Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Have to Laugh...

This weekend I managed to sneak in a ride between showers on Saturday.  Because of all the ridiculous rain we've been having, Tucker's overnight turnout schedule was all screwed up last week and as a result he was a tad fresh.  He was holding it together really well in the outdoor ring on Saturday, until....
"PUMA!"  (Tucker begins spastically scrambling at a noise in the tall grass outside the ring.)
"No... that's a sparrow."  (I begin making efforts to regain control without further escalating the situation.  He is now hopping up and down, in a motion not unlike that of a confused sparrow.)
 "I am a WILD UNCONTROLLABLE STALLION!  I am galloping through a white water river to rush us to safety!  I cannot be stopped until the coast is clear!"

"No, you are a ridiculous gelding splashing around in a puddle, and you may be about to fall down.  Please stop, before you hurt yourself."
At this point, I managed to get him back to a walk that more closely resembled that of an equine, rather than, say, an injured kangaroo or a cat after a cold shower.  We continue sounding the alarm to other (non-existent) members of the herd through a series of snorts and huffs and similar high alert noises.  I pat his neck, which is now a solid coil of tense muscle.  I wait until I can no longer feel his heart beat bouncing my knees off my saddle.

The coast seemingly clear, I resumed my canter a little further down the ring and made a slow, controlled circle.  Tucker gave me a heavy sigh and came back down into the bridle. 
"Definitely a puma," he mumbled under his breath.
You have to laugh at moments like this.  They sure make it impossible to stay mad at them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 USHJA Hunter Derby Finals Recap and Results

What an amazing event that was to watch!  Fabulous riding, gorgeous horses, challenging courses.  Such a thrill.  In case you missed it, all the rounds are now available on the USEF Network.  

The courses were beautiful, designed to look like an actual farm, with a little barn (yes, a barn in the ring), a pond, a bridge, a driveway, hedges, etc.  It was so creative, and presented some real challenges!  Here are the course designs (from the IHD facebook page):


Classic Round


Handy Round

Full Results:
1   C COAST Z  LILLIE KEENAN  765.5
2   DECLARATION  SCOTT STEWART  758 
3   CARLSON  TAMMY PROVOST 725.5 
4   SIENNA  PATRICIA GRIFFITH  725
5   CARLOS-BOY  SCOTT STEWART  724
6   VALIANT  TAMMY PROVOST  716
7   HAVANA  VICTORIA COLVIN  714
8   SAILOR'S VALENTINE  HOLLY ORLANDO  708.5
9   TAKEN  KELLEY FARMER  705
10 GARFIELD  SCOTT STEWART  668.5
11 CROWN AFFAIR  JOHN FRENCH  545.5
12 PRAISE  KELLEY FARMER  334
13 YES INDEED  SARAH MECHLIN  308
14 TELL ALL  SUSAN BAKER  303 
15 EMPIRE  SCOTT STEWART  298
16 TIMBER RIDGE  ERYNN. BALLARD  286
17 FRANCESCA  MAGGIE JAYNE  267
18 INCLUSIVE  VICTORIA COLVIN  252.5
19 MADISON  LILLIE KEENAN  231
20 BASES LOADED  KELLEY FARMER  206
21 CLEARLY  KELLEY FARMER  176
22 CR HARIBO  HOPE GLYNN  146
23 BRUNELLO  ELIZABETH BOYD  0
24 POETIC  MAGGIE BOYLAN  0
25 POSSE  COLLEEN ACOSTA  0

Jersey Boy, whose name is pretty much synonymous with the hunter derbies at this point, was the 2011 Series Champion, piloted by Jen Alfano.  I didn't see their Day 1 round, but something must have gone uncharacteristically wrong because they didn't make it to the top 25.  Just goes to show you never know with horses!

Lillie Keenan was awarded Top Junior Rider, and Susan Baker was awarded Top Amateur Rider.  Susan did a great job in the Classic with her horse Tell All - it was an awesome round, but unfortunately just missed the cut off for the handy round.  I was rooting for her as the amateur in the bunch though, and she did not disappoint! 

Lillie's round was outstanding - she was the clear winner - and she is only 14!  What an amazing rider.  Soft, gutsy, effective, smooth, cool and confident.  And she really let him rip in the Victory Gallop - I got a little teary eyed seeing that gorgeous horse covered in tri-colors gallop around the ring!  You can see the awards presentation and the victory gallop at the end of this video, at 4:08:26.  It'll make you smile, guaranteed!

