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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label OTTB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OTTB. Show all posts

January 13, 2019

Bridging The Space Between Us

Echo & I had physical & mental assignments to tackle.  Both would take time, but that was a resource I had available, particularly that first winter, when you don't feel like you're missing out if you can't ride in the cold/dark/wind. 

Welcome Home To Prison

As mentioned, Echo had some sesamoiditis in one ankle.  This was a new one for me.  You can google it, but as I quickly learned after diving into vet textbooks & scientific literature, there are many uncertainties around this condition.  In brief, it's an inflammation within the bone itself which creates mysterious channels (unknown exactly how they form), usually related to excessive concussion (so not uncommon in racehorses).  The sesamoid bones are strange free-floating bones at the back of the fetlock (under the yellow bulge in the graphic), wrapped in the suspensory branches where they split to go around the ankle.  As such, they have a poor blood supply & are among the slowest in the body to heal.

Of course. 

It's often separated into two grades of severity, based on whether or not there is associated soft tissue involvement (i.e. suspensory branch desmitis).  The prognosis is better if it is caught early & there is no ligament damage.  Echo had a clean ultrasound of the suspensory ligament in that leg, so the prescription was rest.  And no more racing.

Love his white dot
I was ok with both.  I needed to put several hundred pounds on him, so it's not like we were going anywhere in a hurry anyway.  I conferred with Dr. Bob:  his radiograph showed the bone channels were more pronounced than originally thought & he had a little chunk of cartilage floating around.  He's a lucky horse:  he was raced by his breeder & retired just in time.  From what I saw on the rad, his next race could have ended with a sesamoid fracture across that weakened channel & his story would be very different.

Fortunately for us both, the cartilage would be re-absorbed by the body, causing no concern, & soft tissues still all looked good, so Dr. Bob agreed we still had a good prognosis.  And it was already becoming apparent to me, even in the first few weeks, that this horse was going to be well worth some effort.

Echo had developed some minor fill & warmth in the ankle around these stressed structures, so Dr. Bob prescribed 6-8 weeks of small pen rest with wrapping as needed.  He injected it to help bring down the inflammation, preventing joint damage.  He wanted to take the most conservative approach to ensure we protected those critical tissues & I was grateful for it.  We also had the advantage of a young horse body which was still developing & still had all those healing powers my own body has long since forgotten.

The cutest prisoner
Inmate Development & Rehab Programs

While I didn't love pen-cleaning or trying to figure out how to prevent a bored young horse from eating plywood (tip: you can't), or the inherent anxiety that comes with waiting for anything to heal, this time did turn into an opportunity.  Echo had enough space to not feel trapped (approximately 3x the length of that picture...the space in the picture...not the actual picture...you get it), but not enough to say, elude me across 2-3 acres.  We had nothing to juggle on the schedule but "eat & relax," & this intelligent kid needed something to engage him.  I began what I call Operation Farm-Breaking.

A racehorse knows how to lead, how to be groomed, how to be tacked up.  He's used to baths & farriers & (often) clippers & loud equipment.  He's not Farm Broke.  A Farm Broke horse gets blanketed at liberty in the dark after the headlamp-wearing owner trips over the fence wire.  He is approached & haltered in a large field by a woman wearing 7 different colours & a noisy, hooded rain jacket.  His rump is used for draping said noisy jackets or jangly girths, which often slide off & land under his feet.  His owner drops ropes, tosses brushes, splashes water, drags weird-shaped objects, & moves things without permission.

This monster may approach at any time & will definitely trip on something
I started small miniscule:  the lead-rope-touching skittishness.  After making sure he would let me touch every part of his body with my hands (he did), I began by draping the rope over his neck, about midway & sliding it back towards his withers, just until he started to get uncomfortable.  I'd pause for just a moment there, pet & praise (he didn't yet understand how to eat treats, also common with OTTBs), then move it back up to the "safe" zone as a release.  Rinse & repeat ad nauseum for a few minutes every time I caught him.  Eventually, I could swing the end of the rope all the way back to his butt (this is one of the many reasons I only buy 10' leads, plenty to work with). 

This was also the base of my pledge to him on which I was to build everything else:  I will never unfairly hurt you & I will never ask you to do something you can't do.

