Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time flies

Wow, has it really been a month and a half since I posted?!?!  Ahh!  So sorry for my lack of promptness!!  There has been a lot going on here at Rocky Start.  Where to begin?

Bug has been on hiatus since Fairhill.  He got a few weeks of no work at all, and he is now back to work on the flat.  He is so thrilled to be doing so much dressage! haha  He will start back to jumping this week, which I'm sure, will make his life worth living again.  haha

Renn had his big move up to Preliminary at Virginia the end of October.  Bonnie and I had been schooling him hard, and we were sure that he was ready.  I decided to do the Gambler's Choice jumper class with him the Friday evening before the show.  See the video above!  He was a superstar in the big colesium, and he even jumped the bogey fence at the end, a huge airy vertical with no ground line.  Renn was pretty full of himself for his dressage test the next morning.  Due to snow on the ground, they pushed XC back and we had to wait around all day to go.  The course wasa pretty good move up, however, Fence 8 abc was a very tough coffin in the back of the course.  The B element was the ditch off of a 90 degree turn.  The ditch was also hiding behind some tree limbs.  Renn thought he was going until the last minute, and unfortunately, I trusted him a bit too much.  He slammed on the brakes at the last minute, and I kept going.  Air vest deployed.  End of the show for us.  It was unfortunate, as I believe that if I could have represented, I would have gotten him over it.  We will work hard this winter to be sure that his confidence is back, and he's ready to go.  He'll do some Trainings in the early spring to see where he is before we decide to move him back up. 
Also, on the Renn front, I am offering a discount on stud fees for 2012 if you book before Jan 15.  Contact me for more information!  Check out the video of Renn in a lesson with Bonnie.

We have some new horses here at RSS as well.  I think I may have talked about them before, but I have more information on them now.
1.  Rosarita: 2005 Hanoverian mare by Rolling Stone (who is by the great Rubenstein I) and out of MS Amelia.  She is 16.2 hands and liver chestnut with a star and 4 socks.  She has a puppy dog personality, and she is very athletic and willing.  She was started late as a 5 year old then left for a year, so for her age, she's pretty green.  However, she is coming along quickly.  See the video below of her in a lesson with Bonnie.  It was the first time she'd ever done any grid or real polework.  I believe she will make an excellent young rider or adult amateur's horse.

2.  Whitfield:  2005 Hanoverian gelding by Wildcard.  He is 17 hands and bay with a star and 3 socks.  As with Rosarita, he was started late and then left for a year.  He is a sweet boy, but he is very sensitive.  He needs an experienced rider with patience.  He loves to hack out, and I am thinking that he may be best as a foxhunter.  We will see.  See the video below.  It is also from a lesson with Bonnie and was his first time doing grid and real polework.

3.  Fame de Bromont:  2002 Oldenburg mare by Walldorf.  She is a 16.1 hand liver chestnut with a blaze and high socks.  Fame was well trained then had an injury that put her out of work for awhile.  She is just coming back into work.  More information to come as she progresses into work.

In other news, I have decided to donate 5% of my income from lessons and training from Dec 5 thru Dec 31 to Cabin Creek TB Rescue.  In light of the new Horse Slaughter Bill being passed, I have decided that, even though I am financially strapped, I would like to try to help the rescues who are keeping as many horses out of the slaughter houses as they can.  I got my lovely Ellie Mae from Cabin Creek, and I plan to get as many as I can from there in the future.  There's nothing like an OTTB!

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving and remembered to be thankful for everything that they have.  I am very thankful to God for all that He has blessed me with.  Even when times are tight, I know that I still have it a lot better than many others.

Thanks for reading!!  Heels down, kick on!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

When it all comes together....