Some lovely, lovely horses and beautiful rounds.  The course was tough though, and presented some really significant challenges for a lot of horses and riders, which is how it should be in the finals.  It was truly a joy to watch.  Love this sport!

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 USHJA Hunter Derby Finals Weekend!

Hey there Derby fans, it's Derby Finals weekend down in Lexington, KY! 

Yesterday was the jog and the hack (all horses passed for soundness in the jog).  There are some really fantastic pictures of the Derby horses getting ready for the hack on the International Hunter Derby facebook page.  The candids were like celebrity sightings for me -- I know most of the big Derby horses by now and I am such a Superfan (where are my foam fingers that say "Jersey Boy" and "Crown Affair"?) that I get a little giddy seeing candid shots of these amazing creatures (reminds me of US Weekly - they wear polos and heidi boots - just like us!).  I highly suggest liking them on facebook for up-to-date coverage and scores of the rounds!

Today is the 1st Round of the Derby.  The first round course looks like this:

(Also courtesy of the IHD facebook page)

I especially love the options starting at Fence 9 -- either land from fence 8 and roll back to 9, then jump the in-and-out toward home and keep turning left to 12, or land from fence 8, across the diagonal to the other option at 9, then hard right to the in-and-out away from home, and roll back left to 12.  I'm so curious to see how most people ride that.  I think I'd prefer the first option I described, though the second one may be a better opportunity to show off your horse's handiness.  The design of that in-and-out is really cool, check it out:


(Photo courtesy of the COTH facebook page)

I will be following along on facebook today for the Round 1 scores, and I will re-post them here once they are released.  So far this morning, two of my favorites, Clearly (ridden by Kelley Farmer), and Garfield (ridden by Scott Stewart), have the highest scores with a 341 and a 350, respectively.  Stay tuned!  There will be a recap on the USEF network this evening. 

Also, tomorrow evening, at 6:25 p.m. Eastern (first horse on course at 6:45 pm), Round 2 will be streaming live on the USEF network.  Friends and I are getting together to watch together.  Some people have Oscar parties... hunter princesses have Derby Finals parties....  If you can't see the streaming video, you may want to check in at the COTH Hunter/Jumper forum.  There is SURE to be a thread going as folks watch at home, and the commentary never ceases to entertain.

An exciting weekend in hunterland for sure!  Check back here for more updates.

Update #1:  Scott Stewart took home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd aboard Carlos Boy, Declaration, and Empire in Round 1.  Empire is my favorite of the three! 

Update #2:  The Top 25 Results from Round 1/the Qualifying Round:
 
1st - Carlos-Boy/Scott Stewart;
2nd - Declaration/Scott Stewart;
3rd - Empire/Scott Stewart;
4th - Madison/Lillie Keenan;
5th - C Coast Z/Lillie Keenan;
6th - Garfield/Scott Stewart;
7th - Crown Affair/John French;
8th - Carlson/Tammy Provost;
9th - Sailor's Valentine/Holly Orlando;
10th - Timber Ridge/Erynn Ballard;
‎11th - Brunello/Liza Boyd;
12th - Yes Indeed/Sarah Mechlin;
13th - Valiant/Tammy Provost;
14th - Inclusive/Victoria Colvin;
15th - Taken/Kelley Farmer;
16th - CR Haribo/Hope Glynn;
17th - Clearly/Kelley Farmer;
18th - Posse/Colleen Acosta;
19th - Sienna/Patricia Griffith
‎20th - Poetic/Maggie Boylan;
21st - Havana/Victoria Colvin;
22nd - Bases Loaded/Kelley Farmer;
23rd - Praise/Kelley Farmer;
24th - Francesca/Maggie Jayne;
25th - Tell All/Susie Baker.

CONRATS TO ALL!  (Some of my personal faves on that list... Empire, Garfield, Crown Affair, Brunello, Taken, Clearly, and Francesca ... but all of the horses above are simply spectacular!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ride for the Cure!

For the past few years, I have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which is a 5K to raise money for breast cancer education, screening, and research.  For a few years, I was even the Team Captain for my old law firm (Go Pink Peppers!)  Every year during the walk, I say that I should be doing it on horseback.  Turns out that in the past few years, some states have begun to organize Rides for the Cure, and this year New Jersey joins the ranks.  So, I formed a team and I am hoping some of my rider friends in the area will join me!

