Yesterday was a really long day. After my normal riding and work around the farm, I loaded up my two kids and headed North toward the Columbus area to pick up our 2 new horses. We made it to Canal Fulton at about 5pm to pick up a 4 year old Thoroughbred gelding. His racing name was “Deputy Dale”, which we decided was just not the name for a classy young eventing prospect. His former owners had renamed him “Sullivan”, which I would have loved except for the fact I now have a picture of a huge black Percheron Cross attached to that name. After looking at his pedigree and seeing that he is half Irish TB, I decided to use the name “Murphy”. It seems to fit him so far.
The next horse we went to pick up was located in Delaware, Ohio. We arrived at the farm to see our newest lesson pony waiting for us in the parking lot with a little girl at the other end of a lead rope. “Buttercup”, as we renamed her, is a 7 year old Mustang pony. She is super sweet and will be adorable when she gains about 100 pounds.
Murphy spent the morning outside trotting quietly around the field checking out his new home. I was in Lexington all morning, but Jessica said that he “floated”. I’m anxious to get to work with him soon.
Buttercup spent the day inside eating hay. She seemed thrilled. The results of her coggins came back negative, and tomorrow she will head outside to meet the rest of the girls.
Let me just tell you that competing a horse at the one star level requires so much more than a talented a horse and a bold rider. It requires having a vet at your every beck and call, a personal assistant for all of the paperwork that goes with the passport and USEF forms, a millionaire husband to fork out the cash for the new shadbelly dressage coat and top hat, and 2 of me to be able to take care of all of Gus’s needs (and let me tell you……there are too many to count!) and still ride my poor “other” horse to get ready for shows! Needless to say, other than having a great vet who has been very available to us during this process, I have none of the rest.
Gus is on a path to the Virginia CCI* in November. Keeping him sound, and finding the time to do all of the conditioning required to make sure he can do an 8 1/2 minute gallop over 30 fences at prelim speed is our number one priority at this time. I took him to Twin Towers yesterday for a gallop and trot sets, and I was really pleased at how well we both recovered afterward. We did 3 sets of 4 minute gallops and are working our way up to 3 sets of 6. I felt that we could have done that yesterday had we not had to do our trot sets first. Elissa has given me a conditioning schedule that includes 3 days of dressage, 1 galloping day, 1 jumping day, 2 trotting days, and a day off. That is 8 days/week if you’ve counted, so I will have to ride him twice one day to get it all accomplished.
Dr. Yates is coming out today to inject his hocks for me. It has been over 6 months, and I am starting to feel some weakness on the left side. It is probably part of the reason for the left drift, and definitely the cause of some back soreness. We decided to do it today so that he can make it easily through Jumpstart next weekend without getting overly back sore during the show.
My shadbelly is ordered, and Elissa said I could buy her black top hat from her. A top hat. I cannot even fathom riding my horse in a top hat. I’m going to have to do a lot of practicing in my tails to make sure that gus isn’t freaked out by the tails laying across his butt. I’m sure that will be fun the first time.
The Barn Bash has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 13th. We will start the party at 4pm. Please bring a dessert or side dish to share, chairs, and drinks. We will have hay rides, pony rides, a bonfire, and a fishing derby. Bring your own fishing poles if you have them.
Yesterday Gus and I schooled xc at the Kentucky Horse Park in preparation for Jumpstart Horse Trials at the end of this month. I am still in the process of learning how to use my spurs more effectively and figuring out which bit works the best for Gus on xc. Things are coming together well, and I think Jumpstart will be a perfect place for us to practice our speed and accuracy in preparation for our one star in November.
My registration papers have been sent to the USEF, and I am waiting to get my passport in the mail. Dr. Yates will have to fill out all of the information on our passport before I send it back to the USEF for approval. If all goes well, all of our paperwork will be ready for the show by the middle of October. Elissa is currently working out our training/conditioning schedule for the next month and a half leading up to the one star. When I see her next Tuesday for our jumping lesson, I will get all of the details. As far as the vetting goes, Gus is on Adequan injections every two weeks for the rest of the competition season. Dr. Yates will be coming the Tuesday after Jumpstart to do a full lameness evaluation on Gus and do a CBC on him (complete blood count). All of this medical attention will be necessary to ensure that Gus is ready for the really long galloping course in Virginia.
