Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The c-ville airport is a lot smaller than I imagined... I'm currently sitting at gate 5 out of a total of 5 gates waiting for my flight. I'm Hilton Head bound for Christmas and I'm super excited!
For once I have Internet access somewhere other than an obscure location in town- and much has happend since baby Wesman came to Virginia!
Little Wes has taken to Will's methods well. He's getting much better on the flat and its been so cold we haven't had to chance to do much jumping. The ring freezes and its terrible! BUT we did get some jumping in last weekend!!!
So every few weeks Will and his dad take a trailer full of horses up to Middleburg to ride with Joe Fargis and after Fair Hill Will said he would pay for me to have a lesson with him as a thank you for all the efforts that weekend. I've been waiting a while for this to actually happen and lucky for me, Wesman got here just in time for the lesson! Saturday I woke up extra early to get everything in the barn perfect before leaving for the majority of the day.
I had been up to Joe's barn once before and it is gorgeous!
Will rode first with his Dad and then I got Wesman and Obo ready for the second lesson... Wes and Obo certainly were playful! The two of them thought it was really funny to go around jumps instead of over them this particular day... But in hindsight I think it was a good thing Wesman was bad... It really helped us make some progress with our issues together. It was awesome! I hope I get a chance to go back before I have to go to school.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wesman's here!!!

Well, plans to sell Wesman are put on hold for now because he pulled into the farm here in Virginia around 3am! It's so exciting seeing him, I thought for sure when I left Mass. I was saying goodbye forever.
Nothing against the crew back home, and by crew I mean Mom and Dad, but little Wesman was a hot mess when he pulled in! At 3 in the morning, however, I opted to put him in a small turnout for the night and deal with him at a normal hour.
After a bath and an full body clip of epic proportions Wesman started to blend in with the other horses... sort of. We went for a hack to show off the new look, though no one really knew it was a new look. He was being particularly adorable, which was great. For now, everyone seems to like him...
I missed the little guy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Friday after we finished everything at the two barns I met up with Ali and her friend to make the voyage up to Maryland for Fair Hill! (Up to Maryland still feels weird!) We got in really late so we spent the night at Ali's parents house. King size bed = awesome. The next morning we woke up super early, of course, and drove over to the show grounds.
Once we parked we found Andrea, who gave us our super awesome wrist bands that let us go ANYWHERE, and we were off to the barns!
I spent most of the day in the barns. I iced many legs and went for many hand walks. The MOST exciting part, at least for me, was being a part of the crew in the box after cross country. It was pure organized chaos and it was awesome! Then of course, it was back to icing legs. My hands were very cold most of the day.
When my hands were near normal temperature it was time for dinner. My first ever competitor party! Also very exciting! I'm sure no one else thought it was half as awesome as I did, but the fact that I was sitting in a cramped, over heated tent without nearly enough food was overwhelming-- one of the highlights to my weekend. Strange.
A few last minute things in the barn and then off to the van for some sleep.
We were the first in the barns Sunday morning, the lady who checks for your wristband wasn't even at the gate yet... I took the boys out for some early morning grazing before returning to my life calling: icing!
True to the lifestyle we are apparently living here we spent the majority of our time in the warm-up ring with the best company. We chatted for some time with Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton. David came by for a bit before Marcia Kulak took over the warm-up ring coaching anyone who would listen...which was pretty much everyone!
My amazing zooming abilities while video taping the rounds at Maryland made this my job again come Sunday... However, I missed the last jump... and they pulled a rail... so I don't think I will be taping anytime soon.
But, overall the weekend was awesome! All three horses were in the top ten, everyone was happy.
And just like the way up to Maryland, I slept the whole way home...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Virginia is a very interesting place... at least when you roll with Will Coleman.
I'm all settled into my new residence... though I do not have television, Internet... and my cell phone works in very few locations. I'm getting much better at driving the car too! I can almost not stall out on flat ground!
But seriously, its CRAZY here! One of the first days I was here we went to the movies... Bonnie Mosser just happened to be there too. Needless to say I freakedCheck Spelling out. It was awesome.

Maryland H.T. is this weekend and I hope I get to tag along! Heidi White stopped by one day and dropped off a horse, Noodle, for Will to try. He's hoping to take him to Fair Hill for the CCI**... This place is crazy awesome!

In other news, after the epic fail weekend in September, we decided to we should sell Wesman. He stayed home when I left for Will's hoping he would sell... Reports from home are saying that we may have movement on his sale!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I did finally get the courage up to call Will Coleman...and apparently a phone call from David O'Connor is all you need to be hired.
I'M LEAVING TOMORROW?!?!!!?!??!?!!!
I have nothing packed. I have no arrangements to get Wes down to Virginia....
I'm freaking out to say the least.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Billy and Hou Ride again...

William had one of his best days ever since his field trip up to Mhyre Equine Clinic in NH over the winter...
We've been working at Billy's own pace to get back to riding- which is super slow! Usually its just walking around the yard, a super epic day involves a bit of trotting.
BUT today Billy and Hou went out together... GREAT SUCCESS!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

EPIC WEEKEND...epic fail.

Back in June David had mentioned that he was coming to UMASS in September to do an ICP level 3 and 4 workshop and he expected me to be a demo rider for it.
September is here, and so is ICP! Apparently when David said I should be a demo rider he meant that I should be his demo rider... No pressure.

