Monday, September 29, 2008

Ed Wrigley Memorial hunter pace - a great day!

The Ed Wrigley Memorial Hunter Pace held at the Muttontown preserve was a fun event!

The day began overcast and soggy. The rain was an intermittent, light misting drizzle, adding to two previous days of the same so I knew what kind of footing we'd be in for. I called my pace partner early to see if she was still up for it. She said she didn't mind the rain, as long as it wasn't a downpour or cold. We were going!(Actually, she turned out to be a much more aggressive rider than I had expected!)

My husband helped me hook up the trailer and I left to pick up Monty, who had already eaten his breakfast and was lounging in his turn-out when I arrived. Thankfully, Monty did NOT roll in his favorite muddy spot and we were loaded quickly and on our way.

The preserve is very close to my home and the stable and we got there in good time. So good in fact, that the very next trailer to pull in was my partner's and she parked right next to us! We tacked up and headed over to the starting box where about a half dozen teams were already milling about awaiting their call to start. It turned out that there were about 35 teams entered which was a great turn out even with the yukky weather.

When they called us to the start, we were expected to jump a cross rail right before entering the woods. I wanted to try it since the photographer was there. (I'm a picture junkie) My partner said to go ahead and she'd follow. Monty trotted up and over. I, however, was in less than perfect form and I know when that proof arrives I'm gonna groan and vow to never let my trainer see it! (of course, if it's not TOO awful, I'll post it here to share!)

My partner's horse is a sweet old soul. He's about 15 years old so he and Monty are close in age. The two geldings got along well, and when we left at the start, they were most compatible and it didn't matter which horse had the lead, although I admit I kind of hogged the front. The footing was what I expected, it was slippery and even a bit treacherous in some spots, so we did more walking and trotting than we would have liked. We knew we were going to be out of the ribbons but our horses would come home safe and sound. If you want to be competitive in a hunter pace, the ride has to be done at a canter and working trot. The more you walk, the more you have to flat out gallop to make up the time.

Along the ride were some nicely maintained, natural log jumps of varying heights and almost all had go-arounds. Some we jumped, some we simply bypassed.

Of course, there was one "jump" that was a bit of a surprise for both of us.

We were galloping down a nice, open stretch of trail when ahead of us was about a 3 foot wide puddle, spanning the width of the path. As we approached, I felt Monty speed up. I had a feeling he was going to try and jump the puddle.

He did.

I prepared for the take off but he didn't jump the way I expected. I thought he would jump across the puddle, in a more flattened arc. Instead, he popped up in a big leap and landed hard on the other side. I got jumped out of the tack and even though I stayed with him, on the jolt of the landing, I bit the inside of my lower lip - really hard. OUCH! At first I didn't feel much, I wasn't even sure it was bleeding, then I wiped my mouth on my glove and yep, blood. My partner rode up and as she asked if I was okay I told her - "I'm gonna have a nasty fat lip". She looked at my face and said, "ohhh, yeah".

Well, no use worrying about it when you are out in the woods and not anywhere near an ice pack. So off we went with me sucking my lip and thinking maybe I need to brush up on my jumping.

The rest of the ride went smoothly. We were fast but fair to our horses. We were pleased that all our horse shoes stayed on, even with the mud, as we passed 2 shoes lost by earlier riders. We finished up heading back into the field where the trailers were parked and jumped the last fence, also with the photographer at the ready. Hopefully, that jumping shot will be a little more brag-worthy. ;)

Once we finished and took the horses back to the trailers. We hosed them down and loaded them. Both horses were tired and glad to rest in their dry trailers out of the now increasing rain. We riders headed over to the lunch buffet and enjoyed grilled burgers and hotdogs, salad and some tasty baked goodies. The rain was quite steady by now, we sat at a table under a tree and ate in a fairly dry spot. Then it was time to head for home.

I appreciate all the work the organizers put in to this hunter pace. The path was well marked, the course was interesting and even challenging in some places and even with the less than perfect weather, it was easy to see that all who attended were having a great time. I hope this becomes a yearly event!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Great Ride!

We did it! The hunter pace was fun, if a little soggy. Will fill y'all in sometime tomorrow! I need to go ice my busted lip again... (evil grin - you'll find out about it when I post!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hunter pace on Sunday

I have been awful about keeping up with posting. Ever since the boys started kindergarten everything has been turned upside down. Add to that a big load of work on the job and some family responsibilities and it's been head spinning for me.

The hunter pace is this Sunday. I wish I felt more prepared and that my horse was in better condition. My only consolation is that the rider who is filling in for my usual pace partner (B.P.) isn't a really aggressive rider and she doesn't feel her horse is in the best condition, either. So I doubt I'll be competitive but I'm hoping for a good ride.

Today has rained a lot and the weather is tucking in to be pretty lousy for Saturday. So I'm guessing there'll be muddy footing to deal with. I don't think this rider will be as game to get out there in the rain, either. I'm crazy enough to go if it's raining lightly and so is B.P. or I could talk her into it but again, I don't think this woman will go there. If the weather system doesn't move, we may get a wet start to Sunday and I wonder if she'll decide not to go, in which case - I'm out of the hunt - so to speak. We'll see.

I have to clean up my horse, too. Monty needs a visit from the clipper fairy, to have his mane pulled and a good grooming. We had a dressage lesson this week. After a stiff start, his motor got running and we got some nice moves, including a top-notch turn on the forehand that even left Miss D surprised. She wants to practice Training level tests next week. We are still thinking of getting to the last dressage show at the stable down the street in October.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hunter Pace - Must Just Do It!