Over the following days & weeks, we learned plenty, using the same gradual approach, including:
  • Blankets cause no actual physical harm, despite sliding across your rump like a two-dimensional cougar.  Same goes for rain jackets, plastic bags, & other loud crinkly things.  You don't have to love it, you just have to accept it.
  • Headlamp-wearing human is not a disembodied orb seeking to extract your soul; in fact, she often produces delicious morsels
  • Small objects presented under nose by owner's hand are actually delicious morsels for nomming.  Except apples, we still don't understand apples.
  • No human parts go in your mouth unless the human puts them there herself.  This includes clothing.  Owner may dress like a homeless person, but the clothes are not actually disposable.
  • Strange human presents no real threat & does speak rudimentary Horse.  Should always be investigated for morsels & can generally be counted on to provide some form of entertainment.
April: Learning is exhausting. Also, he is not a graceful sleeper.
Along with this went Bodywork By Me.  I had wanted Dr. Bob to do a chiro adjustment with spring shots in February, but he recommended waiting until fall:  Echo's body was so tight that any adjustments would probably just get pulled right back out until we retrained that muscle memory.  I re-toned my forearms with liberal application of massage to all those tight tissues & slathered SoreNoMore on that pulled butt.  Producing many sighs, drooping ears, lip licking, & reinforcing that most of the time, contact with Weird Human is a good thing.

Awakenings

As days became weeks became months, I began to see the returns on my investment.  Echo's initial guardedness melted away into an enormous, gregarious personality who wanted his nose in the middle of everything.  I didn't have to walk up to him in the pasture because he came to me as soon as he spotted me (which Solo has rarely done, he maintains that the world should proceed on his terms).  Each barrier we conquered made the next one easier as I gained his trust.

July 2018:  I can haz morsel?
His body made progress too.  That ankle was cool & quiet & we graduated back to normal turnout.  Butt muscle healed uneventfully.  The feet, well, I think that will have to be a whole 'nother post.  But they were stuttering forwards (and backwards...and forwards...and backwards) too.   His rangy frame began to fill out, drifting from "whippet-shaped" to "horse-shaped."  I'm not sure if it's because he's dark brown, but he has more substance to him than first appears.  He has nice big cannon bones & roomy joints & his head is FULL full-sized.  It was very obvious that there was going to be plenty more "filling out" in our future, but at least I could brush him without feeling like I was going break the edge off some sticky-out-y part! 

Feb vs Sept:  please don't ever make me add up that feed bill
My favourite part, though, & the most rewarding by far, was the change in his expression & overall demeanor.  As I've said before, he was always friendly, always curious, but you could feel a reserve there, as if he was withholding judgement pending further review.  I felt like he was filing away experiences in labeled boxes or making a pro & con list on me:  "Hmmm, the blanket thing ended up fine & I got lots of morsels, file that under 'pro!'  But she occasionally has sparks on her fingers (winter static is begrudged), NOT COOL, that is a 'con!'"

After nearly 13 years with emotionally intuitive Solo, I am sensitive to (or try to be) the nuances of horses' personalities & reactions.  No, they aren't human (thank goodness), but they absolutely have both emotions, intuition, & intent, along with the ability to read that of other animals -- a necessary skill for a prey animal living in a herd.  Pondering how to reach across Echo's moat of reserve & knock on the door meant also examining myself & the signals I was sending.  The more I observed him, it felt like he was waiting.  But for what?

Cautious reservation
I realized I was withholding too.  In my fear of "something bad" happening, in my compensatory attempt to protect my battered self from more disappointment, more sadness, I was keeping my own heart at a distance & trying not to get too attached to this fragile animal, just in case it didn't work out.  I enjoyed Echo, I was kind to him, but in a rather businesslike manner.  And I think this very intelligent, very sensitive horse, who was already responding to my purposeful changes in projected mental energy in groundwork, also picked up on that distance. 

He was waiting for me.

With a deep & shaky breath, I leaned my shoulder to the heavy lid of the box around my heart.  I haven't gotten it all the way open, I don't think that setting exists anymore.  After all, Solo is already in the box, so I can't let him escape.  But as Johnathan Safran Foer sagely wrote, "You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."  With some metaphorical & actual fresh air & sunlight, I am making some tentative forays into the edges of hope & trust.   

As I do so, Echo is lowering the drawbridge & opening the door to reveal a cool, confident exuberance paired with a desire to please & venturesome spirit that I can't wait to keep exploring.  And it's written all over his face.

