Saturday, April 24, 2010


I promised Abby I would publish a post from Rolex, and I intend to keep my promise... Mike and I trucked down to Kentucky on Wednesday afternoon for a spring mini-break. The goal of the trip was to see our first four day event, but we left a day early to get some additional site seeing in. We arrived late (late, late, late) Wednesday at Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, just outside of Lexington where we stayed until Friday morning. Shaker Village is a wonderful little place to visit, and I think no trip to the Lexington area is complete without a stop there. When my dear friend Anna was a seminary student in Wilmore (between Shaker Village and Lex), I had the chance to visit her; one of the places we visited was Shaker Village, and I was so impressed I wanted to return. The village once housed over 400 Shakers; Shakers were known for their woodworking, farming, and their abstinence, as well as their erratic dancing! The village has been preserved in almost pristine condition. You can see how the shakers lived and worked through mini-museums visits and tours. We went on a nice hike and then spent hours walking around, making friends with all the animals; here are a few of my favorite shots:

Shaker beds = a slim sleep

Making yarn

The drafts, not Rolex contenders ;)

Me and a goat

Me and, er, another goat!?!

On Friday we drove to the KY Horse Park for Day 2 of Rolex; we were able to see about 20 riders complete their dressage tests. Perhaps I am weird, but I don't really get bored watching dressage, and at Rolex, the horses are just fabulous. We took advantage of the great shopping, and I picked up some fun finds, including a new bit and this great shirt:

Today was cross country day, and the weather was looking like it wasn't going to cooperate. However, due to smart organizing and a slow-moving storm, all the riders got on course before 1:30pm, an hour before the storms began. There was even a decent amount of sunshine (hence my sunburned chest). Cross country is surely every eventer's favorite phase, really the reason many event, and the Rolex course is an impressive site. We got to see all the big names go, and Mike took some great photos. Boyd Martin looked calm and confident as did Phillip Dutton. Amy Tryon has some foibles aboard both her horses, which was perhaps to be expected given her injuries this year. I loved watching Snooze Alarm go around the course; he's a striking Anglo-Arab, and he just looks like he loves xc (despite his smaller stature). Karen O'Connon looked strong, of course, and it was a pleasure to watch Kim Severson and Becky Holder. Both of their horses looked really solid. There's something undeniably magnificent about watching sport horse gallop across a field and soar over a 4 foot fence (some with 7 foot spreads). Even non-horse sport fans could get into cross country, if only they knew about it. I left the course today eager for my first horse trial (in only 7 days!). While I don't aspire to go any higher than Novice level, I am an avid fan, and I have great admiration for the riders and horses who give their lives to this sport.

Square halt from Phillip and Waterfront

Lauren Keiffer and the ever adorable Snooze Alarm

Rolex smile!

Phillip and the blue saddle

The squirrels (as Mike notes "only in eventing will you hear the announcer say (in an British accent, no less) '...over the ducks and onto the squirrels'." ha!

Is that Buck Davidson looking down at the fence? Gasp!

Fabulous shot of William Fox-Pitt, the leader after dressage and xc

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Monday

It appears I'm not being a very diligent blogger. My days have been a little busy of late, and I haven't been doing such a good job of reflecting on what in my life is fit for print. So I guess an update on the weekend and the week ahead is as good a reason as any to write...

On Saturday I met up with Nina, Jen, and Abby at the Redlands horse trials; we spectated a bit and shared stories of our recent rides and then went for a lunch at a fun little Italian place (where buttered bread, ahem, garlic toast, is served in towers:). We then headed to Wheaton to what is surely one of the largest thrift stores on the East Coast. Abby had spoken of Unique Thrift (more like Mega Thrift) on many occasions, and I'm glad we finally made the trip; it was totally worth it! We went to not one but 2.5 Unique Thrift stores; after 4 hours of shopping we emerged with over 10 bags and probably 50 items. I spent $80 and landed 18 pieces. WOW! Abby even got a pair of roller skates (super crazy cool roller skates, no less); she and Jen took them for a test ride:

It was a great day, hanging out with fabulous friends, watching our favorite sport, and shopping! Who could ask for more?

Our loot!

Who knew thrifting could make me this happy!

