Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Settling in at the show

Pau is certainly in full swing. After relocating all of our gear to the event and then literally hacking over, the ponies are all settled in.  A big thank you to Emilie for being a fantastic host all week! We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and our ponies loved it too!!!

First I will get a few boring facts out of the way, Colleen is number 18 in the draw and Buck is number 52.  The jog is at 1130 tomorrow, (we will try to keep you updated), and Luke does circles around 430.  Reggie goes on Friday afternoon. And Jules rocked it with an amazing test in the CIC** today to start things off for the American’s.  She was in 2nd behind Jung when we left… not to shabby I would say.

Yesterday Colleen had a light jump school on Luke and he looked fantastic. There was only a minimal amount of bucking and almost no squealing!!! Probably because he was so furry! Since we had not clipped him as luke does not grow a massive winter coat.  Well I am going to blame the massive amount of rain… for the sudden poof of fur that has appeared since we have arrived.  We decided that even though the temperature is going to be 50* and rain for Saturday, for the sake of Luke not dragging me around while I am hot walking for hours and hours to clip him… Hilarity ensued. I think that at some point Colleen was eye rolling at me, as I demanded what parts be clipped, and then stole said clippers to make a few changes.  Needless to say I will not be taking credit for that clip job!  (he still looks awesome!!)) Though I am not sure he has forgiven us yet. Yesterday post clip he spit out his mint, I am beginning to feel the wrath I think. 

Colleen’s mom Sallie arrived today, and Luke was excited to see her. (I am pretty sure the feeling was mutual).  Colleen worked Luke on the flat after hacking around the arena.  Luke started out being a bit fussy not that I can blame him.  A certain German horse wheeled into him… Poor Luke.  He handled the whole situation quite well and went to work, fantastically I might add!  (He is still holding it against me for clipping him!) Well I think I made some progress with a fresh bag of carrots, a steady stream of mints, and minimal amounts of currying.  

I have lots of funny stories and some embarrassing pictures, but sadly I need to be up way to early and its already way past my bed time…

More after the jogs. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Exploration or the great flood...

Sorry about the long gap between blogs, my rider recently informed me that people were counting on my Luke updates!! I will attempt to be better about updating, but I am going to blame it on some of the flooding that has been happening around here, because the internet has not been very reliable and has eaten more than one of my attempts. 

Most of the days have been pretty much the same here, get up, complain about getting up, eat some more French pastries I don’t need, feed Luke, play with Luke (he gets mad if his treat quota is not met for the day), work pony, clean him up, turn him out, explore France, catch pony, dodge grumpy pony face while tacking, hack pony (to grow the fan club of course), clean up pony, tuck him in, explore Pau, Bed….

Some of that might need a break down, so when I was chatting up Emilie at the barn one morning she told me about many awesome places that we should check out, and seeming as how I don’t make many trips overseas (I miss my ponies too much) I certainly wanted to take full advantage.  We decided to explore the Pyrenees first, and we asked Emilie for directions.  At which point we were kindly gifted an English speaking TomTom… (best thing ever!!!!) that was programmed for a town with fantastic views, and some great hikes. The drive there was hilarious once we made it up onto the Mountain roads; Andrea started stressing out about the lack of guardrails… “OMG what if another car comes, I mean it’s only wire” Kathleen was stressing out about stop signs and stalling on the grade, me… well I was all about the views. I am fairly certain Andrea and possibly Kathleen wanted to punch me because in between Andreas panicking, I kept going “WOW look at THAT!!!”  After arriving we had a fantastic time wandering around town and went on a short hike to get some better views.  I wish we could have spent more time there, but we didn’t plan well and were starving, and needed to get back to wrangle the ponies… On the drive back through Lordes we discovered some places we wanted to explore more and made a mental note to spend another day there.

