Sunday, September 19, 2010

Close Contact With The World Equestrian Games

First of all, I have to tell you how awesome my husband is...

He bought me a ticket to the Dressage Finals on October 1st so I can watch my idols ride. I am so excited!! I know I'll be tired because I'll be coming back from an 11 day road trip for work and going straight from the airport to the arena but I don't care! Matt has a photo credential (we could only get one) so he'll be there too.

Also, my husband received a call from his cousin who lives in California. Turns out that his step daughter was selected to ride on the U.S. Endurance Team!! Matt and I know very little about endurance riding except that it's one of the FEI competitions at WEG.


We are learning quickly! The riders compete in a 100 mile race that will have several vet checks. The winner of the race is the rider who crosses the finish line first AND the horse recovers as "fit to continue" the fastest in the vet check. Wikipedia has a great explanation (considerably better and more concise than what I could write) of the competition - Click Here to Read.

Matt contacted his cousin's step-daughter and we met up with the team at an undisclosed location near the Kentucky Horse Park. They were training at this farm.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the U.S. Endurance Team!


The riders are Lindsay Graham, riding the chestnut with a big blaze named Monk; Jan Worthington, the oldest athlete at the World Equestrian Games at the tender age of 70; Heather Reynolds who rides a pretty gray arabian; Ellen Rapp who also rides a pretty gray arabian and she's wearing a black shirt in my photos; and Meg Sleeper who has a beautiful bay arabian. Debra Reich is the alternate selected for the team. She is wearing a yellow shirt in my photos.

I aspire to be as active as Jan Worthington at her age



The team was working out across the hills of central Kentucky and galloping around the pastures. It looked like a ton of fun!







The team has a strategy for cooling out their horses as fast as possible and they practice that as well.

At the end of their training session, the horses are cooled out the same way they are cooled out in competition and their heart rates are monitored just as they will be in the vet checks during the competition.


It was fascinating to watch and you can see how the horse and riders communicate with one another. It's obviously important for the rider to know her horse well and be in tune so that they maintain a pace for the long race.

One of the things that stuck out most to me was how lean the horses are kept. Once I realized that these horses are the marathon runners of the equestrian world then I understood their being lean. I bet these horses could eat a lot and they would still be lean! They certainly can keep on going like the energizer bunny.

The Endurance Competition is on Sunday, September 26th. I highly recommend going if you can. Regrettably, my work schedule has me out of town but we will be cheering for Lindsay and her team mates that day!



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Boys, Dressage By The Bay and Keeneland Sales - Oh My!

My life is so crazy right now. I'm doing very little riding while I live between two homes, try to move my world to Kentucky and work on getting things organized as best I can before my next big business trip.

Matt and I spent a few days up in Michigan and we shot some cool photos while I played around with my boys and we went to the Dressage Region 2 Finals.

Both my horses looked pretty good and we had to up the grain for Toby who seemed to lose too much weight when we cut him back initially.

I talked to my vet about giving Tums to Ollie before I ride and she said that was great. It's only a temporary fix and won't cure him but it's good that it makes him more comfortable. I purchased a different probiotic/prebiotic called SmartDigest Ultra from SmartPak. We'll see how that works for him. I am also putting him on SmartPak's SmartCalm Ultra pellets so he can get some vitamin B. My vet said to give it a try since it seems that Ollie is a worrier and vitamin B has been shown to help with that problem.

All I know is that I want my horse to poop better and relax more!

So I'm in Kentucky right now, Ollie is ridden by Betsy on Tuesdays and I haven't gotten a report. Hopefully he was better behaved than the week before when there were 50 mph wind gusts.

Over the past weekend, the people who organize Horse Shows By The Bay hosted the Region 2 USDF Championships. Matt and I were still in Michigan at the time and we thought it was a good opportunity to shoot some photos.

Betsy competed and I got these shots of her using a 500mm lens




I love how she is looking to her next move and I got the whites of her eyes. Tanner had a sore back and he was not at his best but he gave Betsy the best that he had. She was so thrilled with him!


Then Matt took one of his wide angle lens and got these shots because it was such a spectacular day in Traverse City.

Matt and I left on Sunday morning, packed up my truck and we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies as we headed to Lexington. We needed to get back in time for the Keeneland Yearling Sales which started that evening.

I hadn't been to the sales before. That was something to see. The top sales price for a yearling was for a colt by A.P. Indy out of Balance, a half-sister to Zenyatta. He sold for $4.2 million! Ironically, Matt has a picture of this guy when he was a small foal in the paddock with his Mom!

The sale is a big spectacle. Matt needed to get back because Shadwell Farm likes to get conformation photographs of their purchases. On the first night, Shadwell purchased 6 horses. So far Shadwell has been the biggest purchaser of horses at the sales and the Sheik was there himself! At the time of writing this blog he had purchased 17 horses.

Keeneland has a really great website for following the sales. You can see all the sales results here and sort the information by sire, dam, consignor, and buyer.

That is all for now in my busy life. I hope I can soon blog about my horses and their dressage training again!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saddle Fitting Follow-Up

Today the representative from Albion Saddles came out to check on my new saddle's fit on Ollie. We went through his measurements to see if he had any changes and then she checked the feel of the saddle in the shoulder area to see how it was sitting on him. We had to build up the left side and otherwise there weren't too many changes.

Ollie and I went through our paces for her. He was very sane and calm today. I think that's because I worked his little butt off the day before.

Tuesday, Betsy had ridden him for training. He was a freak but to defend him, we had wicked wild winds with gusts up to 50mph. The indoor arena was making all sorts of scary noises. Windy days are just plain scary. So I decided I better work him well before I had the saddle fitter out. I rode him on Wednesday and Matt came out to shoot some photos.

I started out by longeing him


and he was pretty good but had a ton of energy


Then I got on him... He was still a little jumpy because it was still a little breezy but nothing like the day before. I had him stand next to the mounting block and as I put one foot in the stirrup and swung the other leg over him, he spooked! I ended up sitting on him behind the saddle. I managed to do some fancy riding and did a perfect flying dismount while still holding Ollie. Thankfully he did not buck at all.

I got him settled down and went to the mounting block and managed to get on without incident. He had a little get up and go so I kept him at the walk for a long time until I felt he had stopped worrying and relaxed.


He was great until I asked him to trot. Then his head went straight up and in the far corner of the arena he would go sideways. Like a little sidewinder...


Going straight was not easy for him at the trot! He kept trying to think what my next move would be. He's such a little worrier!

So today I wondered what he would do...

He was a saint! He was relaxed, forward, really straight for him and no sidewinder action! I was so proud! I'm wondering if the Tums I gave him before I rode him helped... just a thought.


Monday, September 6, 2010

My Wedding Day!!

Obviously this is not at all horse related...

I thought I'd put out a link to a few photos of my wedding day which I found to be cute or amusing. Many more are on their way!

Link to some Wedding Day photos