Sunday, April 26, 2015

And so it ends

A thrilling show jumping day, and the weather was picture perfect.  LOTS of rails coming down, and I'll post pics once they're uploaded--but the top 20 shifted around considerably.  Michael Jung's second of penalty points *could* have prevented him from winning, but the leader, Tim Price, had a rail.  But then, Jung had TWO rails on Sam.  He had, however, a perfect ride on his mare, so he moved up to first on her--winning, as everyone predicted, but on the wrong horse.  Sam came in third.

Fox Pit was third, and Dutton was fourth.  William Coleman was next, with a fabulous ride.  If he can get the right horse, I swear he'll be OUR "Michael Jung".

Had a lovely time with Smokey and her husband on the way home--what a fabulous farm they have (Su Say Farm).  I hope to go back when I can stay longer.

And, of course, it was nice to spend time with Larry and Rox.  We had a fun evening of leftovers and Naked and Afraid.  Top that.

Till Next year.....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day Three: All About Family

I've been with the same jump judge crew for about six years now. and it's been really nice to come "home" to my peeps.  This year, we had fence 19a and b, the Horse Park Barns.  Not huge fences, but coming out of the Hollow, they made sure the rider and horse were still together, balanced, and in synch.

Yes, it was a bit wet and chilly, but boy, were these horses and riders fit and ready!  The first rider on course was Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz, and they BLAZED over the course with nary a misstep.  I was impressed.

The rain did come, though, and while not a torrential downpour, nor hail, nor tornadoes, it was uncomfortable and it did make the ground tricky.

I've always been impressed with William Coleman as a rider.  He seems serious, focused, and his leg never. ever. moves.  He made the course look easy.

Of course, Buck and Phillip rode fabulously, too.

I was sad that so many regulars, like Jessica Phoenix and Sharon White and Lauren Kieffer had refusals.  REALLY sad that several of my Texas Peeps had some issues, but SO VERY PROUD of them for coming here and conquering this course!  Here are some shots of them over my fence:

Ellen Doughty-Hume

Angela Grzywinski

Will Faudree had a fabulous ride over my fences, and I understand he had a brilliant ride the rest of the course.....but alas, "Missy" lost a shoe on course, and simply didn't feel right, so he opted to withdraw.  What a genuine horseman!

Tim Price and Michael Jung and William Fox Pitt all had amazing rides.  Truly a lesson in how things should be done.

After a looooooong wait (Fence Judges can't leave until all the scores have been verified and if there are any discrepancies or protests, we stay--and we stayed for about two hours this time), I went home to see my beautiful nieces and their families.  I met my brand new great niece Anna Claire, and my new great nephew Ethan.  I got to see my "old" great nephews as well.

TELL ME I don't have a fun family!!!  They are amazing.  SO MUCH love!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day Two: The Wow Factor

I will have to amend this's already past my bedtime, and I have not yet downloaded the most EXCELLENT dressage pictures I got from today.

Yes, you heard that right.  There was some excellent dressage (and resulting pictures) today.

Let me start with the rookie Mackenna Shea, on Landioso.  Her ride on this big guy was supple, relaxed, what Mary D'Arcy would call "in harmony".  I was VERY impressed.

But New Zealand rider Tim Price showed us all what "excellent" meant.  (And PRO riders Sinead Halpin and Hannah Burnett warned us he'd be the one to beat.)  His ride was quite simply brilliant. His compact, powerful gelding Wesko was balanced and supple.....really beautiful to watch.

Katie Ruppel put in a nice test on Houdini, who is a chestnut I'd be happy to have in my barn.  Of course, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp's Fernhill by Night can join him to even things out.

Colleen Ruledge put in a glorious test on Covert Rights--once again, I was amazed that a TB cross (a homebred, at that!) could be so powerful, so springy, so balanced.  A read dressage horse.

Michael Jung and Sam, of course, are tied for first.  The man is incredibly accurate, and darned if his horses are relaxed.  His freewalk was simply astounding.  The horse flowed, from nose to tail, then when asked, collected himself and did some spectacular lengthenings and lead changes.

The riders who did well seemed to be still yet relaxed.  Their hands were STEADY, quiet, and higher than I tend to keep them.  They looked up/through their horse's ears.  They had bent elbows.  They weren't afraid to ask for more from their horses, but they were able  to support what they asked for with their body/legs/seat.

Of course William Fox Pitt was a joy to behold, as usual.  I was able to "behold" him in the trade fair before his test!

We found Phillip Dutton signing posters, and he posed for a picture, too.

Hey, so I'm a what?

After the dressage, I headed off to fence judge briefing.  I will be at Fence 19, the Horse Park Barns just after the Hollow.

We ended the evening by having a FABULOUS meal with some dear friends at the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Kentucky.  I even splurged for some Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.  Talk about fantastic--what an amazing bourbon.  Hints of vanilla, citrus, with an earthy, leathery, oaky nose. It was truly a layered and complex (and delightful!) experience. Here's to great friends and great bourbon!

Day One: The Rookies and the Rulers

Once again, we had to begin the day with a trip to Quillin Leather.  It's not like my horses don't have any halters....most of them have multiple, because these darn things DON'T WEAR OUT.  They are that good.  But poor River didn't have his own halter, so.....