Not wanting to be boring we spent Thursday exploring wine country.  We found a few fantastic vineyards, and did some tasting.  It was quite entertaining because they did not speak very good English, and well only Andrea speaks not so good French.  So I was trying to understand (mostly remember what I had learned in Culinary School) but was having a hard time communicating anything, but I can say the wine was AMAZING.  Most of the vineyards were starting to close their tasting rooms, because it is the beginning of the harvest, so there weren’t to many cafes open.  We were recommended a place a few miles a way, we headed over, and it was literally a ghost town.  We sat down inside, and a few minutes later out came soup.  Being slightly confused, we thought we had seen some sort of menu… not realizing that it was an all-inclusive deal, the meal was literally never ending. (I should explain at this point that Andrea only eats fish or chicken, no beef) so the next course was beef and a vegetable.  We saw one more plate and figured dessert was next, nope out comes a plate with legs on it.  We all assumed they were chicken, and we all started eating.  After I cut into mine I realized it was duck (see culinary school above)… and since Andrea was eating thought it best not to say. SO when we were done I mention that I am pretty sure we just ate duck. Andrea looked as if she were going to puke, and to make matters worse. The man that sent us there walked in for lunch, came straight to our table, and says “O you ate the duck, best in all the area” Andrea was practically green. Kathleen and I were in stitches, and I may or may not have been getting the death stare across the table. 

Friday we stayed in Pau, and explored more of downtown, as the marathon few days of rain started…. In my original blog that got eaten I was going to comment on how we had nothing on Fair Hill, but we did.  The rain here flooded the river and water was everywhere, it kind of deterred Saturday’s exploration, which was actually hilarious.  So Kathleen is driving and we start seeing these road-closed signs, not thinking anything of it we reroute to try and get to theses caves.  We drove around a corner and down a hill and see that A) the river is flooded B) the road we were trying to turn on was under water and C) well it might possibly have been the craziest thing any of us had seen. So for all of you that were at Fair hill and believe me I have been there in the rain, you haven’t seen anything like it.  The pictures just don’t do it justice. After getting turned around a few times, we finally made it to the caverns only to discover they were closed due to flooding, so on to Lordes we went.  After only a few moments of turn here, no that’s a one way, park there, no wait, we arrived at the amazing chateau we had driven past before.  I think that was easily the coolest thing we have seen thus far.  It dated back to the Romans, and was rebuilt many times over, the views were stunning, it is literally built on the only high ground around.  From the top of the tower there were incredible 360* views.  We had also spotted a church on our drive, and so from the top of the chateau we plotted a route, sadly we were informed that it was likely closed due to flooding (by another group of tourists) but we were still determined to try it.  We made it all the way to the front gates, but they had an underground basilica and chapels that had all been flooded, so sadly they had shut the whole thing down. The water was running on some of the city streets, shops were closing, and police were directing people, pretty crazy to see, and we were certainly glad to be safely back on the road to Pau.

We had hoped that by delaying our trip to the beach, that the rain would clear up, but sadly it was still coming down… I was starting to feel like chicken little with the falling sky. Emilie recommended the town of Biarritz, and she did not disappoint.  It was stunning, even in the pouring rain, getting drenched. (something about looking like drowned rats in most of those pictures!) We walked along the boardwalk, and then drove up to the light house and wandered around.  I was surprised by the number of surfers out and about, given the weather.  We ended up finding a few paths that lead down the sides of the cliffs, the views were stunning, and we were all cursing the shear number of stairs… There was a moment of possible concern for Kathleen’s safety while taking pictures on one of the over looks (Do not fear Kathleen was not harmed) and we all enjoyed a good giggle.  Andrea would make a great personal trainer as she was shouting “you can make it”, as we attempted to run up the last few flights… I think my calves still hate me… On the drive back we stopped in a town to see a gothic church.  We found it of course by making a visual and shouting mismatched directions, (this seems to be a theme) we arrived in the front and there was a little parking lot, so naturally we parked got out wandered around. Stunning. Wandered back, and discovered that we had been chained in… Literally. (we were sadly not the only ones stuck in this predicament.) I stayed with the car, another French lady was trying to sort out how to get the chain down (to no avail) and Kathleen and Andrea were off with the rest of the bunch to find someone to help.  A few minutes later a very grumpy French men followed by a small group came out the front of the church and let us out. Whew! That was only slightly stressful.We happily awaited the arrival of our riders today! We couldn’t wait it be caught up on all things Fair hill and start to get excited about Pau. (well let’s be honest I have been for months..)

Don’t worry Luke has a blog dedicated to him in the works… There was something about more grouchy faces if I did not agree too his terms.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Adjustment Period

Waking up Monday morning might have been the worst form of jet lag I have ever experienced. I think I thought it was about 5 am instead of normal time. At the point where I was pulling the covers over my head pretending not to be alive, Colleen popped in and ripped open the curtains (way to full of energy, in my opinion) and said check out the view, just after be careful its bright. So pretty much hating her at this point I half stumbled over and realized we have an amazing view of the pyrenees mountains. (and made a mental note to take an afternoon to check them out). We quickly headed out to pick up the rental car from the airport, which is where the real adventure begins.

