Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When I Say "Rolex", I'm Not Talking About Your Grandfather's Watch...

For all you people out there who have absolutely zero idea about what eventing is...let me break it down for you...
As taken from the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event Page...
What is eventing anyways?!
English and French are the official languages of the Federation Equestre International (FEI), the International governing body of the sport and the concise and descriptive French term for competition. "EVENTING" is Concours Complet d'Equitation, or, complete equestrian competition. The use of acronyms is universal today and throughout the world an International 3 day event is know as a CCI (concours complet international). To indicate the level of difficulty, the FEI uses 'stars' on a scale of 1 to 4. The CCI**** is the highest level of competition in the sport.
DRESSAGE - is on the first day of competition and it tests the gaits, suppleness and obedience of the horse through a series of prescribed movements. While judging the dressage test on the first day is based on specific criteria understood in detail only by experienced judges and riders, it is basically an evaluation of beauty of movement and obedience. Anyone can judge these characteristics and the spectator's opinion often agrees with the judges. The number of competitors may require that dressage be held over 2 days but, it remains the first competition day.
CROSS-COUNTRY - is on the second day of competition and proves the speed, stamina, courage, boldness and jumping ability of the horse and the rider's knowledge of pace and use of the horse across country. Horses jumping over solid (THEY DON'T FALL DOWN) obstacles designed and constructed to represent what might be found on uncharted grounds, virtually flying over ditches, leaping up and down banks, dropping in and galloping through water, prove examples of athletic prowess and trust between man and animal, that can be seen in no other sporting event. While a rider walks the course beforehand, the horse doesn't see any of the course until it leaves the start box.
STADIUM JUMPING - on the third day of competition provides the final test of the horse's athletic ability, conditioning and training. The jumping test in a stadium arena on the third day of competition is again simply a matter of jumping obstacles cleanly. Its significance is that it comes the day following the cross country course jumping at speed and clearly illustrates the horse's willingness to listen to its rider. It must now move at a more sedate pace and not touch the obstacles, which are not solid and will fall down. A single rail knocked down can make the difference between winning and finishing far down in the placings.

Is Rolex on my Embarcadero...realistically, I doubt it, but you never know do you...?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Advice Where You Least Expect It...

It is interesting sometimes to get a different perspective on things.
For example, my significant other, Aaron. While we are both Capricorns, we are at either end of the spectrum when it comes to personalities. Where I sometimes (well, a lot of the time) let my emotions get the best of me, Aaron is always cool as a cucumber (on the outside anyways). We actually compliment each other extremely well and I don't know what I would do without him in my life. Where as I would freak out over things that I probably shouldn't - okay, that I KNOW I shouldn't - very little, if nothing, phases Aaron...and let me tell you, it pisses me off beyond belief that he can remain so calm and level headed in thew worst of situations...jerk. Actually, now that I think about it, Aaron and Chester are very similar: Both incredibly smart, both incredibly handsome, both very (usually) calm, both big (Aaron is 6'2, Chester is 16'3), both have cute nicknames Biff and Pickle, both read-heads (see picture), I could go on...
So, we were walking on the board-walk (sidebar - we live in Cobourg a block north of Lake Ontario - it ROCKS), last night and I was telling him about the unexpected compliment I received over the weekend and he looks at me with this confused look on his face and goes "If you love riding so much, how come you are so tense all the time?" Now, Aaron, I think humors me the majority of the time when I talk about Pickle and what we are learning about. ("He jumped a ditch!!! I was so proud", "Uhhh, oh yea..?, that's great.") It is when he says stuff like that, that I absolutely freak out because: he knows absolutely NOTHING about horses/riding, but is able to come up with the most logical, simple solutions to pretty much ANYTHING I seem to complain about. And, I absolutely can NOT STAND
So - the next time I ride (which will be never because of my, just kidding, we have a lesson tomorrow), before the Boss yells at me to relax and breathe, I will say to myself "You love riding, what is there to be tense about"...let's hope that works.
Thanks babe!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Unexpected Compliments...

I almost forgot the second best thing about the weekend...okay, maybe third best thing.

I have the very very bad habit of being too tense when I ride. (I like to say it is because I am concentrating...but that excuse never seems to work.) Chester is super sensitive (over time as we develop our partnership, we will be able to be so in tune, I will be able to use my weight for transitions, balance etc...he rocks...anyways), so, the more tense I am, the more rigid he is and we fight, and 9 times out of 10 he will win. The Boss will say to me at least once a lesson "You're too tense, I can see him freaking out underneath you. Are you breathing?! I don't think you are! Get it together", I love her.

