Sunday, October 27, 2013

Half pass, colder temperatures and squeals of delight

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Change is in the air.  Literally.  Today it seemed as though I could actually feel the shift of seasons. The morning was dark with a distinct chill but the temperature was reasonable at 41F.  After putting Isaiah on the school bus at 7:30 I headed to the barn for my morning ride.  I took a deep breath as I stepped out of my car, the cold air filling my lungs.  My favorite kind of morning!  Fortunately I had just laundered one of my heavier riding jackets, perfectly suited for such a morning.  I was wearing a pair of inexpensive but heavier fabric breeches which I had recently purchased (Tuff Rider, full seat) that are super comfortable for schooling!

Janet and Reggie (whom I refer to as "the fox hunting ladies") were getting their horses ready for the Wednesday hunt day.  Janet told me that Suki seemed a bit agitated this morning, more impatient than her usual behavior.  I could slightly smell someone burning branches/leaves and wondered if that was the cause of her distress.   Suki took treats willingly and appeared to have a normal amount of manure in her stall so I gave a flake of hay to both her and Nikki while I gathered my equipment.  That seemed to settle both girls as I waited for Reggie and Janet to finish.

Nikki seemed somewhat impatient as I was tacking her up but with a fleece cooler covering her I knew that she was not cold.  We stepped outside as the wind kicked up slightly and leaves began to swirl about.  Ears pricked forward Nikki was ready to go.  She gave a very small squeal and a head twirl as I moved her out on the lunge but other than being a little more forward to start she did not do anything silly.  I almost wished that she would have thrown in a buck or two and not save it for when I was in the saddle!  To keep Nikki focused and working on the lunge I asked for transitions within and between gaits. Even with the brisk air I was pleased with her attentiveness as she stood quietly for me to mount (we have issues with this from time to time!).  We worked through leg yield well in both directions so I asked for half pass.  A few very nice steps in each direction, so I moved from shoulder in on the center line to half pass toward the rail.  I tried to keep my body straight as sometimes I have a tendency to twist when asking for half pass.  Nikki offered some very respectable steps!
When I asked for the canter Nikki let out another slight squeal and I expected to explode into the canter!  But she held it together nicely for me.  I asked for a lengthening and could feel the power beneath me!

Isaiah had not been feeling well the night before I was concerned that a phone call from the school could be forthcoming.  Suki and I did some in hand work and stretching exercises followed by grooming and moisturizing.  She too seemed distracted, letting out a whinny from time to time.  I also felt like she seemed a little tight in the back so I ended up lunging her for a few minutes at the canter to loosen. My phone had died so I then hurried home to plug it in.  Of course there had been a call from school which I quickly returned, apologizing profusely.  My husband was at work over an hour away so I drove to Isaiah's school to pick him up.  When the nurse could not immediately reach me he told her that I was probably still riding and would call back when finished.  I am thinking that there will not be a mother of the year award for me this year!  Isaiah had a fever so home we went.  Hunkered down on my bed with PBS Kids on the television we spent the rest of the day together.

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Isaiah is still sick and had to miss his class field trip to the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster.  A trip to the doctor followed by another day of rest, fluids and Advil.  We sat together and read when he felt better.  I wrote and continued to make my way through George Eliot's Middlemarch again.  The girls did not see me at all.  While Isaiah was sleeping I sat in the family room to write.  From my window I can almost feel the chill in the air.  It is a cloudy day so I have lit the "twinkle lights" on the mantle in the family room.

Friday, October 25, 2013
The child is improving but another day at home together.  This morning I was in the kitchen and I suddenly heard a lot of sirens and fire engines.  My heart in my throat I ran outside to determine the direction the emergency vehicles were headed.  The sounds, while not as numerous as the night of the barn fire were still a chilling reminder of that night.  While relieved for myself and the safety of my horses I wondered about those affected by what I was hearing outside.  I guess once you have experienced such an event the thoughts never really completely go away.  We can try to bury the emotions and the reminders but certain triggers bring them back to the surface.  It was a scary moment for me.
 Louise rode Nikki and later that day I went to Isaiah's school to pick up his homework packet and missed work.  I was able to make a quick trip to the barn to groom the girls and moisturize Suki's skin.  Her skin was dry from not having anything done to it on Thursday, but not terrible.  Extended exfoliation treatment improved it greatly.  Deb and Tobey were away at a horse show so there wasn't anyone to do it yesterday.  It is supposed to be very cold tonight with a heavy frost so we moved on to light blankets from medium sheets.  The blanket dance!  It was still early so I turned them back out again.