Since Colleen was only here until Tuesday morning and I am not 25 (so I can't drive said rental car in France) Kathleen (BDJ groom extraordinaire) kindly agreed to be my driver while Colleen was back state side at Fair Hill.  So we all piled into the rental car, and attempted to make it back to the farm with no GPS or real map to speak of (we had an iPad that had most major roads). This was quite hilarious as Kathleen tried not to stall (I swear she really is getting quite good), I was attempting to find the magical disappearing road signs, and Colleen was trying to find out where we were.  On the first trip in the foreign rental, I think I we only made one wrong turn. Which considering the rest of day one the word victory comes to mind.  We got the ponies settled into their paddocks, cleaned stalls (maybe this story will come out later, but the required pictures are MIA), and all the other normal barn stuff, and decided that since it was only early afternoon food, and the acquiring of a foreign cell might be in order.

So off we headed to find lunch, we ended up at McDonald's, which might sound odd, but the free wifi sounded like a good idea so that we could attempt to map out future plans, and was actually a good choice. French McD's has nothing on the American Style.  There are these potato wedge things that are amazing, and after checking emails and the like we ventured out into Pau.

I think that was out first mistake, McDonald's soon became a landmark that we passed a few times, and there may or may not have been yelling. If there had been a recording it might have sounded something like... Kathleen "now which exit do I take off the circle??" Colleen "Umm... What road is that...Lara is there a sign??" "I got nothing"..."I think that one" "O there's (insert landmark here) again" "LEFT..LEFT" (french road signs are tiny, in various colors depending on location, and frequently do not exist, and the roads change names every third block or so)... The good news is after about 30 wrong turns we managed to get it right and ended up at Kathleen's hotel and an orange wireless store.  Pretty impressive considering none of us speak french.  After converting my iPhone (so I apologize to anyone attempting to call my American number) and getting Kathleen a phone, back to the barn we attempted.

Literally if there were 30 wrong turns we were doing good, and upon arrival it was almost tears of joy to be someplace we knew. Colleen got on Luke for a light flat to stretch out his muscles after the trip. Luke was perfect, so we tucked the ponies in and headed back to town. Kathleen dropped us off at our hotel after only one wrong turn. (maybe we were starting to get this whole France thing down). Colleen and I walked to a Tex-Mex place right down the street and while Fajitas are certainly better stateside, it was still pretty good. We called it an early night and after what seemed about 2 hours (8 is more likely) we were headed back to the barn (with no wrong turns) for Colleen to have a quick ride before she headed to the airport to fly back state side.

Kathleen dropped off Colleen and picked up Andrea, while I kept an eye on the ponies, and chatted with the barn owner, who is amazing, I learned many useful things French coffee is way better than American, the Mts, beach, and Spain are all short drives, and French people (the ones I have met) are nice. Kathleen came back with a new partner in crime, complete with a real map, but only of Pau, which while helpful doesn't lead to much exploring...The new trio headed into Pau to grab lunch and look around.  Andrea came prepared and recommended a few places, but somehow I was elected navigator, and managed to find a parking spot right across the street from the Chateau de Pau.  We ended up having lunch right down the road, and exploring the Chateau.  The historic part of Pau is breathtaking, I think I could have spent all day wandering around playing tourist, but there were horses to attend to!! The rest of the afternoon was full of normal horse stuff, and I took Luke out on a nice quiet hack in the national forest that borders the farm.  Luke has a fan club in France now (well atleast I think), since we passed a few families with small children pointing, smiling, and saying something about horses in French.

The next adventure was the grocery and since our map didn't have those sorts of things listed, we played the I think I have driven past 5 or so, hopefully we can remember where game, and managed to make it there without too many wrong turns.  Colleen got a room with a kitchenette, and naturally being a foodie, I stocked up on cheese, wine, bread, and a few things to cook.  Everything here is amazingly fresh, and pretty cheap. I will eat for a week on 40Euros.  However trying to shop was slightly more complex as everything was in French and there were about 3 isles of cheese... Kathleen actually came and found me in the cheese isle to the effect of "wow you haven't made it past here yet... that's shocking"

After what seemed like a marathon day of trying not to get squashed on way to many multi lane circles, luke bonding, laughing till I was in stitches, and enjoying the ride honestly a glass of French wine never tasted so good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Destination Pau!

