Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Waiting Game

I'm anxiously waiting...

Hola C Bright

He has arrived in Lexington. He should be on his way to Lansing, MI tomorrow. Then Sunday he should be on his way to Traverse City, MI.

I'm here and won't be home until Monday.

And because some of you have asked, Canoodler has been sold to a hunter/jumper barn for a lot of money. I guess he wasn't meant to be for me. But it's really cool that I get this gorgeous guy because his owners simply wanted him to get to a good home. No charge to me. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He Passed!

Tuesday was lesson day and was also vet check day for Hola C Bright. A big day in my equine world.

Toby has been improving with each lesson. We start out better and better with less discussion about his frame. He's really getting his back to start swinging and moving that hind end with more ease. It's so much fun! As for me, I'm focusing more on sitting back and working on my leg position. Once I get myself out of the way of Toby's shoulders then he's able to move easier! It's such an obvious statement but sometimes it's hard for me to get out of my own way let alone get out of his way! We keep practicing and we will get better. Toby loves the work and has such a confident way about him now. Here is a photo of us from our show at the end of June. I guarantee that the next video, photo or show (which ever is first) of the two of us will show me in a not so tilted forward position!! I'm a girl on a mission to fix that!

Hola C Bright had great news too. He passed his vet check with flying colors. The vet was a track vet that came to the farm. He actually remembered him from his racing days! He told me he couldn't find anything in the flex test. He tested all four feet with hoof testers and he didn't flinch once. He has an old quarter crack which he said he really tested aggressively and came up with nothing. He mentioned he has a spot in each eye (each about the size of a pinhead) where the cornea is damaged probably from dirt flying into his eyes while racing. Having said that, he can see very well out of both eyes. His legs felt clean and because he flexed well, I said there's no need to x ray. The vet told me I'll be getting a very nice horse! I let out a "yahoo!" after the call. I'm so excited. Now we just need for his coggins to come back so he can ship and he'll be on his way to Traverse City.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Horse Shows By The Bay

No show for me this weekend. I decided against it. I was tired, needed to do work around the house before I left again this week and I wanted to get out to see the competition at Horse Shows By The Bay.

I did head out to the show and ran into my former hunter/jumper trainer who is based in the Detroit area. She used to train Toby and my niece. I showed her pictures of Toby and she couldn't believe how great he looked. I told her he's thriving in the dressage world. She was happy for both of us. I love catching up with my old riding friends. It's also cool to see them doing well and competing at high levels.

I hung around for the Grand Prix and shot photos. This one is my favorite shots because 1) the position of the horse and rider at the height of their jump and 2) the board in the background with the horse's name on it. It really looks as if they are flying!


Addison Phillips won the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix on Teirra. Addison is a New Yorker and currently a student at Harvard University. She was on the show Horse Power on Animal Planet.

The website for the show even has video of the winning rides from the Grand Prix's which is really fun to watch! I must point out the jumps on the course since they represent everything that is Traverse City - sailing, cherries, the outdoors, the great lakes and they even have a replica of the Mackinac Bridge.

I did get a call from Mantua Farm about Hola. He'll be checked out on Tuesday and I'll be making arrangements for him to head to Traverse City assuming there are no problems. I'm very excited about him. He'll probably arrive in Traverse City while I'm working the U.S. Senior Open which is ok. That'll give Toby time to like him before he realizes what is really going on. Toby has a jealousy streak a mile wide.

Lots going on! I'm heading back out to the show today and to do a little shopping, perhaps a new halter with a nameplate... :)

Finally, one of the local papers had another great write-up on Betsy VanDyke. Click here and go to page 16.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life's a Roller Coaster Ride

I'm on a complete rollercoaster ride these days. I think at some point things will level out for me but right now I'm just hanging on.

While I was away working the US Women's Open championship, I got the news that Palmer, my loyal friend for the past 12 1/2 years had passed. He had been in failing health but was doing really well by the time I had left for the Women's Open. Bless his devoted heart, he became depressed like he usually does when I go away on my business trips but this time his body didn't have the strength to carry on. He died in his sleep on a sunny afternoon in his favorite spot in my yard. I can't think of a better way to go for a dog that gave so much love. I just wish I had been home for him at that moment.

