Friday, December 17, 2010

Award Time again!

On January 8th, OHJA is having its awards banquet and I thought I'd just make note of some of our accomplishments ("our" meaning Triple Rise) from this year.

Open System
Lauren and Bella - 2nd 3' Pre Green Working Hunter
2nd Adult Amateur Working Hunter (18-35)
2nd 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, flat
3rd 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, over fences

Julie and Henry - 4th Adult Amateur Working Hunter (18-35)
3rd 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, flat
4th 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, over fences

Debbie and Houdini - 3rd Adult Amateur Working Hunter (41 +)
7th Large Working Hunter
6th 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, over fences

Regional System
Kate and Titan - 1st 3'3" Pre Green Working Hunter
2nd Adult Amateur Working Hunter (18-35)

Anna and Patches - 8th Children's Working Hunter (13 & under)
2nd Modified Child/Adult Hunter
2nd Pre Child Hunter
4th Small Working Hunter
7th Pre Child Equitation, flat
7th Pre Child Equitation, over fences

Kristine and Q - 5th Children's Working Hunter (14-17)
1st Modified Junior/Amateur Hunter
2nd Open Working Hunter
1st Children's Equitation, over fences (14-17)
5th 0.95-1.00 Meter Jumper
4th Low Child/Adult Jumper

Sophie and Jackson - 3rd Children's Working Hunter Pony
3rd Pre Child Hunter
5th Pre Child Equitation, flat
3rd Pre Child Equitation, over fences

Jessie and Honey - 4th Pony Working Hunter

Missy and Keenan - 1st Large Working Hunter
1st Pre Adult Hunter
2nd Pre Adult Equitation, flat
2nd Pre Adult Equitation, over fences

Holly and Lucky - 2nd Long Stirrup Hunter
1st Long Stirrup Equitation, flat
2nd Long Stirrup Equitation, over fences

Alison and Bijou - 4th Short Stirrup Hunter
4th Short Stirrup Equitation, over fences

Tamara, Jakob and Cloudy - 5th 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation, flat
3rd 0.85-0.90 Meter Jumper
5th Low Child/Adult Jumper 3'

Jessie and Houdini - 6th Children's Equitation, over fences (13 & under)

We pretty much rock :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Wow, has it really been almost a month since I posted? With all this spare time on my hands, you'd think I'd find something to talk about every day!
Honestly, I'd be kidding myself if I wondered why. Not only have I not been able to ride as much (thank you morning, afternoon AND evening sickness!) but I am not thinking about it the same as I used to. I'm not working towards the same goals as I was before I got pregnant. In August/September, I was eagerly anticipating moving up to Adult Amateur classes for next year's show season - now, I'll be lucky to be back in time for Pre Adult classes at Northwest Spectacular. I mean, that's probably the best case scenario. It doesn't bother me, it just changes the way I look at my favorite activity. Now when I ride, I mainly focus on what I'm doing that day, that moment, and thanking the Lord I had the energy to climb into the saddle. I also want to be able to give Keenan as much exercise as I personally can for as long as I can so that he doesn't have to be a burden for anyone else just yet.
That brings up another transition that is taking place at Triple Rise right now. Sarah is leaving us next week. She'll be graduating from U of O this spring and really wants to buckle down and ace her last two terms - I think having a full course load on top of her job was really stressful for her this term and she doesn't need that when she's staring down the barrel of the graduation gun. After graduating, she wants to move on and work at other places around the country. When I talked to her, she mentioned some job offers in California.
We all found out about this last week and although I am MAJORLY bummed - I cried, I'll admit it - I know that Sarah absolutely needs to do what is right for her. She is 23 years old and has been in Eugene for a very long time. And, as much as I love Oregon and adore my barn, Eugene is not exactly the hunter jumper capitol of the world. Sarah has so much talent and SO much potential - look what she managed to do with me in two years! - and she really owes it to herself to get out there and aim for the big time. I think she wants to ride for some big name clients - some very fancy horses with rich owners - to make a name for herself, and then eventually would come back to Oregon to start her own barn.
As much as it pains me to lose a trainer who had become such a dear, dear friend and mentor, I am actually really proud of her for taking a good look at her life and making a tough decision that will likely turn out to be the best one she'll ever make. Again, I love Mike and Mollie and everyone at my barn. But I know how ambitious Sarah is - heck, the girl was like 21 when she decided to go pro - and I know how talented she is. She deserves a chance at the top. She will be missed, but we've all met our new trainer Rachel and she seems totally lovely. She even paid me/Keenan a huge compliment tonight when she referred to him as "one of those horses I always hoped I'd get a chance to ride and now I finally have" (she is from this area so she watched Becka compete him in the Children's classes several years ago).
SO...yeah, lots of things are changing. But, you know, change can be good. Keenan still doesn't like to be curried, Rapper still nickers at me when he hears me walking up to his stall, Sophie is still hilarious and Mike still jokes around with me. Life moves on and it's my responsibility to roll with the punches.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

long time, no post

Okay, so I didn't post the entire month of October. I am a slacker. But I have my reasons, honest. Well, really just one reason. Turns out (drum roll please...) I'm pregnant! And even though I know NO ONE reads this thing, I didn't want to write about it until I'd told my close friends and extended family. They all know now, so I'll just blog away!
So this pretty much came as a huge surprise. Nathan and I were not planning on starting a family for another couple of years, but turns out, there were other plans in place! Even though we will be making some adjustments, we are very excited to be parents!
I've been given the okay from my doctor to continue riding and even jumping for the time being, provided that I listen to my horse and my body and don't do anything reckless or overly risky. He told me that since I am an experienced rider and that I'm in good shape to be doing this, that there's no reason I can't continue for a little while - as long as my pregnancy remains low-risk.
At first I was shocked. It sounds selfish to say, I know, but my first thought was: well, there's next show season down the tubes. It was really hard for me to take at first, especially since Sarah had Keenan and I working up to 3' and making plans for the Adult Amateurs next year. But then, of course, common sense kicked in and I realized that there will be plenty of people to help me keep Keenan in shape and maybe even show him a little next year. Then there's the fact that he's not a young guy who needs a lot of show experience to keep him seasoned. He's been around and a light year is not going to hurt him. Finally, I am due May 30 so there's even a chance I could be back in the saddle for Northwest Spectacular at the end of August. Maybe wishful thinking, but right now, I'm optimistic.
Everyone at the barn has been so supportive. Some days I feel great - I could ride all day long - and some days it's all I can do to brush my guys and collapse onto a tack trunk in exhaustion. But being there never fails to bring a smile to my face, even if I'm just watching from the sidelines.
Sometimes I still can't believe it...everything is going to change now. Sometimes I don't feel ready, other days I think "bring it on." One thing's for sure, there will be no shortage of horses and ponies in this little one's life!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