My usual hunter pace partner, "BP" emailed me yesterday with a conflict of scheduling. Seems her daughter really wants to ride at a horse show on the same day as the pace. It's a show where she'll be with all her barn buddies and they have a sleep over the night before. BP didn't want to disappoint her daughter but she also hoped to find some solution to honor her commitment to me.

She thought maybe I'd change my mind and bring Monty to the show instead. I just don't have my head around horse showing right now. True, I'm still not writing off the dressage show but my biggest reason for not wanting to go to a hunter/jumper type show is that I know I'll be there all day. Waiting. When will my class start? Have my kids driven my husband nutty, yet? Oh, Lord, I really need to be getting home, soon. Whereas, in dressage and at the hunter paces, you get a start time. So you can pretty much plan your day from there.

As a mom, I told her since this was important to her daughter, she should go, that the child will need her there. But I was still bummed about losing her as a team mate and possibly having to cancel the ride. I figured I'd ask around, maybe call the organizers of the event and see if there were any teamless riders wanting to join me or a team of two willing to let us join to make it a trio. By last night I had an alternate plan. I had emailed another friend who usually rides the paces in the fall and has a whole crew of buddies who also like to pace. She asked around for me and sure enough, one of her friends was looking for someone who wanted to go. We connected through email and we are set!

I'm such a passionate pacer that in the past I've even posted an open request for a partner on a local message board. The one and only reply I got turned out to be a great gal with many common horse show acquaintances and we had a lovely ride. I like to be competitive if possible but I will take what I can and if my partner needs to go slower for whatever reason, I'll be happy to oblige. I'm someone who has no problem riding with one friend and all we do is take a leisurely walk/trot trail ride and with another we are hell bent for leather galloping and jumping whatever obstacles we encounter!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My First Blog Award!

Wow! My blog has just received the Arte Y Pico Award from On The Bit, another of my fellow bloggers! I am so honored that she considered my humble musings worthy of this recognition!

I will update this post later with all the rest of the information that is required once this award is received.

Many Thankees to On The Bit!!

Here are my choices to send the award on to:

1) Culinary Types - this is one delicious culinary blog. Peppered with mouth watering photos and wonderful descriptions of the offerings of the places they visit, I feel it's a worthy recipent of this award!

2) Late Nite Landfill - this always eclectic, clever blog is worthy of note for its extensive informative links and witty critique of the best of the worst that late night television has to offer!

3) Mugwump Chronicles - I enjoy these tales of a horse trainer. Her visual writing style is worthy of this award.

4) Behind The Bit - I'd be willing to bet that this blog has been awarded this before but here it is again, for entertaining posting, interesting subjects and generous photos to illustrate her points.

5) The Dead End - What a great blog with lots of photos for anyone interested in Halloween and all things spooky!

Don’t Forget to Pass on the Rules with the Award:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the ward itself.

4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y pico”blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dressage, Thunder and Lightning - oh my!

Yesterday evening was my dressage lesson night. Stopped off at McDonald's for two sweet teas (my summer of 2008 refreshment of choice on a humid day), one for me and one for Miss D. Arrived at the barn to find Monty was sporting a brand new set of shoes. OOps! I kept forgetting to pay for his last set... BIG check goes in the mail today.

So I had to go and get the Plugits and clean out and fill the stud holes. We were tacked and just got into the polo arena as Miss D. arrived. I warmed up at the walk, even executing a fairly nice turn on the haunches through the walk, something I have been working on with with him just to lighten him up and he actually did his best version of that movement to date right in front of Miss D. She was surprised and impressed. Ah, seems my memory is shaking off the dust and I'm recalling how to ask for the movements. I'm hoping she works with me on some turns on the forehand with him next week. We went into the trot work and Monty was on his game this week. Much softer, more forward and lighter.

All the while, in the distance, these big clouds were gathering, and occasionally there were visible bursts of lightning flashing from cloud to cloud. But there was no thunder. We guessed it was just heat lightning and continued to work. As we went back to the walk to prepare for the canter, the cloud was marching right over the polo arena and the lightning bursts were getting clearer, bigger and scarier. We simultaneously agreed we'd end the lesson with the good trot work and hurry back into the barn as it was getting scary, now.

Just as we got in the barn, the lightning was obviously right over us and we could see flashes by the polo arena. Then the thunder started. I wanted to get Monty untacked, take his water out of the stall since I hadn't had the chance to walk him out long enough and get Miss D her check so she could leave. However, just as I put Monty away, the lightning started to really get wild. Miss D looked at me and said, "I don't mind waiting this one out, I'll help you get your stuff put away and maybe by then it will blow through."


She had my saddle, I had my grooming tote and some other stuff, we were about to walk out of the barn when this H U G E bolt of lightning cracked down somewhere close to the medical building and office, the lights everywhere but in the barn we were standing in went out and then thunder like a tremendous explosion boomed. We gasped and just stood there shaking. I don't know why the barn still had lights (but I said a very humble thank you to God for that). Slowly, one by one, the lights of the office and the clinic flickered back on. After two more half-hearted lightning flashes, the rain came in buckets and the temperature noticeably lowered. We then hurried to put my stuff away. I checked on Monty, he was warm, but we agreed it was more from the humid weather than from not having been walked out much. I gave him his water buckets back and we closed and locked up.

I thanked her so much for staying with me. If I was there alone, I think I would have just sat down outside my horses' stall and cried like a baby. That was one of the creepiest nights at a barn I can recall. What made it extra frightning is that the annex barn on the other side of the property was hit by lightning about 2 weeks ago. No horses were hurt but one of the stalls is marked from it. It blew out the lights in the annex barn and the same buildings that went dark tonight and I heard Doc had trouble with his computers from it as well. I guess lightning does strike twice in the same place or darn close to it.