Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, Whats next?!

I have had quite a few people ask me what is next for me... so I thought I would just go ahead and post and update about that!

After talking many many times to George about Europe...listing pros and cons, we decided that right now is not the time for it.  Maybe in a few years, but right now, I need to focus on things here at home, not leaving for 6 months and coming home and being in the same position I am in now.

So, what am I going to do instead?

First on the list is to sell Guinness, my low AO jumper.  I love him dearly, but I am ready to start moving up, and he is just not the horse to allow me do to that.  So he is going to be going to Florida with Margie Engle to be sold.  Once he is sold, I will start the search for a new horse! George also told me he wants to be part of my horse trial process! Super cool to have him want to help me find the right horse! :)  I am excited about trying new horses, but sad to see Guinness go.  Sadly, it is what must happen though!

I am also going to keep going in the pony hunter business.  I currently have 2 green pony hunters, and I love working with them.  So, I will continue to find young ponies, break, train, and sell them! It will be my way of supporting my Jumper!

I am also going to look at some OTTBs this spring to adopt.  I would like to have one other horse project for myself in addition to the new jumper and the ponies.  Something I can show and have fun with for myself not just the ponies.

This whole plan came about during many dinners with George.  It is a plan that best suits me, allows me to go back to my full time job (which I am VERY excited about!), and further my riding without having a lot of travel time!  I have a lot going for me and I am excited for my show season to start back up again in the Spring.  Until then, I have a month to get Guinness going as best as possible before shipping him to Margie, and to get the ponies going again!

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

San Diego...

I know this is a week late...but I have had a whirlwind of a week since I have been home...which I will explain later in this post!

San Diego was a blast!!! We did a 2 day clinic earlier in the week, a day off, then a 3 day clinic that weekend at Julie Zumstein's farm in Fallbrook CA.  The 2 day clinic was the "professionals" clinic and the 3 day clinic was a normal clinic.  I was disappointed that more professionals did not ride in the clinic...there is always so much to learn!  However, it was still a fabulous clinic.  Each group was small so the riders got to do a lot! Julie loaned me a horse for the 2 day clinic! I rode Royal Flair in the 3ft-3'6 group.  Flair is a 9 (I think?) year old TB who was a super fun horse to ride! I really appreciated Julie letting me ride him in the clinic! It was fun to get to ride for a full clinic after doing so many others with George as his assistant! The 3 day clinic had full groups in each section, which was a great thing!

The clinic was held out on a huge grass field (except the last day of the 3 day rained too much so we had to move to an indoor ring close by).  The field had tons of natural jumps...different size hedges, banks with multiple different  heights and ways of using it, grob, 2 different open waters, ditches, stone walls, etc.  It was a LOT of fun to ride on such a lovely field.
I'd say my favorite horse to ride in this clinic was a little Haflinger pony! The girl was young and small and did a fabulous job for such a tough clinic! I schooled the pony multiple times and had an absolute blast on him!! He had tons of scope and step and was a pony that is truly worth his weight in gold!

I will post pictures in a later post early next week.
The whole trip summed up: 9 cities, 5 states, 6 flights, 7 clinics, 3.5 weeks, 91 rides total....sort of insane when I see it all spelled out like that! I met a TON of fabulous people, had a lot of fun, learned an insane amount, and I truly cherish every moment of that trip! It was really a trip of a lifetime!

But, I am beyond glad to be home! While I was away, my mom had a lot to deal with.  My Grandma (her mother) was in the ICU not doing well, and my other grandma (her step-mom) was on death watch for a week and passed away a week ago Christmas Day.  So she had a lot on her plate and I wish I could have been home to be with her and my family during that time The funeral was last week, which I was able to be home for, so we have been very busy with that and Christmas stuff.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas!! I know I sure did! It is nice to be home with my family, horses, and dogs, eating home cooked meals, and having a few days of down time before starting back to work on Monday! I am excited to have a set schedule again! :)

Happy New Year everyone!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

See ya LA! Hello San Diego...

Well, we just finished 6 straight days of clinics! Felt like a marathon!!!  After Oregon, we flew to LA where we did a clinic at Archie Cox's place and then we did a clinic for Karen Healey!

The night we flew into LA, we stayed in West Hollywood.  We did not get in until LATE Sunday night, so I was thankful for a nice bed to sleep in! Woke up and ate breakfast outside in a tshirt...enjoyed a lot of people watching and GREAT weather.  The nice weather was a blessing after the cold days in Portland! George drove me down Sunset blvd and through the Hollywood was fun to do some sightseeing...although it wasn't much, it was still a nice break!