beach details and what's coming up

Don't have pictures of the beach, yet - Kate took them and she's a super-busy architecture student, so I understand the delay. I just can't wait to share! We had such a great day at the coast!
I'd been really nervous to take Keenan, because, unlike many of the other horses, no one seemed remember a time when Keenan had gone to the beach. And after my falling experience this summer after his several weeks off, I'm more aware of what Keenan is capable of when he's not 100% on board with something. I had visions of him bucking me off and taking off down the beach, never to be seen again. But Sarah assured me that everything would be okay, and the younger girls finally talked me into it. So I put a stronger bit on his bridle and prayed for the best! And it worked! Granted, he was definitely frisky, and not entirely convinced that going in the water was a good idea, but he seemed to really enjoy himself. We trotted, we cantered, we even made it into the ocean up to our knees! We chased sea gulls and stepped over driftwood - all the fun stuff that comes along with a trip to the coast, haha. And when it was time to leave, Keenan just stared wistfully out at the dunes - like he was saying "Why don't we just live here?" Can't wait for next year's trip!
But in the meantime, it's back to work...
We have a lot coming up this fall - schooling shows in early October and late November, a vet clinic with Lisa, Halloween Fun Day, the list goes on and on. Sarah is going to have me jump 3' at the November schooling show so that when Spring Hunter/Jumper rolls around next year, the height is not so scary. So needless to say, I have a lot to work on in the off-season!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

beach day!

Went to the beach.
Took Keenan.
He rocked.
Details (and hopefully pics) to come soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

life is getting back to normal

Shows are great, but it feels good to be home. Back to evening lessons, watching kids learn how to tack up ponies and hearing Rapper nicker for me as I'm crossing the arena. One of the post-show things I love most is discovering how much the experience bonds Keenan and I. He always seems a little more attentive and snugglier after a show.
Tonight was a good solid night at TREC. Kristine and I were the only ones in our lesson, which was kind of nice. I love riding with Kristine - she's a good rider and watching her always helps me, even if we're working on different things. She works super hard and is really dedicated to what she does. Not to mention, she's working up to 3'6" right now, so if I'm good and work hard, too, I might get to jump her warm-up jumps, haha. Seriously, though, Sarah is planning on Keenan and I moving up to 3' next year. Not that that's anything new to Keenan (he's a pro), but I am really excited about it. We jumped 2'9" today in our lesson and it felt really good. I've actually jumped 3' a handful of times, but not consistently, like in a course or anything. The thing I was most pleased about was hearing Sarah say that my position is right where it needs to be, given what I am working on right now. I feel like I'm starting to develop more of an independent seat, release better over fences and not carry my hands too low. I still resort to kind of a schlumpy, hands-down position when I'm tired or we're working on something hard, but I feel like I'm getting better.
In other news, I think I discovered part of Rapper's recent problem. I know I didn't write about it or anything, but Rapper has been in this stage lately where he prefers that I not have any contact with his mouth while I'm riding. Anytime I'd try to connect with him or put him in a frame, he'd toss his head straight up in the air. Today, I put Keenan's double-jointed D-ring bit with the plastic mouthpiece and it was like night and day. He's still resisting, but not in a painful way. I'm really looking forward to working him harder now that I don't feel like his bit is hurting him.
*sigh* Glad to be home and back in a routine!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spectacular results

Fancy and Kate: Reserve Champion - Modified Child/Adult Hunter
Henry and Julie: Champion - Adult Equitation, Champion - OHJA Adult Medal
Lucky and Holly: Reserve Champion - Long Stirrup Hunter, Reserve Champion - Long Stirrup Equitation
Jackson and Sophie: Reserve Champion - Pre Child Hunter Pony
Patches and Anna: Reserve Champion - Pre Child Hunter Horse
Keenan and Missy: Champion - Pre Adult Hunter, Reserve Champion - Pre Adult Equitation, 5th - OHJA Mini Medal
Q and Kristine: 7th - OHJA Children's Medal
Keenan and Jessie: 3rd - OHJA Children's Medal
Bella and Lauren: 6th - OHJA Adult Medal

And major congrats to Tamara and Jakob who got 4th (out of 14) and 5th (out of 20) in two of their jumper classes; and to Allison and Bijou who competed in their first 'AA' rated show and did a phenomenal job!

Spectacular photos

Tamara and Jakob

Clayton and Keenan became fast friends

Keenan with his Champion sheet and Grand Champion ribbon

look how handsome my boy looks - fancy or no

I'm finally not jumping ahead!

2010 Medal Finals girls!

we're both a little tired, can you tell?

Jessie and Keenan, taking 3rd in the OHJA Children's Medal

Julie and Henry with their Circuit Reserve Grand Champion ribbon in Adult Equitation

Lauren and Bella

Anna and Patches

Kristine and Q

Sophie and Jackson

what an end to the season!

Two weeks of horse shows...wonderful, yet exhausting! Northwest Spectacular was absolutely fabulous. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful show season. I am so proud of Keenan and very pleased with the progress we've made this year.
We started off the show by winning the OHJA Mini Medal on Thursday afternoon, thus qualifying us for Medal Finals. I knew going into the class that we had to get a fourth place or better in order to have accumulated ten points - but Tamara was having none of that kind of talk, haha. As I was mounting up, she laughed and said "Don't come back without the blue ribbon!" I smiled back and promised her I wouldn't. And it turns out...we didn't! I felt so great after that, like the Mini Medal curse had finally been lifted! I think part of why I did so well was because I wasn't heaping pressure upon myself. Sarah asked me before I went in the ring if, for some reason, I didn't qualify for Finals, could Jessie ride Keenan in the Children's Medal? See, she had qualified earlier in the season, but with Cody a little foot-sore, she didn't have a horse. I told Sarah of course, and so felt like if I didn't qualify, something good would still come of it. As it happened, she rode him in the Children's Medal anyway - but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Classes were a little turned around at this show for me, so Friday was equitation day. We won our first class and got a fifth in the next (ugh, I hate it when I do that...inconsistency is my number one enemy!). We pulled off a third in the flat class, which got us Reserve Champion for the division! Turns out, we had enough points to be Circuit Reserve Grand Champion - I didn't even know that was a thing until Jessie came bounding up to the barn with a giant red, white and yellow ribbon.
Friday evening was Medal Finals for everyone (well, it was supposed to be - they ended up having to push the Children's Medal to 7:30 the next morning because our daylight was waning). Jordan had designed what I thought was a heck of a course - tough, but not impossible, just as it should be. I was super nervous, but for once, I was able to breathe deeply enough to ride through it. After we finished our round, the announcer called out our score to the spectators - a 78. That was the highest score so far, and stayed so for awhile. At the end of phase one, when those points had been combined with our written test scores, I was in second place with a total of 87.
Saturday morning started with Jessie and Keenan blowing everyone else out of the water and getting a score of 84 in phase one of the Children's Medal. Keenan and I kept up the good work by getting a first and a second in our two Pre Adult Hunter rounds. Then, before I knew it, it was time for the second phase of Medal Finals. For us in the Mini Medal, that meant a flat class for the competitors with the top ten scores from phase one/written test. Well, after an ETERNITY of trotting and cantering (and an awesome part where the judge called for a halt and a reverse - I know that you're always supposed to reverse and continue at the same gait, so while a lot of the riders did a tiny circle and started walking, I turned Keenan on the haunches and continued to halt - Sarah smiled and winked at me from the rail) we lined up in the middle of the arena. Keenan and I wound up fifth out of the original 28 competitors! Not half bad for our first-ever Medal Finals! Jessie and Keenan got a third in the Children's Medal - that was such a proud moment for me, cheering on my boy. He worked so hard for Jessie and I over the weekend.
Just like the week before, Sunday was the quiet day. Keenan was so tired that instead of going for a gallop, Nathan and I took him for a walk around to stretch his legs. That seemed to agree with him - in fact, he really liked strutting around the show grounds, all braided up and spiffy. We finished up our hunter division by getting another first and second over fences, just like the day before. Our Under Saddle class that day was one of the best flat rides I've ever had on Keenan. We ended up in fifth, but with every step, I could tell that Keenan was trying his heart out for me. He was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to go back to the barn, but he stuck with me and was almost flawless. He couldn't help that other horses were more well-rested or "fancier" than him, he just gave me everything he had. Our points were enough for Pre Adult Hunter Champion and, as it turned out, Circuit Grand Champion as well! I honestly can't think of a better end to the year than that.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Oregon Summer Show

