Winding Down For Winter

The 2020 season went out with a bit of a whimper for us, but I guess that’s just the theme of 2020 isn’t it?

Oh So came sound after about 10 days, but I took him to the vet anyways just to have him checked out, and he was perfectly sound with no pain upon palpation anywhere and nothing that came up on flexions or the lameness locator.

We had lost a bit of fitness, so we chose to do a CT at Loch Moy, which went well. I picked a bit to the third fence in show jumping, but then got my act together!

We had a nice cross-country schooling the following week and I entered Morven Park. Unfortunately that meant foregoing a trip to Tryon for the big CCI4*-L, which ended up being the biggest event in the U.S. this year, but I decided I wanted to compete once more before the end of the year.

When we walked the cross-country on Saturday, Lisa and I were taken aback by how big the course was. There was a huge drop to a cabin about six strides away, and at that point, we started to think it wouldn’t be a good idea to run.

I emailed with the course designer and tried to communicate with the TD because I felt that a bank shared with prelim was inappropriate for the level, but I was told it’s been used on the course in the past. I consulted the rules which said a novice bank can be 2’9″ and a drop can be 3’11”! I guess they were considering this fence a drop. I have never seen a drop that huge novice anywhere. We know Oh So will go down any bank, but he hasn’t seen one that big since his prelim days, and we know if he launched off it we’d be worrying about his legs. Considering the footing was also iffy, we withdrew.

It ended up causing a lot of issues, unsurprisingly, but Lisa and I were OK with our decision, as much as it sucked to pay that much money for a CT and not be able to have a final cross-country run this year. I’ve since filled out an event evaluation.

So now we’re into winter and will hopefully be able to get up to Loch Moy to school the arena courses.

It’s been a frustratingly short season, mostly due to COVID, but I’m glad we were able to get out as much as we did and even win a couple of events.

Two For Two! But Third Time Is Not The Charm.

It finally cooled down enough for us to survive eventing this fall, but things are a bit up in the air right now as far as where we’ll go next.

Let’s get to the good news first.

We headed up to Seneca on Labor Day weekend to compete with my friend Meghan in tow as groom. It was fairly warm and humid, but our times were pretty quick, so at least we got it done. We’d had a lot of rain in August, but not widespread, just lots of heavy pop-up storms in places, and apparently Seneca got the brunt of it, because when we got there, trucks were towing trailers in! Yikes. The footing for dressage was horrendous even though they shifted the rings to dry to find better ground. Just very sucky. I’m surprised we didn’t lose a shoe. But we ended up doing OK despite me cantering in the wrong place (ugh, I hate test B) and him just generally moving less fluid than he could because of the footing.

We won the dressage, which was great, but I was so nervous for show jumping for whatever reason. Maybe because our round at Loch Moy in July was so inconsistent, maybe because we hadn’t been out in awhile, maybe because Meghan was there, maybe because it was hot. Who knows?

The round felt OK though, and the ground miraculously dried up enough to be acceptable. The whole day, Lisa and I had the attitude of, take it one phase at a time, which also made me nervous. If the footing was too deep, we’d scratch.

Luckily, we deemed cross-country OK. It was a bit churned up on some takeoffs and landings, but not enough to be dangerous. The place is fairly flat too, so that helped.

Everything went well, and he was full of running to take the win and the TIP award for novice!

We had three weeks until Middleburg, so we went cross-country schooling at CDCTA, which was very good. Everything felt nice and out of stride, and we even accidentally jumped a training fence!

Being able to watch Meghan school for the first time in two years on her borrowed horse was really fun too. He’s a prelim schoolmaster, so he and Oh So were totally cool about traveling together and getting their game faces on when it mattered. Otherwise they were napping, haha!

Middleburg is now held at Great Meadow, so it was exciting to do a new course with Oh So. I’d done the old CDCTA event there for many years with Sam and Palais, but this was held on the backside with the nice arenas. Unfortunately we ended up having to do dressage on the grass by the highway and a polo field, but he was OK with the distractions. The footing was a bit deep in spots because they’d had some rain earlier in the week.

Show jumping felt OK. I had one little pick to a vertical, which stayed up, but otherwise it definitely wasn’t the worst round we’ve ever had, so that was a positive.