As for riding, Caesar and I had a relatively mellow week; we did some bareback work and some simple flatwork. We had our first xc lesson on Thursday, but it wasn't our best. I was super confident since we have jumped many of the jumps before with little to no issues. But I was tense and holding him too much and he was super eager. We burst over one small steeplechase fence and cantered off on the forehand and then proceeded to repeat the jump in the same fashion two more times. We moved on to another inviting fence but had the same issue. We ended on a better jump then moved back to the ring to jump and regain our confidence. I felt super lousy about the whole thing, both that I felt tired and sluggish when working in two point (much to my trainer's chagrin) and because we seemed to have taken steps back in our jumping. I think my desire to impress definitely got in the way as did my "I can't do this" mentality.

On Friday, I set out to overcome the challenges of the day before; we trotted and cantered in two point then jumped the same jumps; this time was much better. On Sunday, Megan and I took a long hack down to the reservoir and then did a little flatwork to end the day. Caesar was a very good boy. We are scheduled to do our first horse trial next Saturday; I am very excited, but we have a lot of work to do!

Mike and I are headed down to Lexington on Wednesday to Rolex, the only 4 star horse trial in the US. I'm very excited to see the competition, especially cross country. We'll also be spending some time in Shaker Village, a lovely little place outside of Lex (great hiking, High Bridge, good food...) I'll hopefully be posting a blog or two from Rolex. We'll see!

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


(Sorry for taking soooo long to post a blog about our adventures last weekend; I actually wrote the post Tuesday but could not find the time to upload the photos and videos.)

The weekend of showing left me wiped out; I commend the weekend warriors out there, competing every other weekend and sometimes even more often. Personally, I enjoy sleeping in way too much. Saturday was very laid-back, a great way to start the competition season. We did a pipe opener, basically a more formal cross country school, which gave me a chance to prepare for the combined test on Sunday. Five fellow boarders went out as well, and it was great to watch others as they tackled the course. Caesar and I were in the baby field, a nice little course of 11 friendly jumps. The water jump was nothing short of murky and, well, creepy. We had a stop there, but it was all my fault (slowed him to a walk and looked straight down at the creepy water); other than that, we rode the course fine, if a little fast. I had planned on trotting, but once Caesar got rolling at the canter, it just made sense to keep him there. You can hear me sort of demanding a trot from Caesar at the end--fail! Mike got the end of the course on tape. He was simultaneously snapping photos with the SLR so don’t mind the noise. And forgive the rough footage at the end. Not really sure what happened!

Saturday night, Mike and I took his folks to see a David Sedaris reading at the Meyerhoff; Mr. Sedaris was ridiculously hilarious as usual, and the evening was a good way to distract me from my building nerves. Toward the end of the night, I got a message from Megan that there was a problem with the trailer’s brakes. Fortunately, Margot was able to commit to shipping us bright and early. We woke up at 4:00 which is/was WAY, WAY, too early. I am not one for getting up even at a respectably early hour (say 6:00), but 4am? That’s just wrong. Whenever I have to get up that early, I just want to go back to the womb. Ha!

We were at the barn by 5:30 and on the road by 6:30. By the time we arrived at Loch Moy, I was feeling awake and ready to go. We tacked up quickly and had a decent warm-up. I was super tense and Caesar was overly concerned with Wyatt’s whereabouts. Just as I was about to go into the ring, I got Caesar into a nice balanced, round trot—yea! However, there was some issue at the judge’s stand and my preparation trot around the ring turned into 20 minutes of waiting. Boo! I got so frustrated and let my body get tense. Needless to say our actual ride wasn’t nearly as pretty, but isn’t that how it always goes! It was good enough to get us a 35.5—very good in my book (though I do think the judges were being very generous  My figures were lacking in accuracy; this is something I know I need to work on. I get nervous and want to just “get it done” and thus rush. And our centerlines were wonky. But there were good moments for sure.

A quick tack change then back in the warm-up. Caesar took a few fences with grace and ease and seemed eager to jump more. We moseyed up to the stadium course and waited in line, something Caesar sorely disproved of. When it was our turn, we entered and booked around the course in just under 2 minutes. Not necessarily fast, but considering that almost everyone at our level trotted (SLOOOOWLY) around the course, it felt pretty good. Still have to work on regulating our pace; at this point, I feel comfortable letting him just go, but I know it’s something to work on.

I felt like a million bucks after finishing; the 4am wake-up call was definitely worth it! I was pleased with Caesar’s work. He was definitely very excited and very interested in other horses (especially in looking for his barnmates), but when I asked him to work, work he did. Honestly, I think he was looking for more and bigger jumps. Patience, pony, patience!