Wow, what a weekend! I'm still exhausted from it, so bear with me.
Keenan was an absolute stinker for Sarah in the Large Working Hunter classes but he and I won the Low Amateur 2'6" Hunter class on Thursday. That set us up for a great day on Friday - we got third in our schooling round but as soon as I got Keenan moving in front of my leg a little more we improved and won both our Pre-Adult Hunter classes over fences. We took sixth in the Under Saddle class because the other horses were "fancier" than my boy and Keenan spent the entire time trying to convince me that he didn't need to work hard. Saturday was, as has become my tradition, not as good. We got third in both our Hunter classes, but that was enough to clinch the division championship by 1.5 points (close one)! We also earned four more points toward qualifying for OHJA Medal Finals, now we just have to get a fourth place or better at this week's Northwest Spectacular to qualify!
The Hillcrest Starter Medal Final on Saturday night was, well, a complete disaster. I think it would have been okay if I'd managed to hold Mr. Keenan to a trot ALL THE WAY to the trot jump, but he decided that two trot strides was enough, then picked up a canter again. D'oh! We ended up finishing ninth out of ten competitors. Hey, that still got us a neck ribbon! A nice, pretty, light gray one. I'd really been looking forward to the victory gallop afterward, but as it happened, Keenan had a racetrack flashback and our gallop turned into a trot circle with a halt at the end in order to keep his sanity intact.
Sunday was like the calm after the storm. Even with as hard as I've been working, I'm not as fit as I should be and couldn't keep my legs from wiggling all over during the Equitation on the Flat. But, we did get a first and a third over fences, getting us reserve champion!
We had a great weekend as a barn:
Julie and Henry - Adult Amateur Hunter Champions, Adult Equitation Champions, Hillcrest Child/Adult Medal winner, Hillcrest Adult Medal Final winner, OHJA Child/Adult Medal winner
Holly and Lucky - Long Stirrup Hunter Reserve Champions and Long Stirrup Equitation Champions
Jessie and Cody - Children's Hunter 13 & Under Reserve Champions, Equitation 15 & Under Reserve Champions
Sophie and Jackson - Pre-Child Hunter Reserve Champions
Lauren and Bella - Pre-Green Hunter 3' Reserve Champions
Kristine and Q - Modified Junior/Amateur Hunter Reserve Champions
Also, Lauren and Julie rode in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Classic and even though they didn't place, they did really well. Katherine and Casper showed together for the first time in years and did really well, too!
Can't wait for Northwest!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

calm. cool, collected

Okay, so crisis over. I'm no longer freaking out about a rough week of lessons. There's nothing better for the nerves than two great lessons in a row. On Friday and Saturday, we had Medal Finals prep courtesy of TREC's owner and head trainer Mike. Both lessons were amazing. On Friday, Mike had us hike up our stirrups to jockey length and gallop around the ring. THAT was fabulous - I've always wanted to be a jockey/exercise rider and with Keenan being an ex-racehorse, galloping around like that was exhilerating. On Saturday we switched horses so that Anna hopped on Keenan, Sophie had Patches, and I wound up with Jackson Browne, our smallest pony. Small, yes, wimpy, no. It was actually really fun trotting around on that little guy. And our course that day had a few tough spots and a gnarly turn at the end but it was just a really fun ride. The whole two days made me feel so much better about the next two shows. I was reminded of why I love to ride and what it's all really about. I think these next two weeks are going to be a blast.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I need to stop thinking so much/I need to start thinking more when I'm on a horse! I seriously don't know what is WRONG with me! Long three stride to short two stride. Not THAT difficult. Did I have a strategy? Apparently, it was: let my horse save my ass! And thank goodness he is pro at that, otherwise I'd be baking some serious brownies right now! Note to self: GET IT TOGETHER STAT!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

there's a purple stain on my jeans that wasn't there this morning...

(just wanted to share a cute picture of my husband and I - he barely gets any airtime on this thing, haha)

...because I spent all afternoon in the washrack! Yes, today was bathtime for my boys! Keenan has been getting almost daily baths, what with horse show time being weeks away and his ability to get dirty at an almost freakish speed. Poor Rapper, though...baths have never been his favorite thing to do and he seems terrified to set foot in the wash stall. Still, he was a good boy tonight - it took only a little convincing to get him in there and a lot of cajoling to KEEP him in there. It was worth it, though. I forgot how drop-dead gorgeous that horse is when he's clean; his coat takes on this almost maroon glow.
And Keenan was SUCH a good boy. We just hacked tonight, no lesson, but I was super-impressed with how he felt. When he's moving in a frame and we're connecting, it feels like we're moving on a cloud. Yes, it's cliche` but that doesn't mean it's not true! I was super-sore after yesterday, but his gaits are so comfortable and he is so responsive that an ouchy back didn't bother me in the slightest. I seriously could not ask for a better horse!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