McKinley is going to be doing starter again at Jumpstart. How bravely he completes the show will determine whether or not I will try to move him up to beginner novice at Octoberfest. He is very pleasant to ride, but almost too quiet for me. He will make a perfect horse for an amateur rider once he gets a few more shows under his belt. I am anxious to see how he does at his next cross country schooling.
IN OTHER NEWS………………
Congratulations to Jeff and his engineering firm! He and the rest of the guys have moved out of the office on the farm and into a new building in Bellbrook. The have a great space with lots of room to grow. It’s a fantastic location, and though we are sad to have them gone, we are really excited about the growth of the company.
Today I took Gus to Lexington (our home away from home) to meet Elissa for a cross country schooling at the Kentucky Horse Park. It’s been a week and a half since I jumped Gus last, and I was just a little bit nervous about what we were going to have to jump today.
I met Elissa at my trailer so that I could borrow her rubber gag bit. After watching us go at the KY Classique, Elissa thought I needed to try something that would keep Gus from rolling under while we are approaching a fence. It seemed to work really well. We worked on our corner questions and on keeping his head up upon approach. I was happy with how well he jumped, and I was glad to jump a few of the fences I didn’t quite make it to at my last show.
We made it home tonight at almost 10pm . It’s been a long day, and we were both glad to get back home.
Last night Wade had practice and Kate had a game. Jeff has been out of town all week, so I was doing double duty trying to put the kids in bed. Kate was finishing her homework while Wade was in the bathtub. I was downstairs when I heard Wade calling for me…..
“Mom! I’m getting cold up here. Can you come up here as soon as possible and wash my hair???”
I went upstairs and finished washing his hair. I told him to go ahead and get out of the tub. Wade stood up, faced the back wall and said…… (with his little naked butt facing me)
“These babies never stop shaking!”—-he proceeded to slap his own bottom and shake his booty like a crazy man.
I laughed like a hyena…..and then he did it again for Kate….and she laughed like a hyena.
He’s a never ending 3 ring circus……and we LOVE it!
I can’t say that I went into this weekend thinking that we would complete the show. The move up from Preliminary to Intermediate has been the most dramatic move up so far within the levels from Beginner Novice-Intermediate. I was competitive in the dressage, and I feel very confident that with some work, our Intermediate test will fall in the mid to low 30’s. Our show jumping has improved dramatically over the last few months, and even though we had a few rails, I was thrilled with how he jumped and the canter that we maintained throughout the course. He jumped the triple combination better than ever, which I feel is directly related to the change to the rubber snaffle. Gus jumped big and scopey, but he needed to hold his back legs up for just a fraction of a second longer to not roll the rails. I left show jumping with a smile on my face, knowing that we fit right in with this group of horses and riders.
The cross country course was gigantic. I’m not lying when I tell you that I couldn’t sleep or eat the entire time I was down in Kentucky. The course was designed by David O’Connor and most of it was used for the Young Riders Two** competition. It was frightening and bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. I walked it several times, and I knew I was going to have some trouble with a few of the combinations. Gus jumped really well for his first time on a course of this size. We made it to fence #13 when we were eliminated at the coffin corner. I knew his left drift would be a problem there. Had we made it to fence #16 we would have completed the course. He jumped the big galloping fences like a superstar. The technical elements need some work.
We almost completed our first Intermediate. 3 of the 9 riders in my division were eliminated. Only 2 riders of the 9 had no jumping penalties on the course. 3 of the horses in my division were advanced horses. The winner of my division just won the 3***at Bromont. I felt pretty good about the ride considering neither Gus nor myself have ever done this level. It’s going to take us a few tries (and some major left corner schoolings) to get through an Intermediate xc clean.
Elissa was happy with our weekend, and she told me that she feels that the Intermediate path is the right one for us. We are going to run the Preliminary course at Jumpstart in September and then do a 1* at the Virginia Horse Park in November. The move back up to Intermediate will probably take place this winter in Florida.
To sum up……
I rode through my fears all weekend long (nearly puking the entire time). I did not fall off. Gus was sound after xc. I learned more about my horse and myself in those 4 minutes of xc than I’ve learned in the last 3 years. We are 80% ready to succeed at this level. I am really proud of myself and my horse for getting as far as we have over these last 6 years together. God is good, and I am thankful that both of us returned home uninjured.
Due to the amount of preparation that goes into hosting a big party, we had to make a decision about the Barn Bash early yesterday. We have decided to cancel the Barn Bash for tomorrow, but may potentially have it sometime in October. We will keep you updated.