Monday, June 18, 2012

Bucks County Horse Trials

I rode two client horses – Whimsical Dancer, who I had in Aiken with me – she goes home to her owner Lynn Travers in NH next weekend. I’ve known this mare for a long time, I had her and broke her as a 3-year-old and sold her as a 5-year-old. Lynn sent her back to me for some training and she’s been doing great, she had a 27 in dressage. She’s a lovely Dutch mare. She was also clear in both jumping phases and finished on her dressage score. She is a big mare and a big mover and she needed some more muscling and strength; she’s physically in a really good place to go back to her owner to have some fun with her.

Also riding Lynne Bauer’s Rhapsody in the novice and will take her training in two weeks, she’s a little bit green and needed a couple of confident rides. She is a beautiful mover; she’s done hunters and sidesaddle, we got her last year and she hasn’t had a ton of eventing experience. She’s a very nice Hanoverian mare and scored a 21 in dressage and finished on that with two nice, confident jumping rounds. I haven’t ridden her as much, I’m usually teaching Lynn on her and I’ve only jumped her a handful of times. Since she’s green to eventing I wanted really strong, confident jumping rounds with her so that when Lynne is back in the irons they can have a nice solid year at training and I think we accomplished what we were looking for.

The plan with both of these horses was to give them a head-start for their owners to get on them and have some confident rides. They are both fabulous movers who can clearly do much more!

I was the rider representative and it was neat to be a part of that and go over the courses with the TD. I had an easy weekend because the courses were fantastic! They changed a few things recently and everything looks great – I didn’t hear any complaints from anybody! I like how the rider rep is starting to take a stronger role in the event; today I have an evaluation to fill out, too. I think it will create better communication between competitors and officials if they really keep this up. If there are any questions right from the start they can be addressed early. It was fun to be asked to do this.

My student Beth Durden was doing training/prelim level and is moving up to prelim in a couple of weeks. She had one of her better tests, riding the prelim test for the first time – it was still training cross-country but they added in a few more combinations – the height was still training but they upped the difficulty so you got a little more of a feeling of prelim. We were looking for a good, confident round but I had her going out thinking like it was already prelim so we had a few things to work on. The change in speed, for example, was something to work on – it was nice to find the little details so we have things to work on before we go to the New Jersey Horse Park in a couple of weeks.

Recapping Bromont

The CCI*** Bromont in Quebec turned out to be a great event! Rox turned out a super performance for his first 3-star. It was not the easiest weekend for me after having a nasty fall from a young horse a few days before. I was having a hard time sitting the trot, and by the time I got in the ring I wasn’t breathing well at all, so I was really exhausted trying to give him the best ride I could. My body was so tight from trying to hold it all together, I could create the gait but then I couldn’t do anything with it. I went in there really going for it but it was too painful for me to ride the gaits I created. In the end it was only four days after I’d fallen, and I had a few cracked ribs and bad bruising, and I think I strained the cartilage, which is really painful. I was bound up in Ace bandages, which helped a lot for riding and made it easier to take deeper, more controlled breaths. Also since I fell on pavement I was bruised and scraped all down my left side, so wearing anything except loose sweat pants was painful.

I was first go to on dressage and cross-country, but the good part is that gave me all day Thursday and Friday to rest, other than walking my courses. Thank God for Vanessa and my mom and her husband – I couldn’t tack up or untack or do anything around the barns, and they were a huge help! Of course it drove me crazy because I’m not someone to hand my horse off to somebody and then lie down, so I was completely frustrated!  They were so, so helpful – Vanessa is fantastic! 

The cross-country was the biggest challenge Rox had faced. I couldn’t do much at all with my left arm; I tested things out with a jump school on Friday and riding was a lot better than I’d thought it would be. Rox felt amazing so I planned to go for it and just pull up on course if I had any issues. I planned to keep my crop in my left hand, which wouldn’t be great if I actually needed to use it, but I felt it would help me hold lines better if I could just press it against his shoulder. 

I think the adrenaline took over because I didn’t feel pain or weakness or anything out on course, and Rox was amazing, he didn’t pull on me once, I didn’t have trouble bringing him back – it was probably the softest ride I’ve ever had and he hit every distance perfectly. As soon as I got off course, I literally could tell when the adrenaline stopped flowing! About 3-5 minutes after getting in the vet box I realized Rox was catching his breath faster than I was, and I started feeling everything again. I didn’t really realize just how strong adrenaline is before that!

He was brilliant in show jumping too. I was stiff and sore from cross-country and once again didn’t really feel anything while I was on course; he was jumping out of his skin clearing the fences which was great but hard on my body…looking at the photos I didn’t have the greatest form but I gave enough that I was out of his way, and his was the only clean round in the CCI3* - he didn’t even touch a pole. I'm so proud of him!

My entry is in for Rebecca Farm in Montana, and I applied for the travel grant too, so I’m hoping to organize enough funds to go out there for the CCI3* July 12-15th.  I might also apply some of the funds from our Badminton fundraiser to go out there – I think it would be a really good next step for Rox. 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cross-Country Recap

Today was an amazing day for cross-country here at Bromont! Perfect weather, perfect footing and an outstanding course designed by Derek diGrazia!

Rox is my absolute hero today: not only did he jump perfectly from start to finish, but he was beyond gentleman-like throughout the entire course. Not once did he pull on me, not once did he object to being brought back from a gallop and not once did he hesitate in any fashion at any obstacle! Not too shabby for his first CCI***!! This not only made the ride a complete pleasure, but also made it possible because of my current physical condition. Rox was a true champion today!

He is currently happy and sleepy in his stall and ready for a good night's rest. Let's hope all is well in the morning and that he is ready for a classy show jumping round.