weather's cooling down...competition's heating up

Well, it may not be 85 degrees every day, but that doesn't mean we're not working hard! Oh man, lesson today was IN-TENSE. With Medal Finals just around the corner, we can't afford NOT to be intense...we spent almost the entire lesson today working without our stirrups, at the canter. Ouch. Don't get me wrong, Keenan has a great canter, but...well, ouch! We were cantering two low cavaletti at a regular, extended and collected canter - working on getting 7, 8 and 9 strides in between the cavaletti. The hardest part was just the physical strain it was taking on me, haha. It's a simple exercise, but a hard one. Even cantering two cavaletti, there's a lot to think about and when you throw in me with no stirrups trying to maintain a connection with Mr. Keenan, it's not always the most graceful thing you've ever seen. And not without some frowning, huffing and puffing! The good news is, I survived - and up until that point where I thought I was going to die, we were doing really well! We started out with some trot work, to test if our horses were in front of our leg and to see how adjustable they were. Regular posting trot, extended posting trot, collected posting trot, collected sitting trot - the works. I loved collecting Keenan's trot - man, he's good at that! When we trotted by the mirror, it looked like we were barely moving at all and the way he was lifting his legs up instead of floating them out, he looked like a Baroque dressage horse! His extension was great, too - better than it normally is on my lazy-bones horse, that's for sure. *sigh* and then things got tough. It's okay though, the harder I prepare now, the better these next two shows are going to be!

Monday, August 9, 2010

points and Medal Finals

Check out the OHJA points! They don't include Country Classic, but you can still get a pretty good idea where our TREC riders stand. As of Country Classic Preview, Keenan was still leading Regional Large Working Hunter and Regional Pre-Adult Hunter and I was leading Regional Pre-Adult Equitation over fences. I've fallen to second in Eq. on the flat, but with two horse shows coming up at the end of this month/beginning of September, I hope to be back on top. What really frustrates me though is that despite leading the Pre-Adult Eq. over fences, I have not qualified for OHJA Medal Finals! It's absurd! Sarah agrees and has made it clear that I cannot work hard enough in the weeks leading up to Oregon Summer and NW Spectacular. Time to step it up!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

wish list

Sometimes I wish I could afford to be more of a horsey snob. I have a wonderful horse, I train at a great barn and my saddle is EXACTLY what I want. I have good, working tack and riding clothes. But man...sometimes I long for high-range things - like Tailored Sportsman breeches and a tack trunk of my own. I know, how spoiled am I? But I figure it's not wrong to have a wish list, right? Just so I know what I want when I can finally afford it...Some things are no-brainers, like nicer, more durable tall boots for showing but other things are absolutely frivolous.


Dubarry boots...*droooooool* Not to sound like a snotty teenager, but everyone was wearing them at Rolex (I totally DID just sound like a snotty teenager, didn't I?) and I. Love. Them. Of course, they cost more than just about any article of clothing I own, so you can guess the chances of me ever buying any. Oh well, maybe someday...

Monday, August 2, 2010


I just got an e-mail from a fellow model horse collector (yes, go ahead and laugh, I still collect model horses) who wants to use Keenan as a reference for a customized model she's having painted! Apparently my boy has a quiet a following on ModelHorseBlab (keep laughing)! And why wouldn't he? He's gorgeous!

If only someone thought my little guy was pretty enough to paint...oh well, I do!

In a million years when I have saved up enough money, I'm going to have customs made of my boys. Carol William's Valor resin would suit Keenan perfectly - or a Peter Stone Palouse with its head tucked and mane and tail braided. I haven't found a mold or sculpture yet that perfectly epitomizes Mr. Rapper in all his glory, maybe Eberl's Tamino or a drastic CM'd Breyer PAM...yep, I'm officially a nerd.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


So I can't sleep and I was virtually flipping through some Facebook photos when I found a picture of Keenan and I that I love oh-so much...
Just thought I'd share! We had a super lesson today in the gorgeous sunshine - I am so blessed to have my ponies! Wouldn't trade them for anything!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

did it!

Actually made it through a lesson and stayed on, haha! Not that I usually come off, but I was pretty shaken up by my fall the other day. I didn't get hurt and it wasn't, to use Sarah's term, "an epic fall" but it dawned on me as I was picking myself up and dusting myself off: I don't have health insurance. I know that sounds like a bizarre thing to think about, and honestly until my dad mentioned something the other day, it hadn't even crossed my mind, but...well now I can't stop thinking about it! Sarah put a really good spin on the situation today as we were heading up to the outdoor arena, she said that because Keenan is usually such a good boy, him acting up like he did on Tuesday IS a little unnerving - because it's unexpected. When Rapper bucks, I just sit it out and laugh because it doesn't faze me - he's been doing stuff like that for 13 years!

Today was a good day, though. As soon as I got on and we'd walked around for a few laps, I put him right to work at the trot. I figured if he had a job to do right off the bat he wouldn't have time to think about being silly. It worked. He is a little stiff and out of shape, so when we started jumping, he made a four stride line a five and I didn't set him up correctly for one oxer and he dropped a rail...but overall, it felt GREAT to be jumping my horse again. Sarah said that we did well, for a pair that hasn't worked together much lately. Feels great to be back!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Fell off Keenan was supposed to be my first lesson back on him and we didn't even make it through warming up. At a trot. Ugh. It started with that little playful bucking-half-rearing thing he sometimes does. I was sitting it out just fine, but as I was leaning forward to keep my balance, his head and neck came up and smashed me right in the face. That did it. I fell off, right on my bum. And what really sucked...I was just a little scared to get back on. I did anyway but I just walked around for a few minutes. Sarah told me to untack Keenan and turn him out so he could gallop his kinks and bucks out - which he did. It was...incredible. I've never seen my horse gallop full out and yesterday it finally hit me: he really did used to be a racehorse! Very cool to see all that power on full display. Still, I'm unnerved that I was the least bit scared...I've never been scared of my horse before...
Sarah's schooling him today and we're giving the lesson another try tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

baby steps and feeling good

I rode Keenan today!

Hooray, we're on our way back! Sarah told me yesterday that we can start lightly hacking Keenan this week and if all goes well, we can ease him back into working! I hopped on him today and it felt so good to be back on my boy. His stride is so smooth and it just feels so right to canter him around again. I can tell he's still stiff and he was rarin' to go, but I'm just glad to be together again!

Had a really great lesson with Bijou tonight. She had a week off last week while the gang was at Country Classic and the vacation really did her some good. She was a joy to ride tonight, and at a few points, I even had her moving in a nice hunter-y frame.