Saturday, October 26, 2013
26F to start the day!  A heavy frost had settled over the valley so I was bundled up.  I have ridden in colder weather than this, but the first one of the year is always the hardest.  There was also a pretty strong breeze to accompany the low temperatures.  Coming down the driveway to the barn I could see that the arena also had a layer of frost.  Upon closer inspection the footing was a little crunchy on top and maybe a little slick.
I was greeted by a chorus of whinnies from my Suki and Nikki when I opened the door.  Nikki did a big stretch and groan as I offered her a carrot.  Suki had obviously just stood up when she heard my car, and judging by the shavings in her forelock, tail and blanket she had a pretty good slumber!  Both of them lie flat out to sleep which I always find really cute.  Hmmm, is that from the Nimmerdor side of their breeding which they share?

I took my time assembling my equipment hoping that the rising sun would help the footing.  Mornings bathe the arena in full sun but it was a struggle this morning.  By 8:30 the conditions had improved so Nikki and I got to work.  I worked on transitions and straightness since she was a little up with the cold air, wind and falling leaves!  She was very responsive in spite of her energy, although the trot to walk transitions were heavy at times.  Adding trot to halt helped, and working through trot poles gave her the lift that I was looking for.

Suki was in a pushy mood so we did some leading exercises to focus and a brief lunge session. I thought that she looked slightly off but couldn't find anything.  After a bit of canter she seemed fine so I am thinking it is just a bit of stiffness from over night in the stall.  Both girls galloped away when I put them out in their field.  Okay, maybe it was more of a medium canter this time but they are so big that their strides just eat up the ground!

While I was grooming Suki I told that she was kind of stinky having rolled in some manure.  It reminded me of the days when she smelled like fire.  The smell of smoke and fire was so strong in her mane and coat for a long time.  Once the dead skin sloughed away the odor remained in the hair that had not been damaged.  For the smokiness to remain for that length of time, the thickness of the smoke and flames in the barn that night must have been overwhelming.  How did Suki not have lung damage?  How did she not develop pneumonia, which is so common in horses who have been in barn fires?  How did she even survive such an ordeal?  I may not have those answers, but I am thankful to have my beautiful girl.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is autumn here to stay? Spending the day at Fair Hill

Michael and I used to attend the Radnor Hunt 3 Day event every fall for years, and looked forward to raising Isaiah with this tradition.  Alas, we only managed to go in 2006, because the event was discontinued after that.  Sponsorship was down and there were apparently other issues regarding the planning, preparation and running of this event.  Having volunteered on several occasions we experienced every weather condition imaginable for mid October in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Too hot, too cold, torrential rain and even the ever elusive "perfect conditions". But we enjoyed every moment of the atmosphere, the scenery, the tradition and of course the horses.  Most years we attended Friday for dressage (and one of my favorites, the fashion show!).  On Saturday for cross country we arrived in time for the start of the first rider then walked the course backwards and forwards until the last horse out of the start box.  One year we were timers for steeplechase, which was great fun!  On that occasion the day was cold, damp and cloudy.  But we were kept pumped full of hot chocolate and had the best time!  When our Doberman was alive and we brought him along on cross country day.  Spock loved to walk the course and be admired by other spectators!  The year of the monsoon we came in from Cincinnati where I had been working for P & G Pharmaceuticals.  Dressage day was fine but on cross country day the rain poured down hard for the entire day.  Undeterred, we joined other diehards and walked the course all day long.  That night at the hotel we blow dried our shoes with a hair dryer, ordered room service and laughed about the day.  The heavy rain caused the water jump to be deeper than normal, so when one rider came off she was completely submerged!  When she emerged from the murky pond she shook her head and said "blaacchhh!"  For stadium day the side of the hill above the arena offered the perfect picnic spot with a view of the entire ring.  Each year we packed a superb spread and often invited friends to join us.

In 2006 we packed up 7 month old Isaiah dressed in a barn jacket, khakis and paddock boots and off we went.  Strapped to me in a Baby Bjorn sling and leading Ripley our Weimaraner we walked the course.  Isaiah went on a pony ride and we looked forward to future years of fun....Needless to say we were greatly saddened by the end of that event.

Plantation Field in Unionville has since grown to a larger 3-day but we have yet to have the timing work for us (fall baseball game for Isaiah prevented us from attending this year).  So we set our sights on the Fair Hill International this year.

