Saturday, July 31, 2010

The view from the corner office

It seems happenstance between Sinari being temporarily off, and my current schedule for scribing has taken over my life.

I'm three days deep into watching very talented Juniors and Young Riders ride quality horses. Not all rides were great. There were a number in the high 50's, low 60's. On top of this, we broke into the 70's maybe four or five times throughout the week, and these were deserved scores by pairs that had rode ultra-clean and maxed out tests.

I'm finishing up my hours needed to pursue my L, and by the end of today, I'll have a surplus of hours. Which, in my book is great.

But the perk isn't just finishing off my required hours, or sitting and watching the FEI arenas with ultra-cool (and very nice) international judges who have been teaching me from everything about where to shop for judge clothes (thank you Ms. Foy) and the finer details of 7's versus 8's, all the while giving me a perspective from a greater standpoint. No, the perk is sitting in the box at the crack of dawn in Kentucky, sipping on coffee waiting for the first ride to come down the concourse, knowing that this is where I feel at home and best serving of a sport that has already provided so much.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Heartbreak warfare

I've been holding off on this post for a little while now for a few reasons.

First, and mostly, there's been a lot on the plate. The clinic was a massive success, beyond what I had expected for the results, quality and turnout. Christoph is a clinician worth attending and riding with. Even as organizer, I want to ride with him as many times as I can. We're booking for next year.

Sinari was beyond cool for this and despite having the screws thrown at her in horribly hot weather and by the end of the first day she was sitting more like an I2 horse than a 3rd pushing PSG. When she got it right, she was truly impressive and I think she showed the glimmer for the future.

Our clinic was over for us after day one, I came in Sunday when I found Sinari more that just lame. Our theory is that late Saturday, early Sunday she became cast in the stall. While she got herself out of it, she had huge amounts of swelling on the right side. Thankfully nothing broken, nothing strained. In short, shit happens, and occasionally it happens in the least convenient moment.

A quick call to the vet, lots of reassurances to everyone and multiple things later we were bandaged up and retired out for the day. But admittedly, it was a lonely ride home.

Fast forward to today, we're almost out of the woods. Sinari has progressed phenomenally. We'll be off the major drugs tomorrow and the standing wraps.

If we're lucky, should be back in the saddle in the next coming weeks.

I wish all my pony peeps best of luck at the Pony Cup this year, I heard the fields were pretty light, probably a reflection of the recovering economy. If everything works out this year, we'll be back up there.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't make much of it

The loading series of Legend is over, and we have one more of Adequan to finish off the series.

The change has been remarkable. Her gaits have amplified, she's gained about 7 to 10 pounds of muscle in all the right, hard to develop places.

The gaits and more importantly, the level of comfort within the work has notched up as well. Which makes me very happy.

The last few weeks were dedicated to solidifying the basics for the upcoming Christoph Hess clinic, and it's paid off. The more recent sessions have included working on the fours with the occasional threes, starting quicken the half pass to include rapid changes of bend, more definitive half steps/passage transitions, and the ever elusive pirouettes.

Ah, pirouettes the bane of my current existence.

It's not that I dislike the movement, it's just conceptually hard for me to size them correctly.

Sizes run large and currently entering the next county. It's not that we can't do small ones, it's just we haven't done them, and the concept of space in a 20x60 meter box on a 900 pound pony can be skewed.

Meanwhile, Sinari, for the most part gets them when I conceptually sort things out. Go figure that the pony read the manual before I did.

Because the pirouettes are becoming better, everything else (the canter on the spot, and the cousin of the pir, the half pass) is benefiting from the attention to the little topsy movement.

My current favorite workout exercise is the half pass to centerline to pirouette at the canter to a single or if we're feeling particularly great to a line of fours.

I think we're prepared as prepared can get for this.

This upcoming week promises already to be more than active with last minute preparations and moving about. Did I mention my work schedule now runs from 6am to 2:30pm to avoid the heat? I wonder if I'll survive till Thursday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some assembly required

Admittedly, when I saw Sincere with his bumps, bruises and mono-boob lump, I was not surprised.

Yes, sooner or later the boy needed to burst his bubble wrap, but seriously did he have to do it in a major way?

One part of me was unamused, accustomed to seeing several horses do several more stupid things. The other part, the mothering part (or what's there for a mothering part) was somewhat concerned over the situation.

Lesson learned, nothing about Sincere is small.

For the most part, he's healing up, if not a little sore from his misadventures with whatever he tangled with. His D-cup mono boob has drained to a training bra sized, his bruises have begun to scab over and the bumps, while still tender are going down as well. We collectively decided not to coddle him in this, that being turned out would help the stiffness and keep him from stocking up.

His boo-boo's have also given me the excuse to coddle him extensively.

He regularly stands on cross ties to be groomed, takes baths now without fuss (minus being sprayed in the face), he stands for his dousing of fly spray, and dons the pink SWAT with pride. He is easy going, and enjoys his rewards (food motivation is a plus in my book).

He still needs to wear his fly mask. The flies are atrocious.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Using your noggin

Growing up in a family of lawyers, there was always talk of lawsuits. From the usual things about taxes to the bizarre twists of liability laws. I grew up with people, corporations and the legal system doing things that a normal person would seem unfathomable.