The world?  Bring it.
     

January 3, 2019

Buy A Horse, Lose Your Mind

I got ahead of myself a bit, but I've had "young horse ponderings" on my mind a lot.  I will backtrack now, though, because I can't leave out the past 11 months of madness.

I certainly can't skip the story of how Echo hurt himself after less than 24 hours of being owned by me.  Actually, it was more like 16 hours.  You can't make these things up.

Benchmark had told me that this was one extremely body-tight baby.  I expected a certain amount of knotted-up muscles - even though Echo only shambled though four races in his short career, he still went through training & gate-breaking. 
What do I do with this?
What I saw as soon as he walked off the trailer was that every muscle in his rail-thin body was strung so taut that it made me sore & a little tired just watching him move.  It's hard to describe, but it was apparent even in the way he held himself that everything was just TIGHT, like all the muscles just contracted at once & then never let go.

But he didn't limp (yet...) & he was still brightly curious about this new world.  And I planned to make exactly zero demands on him in the near future other than that he stuff his (rather large) face & entertain Solo.

Upon arriving home after our walk through the woods, I led Echo into the run-in shed (where Solo had followed us along the fenceline).  I took it slow since I have a collection of possibly scary things just inside the shed including a blue shopping cart for holding brushes & flapping black tarp over hay.  He couldn't have cared less.

I have my central paddocks & run-in set up so I can divide each horse into their own space when I want to, so I put Echo in one half while Solo craned across the tape from his side.  The divider in the shed isn't hot, it's just a visual barrier.

Who're you??
What have you done, mom??
The rest of the tape is hot though.  I left it on because Echo needed to learn that tape should be respected & he had already lived in electric fencing for the ten days he was at Benchmark's farm.  Enter young horse curiosity. 
More sniffing of the new not-orange interloper
Right after I took the above picture, Echo decided to see if this new fence was interesting.  So he sniffed it & put his nose on it.  As it zapped him, he jumped back & sideways.

And then he took a few hobbling steps on 3 legs, with one hind leg barely touching the ground.

And I melted into a puddle, wailing faintly, on the ground right there & ceased to exist.

At least, that's what it felt like.  After inspecting now-even-more-pathetic baby, I surmised that said ridiculously tight muscles, when introduced to sudden contraction & loading, had more than they could take.  As soon as I placed my hand on his hamstring, he winced & I could feel the rippling spasms of a muscle flipping out.  Echo said he would like me not to touch that please.  I appreciated that he said it very politely.

What IS this place?
I didn't see any issues anywhere else, so I decided to apply a tincture of SoreNoMore & rest & leave it be.  This horse had just gone from a racetrack in Florida to a snowy farm in Delaware to a paddock in North Carolina in less than two weeks.  He'd gotten on a trailer around 3 am the day before & spent the night surrounded by horses he'd never met.  That's a lot for anyone.

In addition, even though he was polite & friendly, he was rather stand-offish about his space, which would continue for the first week or so.  He seemed concerned that I was going to try to trap him in the shed, so he would make a quick exit if I came in.  He was very sensitive to any ropes & skittered off like a deer if they even hinted at touching him, especially any farther back then about mid-neck.

I was caught a little off-guard by this.  Encore had been an in-your-lap Labrador from day 1.  With Echo, I had to leave a halter on him in turnout, which I hate (yes, it was a breakaway, but still).  But while he'd let me come up & pet him out in the open, he'd scoot away backwards if I tried to put a halter or rope over his head.  Once I had one on him though, he was perfectly fine to lead & cross-tie.
Eating his first snack with grave suspicion about the new human
I persisted in tiny increments.  I wasn't asking for any work, not even real groundwork.  But it was January/Februrary - I needed to put blankets on this skinny thing (which he thought were terrifyingly loud & offensively touched him ALL OVER, the horror), I needed to check his feet, apply more layers of SoreNoMore.  And I wanted to teach him that I brought good feelings, warmth, comfort, &  food.  Lots & lots of food. 

I also wanted to teach him that I respected his needs & that his space was indeed safe & he was guaranteed to get it back after he tolerated my brief ministrations.

Part of that Look I saw in the first pictures became even clearer that first week:  this was a very intelligent & very sensitive horse.  He watched every move I made & responded to shifts so small that I hadn't been previously aware I was making them. 