We walked into the dressage a bit late as a result--just in time to see Michael Jung on his mare Fischerrocana FST have a FABULOUS test (in fact, they are leading after day one!).  Their test was forward, supple, consistent, with clean transitions and lead changes....and his HANDS were sooo beautiful.  I wish I had that kind of control.

Several of the horses seemed fit and braced, rather than fit and relaxed.  HOW do the Germans consistently achieve the latter?

But the Americans were NOT to be denied....Lainey Ashker and her OTTB Anthony Patch came in the sandbox to win, and they nailed their test--if their changes had been more clean, I honestly believe they'd be in the lead now.   She was accurate, and her horse was obedient. 

Well done, Laine!

We watched dressage through noon, and spent lunch (and a little beyond) at the Trade Fair.

I had two things I needed:  spurs and a running martingale.  

I got neither.  But I did get some fun stuff.  

When we got back to the dressage, we were happy to see Barb Crabo and Eveready--I've watched this team several times at Coconino, and they ALWAYS look professional and...well, READY.  This time was no different.  

I know this shot is one that everyone takes, but I love how these horses are reaching under themselves, coiled, springing forward...while their riders sit still, perfectly balanced on the spring!

We did see one rider who was asked to leave because of a misbehaving horse.  My heart goes out to Jennie Jamestrom.

Another rider who REALLY impressed me was Francis Whittington from Great Britain.  Another forward, relaxed, consistent, and really accurate ride.  Well done!

It was fun to see Jimmie Schramm compete after watching SO MANY Eventing TV episodes.  Her horse was a big tense/braced, but they put in a valiant effort.  

Ellen Doughty-Hume was a rookie at Rolex last year, but her horse was not passed at the jog on the first day.  Heartbreaking!  She didn't waste the trip, however--she got married at the head of the lake!  This year,  the team was back in force. Officially still a Rolex Rookie (?), she put in a VERY smart, accurate test.  Afterward, she gave her horse, Sir Oberon, a HUGE hug, and left the ring with that renowned smile on her face.  Go Ellen and Obie!

I met up with Will Faudree after Ellen's ride, so I missed Angela Grzywinksi's ride, which I'm bummed about.  I also learned something:  even though I work out three times a week, the fact that we don't have hills in West Texas makes a difference.  While I was thrilled to be a part of this course walk, I believe that my hips and knees did NOT like the pace that Team Faudree (Will's vets, dressage coach, working students, and his DAD all came along for the course walk) set.  Sigh.  Still, it was fun to see how one of the riders I know will kick a** planned to ride the course.

After a nice dinner, a little bourbon, and an epsom salts bath, I'm ready to sleep/take on tomorrow.  

Bring it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Catching Up in Kentucky

Donna and I made it to Kentucky relatively painlessly--we even got to hold an extremely cute seven month old baby while his mom stuffed some food into her mouth w/o worrying about holding a baby at the same time.  Why is making faces, weird sounds, etc. at babies so entertaining to adults?!

Once we were safely in Louisville (cheaper than Lexington), we headed out--but I told Donna we needed to stop and find a liquor store so that I could get come Bourbon barrel Ale and some "Bourbon I couldn't get in Texas".

So we found the Liquor Barn....which we both envisioned as a drive through type set up.

Nope.  It's a freaking warehouse.

AND we had a very knowledgeable man tell us all about local bourbons.  We settled on three that were relatively inexpensive, but that would give us three different flavors, and not your "run of the mill" bourbon.  I was very excited to try them!

Larry and Rox had fixed an EXCELLENT chili for us tonight, and I found that Bourbon Barrel Ale goes most excellently with chili.

Once we finished (after Rox made some killer almond milk ice cream with frozen strawberries and bananas), we started to talk about our upcoming trip to Africa in June.  Larry brought out the "big gun", perhaps I should say "lenses", since it's a photo safari.

It was quite a spread, to be sure.  Larry's letting me use the smallish canon almost hidden in the back with my lens (uh, that I bought from him) attached.  The rest of it is all his and Rox's.  They are serious about their photography.  And I have seen the brilliant photos they brought back last time they went, so I cannot wait to see these miracles for myself.

So tomorrow I'll get a chance to try some of this swag out as the first Rolex riders go at 9:30 am.  I see a trip to Quillin's in our future, then it's on to the horse park!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Counting Down!

Once again, I'll be heading up to Paris, Kentucky to visit my brother and his family.....and the visit once again just happens to coincide with the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.  Sneaky, aren't I?

It will feel like "old home" week, because my former partner in crime, Donna, will be once again joining me.

I'm UBER excited to meet my new great niece and nephew (and to see my "old" great well as the rest of the family).

And, of course, I cannot wait to cheer for the FANTASTIC riders.  THREE women from TX:  Ellen Doughty-Hume, Julie Norman, and Angela Grzywinski.  GO TEXAS WOMEN!

Other women I will be cheering for:  Jessica Phoenix, who is just an all-around nice person.  Courtney Cooper, who took major time to show me some fabulous horses.

I simply LOVE watching William Fox-Pitt.  And I will once again be cheering for former Texan, Will Faudree!

I'll do my best to keep up this year.  It'll be hard--SO MANY people to see/things to do.