So for those of you that didn't already know, I received a once in a lifetime opportunity this fall when Colleen asked me to come to Pau and groom. I am fairly certain that it only took me 2.3 seconds to answer, YES!!!! So here I am instead of packing my bags to head to Fair Hill, I am sitting in France still not believing that I am here.

While the two weeks leading up to my departure were a whirlwind that went something like I really need to start packing now.... when I get home... wow it's already after 10 and I'm exhausted.. guess I will pack tomorrow. right up until Friday. So Friday I packed headed off to see Zac Brown Band (best early xmas present ever!!!) and then drive though the night to meet up with Colleen at Buck's. I pulled in around 230 took an hour power nap and met up with Kathleen and Colleen a little before 4am at the barn.

The shipper was surprisingly on time, and we managed to load up all of our stuff, 2 amazing ponies and climb into the horse compartment by 430 to head to JFK. We made surprisingly good time and arrived at the Vetport early.  After unloading the ponies, then all of our stuff, then reloading stuff (the vetport guy  forgot to tell us that part had changed, whoops!!). The beginning of hurry up and wait started. Claire (the amazing agent from Dutta) took us out for some amazing food at a local diner, and hooked us up with some awesome Dutta logo wear, before taking care of the rest of our paperwork, and we continued to wait... wait... wait.. until a little after 3, when we hurried up and loaded the horses and headed over to the cargo terminal.

I was a bit unsure about the whole cargo thing, as this was a new experience for the 3 of us.  So we got checked in and waited for the lorry to be driven around to the tarmac.  So then the waiting continued, we hung out on the tarmac watching the cargo being loaded, then we did the magic dance of getting the horses into their pallet without touching the tarmac, Kathleen joined them as they were weighed and then loaded into the plane.  Colleen and I boarded up what seemed to be a never ending staircase, and once we were up realized that we had hit the jackpot!! There was only room for four passengers and the crew, so we had business class seats, complete with outlets all to ourselves. WINNING!!!

As we were waiting to take off when the copilot came out and asked us if we wanted to sit in the jump seats in the cockpit and watch the take off, most amazing view ever!!! (This experience was repeated when we landed in Belgium) but then we all got some much needed sleep and the flight seemed to pass fairly quick.  After we landed in Belgium we headed through the airport which was basically closed and headed over to the Flyin Farm to meet the pallet with 2 perfect ponies on it. After the ponies were unloaded and checked by the vet we met up with our lorry to load up everything and head south to Pau. This part is a little fuzzy. Luckily enough the lorry had living quarters, so the 3 of us all sat down at the table, and proceeded to pass out about 5 minutes after we pulled out of the airport. I think it took about an hour for use to smarten up and spread out to the various beds.  I think at this point Colleen informed me I looked like a shrimp (atleast she didn't get a picture of that). We finally stopped a few hours later and ate our first meal since the diner. (I don't think food has ever tasted so good). and then headed back on the road.  It was a long drive somewhere around 13 hours, but around 2am we finally pulled into the farm in Pau, unloaded everything, tucked the ponies in and finally made it to our hotel around 3 am. I think we were all asleep before our heads hit the various pillows, but I can safely say after 43 hours of traveling 3 people and 2 horses made it safely to Pau.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Morven park adventures

Entering morven was a pretty last minute decision, since originally I was not going to even be in the country. After I found out I quickly entered the super pony in the training championships and called to set up some much needed lessons! Lena and I had two weeks to knock the dust off, and as per Lena she did not disappoint.

Lena was the last horse I rode on Friday around 7 and then got all dressed for the show so that I could swing by, grab her, gallop a few and still make it to morven on time (gotta love the 4am wake up call!).

I made it to morven and quickly switched outfits, I was slightly nervous as I planned on a very short warmup, she seems to stay more relaxed, but I was nervous about not doing enough. I shouldn't have been Lena was perfect. She was soft quiet and relaxed! Win!! I however had a bit of a moment, when I came down center line and turned someone started screaming stop, so I did, and as it turns out it wasn't the judge, so there was a moment of panic but then I pulled back out my game face... 2 movements later!! Poor Lena....

After walking around the course there was certainly plenty too do, and with it being our first run back since the one star I was curious to see how she would be. I think someone told her what was happening because there was an extra spring in her step.  Lena went out of the box on fire and literally was foot perfect the entire way, adding another double clear xc round.(that pony really knows how to put a smile on my face!)

