Monday, October 31, 2011

Winning on the Inside

Are we there yet?

Well, we are home from Kentucky and it was a wonderful trip! Eddie seemed to know that we were back in action, and he loves the horse park, so he was in a good mood all day Sunday. I handwalked him around the barns and out by cross-country on Sunday morning, and he was about a mile high and so excited (he knows what it is that we do!). I was worried he might get irritable doing all the dressage, dressage, dressage, and no jumping, (since dressage is not typically what rocks our world). But, he knew that I meant business when I picked the burrs out of his tail, scraped the mud off his hocks, and took the scissors to his mane. We may not arrive looking sleek and stylish, but I do what I can when the clock is ticking! 

As we made our way down to the dressage rings, the sun was shining and there were horses and riders milling around everywhere having a good time. The dressage-only classes were scheduled for the afternoon, so things were not as crazy and warm-up was pretty quiet. We warmed up for about 30 minutes and I was really proud of how well Ed was moving. Based on past history, I self-consciously stayed over to the side and we kept to ourselves. However, I got the strangest feeling that we were being watched.....and, we were! I noticed people looking and smiling as we floated past and it was such a shock. I'm not used to people observing us warm-up, and smiling. I took this as a good sign and walked over towards our arena and waited for the rider in front of us to finish her test. I was momentarily rattled when I realized the girl in the ring was not riding USEA Beginner Novice Test B, as I'd assumed (oops!), so I quickly pulled USEF Training Level Test 1 out of my breeches pocket and refreshed my memory last minute. Nothing like reverting to my former scrambling-ness to remind me that we haven't come that far!

We had a nice little test, and I was very pleased with Eddie's stretchy-trot circle (we got an 8 on it!). As we finished up after our final halt, the judge stopped me and told me what a "lovely horse" I had and she commented on how light and forward he moved after I let him go into the stretchy trot. She told me to let him go more and not try to keep him up and lofty, and I thanked her for her kind advice (I don't have a trainer, so the judge's feedback is really why I was there!). She complimented me again on my nice horse and my good riding, and we went on our way. The next test was the Beginner Novice Test B in another ring, so I headed that way, feeling pretty positive and capable. We haven't ridden a dressage a legitimate over 2 years, so this was all coming back to us in a rush. I felt much more confident about the BN test, since we had already ridden one test, so we went into the arena and performed very decently in a percentage class (with most everyone else riding USEF tests, not USEA tests). I was happy with Eddie -- no matter what the results ultimately were -- and I left the arena thinking we had gone through a low spot the past year or so and we have come out on the other side. We're back! 

As we hacked up to the barn, Eddie walked along softly and contentedly on the buckle, and I closed my eyes and felt the warm sun on my face. As I listened to the clip-clop of horse shoes on pavement, it felt like there wasn't another soul in the world; it was just me and Eddie. I smiled and I thought to myself, "This is what I've been missing. This is what I live for. I am a winner on the inside, today."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the Road Again.

Our very first event together, at Octoberfest back in 2005.
This is the final halt, before he grabbed the bit and jammed
his nose into the dirt (almost pulling me through his ears).
Such sweet memories.

This weekend is {drumrolllllllll} my and Eddie's return to competition. Now, before you get all excited and set your calendar reminders to tell you to check Facebook every 20 minutes for exciting event updates, I'll just tell you that it's only dressage. With that being said, dressage is famously our worst phase, so the "only" in that preceding statement is very tongue-in-cheek. We have been spending a lot of time the past year on our flatwork, so I am excited to see how we do back in a legitimate competition setting. I am riding the Beginner Novice Test B, the USEF Training Level Test 1, and the USEF First Level Test 1.

All y'all dressage queens out there? YOU CAN STOP LAUGHING NOW. My cow horse can be fancy, when he wants to.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Next Year.....

For the love of a horse....

As luck would have it, I jinxed my wonderful friend, Kelsey, by getting very excited and posting about how much I was looking forward to heading up to Lexington with her for the Hagyard Midsouth CCI*. Following their recent outing at Middleburg, Pirate came up lame and after a few very scary days, it was determined that he has torn the fascia around his right hind suspensory. The ligament is enlarged (or "irritated"), but thankfully NOT torn or strained. He will start shockwave therapy and handwalking, so he will undergo some careful rehab, but his prognosis is very positive and the vets anticipate and hope for a 100% recovery. 

