Monday, November 30, 2009

A Few Last Photos from Home

Well I'm back in California, after a mere 11 hours on the road. Phew! It's going to be a photo finish the end out this quarter well, but I'm currently feeling tentatively up to the task (if I can stay healthy! I haven't gotten my voice back yet from the beach).

In the meantime, I've got just a few photos from my last day on the farm. Suzi Gornall came out to the farm to teach today; I didn't ride with her but most of the other folks at the barn did. It was a real treat to get to see her again.

Photos courtesy of Mom:

Finny, our "guest dog" who comes for all major holidays when his family travels

Daisy!! Looking as cute as ever

B'AGAN! The Bagel Boy is back after six years away from the farm! So happy to have him home.

Dually being AWESOME - Papa has done such a good job with him.

David even came out to watch!

Ky, one of our homebreds, is back on the farm after a few years absence as well. Yay Kyou!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Now THAT was fun!

Today Papa and I had a bit of a change of pace... we went to the beach! I rode Dually and Papa rode Paddy, so it felt very nostalgic of the old days. The weather was bright and sunny but, as we realized when we got to the last service road before the beach and saw cattails on the roadside lying on their sides, insanely windy! It was even windier on the beach itself, with 25mph sustained winds and up to 40mph gusts. The wind was so much that there was actually a knee-high river of loose sand whipping over the firm low tide sand that we were riding over. It was surreal and incredibly gorgeous.

We rode about three miles south along the tide line at the walk and trot, marveling at the rivers of sand and playing in and out of the surf. The wind was on our back on the way down, so everything went pretty peachily, despite Dually and Paddy's suspicions of the surf line. We did a little canter with the wind at our backs before turning around and heading back up. What a difference! We galloped most of the way home, and it was probably one of the most intense and exhilarating gallops I've ever been on. The wind was so intense that I felt like I was getting blown backwards and had to hang onto the neck strap for dear life just to stay in two point! Dually was awesome, digging in and pushing harder than ever; it really proved his class. It's hard to tell how fast we were actually going (probably not that fast!) but it certainly felt like we were breaking the land speed record. We pulled up three miles later wind-blown, salt-rimed, peppered with spray, and ecstatic. It was probably one of the most fun single rides I've ever been on. What good boys!

It's hard to believe that my week at home is nearly over. It's been so fun! Fortunately, I'll be back in just two (incredibly busy!) weeks. And soon Kiki-liki will be down in Massachusetts too!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home on the Farm!

It's so good to be home! I had a an awesome bareback ride on the dude today despite the rain and wind, thanks to my new carhartt overalls =). It's so great to feel Dually feeling so well; he and Pa are going to have a great winter and spring!

Daisy and Pa heading down to the barn

Lookin' classy.

Burr Mohawk haha

Conformation shot


Happy boy =)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RIding Kiki!

Yesterday Papa and I headed up to Pirouette Farm in Norwich, VT to take some lessons from Jane Hamlin. Papa took Dually and went first so I could watch a while before grabbing Kiki. It was the first time I'd seen them go together and I couldn't be more pleased; they both looked so happy, Dad rode great, and Dually was perfect. I'm so delighted for them.

I got on Kiki next. It was a very busy day on the farm and Kiki found it all VERY VERY EXCITING. I think Jane was pretty mortified because she's been quite good lately but came out with a bee in her bonnet and spent the first half of the lesson tucking her butt and jigging around the arena. I had a blast though and spent the entire lesson beaming from ear to ear. Kiki did eventually settle down a bit and we had some nice trot and canter work by the end of the ride.

The plan is to come back in December and ride Kiki a few more times under Jane's supervision before taking her back down to the farm. So excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ringo on the Mend

Well Ringo's cellulitis is pretty much all cleared up - phew! He's got one more day of antibiotics but in general his leg is looking great. We went for a nice long hand walk and graze today with just a minimum of snorting, prancing, and Arabian tail-flagging. I'm super tempted to get on and go for a tack walk tomorrow because it will be my last chance to ride him until December as I'm going home for Thanksgiving, but I'm still tentative.

But in a related note, I'M GOING HOME!! I haven't been home since June and couldn't be more excited. I'll be visiting David in NYC over the weekend and then coming home home on Monday. I can't wait to see the ponies, Wiley, and especially Dually! It's been one of our longest periods apart since I've owned him. =)!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Health Update

Well the season is winding down, and Ringo and I have been enjoying some nice low key time to strengthen our bond and continue to work on the ever elusive dressage. Things were going swimmingly until Ringo was unlucky enough to come down with a bad flare up of cellulitis in response to his (BEAUTIFUL) clip job that he got a week ago. Sooo he's on stall rest until I leave for Thanksgiving break... where he'll be on limited outings because I won't be there. So basically he's getting over two weeks off - booo. So bummed.