After a quick turn around we were off to show jumping, and Jenn had a few minutes to watch us.  A big thank you as I was feeling quite nervous about the whole thing.  I'm not sure why since Lena was perfect.  I had one moment I would like to do over, I went a bit too much to the last line, Lena had it sorted though and I was proud of myself for not panicking!!

Overall Lena finished 10th out  of 30 in an extremely competitive division and I couldn't be more pleased!!! Letting Lena stretch her legs was just what I needed to refocus. I must admit I would not have survived the day without help from Angie (thanks a million times, you were a life saver!!) apparently one should find all of their show stuff before arriving, lesson learned.

Now the ponies are enjoying a quiet few weeks and I am headed to JFK to head to France!!! I promise to update while I'm there, and try not to hate me too much if I don't text back (those international texts are expensive after all.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

so long summer...

This summer has flown by, I feel like I woke up and it is now the middle of the event season and my ponies are not going anywhere. I know it is a bit crazy to think that, but after my arm, a few knocks to my head, and some exciting fall plans,  I decided that while I could run Lena, since I was not aiming for a fall three day, it just didn't make that much sense.

Lena has been fantastic, we have been working hard on the dressage, and she continues to rise to the occasion.  Of course, we have been jumping and galloping as well, (if I don't she gets very redheaded... )  My good friend Marie captured some amazing video from our first serious jump school back post one star, and if I can ever get organized I will post it.  She is truly amazing, and makes up for all of my weaknesses.  I certainly will miss not seeing a cross country course between her ears, but believe me the reason is quite awesome... (more on that later)... Sadly I have decided that it is time to start marketing Lena, with all of my other commitments I don't have the time to keep her going.  Selling Lena is a tough decision, every day that I have her in my barn is special. She is the best cross country horse I have ever sat on and in 7 months we went from novice to preliminary.  I hope she can teach someone half as much as she has taught me.

Dakota is being ridden by one of my good friends.  It worked out perfectly because I have not been riding as much, and she was looking for a horse to have fun with for a few months.  It is always a plus when things work out so easily. They have been cleaning up at local shows.  He won 2 shows at Morningside on dressage scores in the 20's.  He is for sale as a low level eventer or foxhunter. Hopefully he will go out cubbing soon.  He is such a sweet horse, I am excited for someone to have a fun young horse to play with.

Ned has been hanging out and being a perfect baby.  He has been upgraded to nike's, has been to mara's for some lessons, and is a jumping bean (he is very much a noodle to ride, point him at a jump and he is straight as an arrow, guess I know what we need to work on).  Ned grew much more than I ever anticipated, I am starting to think he might  end up to tall, (since everyone knows I love the small horses!!).  He went to a local hunter show, and will hopefully make his first apperance in the OTTB class in October. He has his sights set on the YEH classes and some horse trials in the spring.

Since it is September, it must be time for me to acquire a new project horse. so without any more fluff,  I am excited to introduce Stormin Miki as the newest member of the LN Eventing team... She is a 3yr old that made 11 starts mostly at Charles Town, with one win and two shows.  I had the opportunity to ride her at the track, and am excited about her future. She will enjoy a few months of turn out before I start hacking her this winter. Hopefully she will do the 4yr YEH classes next year.

So since I had to save the best news for last, literally (not much can be more exciting than a new horse!!). I will be heading to France for 3 weeks in October.  It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will certainly fill everyone in on the details as it gets closer.  So while I am putting some things on hold state side I am positive that everyone can understand why.  A big thank you to everyone who is making it possible for me to go.

More later, but for now check out Miki working (with me up) and hanging out at her new digs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The could've, would've, should'ves

This past week lady in red started back into work after her post one
star vacation, and I realized I haven't updated since we qualified.
Well I wish I was writing to tell you about lady in red's super
finish, it was just not to be.

The weekend prior I had a stupid fall off a young horse, and was not
feeling 100%. The main problem was my right arm, I couldn't feel the
rein in my hand, but I thought with the partnership that Lena and I
have that I would take it phase by phase.

Lena passed the first jog with flying colors, and then I hopped on for
a quick preride. She was relaxed and almost as good as she has been in
my dressage lessons. After sorting out all those extra letters and
styling the penguin suit off we went. Lena was awesome! It was her
most relaxed test to date, she was amazing!! We scored a 61.6, I was
very happy with how she went. There is more in there but for where she
is and the fact that I couldn't really half halt on the right rein it
was perfect.

