Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hilltop Horse Trials

On Sunday, October 24, we competed at the Hilltop Horse Trials in Somersworth, NH.  It was our last show of the 2010 year!  I was quite happy to have a good event and end the year in style!!!
Thankfully, one of the mothers at the trailer next to me was willing to snap this photo at the end of the day!  I hate showing alone because I never get any pics!  :)

Yay Dreamy!  :)

It was a good day...we competed in the senior division of Elementary, which is also called Modified Beginner Novice.  Basically it is the same as Beginner Novice, but the jumps are lower.   It was cold and damp, with one slight rain shower after dressage, but thankfully there was no wind.  It did rain more right as we were pulling out of the farm drive to go home....which was better than while we were showing!  LOL!  I dressed for success in my full Carhartt suit, complete with all my polar fleece accoutrement.  :)  Dreamy relaxed in the trailer with her hay net and her polar fleece sheet between our phases...with 2-3 hours between each one, I wanted her to be comfortable.  She has a super thick winter coat already and while she did not get "sweaty" after each round, she was damp.  I did not want her to catch a chill!

We did Beginner Novice Test A for dressage.  Dreamy warmed up quite well.  I was pleased with her canter and we had some nice trot work.  Sadly, we had to ride in the dark and damp indoor arena.  Dreamy was very tense...she was obedient she very very tense.  :(  Of course, any tension AT ALL in her back and the canter is awful.  So after all the nice canter circles in warmup, which would have easily scored us 6s at least, we ended up with 5s because she was too tense to canter correctly.  Oh well.  What can you do??  

Otherwise, the test was fine.  Our transitions and accuracy were really good.  The judge asked me immediately after my last salute what her breed was.  When I said Standardbred, she replied, "WOW!  What a LOVELY, LOVELY horse!  You have done a wonderful job with her!" She asked about her canter...I explained that while she struggles to maintain a decent dressage canter on a good day, any tension makes it nearly impossible.  She smiled and asked if it had been better outside in warm up.  I laughed and said YES!!!!  She told me to keep up the good work.  She also called her walk and trot work "just lovely".  (Actually, she said lovely about five times in the conversation!  LOL)  I appreciate a judge who is so upbeat and supportive.  :)

We were first after dressage with a 39.  Not a great score, but I was pleased.  We had mostly 7s to offset the four 5s for the canter.  We got an 8 on our free walk and an 8 on one of our trot transitions.  Our center lines were straight and our circles had good geometry.  I was pleased.  
There were only three other people in our division, and we were all separated by only 6 points.  So I knew we needed our "A" game for the two jumping phases.  :) 

Our cross country warm up was odd.  Dreamy hesitated at the first little cross rail I pointed her at.  The first thing I start thinking is RETIREMENT!  :(  I start worrying she is sore, oh my goodness, she is 19, she needs to be retired, etc, etc.  I have only jumped her at shows this year, never at home, and have been SUPER careful about jumping.  

I tried it twice more and she was fine.  She trotted and cantered without any hint of stiffness or soreness.  I figured I would give the course a try and if she felt off, I would just pull up. 

We walked into the start box and got our countdown.  I love how steady and unphased she is about that.  She stands perfectly still until I ask her to GO!  :)  The first five jumps were in a big field.  She jumped the first log and then hay bales like nothing.  We were on a roll, her ears were up, and she seemed happy to be jumping.   I cantered over most of the course, except for one jump out in the woods that came up sharply around a bend.  I planned in my course walk to slow her down and rebalance her.  It worked well.  And there was one spot in the footing  at the end that was a little sticky.....we went from a railroad tie fence to a big "PT wall" jump (think wooden slabs).  She was too strung out for my liking and the back field was wet and deep.  I opted to rebalance her by trotting into the PT wall fence.  It worked well and we took the last two fences with no issue.  Overall, she was super and had no issues at any fences.

I was super proud of our last cross country run for the year!  She was forward without being  nutty at all.  She was brave and smart.  I love that I can run cross country in our regular eggbutt French link snaffle.  :D

I was super happy to see I was the only rider in my division to go clean in cross country!  I was now over 20 points ahead of the second place rider.  Yay!  It felt nice to have no pressure going into stadium.  

I was first to go in my division.  The course flowed really well and I was eager to try it.  Dreamy was super good, listening and responding well to my aids.  She jumped everything with no issues.  We were again the only ones to go clean (and one poor girl fell off at the last fence...her horse was not being cooperative.  She was fine thankfully!)