We had a lot of work ahead of us.  Not least of which included the manifestation of four equally functional legs.
Echo:  I don't know what we're looking at, but I'm looking at it

December 23, 2018

Somebody Bet On The Bay: Solo Finds A New Friend

This time of year is hard for me: ghosts do not respect pleas for quiet or mercy.  I mostly just hunker down & grit my teeth until it's over.  To help pass the time, I want to share the next (and mostly happy) part of the story...

I needed to find a more permanent friend for Solo & a project for me.  There was so much I liked about the OTTB experience that was Encore that I wanted to do it again.  My budget demanded that it had to be very green, but that was ok; my job is always getting more complex & I was in a mental & emotional place where I needed said project to involve small, slow steps.

Maybe it's just me, but horse shopping seems to get harder as you gain experience?  Could be that I get pickier, but I noticed the market has become tougher as well.  Prices were up significantly - when I got Encore, the OTTB resurgence wasn't quite under full steam yet.  It is now, which is great for these horses & their sellers, just more difficult for me.
I guess they can't all be this amazing
I looked at a LOT of horses.  Stories to share there too, that probably need their own space.  Finances & time meant I couldn't travel very far either.  Because I think quite a few people face these challenges, I'll offer this advice:

You can still find good horses out there for not-huge prices, but if you are working with extremely limited resources, like me, just prepare ahead of time that it's going to take a lot longer & require a lot of extra energy to hunt them down.  A lot.  It also helps to be naturally lucky.  I am not naturally lucky.

I wish I had a better understanding of that beforehand.  It was probably unreasonable of me to expect anything different, but if I was entirely reasonable all the time, well, how much easier boring would that be?
But I met a lot of super cute horses, like this one
I'll skip ahead to the "fun" part.  I say "fun" because I don't think it is possible to buy a horse without a hearty side helping of stress.  Which makes it doubly important to choose a horse that you REALLY REALLY like, because that will help you survive said stress.

After scouring both the real & virtual worlds, seeing some very nice but not quite what I wanted prospects, which even included bringing a horse home on trial (alas, we found an ankle chip & he was returned, but he later found a great home), my eye caught on a young gelding who'd just arrived at Benchmark Sporthorses.

It was funny because Benchmark is owned & run by the person, formerly of CANTER Mid-Atlantic, who saw Encore at Delaware Park & was involved in his let-down.  I had emailed her when I started shopping, even though her prices (which are very fair & well-deserved!) were a stretch, & often beyond, for me.  The tradeoff was that I knew her & trusted her, she knew what kind of horse I liked, her stellar eye & reputation are, well, stellar, & she has built a network of high-quality contacts in the racing world which means the horses she gets are nice nice nice horses.  Those things have a lot of value, especially if something Just Right comes along.

My checklist looked like this:
  • MUST HAVE
    • Gelding (Solo turns into an unbelievable jerk if he falls in love)
    • 16 - 16.2 h (damn my freaky long legs, I wish I could fit ponies but also don't want giant)
    • No greys (I like low-maintenance, but am also afraid of melanomas)
    • Excellent brain with sense (priority A1A for both happiness & safety)
    • Correct conformation with 3 correct gaits
    • Age 3-10 (but would consider older, unlikely in my budget)
  • WOULD REALLY LIKE
    • I liked something with mileage on the track, I think that can show durability
    • I loved my AP Indy horse (Encore's grandsire) & a lot of horses who have caught my eye since have been AP Indy horses, with that combination of sport horse build with sweet, good mind
The photo that snagged my attention belonged to a 2014 model who appeared to check all but one; he'd only raced 4 times (terribly).  I decided I could live with that, at least he had made it through training & out the gate without disaster (so was trainable & probably not homicidal) & he had completed his last race with no known significant injuries.  And it just so happened that he had AP Indy on BOTH sides of his pedigree - some things are good in double doses.   He wasn't orange, but he was still dirt-colored.

And I saw A Look in his eye, an undefinable something that spoke to something in me.  It said he might be Just Right.
Not original sale photo, but it is the original face
What came next can only be described as insanity.  Unsurprisingly, I'm not the only person who knows Benchmark's qualities, which means that many of her horses are purchased sight unseen.  Sometimes within 30 minutes.  For that reason, she has an excellent set of well-spelled-out rules on her website.  Essentially, the first person who either pays or sets up a vetting has dibs on the horse.