So The Boss is watching one of my rounds and a woman leans over to her and goes 'Your student looks so relaxed up on that big horse'...I just about DIED when she told me that...yay ME!

What was the first best thing?: How amazing Chester was. I am so proud of him as he took his first step in becoming a Big Boy.
What was the second best thing?: Being able to xc school on a whim.

They Make Checklists For a Reason...

OKay - what an eventful week...!
Unfortunately, I was not able to spend as much time in the barn as I would have liked...see, I am the HR Manager for an accounting Firm and given the time of year, we have a lot of people working a lot of hours, yours truly included. March 31 is the BIGGEST deadline of the year for us, which equals a lot of last minute changes, people in bad moods and a general air of doom. I would rather eat a broken lightbulb, then have to deal with 3/4 of the people in my office....So much so, I have asked Desirae (Barn Manager, Barn Owner's daughter and someone who is becoming a good friend), to school the Pickle for me tomorrow because I know I am going to be in the office until God knows when...
Lesson last week...was absolutely the BEST lesson I have had with Chester...aside from the damn outside line (7 strides) - which for whatever reason Chester thinks would be better to shove his head into my chest and pull me towards, as opposed to cantering down in good rhythm, going to have to work on that - we were doing bending lines, tight turns, roll backs all at 3 feet and he was incredible...very rideable, attentive, collected and a true gentlemen...I even caught him snorting to himself as we were cantering around as if he were saying 'Yea - bring it'.
Show day - For the life of me, I don't know what prompted me to like horses so much, because if it is one thing I am NOT, it is a morning person...shoot me now. So, the Boss arrives with Kelly and Tiki in tow and away we go 40 minutes down the 401. Tiki was SO HAPPY to see his old pasture was pretty could almost see them filling each other in on what has been going on in their lives... (Unfortunately, the area West of us is dealing with Strangles - SCARY - so originally we weren't going to go anywhere, but leave it to Joyce to find a schooling show on the same day but in the opposite direction.) We get there, register and when I am tacking up realize - I forgot my saddle - OMG - of all the rookie mistakes - however, the barn owner was nice enough to lend me one of her's, which actually turned out to be nicer then mine, so it all worked out. Joyce's reaction to the Young Guns as we were tacking them up was 'I can not believe how quiet they are being'. You would have thought by looking at them that they were seasoned campaigners and had been doing this their entire lives as opposed to NEVER before. They both pinned in all of their 'hunter' classes. The jumper course was also great for them. We both had the same rail down (1st fence that you had to approach on a circle), and this was after Joyce told us to ride it a certain way, which we did not...sorry fault.
The BEST part about the day...we noticed as we were warming up, there were 4 or 5 xc fences out in the field...soooo we snuck over after our jumper round to school over them. It was GREAT!! :-) They did tires, logs, and a ditch even...!!! They both did NOT like the ditch at first - holy BREAKS!! So, we both got off and 'walked' them over the ditch a couple times with Joyce yelling 'Make sure they don't jump ON you'...then they both did it like some 4* horse would and happily and quietly cantered around the field...huh..?! I don't get it either, but I am not complaining, considering the day before I could hardly get him to walk past a snow bank without him practicing piaffe....

Humm - just tried to upload some pictures, but it didn't work, so I will try again later on.

Lesson(s) for the day - 1. They make checklists for a reason...USE THEM. 2. When the Boss says for you to ride something a certain way...DO IT.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hard Work is Well Worth the Effort

One more thing, regardless of the troubles we were having at the beginning of the lesson, the Boss is extremely happy with our progress and she said we have come a loooong way in the past 4 or 5 weeks and he is jumping really well.
It is nice to know when you show up at the barn at 8:00 p.m. to ride after working for 10 hours that your hard (amateur) work is paying off...

What Do You Mean "Stay out of his way but help him...?"

An interesting thing with my beloved horse of mine will be trying to determine the proper prep he will need leading up to an event. There are times when he will have 2 days off (because unfortunately for me I have to work to have a horse, no work = no horse), where I will show up and be able to school 3 feet like it was cross rails...and then there are days like Friday where it seems like he hadn't gotten ridden for 2 weeks, not two days...maybe I shouldn't have booked a lesson...

SIDEBAR - The Pickle (as he is affectionately known because of his 'relaxed' state while cooling out), has only been jumping for about 8 months and there are times that I forget lesson on Friday was a good reminder.