I walked around the course with Jenn and Katie. There was plenty to do
out there and to be honest I was slightly concerned about all of the
right turning questions. We had a plan and after hashing and rehashing
I decided to give it a go, and if it wasn't working then I would pull
up. I warmed up more than I normally would because I wanted to see
how my arm was holding up, so at so good!! Jenn gave Lena a quick wash
and some last minute advice for me before we headed out.

Lena was jumping amazing, and at the first question was foot perfect.
The next question was the coffin at fence 8, off of a right turn. Lena
was full of go and I had been letting her cruise but between getting
the turn and the canter I wanted I couldn't get it done. I circled to
the left and jumped through it perfectly, at this point I was
undecided what to do. We jumped the next few jumps and the next
combination was the hardest for us, I spent way more time setting her
up and she had the best feeling from the log to the drop, my
confidence was restored in my decision. Next was a roll top into the
first water, as I came cruising down the hill I lost feeling in my
arm, I couldn't half halt, or pull Lena off of the jump, (she knows
her job and is always looking for the next jump, it's one of the
things I truly love about her) she has such good instincts and added a
short stride before take off, but at that moment I knew that I
couldn't ride the rest of the course that way, so I pulled out of the
water and put my arm up. It was one of the hardest things to do, Lena
was jumping the best she ever has, but it was not fair to ask her to
continue when I couldn't. David was the course designer and kindly
pointed out the best way back to the vet box. He was the first of
many to tell me that I had made the right decision, that alone ment so
much to me. When I got to the box Lena was practically cooled off,
but we got checked and sponged and scrapped and walked, a huge thank
you to Jenn, the Davis', and the crews from turn about farm and
tebogo, all of the help and words of support were amazing.

I walked Lena back to the barn disappointed that my first one star was
not the ending I was hoping for, but I was also proud of my horse.
This spring we had been struggling with the counter canter, and
putting together a consistent test in the ring. The last 2 outings we
had she had been getting better and better. At the one star she was
perfect, I had a few bobbles because I couldn't half halt on the right
rein, but she was relaxed and taking me. I am looking forward to more
Mara lessons to continue to improve. Her cross country was amazing
and had I been 100% she would have finished double clear.

Since I got back all I think about is how I could have finished in the
top 5, how I should have stayed on that 2 year old, how I would have
been one step closer to the goal, but I have a happy sound horse, and
at the end of the day that is all that matters. Lena has been the
horse of a lifetime for me, she has such a presence about her, and
every day she is in my barn I know I am the luckiest girl in the

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The truth about things

The thing about horses is that one minute everything is great and then the next everything has changed.  I think this rule is pretty true about life.  This spring has been like that, the hardest thing for me has been losing North, second to that was my step moms heart attack.  My parents (bless them!) took this as a chance to let me ride one of their young horses, Dakota.  While at first this was a great plan, honestly every time I went to tack him up I wanted it to be North.  Dakota and I are finally starting to click, he is such a talented horse, so a big thank you to my parents for letting me figure it out! but to go back...

The Plan at the start of the season was to move Lena (Lady in Red) up to Preliminary, and if that went well the one star at Va.  Red Hills was awesome, and Southern Pines II was a learning experience.  The dressage was much better, but I had a bit of a blonde moment and had some poles down. I put Lena in first to close and then way to far away, (atleast I am not making the same mistakes), since I had my moment(s).. I decided to go slow cross country and just have a confident cruise around.  Lena didn't disappoint, she didn't quite understand why were going slow, but jumped amazing, (did I mention how lucky I am?!!).

This is about where Plan 'A' stopped.  The next weekend we shipped the first load of horses back to VA, and on Saturday morning Lena found it necessary to cut her leg, requiring stitches and some time off. Holy bad timing, she was totally sound, and looked at me like "its just a flesh wound, really...." better safe then sorry.  So I scratched from the fork, and made a new plan to qualify. enter Plan 'B'.

Plan 'B' was fair hill and then MCTA or Plantation. The lead up to Fair Hill was less than ideal because of the stitches I only had time to ride her twice before heading up for dressage.  Clearly not ideal, and I was in a panic about getting back and then finishing up packing for rolex (no big deal).  So needless to say I was not riding relaxed and calm, and Lena had not been jumping, galloping, or getting turned out as much as she likes (she is a teeny bit red headed at times...)  So the dressage was a repeat of Red hills, she was tense, quick, and counter canter was more flying changes.... I crossed my fingers and toes literally waiting for the score... 51... not qualifying. since the ground was quite hard I decided to Show jump, and then head home... Lena jumped an amazing double clear round. Dakota came along and hung out, he was such a star! Perfect on his first over night adventure.