The short version is this:  I decide to take an enormous leap of faith & set up a vetting for this horse.  Whom I have not met.  Someone was faster than me.  Which was fair, but I'm only human, I cried anyway.

Benchmark reached out in kind pity & told me about another 4 year old just in she thought I might like, who'd been vetted clean by someone else, but they decided not to buy him for non-veterinary personal reasons.  He was stunning, amazing lines for sport, a beautiful mover in a short video.  He didn't have A Look, but I saw an incredible potential that could take me farther & higher than I could ever afford.  Even if he didn't work out forever, I could train him to sell later.

I planned a trip, hooked up my trailer.  Then I got a message from Benchmark:  the first horse had been vetted by an Advanced event rider, but she decided not to buy him.  Was I still interested?

We had a conversation.  He had some sesamoiditis in one ankle, but soft tissues were good, all his other parts looked good.  I was never ever ever going to want to do Advanced or anything close.  He needed rest & several hundred pounds of groceries.  She assured me he was sweet as pie & didn't seem the type who would beat up Solo (an important consideration).  She also just so happened to be shipping another horse to NC, so he could be delivered the next day for a very reasonable price (which would save me 13 hrs of driving, diesel & miles on my old-enough-to-vote truck, & stress of hauling a baby horse by himself).

Yes, yes, I was irretrievably interested.

I made the largest Paypal transaction of my lifeIn more funny-ness, aforementioned Advanced rider ended up purchasing the other horse I nearly purchased.  Which I think actually worked out perfectly, because I definitely saw upper levels (of anything you wanted) in that horse.               

24 hours later, I met Intensive Harmony.  A big shoutout to Scott Norris Horse Transport for excellent service.  As this still-technically-3-year-old stepped off the trailer, all legs & curiosity, 24 hours of oh-my-cod-what-have-I-done melted away.  He was everything Benchmark had said:  kind, calm, brave, beautiful...and his eye, that Look was real.
Fresh off the trailer, checking out new world from borrowed stall
In a burst of eloquence, I texted her:  OMG, I LOVE HIM!!!

It took me two weeks to come up with a barn name.  I have also kept his Jockey Club name for now; he is still very much a baby & we're taking it slow, we have time to try out "official" names.  But I'd like to introduce you to Echo (continued musical theme not intentional, it just happens, I swear), the newest member of Team Flying Solo. 
First day in my paddock - yes, he was super thin
He arrived at the end of January.  There are already many stories & naturally, vet bills to go with them.  As I often remind him, though, he is fortunate to be extremely adorable, which makes it difficult to stay in a bad mood even when things do not go according to the backup standby reserve backup plan.

He still has weight to gain & we're just working on basics under saddle.  But we are (occasionally) under saddle.  Feet are a big project, but progress is progressing in fits & spurts. 
First meeting
Echo: He seems neat! Solo: Great, another kid to train.
At a dark time of year (literally & figuratively at present), he is adding his own brand of light to Solo's steady beam.  The road isn't smooth or straight (is it ever?), but it's not a dead-end.

I'm not sure where this chapter will lead.  And I confess that part of the reason you haven't heard about Echo before now is that I really didn't know if there would be much of a story to tell. 

And once again, I was afraid to break any fragile shards of hope with the weight of naming them aloud.

It's a little...less brave, perhaps, to tell the story afterwards, less risky than sharing it in real time.  But he's a horse & I still own him, so there's plenty of risk still to come.  And I have missed this community of blog-land, even though I was lurk-reading. 

So I'm going to work on filling in the past year of lessons learned from this bold & ridiculously adorable dark bay who I've come to call my Baby Monster. 

I think he just may be something really special.
Because this face..

June 6, 2015

Belmont Day: It’s Still A Small World!

In less than four hours (post parade at 6:40 pm Eastern Time, live stream from NBC here), Bob Baffert-trained colt, American Pharaoh will make his bid for the Triple Crown & Belmont Park’s last quarter-mile of track will once again ask if anyone can meet the challenge last conquered 37 years ago in Affirmed’s triumph (click for video).

Did I hear my name??
I don’t think I can NOT watch.

Fun Triple Crown History & Graphics:
Fab Infographics    |    Past Belmont Winners

Despite my ever-present worry for these young athletes, there is an uncanny series of connections between this afternoon’s grueling 1.5-mile thunder of hearts & hooves & the dappled liver chestnut I just hosed off after a short hill session.