"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen."
-Frank Lloyd Wright

And so, the culmination of my entire competition year has come and gone, and I can't wipe the smile off my face!  Eventers always talk about the show where everything comes together....the show where your horse peaks at the perfect time.....that show that just goes right.  Well, I got to experience that at the CCI** at Fairhill International. 
My horse is amazing, to say the least.  Just over a year before our trip to Fairhill this year, he was at Viriginia Tech having emergency colic surgery for the second time in his life.  Being a poor up and coming professional, I was sure that I was going to have to put down my horse of a lifetime, just because I couldn't afford to pay for the surgery.  As with all things related to insurance, once there's an issue, it's uninsurable.  Therefore, I was looking down the nose of a huge surgery bill with no way to pay it.  Thank God for the awesome vets and surgeons at VA Tech.   They made it happen, and I will be forever grateful to them.  Between the vets and my AMAZING support team of people, we got Bug fixed, home, and paid for.  When I think back to all that my boy has been through, it makes this past weekend even more amazing!!
I also have to send a HUGE "Thank you" to Bonnie Mosser for coming all the way up to Fairhill to coach me for the weekend!  She kept me mentally straight and gave me a plan to stick to.  I am so grateful for all that she has done for me, and I'm looking forward to more!  My riding has improved so much in the short time that I've been riding with her.  She just says things the way that I need to hear them. 
So, the Clif's Notes version of the show.  It was HORRENDOUS weather for the first few days, though, I'm told it was nothing like a few years ago.  For that, I am glad.  Bug's dressage test was done in the rain with about 30 mph winds.  The weights in the tails of my coat kept hitting me in the back of the head!  Normally, this would have been just the thing Bug would have looked for to spook.  However, we both kept it together mentally and put in our best test to date!!  Yes, of course, we have tons to work on and keep improving, but I am THRILLED with how well he went.  Our score was about 12 points better than it was at Jersey in the spring.  That's quite an improvement!  This put us tied for 30th place out of 68.  I will admit...I may have done a happy dance in the stabling area when they announced my score.  My goal was to break 60, and we got a 59.2! :)

The XC course was tough.  It was definitely more of an Advanced test, and I was really excited to see how Bug would jump around it.  I knew if I kept my head on straight, and he saw the fences, we would be good.  However, I knew I needed to be as close to optimum as possible, which I have struggled with in the past.  Mud makes me a bit nervous, as I displayed at Morven, so I was anxious to see if I could pull it off.  I was number 57, so 50 some odd horses were going to run across the sloppy footing before I even got a chance.  Bonnie told me to take it a bit easy in the first field, as the footing was sloppiest there.  After I got over fence 11B, I was to gun it!  haha  Let me tell you, if I doubted that Bug could make time before, I'm certainly sticking my foot in my mouth now.  We were only 15 seconds over time on a 9 minute course!  For us, that is amazing!  I think we were 60 seconds or so over at Jersey.  I've finally figured out how to go fast and still be balanced and jump!  If the footing had been good, I have no doubt that we would have made time.  My little superstar charged around that course and ate it for breakfast.  He never batted an eyelash, just kept saying, "BRING IT ON!"  Our awesome round moved us up to 19th place! 

Returning to the barn all smiles, I realized that now, my nemesis of the year, show jumping was staring me in the face.  Yikes!  Could I pull off a good round with a huge crowd?  I tend to let my brain shut down.  Show jumping has been MY nemesis all year.  My horse is an AMAZING jumper, and he is very adjustable.  He can and will jump from ANYWHERE.  People say...what's the problem??  Well, the problem is, that makes it very hard to get your eye tuned to what's correct.  However, I knew that I had put in many hours with Bonnie, and I COULD do it.  I just had to step up my mental game and get it done.
After walking the course with Bonnie on Sunday morning, I knew it was tough, but I also knew that my horse could make it look like a child's game.  I bucked up my brain and put my big girl pants on.  Let me tell you, as I jumped the last fence, I definitely threw my fist in the air!  It was the BEST round of my LIFE!  Foot perfect.  Amazing.  I sooo wish I had it on video!  The cheer from the crowd was amazing!  The announced commented on the fact that I must be a crowd favorite, and that I was thrilled with how my horse went.  I guess he could tell because I was grinning from ear to ear. 
We finished 16th out of 68.  That isn't too shabby for Fairhill! Our entire score was still 5 points better than my dressage score at Fairhill! I am still grinning.  I love my special pony.  He is definitely my once in a lifetime horse.  I cherish him every day.  Just watching him in the field as he bosses around his pasture buddy makes me happy. 
Bonnie says to start studying the Advanced and 3 star tests, as we're going big next year!  Bug says, "I really belong at Rolex, but Advanced will do for now, I guess."  :) 

In other news, baby Renn is doing his first Preliminary this coming weekend at the Virginia Horse Trials!  Wish us luck! :)
Also, I have gotten a sponsor!!!  Snider's Elevator (www.sniderselevator.com) has graciously offered to sponsor myself and my ponies!  I'm so excited!  I worked there through college, and they carry a large selection of riding supplies.  Check out their website!  Sending out a big "Thank you" to them!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mud, Sweat, and....er...Cheers!

Hello, hello!