Last night during our flat lesson (I rode Tamara's Thoroughbred gelding Cloudy), Sarah said something that made me feel like a million bucks. We were doing pretty uncomplicated flatwork, but Sarah was really critiquing our equitation. She tends to do that after shows because she's had a chance to see her clients put into practice what they've been learning and also what they need to work on. So we were trotting around, creating a connection with our horses and getting them into a nice working frame. Sarah was talking about basic points of equitation and how important it is to make that connection - when a horse is moving properly and using himself correctly, it tells a judge that the rider is doing his or her job. Sarah said that it's not a coincidence that the riders who win equitation on the flat are the riders whose horses are moving in that round, working frame. "That's why Missy wins all her eq on the flat classes [she forgot that I came in 4th in the last one]. She knows how to get her horse to use himself correctly. That's why she's at the top of her division and that's why she'll be moving up next year." It meant the world to me that she would say that. My mom has told me about the nice things Sarah has said to her and I have overheard Sarah's comments to people like the horse show vet about how well Keenan and I go together, but to say that out loud in a lesson made me glow inside. I so look up to her and it makes me feel so good to hear her praise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

hi from the boys!

Just wanted to share this picture of my boys! Rapper's eye was much better today (thank you ice gel pack and Swat ointment!) and even though progress is slow with Keenan's abscess, he seems content and sound - albeit bored. I turned Rapper out in the arena today while I soaked Keenan's foot and he made friends with Sophie. He even came right to her when she called and stood patiently while she haltered him and led him back to his stall. Keenan, on the other hand, was a wild man. He enjoyed his convalescence at first, but now he's ready to get back to work. He about ripped my arm out of the socket when I led him into the arena to hand walk him. It's weird - I'm not afraid of either of my horses but when 16.2 hand Keenan starts throwing a fit, you suddenly realize just how big he is. Didn't let him get away from me, though, which was of course what he wanted. For all his trouble, he got yanked and yelled at and had to practice good manners and showmanship for 20 minutes. That'll teach him. Punk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

my horses have issues

So apparently, my horses have decided that they will take July off. Between Keenan's cellulitis, colic and abscess and Rapper's newly swollen and puss-ridden eye, they are bound and determined to weasel out of any work this month. Meanwhile, I turn into Jell-O. What punks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Well it turns out that Mr. Keenan has an abcess. Yeah. All this (hopefully) for an abcess. Apparently, when horses have an abcess high up in their hoof, they can exhibit heat and swelling in the leg itself. I really, really hope this is the answer to all our issues over the past several weeks. Abcesses I can deal with - Rapper has had two over the past couple years. Simple, really - remove show, soak, wrap. Lather, rinse, repeat. As long as there's no more colic incidents (like last Friday night - yeah, you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear THAT...the first time I leave cell phone range for a weekend, Keenan colics!), I will be hopeful. Fingers are crossed that this is all it is!

Also, some cell phone photos from last week!

Rapper and Lex, enjoying the sunshine!

horse show coolers are so multi-purpose - thanks for winning this for me, Keenan!

Friday, July 2, 2010

happy thoughts

I'm really too tired to write in depth about my day at the barn, but I won't be seeing my boys until Tuesday (out of town for the holiday weekend) so I figured I'd better jot a few things down now...

Rode old man Reno today. He's a former Grand Prix jumper and a retired school horse. He has the old mare and foal stall with a ton of room and an outdoor paddock that he can enjoy any time of the day. We walked and trotted to our hearts' content and even had a couple laps at the canter. He's a little arthritic and stiff but he's still so willing and actually has a really great stride. He was the first horse I ever felt totally solid cantering on in a two-point. After our ride, he got pampered with a sudsy bath and Lifesavers. Good day for Mr. Reno.

Good day for Keenan and Rapper, too. Keenan also got a bath and even though he was a total pain during it (what else is new?), our hand-walk was good and his leg is getting better almost by the hour. As I'm wrapping his legs in the evenings before I leave, I've been "sending good vibes" to his leg. I know how out-there and new-age that sounds but it's something my mother in-law really believes in and I've seen her do some amazing things with her "hippie magic." But we all know how perceptive our horses are and how they pick up on our moods and emotions - I figure, it couldn't hurt to try and heal him with love as well as ice boots, leg wraps and medicine, right?

And of course, Rapper, haha. I kind of cheated him out of a ride yesterday, so I kind of owed him one. His arena work was pretty standard but it was the walk up the driveway that made me really proud of him. I know I sound like a broken record, but a year ago, a calm walk up the driveway would have been out of the question. And today there were all kinds of distractions - a car going up the driveway, a car going DOWN the driveway, a huge sprinkler in the outdoor arena, a curious Boxer pup and Mike on the tractor. Rapper took it all in stride - in fact, the one thing he chose to be "concerned" with was the gate closing automatically after Tamera drove in *eye roll*. Still, I think I have reason to be happy with my guys.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

humility, courtesy of Bijou

Bijou and Anna at last year's Northwest Spectacular, where they finished 2nd in the Hillcrest Starter Medal Finals.

If I ever thought I'd become some hotshot rider and could win championships on anything with four legs I WAS WRONG.
With Keenan out for at least the rest of this week (aside: we think it might be cellulitis and are treating it as such - he is improving daily, yay!!!), Sarah has been gracious enough to give me lessons on her school horses. I got a flat lesson yesterday on Phoenix and today got a jumping lesson on Bijou.
And I hurt. Big time.
Phoenix and I did not click, plain and simple. I know that a good rider can ride any horse well, but I also know that doesn't mean it has to FEEL good. It sounds so spoiled of me, I know, but Phoenix is not my fancy hunter boy. I had to work very hard to ride him with anything resembling correct equitation - and of course, that was the theme of the lesson, no stirrups and all.
But that was nothing compared to Ms. Bijou tonight. Sarah told me several weeks ago that poor Bijou (the Queen B, as I like to call her) was suffering some kind of crisis - that being a go-to horse for all kinds of beginners and children was starting to wear on her. She couldn't figure out if pulling meant stop or go, if kicking meant go faster or slow down and if anyone tried to educate her or correct her, she'd throw a tantrum. Tonight I got to experience that first-hand.
While we warmed up, she didn't want to move forward off my leg. When we started jumping - cavaletti, mind you - she blasted off like a rocket. When she ran out on a jump and I disciplined her with the crop, she lost her head. It felt like she was having some kind of horsey rage blackout. She tried to tune me out completely. It was really weird...I wanted to be sympathetic to her, but in order to relax, I had to get through to her. At the ends of the arena, I managed to sink more around her and we had half a dozen really nice, round strides - but as soon as a jump came into the picture, forget about it.
To be honest, I don't know if Sarah had me ride B because it would be good for her or because it would be good for me. Probably a combination of both. I have a tendancy to jump ahead (come too far out of my tack too soon - basically, I try to "jump the fence for my horse") and if I'd done that tonight, I would have wound up on the ground. That, and I did need to be humbled. I think having such a wonderful horse has actually made me a poorer horsewoman. I've formed some bad habits that only a lesson like this one could make me aware of. This season, I have been equitation champion or reserve at every show. It's hard not to be proud. It's hard not to think I'm entitled to good rides every time. But being a horsewoman is not about ribbons or coolers. It's not right to wish for my horse to get better so we can go to the next show. It's about taking the extra time to give Bijou a full bath and a graze because she needs the TLC. It's about having tough lessons where you have to work every step of the way. It's 100% about the horses and my relationship with them. I'm glad I had Bijou to remind me of that tonight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Keenan update