American Pharaoh was sired by another Baffert-trained stallion, Pioneerof the Nile.  The latter made his own attempt at much-coveted garlands when he ran in the 2009 Kentucky Derby.  If it doesn’t immediately pop to mind, that was the year of 50-1 longshot, Mine That Bird’s incredible upset.

Under the guidance of legendary jockey, Calvin Borel (who also steals the show starring as himself in the film portrayal I JUST saw), that determined little gelding started dead last & ended up leaving the entire field of prestigious hopefuls in his wake on the way to collect his roses.



So why can’t I look away?

Some recent perusing of Equibase, made my eyes bug out (ok, it’s not that hard, but still…).  Encore’s own sire, Crowd Pleaser, was a 1995 PA-bred turf champion by AP Indy, winning his owners over $600,000 on the track.

And his last jockey in his final stakes wins (including the 2000 Sycamore Stakes, covering just over 1.5 miles on the beautiful grass of Keeneland Park, where he beat an Irish TB named Royal Strand who had set the track record just the year before)…was none other than Calvin Borel (who was finally inducted into the Hall of  Fame in 2013...I think winning over $125M earns him a spot!).

Click to embiggen
However, even if Pharaoh doesn't carry our historic connection across the wire first, breaking from #7 atop Curlin' son, Keen Ice, is Hall of Fame jockey, Kent Desormeaux, who rode Crowd Pleaser's dam, British mare Creaking Board in her last race in 1993, for yet another household racing name, trainer Bobby Frankel.

Regardless, just as I say in eventing:  may everyone keep the steel side down & run home safely!!

Will we see one?  Seattle Slew's 1977 Triple Crown trophy

May 17, 2015

Winners Don't Always Carry Ribbons

Partner love from Dr. Kim Keeton
Our sport is, above all, about partnership & horsemanship.  Winning comes in many forms & it’s not always about a number.  Every time I work an event, I see the people who display the best of those values, who achieve the quietest form of greatness.

And they are not always the ones holding a ribbon on Day 3.

Greatness I saw included young T3DE rider Laura Duhamel, who walked into the secretary's office at the end of endurance day & withdrew.  Although she & Fate's Patriot had only a single refusal on XC, she felt her horse just wasn't quite right & chose to take him home, putting her partner first so they could try again another day.

Lost with a map like this? Surely not!
Or Rebecca Barber, another Training 3DE entry. She found herself halfway through phase D…lost & desperately circling for the next jump.  Just as she reached her maximum time on course, she decided to retire.  All of our hearts fell with her as she walked back to stabling.

But after hanging up her bridle, she stayed to help others with a big smile for the remainder of the competition. It earned her the award that is my favorite to give: the Sportsmanship Award.

Which included an autographed copy of Training of the Three-day Event Horse and Rider, with a handwritten note from author God Jim Wofford himself, a prize I’d guess many of us would cage fight for (or you can buy new on Amazon...for $500?!!).  Not to mention the rest of the loot in her packed bag.

It’s Never Just A Dressage Show

Just getting there is an accomplishment on its own.  Completion of a long format event is yet another.  So each & every entry gets my resounding applause.

BN3DE Bonnie Coulter's grin says it all when she & 21-yr-old QH Otto Be Lucky finish Phase D (& place 5th!); thanks, Erica, for the WIN selfie!
Winning one of our special awards takes yet another level of heart & dedication, so a HUGE TFS shout-out to:

Donkey gets Becky's happy face!
Best Conditioned Horse, primary sponsor So8ths Farm:
Donkey Hote (I get to say his name again, yessss!), owned & ridden by Sue Goepfert; they were also a close 2nd both in the N3DE division & for the N3DE TIP award by a mere 2.9 points.

Lowest Scoring Adult Amateur, sponsored by BlackWatch Stables (must be a member of your Area Adult Rider program): Dr. Kim Keeton & Evita-Veron, T3DE division winners.