Wes and I headed up to UMASS the week before for a final dressage lesson with Jerry before riding with David on Friday. We put in some of our best trot work to date and everything from the previous weeks seemed to be falling in place and finally making sense.

Feeling super confident we pulled into UMASS Friday morning

David was still briefing everyone on the weekend ahead so I headed into the ring to warm-up some before the crowd came in. 10:00AM on the dot everyone was seated and David was ready to begin. Making a point to not violate specific pet peeves of David's we performed our official warm-up. He spoke with poise with a smirk that lead me to believe things were going well.

David then moved into the center of the ring and asked me to do some simple lateral movement as an extension of my warm-up.... and all hell broke loose.

Wesman simply said NO THANK YOU! Which in Wesman's world is usually along the lines of bucking, backing, and kicking. Awesome.
So the perfect opportunity to prove to David that Wesman is actually a very pleasant horse who has come a very long way since he last saw him in June failed epically.

Saturday Wes and I were suppose to ride with David again for Show Jumping and a little Cross Country but we decided based on Friday's antics to take the day off and just watch. We went for a hack around the property at home and that was more than enough for the day.

Oh right, did I mention we had an Event sandwiched into this weekend too? King Oak? Sunday?

Thursday, I was super excited about the event. With the school with Stephie up in New Hampshire and the Dressage lesson with Jerry everything was going to be perfect Sunday! Until of course Friday...
I didn't ride until the afternoon so I much of the preparation was to take place in the morning leaving Saturday for relaxing.

So Sunday we loaded up and headed over to King Oak- as a final attempt to salvage the weekend...and yet another perfect opportunity to prove to David that Wesman does have it in him.

I was thankful that we were to ride in the far Dressage ring that is almost completely surrounded by woods and there are always fewer people schooling around it. In theory the lack of activity around the ring would enable little Wesman to focus and pull out a better test. False. This ring proved to be the most distracting ring ever and well, the test was very forward... But our test at Apple Knoll wasn't too great and we ended up finishing 6th!
Show Jumping was next and for whatever reason it was up in the sand ring. We met up with Stephie shortly after Dressage and she was waiting to help me warm-up when I got to the ring. He warmed up perfect! We went over to the ring and cantered on in...
Well we made it over the first 4 jumps before we got eliminated... Ugh.

Since we only did four jumps I didn't feel too bad for Wesman when we went back up to UMASS Monday afternoon for a jump lesson with David before he went back to his Presidential duties.
Well, it was better than Friday...and I suppose better than Sunday.

So Sunday ended with David displeased with Wesman overall. David seems to think Wes won't be able to pull it together and perhaps its time to move on to another horse...

However, David did help me out before he left. Apparently he and Jerry were discussing the fact that I would not be off to college until February and the two of them decided I should concentrate on riding and find a working student position somewhere. So they called up Will Coleman... I'm sitting here now looking at the piece of paper with Will Coleman's phone number scribbled on it trying to get up the courage to make the call he's apparently anticipating.

Wes and I are suppose to be off to Bruce Davidson's this week with Stephie but based on this weekend I don't think thats such a good idea...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Misty sunrise in my hometown...

Little Corky likes to help with morning chores

Billy tends to get mad if you wake him up too early


Thursday, August 28, 2008

ohh Pony Club...

Swift River Pony Club treks to Cold Hill for a lesson with Molly!
Wesman was still on a high after riding with Stephie a few days ago and was actually on his best behavior!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off to Gap Mountain

Jerry's not well enough to be teaching again... he breaks more often than I would like. So I called up Stephie Baer- who for whatever reason decided she actually liked Wesman at Young Rider and told me if ever I wanted to ride with her she was only a phone call away!
After Kent, Stephie got a phone call. Luckily she was doing a clinic up at Gap Mountain in New Hampshire this weekend and Wes and I were invited to tag along.
I planned on riding shortly after the actual clinic had ended so when Wesman's antics were in full swing no one was around to see. However, like many things in life, things didn't exactly go according to plan. I ended up jumping into the tail end of the last group to go and then ended with a private lesson of sorts.
When we first joined the group I had thought Wesman was going to put on his clinic face and be a perfect little angel... then we cantered up to the water!
Stephie's plan of attack was very similar to Jerry's- go some where and go fast! It doesn't matter where as long as we are going forward. We lengthened. We shortened. We cropped. We spurred. Eventually we made it into the water complex.
So we accomplished a lot. According to Stephie we just need more... of everything.
The need for more actually caused Stephie to invite Wes and I to go out to PA for a few days to ride around with the great Bruce Davidson.
We'll just have to see how the parent's respond to this idea... I very much like it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kent School H.T.

If nothing else Wesman is always a comedian.

Kent started like any other event we've been too. A small freak out that there isn't enough time followed directly by what seems to be the latest night in the barn ever only to wake up sooner than I fell asleep.We were on the road no later than 6:30am as was the plan. As soon as we were parked I hoped out, got my packet and headed straight to the cross country course. Apparently the signs to the cross country course were put up to entertain the staff- they sent me in a GIANT circle and I ended up back at the trailer. Someone had eventually told me that the course was across the street and off I went, diet coke and course map in hand, but to be perfectly honest I never use the latter.
Everything seemed fine on course. I was pleased to see many of the jumps were shared with training giving a little more height than Apple Knoll had provided but still with the same basic questions we had answered hundreds of times. The only water on course was a puddle in the woods perfectly placed so no one could see Wes quake as he stumbled through it like the big baby he really is. The terrain was hilly, but we'd done our homework and I wasn't the least bit worried as I headed back to prepare for Dressage.
We had the same test as we rode at Apple Knoll so I knew exactly what needed to be worked on- which was pretty much everything! My ring was running early and I was relieved to able to ride before my time since Wes warmed up perfectly in 20 minutes and I didn't want to lose everything in the extra 10 minutes. The medium walk following the free walk left much to be desired but the smirk on Judge Jack Leary's face following my salute lead me to believe that I had made up for it elsewhere. And I suppose I did. A score of 33 put us in second place heading to the next phase. Wesman's lowest score in a recognized event and highest placing thus far- not too shabby!