So, Friday, we had a lesson and The Boss shows up, we get warmed up and the plan is to just jump every jump in the arena, both ways, nicely, calmly, in good rhythm. A couple of the girls had just painted ALL of the Stadium Jumps in lots of funky patterns, and knowing Chester likes to take a good look at things was prepared for just about anything...I was VERY proud of him, the only thing he looked at was a sort of crazy Zebra striped thing on the diagonal, he stopped about 3 strides away, shoved his head straight up and blew snot out of his nose...tantrum over, he then proceeded like it was no big deal. Next, "Okay, now do the outside line", it was about 7 strides (or 8 for Chester, because with this horse it is better to be bouncy and together as opposed to sprung out and on the forehand), and it was back to the Chester of 3 months ago, landing, getting heavy on the forehand and pulling me down the line...yeah - that first time, the 7 was actually 5 1/2. Bad. Bad. Bad. So, then The Boss says "You're getting in his way, stay off his back and let him find his strides. Stay out of his way, but help him out a little bit", one of the reasons I love Joyce so much is that I actually get it when she explains something to me...except in this case...I stopped looked at her and went 'huh?' Long story short, this horse is sensitive, VERY sensitive to how I ride, my weight, my balance, how tense I get....the more tense I am, the more tense he, we went back to our canter poles on a circle (at noon and 6) until we we quietly cantering and I was leaving Chester alone but helping him...holy...the rest of the lesson was fine.

Saturday and Sunday were good schools, he worked hard for 3 days and gets the day off today, he was a little tired yesterday, I could tell.

I think I will school Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday before the schooling show on Sunday...let's hope that regiment will be one I can stick too coming into the season.

More soon...!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Carrie's Embarcadero

OKay - first of all, I am VERY new to this whole blogging thing...additionally, since I have a lot of people asking me how Chester is doing on a regular basis and truth be told, I am sick of Facebook...why not start a blog...right?
Brief history about Chester: I have had him since October 6, 2009, purchased him from a wonderful gal whom I now consider to be a dear friend, he just turned 9 on January 14 (but he is going on 5), Chestnut TB, 16'2 (maybe 3), blaze, 3 white legs, 4 white feet (WTF was I thinking??!!!), just started jumping about 8 months ago, has never evented in his entire life (again, WFT was I thinking?), cutest little baby face I have ever seen (see Picture...please look only at the horse and not
me), has the best personality anybody could ask for and is one of the smartest horses I have ever met. His intellegence, desire to please and consistant 'light bulb' moments scare me to death and I have been known to say on numerous occasions that I am worried I won't be able to keep up with him. What is worse is that he has everyone wrapped around his little finger INSTANTLY...the drives me bonkers...
Short Term Goal: 2 or 3 Entry level events, then Pre-Training in 2010, Bromont 3-Day Event Training Level, June 2011
Note - if you dont know what eventing is, look it up.

Long Term Goal: Make Chester a confident and happy Prelim horse, complete a couple CCI*s

Stretch Goal: Intermediate (IF and that is a big IF I grow the necessary parts to be able to do that.)

My coach - Joyce...I absolutely ADORE her to pieces. She is unbelieveably supportive, constructive and chanllenging. I would not be able to accomplish anything with her...AND her family. Her daughter Kelly, is my crazy eventing partner and she also has a new horse who is also new to eventing...we call them the Young Guns...and her husband Graham...who is my surrogate event father and has lent me his shoulder many times...especially at last year's championships. I could not and would not be able to do this without any of them.

My Mom and Rick - for encouraging me and supporting me...even though I know they think I am nuts! (I remember being a teenager and riding my bike to the barn (a good 40 minutes), just so I could ride 4 times a week while my mom tried to figure out how to get that same level of motivation from me to clean my room! Ha- Fat chance!

My Dad - I would not be a rider today if it wasn't for my dad and more importantly, I wouldn't own the best horse on the planet if it were not for his support.

Embarcadero - My dad, lives in San Francisco. When I was thinking about show names, I wanted something unique, representative of my dad, Chester and myself. 'The Embarcadero' is the main street off which my dad lives in SF (right at the base of the Bay Bridge) and is defined as: To embark on something, to start something, especially something new, difficult and exciting.

Seems fitting...don't you think?

When I think about it, a year from now, it will be great to go back and time and see how far (hopefully!!) we have come...

More to come as we prepare for out first (schooling) show together over the next week and a half...