Cross-country I was a little inconsistent to some things, and I had to think a lot about my track when I walked because there were some holes, rocks, dips, etc. to dodge. He was pretty chill in the startbox, but his blood got up once we started off. We ended up winning our division!

It was also the weekend of our 13th anniversary together, so it was nice to think back on what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve been though together over the years.

Now for the bad news. We went schooling at Morven Park last Tuesday, and he felt awesome. He loved the cool weather and was really jumping well. We had a nice flat day on Wednesday, then he had a day off on Thursday. Lisa and I had a jump lesson planned for Friday, and he felt a bit funky from behind in trot. We cantered a bit and it felt OK, then jumped a couple of things and stopped to talk. When I picked him up, he was way off on his left hind. OK. So we’re thinking he may have done something in the field. It felt pretty high up, so maybe a pulled muscle.

Unfortunately he felt the same on Saturday, so the Area 2 Championships at Loch Moy on Sunday was out. I’m pretty devastated not only because it was a $300 entry, but because I really thought we had a chance to do well this year. Now I’m just not sure what to do next. I’m giving him a few days off and will see how he feels.

I panic every time I feel something with him because at age 20, retirement could be tomorrow, you just never know. But at least it’s not a front leg, and at least we know it wasn’t caused by the schooling at Morven. So now it’s a wait and see. There are two events left we could do this year, so I’m just crossing my fingers he’ll feel better soon.

Fancy Prancing

Oh So and I have spent the last month working on our Third Level tests at three dressage shows. We started off at By Chance Farm in July. It was pretty hot, but we got up before dawn to get there and ride before 9am! At least we were done early.

We rode Third 1 and 2. Last year we only ended up getting to one dressage show, and we scored in the low 60s in both tests, so I was hoping to see some improvement this year.

Heidi and I know he’ll never have a clean right to left change at this point, so we accept it will be a 3 or 4, but there’s so many other things he does well.

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At By Chance Farm. InFocus By Bruce photo

I struggle to sit his medium/extended trots, so those are always a weak point, but I was surprised how well we scored on our canter half passes and our good change. We got 8s!

He has a pretty good rein back, but he kind of resisted in the test, so that ended up with a 6. He got a 7 on his gaits, but 6.5s on the other collectives. His poll can get low in trot, so the judge commented on that. It’s not that I’m forcing him down that way, it’s just that he naturally wants to leave his head there, so I constantly have to remind myself to lift him up.

The second test we got a few more 8s, including on our entry and our shoulder-in right and renvers right. We ended up with a 63.81 on test 2 and a 64.45 on test 1! Our highest scores yet. We won one class and were second in the other.

The next weekend we went to Loch Moy and ended up with a 63.78 on test 1 and a 64.07 on test 2. So, consistent! Heidi was able to be there to warm us up, which was nice.

We turned a few 5s into 6s and 6s into 7s, and got another 8 on our left to right change from one judge. Similar comments though–keep him more up and more engaged. I got a 7 on my position and one judge commented that I had good hands. We ended up second in both of our amateur classes and won the TIP award for our level!

Yesterday we did our last show of the summer at Beverly Equestrian. I rode in the indoor for both tests, and he did feel slightly tighter for the first test. We weren’t able to trot around the outside, so we started in the ring. I saw our reflection in the mirror and thought he looked more up in his frame.

We ended up with a 62.36 on test 2 and rode test 3 for the first time and got a 60.87. I was disappointed with the marks because he felt pretty much the same as the last two shows. Unfortunately I didn’t have a video to compare. Maybe the first test felt slightly less polished in the transitions. The judge dinged us for the extended/medium gaits and the transitions. Fair enough when he doesn’t have huge extended gaits to start with. It makes it harder to show a clear transition. She saw some irregular steps in the trot half pass right, which Heidi had actually noticed too during our lesson this week. Not sure what that’s about.

She said his haunches were leading in the canter half passes and while I felt the rein back was smoother in test 3, she said he wasn’t square behind. In test 2, she wanted more flexion and bend in the renvers and more bend but less angle in the shoulder-ins.

We were first and fifth in our classes and won the TIP award for our level. One rider walked by before our test and asked who Oh So’s sire was! That was quite the compliment.

So, not the improvement I’d hoped to see after three shows, but I know what we need to work on. More power in the extended/medium gaits, show more change in the transitions between gaits, and watch the hindquarters and bend/angle on lateral work.