Not only did we win a big blue ribbon, I also got a medal and a pretty new crop!  :)  We got to lead a Victory Trot which was fun (the ring was too stuffed with jumps, especially along the rail, to safely navigate a canter).  

What a great way to end the season!!!!  :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Marshaling the 3 Year Old Maine Sire Stakes Finals

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, my friend Shelly and I marshaled the 3 Year Old Maine Sire Stakes Finals at Scarborough Downs.  It was a lot of fun, as always.  The weather was a bit on the cold side, but the sun was shining and the wind was almost nil.  Dreamy is on the right...

 Here we are on the left...

Our adoring fans......LOL!

Dreamy was not so sure she liked the cigars.....

Quite possibly, my most favorite photo ever!!!!!  LOVE IT!  The are not exactly stepping the same, but in a mirror image type way!  :)

 Awwww, our ponies love each other.  

Thank you to Kelly C. and Katie F. for taking gorgeous photos!!!

And if you look closely at the right hand side of the screen at 1:28 (in the video), you'll see us standing at the fence between races chatting with our fans!  LOL!  Click here for the video....

Friday, October 29, 2010

November Hoof Beats

I received an email today from Jessica at the USTA.  It seems they are including a small blurb about the WEG Standardbreds in the November issue of Hoof Beats.  She wrote, "They chose a picture of Liz & Dreamy and a quote from Laura and it’s on the first page of “Starting Lines". 

Not only is it exciting that they wrote again about the WEG Standardbred team, but they chose a photo of my horse!  :)  Yay Dreamy!  LOL!  I love it!

I am a subscriber and should receive my monthly issue this week.  I'll scan it to post here!  :D

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our 2010 World Equestrian Games Adventure

I had an absolutely amazing time at WEG.  I was very lucky to be asked by the USTA to step up from being the jumping alternate (chosen in 2008) and actually be a part of the jumping demo.  The horse who was supposed to jump did a western pleasure demo instead, due to her navicular.  So the jumping section of our demo was performed by Dreamy and I (as the eventing horse) and my friend Helene and her horse JB (as the show jumping horse).

It was so much work to prep and plan for this event.  I had so many lists!  LOL!  Shipping my horse 1000+ miles to Kentucky was a huge undertaking as well.  I am proud that I did 99% of the driving myself, except for just a few hours at the end of the trip on the way down.  After too many hours in the driver's seat, I needed to take a break and my friend Tania stepped up to help.  Dreamy was just perfect.  With her COPD issues, I had to be super careful about where I stabled her...I ended up putting her on TriHist just while we were gone to be safe.  She had no issues, thankfully, but I felt better knowing she was on it.  Of course, I continued with her regular herbal supplement, soaked hay, and chopped forage. Overall, our trip to WEG was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime event in many ways.

Here we are leaving Maine in the rain!  LOL!

Well, I had really good intentions about blogging each day at WEG.  But I was so busy all day and then exhausted each night that there was no time at all!  LOL!  Oh well.  :D

Here I am five hours into the drive to KY, checking on the horses!  :)

Here is Dreamy getting a bath at Laura's before our team practice on Sat., Oct. 2.

We had practice at the Red Mile in Kentucky which is a gorgeous track.  

We went out to lunch beforehand (thanks USTA!)  It was a bit overwhelming to try to put the demo together, but overall it went pretty well.  We had halters and blankets donated to our demo team by Finn Tack.  Also we had several bags of shavings donated to us for use at WEG by Callaway Farms.

Here is our group showing off our halters and blankets!  :)  We all thought we were getting nylon sheets (which I would not get much use of) but instead we got super nice winter turnout blankets!  SCORE!!!  LOL!  Dreamy and I are on the far right.

Here we are during our team practice at the Red Mile....


This is the BEST PIC ever!  LOL!  I was being silly at the team sums up my WEG trip....I HAD SO MUCH FUN!!

 More posing....I like to pose.  LOL!

Our first demo was 5:30 PM on Sunday, Oct. 3.  It was rainy, raw, and FREEZING cold.  The audience was pretty small but it still went well.  Dreamy was unfazed by everything and had no problems.  She is a good mare, but you never know!  Nothing bothered her and she was super.  We wore our pink plaid XC gear.....

Warming up for demo #1!  Warm up is a relative term since it was SOOOO cold that day.  My teeth were chattering!

First demo at WEG!!!!!!!!!

Our second demo was even later than the first, at 6:00 PM Monday, Oct. 4.  Still raw and cold and the stands were pretty empty.  We were sort of bummed out, but what can you do?  We sported our turquoise XC gear...