The most important thing is, of course, Ringo's health, and fortunately he seems happy and on the mend at the moment. I'm just sad I won't be riding him next until December!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stanford's IDA Debut!

This season has been really exciting for me because for the first time ever, Stanford has fielded a team and started competing in Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) shows - hooray! IDA runs alot like English and Western IHSA, where the emphasis is on catch riding horses that you've never sat on before. Fortunately, IDA takes a much saner line than IHSA, and allows a 10 minute warmup before the test-- with a coach! SWEET.

This weekend we went to Cal Poly for our first ever IDA show, with just 6 riders (compared to Cal Poly, who had over 20): me at First Level, Jaslyn and Fallon at Upper Training, Theo and Kat B at Lower Training, and Michelle at Intro. The team was me, Jaslyn, Theo, and Michelle, with Fallon and Kat riding as individuals. Given that we barely understood what the format was, and that people like Jaslyn had only ridden in a dressage saddle 3 times ever before coming down, our expectations were pretty low. Our mission was "to live."

Looking REALLY PUMPED after our 3am wake up to get to Cal Poly by 7:30

Jaslyn models the (possibly Maoist?) boot polishing kit shortly after our arrival

Well, mission accomplished, and then some! I had to start the day off in First level, the highest level IDA offers. I was really delighted that I got an awesome draw for my first time out, a big fuzzy bear named Dancer who actually had really lovely gaits and who had apparently been trained through 4th level before being donated to Cal Poly. Fallon added the small caveat, though, that she had drawn him for the flat for the IHSA show a few weeks earlier... and he had tried to buck her off. Sweet. Fortunately he seemed to have no inclination for bucking whatsoever on Sunday, and was in fact very steady and lazy. It was awesome to get to warm up, because I really felt like I started clicking with what he needed about 3 minutes in (which in IHSA would have been those crucial "first impressions!"). We went in and laid down a very steady test in a nice outline, with just one rather large blip where he swapped out in his right lead medium canter and then was pretty insistent in not picking the right one back up again. However, he had done the xact same thing in the previous test, so I hoped the judge would be a little forgiving.

Getting to WARM UP! I love this sport haha

Pretty pony!

Ready for domination =)

The extent of my "medium trot" . . . notice the desperate spurring going on haha

Free walk: 9, baby.

The one bobble of the test... me trying, unsuccessfully, to convince my horse that I do NOT want him to swap out in the medium canter. Whoops.

Right lead reestablished

Phew! Fait Accompli!

At the end of the test I was huffing and puffing from trying to get him forward (event horses don't need a lot of leg!!) but very pleased. The judge said to me as I thanked her, "You got to show off your riding on that one" which I took as a compliment... and I think it was as I ended up winning the class by 7.7%! I got a 9 (on my free walk - YES) and four 8s - I was delighted! Stanford Dressage had debuted in style!

The next rider in the ring was Fallon in Upper Training and her first dressage test ever. She also drew well with a horse that reminded us all alot of a chestnut version of her own horse Flash. They had a really good test until a styrofoam cup blew through the arena and basically right between her horses legs, which he (understandably) took serious offense to. The judge was very kind though and let her redo that part of the test without penalty, and she ended up getting a 62% and eventual 3rd place.

Fallon and her chestnut version of Flash =)

Jaslyn was next, in both her first dressage test ever and her third time in a dressage saddle ever. She also lucked out on the draws and got a cute little horse named Pilot that suited her really well; they had a lovely steady test and ended up with a 63% for 2nd place.

Jazzy and Pilot

Kat Blair, our grad student team member (another great IDA rule: grad students are allowed!), was our fearless leader for Lower Training. She got what had really been the only horse in warmup that we didn't want to pull, a little grey western quarter horse that was being warmup ridden by a girl in rowel spurs. Not exactly an ideal dressage mount. Kat rode wonderfully though and really got the best out of him, and they ended up putting in an excellent steady round. With a 59%, they eventually ended up 4th in the biggest division of the show.

Working it on the western horse

Yay!! Kat's first IDA show is a big success!

Theo was our other Lower Training rider, who unfortunately really got the bad draw of the day. Her little Andalusian cross was super cute but really difficult in the bridle, tossing his head up and down and refusing to stay steady even though Theo was riding him as correctly as she could given his antics. She put in an awesome test with the mount she was given, though going off course at the end hurt her score. She ended up with a 56% for 8th place.

Theo's pony looking very cute and innocent against the lovely backdrop of the mountains around San Luis.

Theo produces the best that her horse can do!