The event is a one or three hour trail ride, starting around 8 a.m. on October 16, 2011.  There's no registration fee, but each rider must commit to raise $300 by September 23rd.  Once you register, it's easy to seek donations through the pre-written emails that the Komen Foundation provides.  If you're interested, you can get more details through the link at the top of my side bar.

This is a cause near and dear to me, as someone I care very much about is a two-time breast cancer survivor (and I now have a favorite barnmate who is also a survivor!).  Additionally, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  75% of all proceeds benefit local breast cancer education and screening programs.  Last year, the affiliate invested $1.4 million into the local community to reach 45,000 women from Somerset to Cape May.  The remaining 25% will support innovative breast cancer research bringing us closer to the cure. 

I hope you and your horses will join me on the Ride (or if you are far away, please consider supporting my team)!  Just think of how fun it will be to dress the ponies up in pink and ride through the woods!  Can't you picture the Wunderkind's giant ears in a pink bonnet???

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bittersweet (but Good) News...

So, my little spotted mare is sold.  It's taken me a week to blog about it, though some of you saw the news on facebook already.  I meant to tell you all earlier... I really did... but I was a little sad, and I needed a little time to stop being sad.  (Let's just say it's a good thing no one stopped in at the barn after that trailer pulled away cause there was a big bay horse with tear stains on his shoulder at the end of the aisle!)  But I'm not sad anymore so it's time to share the good news!


The last pic I took of my little girl

Julie has gone to a wonderful, wonderful home.  She's gone to Green Apple Stables in Hillsborough, NJ (yes, just down the road from me!).  I can tell from her new mom's facebook posts that she is already loved and adored, and each time I see that it makes me grin from ear to ear.  She's been gone about a week now and so far I've heard nothing but good reports, so I have a feeling Julie is very happy with her new digs. 


All settled in at her new place

The trainer at Green Apple, Kendra, is someone I've known for almost my entire horsey life.  A little backstory.  When you were a barn rat kid growing up spending every waking moment at the barn, do you remember there was that one teen-aged girl who was basically the coolest person your childhood eyes had ever come across?  She was a great rider, an incredibly nice person, everyone adored her, and your dorky little ten-year-old self followed her around like a lost puppy?  That was Kendra.  She was definitely the best rider at our barn, rode some of the trainers' top horses, was always nice to me even though I was a really, really annoying kid, and -- this was by far the coolest thing according to ten-year-old-me -- every time she rode her polos and saddle pad matched her shirt.  Guess which kid spent her babysitting money on polos and saddle pads in like ten different colors so she could do the same thing? 

Long story short, I am overjoyed to be sending Julie to a home that I know for sure is a good one.  Kendra has lots of experience with green horses and I have no doubt will do a great job helping her client bring Julie along.  It's an ideal situation for everyone, and even though I miss my little girl already, she's only a ten minute drive away.  I have to say, I feel really good about being down to one horse, now that I've gotten over my initial separation anxiety.  And really how can I be sad when I am still so fortunate and have such a fantastic guy by my side?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wunder in the Genes

Hey folks, sorry it's been a while.  For some reason we all seem to be taking it easy on the blogging this summer.  I guess when the ground is covered in snow we spend a lot more time in front of the computers (and in my case, on the couch covered in cats).

I recently did a little digging into Tucker's pedigree, thanks to a little help from a friend who owned his mom, and was able to piece together most of his bloodlines:



Do you see what I see, way back there on his Dam's side?  He's got WUNDER (and FLUEGELWUNDER!)  in his blood, no wonder he's The Wunderkind!  I am officially calling him Fluegelwunder when he's being goofy from now on, just fyi. 

Some of the reference sires in his Dad's bloodlines:

Keizer, who you know already

Cireina, Damsire (with baby Keizer!), who passed along the EARS!


Nimmerdor, KWPN Stallion of the Century

Farn (who apparently passed on his drama llama technique)

Amor

Exkurs

And on Mom's side, we have:


Mom - Savoire Faire (with Tucker's little sister)

Sandsturm

Sendbote

Sender

I love this stuff.  Not that I am an expert in Sporthorse breeding, but I love analyzing the photos and seeing what I can pick out that was passed along.  For example, on the Sire's side, all of them (including Tucker) have the same eye, which gives them all a very similar expression.  And on the Dam's side, they all have the same uphill build, high wither, and strong shoulder (which Tucker got too, along with a beautiful, floating trot that matches his mom's). Fun stuff!