My goal had been to reach 65 percent, and we got close! I think he could get maybe 67 percent if everything went perfectly, but isn’t that what dressage is about? Trying to put everything together on the day. We’ll keep working, but for now, back to running and jumping!

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Life On Pause

Wow, who would have thought I’d be writing this post? It’s April 1, and normally I’d be getting ready to start competing and be in the swing of a busy travel season for work, but instead I’m stuck at home, like the rest of the country and much of the world, on a lockdown from a global pandemic.

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been working from home full-time, which I’m very fortunate to be able to do in these crazy times, and it looks like we’ll all be stuck through at least April and likely May.

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We won this lovely cooler for being the CDCTA TB of the Year!

I’m not mourning being unable to compete my own horse so much as not being able to have a normal routine and schedule and to travel and earn overtime. That’s what’s truly hurting me. I feel like Oh So and I accomplished a lot last year, and since he’s 20 this year, I’m not putting my hopes and dreams into any lofty goals. It was just going to be trying to improve our third level tests at dressage shows and competing at novice when we can.

It’s also the social aspect of competing and traveling which I miss. Seeing my media friends, talking to the riders in person and going to fun places. I thrive on being busy, and maybe sometimes I’ve used that as an excuse to not try new things in the past. Now I have a ton of free time, but can’t try new things because everything is shut down and meeting new people isn’t possible!

Before all of this, I was able to have a lovely trip to Wellington where I covered all three disciplines, and a trip of a lifetime to Sweden to visit the MIPS offices and Swedish show jumper Peder Fredricson.

I also ended up getting a new trailer in March after we had one too many problems with our 19-year-old Bison. I found a lovely Adam two-horse which I’m now not sure when I’ll be able to get registered and inspected since the DMV is closed!

I’m so glad I was able to see my parents and Oliver before all of this went down because my next trip was supposed to be for the Land Rover Kentucky in April. Not happening. In fact, pretty much everything through May has been canceled. It seems that most people have kind of accepted what’s happening and are doing their best to practice social distancing, but it’s still so weird to go out to the grocery store and not be able to find what I need or to see another human completely avoid being near me while out on a walk.

I’m so thankful to be able to continue to go out to the barn during all of this and ride. It’s definitely keeping me sane and giving my days a sense of purpose. Even if I don’t ride, just sitting in the barn and listening to the birds and the sound of the horses eating dinner is so relaxing after dealing with all the noise of the news cycle throughout the day. I’ll continue to go on walks every day too and do some at-home workouts to work up a sweat.

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We won this quarter sheet for being the MD TB Series year-end champions!

Unfortunately, Morven Park canceled Oh So’s spring check up and put us on a wait list. I was hoping to have his neck injected and do a soundness exam to see if he needs any help in his back, hocks or SI. He didn’t last year, which was great for my wallet, and he feels pretty good right now, but I don’t want to miss something and have him be uncomfortable. I’m contemplating having Piedmont, who usually only does his shots, do the neck injection at least.

It feels so weird to have no plans for the future and not know when this is going to end. How much fitness do I keep him in? For now, I’m keeping it sort of the same as I’ve been doing over the winter. Lots of hacking, a couple days of flatwork, maybe a flat lesson every other week, and a jumping lesson once a week with two days off. We’ve thankfully been able to go to Morningside and Loch Moy to jump and do some easy gallops and hill work, which is about where we’d be at this time of year anyways. We tend to not compete until late April or May because the footing can be wet this time of year, but it’s actually not been too bad this year.

Because my roommate went back to her parents’ house with the cat, I’ve been left completely alone, which sucks. I had been hoping to try to meet some new people through dating apps, but that’s also been halted for now, and I can’t go to the gym either. I’m lucky to be able to have a couple people to talk to at the barn, but it’s still lonely in my little apartment, so I decided now was the time to get a cat. With Oliver retired in Kentucky with my parents, I haven’t had a cat to call my own since August, and I’ve honestly been debating it since I moved here almost five years ago. Since I travel so much, I’ve felt guilty about getting one and then being gone all the time, but I think this is the best time to do it so I can get to know it. As of now, I won’t be traveling at all until the fall most likely since I had nothing in June or July scheduled anyways yet.