I walked out of the womens open media center, found a quiet spot behind the usga office trailer and let my heartache out. A security guard came over to ask if I was ok and if I needed help. Poor guy - he tried to be helpful but I just wanted to be left alone.

Palmer's death is easier for me to accept. He had a full and wonderful life. I have so many great stories about him and his quirky behavior.

palmer headshot

He will be missed by so many.

That night I had a long talk with the man upstairs about all the heartache lately. I think he answered me.

The day after I received the news about Palmer I was sitting in my spot in the media center (with sunglasses on to hide my swelled up eyes) and tending to some mindless tasks for work. I had my facebook page open and up pops an instant message from my dear friend Maggie.

Maggie: Sweetie, I'm so sorry about Palmer! I know my timing may not be right but I think I have a horse for you.

Me: I just can't think about another horse right now Maggie

Maggie: This guy is lovely and wants a job so badly. His owner is looking to place him into a good home. I think you should look at him. Lydia and I fell in love with him and think he'd be terrific.

We continued the conversation by telephone. It seems that Lydia and Maggie were at this awesome farm in Baltimore to write a story for Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. They were looking at a cute pony in the barn when this very attractive gray head popped over the door to say hello. They come to find out that he needs a good home. Maggie gives me the name and number of the person to speak with about the horse. When we connected, we found out that this guy is a Michigan bred! Surely this was meant to be...

My flight home was scheduled at 4:30pm out of Newark, NJ on the day after the Women's Open. I typically schedule an afternoon flight after a championship so I can sleep in and take my time to get to the airport. Not this time... I rented a car, woke up at 5am, drove almost 3 hours to Baltimore to look at the horse, and drove north to Newark Airport to make my flight. What a day!

In a nutshell, I loved what I saw. His name is Hola C Bright. Raced 61 times, 12 wins, 11 places, 12 shows to earn $157,633 in his racing career. He placed and showed in stakes races, won a few allowance races and had a pretty decent racing career! He raced in Michigan, Florida and ended up racing in the Mid-Atlantic region (Monmouth, Pimlico, Laurel, Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park).

I'm getting him checked out so I know what I've got in terms of wear and tear. I want to be sure it's manageable wear and tear. The farm he's in is not only giving him to me, they will also ship him to Lexington with one of their other shippers to help me with getting him to Michigan. After showing my friends, I have a few that have offered to pick him up in Lexington! It's all going so smoothly. I hope he checks out well - I anticipate that he will since he's very sound on his barefeet - and he gets here soon!

Meet Hola C Bright:

He has lovely daisy clipping movement:

Hola C Bright

and nice top line for a horse that has been in a pasture for the past year:

Hola C Bright conformation

He is 16 hands and a cool looking dappled rose gray. I know he'll get whiter as he ages and it'll be a challenge to keep him nice and white but I think he's very cool!

Hola C Bright

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Needs More Impulsion

I went over the notes from my ride at the last show and one thing kept showing up - needs more impulsion. Ironically, by the time I had my lesson with Betsy, Toby had been in for a couple of days due to the very wet conditions outdoors. He had a lot of impulsion from behind on lesson day! In fact he gave his impulsion an exclamation point or two with a few happy feet kicks into the air. So I guess the key to more impulsion will be to keep him in for a couple of days... Ha ha!

In all seriousness, Toby marched around the arena like a horse on a mission and he was loving it. It took a few minutes of flying around with his head stretched up as high as he could get it before he began to relax and take the bit. At that point he was lovely! Betsy couldn't believe how forward he was moving. I was just laughing. You never know what you'll get with your horse on any given day. I know, dear reader, you know exactly what I'm saying! You just have to adjust your riding for what you have that day. My lesson that day was a lesson on getting my horse to relax and get on my aids. How ironic since I had in my mind I was going to be focusing on giving him more get-up-and-go.

Once again I'm off on a trip for work so no lesson this week. Hopefully, we will complete play on Sunday so I can go home as scheduled on Monday and make my Tuesday lesson. Then I'll have another show on the 18th at the lovely B&B/winery Blackstar Farms.

In the meantime, Traverse City is preparing for the biggest horse show in the state of Michigan which will be arriving in the coming days. Betsy, my rock star trainer, was written up in this article today: Giddy Up! Horse Show is Bigger Than Ever Be sure to check out the photos of Betsy and her horse Tanner on the right side of the page. They will be competing at Horse Shows By The Bay at the end of the month.