Sarah called me this morning to give me her take on Mr. Keenan's lameness. She said that he is sound at the walk, which is a relief because the last time I saw him, Saturday night, he was still Limpy McGee at the walk. Sarah agreed with me that he is not in any severe pain and that he is still eating like a champ and acting like his normal self. We're planning on letting him have this week off and treating him with wraps, ice and the magnetic blanket. If he has not improved by the time Sarah leaves for Country Classic Preview next Monday, she'd like to take him with her and have the vet look at him up there. I'm all for this because if he does not heal this week there will be no Country Classic for us, anyway (obviously) and since we've already paid for his transportation and lodging to and in Wilsonville, I'd just as soon use that money + our C.C. entry fees to get him figured out and fixed up. My big worry is that he'll need an ultrasound, which of course are not a dime a dozen. I still don't have a job and I feel so guilty asking Mom to shell out the big bucks. If this injury turns out to be something even borderline serious, I think I can kiss the rest of this show season good-bye. I don't really care about that from a points/ribbons standpoint - as much fun as it is to win, I'm in this for the horses - but shows are just fun to go to! It creates such a bond between a horse and rider, not to mention the fun of rooting for your barnmates and being the resident Triple Rise photo nut...I'll still go to Country Classic and Northwest Spectacular as a spectator/helper, but I hope my boy is better by then. Come on, Keenan - time to heal, buddy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

big frustrations and little victories

So Keenan is lame. I don't mean uncool, I mean hurting. On Wednesday night Sarah texted me and told me that Armando (our head groom/nicest guy in the world) called to tell her that he's been favoring his right front. This surprised Sarah and I because when he'd been sore at the show, it had looked like it was his LEFT front and/or right HIND that was/were causing the trouble. And when I went to see Keenan yesterday, I got even more confused. When he walked, it seemed like, again, it was his left front causing him pain, but when he stood in the cross-ties he was trying to take the weight off his right front. Armando and I could see a tiny bit of heat and swelling in his right leg - at the back of his cannon bone and up just below and to the front of his elbow - but nothing that should cause as much limping as we saw when he walked.
I'm confused. Because of the lack of really obvious swelling/heat, we haven't yet called the vet. We're icing that right front and mineral icing his other legs and right shoulder. I wonder if he's a.) getting an abcess and it's manifesting itself in a weird way or b.) is sore and stiff through his back and neck and he's trying to favor everything at once. The bright side is that Armando told me yesterday that he's already seen an improvement. I just hope that this either becomes something more acute so we can properly diagnose and treat it or that it's just some vague soreness leftover from the show and it will go away over the next few days. Either way, prayers for my horsey, please.

On the flip side, Nathan and I managed something with Rapper yesterday that I was really beginning to suspect was impossible. We gave him a bath in the wash stall. I know that doesn't sound like a miracle, but Rapper has been trying to make it clear for the past 10 months that he is in no way interested in going in that stall. Each time we've tried, we have encountered a lot of hoof-planting, snorting, head-tossing - you know, the usual complaints.
It's not that Rapper necessarily hates baths themselves, but he once had a traumatic experience in a wash rack that makes the biggest hurdle of any bathing adventure just GETTING there. Yesterday was no exception. It took all of my convincing to get that horse in the wash stall - convincing and a few LifeSavers (his new favorite treat). But once Rapper felt the cool water - he was a sweaty mess - he decided that maybe life in a wash stall wasn't so bad. After all, he got treats, he was pampered, he didn't fall down and he got to lounge in the sun, eating grass, afterward. I was so proud of him for being *so brave.* Sometimes Rapper really amazes me. Ever since he moved to Triple Rise, he's been a changed horse. He's always been good and I've always loved him but there's no denying he used to be something of a head case. He still has his moments of course - sometimes things are just plain scary - but for the most part his whole perspective on life has changed. Things that would have caused an uproar a year ago are, generally speaking, now more interesting than frightening. He has changed stalls, he's walked bareback up the driveway, he spent a weekend at the Oregon Horse Center, where we had a delightful walk around with no theatrics whatsoever...Again, these are small triumphs, but a win is a win, no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oregon Trail show report

Kristine and Elusive Q

Anna and Patchwork

myself and Frampton

Jessie and Big Time

Lauren and Southern Belle

What a great way to kick off the outdoor season! The Oregon Trail was a new show this year and I opted to go to it versus the Early Summer Classic a week later - the single 'A' rating (as opposed to a 'AA') would keep the costs down and I wanted an opportunity to do well at a smaller show and rack up some points. Turned out to be a shrewd decision - although for a day or two there, it looked like I might not be riding at all. On Thursday afternoon, as Nathan and I were putting the finishing touches on our packing, Sarah called me from Wilsonville to tell me that for the past few days Keenan had been sore and stiff. So much so that Sarah had scratched him from the pro days' classes. He wasn't outright lame, she told me, but Keenan is a horse who very rarely gets sore. I told Sarah that I'd be coming up anyway and we decided to have the vet out first thing Friday morning to take a look and make sure there wasn't something more serious going on. I was nervous when I arrived at the show grounds on Friday - afraid that I'd see my poor Keenan in pain. I'll admit, I wanted to ride in the show very badly, but I was more concerned with my boy's health. I went about business as usual - namely, working hard to get that stubborn yellow stain off Keenan's barrel - just so we'd be ready. Thankfully, after watching me ride and doing some flexion tests on Keenan, the vet deemed him fit to compete and told Sarah and I that riding and putting him in a frame would likely be beneficial because it would stretch out and loosen his muscles. So, with less than an hour to go before my classes, I was rushing around getting he and I dressed and ready. We had an abbreviated warm-up that commenced with Sarah saying, "okay, go show!" And we came away with a first and a second! That's when I knew two things I'd only previously suspected: 1.) my horse can do absolutely anything, and 2.) he loves me a lot. Keenan hadn't been ridden in three days and even though he was sound, he was not feeling 100% - and he went out and performed for me in spite of those things! We totaled 21 points for our hunter division (1st, 2nd, 3rd and a 5th) putting us one point shy of reserve champion - and that was without doing our under saddle class and me riding like a sack of flour on the second day! What a horse I have!
Of course, one of the great things about Triple Rise is that ALL of our horses are incredible animals and the riders they are paired with are some extremely talented horsewomen.
Lauren and Bella:
three 1st and two 2nd awards in Adult Amateur Hunter = Champion
one 1st, one 3rd and one 4th award in Adult Equitation = Champion
winner of the OHJA Adult Medal
Anna and Patches:
one 1st, one 2nd and one 3rd award in Pre-Childrens's Hunter = Co-Champion
4th place in the Hillcrest Starter Medal
Kristine and Q:
one 3rd award in 0.95 meter Children's Jumper
one 1st, one 3rd, two 4th and one 6th award in Modified Junior/Amateur Hunter
one 2nd and one 3rd award in Restricted Equitation 14-17
Keenan and I:
one 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd and one 5th award in Pre-Adult Hunter
two 1st and one 4th award in Pre-Adult Equitation = Champion