Things have been super busy since I last posted.  Bug, Renn, and I made the trip up to Morven Park last weekend.  Let's just say, I'm very glad that my mom got me a set of Frog Togs for Christmas last year, as I got to put them to good use there!  The weather was abysmal.  Cold, pouring rain, and wind were in abundance on Saturday.  Renn competed in the Open Training division A in a field of 15.  With the horrible weather and the cross country running right by his dressage arena, I was worried that Renn might be less than attentive.  However, I must say, he was very strong, but he was willing and listening for the most part.  He ended up with a 35.9 which put him in a 4 way tie for 5th place.  The weather only got worse as his jumping phases were upon us.  I am soooo proud of my boy for the way he went in the horrendous conditions.  He jumped double clear around a tough show jumping course and went on to put in another double clear in the XC around a tough course with very slippery footing.  Baby stallion ended up 4th in that huge division that included a lot of big names!!  After talking with Bonnie, we have decided that Renn has earned his way to a move up to Preliminary at the Virginia Horse Trials!!  Yay!!
Bug was in the Open Intermediate A division with a field of 16.  He put in his best dressage test to date in the indoor arena with a 39.6!  We finally broke 40!  That was even with an accidental flying change.  He was quiet and relaxed.  What we really lacked was brilliance in the trot for better scores.  I was THRILLED with him.  All of the hard work that we've been doing with Bonnie is paying off!  He went on to jump a double clear round in the show jumping.  The footing had gotten even worse by the time that we went, and Bug felt it was neccessary to overjump everything by 3', so I was a bit discombobulated, and I didn't ride as well as I would have liked.  There were some great fences, and there were some not so great fences. 
Bug's XC was on Sunday, and the rain had let up some, but the footing was still horrendous.  The weather was very cold, though the wind wasn't as bad.  I decided upon walking the course that I wouldn't be trying to make time.  The footing was horrible, and with it being so close to Fairhill, I didn't want to risk him.  During the warmup, Bug was jumping huge, and upon jumping a big warmup rolltop, he landed hard and got his feet stuck in the mud.  We almost had a tumble.  I think it rattled both of us, as we just weren't ourselves out on course.  I wasn't going forward enough to the fences, and Bug was being extra careful in the mud.  He was all about adding the stride. 
We ended up in 7th place in the division, which made me really happy.  We made it around, and even though there are still things to work on, I feel like we're making progress. 
Fairhill is upon us, and we leave on Tuesday at 5 am!  The jog up is on Wednesday, and the dressage fun begins on Thursday.  We won't find out any of our times until after the first jog. 
I hope people will come out to watch us!!! 

I will try to keep everyone updated as much as possible at Fairhill.
All thoughts and prayers are much appreciated! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My own worst enemy...

I know that it's been awhile since I last blogged.  I hope this all finds everyone well!

After Waredaca, I went home and started to work hard with the boys.  I've been riding in what I like to call, "Bonnie Bootcamp" every week that I can.  We have been working hard on Bug's dressage and my show jumping, as well as Renn's show jumping.  I am determined to learn how to ride! :)  We also had a XC schooling session with Renn, and he was a superstar.  He jumped a lot of difficult combinations like a pro.

I took Bug to the Five Points Horse Trials the beginning of September.  I had a plan for our dressage, and it seemed to really work.  He was the most relaxed and supple that he's ever been in a test.  There's always more work to be done, but I felt like it was a big improvement.  As far as the judge goes, though, we only scored about 2 points better than Waredaca.  Oh well.  The XC was a big, gallopy course.  The optimum was just under 7 minutes, so I knew this would be a good test of whether we could make time on a longer course or not.  Bug was a superstar!  He was forward and bold.  We had one sticky moment going through the sunken road, as we've never done a proper one before.  I got a bit zoned on the A, B, C, D...lots of flags to overwhelm me!  Bug was great though and packed me through.  Other than that, we had a great round.  We were only 13 seconds over time!  If we had been more forward through the sunken road, that would have saved us even more time.  I was thrilled with him.  This put us in 6th place!

I walked the SJ course on Sunday with a bit of trepidation.  It was a very forward course, and I was already worried about  making the distances without the chip stride.  This led to me not quite finding my mojo in the warm-up and just running at things in the course.  We ended up with 3 rails, which is unheardof with Bug.  I was actually a bit worried that he was sore somewhere.  So, this dropped us down to 8th place. 

I was very bummed, but it definitely gave me more to work on.  I also learned that I need to really learn how to acquire mental toughness. 

Bonnie and I have been working hard on the boys ever since.  We are headed to Morven Park this weekend, where Bug will do his last Intermediate before the CCI** at Fairhill, and Renn will do Training. 