Beaming with confidence we cantered into the Stadium ring a few hours later... Rail down at jump one- should have prepared better- same turn as jump five at Apple Knoll... same problem but other than that everything seemed to be running smoothly. He did the combination with ease and soon I found myself making the turn to jump 10, the final fence. Aaaaand we stopped. Aaaaaand we went backwards. Wesman had legitimately backed himself into a corner. And there we sat. I kept reassuring the people around the ring that he does this all the time, I promised eventually he will move and everything would be fine. We Racked up time penalties left and right until finally he realized that if he wanted to leave the ring he was going to have to jump the final fence. Upon leaving the ring a woman mentioned that Wesman was "the strangest thing" she'd ever seen, and she proceeded to describe his strange form while backing and bucking. Apparently its hilarious.
So our lovely 33 turned to a 113.7 as quickly as it had come- but the pressure was off for cross country which I suppose was better. After all we are certainly not to the point of expecting ribbons, still just hoping to finish.
Jump 10 should have told me it just wasn't our day, but still I went out to cross country like any other day. Same exact everything as Apple Knoll, right down to socks and underwear, perhaps they were lucky? Unfortunately our outfit was the only thing the same as Apple Knoll.
5...4...3...2...1...0... Good Luck!
A normal horse right about now would have his ears pricked towards the terribly inviting first jump excited about the venture ahead. Not Wesman. He much rather rejoin his new friends in warm up than go into the stupid little box only to jump stupid baby jumps out in a field. But he went in the start box after some serious thinking no doubt. He stepped forward and I thought everything was going to be fine...Did I mention the girl before got too nervous and asked me to go ahead of her? The rider before had fallen and the EMT went out to fetch her. I assured the girl that though Wesman could put up a good fight he has yet to get me off at a show...
Well, I now stand corrected!
After the first step out of the start box he took another then slowed down, halted, and proceeded backwards. Great. He went backwards and backwards and yet more backwards, leaving the galloping lane and first fence behind (ahead?), crossed over the finish line, crossed a small dirt road and found himself back in warm up. Are there rules about this? Can you go back to the warm up ring after you've officially started?
Well I did. I turned him away like Jerry had taught me and just RAN. Get him moving, in any direction, just go! That's what Jerry said to do, so that's what I did. I circled and steered back towards the start box, went right past it and was finally going forward in line to the first jump- this was going to work out, once we did the first jump everything else would be a piece of cake I told myself.
Well it wasn't. As soon as I found my line Wesman came to a complete sudden stop. I toppled over his head and landed on my feet, reins in hand, facing him, glaring at him. He glared back. How dare I steal thunder of his temper tantrum by falling off. I thanked the women doing the start box, the ring steward for warm up and headed back to the trailer... Eliminated, again.
The little girl at the trailer next to us was competing at novice for the first time and had no shortage of questions for me throughout the day. She asked me how cross country went and all I could think to say was "I guess we have more homework to do".
I untacked, and headed to the show office to get my dressage test as mom took Wes for some grazing. There's no use being mad at him.
When I got back to the trailer the only thing that wasn't all packed up was Wes. I loaded him up and we went home empty handed.

I thought things we're finally turning around for us.
I hope Jerry's well enough to teach again-- we need some work!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Apple Knoll H.T.

Apple Knoll has seen me with many firsts:
I did my first event ever there years ago,
it was the first event Billy finished at Beginner Novice,
and was the first event that I got a ribbon at with Billy a year later...
And this time around was to be no different...

As we were driving up to Apple Knoll I had realized that Wesman would be the 6th horse I've ridden at an event at Apple Knoll- it made me feel wicked old!

We arrived with plenty of time to walk the course and set up camp before Dressage began. We were parked out back in a fairly secluded location that most would have loved, but Dad's tent would not be seen by everyone and was therefor a tad disappointed.
I walked the cross country course as soon as we got there. To be perfectly honest I could have done a better job with some more detailed planning but I truly didn't think we would make it that far based upon our past experiences... But the course look solid. Nothing was maxed out, nothing terribly technical, and best of all no water. It was a good course, there wasn't much to think about, the terrain seemed to aid towards the preparation to most of the obstacles perfectly... but before we could think of cross country we had to endure a dressage test.
(Real quick check out the braided forelock!)
Warm up was up in the ring at the top of the hill, while the rings were set in the large sand ring at the bottom of the hill- right away ruining my plan to not walk following warm up and just go straight to the ring. I figured when I begin my warm up Wes loosens up but after a walk break he gets really tense- so why walk? But we had to walk down a fairly steep hill, cross a paved road, and turn the corner in order to find the dressage ring... not really my plan.
(one of few good moments in the test)
Needless to say our dressage test wasn't the best. Wesman was very tense the whole time and I could for the life of me loosen him up... His canter work was pretty good and some of the trot work after cantering was better, but its hard to recover when there aren't very many movements in the test. We scored in the low 40's which was good enough for 12th place... out of 14. HOWEVER the 1st place score was no more than 6 points lower than mine...