And, all this means: no Hagyard Midsouth CCI* for Kelsey and Pirate this year. HOWEVER, this unexpected end to her fall season leaves K free to plan a trip to Chattahoochee the weekend before Thanksgiving (if, in fact, it is Francis WHITTINGTON who will be there....not Francis "Wittingham" as the clinic announcement suggests). You didn't think we'd miss attending that, did you? :-)

They'll be back next year!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Julie and Gilbert with their first place goodies!

My friend, Julie Downard, has had a lean year or so (I'm certainly no stranger to that!) and has not been out competing as much as she used to. A few weeks ago, she had some "super kind financial backers" who helped her to enter this past weekend's Middle Tennessee Pony Club horse trials in Nashville. Julie has not trained with anyone, ridden in any clinics, schooled cross-country, or competed much at all in many months, but she spent the past 6 weeks or so preparing diligently for her one event this year. 

Today, she and Gilbert (Sullivan's Luck) finished on their dressage score of 37.5 to win her Beginner Novice division at MTPC. Congrats to Julie, who is the inspiration of under-funded Tennessee amateur eventers (meaning  ME) everywhere!

Julie and Gilbie at their last MTPC event a few years ago.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Friday Favorites: Erika Adams

Erika and Williston, Open Intermediate (River Glen, 2011)
Photo by Samantha Monnig

My "Friday Favorites" endeavor would be sorely remiss if I didn't feature a local rider at some point. Erika Adams is a Knoxville eventer who is the fearless leader of the Road Less Traveled Eventing Team. This is a fun and laid back group of riders, no doubt due to the fact that Erika is very down-to-earth, unassuming, and rather un-intimidating (when she's not wearing a Batman t-shirt). However, in competition mode, she is totally professional, all-business, and no-nonsense (when she's not flashing rocker horns at the professional photographer while galloping cross-country). As you can tell, Erika is an eventer who enjoys life and takes it as it comes. If only we could all be as happy and energetic! So, here is my Friday Favorites for this week, courtesy of Erika Adams.

1. Favorite name for a horse:  Most of my horses are named after poetry, and I am waiting to get a horse worthy of the name Invictus. Outside of the realm of poetry, I have always loved the name Free Radical.

2. Favorite drink:  Very dirty martini. Swamp water dirty.

3. Favorite vacation destination:  Anywhere I have ever been.

4. Favorite book:  There are so many......seriously. If I had to narrow it down: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Leaves of Grass, and the Harry Potter series, and the Chronicles of Narnia series, and Diaries of Adam and Eve, and and and.....

5. Favorite reality t.v. show:  guuurrllll.....America's Next Top Model!

6. Favorite pair of shoes:   I love boots. Everything from my Treadsteppers to the knee-high stiletto boots that go great with "the little black dress."

7. Favorite high school subject:  I was always more of a History, English, Art type. But, I was inspired by any teacher that loved to teach their subject. Even if that was calculus...

8. Favorite pizza topping:  Pepperoni with spinach and black olives....mmhmmmmm! Think I am getting hungry now....

9. Favorite city that you've never lived in:  If I wasn't into the horse thing, I would be on the West coast. Seattle. I have visited there many times and each time I go back, I fall more and more in love with it.

10. Favorite motto:  I have 3:
"The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground" -- unknown
"Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow" -- Norman Vincent Peale
"I set my goals high and reach them one stride at a time" -- Me

Erika and Williston after cross-country (River Glen, 2011)
Photo by Samantha Monnig

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I have been [intrigued by the hunter derbies] over the past few years and their fabulously beautiful and creative pseudo-cross-country jumps. But, I have to say that the line between hunters and eventers is just getting dangerously thin! I think they really want to be eventers (at least the working hunters at Horse of the Year Show); they just want to stay clean and tidy by jumping XC indoors. Hey, at least the footing is always good and you won't have many runaway horses on course!

Is this a jump? It looks more like part of the interior design
at Bass Pro Shops!