The clinic at Archie's was another great one! It was more laid back then the previous clinics, but that was a welcome change! More laid back in the sense of less complicated. George was still George, but the courses were simpler and jump heights were smaller. He did something I had never seen him do before...we had the normal liverpool, then he used a rain sheet under two other jumps.  one was folded up smaller than the other.  This was his way of introducing water to the horses.  The rain sheets and liverpool did not cause any issues in this clinic! George had a quadruple of sorts set up each day... a normal triple then a bending line of 2 strides or 1 stride to another fence.  This line actually did cause some required steering and the use of a lot of leg!  Everyone (both horse and rider) really improved during this clinic!

Side note from Archies: the first day, we had an attack of the birds!!! All of a sudden, it got VERY loud and TOOOOOONS of birds came...we were in a covered ring, and the birds were EVERYWHERE outside and you could hear a crazy amount of them all over the roof! If you have ever seen the movie "Birds", this was that sort of situation!

After the 3 day clinic at Archie's, we went directly to a BEAUTIFUL facility called El Campeon (google it and drool over it...because it is certainly drool worthy!)  This clinic was very similar to the one at Diane Carney's in Chicago.  The management of the clinic was outstanding, the quality of horses and riders was phenomenal, and as I said, the facility was spectacular!

The first group was the Grand Prix group, 2nd group was 4ft+ group, and the 3rd was the equitation group.  All of the horses and riders were fabulous and progressed extremely fast!  The courses here were quite tough, although all of the riders were up to the challenge!  George continues to advocate the forward seat and riding from leg, not hands.  LEG LEG LEG is what I have heard for almost 3 weeks now! Another thing he continues to talk about is GIVING in the corner before a jump.  When a rider does this, the distance to the jump just shows up perfectly!!  He said there are 2 big gives when in the corner and giving at the jump (Automatic release...he wants the release to soften down towards the mouth when you see the distance). George also said that he hates the word "flatwork" because it is really dressage, and we should call it dressage.

I rode a good amount of horses in this clinic as well (puts me up to 64 rides since I have been gone!!).  One horse in particular really made me pull out some inner strength.  The 2nd day of the clinic (Saturday...I have to keep posting the day of the week so I can remember for myself...because days have all blended together on this trip!) this super cute gray horse decided to be difficult.  He started to spin a LONG way away from the jumps, stop, rear, etc.  His rider did a spectacular job at staying calm and trying her best to get him to go forward and jump.  George had me get on after the rider tried for awhile.  Once I was on, I galloped him forward, and was relieved to be going in the correct direction.  However, that didnt last long, we stopped about 10 strides away from an oxer, stopped again about 5 out, so we ended up just trotting a rather large oxer.  But hey, we jumped it! So, go to head to another jump, and couldnt get him going forward, just kept stopping and rearing.  So we decide to head to a jump he has jumped before and was more on the simple side...get him going forward then BAM a stop and spin on a dime! He ALMOST got me off with that spin.  It happened so fast George did not even see it! He turned around to see me climbing back into the saddle after hanging off the side and simply said "What happened?!" then chuckled!!  After that, I dug deep and pulled out all of my knowledge and finally got the horse jumping around nicely.  It was probably one of the hardest rides I have had in quite awhile. This horse really taught me how to be VERY tough and tactful without being rough and getting mad/irritated.  I had to stay calm in order to get the job done!

Here is a diagram of the course the final day:

The outside line (a to b) was done starting out as a 6, then working up to the 5.  It was a simple oxer and plank vertical.  Riders then did the oxer to oxer (a to c) in a direct but snug 7 strides.  Riders then added in the 5 stirdes from vertical to oxer after the bending line.  These lines both were designed to work on the tight distance and to not give up when it looked TOO tight.  The open water to vertical line got quite tight, especially after the correct ride to the water.  The most difficult portion of this course was the "S" line (i to h to f and backwards f to h to i).  Each line was to be 6 strides, and 6 strides only.  A lot of the riders did it beautifully the first time each direction...however, George had the riders do the line back and forth a few times.  This is where it got difficult because the horses then knew the path and would cut in, making the distances difficult!  The exercise really helped soften the riders as well!! 
George used fence g in the 3rd group to develop a bold jump.  He had riders hand gallop that fence, keep the pace, then shorten to fence h.  Riders continued this figure of 8 pattern working on the bold gallop to the vertical then the shorten yet strong jump to the oxer with liverpool under it.

Here is a picture of some scenery at the facility:

The weather was BEAUTIFUL! I did get a bit too much sun, but hey, being tan in December really isn't a bad thing now is it?  It did get a bit too hot on Sunday, but considering it is bitter cold back home, I won't complain! :)

I wish I had been able to blog sooner, as I have now forgotten many of the exercises, but as I remember them, I will blog again!