We had very little time between Dressage and Stadium. Just enough time for Mom to take Wes for a walk to cool out while I changed and got all the jumping tack together. We were expected to go to Cross Country directly after Stadium meaning vests and all in the ring!

Our stadium course over all was good. There was one jump that didn't work out right and we had a rail- I didn't see a distance so failed to make any decision-TOTALLY THE RIGHT THING TO DO! But we moved up a couple places before heading out to Cross Country.

Lets take a moment to talk about how we made it to cross country. We weren't eliminated yet!

So we went out to cross country warm up. There wasn't much to do since we just came from stadium, but I ran through the check list and headed to the start box. I couldn't tell you the last time I went to the start box. It was awesome. 5...4...3...2...1...Have a great ride! And we were off!! At the trot! The first jump was TINY. Shared with beginner novice- so I opted to trot it and give Wes some more time to check out what was going on...
Following the particularly slow first jump it was smooooooooth sailing over every obstacle all the way to the finish flags with out a single penalty!

Not only did we finish cross country for the first time but we were double clear! This was awesome!!

But wait, it gets better!

After lunch with a few old friends I headed back to the show office to pick up my Dressage Test and decided to take a peak at the score board on my way back. I had found then that I was in 10th place... Ribbons started at 8th and with my double clear cross country I figured I had a pretty good chance at moving up a few more spots. We had move up 6 spots since Dressage and finished in 6th!

Ok so recap....
We finished the event- for the first time.
We went clear on cross country- for the first time.
We got a ribbon- for the first time.

Apple Knoll=fav!

We're trying to get into Kent and see if we can hold on to this awesome momentum!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Young Rider Camp

GMHA has a way of feeling like home whether its your first trip or your 20th...
It seems like I've been there hundreds of times, but this was Wesman's first!

Since we were going for Young Rider Camp, and Jerry was one of the coaches we decided that going up together would be a reasonable idea. So Jerry arrived at my house-about 5mins before we were suppose to be at camp...
Everything was packed, including Wesman, and we were off...
The ride up was strange- first I had to run out of the truck at a red light because it had started raining and Jerry's shoes were going to get wet... but the light turned green and he started to drive away! So I ran back to get inside and left his shoes in the bed of the truck to drown! But with some snacks everything was forgotten and it was smooth sailing.

When we arrived at GMHA it was about 8pm. Most everyone was up finishing dinner and talking about the next few days and what was to be expected. I was left to my own devises out at the barns. Wes soon found that there were tons of other horses that he could become friends with and settled in fine while I unloaded "Hanabil" and the rest of my things into the tack stall. By the time I had finished the bus was pulling in and everyone was checking their horses one last time and piling onto the bus. Jerry stopped by and gave me a piece of cake- dinner I suppose. Then it was off to Ascutney!

The first day of riding was upon us and we were all anxious to find out our groups and get to riding. I was in the pink group...
The first day, like every day, we were to ride twice. Once in the morning and then again after lunch. And on the first day the pink group only rode with Jerry. Awesome. Fortunately the very first thing we did was cross country. I tacked up and headed out a little earlier than we were suppose to just in case Jerry had extras planned when in fact he didn't even bother to look at his schedule. So we started with some small stuff- we figured our group was for the green horses or special ed horses like Wes. And eventually came to the water! It's GMHA, water is unavoidable. To get across a little tiny stream the first time it took some coaxing-- By which I mean Jerry fwailing a rain coat around to get Wes to go forward. But seriously after that he was fine with water for the whole span of camp! After that conquest Wes got to be the LEADER horse over the ditch and teach his new best friend, a pony named Gilligan, all about them! A bank in and out of the water mixed with a few of the training jumps and that was that.
So later that day we did some Dressage... with Jerry again. He made a small dressage ring in the dust bowl. The concentration was on being accurate in riding dressage, not just getting the movement done. It was pretty good. Lots of endless 10m circles. Dizzy.

We didn't ride with Jerry again for the rest of camp, which I suppose is good. We rode a few times with Stephie Baer in the Dressage ring and worked a lot on beable to keep conection the entirety of the ride, and be able to handle the sitting trot a little more gentlemanlike.
We went out again to the cross country with Carol Kozlowski and since we went out the first day with Jerry, little Wesman was quick to point out that he did infact know what he was doing. It was hilarous.
The final day we were with Stephie again, but this time for show jumping. We did a bit with gymnastic lines and ended with a couple courses. Wesman was so well behaved that Stephie had a very hard time believing that we couldn't make our way around a simple novice course come show day- frankly I couldn't either.

The ride home was much less exciting- unless of course you count the unofficial gossip that escaped from the two of us in the anything but silent truck.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Story of Stoneleigh...

Stoneleigh Burnham...

Wesman finished there last year at their fall Horse Trials with Jerry riding... they finished with like 900,000,000 points. So we were on a mission to perhaps finish again... and maybe with a reasonable amount of points...

It was a terribly eventful day.