Saturday started with a chill in the air and bright sunshine.  Perfect for tromping around a cross country course.  Isaiah was excited as we boarded the shuttle bus from the parking area bound for the event grounds.  Almost immediately he saw a horse gallop past on course elevating his excitement.  The CCI** was underway with the first horse for the *** set to go at 1:10.  We watched a falcon demonstration, dog agility and played some games before heading out on course.  Isaiah was amazed at the size of the obstacles and the horses' ability to jump them.
Sharing popcorn on course
We had loads of fun, eating yummy crab cakes and boardwalk fries, chatting with fellow spectators and admiring the ability of horse and riders.

Sunday, October 20, 2013
A cold start to the day!  I think that autumn might actually be here to stay.  My first thought when I stepped outside to fill the bird feeders was "okay, this is why people take their horses to Florida in the winter".  Yeah, I know, 40F is hardly the Arctic.  But after several days of near 70F temperatures it felt pretty cold!

Opening the barn door Suki and Nikki were calling their good mornings to me, making me smile.  I immediately began to warm up as I assembled Nikki's equipment, keeping Nikki under a cooler as I went along.  The crisp air and blue skies added a little spring to Nikki's step walking out to the arena, so expected her to be a little "up".  But she lunged well as I let her stretch at first then added side reins.  We worked on sharpening transitions on the lunge as she has occasions of being heavy in the hand on down transitions.  Trot to halt, halt to trot made her lift a bit in her carriage so I was pleased.  Peeling off my top layer I got on and walked around.  The cool air felt wonderful on my face.  That really healthy, being outside sort of feeling.  Not that mid winter nip that bites your nose and ears.  Just enough to feel good....and no gnats!!!  Nikki had good energy for work so after some basic figures I tried to replicate the transition work from the lunge.  She started slightly heavy in the hand then lightened and gave me some really lovely work.  At the finish she offered a nice deep stretch.

Suki was anxious to get out of her stall, so while Nikki stood in her stall wearing a cooler I put Suki on cross ties.  I think she actually wanted to go out in her field, but was fairly patient while I groomed her. I put the saddle pad and surcingle on her and walked her up and down the aisle.  She seemed a little goosey so I decided to remove it for lunging this time.  Airs above the ground out to the arena were not what I had in mind!  Although the ground behind the barn is not level I will walk her around out there with the surcingle and add a little trot to it next time.

With Suki I also worked on transitions with periods of very forward movement.  She seemed a little more tired than usual at the end so I walked her for a bit longer than usual at the finish.  I was worried that I had over done, but when I turned her out into her pasture she cantered away immediately to Nikki who was already half way across the field.  When she approached Nikki, the two of them gave out a buck and cantered away together.

It's nice to see the spark in Suki's eye knowing that she is enjoying life beyond the tragedy that she endured.   We make decisions for our 4-legged friends because they cannot do it themselves, so it is heartwarming to witness the validity of those decisions.  Watching my two beautiful girls playing in the field I felt extremely fortunate to have them in my life.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Progress all around!

The weather in Berks County has decided to take a major turn toward Indian Summer, so we are just trying to go with it.  I am glad that it was a little cooler for Dressage at Devon.  This weather would have been brutal!
Saturday, October 5 was the worst, and even though it was barely 7:30 in the morning gnats swarmed around my face during Nikki's much-abbreviated pre-ride lunge!  As I mounted the aggressive little bugs flew into my eyes and nose, so after one lap of walk around the arena we set to work.  Trying to keep Nikki as busy as possible I worked on a variety of figures, constantly changing direction, transitions within the gaits and between.  It was a surprisingly good ride in spite of the conditions, although walk breaks brought the gnats back to us with a vengeance, so those breaks were brief!  Nikki's canter definitely needs work, but today her transitions were sharper when I worked the trot circle spiral in and leg yield out, then ask for the canter as we hit the 20 meter circle point.  I guess it is the positioning of her body and my aids during the leg yield on a circle that is making it easier for her to step under and lift more into the canter?  I finished with allowing her to stretch down on a long rein in the rising trot which was better to the left than the right.

I went over to Oley Valley Feed for some supplies enjoying the view of the changing scenery as autumn rolls in.  The tall corn plants go from a lush green, then fade to a crisp tan as the farmers cut them down.  Many turn up at local farm stands being sold as decorations along side colorful mums, straw bales and wide variety of pumpkins.  It is my favorite time of year, and I must confess, I am a pumpkin hoarder!  Every variety, size and color will turn up at my house arranged in colorful displays with other gourds, leaves, etc both inside and out.
As I head out the trees on the mountains are beginning to show some colorful leaves and with the air conditioning blasting in my car I can almost pretend the air is crisp also!  Passing the quilt shop (which now offers basic sewing lessons, hmmmm.....) the parking lot is packed like I have never seen it!  The dairy farm on the other side of the store must have just completed a milking session because the girls were walking out to the field in single file.  I marvel at their patience; horses would never exit in such an orderly fashion!