So Plan 'C' was formed... at this point I decided to leave it too fate, I would do to DRPC, so I could take Dakota, and then Plantation.  DRPC was awesome, Lena warmed up great for dressage and was almost to flat in the ring, something she hasn't done at preliminary thus far.  She scored a 37.7, and was in the middle of the pack.  She jumped another flawless double clear show jumping, and I had a fair amount of time cross country (since she was running again the next weekend I went super slow!).  We ended up finishing 2nd.  I could not have been more proud, even though I gave myself a black eye. Whoops... Lena thinks that extra effort is required sometimes, and promptly jumped me out of the tack and I smacked myself in the face, with my whip non the less...(my first one ever... was totally hoping for a better war story.. ) Dakota was such a star as well, it was his 2nd event and after posting a 25 in the dressage, he followed it up with 2 double clears to finish 3rd! We lost the tie because I was a bit faster.... I didn't think he was going that fast, he just has this amazing ground covering stride.

So on to plantation we went.... Lena was perfect, and ended up 7th.  We will be heading over to Mara's for some more dressage lessons pre-VA, and I will be getting jumping lessons on everything I can!! We had some hair raising moments, because I couldn't pick a distance, bless Lena for still jumping for me.  Dakota put in another stellar dressage test, to be 4 points out of the lead, jumped the best show jumping round to date, even though I had a pole (see above about lessons, and picking bad distances!!!) Then cross country was well not to be.  He ended up pulling a shoe going down the hill to jump 3 and lost his footing right before the jump. I decided to pull him up since he was not feeling his best.  Dakota has since been out jumping and was back to his perfect self! (not that I doubted him, so he is headed to VA as well) The best part of plantation (besides qualifying for VA) was getting the illusive purple ribbon. Seriously, laugh all you want. I have been on the hunt for a 7th place finish forever!! I have every color except purple. (I was at the point were 7th would have made me happier than winning....) So atleast I can cross that off the bucket list!

This spring has been mostly full of moments of "what am I doing with my life?!?" and lots and lots of tears.. However being back in Virginia has put the spring back in my step, thanks to some pretty amazing people, horses, and moments.  I am looking forward to the one star at VAHT in a week, until then I will be that paranoid person jogging, and icing ad nauseam (just in case)..

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The hills that were red

I think I'm still going off the adrenaline rush from Saturday, not sure though, but there are 2 things I can say for sure. 1 my horse is amazing and 2 we just did our first preliminary.  At red hills no less!

When we arrived at red hills, I was still in shock, (I had been quite neurotic the past few weeks, wondering what could happen, it is horses after all!) I couldn't possibly fathom that my 15 hand mare was getting ready to tackle red hills. Dressage morning was crazy, lots of braiding, and me getting those extra letters sorted out! Lena warmed up fantastic, and we started out brilliant, but then the crowds started clapping and lena got quite tense, by the end I was happy dressage was over, and just wanted to get out on the course. I was certainly disappointed in our performance and look forward to trying some new things on our next time out.

I walked the course the first time with Sara and my parents, and then a 2nd time myself.  Most of the way around I ran into some other riders, and as with all things started talking about the course. I was unsure what to say, so it went something like "well actually this is my first preliminary" the responses were pretty much wow, umm are you really sure this is a good first one? ... "of course, the course suits my horse". I don't think they understood my decision.

Saturday morning came, and after a final walk around, I actually started to get nervous. Once I jumped my first warm up fence most of the nerves left, and I was just excited. Sara met me at the start, as her preliminary horse went a few before mine. She had long enough to tell me everything rode just like we walked, and I had long enough to look up and see my dad. The count down seemed to last forever and the course seconds, but lena was foot perfect. She jumped so well, and I only felt myself make a few mistakes. The crowd cheering us on was the most amazing feeling.  I have never been to a place like red hills, with the atmosphere and all, honestly I can't wait to be in a situation like that again. It was such a rush! Lena jumped me out of the tack at the last jump, but I managed to save it.  My dad, jane, sara, and Brian were all at the finish, it was the best feeling. When my dad said they announced I had made the time I couldn't believe it. I didn't set out to make the time, I just wanted to jump all the jumps, it was the icing on the cake so to speak.