So, it was a natural step when I started riding (at the ripe age of three) that a helmet should be the proper finish to the habit-of-the-day of a Mickey Mouse bathing suit, jods and paddock boots. My parents continuously remind me that my fashion choices remain to be unusual, even to this day.

While the habit has changed from jods to breeches, from paddocks to tall boots, Mickey Mouse for Ralph Lauren. The helmet, aside from updating, hasn't. 

And despite a short run for immortality, I have worn my helmet. It has literally saved my life numerous times, and occasionally allowed me to stand up to naughty pony hi-jinks.

So soon comes the day to don the shadbelly. Over the years the norm has been when you go FEI, you get your top hat and your tails and life goes on.

Frankly, aside from never quite looking right in a top hat, I've never been comfortable with the idea of going without protection. If Dumbo had his magic feather, I have my helmet to save the most valuable, and best part of me. Bones can mend, tendons can be repaired. Brain damage is something I cannot afford to have.

With that thought, I made a personal choice not too long ago and forgo social acceptability, and wear my helmet alongside the shad.

It wasn't a huge leap, some momentous occasion, or even one that deserves to be called courageous or daring, but one that I hope musters some amount of personal thought as to what is covering your most valuable of assets. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lumps and bumps

Sincere has always categorically been in my book, a jock.

His handsome, athletic looks really underscore how tough he really is.

So while I normally dispatch with the normal boy chores of keeping his whites white, his mane and tail free of burrs, and the occasional boo-boo.

When I got the call today of, you really need to go see the boy. I was not really prepared to see him sporting all sorts of fun new bruises, a lump between his front legs and scratches in various spots.

The same colt who, at his last place, survived less-than-ideal fencing, rolling under a fence into a strange herd, the stupidity of a working student, an impromptu trailer ride and numerous other things, finally broke his bubble wrap. He is scratched, dented and none worse for wear.

It doesn't mean, as one of his primary caretakers, I don't get to dress his wounds with care, fret a little bit and decorate him in pink SWAT.

Sincere will live. 

He's now being accustomed to a new routine, he gets bathed, regularly (this time without protesting, it's too hot). He's groomed on cross ties and is generally learning about his job in life.

So, recapping June, we did meet our goals (if not on the fly). He did load into the trailer, he did go someplace. We didn't get to swim, but we have started to condition for next year.

July's goals:
-Consistency on the cross ties
-Loading and unloading
-New and different places.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chemical romance

I live in the thoroughbred cradle of the world, and along side it, there is a major equine pharmaceutical industry.

If you have a problem, there are multiple ways of solving it, among many paths legally, illegally, asinine and old wives way.

While, as they say in the commercials, results may vary, I've usually taken the approach of ounce of prevention versus pound of cure over the years. Sinari has had regular oral supplements for a few years now and is seen by her chiro/massage lady (in addition to all the regular work).

But, since the climb officially began for FEI this year, things have changed. The work is intense. The expectation of consistency has risen. The normal back cracking, oral supplementation won't hold up to the rigors of long term, day-in-day-out training and competing. I've added acupuncture.

And now, I've added pharmaceuticals to the mix in the form of IV delivered Adequan and Legends. We've hit full tilt on the loading stages, and while my wallet feels anorexic, the pony is looking fantastic. She's not PSG due to the inconsistency of work, but already she sits far better, works much easier.

So recapping June's goals:

Cleaner, easier, better balanced changes. Now to up the ante to do them dead on straight. Would like to experiment with the tempi's again.

-Lateral work
Better, but, lacked focus this year. She had brilliant moments and moments where she felt good to do it all, and then moments where she was scrambling. She offered more pirouette work because we cleaned up a lot of it.

This mainly had to deal with half halts and going up to the bit and me taking the leg off. When she's tired, she likes to run through.

transitions in and out of the gaits and between

A quick note on the photo-- that was Sinari in early 2003, just prior to turning five.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I cannot grow old in Salem's lot

I finally got a chance to catch up here.

It was a whirlwind tour of clinics, photographs and other things that have landed across my desk all at once. Not to mention the regular work, taking care of the ponies and making sure that the laundry (an ongoing battle at my place) is getting done.

First, the Stephen Bradley clinic went off wonderfully. I met dedicated riders, exquisite facility and fantastic horses. Not to mention the technician himself- Stephen Bradley, the most down to earth individual you'll ever meet. We will be having him back on a quarterly basis. So, if you event, come join us for a good time.

The photo on the left is from the second day.  But you can check out our facebook page here for more photos and to check out the upcoming events.

Sinari has been gaining more and more consistency over the past few days. Consistency has always been an elusive for us, some weeks are better than others, and having strings of good ones can be rare sometimes. But we've changed a few things. Acupuncture is a huge part of it but we've started on a new course of stuff that is really making the difference. Can't be happier at the moment. I'll post photos to illustrate the difference soon.

Sincere too has worked into his new digs and is continuing on in education. But he's standing butt-high at the moment and I'm just trying to ignore the gangling weed in the yard.