Sunday morning started with a heavy fog and mistiness which kept the bugs down a bit.  Nikki flops her ears when it is rainy and we were both a bit damp following that ride!  I lunged Suki also, but without equipment.  She was sharp on her transitions and her starting stiffness was less noticeable and cleared more quickly.  I kept everything very forward for the most part but then worked for a bit on walk-canter, canter-walk transitions.  We finished with some leading exercises on the way back to the barn.  She got a little pushy, so I added several quick changes in a row which brought her right back.

Bringing the girls in each morning is one of my favorite ways to start the day.  Well, I guess my day doesn't actually start then.... It starts with getting up for a short run, followed by waking up Isaiah and heading out to the school bus.  The bus arrives at 7:25 so I can head right to the barn if I am working from home that day.  With the horses on night turn out during the summer and early fall, they are typically still outside when I arrive.  The bug or temperature situation is usually obvious as I drive down to the barn along Suki and Nikki's pasture fence line.  If it is bad they follow along to the gate, sometimes trotting or cantering.  On beautiful mornings both raise their head to acknowledge my arrival, but return to grazing immediately, requiring me to fetch them.  But I always smile as I catch my first glimpse of them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The remnants of Tropical Storm Karen have blown through our area providing much needed rain and leaving cool temperatures and autumn breezes.  All of my pumpkins look a little less out of place now!  Our barn is now switching from night turnout to day turnout.  Because the rain ended fairly early last night Suki and Nikki were out over night in the paddock as their field was too wet.  I was surprised to see them out but I know they were happy about it.  If I had known I probably would have dressed them differently.  But of  course, they are fine.  It's funny when they are out in the paddock behind the barn, because the back door of the barn (yes, it is latched) is one side of the paddock.  So as soon as I open the door Suki sticks her head in and Nikki is standing right behind her looking at me.  They are so cute!

I didn't have a lot of time this morning so I was only able to lunge Nikki and groom Suki.  Nikki was very good, but I had anticipated that she would be a little up, given the 20+ degree drop in temperature!    In spite of the very heavy rain the arena drained well, so that was not a problem.
When I pulled off Suki's sheet, I hung it on her door.  As I turned around the sun cast its rays on Suki's hip and I was able to see her brand is usually not so easy to see!

As I continue to work on the book I am often amazed at how raw the emotion regarding the night of the fire and Suki's first year of recovery remain after four years.  I thought that by now some of those early memories would not cut so deeply into my heart, but it continues.  Sometimes it catches me off guard.  When I watch her floating across the field in an extended trot, or racing Nikki to the gate, sometimes I pause for a moment and am reminded about how close I came to losing her.  Then, watching her and Nikki together, my two divas out in the field, makes me smile.

October 10th and 11th brought very heavy rain so Suki and Nikki were in the barn for two days.  They did get out for about an hour in the paddock on Friday, so that helped a little.  But they were two VERY cranky girls!  I went to the barn both days to groom them and get them out of their stalls.  The sound of the rain on the barn roof and horses munching on hay made for a peaceful setting as I set about my grooming tasks.

On Saturday the sun returned, but the fields were too wet, so Suki and Nikki were in the paddock all day.  But at least they were outside!  I went over in the morning and after I worked with Nikki (mostly lunging with a brief ride following).  The arena had some puddles and while the footing didn't seem terrible, I didn't want to take any chances with slipping. I decided to lunge Suki to take the edge off before she went outside.  Suki was well behaved walking out to the arena, but as I turned her around to close the gate she let out a big squeal!  Uh oh..... She walked for about 3 steps, twirled her head and set off into the trot.  Another three or four steps and woohoo a buck then a full blown capriole.  I managed to settle her fairly quickly and asked for a busy sequence of transitions.  Suki threw in an occasional head twirl, but a growl from me brought her back to attention.  In typical Suki fashion she had a very definite swagger to her stride while we walked back to the barn!

On Sunday the field was ready for them to go out again and they took off galloping and bucking, followed by a series of rolls.  Happy horses!