Sunday morning came way to early, thank you spring ahead! And a jog, and 2 preliminary horses. I was a bit stressed about the show jumping as it has been a personal struggle for me. I shouldn't have been, Brian and Sara were there to help, we had a great plan. I went in and was so nervous I almost forgot, then I pictured being back at hits and how well I had ridden there. Lena was perfect, and I didn't ride to shabby ither. I however rode lena a bit to picky to the last combination, and had the back rail of the last down.  I was slightly disapointed in myself, because the rail was my fault (its the first jump fault I have had on her) but over all I was over the moon!

It ment the world to me that my parents came to cheer me on, they had never been to red hills and had a blast! (my dad saw someone at the finish taking pictures, there is one of a perfect moment that I would love to give him, so if anyone knows who that might be please contact me! )I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at red hills for putting on one of the best events in the country (we could really use more like it!), Sara and Brian for all of their help and support, I couldn't have done it with out that, and of course my amazing partner in crime, lady in red aka lena who is the best cross country horse I have been lucky enough to have.

Lena is enjoying a few days off, and then were going to start gearing up for southern pines!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

lessons in life and in horses..

It has been a bit since my last blog, so much has been happening, and yet somehow the words to describe the situation were lost in me. That's only odd since normally they come quite easily...

Shortly after I arrived here my stepmom had a heart attack, this came as a total shock, she is not old, and as of recently we have become quite close. In typical Lara fashion I was ready to deal with it by throwing myself into my riding.

That didn't pan out ither, lena was back in work and in fine form, but the flat work needs to be better if I'm going preliminary. So her days look like dressage, dressage, dressage. Yuck! The progress is amazing, and I am looking forward to more Linda lessons to help us continue to improve.

North however was a different story. When I brought him back to work this fall he started having what I like to call north moments again. It felt as if his brain would totally shut off and he would panic. There would be no real reason for any of it to have started, on one occasion I was walking around the arena on a loose rein, then we were going mach 2 in the opposite direction. After a few weeks of no improvement, I talked to a few different people about a plan. I decided to go back to basics, and work him from the ground. He had days of brilliance, mixed with days of panic. As I watched my special horse panic, and then calm down, I finally decided that even if he was sound something had to be going wrong. Something I couldn't see.

This is the part where I think everyone should know. I got north from a friend because he was talented, but he couldn't ride him. He was a total nut. I honestly believed that the horse had a people problem, North didn't have the best chance at life then. I can remember bringing him home, riding him for the first time, and wondering what I had gotten myself into, if I had made the right choice. The first day I can tell you I thought he was the wrong one, and on many days after, but after the first day I jumped him. Wow. He was a keeper, he jumped me out of the tack constantly, he tried harder than any horse I have ever had, and even on the days I banged my head against the wall trying to figure him out, I know I made the right one.

I started digging, called in some experts, got 2nd and 3rd opinions, and the news still sounded terrible. North has extensive arthritis in his neck, and a few fractures. This might not sound bad, however where they are located is. Every time his spinal column flexes it puts pressure on the fractures, they won't heal. North is constantly in pain. At some point he was in a very bad crash, we believe at the track, but given where he came from I have no idea. The original damage is quite old. The road ahead of North will not be filled with eventing. I have decided to retire North, and let him enjoy his life as a pasture puff. He loves people and attention, but the riding just stresses him out. He is thoroughly enjoying being fat and sassy. I still can't wrap my head around it. At 7 he can't have a job, which believe me is what he wants. North broke my heart. He taught me so many things, but mainly how to listen.

He never will have the chance to canter around a cross country course, but has taught me more than all my other horses combined, he set a very high standard, but mostly I hope I can live up to his.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello 2012

Since 2011 was such an amazing year, this one has some big shoes to fill! Last year started off with lots of big decisions, to continue being a "head girl", or venture out into the unknown and freelance? After a bunch of debating, I decided to dive in, and with that LN eventing was created.

I moved, bought some more horses, became mobile, made it to the training 3 day, galloped a race horse or two, groomed almost every weekend, met tons of amazing new people, and traveled. I will be the first to admit that some of my goals for the year never panned out, and some days I just wanted to stay in bed, but in the end that's all part of the journey. 

So in 2012, I have some pretty big plans, but for now the first horse shows have been entered, and the dust has been getting knocked off my boots (literally!). Lena, North, and I are in ocala gearing up for whatever is in store next. While Ned is hanging out in Va enjoying a much deserved laid back winter.

I hope everyone has an amazing 2012! The first horse show is next weekend, and I am ready to get back in the swing of things.