The morning started with a bloody head... Wesman, um, isn't super fond of having his forelock/ear area touched which makes life difficult when you need to braid him. He was super good for the whole mane and then we were left with two choices... 1. Get the forelock braided and look handsome. OR 2. Wail our head on the ceiling and bleed a little.
We went with #2.
So we went to the show grounds with a beautifully braided mane and a not so beautiful forelock...
Life goes on.
We go to the show grounds with plenty of time to set up camp. By the time I had returned from getting my packet the tent was up and pancakes and sausage awaited me... Wesman had already eaten two pancakes...
When we pulled him out of the trailer we tried again to get the forelock braided but had no luck. So we tacked up and headed down to Dressage warm up where Jerry was waiting.
It was wicked muddy in warm up and in the rings... Its only been raining for the last 95 days in a row nonstop. Warm up was good and our test went well- I remembered to think almost the whole time we were in the ring! Our score was less than desirable but all agreed our test was much better than the number.

Jerry and I were off to walk the course! Mom stayed behind and took Wes for a nice little graze- though he much rather make friends and watch everyone else go than eat- and Dad started to cook lunch- I believe chicken sandwiches were on the menu.
As Jerry and I walked the course we planned out how to handle everything from Wes running to the jump, backing off to the jump, and backing up away from the jump. I only had to run a little to keep up with Jerry this time around.
We got back to the trailer, ate a quick bite then got ready for Stadium.
Warm up was fine- tons of horses, tons of mud. We were all ready to go into the ring, the bell rang and we were off. The tracks to the jumps were soggy and deep but Wes was handling them like a superstar....

Jumps 1-5 went beautifully and we were on the turn heading to 6...
Well we had a little run out problem... No big deal, right?
Yeah well... we ran out of the ring... right back in to warm up... then proceeded to go backwards up the hill towards the trailer...
Apparently leaving the ring is call for elimination...
We didn't get to ride cross country...
{This is where I would put a picture of Cross Country if I had one...}
Heard that for Training they had moved Stadium into a different ring- with sand instead of grass... and a legit fence the whole way around the ring...and a gait! Perhaps we should be running Training.

Young Rider Camp at GMHA then off to Apple Knoll H.T.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 6

Sorry this is so late; it’s been crazy coming home!
Wes got picked up at 3pm yesterday and we got home around 1am- but had to wait up for the shipper to bring Wes home which ended up being like 5am-ish. Sometime after that I slept for a little bit.
Yesterday morning wasn't any less crazy than any other part of the day. Karen and Amy were supposed to ride their test for Hong Kong at 7am. So everyone got to the horse center an hour early so we could all watch. Something came up and they didn't ride until almost 8.
It was really good to watch them basically have a lesson. It’s funny how they were being told to correct the same things that they were telling us to all week. We all went down and sat next to the truck and could hear everything they were being told- it was really cool. It’s good to know that even at the Olympic level it’s the same basic things that can go wrong when riding- obv on a different level, but still.
So after Karen and Amy rode some of us went over to the jumping ring and helped David and Cathy set up the course for later. Then those of us who were up there (there were more up by now) walked the course we were to do with David. He talked about how a two or three stride IS a two or a three stride where as when you get up to 4 and 5 strides your able to add a stride or even take one out. He explained how that if you do add a stride it’s important that you make up the few seconds else where in the course- which could be a simple as just changing a line between fences to shorten the distance. Most of us had never thought that much about a stadium course.
Then starting with the 4th group we all went up to ride the course. I stayed up to help with jumps. (I will forever be jump crew...) Karen, Cathy and Amy did a rotation on warming people up- the warm up ring was set up just like it would be at an event just with out the cross rail because David thinks its stupid. After you warmed up with someone you were sent up to the ring and rode over the course with David. Then you talked with who ever warmed you up and went back and did the course again with some revisions. As we worked from the fourth group up to the first the jumps went up.
I got up there and Karen warmed me up. Before hand- for some reason we had to make fun of the way Boston kids talk-- wicked pissa and all that fun stuff. Warm up was good and we agreed that the short spot was a much better decision than the long for Wesman. So we went up to do the course. It was alright until the 9th jump which we knocked down which wasn’t horrible but it was also the 12th jump. Karen and Amy were yelling at me to shorten and wait while David put the rail back-- I tried my best but I couldn't shorten that much! So I circled--and got yelled at for it-- so then Karen and Amy decided that I should just go and run David over who was still standing at the jump... So I rode forward 'cause I like to think I do what I'm told. And when I was ohhh about 2 strides away David kicked the rail down... I jumped it anyway- which I guess was good... So I got to go back and jump the last few again (I had a beautiful 4 1/2 strides in a line previous to hitting the rail.) This time I was allowed to jump the last jump for real!! It was great.
So when everyone was done riding we cooled out and went over to lunch- for the last time. We ate and then each group had to do a presentation on what they learned this week. Our group did Goldilocks and the Three Bears REMIX! It was wicked funny- and we got to make fun of everyone at the same time (only group that took at shot at Amy-- winners!) The other groups did funny stuff too- one did "O'Connor Idol", another made fun of their horses and all the crazy problems they came with- it was great.
After we all did our "presentations" Karen and David got up to talk for a little bit before everyone went their separate ways. They mentioned that pretty much everyone got so much better during the week as did their horses. Then Karen tried to drag Max up to do something but she refused. Sooo apparently Max won a butt load of stuff at like Jersey Fresh or something for being the best groom ever. Among all the stuff she won was this wheelie saddle grooming cart thinger that she named Hannibal ('cause it’s freaking huge). Since they all have more than enough stuff like that she decided to give it away. And in honor of Max and her amazingness it was to be given to the person who had the best "horse management" around the barn and kind of the best over all presentation (pretty much HM and tack and turnout- pony club yay!). So wicked cool- I won Hannibal. Then they did another award? for most improved. This one I think would be wicked hard to pick a winner since every horse and rider changed so much over the week. The winner of this one got a custom cross country vest from one of their sponsors-sweet! Aaaand this girl Carli- who was my best friend there- won it! Wicked cool.
Then we said our goodbyes and everyone was gone by 2pm. If it went on for another week... or month... or year... I would SO do it. It was great!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 5