Monday, October 14, 2013
I had a phenomenal ride on Nikki today!  She was in a happy mood, and although she started a bit heavy in my hand, within a few minutes she was light in the mouth and moving beautifully off my leg. Taking advantage of the good energy I worked on the medium gaits (trot is really coming along, canter improving).  Nikki's lateral work was really lovely today, so we were both happy at the end of that session!  Even my challenge with the right shoulder in wasn't evident.

For Suki I did a short lunge followed by some in hand work.  She was a little fussy about that but I think I need a few lessons myself t get her past the basics.  She naturally does most movements pretty easily in hand, but i want to be sure they are correct.

I think in a couple of weeks I will be ready to add the side reins to the surcingle on Suki.  I just want to make sure that she is strong enough in the back and hind end before I increase the difficulty in her work.  The addition of side reins will require that Suki really push from behind into the "hand" so it is critical that she be physically prepared for it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dressage at Devon 2013, Saturday and Sunday

Another trend that was obvious in the schooling area at Dressage at Devon was that everyone was wearing safety helmets.  The new USEF rule requiring helmets for everyone on the show grounds while mounted went into effect April 1, 2013.  (see below)

Protective Headgear Rule Change for Dressage to Go into Effect April 1, 2013

RELEASE: February 19, 2013

Lexington, KY- The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) wishes to remind all dressage competitors of the rule change to DR120. This change goes into effect on April 1, 2013 and necessitates the usage of protective headgear by anyone mounted on the grounds at all USEF dressage competitions.

DR120 has been amended to require protective headgear as follows:

From the time horses are officially admitted to the competition grounds by competition management, anyone mounted on a horse at any time on the competition grounds including non-competing riders, riders on non-competing horses, and those competing in all classes and tests, including Para-Equestrian tests must wear protective headgear as defined by this rule and otherwise in compliance with GR801. Any rider violating this rule at any time must immediately be prohibited from further riding until such headgear is properly in place. Protective headgear is defined as a riding helmet which meets or exceeds ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI(Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. The harness must be secured and properly fitted.

If there are questions regarding this rule or the use of protective headgear at USEF dressage competitions please contact Hallye Griffin by email at or by phone (859) 225-6918.

For me it was the first time seeing this rule in effect.  The usual array of baseball hats and bare heads have now been replaced by helmets of every variety.  Watching the Prix St. Georges on Friday all of the riders that I saw were wearing protective head gear except Tom Dvorak, who wore a top hat.  In 2011 the rule first excluded riders over 18 years old competing in FEI classes only both in warm up and the competition arena.  So I am confused as to to why Mr. Dvorak was wearing a top hat.....I looked at the USEF rule and do not see an exclusion.  Or does the rule exclude CDI competitions?

Another sign of the times is this notice, posted on the grandstand.

I did not notice that this rule was being enforced, however.  We always leave bags, jackets, coolers etc in our boxes unattended as it is easier than carrying all of one's belongings while walking around the show grounds.

Saturday, September 28, 2013
The show grounds awaken early, but the crowd is slow to develop.  I love how as the sun begins to brighten for the start of the day the sounds of the show grounds springing to life increase in pace and intensity.  At first the sounds are somewhat muffled, almost sleepy although hands are busy preparing horses for the day ahead.  The trade fair too must get ready for the busy Saturday ahead, and the clanking of food preparation accompanies the delightful aroma of the breakfast fare.

As the morning wears on spectators pour in, beginning to swarm the warm up area and competition arenas.  Traffic control has increased on the back field, especially at the point where riders exit the Dixon Oval as it crosses one of the high spectator traffic areas.  People, often unaware, stop to speak to long time acquaintances whom they only see at DAD and forget that they are blocking the entrance.  Even the schooling areas have morphed over the past decade.  The three areas are better defined by fencing offering opportunities for spectators to observe riders preparing for their tests.

By 10 AM those not able or willing to secure reserved seats for the evening's musical freestyle (the event is always sold out) begin securing spots on the benches and bleachers lining the Dixon Oval.  An assortment of blankets, coolers and bags (obviously that security declaration is not being enforced!) lay claim to spectators visiting other areas of the show grounds for later that night.

As the sun sets, the air becomes crisp and lights illuminate the arena.  There is a certain electricity that buzzes through the air and the midway becomes packed with standing room only spectators.  My husband and I have been attending freestyle night for years.  Enduring cold, pouring rain and anything else that Mother Nature could throw at us.  But alas, this year my sore throat and fever worsened and I passed along my two precious box seats to a fellow boarder and her young daughter.  New to dressage I wanted to offer them the opportunity to see quality dressage with the fan friendly musical freestyle format.  For me, I was forced to be content watching the show on my laptop, where fortunately the USEF was live streaming.