So, here’s introducing my new friend, Precious (new name TBD!). She’s about a year and a half old and came from Middleburg Humane. She came home on March 27 and spent the first 24 hours under my bed, and still likes to sleep there, but really enjoys following me around and being pet. We’re still not on the same sleep cycle yet, so I’m getting woken up between 4 and 6 a.m., but we’ll find our rhythm soon!

 

Looking Back At 2019

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted! Not much has happened since our last event in October, which is a good thing!

I was honestly just a bit burned out at the end of the year with traveling and showing basically every weekend from May through early December, so it was a relief to make it to my final work trip to Boston for the USEA Convention and just be home for awhile (aside from a trip to Kentucky for Christmas).

Boston was a city I had never been to, and I really enjoyed it. I saw most of the historical sites and got a good gist of the layout. I think I’ve been inspired to do a New England road trip now to knock off a few states I’ve never been to like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Maybe a summer trip idea!

Since I’ve been back and had some free weekends, I’ve just been enjoying spending time with Oh So and Rocky and not having a schedule. I’ve been doing a little organizing and decluttering and working on making some life changes, but isn’t that what everyone does in the New Year?

I was really excited to go up to Pennsylvania last weekend for the Area 2 annual meeting and awards luncheon to receive our year-end awards. We were high point novice amateur, novice Thoroughbred, overall high score and second place with our team. We got a lovely halter, a glass bowl, four giant ribbons, a saddle pad and I got a Redingote winter bodysuit, t-shirt and hat. We definitely brought home a lot of loot!

We also ended up fifth in the country for USEA in the novice adult rider and novice adult amateur leaderboards and won the novice for CDCTA. Whew! It was a good year.

As far as work, I traveled to 11 states and Canada for a total of 17 assignments, including a few new ones like Pony Finals, Dressage Finals and the Washington International Horse Show.

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I went to Burghley for the first time on vacation and spent more time in one of my favorite cities, London, and planned my own itinerary for the first time in a foreign country, and it mostly worked out! I drove on the wrong side of the road and made my way through England, which I was really proud of.

Looking ahead I’ve got a very exciting trip to Sweden planned for work and some play next week, then down to Florida, and the usual events in the spring leading up to Land Rover Kentucky. I’m not sure if I can afford a true European vacation on my own this year, but I’m keeping an eye on flights to Amsterdam as a possibility should I find a deal, or may Pau in France in the fall.

Oh So and I went up to school at Loch Moy on the derby course this weekend and had a lot of fun, so as long as he’s still excited about life, we’ll keep plugging away and think about plans for the spring. I’d love to be able to do some more third level shows this year and work on improving our scores.

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Winding Down The Season

And just like that, my fall season is done! I decided to wait to write until I had all three events done, so here we go (I’ll work on a Burghley blog when I get some more time)!

We started out with CDCTA in September. I had only been back from England for a few days, so not ideal, but I had a friend hack him a bit while I was gone to keep him moving.

It’s been a long, hot summer, and by September we were not getting much rain, so the ground was definitely firm. I hadn’t actually ever competed at the new CDCTA site, just schooled a few times. Everything is on grass, which can definitely be a challenge.

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I was a bit nervous because I ended up getting my old dressage trainer as my judge. She’s never judged me before, but we worked together from about age 12 until four years ago. I was able to put it out of my mind and put in a decent test for a 30.2.

Show jumping was on a bit of a hill and was in a tightly roped space. I wasn’t super pleased with our round, but we got the job done clear, which a lot of people didn’t.

Cross-country felt pretty good, and we ended up winning and taking home the reserve TIP award. We were also the highest-placed CDCTA member, so we won $600! We got to do a little victory gallop with our neck sash, which was fun. It was fun to see a lot of friends at that event, and I was able to catch up with my former trainer afterwards and we had a nice chat. She thought Oh So looked really well, which was nice to hear.

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He was not super into getting tacked up again for his ribbons!

We had a cross-country school at Surefire the week before Morven, and it was hot! The heat was just relentless, right up until two days before Morven when fall finally arrived.

I entered the Area 2 novice championship having never done any area championship at all. I was a little disappointed we didn’t have two dressage judges and that the cross-country was the same as the regular novice. So basically I paid $300 for the privilege of show jumping last.

