersey Fresh for the weekend. Looks like it might be a bit wet!

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Saying Goodbye To Toppers + Winter Update

After my super positive year-end post, I guess it was inevitable that 2019 would start out terribly, right?

A couple of days before I headed to Temecula, California, for my first assignment of the year, Oh So started to seem not like himself. I had only been able to hack because of snow, and he just seemed pretty slow. I actually had to kick him along, which is not like him.

I decided to call the vet on the day I left for California because he was sitting listlessly in the stall, and he ended up having a fever and couldn’t lower his head and neck, which was quite scary.

Since I had to get on a plane, we decided to treat him with Banamine and doxycycline because the vet could only assume tick fever. I found that to be a little strange considering it was January, but she said they see spikes in it this time of year. There have been a few horses in the barn who’ve had vague symptoms like his, and that seems to be the go-to diagnosis, but I wasn’t going to accept that as an answer.

Continue reading “Saying Goodbye To Toppers + Winter Update”

A Look Back At 2018

Better late than never I guess!

After a truly disastrous 2017 in which I broke both my ankles and ended up selling Thomas and working through a lot of physical and mental pain, 2018 was one of the best years of my life.

Even though Oh So had a couple of minor injuries that caused some sleepless nights and one missed event, and despite tons and rain and event cancellations, it was the first full competition season I’ve had with him in a long time. Thing actually went to plan 90 percent of the time, which is a hard thing to do with horses! I almost had to pinch myself with each event and show we finished. Looking at the wall of blue ribbons from this season, I can hardly believe it.

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Our bronze medal!

I’ve written a lot about accepting that novice is where we’ll stay for the remainder of his career, and I’ve had to adjust my expectations and goals with him, but this year I was able to reach my goal of getting my USDF bronze medal. It felt pretty amazing to set my sights on something and actually achieve it. I’ve had to force myself to not have big goals with him anymore because of his age, but that was one that we actually pulled off!

Winning nearly event, even if it was just at novice level, was a huge deal, and we were recently awarded the inaugural Maryland TB/STB Eventing Series, which came with a huge check and lots of prizes!

I just had a flat lesson with Heidi for the first time since October, and she asked what my goals were for this year. I was hesitant again to name specific things, but if I could improve our third level scores that would be amazing. The good news is that she noticed we’ve been doing our homework, so we’re on our way to getting a bit more collection and throughness in the lateral work, which will hopefully translate to better flying changes.

As far as eventing, I’d love to do the Area 2 Championships, and the American Eventing Championships are really tempting, but I don’t know if I can justify the entry cost.

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2018 was a pretty amazing year of travel for me. I went on 16 assignments for COTH and got to discover amazing new places like Badminton and New Orleans, and saw the world’s best horses and riders at the World Equestrian Games. Personally, my trip to Scotland was one of the most amazing vacations I’ve ever done, and it inspired me to look ahead to new discoveries this year. I’m thinking Iceland perhaps and definitely Burghley on the fall.

2019 is going to be a stressful and emotional one since my parents are putting our farm up for sale and moving to Kentucky. There’s no detailed timeline yet, but I’m bracing myself for some strife as my entire life is about to change. We’re a close family and have lived in the same area my whole life, so it will be a seismic shift.

For now though, I’m looking forward to my first trip of the year back to San Diego and Temecula for the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival and then to Palm Beach in February, while praying for as little snow and rain as possible!

Around The World: From Scotland To Ocala To New Orleans And Home!

My posts about my vacations tend to come very late since I usually come home and jump right back into real life. This time was no exception, as I got back from Scotland and immediately had to deal with my car that wouldn’t start and a busy week at work. Welcome home! I’ve had some time to gather my thoughts and look through my photos, so better late than never!

I decided to do a late season trip to Scotland because it was cheaper, but I knew the weather might be dicey this time of year. I’m happy to report it was just about perfect, for me at least, and any time it rained seemed to be when I was on the tour bus or overnight. The weather gods were definitely smiling. It was actually colder in Virginia than it was in Scotland!

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Continue reading “Around The World: From Scotland To Ocala To New Orleans And Home!”

Winding Down The Season

The 2018 season’s gone out with a bit of a whimper and not a bang for me unfortunately. With Seneca being canceled and now Waredaca getting a few inches of rain, I decided to scratch today.

I knew at the beginning of the week that I likely wouldn’t be running cross-country because of the wet weather forecasted, but with reports and photos coming in yesterday of trucks being towed in and out and knowing that the dressage and show jumping warm up are on grass, plus having to get up at 4:30 a.m., I decided not to risk it for a combined test that wouldn’t count for anything.

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Hanging out at Loch Moy.

My trainer asked me to consider what I would get out of it, and honestly, probably not much. We’re both bored with the novice test and don’t *need* to do it, and we’re looking ahead to some local winter jumper shows for practice. I hate to throw another $200 down the toilet, but that seems to be the nature of this year for everyone. I just wish Waredaca would have made that call for me. I was still undecided right up until I went to bed last night, and really could have gone either way, but I also think I needed a quiet day where I can get some stuff done around my apartment, have a nice ride and probably clip him again since he grew his hair back so fast!

Continue reading “Winding Down The Season”