Finally, at the end of a very long day (starting for us at 3am to get to Cal Poly in time!), Michelle rounded out the entire show as the last Intro rider. Michelle may have never shown before, but she really knows her stuff and put in an Intro test that could have been lovelier. She ended with a 66% and won her class by a landslide!

Trying not to get blown away while Michelle gets ready for her test.

Michelle rocking it on Sure Lina.

At the end of the day, our team members ended up finishing 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 1st in their respective divisions; in IDA one team score is dropped and only the best three are counted, so we had a pretty unbeatable combo of 1st, 2nd, and 1st! Indeed, we won handily, and Michelle and I got reserve high point and high point rider of the day, respectively. What an awesome way to start!

Stanford goes 1-2-3 in First and Upper Training.

The whole show, plus Michelle's winning Intro mount Sure Lina.

Stanford Dressage!!

Two blues and a high point in one show! Victory is sweeeet.

Unfortunately because the region is so small, the next IDA show isn't until February. I'm kind of hooked and can't wait for the next one!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Last Show of the Season: Galway Downs

Well, the season ended as it started, with me picking up a 7th place ribbon from a big division of prelim; it's hard to believe how much has happened and changed between those two purple ribbons!

Mom and I headed down on Wednesday morning for Galway and got in around 8:30pm... not bad for having gotten slammed by LA rush hour traffic! Ringo travelled well and drank lots when we arrived - phew.

Thursday AM was spent mostly with me working steadily to get the dude ready for our 3:40pm dressage test that afternoon. I rode him in the morning and got some really nice stretching out of him, though it did definitely take a considerable amount of time for him to chill out and start trusting and listening to me in the enormous open field that is Galway warmups. I then primped and polished and braided him for the next few hours, and I have to say he really looked good by the time I got on; I didn't have a chance to clip him before the show, which was pretty mortifying, but he was soft and fluffy and snowy white and looked lovely. We had a stellar warmup, with him giving me some of the best canter I've gotten from him so far, but then I got a bit tense when we went into the ring and it transfered to him. I still thought that our opening trotwork was a big improvement and the test overall was much better, so I was a little bummed when I got a 39.2 for 11th place. Oh well.

The next morning was show jumping (out of order), and Ringo was absolutely perfect from start to finish. He was attentive, trusting, and relaxed through the entire warmup, and jumped great. Out on course, he was so relaxed he was almost lazy, and I got him in underpowered a few times where I was expecting him to bid and he didn't, and then he was fabulously athletic to jump out of all of my mistakes. We had a double clear (if not slightly sketchy) round and moved up to 7th place.

Saturday morning we had cross country. Again, Ringo warmed up like a champ and was super well-behaved -- yay!! Gina and I have been working on a new galloping position for him which I think he likes a lot better and can relax more with, and it definitely seemed to be working. Most jarringly, our zen was interrupted when I called 'outside' to a girl coming the opposite direction and she didn't hear and proceeded to gallop her horse straight into me and Ringo!! I pulled Ringo aside to try to get him out of the way, with the result that she and he were totally unharmed, but she made no effort at all to stop and her horse's jaw smashed right into my right shoulder, splitting it open pretty badly. Instead of apologizing profusely (which is what I was doing), the girl berated me for not passing left shoulder to left shoulder (when I had called it and there had been no way for me to get to her inside without endangering the lives of several people on the ground) and galloped off on her merry way. I started to lose it, but finished up my warmup to head down to the box (Ringo was, thank you God, so perfect during all of this - god bless you, horse). I was so rattled that I began to cry (again... ugh) but Gina was amazing and gave me into a lead in into the box and got me thinking straight and clear before I went out on course.

Ringo was a little strong but fabulous and gave me some seriously generous moments when I didn't get him in totally right. I could only use my left side of my body because my right was so sore, so I didn't always get him back all the way I wanted, the overall flow was really nice. I was just annoyed because I pulled up right after the last jumped and basically cantered through the flags... and then ended up 2 seconds over, which cost me 6th place. bummer!

Ringo got a nice quiet afternoon while I worked the 10 minute box for some friends (for 3 1/2 solid hours! I was cooked by the end haha) and then we went home Sunday midday. He's going to get a light few weeks now while I race to finish out the quarter, and then before we know it it's going to be time to start legging up for the 2010 season. I couldn't be more excited, or more thankful to have such an amazing horse to look forward to it with!

Braiding time

phew! dressage torture complete!

Bec and I enjoying being Paint Enthusiasts

Ringo meditating beore sj

Show jumping

Cross country warmup... pre collision

Going into the box...

...and out again

Galway is beautiful =)

Ringo and his mini twin/gay lover Devon
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