Congrats to all and best of luck tomorrow.

Good night from Bromont!
Kristin xo

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Update from Bromont - Ready for XC!

It's Friday night at Bromont, always an exciting and anxious evening at a three-day. I am happy to announce that I am still in the game, not drugged and still feeling quite positive!! Can you believe it?!

Dressage was not exactly what I had hoped for, or what I have been working towards, but after the initial letdown of the reality of my situation, honestly, I did the best I could. Rox is amazing and his best moments are yet to come, but I really was not 100% there to support him and Rox is a big strong horse that needs a good strong ride. So that mixed us with being first to go in the ring, the cards were just not in my favor...  this is not an excuse, I'm just trying to break it down to what it was in the moment.

Rox overall has been very patient with me, which I am thankful for, though I WILL get my revenge for him throwing in an unnecessary buck in my test! 

So today I tested my jumping ability and did a quick jump school and sprint to make sure that I am fully functional. God bless! It seems that I am okay! Not that it isn't painful, but I was very happy with how I felt jumping, and Rox feels very responsive and he is jumping out of his skin! It's true that I am a bit weak in my left arm, due to the injuries to my rib cage on my left side. But I am making a good plan for my ride tomorrow to compensate for my left side feeling weak.

So a note to everyone, here is my plan:

My focus is to give Rox a very good and confident experience at his first CCI***. I feel that I can still accomplish this despite my unfortunate injuries. I have been planning and focusing very much on my exact ride for tomorrow and I feel very good about it! And to further that feeling, Phillip, as always, walked the course with me this evening and secured my confidence even further. If at any point I am in too much pain or feel that I am not able to ride Rox well enough, I will immediately pull up and wait for another day. Without a doubt, this is not the end all be all of our career together, so my horse and the wellbeing of both of us is first and foremost!!!

Best of luck to everyone on cross-country tomorrow!!

Go Eventing!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Update from Bromont

Bonjour from Bromont! Here is the saga of my last week or so:

Last week, things were looking great: I had a dressage lesson with Linda Zang on Thursday at True Prospect and it was amazing and I learned a ton, as usual with Linda's lessons!! I also went to the Devon Grand Prix on Thursday night and got to see Sapphire retire! Actually I had a really fun evening out and got to hang with my girl Jennie Brannigan and she let me crash at her place so I could have an early lesson on Friday with Phillip to tune up our jumping, pre-Bromont.  As usual, Phillip gives the best lessons, and I always come away with the confidence I need, especially going into a big event!!

Ok, so that's Thursday and Friday, then Saturday I spent the day at the farm getting rides in on all the horses and teaching lessons for my students before I left for Canada. Sunday I scooted down to NJHP for a schooling event to ride one of my green horses and one client's horse, and three students were competing. I figured it was a good event to get to before I left for a week in Canada...well, so I THOUGHT!

As I got on my green prospect horse early Sunday morning for dressage, everything was normal and felt as usual; then as I started to walk away, he decided that today was not a day for riding/working. He took off bucking and rearing, leaping and bucking - if you can imagine the nastiest saddle Bronc you have ever seen, yep, that is what the awful experience turned into. Something switched in this horse's eye and he snapped. The harder I tried to stay on, the harder he tried to throw me. I outlasted the regulation 8 seconds by far, but the last buck to send me flying was as he leapt onto the pavement. So, yes, I was airborne, and landed about as hard as you are imagining in your head right now, on the pavement. Thankfully I did NOT hit my head, so I was able to leap up and over a few feet after I hit so as not to get trampled as this maniac horse hit the road and fell. In the end, the horse was fine, buuuut, I got to ride in an ambulance, Whoohoo!

So one ER trip later, I have a couple cracked ribs and MANY badly bruised ones, and lots of scrapes, road rash, and very colorful bruising associated with lots of swelling. Yep, and I had to leave for Bromont on Tuesday morning, God help me :(

I couldn't ride Rox on Sunday, but Vanessa stepped up and flatted him with me on the ground and rode him beautifully! Monday was our final gallop: I gave it a try and hopped on, but five steps into posting trot and I screeched in pain and collapsed on Rox's neck because I had SHOOTING pains through my back and rib cage, NOT GOOD! so I slithered off and Vanessa warmed Rox up and then I got back on. I tried holding mane and in riding in 2 point, I cantered off, and I was okay. My legs took the concussion and it was tolerable. So across the street I went to do a few sprints before we left! Rox was great.

Vanessa has been a saint! Since I am practically useless in every way - I can't even lift a bag or, well, anything - and she drove the entire way to Bromont for me! Thank goodness!!

When we arrived, Rox looked superb! I tried my first flat since the 'incident'......yeah......not good! No bueno!!!!! I was USELESS on Rox's back. I couldn't stay balanced....let's just say it was awful and I was so upset. We have worked so hard to get here and my horse is amazing and I can't help him at all, it was a terrible feeling.

Today brought better feelings. Though the ribs still feel awful, the muscle spasms I have had in my back since the accident finally started to soften this morning, Praise the Lord!!! At least I had slightly less pain, anyway. My first ride was pretty good: I could actually do some kind of flat work that was recognizable! By Wednesday evening, I again could start actually 'riding' more!

Photo of Phillip jogging Rox from
Phillip, trainer extraordinaire, jogged Rox for me to give me some more resting time, and here I am, Wednesday evening, taking a hot shower and LOTS of ibuprofen, preparing for our Thursday morning dressage test. I'm first to go, of course, why not, right?? Oh, annnnd my zipper broke on my tall boots today, yep, awesome. All good...

Everyone say a prayer, have a glass of wine for me.....and well, enjoy the moment!

Rox baby, here we go!!!

Xoxo, Kristin