On April 20 my family said goodbye to Sam. Over the last few years he’s developed severe arthritis in his right knee, and while he was still full of life at age 24, his body just couldn’t keep up, and we were unable to manage his pain.
We’ve never euthanized a horse before, so this was a new and emotional experience, but I’m happy we were able to choose his time. He’s now resting peacefully in his paddock overlooking our farm. He always did like to know everything that was going on in his domain.
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.
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!
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.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Botanical Building in Balboa Park.
Botanical Building in Balboa Park.
Botanical Building in Balboa Park.
Del Mar Arena
Del mar Arena
Ready for the Helen Langehanenberg Masterclass and freestyles!
Adequan Global Dressage Festival
Daniel Bluman won the big CSI***** Grand Prix.
I visited the African American History Museum in DC with my parents in January
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.
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.
Cambalda splashed through the brush jump at the Carolina International with Jennie Brannigan.
Ballynoe Castle RM retired at Rolex this year, and Buck Davidson showed him some love.
The trees at Red Hills in Tallahassee, Fla., are gorgeous!
This Snow White pas de deux was really fun at Dressage at Devon!
My first trip to Rebecca Farm didn’t disappoint!
I captured this shot of Laura Graves’ Verdades at AGDF in February.
Jan Ebeling patted FRH Rassolini at the AGDF. Check out that crest!
The light hit Foxwood High’s eye just right at Great Meadow.
Will Coleman and Gideon made a lovely picture under the willows at Red Hills.
Just some lovely fall colors at Devon
This shot of Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow became a cover shot for COTH!
#eqgoals. Mavis Spencer at the Palm Beach Masters.
Clark Montgomery and my favorite, Loughan Glen, at Pine Top.
Jacquie Brooks always has a good time on D Niro at Devon.
Will Coleman and Tight Lines were stick straight at Great Meadow.
Reggie being cute!
Costume hi jinx at the Great Charity Challenge in Wellington.
Braids at Fair Hill.
Hunter knees for Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras at Ocala.
All cleaned up for the Fair Hill jog.
I was a little downhill to capture this shot of Will Faudree and Pfun at Rolex.
This table shot beautifully at The Fork. Here’s Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott.
I thought this was a unique angle as I was walking towards another fence at Carolina. Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless power up the hill.
#knees. Laura Kraut and Confu at the Palm Beach Masters.
I love going to new event. It was amazing to be at the christening of the new advanced course (and future WEG course) at The Fork at Tryon. This is Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude.
D.A. Duras and his groom Shannon Kinsley at Ocala.
Just a nice shot of Joe Meyer and the best named horse ever, Clip Clop, at Rolex.
Tim Bourke and his son Senan at Fair Hill.
Knowing what Will Faudree has been through in the last two years after breaking his neck gives this image from Rolex special meaning.
Beauty in the background at Rebecca Farm.
The water shot beautifully at Carolina International this year. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z tackled this huge drop with style.
Just a nice shot of the Fair Hill CCI*** winner Seleno O’Hanlon on Foxwood High.
#eqgoals. Emily Beshear at Great Meadow.
Sharon White’s Cooley On Show hammed it up at the Rolex jog.
Jennie Brannigan’s I Bella gave this table at the Wellington Eventing Showcase plenty of air.
The Budweiser Clydesdales were mobbed at Red Hills.
I didn’t shoot much show jumping this year, but I got this nice photo of Kent Farrington and Gazelle in Wellington.
Three masters of eventing in one place! Boyd Martin, William Fox-Pitt and Mark Todd at the Wellington Eventing Showcase.
Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville C at Fair Hill.
Whenever I’m struggling on the flat, I think of this photo of Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST at Rolex and sit up just a little bit taller.
It’s been a crazy busy month with my vacation, a trip to Ocala and Thanksgiving, so I haven’t had much time to blog. Now I’m off to California tomorrow for the USEA Convention and for a quick visit to L.A.!
But before that I was able to get Oh So out to the Loch Moy Donation Derby on Sunday.
I was super excited to ride Saturday, but after I fed him his breakfast and went to clean his legs up I realized he’d sprung a shoe! He lives out in a decent amount of mud and hasn’t lost a shoe for a very long time, and it was quite dry, so I was pretty upset.
Luckily the derby ran a second day, so if I could find a farrier to tack it back on I’d be OK.
I spent the day calling about 10 farriers with no luck, and by 4 p.m., I’d resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be going- a great way to cap a pretty horrible year of wasted money and disappointment as far as my riding goals.
But a local farrier came through in the end by some miracle at 5 p.m. and we got it back on!
I debated titling this post, “There Goes The Season,” or “What Season?” so please excuse the following whine session!
I was prepped and ready to go today to the only event this fall that I could get to, the Waredaca Starter Trials.
Between travel and making sure I felt absolutely ready as far as my ankles go, it just took us awhile to get to this point, and last night they decided to postpone to a weekend I’m not available due to the possibility of inclement weather (which didn’t start coming in until well after my ride times would have been today).
It’s been exceptionally dry this fall, so of course the one day I could get to an event it had to rain!
I have an older version of what’s now known as the Kool Coat, but it has an attached neck that’s a bit short on Oh So, so I decided to try the updated version.
The reason I bought it originally was because I was looking for something halfway between a light sheet and a fly sheet to keep my horses clean after baths on warmish days but not cause them to sweat.
These days with Oh So living out, I was looking for those same features but to help keep him from bleaching too.
The new version definitely fits that bill, with the top half providing 90% UV protection by way of 270g polyester fabric that doesn’t seem very breathable and a bottom half of mesh to keep your horse cool.
On Sunday Lisa and I took Thomas to Hunt Club Farm for an outing with my friend Meghan riding him. I’m still not quite ready to get on him yet because I’m not mounting and dismounting without a very tall water trough, and I’m not as strong or quick as I want to be in the saddle, so Meghan’s been riding him and doing very well.
He certainly enjoyed posing for some impromptu photos and did very well over some of the little intro jumps on cross-country. He seems to have no problem with water, faux ditches and banks, and that’s the hard stuff! He just needs to trust his rider over the actual jumps without looking at them first, but we’ll get there.
It’s definitely an interesting but fun experience to be an owner on the ground. I get to take pretty pictures of my horse and use my skills to capture his personality, which never gets to happen when you’re on them!
I haven’t said much about Thomas since my accident, mostly because I’ve only been able to see him a handful of times on the weekends, but also because I’ve had a lot of thoughts floating around in my ahead. Unfortunately I’m a chronic over-thinker, as evidenced by my last post, which is the worst thing I can be in this situation.
I’ve found that just not thinking about him is helpful, which sounds awful and is completely against my nature! I can’t control what’s going on with him, which is hard, so I just don’t even think about it. But I know he’s in good hands with Dustin and Michelle Craig at WestWind Farms in Upperville, learning all about the world.
He’s gone to a couple of local schooling facilities with a group of horses in the trailer and by all reports has been getting on the trailer fine and standing to wait his turn and when he’s done.
I’ve traveled a lot this year, and photography is my favorite part of my job, so it was hard to narrow down my favorite photos, but I chose the following for two reasons. First, I love a classically perfect jumping photo, so I’ve included a few. Second, I’ve worked really hard this year on seeking out more candid moments. Sure, I can get a hundred shots of horses with perfect knees over a big oxer, but in the end, I think it’s the more emotional moments that really resonate with people.
It probably helped that I had a borrowed Nikon D5 and 200-400 lens to play with at the Olympics, which was amazing, but many of these were taken with our trusty D3 or D4S and a fixed 300m or 70-200mm lens.
Click on a photo to view the gallery in higher res.