Today was very interesting!
This morning we started with a lecture by Max. She talked about boots and wraps for cross country and it ventured into boots and wraps in general and then kind of into more of stable wraps and some how we got onto fly spray? Yeah, we're a terribly unfocused group of people. Then instead of the bull and that stool thing we played with the puppies. They're super cute.
Karen with the super distracting puppy Boston.
After all of us getting super distracted we went out to the cross country course. David took 4 or 5 horses and worked them over jumps and stuff outside. Wesman was one of the horses he took out. He started with a tiny log... moved to a coop... then up a bank... and down... then the ditch...and finally the water. Yeah and this one time Wes did everything. He really put his head down to check everything out- which I am told is good. David let him just walk into the water and hang out there for a minute or two and check everything out. He trotted a circle in the water and eventually had him jumping out over a log. It was pretty cool.
It took a while to get all the horses that were brought out over everything so we finished up just in time for lunch. At lunch I passed around a nice little thank you card for Jan- the woman who put together all of our food at the horse center. Then Max talked about all the crazy sponsors they have. It was pretty much "hey we get a lot of free stuff. be jealous".
After lunch we all went out to do cross country for real. We split up into our groups and headed out. My group had Karen again and we started at the banks. It was cool, everything we did mounted Wesman had already done without me- no excuses! We went down the bank, then up the bank, then down the bank 5 strides to a jump... then up the bank 1 stride down the bank over a log, then we put all of them together. Then we went over to the water. We all just walked in and wandered around first- and we did it. Next we trotted in and jumped a vertical out, then jumped in and jumped out, then a bounce in and 4 strides to a vertical out. Then we put an odd little course together going in and out of the water like 3 times. After that we went down to the ditches. We did it a few times- one time we were on the side of the ditch closest to home and Wes started doing his backwards thing up the hill towards home. But seriously we did like two seconds of moving his haunches to the right and we were over it. Next we were suppose to head over to the double bank but David said it wasn't worth it so we decided to put a small course together. We did a little cabin coop thing (novice-ish) to a like a bench thinger (training-ish), over to a two stride into the water, 3-4 strides out of the water, left turn over a log jumping into the water (training-ish) 3 stride bending line left to a vertical out of the water and then five strides bending to the right to a barrel jump (novice-ish)-- the last time we did it we turned right and jumped back over a log into the water.

HOLY CRAP WESMAN WAS SO GOOD! There was one little thing over at the ditch but we got over it really quick and life went on... aaaaaaand this other time doing that last course I mentioned coming to the water. Yeah I learned that when you ride your horse "backwards" he stops (cause ya tell him to) and when you decided "what the hell I'll lean into it and see if he jumps" that he doesn't jump and you fall off and its wicked stupid. I landed on my feet and was still holding the reins but Karen was crying she was laughing so hard at me. She made me get on from the ground- that's a long way up, and apparently I owe her a bottle of wine now- but I'm not old enough to buy wine so I don't get it. Yeah- the jump was like barely 2'6". It was wicked funny. (She told me some story about how she was at an Event- in warm up and fell off over a cross rail with Biko and everybody saw it- So I'm in good company with wicked stupid falls.) I got back on and did it all again and it was super. But seriously Wesman was SOOOO good!!
So tomorrow morning Amy and Karen and riding the Olympic Dressage Test. One of the judges from Sydney is coming to watch and give them feed back and all that stuff. Apparently he coached David when he was younger and years later judged him at the Olympics. David said he had tears streaming down his face the whole time he was judging. So that will be wicked cool to watch! A week sure goes by fast around here...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 4