Warm up...

DEMO #2!

The third demo on Tuesday, Oct. 5 was pretty darn great.  It finally warmed up a lot and the crowd was much better.  It was at 4:00 PM.  We wore our lime green XC outfit....

And our last demo on Wednesday, Oct. 6 was the best one.  We went at 12:30 right before the California Cowgirls which was a huge draw.  The stands were packed and people lined the edge of the ring.  It was super fun to have the crowd cheering and everything.  We did our bright fuchsia outfit!  I designed this one after finding the cute saddle pad this has stars (for Dreamy STARlet) and a jumping horse!  It was too perfect to not purchase and use for WEG!

After each demo, we went to a small "meet and greet" to the side of the arena.  Not everyone brought their horses over, but three of us went each day and stayed for quite a while.  People loved coming over to meet the horses, ask us about them, and we passed out our Standardbred brochures.  We had kids and adults who just wanted to pat horses, we had people who actually ride Standardbreds, and I had people come up and ask specifically about my horse!  :)  That was person actually asked for his photo to be taken with me and Dreamy!  LOL!  A fan!  Another woman wanted to know if STBs would be appropriate for polocrosse (she and her daughter were riding in that demo in the adjoining ring).  She thought my horse looked like she had the "right kind of brain" (as she put it) for polocrosse.  She was impressed with everyone but thought that if my horse could be that quiet and go cross country in a snaffle (she does...) that a STB might be a good choice.  She said she was tired of falling off her TBs!  LOL!!!!!

Overall, it was a very positive experience to have the eight Standardbreds at WEG.   We got great feedback and had fun.  It was tiring, of course, but sooooo worth it.  Not only did we have fun with the demos, but we had time to check out everything at WEG!  It was so insane to be at such a huge international event!  Our credentials got us into the competitions which was cool.....and of course allowed us to park and get in for free.  The trade show was amazing....I got some great deals and lots of free stuff!!

My best purchases were a black Stubben dressage bridle for $35, a pair of laced Stubben reins for $10, and a white fitted saddle pad for only $5!  Great bargains!!!  I also got WEG merchandise.....two shirts, a baseball cap, a glass, a stuffed horse, and a pin.  Funny thing was that they actually ran out of WEG merchandise at WEG!  :-O  So we hit up the local WalMart that had a bunch of stuff, all of it a bit cheaper than at WEG.  So weird to have it at WALMART of all places!  I also got a recycled racehorse shirt from New Vocations and a cute brown striped Horseware bag from Bit of Britain.  Plus, I found a little John Deere toy for my son.  :)

I scored lots of free stuff: treats, two brushes, a sweat scraper, plastic cups, pens, pads of paper, four reusable bags, lip balm (from Triple Crown! LOL), water (from USDF with their own horsey logo! LOL), another WEG pin....and of course lots of brochures and what-not.  I gave my son my free John Deere mini flag and mini flashlight.  :D

Part of the fun was the constant "slumber party" with my WEG girls: Tania, Laura, Christie, and Helene!  We had so many laughs and near pants-wetting moments....ROFL!  I had so much fun with them all.  So many great memories and funny moments. 

Here is the Fab Five at the Swedish tent! Everyone wants to be Swedish......OBVIOUSLY!!  LOL!  Oh and we got tons of free stuff at the Swedish booth....the visors we are wearing, Swedish pins. calendars, chocolate...

 And here I am trying to get something out of the gooseneck....LOL!  

 Here I am trying out the mechanical cutting horse!  WHOO!  :D

Here we are at the WEG stabling area...

Dreamy's stall:

I had four coats on that day because it was soooooo cold!!!  We actually had to buy hats and mittens at WalMart because it was soooo cold.  I never even thought to pack them!!  You can see our awesome team coats (the back has a huge pic...) and my credentials hanging around my neck.  We also got four STB team shirts...a t-shirt, two polos, and a long sleeved shirt!  They were awesome!

Dreamy posing at her grandsire Bret Hanover's grave...

Signs for WEG! 

Here is the side of the outside ring...

Here I am with Jessica from USTA doing my interview...

Posing with the USDF sign!

Helene and I pose with our pics on the USTA banner at the New Vocations booth!  :)

Posing at the Secretariat statue...

There are more photos, but I am waiting on "my photographers" to edit and upload....LOL!  One of them took 1000+ pics, so it might be a few more days.  :)

Also, more photos can be found here.  Check us out on FaceBook by searching for "WEG Standardbreds."  :)