We are now east of San Diego where we will clinic at Julie Zumstein's farm all week.  We have a 2 day clinic on her grass field starting tomorrow, an off day (who knows what is planned for that day though!) on Thursday, than a 3 day clinic on the same field starting on Friday.  I am staying in the same hotel for 6 nights...thats the longest I have been in one place since I left home! I am excited to be unpacked and not have to pack again until Sunday morning! 

I will blog again Thursday about the 2 day clinic, then again on Sunday when we are at a hotel near the San Diego airport where we leave EARLY monday morning! I am really anxious to get home (even though everyone asks WHY?! since it is so cold!) But I am ready to be home!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Goodbye Portland Oregon, hello California!

We had another fabulous clinic at Rich Fellers farm in Portland Oregon! The Fellers family is incredibly kind and ride beautifully! Rich, his wife Shelly, and their son Chris all rode in the clinic! It was great to see such a phenomenal and brilliant rider still ride in a George clinic! There are many professionals out there today that would not and do not ride in such clinics....who knows why...but my theory is there is ALWAYS more to learn! Kudos to all the professionals out there that DO in fact ride in clinics! It was just refreshing to see both Rich and Shelly ride in this clinic!

Oregon is a beautiful state! Very green, but also cold! We were outside in just a covered ring for this clinic and it was quite cold!! The footing in the ring was a type of mulch...which was interesting.  It was great footing, but was a bit loose as it was still new and needed more riding on it! The horses in this clinic were stellar! FABULOUS jumpers with lots of scope! The riders were all great as well!

The courses and exercises were tough and required riding every single stride...there were no "freebie" jumps that you could relax to...each and every one of them required an active ride.
Here is a diagram of the course on day 3 of the clinic:

The outside line was set at 77 feet...riders jumped this back and forth working on being loose to the oxer and getting to the vertical and shortening...this really helped the horses jump quite round! Jumping it vertical to oxer, riders had to be cautious to not get to the oxer too soon and too deep.

The skinny (fence 2 in the diagram) to the water was a 4 stride bending line. It was a great set up because riders could not think about the open water until they had jumped the skinny.  If they thought about the open water too soon, then they had the skinny down.

The quadruple on the outside was quite a line! Set as a comfortable 1, long 2, SHORT 1 and with 2 wide spread fences in the middle of the line.  The riders and horses handled it well...some horses stopped at either the triple bar or the final vertical (which was pretty solid looking since it was 3 planks and no poles).  Some horses got to the triple bar, knew that one was SUPER tight and would just stop, others got over the triple and stopped at the vertical...however, every horse and rider was able to work it out and that last 1 stride sure got horses to be quite careful and handy!

I rode quite a few horses in this clinic...
My favorite was this fresh/hot bay mare that is totally my kind of ride. I love the rides that you can just sit against them and let them take you to the jump. She was a super fun mare to ride!
I rode this cute gray a few different times...a couple times were to make him lighter to my leg and get him in front of my leg and once was to demonstrate some things on the flat work.  George was very very very complimentary of my flat work on this horse.  He said my position was impeccable, that I really understood dressage and how to get a horse to come round from back to front (he even clapped for me after this ride!!!).  Later that evening he continued to compliment me on that flat demonstration! It was great to hear him say such positive things about my riding! I rode another gray a few times to get him in front of my leg and help the rider prevent him from stopping...a chestnut I rode to demonstrate more flat work and demonstrate a proper automatic release. A super cute bay horse was tentative to some jumps due to lack of impulsion, so I got him to school him a bit.  He was not a fan of me riding him with more leg and he took off with me!! Thankfully there was a rail for me to run him into so we would stop! He ended quite nicely though and was a fun little horse! One horse i did some jumping on and he said that I was not Beezie or Mclain, but that I am a prospect and with experience and the right horse, I could be just like them! That was the most incredible comment to hear ever! It was unbelievable that he said such a compliment!! 
After this clinic, I am up to 33 rides since I have been gone! LOVE getting so much saddle time on such nice horses!!

Anyone that knows me, knows I am the worlds pickiest eater!  However, I discovered that I can eat at a sushi restaurant, a Thai restaurant, and that I do in fact like crab and fish! WHO KNEW?!?! hahaha! The Crab is what really shocked me! I really didn't think I would like it since I have always hated seafood...but it was DELICIOUS!