And hats off to Jessie and Cody - in their first show together, they placed in almost every class! They are going to make an amazing team as they continue to grow and learn together. Another great show team Triple Rise!

we've got catching up to do!

Well, it's been forever since I've written anything, despite the many exciting events of the past two weeks. So I figure it's time for a little catch-up!

Our open house went really well. We had a great turn-out and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I think we have a few new clients coming on board as a result and I know some parents are going to be interested in their kids joining the YMCA day camps we offer during the summer. My father in-law brought along Nathan's two youngest brothers, Zach and Levi, so that they could see what this horseback riding thing is all about. Zachery is an absolute natural! Laura had him up on Honey and I've never seen a kid have more confidence his first time on a pony. I think my favorite moment of the day had to be when Jessica was fielding questions after her second jumping demo - one of the children raised his hand and asked, "Are you going to be in the Olympics some day?!" It was adorable - "And talk about an ego boost!" Jess said.

The day after the open house, Sarah gave Nathan a special lesson on Phoenix since he didn't get to have a mini-lesson the day before - and, I suspect, because he's been doing a lot to help out at shows. It was great to see my husband participating in my favorite activity - and loving it! I don't know if it's because he's such a naturally athletic person or if it's because riding is something that he genuinely wants to do, but he rode really well - posted to the trot and everything! - especially for his first lesson. I've been offering to let him ride Rapper for months now, but he kept saying that he'd feel wierd and awkward and he didn't want any of the experienced riders to make fun of him. But now that's he's realized that he's better than your average beginner, and that all of the girls are behind him 100%, I think he'll be more interested in the idea.

Along with all the wonderful things that have been going on, we've had some bad luck, too. Poor Chloe (one of the mares who was born and raised at TREC and who is now in active training) seems to have borne the brunt of it all. Besides her mystery hives (a reaction to a still-unknown allergy), she was involved in a freak accident a couple of weeks ago that left her pretty scratched up and sore. During a lunging session, she somehow managed to get loose, jump out of the arena, tear around the driveway and bang up Laura's car. I wasn't there so I didn't see exactly what happened, but those seem to be the facts. Afterward, I helped Laura hold her still to clean out her wounds and let me tell you, nothing takes years off your life like trying to wrestle with a 16.2 hand mare who wants nothing more than to squish you into a wall. Then there was the incident that began with Cody spooking at a mud puddle and ended with Sarah getting kicked in the knee and spending the rest of the week on crutches. This all happened during a week straight of pouring rain while everyone was trying to get the barn and jumps spiffed up for the open house. Needless to say, it was a pretty stressful few days. I don't like to dwell on negative happenings (especially since things look like they're working out just fine), but I think it's important to point out that these things do happen. After all, they're part of life and learning to accept them and deal with them is the only way to learn and grow.

But now we're on to the heart of show season and things are looking up. We just wrapped up the Oregon Trail Classic, this week is the Early Summer Classic and the Country Classic weeks are just a month away! Kate is returning to Oregon, Julie will be showing Henry for the first time in two years and Chloe and Lana are along for the ride to learn what life as a show horse is like! It's going to be a great summer!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

OHJA Points

So I've been waiting forEVER for the Oregon Hunter Jumper Association to update their points on the website - and they're up! I have to brag a bit - not just about Keenan and I, but all the riders from Triple Rise.

Lauren and Bella:
4th in 3' Pre-Green Working Hunter (Open System)
4th in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Open System)
2nd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat (Open System)
9th in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Open System)

Debbie and Houdini:
3rd in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Open System)
8th in Large Working Hunter (Open System)
3rd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Open System)

Tamera and Cloudy:
2nd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
3rd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)
4th in 0.85-0.90 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
5th in 0.95-1.00 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
2nd in Low Adult Jumper (Regional System)

Kate and Titan:
1st in 3'3" Pre-Green Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Regional System)

Kristine and Q:
1st in Children's Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Open Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Children's Equitation Over Fences, 14-17 (Regional System)
8th in Children's Equitation on the Flat, 14-17 (Regional System)
11th in 0.85-.90 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
4th in 0.95-1.00 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
1st in Beginning Jumper Rider (Regional System)
4th in Low Children's Jumper

Laura and Beau:
7th in Pre-Adult Hunter (Regional System)
3rd in Pre-Adult Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
2nd in Pre-Adult Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Holly and Lucky:
1st in Long Stirrup Hunter (Regional System) - with 264 points!
1st in Long Stirrup Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
1st in Long Stirrup Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Allison and Bijou:
3rd in Short Stirrup Hunter (Regional System)
2nd in Short Stirrup Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Sophie and Jackson:
3rd in Pre-Children's Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)

1st in Children's Equitation Over Fences, 13 & Under (Regional System)
3rd in Children's Equitation on the Flat, 13 & Under (Regional System)

1st in Pony Working Hunter (Regional System)

And, of course, my Keenan!!!:
1st in Large Working Hunter (Regional System) - with 225 points!
1st in Pre-Adult Hunter (Regional System) - with 213 points!
1st in Pre-Adult Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
1st in Pre-Adult Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

TREC Open House

10:00 am - open house begins
10:30 am - Equitation demonstration by Kristine and Elusive Q
11:00 am - first round of trial lessons
11:30 am - Jumper demonstration by Jessica and McTwist
12:00 pm - second round of trial lessons
12:30 pm - Hunter demonstration by Jessie and Houdini
1:00 pm - final round of trial lessons
1:45 pm - Pony demonstration by Sophie and Jackson Browne
2:00 pm - Jumper demonstration by Jessica and McTwist
3:00 pm - open house ends

Monday, May 17, 2010

I must be dreaming

The success DID continue! Yesterday, Keenan and I took the championship for Pre-Adult Equitation! I was actually really worried that we wouldn't do too well because he and I were both so tired, but we held it together for one more day and did great! And that was in spite of me leaving out a fence at the end of our first round. I guess I was just rushing to learn my course and didn't realize after the outside line there was one more fence - I just left it out entirely. When I came out of the back gate and Sarah told me what I'd done, my heart just sank. I thought to myself - "there it goes." But because I got a first in my other round and won the eq on the flat class, I wound up ok. And that wasn't even the best part! My friend Laura, who also rides and works for Triple Rise, had won a first, second and third in equitation on Beau and we ended up with tying scores for the championship! Sarah was so delighted when we rode out of the ring, she threw her hands in the air and said, "my life is so good right now!" Laura and I stayed in our show clothes, threw some red Triple Rise fly sheets over our horses and had the show photographer take some pictures of us together. Other TREC champs and reserve champs were: Kate Laue's New Favorite (with Sarah aboard), Adrienne Potwora and her Captain Jack, Holly Brooks on Mollie's Lucky Me and Kristine on her own Elusive Q.