This morning started like every morning- the bull, the stool and a lecture.
Today Amy talked with us about CPR and First Aid. She said it was something like the 8 hour class required by the ICP in about 20mins. During her lecture David got to die- the dogs were terribly concerned. She taught us the ABC's, all about choking, and bleeding. Kind of the basics but we got to practice on each other so it was really good. (We all got to die.)
Then we moved to more of the the ground work on the line. We ran through the yields pretty quick and then worked over a ground rail. It was really cool to see the "line of pressure" and how slight a movement can change it. Some of us got the opportunity to move to the next exercise and have our horses stop half way over the rail (front legs in front of the rail, back legs in back of the rail). Wesman did it. With some help... from Karen.
Then we broke up into our groups and went off to do some more SJ work. My group rode with David. The tennis balls were back out and like magic we all could ride a circle- so then one set was substituted for a ground pole. After we all could handle it we moved on to a jump. Figure eight over a vertical in the center of the ring. Most everyone was allowed to canter though the whole exercise- but I had to trot immediately after the jump for like 5 seconds then canter on. It made such a difference!! We went on to do a 5 stride line- vertical in, oxer out- I had to trot in the middle. Fun times. Wesman was so much better at paying attention when we had to trot and canter on- we eventually got to canter through the exercises and eventually put 6 jumps together on a number of different bending lines. Wesman was so good!
After we rode we cooled out and went to lunch. There were keishes? I don't know they were eggy and gross and Karen made me eat PB&J. But more importantly we talked about cross country. We went over the 4 different positions and the different variables that matter when jumping cross country. Karen got wicked excited during all of this and made us all watch that scene from Man from Snowy River like 8 times. Amy fell asleep and it was great.
So after talking all about cross country we went out there. We moved from our four groups down to two and went out to the cross country course. Our super huge group got Karen and Cathy and at first we worked on galloping position. Wes was good, I was good. Then we went to see how fast we were actually going. They had measured off 450m and put people at 350m and 400m. We went out on the track and they told us when we hit a minute and thus how fast we were going. Wes went a lovely 400mpm and was very good about the whole thing. After all the position timing stuff we went up to the top of a super huge hill and got to play Man from Snowy River. We walked it, then trotted it, then cantered it. It was wicked fun. THEN WE GOT TO JUMP!! It was only a tiny little coop. We were suppose to show the three main positions and that was it. Tomorrow we do real cross country. And I would like my horse to be bad. He has been so good this whole time- one tiny little something yesterday that didn't even count. Seriously, slam on the breaks and flip it in reverse! I want them to see it! Never thought I would be upset with my horse for being good but its driving me crazy!
Cross country took forever so we didn't get an afternoon lecture. However we did have a cook out at the top of the hill. The cookout was fun- Karen's mom and dad came and they were super adorable as always. After eating we played Jeopardy. I guess the groups we were put in were unfair so they had North vs. South. (Apparently we're in some big deal civil war area where they went up one mountain and then up the other in this valley or something and hey look civil war- Stonewall Jackson the whole deal- David gave us a history lesson... it was like school.) And for the record the North won... again. We won by I think 600 points... Karen GAVE the South 500 to make it seem even, but seriously.
Then there was a little bit of wine, some IPOD-- Dancing. OHBOY. The party was cut short when Cathy's IPOD froze...

(Sorry I don't have pictures for today, dad fell asleep and I don't know where the camera is...)


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 3

Today we started again with the bull... which has been officially named "rooster on a rope"- but today Karen was really trying to see if we could end up riding bulls- one hand in the air, moving the bull all over- left and right up and down- CRAZY BIZ. David also brought out this stool thing that helps strengthen your core muscles. It was kinda like a hula hoop but sitting down and super awkward.
After the bull and the stool we went on to do some of the natural horsemanship stuff from yesterday. David said tomorrow we were going to try and put the front and back yields together at the same time. He took one girls horse and showed us what he meant:
Pretty much a leg yield thinger.

After that we went into our groups to ride on the flat. I was put in group two- of four. Not quite sure what that means but hey there you go. We had to name our groups so given that we have a 13.2hh palomino pony and then a bunch of big brown horses we named ours "Goldilocks and the four bays". So my group rode with Karen first. We did a quick review of the yields while mounted. Wes finally had a tiny bit of an issue when asking for the "head down" yield. A small kick out and a tiny buck with a tad of backing up left and right- but unfortunately he got over it on his own. I would super love Wesman to freak out like he does at home and everyone to see it and FIX IT! But he is more or less being good so I guess that's a good thing? Anyway- after all the yield reviews we went to work on direction! They had us on a 20m-ish circle and they set up a pair of tennis balls about two feet apart at four points on the circle. We were to ride though the tennis balls without touching them. After a few times of all of us hitting the balls Karen decided that anytime we hit one we were punished. I hit one and had to dismount and mount from the ground- but only once. After we all had some form of punishment for hitting the balls once or twice we shaped up and did it quite well from there on out. One of the horses was being pretty resistant to the yields when we were working on the circle so Karen decided to hope on and assess the situation. After that the rider and the horse really had a better understanding of what they were to do-wasn't prefect, not magic, but it was clearly better.-- We still didn't get to canter.

After the first riding session of the day we ate some lunch and talking about jumping. It was really focused on what changes from flat work and what doesn't. A really hard concept for a lot of people to understand was that the amount and type of contact really doesn't change from flat to jumping.

We then moved on to another riding session where we would get to jump! Our group with Amy this time and again began the lesson with a review of the yields. We talking a lot about position- esp the lower leg. She stressed that even though your jumping now the line from shoulder to hip to ankle shouldn't change. The only real difference is that your shoulders can be in front. She talked about how often people will put their lower leg out in front of them but that in fact this only gives you a false sense of security because when your leg is out in front of you your body goes back leaving you behind the motion when you jump. Amy talked about jumping position and how your lower leg position shouldn't change when your out of the tack. Also, specific to our group (we all had trouble with that keeping the same contact thing) she talked about releases. Apparently we were all super fans of planting our hands on the neck and forgetting about riding our horses. After a bunch of talking and a whole lot of walk trot and canter in jumping position (one of those if you cant feel it yet, you cant stop-feel the burn kinda deals: awesome!) we actually jumped. We started with ground poles and worked up to some little oxers. We were to trot one fence, halt, then go on to trot the next. (They were on like a 5 or 6 stride line.) The little pony in our group was having an awesome time being a poky little booger heading away from the barn and a bat out of hell heading to the barn-- sooo Amy asked Karen to hop on and see what she could do about the issue. After Karen rode the pony the little girl got back on and OMG it was so much better.