Dressage was nice and steady, and we got a 29.8 to be fourth out of 48 people! Cross-country was one of the best rounds we’ve had in awhile; I didn’t mess with him, and everything came up nearly perfect. It was a bit odd to go straight to cross-country and have to do show jumping last, but I think he enjoyed himself.

We had about an hour to get ready for show jumping, and I didn’t get a chance to walk the course because the course walks never seem to happen when I cam actually make them!

We came around the turn to fence 4, and while it felt a little short, it didn’t feel bad, but he had the front rail down behind. That’s the first rail he’s had in probably two years. Lisa says I just lost some impulsion around the turn, and with him maybe being a bit flat and/or tired after cross-country, I needed to just squeeze him off the ground a tiny bit more.

It was a real bummer because we plummeted to 14th place when we had moved up to third after cross-country. In the end, we were the fourth-best amateur, so we got a few points out of it.

I had really wanted to do well at Morven, and I’m still really happy with everything, cross-country especially, but it’s just tough when we don’t ever get to practice show jumping last. I think we maybe did it once or twice a Virginia Horse Trials.

I was also bummed they didn’t at least give separate amateur or Area 2 Adult Rider ribbons to the top amateurs. They really should have split the class into amateur or rider and open. I know I didn’t earn a ribbon that weekend, but it would have been to nice to have been recognized considering that may be our one and only time doing a championship.

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We headed straight to Loch Moy last weekend for the Maryland Horse Trials 3 as our last event. Dressage was nice and steady, and I worked a bit on riding a more forward trot and canter after a lesson I had with Heidi earlier in the week. She asked me why I don’t try taking a risk in the ring, and I figured, why not if he’s relaxed? At home she has me riding a pretty big, almost medium trot in warmup to get him to use his body and open up his step more in trot. At Loch Moy I definitely didn’t ride that big, but a fraction more, and I think it showed. He tends to get comments that he is steady and beautiful, but needs to use his back more and sometimes that we need a bit more impulsion, which is funny considering how he used to around very tight and tense! We scored a 27.6 to lead.

Show jumping was fine, maybe not the smoothest I’ve ever had. I was adding in a few lines for some reason and got in my knee a bit, which is the habit I’m always fighting.

Unfortunately that carried over to cross-country, and I had a few fences where I really needed to support him with my leg better, and I didn’t. He’ll still jump the jumps, but sometimes I can tell after having a fence where I didn’t support him as much that he’ll be slightly backed off to the next one. It was also a huge contrast to Morven’s nice galloping course. At Loch Moy it’s very twisty and turny, and the fences come up really fast.

We ended up winning and getting the TIP award and a bottle of wine! A great way to finish the season.

Now we’ll head into the off season working more on our Third Level movements, maybe riding without stirrups and going back to Loch Moy to school the derby course in the arena. My hope had been to do a few more dressage shows, but we did a lot this year, and I traveled a lot, so I think I’m good for now! I’m just tired; I’ve been at a horse show in some capacity pretty much every weekend since June.

It looks like we’ll end the season on the USEA national leaderboard somewhere, which is super cool, and we’ll win the CDCTA and Area 2 novice amateur year-end awards too!

I’m so grateful every time I get to ride Oh So, and to be able to have another winning season is just icing on the cake.

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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.

Getting The Ball Rolling

Finally we’re into our eventing season! We’ve done three events since my last update, so here’s a recap:

We started off with the starter trial at Loch Moy on Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t too hot, but definitely humid, and we just dodged thunderstorms in the afternoon.

He was a little bit dry-mouthed in the warmup, which wasn’t a terrible thing, just not usual for him. He was perhaps slightly holding his neck, so I worked on some suppling exercises like leg yielding in trot and canter to get him a bit softer. He ended up with a 23.8, but I took that with a grain of salt considering it was a schooling show.

Continue reading “Getting The Ball Rolling”

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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Oh So Update

I’ve been waiting to write an update on Oh So until after what turned out to be a nightmare dealing with strangles was over.

His gutteral pouch pain got better after we switched him to SMZs, and he was seemingly on the mend after a month off. Then he started swelling in his throatlatch area and abscessed out of his lymph nodes, which the vet thought might happen.

She took a sample of some of the pus before it was ready to burst during his follow up appointment in February, and we thought all was fine from Thursday through the weekend. Then the following Tuesday, after the abscess had burst, she called to say he tested positive for strangles. WTF?!

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