It was such a whirlwind of a week and I could not be happier with how it turned out - well, alright, I wish I hadn't left out that fence, and my OHJA Mini Medal round definitely left something to be desired but STILL! I am so excited for the rest of the season! The rest of my shows will take place at my absolute favorite show location, Hunter Creek Farm in Wilsonville which is beautiful, outdoors, close to my family and full of great memories. Come on, Early Summer Classic!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

exhausted but elated

This is about all I have to say about today...

I'll write more later, but I had to post about the Mother's Day Classic so far - Keenan and I won the championship award for our Pre-Adult Hunter division! He has been absolutely stupendous all week; even winning the reserve champion award in the Large Working Hunters with my trainer Sarah on board. Today, he felt amazing and we were so in tune with each other! Equitation tomorrow, let's hope the success continues!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

at last!

Well done Todd Pletcher, Calvin Borel and Super Saver!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Run for the Roses

Well, so much for blogging my way through Kentucky. We got so busy (and so exhausted by the end of the night), I just didn't have time to keep the blog updated. That, and Mom got tired of me hijacking her laptop for hours every evening.
I guess I can fill in a little more about the trip are the highlights from the rest of the week:
  • Thursday (dressage day at Rolex) - got some great photos of Courageous Comet and Becky Holder in the warm-up ring, fed Cigar a peppermint and gave him a pat on the neck.
  • Friday (closing day at Keeneland) - ate lunch in the super-nice dining room overlooking the paddock and walking ring, watched the races trackside, got autographs from Cory Nakatani, Julien Leparoux, Calving Borel, Garret Gomez and Donna Barton Brothers.
  • Saturday (cross-country day at Rolex) - walked the entire course, from one end of the park to the other, saw some amazing athletes do some incredible things, tripped in a gopher hole near the starting box and thus gave other spectators something to laugh at.
  • Sunday (show jumping day at Rolex) - joined in with 60,000 other fans to watch William Fox-Pitt win his first Rolex, my favorites Courageous Comet and Becky Holder came in third, just escaped the downpour and took a scenic drive to Paris (Claiborne Farm) and back through the local roads.

The big news today is the Derby. Churchill Downs is a mud-hole today and that, along with the scratching of heavy favorite Eskendereya last week, has really thrown the race open. Given that I saw a few of the Derby contenders work out during our time at Churchill, I would LOVE to see one of them win. If Lookin At Lucky, Ice Box, Paddy O'Prado or Dublin can bring home the roses I will be a happy girl. HOWEVER my loyalty lies with a trainer, even more than a horse. Mr. Todd Pletcher is arguably the best trainer in the business but in 9 Derbies and 24 entries, he has never found his way to the winner's circle. Eskendereya looked like the horse that would get him there, but with his withdrawl, Pletcher entered his filly Devil May Care. She is the one I'd like to see bring it home. And I think the "Derby Gods" are on her side. If you want a sign (by the way, the following information was brought to my attention by the Blood-Horse daily online magazine):

  • Todd Pletcher used to work for a certain D. Wayne Lukas who also had some trouble winning the Run for the Roses. MR. Lukas' first Derby win came with a filly named Winning Colors.
  • Pletcher's first win in a Triple Crown race came in the 2007 Belmont when the tremendous Rags to Riches edged eventual Horse of the Year Curlin.
  • Pletcher actually wanted to run Devil May Care in the Derby all along, but he said she wouldn't go unless jockey John Velasquez could pilot her. Johnny V originally had the mount on Eskendereya. If you ask me, it was meant to be.

To sum up, it's Derby Day. The mud may throw a kink in any Triple Crown plans but that's okay. It would be nice. It's been over 30 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown and since then, so many horses have gotten close. But I have to say that three well-run races by spectacular horses is just as well. 2007 was incredible - Street Sense's Derby, Curlin's Preakness and Rags to Riches' Belmont were absolutely outstanding. That being said, I have my own favorites when it comes to the Triple Crown.

Kentucky Derby: 2006, Barbaro and Edgar Prado

Preakness Stakes: a tie between 2009, Rachel Alexandra and Calvin Borel and 2005 Afleet Alex and Jeremy Rose

Belmont Stakes: (obviously) 2007, Rags to Riches and (who else) John Velasquez.

I hope everyone gets away safely today and that we see the group who deserves it the most finally wearing the roses on the first Saturday in May.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 2 - more race horses

What a day - up at 5:30, out the door at 6:30, made it to Churchill before 8. We were immediately hustled out to a waiting van by Becky, our guide for the morning. She had us hurry because the Derby contenders were stepping out on the track for their morning workouts. Sure enough, we made it in time to see Eskenderya, Lookin At Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Ice Box and Dublin - all of whom are on Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen in this week's Bloodhorse. We saw many other horses work out this morning - including most of the fillies who will run in the Kentcuky Oaks - but knowing that one of those horses could end up wearing the roses on May's exciting!
Back behind the track, we drove around looking at the shedrows - watching the horses get their baths, trainers and exercise riders talking about that morning's's its own little world back there. I could go on and on about that experience - how we were thisclose to top trainer Todd Pletcher, how we drove right by the shedrow where 2009 Preakness winner and 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra was stabled, how Becky put her hand on my arm and told me - seriously - that I should have a job out here...
But I digress. After Churchill, we drove to Three Chimneys farm for a tour. This was my third time visiting the Three Chimneys guys and it was just about better than ever. We saw Big Brown and Smarty Jones (Kentucky Derby winners), Exchange Rate, Point Given, Sky Mesa, Rahy...we even (brace yourself) got to see a live cover of a mare. Can't Catch My Cat was brought into the breeding shed to be covered by Flower Alley and we got to stay and watch. Kinda like biology class all over again! If the foal is a filly, I have a great name already planned, haha.
Off to Rolex tomorrow for day one of dressage - and we'll pay a visit to my favorite racehorse of all time, Cigar. I can't wait!