Even from the screen of my MacBook I was able to see the crowd build as the 7:45 start time grew close.  Enviously, I could almost smell the cool, early autumn air, wishing I was there laughing and chatting with friends...
The festivities began with a retirement tribute to Rocher.  George Williams led her around the Dixon Oval to say farewell.  The Diva of Devon was retired several years ago, but this was a fitting tribute to the mare with the floppy ears and oozing with charisma.  I didn't realize that George had not seen her for four years.  That must have been an emotional reunion.  I remember watching them win the freestyle three times.  That big girl owned the arena, and I loved how when leaving the ring on a long rein she would look up into the stands at her fans.  Indeed she is a diva!

The majority of the rides did not disappoint, obvious even from my small vantage point of the lap top screen.  A few riders chose to do the one tempis on a curve, always a daring move and not always successful, as we saw.  It does take great courage to do this but I really believe that you must be certain that your ones are really correct.  I hate when riders sway from side to side as they ask for the changes and for someone trying to do this movement on a curve, it really throws the horse off the mark.  That's just me arm chair quarter backing!

While I don't always like the choice of music by some individuals, that is the beauty of the freestyle: individuality.  It is wonderful when you see a pair really and rider both feeling the music.  To me that is one of the most important qualities.  As a former ballet dancer watching horse and rider embrace the music elevates the quality of the test.  Sometimes choreography is spot on and some times not so much.  It does offer the opportunity for each rider to play on the horse's best gaits and movements, but I find that sometimes the test becomes trot or canter heavy when there is a particular weakness.

Lars Peterson won with a 76.97% followed by Ashley Holzer and Breaking Dawn with a 76.52%.  Tina Konyot rounded up the top 3 with a 72.87%.  Riders ranked 1-7 all scored above 70%.  All 15 horses who entered the qualifier on Friday night qualified to ride their musical freestyle on Saturday night.  Apparently that was not expected so with the half time show the night finished later than preferred.  The township has an ordinance regarding what time these events should finish at night.  The Devon show grounds border residential areas as well as businesses, so these restrictions are understandable.

While the majority of the rides that I watched were top quality, others made glaring mistakes.  Sometimes this means new choreography, new partnership or first time under the lights at DAD.

Sunday, September 29, 2013
Feeling a little better in the morning I decided to go to Devon for the last day of competition.  I was hoping to watch some 4th level, the Grand Prix Special and the Intermediare I freestyle.  The freestyle was to start in the afternoon and I anticipated perhaps wearing out by then!  Isaiah and Michael also came but drove separately because Isaiah had a baseball game in early afternoon.  They would watch with me for awhile then wander around.  Isaiah loves to watch the farriers work so he found the show farrier and watched for awhile....the farrier was making hoof picks and gave one to Isaiah.
Needless to say, Isaiah was thrilled with his gift.

The Grand Prix Special had some really nice rides.  I enjoyed Ashley Holzer's test immensely!  There were a couple of small errors, but for the most part correct and accurate.  Catherine Haddad Staller also had a very nice test.  Some of the others had some technical issues, and I really do hate when the rider does the piaffe and nothing is happening underneath.....
Some issues with changes for some horses but not as many as in the PSG on Friday!  Most of the issues seemed to be rider driven, although in for a couple it looked like the horse was not completely confirmed at the level.

Watching riders in the warm up I observed quite a bit of over riding.  Driving, driving, driving, swishing tails and pinned ears.  Not everyone, of course, and in some cases a quick boot or whip tap is sometimes necessary to get a horse to pay attention.  I am referring to that constant nagging that makes the horse ignore seat and legs.  And this can area havoc on the horse's back long term.  I specifically would watch horse and rider combinations that in my opinion looked correct in warm up then move to the arena for the test.  Same for those who were not looking so happy in warm up.  The results corresponded as you can imagine.  Sometimes it is rider nerves that cause over riding in competition, but not always.

So I made a discovery among the vendors this year: Goshen Donuts!
These donuts melt in your mouth!  I am not a huge donut fan but I am in love with their mini donuts. Apparently they do not have an actual store, but just go to events.  I will have to find out where they will be next!

Friday, October 4, 2013
out of the fog.....
Suki....don't worry....she cannot get stuck in that space!

And Nikki

Suki was keeping her from coming to the gate....