After we were done riding for the day we cooled out our horses and went to have another lecture given by Max. This time she taught us about braiding and then it kind of turned into some more generalized grooming topics. She taught us how she braids all of the horses- needle and thread- interesting. After we learned how Max braids Karen decided that Friday we all have to go to our riding session braided. Heythanks.

Then there was a surprise visit from David's horse- Walk on the Moon aka Dan aka Prozac. David had no idea he was coming and when he saw him immediately decided to do a demo of his whole tackless riding gig. He also showed us some of the longeing-ish stuff over a vertical- seriously that horse can jump. -- I guess Dan is going to Hong Kong for the para-olympics in Dressage- super cool!
So tomorrow I would like to assume that my group is riding with David and Cathy--but around here you never know!...

Monday, June 9, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 2

We started off the day today with the bull.... which I like to call Big Red. It was very, very interesting! David and Cathy worked the back of Big Red and Amy was up front... It stimulated the horse's movements to the extreme. It was kind of like buck, rear, buck, rear, buck, rear...
Here's Karen on Big Red.
After the bull biz David did a small lecture pretty much on Rider Responsibility. He went through his 5 communication responsibilities: Direction, Speed, Rhythm, Balance, Timing. Then he went to talk about pressure and his idea of the "bucket" horse. (Put 4 horses in a field and 1 bucket with food.- 1 horse will be eating out of the bucket, 2 will be whining because they aren't eating out of the bucket, and the last will be off to the side waiting for everyone else to finish eating then go see whats left.) He explained how we as riders should be the "bucket" person and not our horses. He went through a list of tools and aids to be used to help establish the leadership over the horse followed by a demo on all of the natural horsemanship stuff they do. He made it very clear that rope is not magic!

He taught us all about the four yields- hind end yield, front end yield, back up, and head down. Then we all went into the ring with our horses- and all of our new sick nasty western horse gear- and practiced the yields from the ground. We finished the work with everyone lined up on the center line back to back- we had to back our horses up away from us and keep them out on the rope-- all of us at the same time.
And we did it!
After we did some ground work we ate some lunch... Then got to ride for the first time!

We broke up into 4 random groups of about 5 and worked with all of the yields we did on the ground but from the saddle this time. I rode with Karen and Wes was pretty good with all of the yields. Our group was one lucky enough to make it up to the trot! (Trust me, this was way cool... trotting=awesome). He did all of the yields pretty well... but apparently I'm still wicked crooked when I ride! (Something to work on...) From this riding session the four instructors will break everyone up in to groups based on our levels- which we find out tomorrow morning when we ride "for real".

After we cooled our horses and cleaned up a bit we sat down with Max for another lecture. She taught us about studs. And having been to events all over the world with Karen, I think she knows what she's talking about. Max taught us the basic types of studs and when to use what. Then she went into some specifics just for fun. She showed us this one pair of studs that Amy used at WEG in Germany last year- HOLY CRAP. She had 3 of these things in each back shoe. They seriously were an inch long. Then Max had this pair that a farrier made special for Karen and David before some championship, they looked like arrow heads. Crazy stuff...

So tomorrow morning we all get back on Big Red- this time with a saddle. Then we do some flat work in the morning and finish the afternoon with some stadium jumping.
This place is awesome!

p.s. Wesman loves his stall!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

O'Connor Camp Day 1 (post showers)

So David was running late coming back from the Safety Summit in Kentucky and Karen was behind in going back to get the sleeper so we are all doing the official welcoming meeting tomorrow morning... at 7am.
Cathy Wieschhoff began the "fake" welcome meeting... She told everyone that basically David should be doing the whole introduction biz but gave us a run down on what is going on this week. We start tomorrow morning with the Bull! (Which doesn't have a name apparently, but that will be taken care of!). Following that we will be working with our horses "on lines" and doing all of the natural horsemanship stuff on the ground. Then we will ride after lunch tomorrow and pretty much go from there for the rest of the week. She really stress that everyone is here for us!
So apparently Karen and David will be teaching, obv. but so will Cathy and Amy... and we should all have a chance to work with each of them at least once during the week. Cathy also mentioned that there would be lectures happening throughout the week about everything from saddle fitting to CPR/first aid- all to be taught by Max Corcoran (Karen's right hand-apparently), Amy Tryon, AND a bunch of other really cool people.

Rumor has it Wed. there's jeopardy?!... and volleyball...

O'Connor Camp Day 1

Wesman got picked up by the shipper around midnight and was off and on his way. (The same shipper that takes all the horses to camp!) We ended up leaving a few hours later around 3am but we all ended up at the VA Horse Center around 1pm and settled Wesman in. He got a nice fan on his stall door- its about 95 degrees here.
Karen and her head groom Max are here already with two horses and some dogs- David will be coming in later as he is still at the Safety Summit in KY. Tons of other horses are pouring in-two or three of which belong to Amy Tryon!!…not intimidating at all.
We just left to check into the hotel and are heading a back to the horse center in a minute. Everyone is suppose to be in by 4pm and I'm thinking we are going to have a meeting of some sort then.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome One and All

Upon graduation from the reality-show worthy Belchertown High School, I was lucky enough to be presented with the opportunity to go to Virginia and ride for a week with the O'Connor Event Team and co.
The apparent epic followings of Cold Hill Farm made me think to just blog about the experience... and well why stop there...
The happenings of Cold Hill Farm and it's dutiful and comical caretakers are often sudden and unexplained-- and I wish to share them with the world!