We had a rough flight last  night flying from Portland to LA...LOTS of turbulence, I had a screaming child right behind me, it was after a VERY long it made for a long night! We didn't get into the hotel until after 11 (so 2am in Ohio!)...I sure slept well though! We had breakfast outside (in a t-shirt and light fleece) in Hollywood this morning! LOVE people watching and this was a perfect time to do so! It was a fabulous relaxing morning!  We are off to Pasadena today where we will stay this week! We will clinic at Archie Cox's and Karen Healey's farms this week.  SIX straight days of clinics...I better rest up well today!! Luckily, the weather forecast is showing everything from 68*-75* and sunny every single day! I could get used to this! :)

George has 2 ideas that he has put into my brain!  The first is that he wants me to start a pony hunter breeding business of my own.  He has seen videos and pictures of my 2 current ponies and really thinks this would be an ideal business for me! He talks about it daily!!  The second idea is that he wants me to sell my current jumper, Guinness, and buy a young jumper that is the hotter type with more scope.  He knows I LOVE that kind of ride and he said that is the ride that will take me to the next level! Sure gives me a lot to think about!

2 weeks from today I will be heading home!  It will be a busy next 2 weeks and I am really looking forward to it! Also REALLY looking forward to getting home to my mom, family, friends, Bailey, and my horses!

I will blog again later this week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Goodbye Sacramento!

Well another clinic is over!
After finishing up in Chicago we flew to Sacramento California...what a beautiful flight! We were able to see the mountains for part of the flight and it was gorgeous!

It is very interesting to be in different parts of the country and see different farms and facilities! Patty Ball has a fabulous facility! Her ring is phenomenal! A lovely, bit sand ring with a large bank in the center.  Things are a little different here then they are back at home in Ohio.  No indoor rings is a huge thing that is different.  I also noticed a trend during this clinic...LOTS of pelhams! I would say 80% of the horses went in pelhams! We swapped some out to double twisted wires...George's favorite bit! I also noticed that not many riders really rode from their leg...a lot of seat and backwards riding.

I got a LOT of ride time at this clinic! I rode 6 the first day and 8 the second day.  George was very complimentary of my riding and each horse presented different problems and issues. One big gray horse in the first section was a fabulous horse to ride. George said it was a "beautiful picture" with me on him...that made me happy because I loved the horse once I schooled him up a little bit and got him lighter to the aids.  A lot of the rides I did were to just reinforce the aids...whether it was making a horse go when I put my leg on, or whoa when I half halted.  Some were to make a horse bolder to the jumps, or to stop run outs (there seemed to be a lot of run outs during this clinic).

The horses here were all GREAT to the liverpool and open water. No real issues with that at all, which was great to see! It was a relief to see these horses had no problems with it, even with them filled with water!

Exercise wise, there really isn't anything to blog about...typical George exercises, nothing erally different or new.  One thing that he did which I thought was great was making the 3rd group take their stirrups off of their saddles.  They did quite a bit of flat work without stirrups.  He then made them jump up and down one side of the bank, with a short turn afterwards, then up and down the other side (which was a bit larger) with another short turn after.  They did this on a continuous figure of 8 until he told them to stop.  Most of the riders had great seats and really did well with this exercise.  One rider had issues with the exercise (her horse was quite bull headed and not a very pleasant ride) so I had to get on her horse and school the horse through the figure of 8.  The horse was a tough ride and just was NOT responsive to my hands. He had no mouth on him so when I pulled, he just pulled back! I did the bank back and forth quite a few times (all without stirrups) and got the horse more responsive before giving him back to his rider.

Here are some pictures of the jumps and ring here in Sacramento:

Here is a diagram of todays course:

I lettered the jumps so I can describe the courses that were that I am ready to do that, I realize I did not letter the jumps correctly! OOPS! haha! Oh well, it will work!

e-f-g is a snug 3 to a comfortable 3...reverse it and g-f-e is a long 3 to a shortish 3

the triple was set as a long 2 short 1
the triple to the water was a direct 5, followed by a steady 7 to the triple bar (d).

d-c-b-a was a BENDING short 6, to a less short 6, to a medium 4 or a direct 5, more direct 5, tight 4. This set of jumps presented lots of problems for the riders.

One course that the riders did was f to the triple in a steady 6, SHORT left turn back to the open water, slight bend in 7 to the triple bar, 6 to c, 5 to b, and 4 to a.

To prepare for the open water, the riders trotted and cantered the liverpool first.  Like I said earlier, none of the riders had an issue with the water or liverpool.

We are off to Portland Oregon tomorrow for a clinic at Rich Fellers' farm.  We clinic there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday then fly out to Los Angeles on Sunday night... Sunday is sure to be a LONG day since we do not arrive in LA until 9:30pm!

Thanks for reading...I will blog again after the Oregon clinic!