I was very surprised and delighted to find out that we had won our division! I am very pleased with our jumping and please with the fact that I didn’t fall apart in dressage. I have a big “to fix” list for our flatwork, but I am fine with that. We are scheduled to do a starter horse trial on May 1 and then head back to Loch Moy on May 8 for their starter HT. It’s such a gorgeous facility! I really enjoyed being there.

Enjoy the photos and video!

And video from our show jumping course at the combined test; what a good boy!

Pipe opener! Maria and Colgan, Megan and Wyatt, CZ and me

Wyatt soars!

A cool panorama of Loch Moy

Caesar is still grumpy despite his blue ribbon :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'll be writing a more detailed post about all the fun we had this weekend; suffice it to say that our first competitions went marvelously well. Really just great! In fact, we brought home a blue ribbon from the combined test today. Crazy! Mike captured some great photos and video of me as well as the rest of our barn pals (pretty much the entire barn went out both days). I'll post those tomorrow with the full scoop!

Monday, April 5, 2010


We had a really nice jump lesson today. I was a little anxious going into it because, well, I'm anxious. About the shows this weekend, my ability to really ride my horse, others' opinions, and so on. The usual :) But overall, the lesson was quite good, and I'm pleased with my performance. I was VERY pleased with Caesar; he's really the athlete after all, and he's doing a fabulous job of taking care of his green rider! We cantered more fences than in the past, and I was much better about pulling (pulling less that is). I included a (rather long) video:

Obviously, there's much to work on: my position (both cantering flat and over jumps), my hands (even though my trainer kept reminding me, I still wasn't putting my hands up), my eyes (look up!), not giving up when I feel wiped out. But for our 6th official jump lesson, I think this is pretty good. My turns are better, I am trusting Caesar more, and since I am less in his face, he's not rushing. Bottom line is that I felt great at the end. HOORAY! We'll work on dressage tomorrow and have another lesson on Thursday before doing my first course walk every on Friday. So exciting! I even went out and got a new shirt and matching saddle pad. I know, I know, it's like I'm 15. But it's so fun!

The weather has just been superb this past week; Mike and I have been out biking several times, and we are heading to D.C. on Wednesday to join the throngs of cherry blossom tourists. Two friends from college are in the area this week, and I am hoping to squeeze in a quick visit with each one. Should be a full but fun week.

Have a great week and thanks for reading!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Paper Chase!!!

Today was fantastic! A fellow boarder and I trekked up to Fair Hill to "compete" in a paper chase. Basically it was a part endurance ride/part scavenger hunt/part xc school. We were told the course was 5-6 miles, but when we started at 12pm, the teams that had gone out at 10am had yet to return. 6 miles, you say? Make that 12 or more! The entire ride took us 2.5 hours and that was with a good bit of trotting and cantering. The landscape was beautiful--rolling hills, streams, old bridges. There were several moments when I just had stop and remember where I was and how lucky I was to be on the back of a horse.

Caesar was pretty anxious at the start; he wasn't too keen on having to wait in line behind other teams, especially with an xc start box near by (Mom, I'm supposed to go in that thing and then run out of it; I got this. Let me do it!) Once we got going, he settled in pretty nicely and did a good job of trusting me over some of the tricky bridges and tunnel crossings (where I feigned bravery). When we cantered out in the open fields, he was definitely eager to take the lead, thinking he had to win. But for the most part, he settled into a balanced canter.

At the end of the course, we were allowed to jump some of the xc fences. I did a pretty good job of letting him go before the jumps, both letting him have his head and letting him see the striding (at this point, he knows way more than me...eesh). And the jumps felt awesome! I think the experience of trotting and cantering on new terrain helped me develop a deeper trust in Caesar's ability to do his job and take care of me. I often ride in an overly defensive, overly controlling way, and he's a horse that knows what to do and needs to be trusted and supported in doing it. After today, I feel far more capable of being the kind of rider he needs.

I feel more prepared to compete next weekend now that I have this experience under my belt; let's hope I feel the same way once the anxiety sets in mid-week!

Tomorrow, Mike and I are off to Loudon County to do some bike riding and sight-seeing; should be a perfect day for it! I start my second jewelry class on Monday night. I have several projects in mind, and I can't wait to get started. I'm hoping to post photos of my work on the blog. Free

Have a happy weekend and enjoy these photos (Mike was only able to take shots at the beginning and end, bummer):

Waiting to start (we are fourth from the right). Click on the photo to take a closer look; notice anything missing?

I love my horse! Clearly, he loves the view behind me :)

Sunburn! Nice medical arm band line! Oh, my...

Random shots of Topo, ever deserving of her namesake!