Effenzauber effen-gallops!
Best Turned Out in Jog-Ups, sponsored by Higher Standards Leather Care, Cowboy Magic, Brant Gamma Photos, Dover Saddlery, & Grand Meadows:
  • Training – Louisa Flaig & Effenzauber
  • Novice – Ann Bower & Prosecco
  • Beginner Novice – Patricia Thompson & The Dark Knight
Red Fury even pauses winningly
Highest Scoring TB, sponsored by The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP; some divisions did not have any riders who gave me numbers, hence the gaps):
  • Novice 3DE – Paychecker, with Minge Wiseman, who also won the N3DE division on their stunning 28.1 dressage score.
  • Beginner Novice 3DE – Red Fury, with our friend Nobie Cannon; they were 2nd in their division as well,  behind winner Emma Boswell & Sprite by only 0.3 points!!
  • Training HT – Laurelin, with Lisa Borgia, who also won the Open Training HT.
  • Novice HT – Action Jackson, with Erin Kimmer, 4th in Open Novice on a lovely 27.3.
And of course, CONGRATULATIONS to Kim, Minge, & Emma for winning the T/N/BN 3DE division, respectively!!!  In all three, the top three were separated by less than a single stadium rail (well, Novice had a whopping 5.2 pt spread, close enough), so well done under intense pressure.

Brad's mule is easy to spot
Moar Thank You

From the first day I met him, during a long format clinic with Becky Holder, where I tortured took Solo, farm owner Brad Turley has been beyond generous & supportive of both the long format & the adult amateur.  You can read his message in the gorgeous (not that I’m biased...) event program (apologies to those who got hard copies, subjected to printer error, but the linked .pdf has correct format).    

Thank you to Horse Junkies United, The Cheraw Chronicle, & Leslie Threlkeld with Eventing Nation for your articles (including a new one just yesterday), social media sharing, & Leslie's onsite help not only with media, but as Assistant Organizer!

BN3DE Don Warren & Sunny One adorably on their way to 6th
Thank you to the ever-wonderful Becky Holder for bringing her students down the road to participate; your support & presence throughout the event helps show our sport how much it matters!

Sorry, you just got photobombed by a Holder AND a TARDIS portajohn
To Dr. Debbie Williamson, owner of Williamson Equine Veterinary Associates, & Dr. Marsha Severt, of Brown Creek Equine Hospital (along with asst. Stephanie Graham, as Dr. Skip, Marsha’s husband & co-owner of their practice, couldn’t make it this year), who take time away from their own practices to help keep the horses safe & healthy.  To JJ Johnson, Radio Control Queen from here to Rolex & beyond, for enabling vital communication & sharing her vast experience with me!

JJ makes XC run smooth as silk; N3DE Heather King & CF Baltic Royal Tee
I Swear, This Post Has An End

If this were the Oscars, the band would have begun playing long ago; there are just too many thank you’s to clinicians, farm staff, volunteers, builders, riders & more, but hey, I did write a program for that…

It takes more than a village, really, it takes something akin to a metropolis, but the result…even I don’t have enough words to encompass it.  And while I can’t give away any secrets, 2016 is going to be even bigger, with even more features!

Have you started your trot sets yet?

N3DE Samantha Messamer & Finn McCool contemplate next year's plan

May 3, 2015

Don't Expect Sentences In Satuday's So8ths 3DE Update Of Blogger-Exploding Epicness

Moar prize oogling!  Thanks, of course, to all these people & more:

Mary Ellen at Logorific did a fantastic job on the long banners!!

A better picture of Beka's surprise that made me sniffle:

It's been my nametag decoration...
Meghann went overboard & sent beautiful certificates & a sample for display:


The lovely banners will frame tonight's Derby party & dinner display in the little indoor out back:



And the reason I do it, the reason you all need to do it...

N3DE XC: Jodie Stowell & Island Fever lock on to the stone wall

If Becky's picked her #1... (N3DE rider Alcy Christie & Abraxis in the Phase C Assist box)

N3DE:  Sabine Desper & Adamek pause for their super crew!


Solo's Minon Erica looks like she got the temp check job in the 10-minute box! (who else stands at the horse's butt?)

Amanda Miller-Atkins & Barley clear N3DE gorgeous XC Fence 1

N3DE Julia Burke jogs Davignio for the Ground Jury before proceeding to Phase D:  XC!

N3DE Ann Bower & Prosecco (also "Best Turned Out" for their division jogs!) clear the XC Frame

...is because this.  Donkey Hode (who won Best Conditioned over all divisions!), currently in 2nd place in the N3DE explains it all, walking back to the barn with an equine smile.
Because it's just zen, man...