Also, in other news, I have 2 new consignment horses in.  Whitfield is a 2005 Hanoverian gelding by Wildcard.  He is 17 hands and a lovely blood bay.  He is a bit more of a sensitive being, but I think he will make someone a great horse.  Rosarita is a 2005 Hanoverian mare by Rolling Stone.  She is 16.1 and a lovely liver chestnut.  She is bold and very sensible and willing.  I also think she's going to be a lot of fun!  There will also be another horse arriving sometime in the near future. Fame de Bromont is a 2001 Oldenburg mare by Waldorf.  She is 16.2, I believe, and also a very lovely liver chestnut with a lot of chrome. 

Hopefully, this fall will be a great time for Rocky Start Stables and its students!  I'm excited to work hard and see how things pan out.

Until then...heels down, head up!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The...uh...Handsome?!

It has been an action packed month since I last blogged. 

1.  One big, exciting piece of news...  I have started taking lessons from Bonnie Mosser in addition to my lessons with Kim Severson.  Kim is over 4 hours away from me, and it is difficult for me to get to see her more than once every 3 or 4 months.  For someone that truly wants to be competetive in the big leagues, this just wasn't cutting it.  Bonnie has recently relocated to NC, and she's very close.  I have taken 2 jump lessons on each of the boys and a dressage lesson on Bug.  The change in myself and my boys has been amazing!!  It's sooo incredibly nice to have eyes on the ground on a regular basis.  I plan to continue riding with them both as much as I can.  

Bug and I at the MDHTII (photo by Mike McNally)

2.   Bug ran the Open Intermediate division at the Waredaca HT this past Saturday.  I can tell that all of our gallops are paying off, as he was a bit too big for his britches for the dressage.  He was quite frisky in the warm-up and never really chilled out.  To make it even more exciting, the arena was right next to the concessions stand, so there was smoke billowing over the fence from their oversized grill.  Bug was pretty sure it was the smoke from a fire breathing dragon.  haha  In his defense, he DID chill out for the last part of the test, and his canter work was much better.  I was definitely disappointed, though.  We ended up with a 44. 
However, in typical Bug fashion, he went on to redeem himself in the jumping phases.  Our show jumping round was the best round I've had since early this spring.  He was soft and listening, I was riding up to the fences, and I wasn't panicking and just running him off of his feet.  It was the best feeling.  We had one rail, which was totally my fault (as Bug will tell you!).  However, I was more pleased with that round than I was with most of my double clears this year!  I hope that I've finally got my groove back!
The XC was a very gallopy, very hilly course with a lot of good questions.  I was determined to be within 15 seconds of optimum, as I have really been struggling to make time at Intermediate.  I know that this is because of my underriding and backing up to fences.  We went out there and ROCKED around that course.  Every time I wanted to slow too much,  I kicked more.  Bug never backed up to a fence, and he never had one of those suspended in mid-air moments over a fence.  It was an amazing round.  He was CRUISING!  We came in just 12 seconds over time.  This was our fastest Intermediate round yet.  I couldn't stop smiling.  We ended up 7th out of 23 in a field of some big names.  Awesome boy!  *pat, pat*

Renn at the MDHTII (photo by Karen Wurster)

3.  Renn also ran at Waredaca in the Open Training division.  He was such a good boy for his dressage.  He was very obedient and submissive.  He lacked some of his forward energy, which probably cost us some points.  He got a 36, which isn't too shabby, but it's definitely not the best he can do. 
Renn and I have been struggling in the sj, as he either pays too much attention to me and ignores the jumps or grabs the bit and runs hellbent for election.  I know that he is capable of jumping well.  With Bonnie's help, I have been trying a new style with him.  He jumped great at Waredaca!  He had one rail where he probably wasn't paying quite enough attention, and I had one rail.  However, the rest of the round was quite lovely!  I was so happy with him.
Unfortunately, the XC was quite large for Training, and I was a bit worried that the ghosts of that bad XC school would come back to haunt us.  I was right.  He ended up getting eliminated late on course at the HUGE ditch at the coffin.  Otherwise, he was quite bold and brave.  I'm disappointed, but as things go with horses, you just have to keep training.  There's always something.  He'll be going XC schooling this weekend at The Fork to see if we can get that bold horse back.

4.  I have been accepted into the American Horse Trials Foundation, which means that I can now accept tax deductible donations!!!  If you want more information on how to sponsor me or have ideas to help me along this financially difficult road, please contact me!  There is a sponsorship proposal with more information on my website as well.

I think that's about all for now!  Bug and I will be heading to Five Points in a few weeks. 

Thanks to everyone for their support and for checking in!  Heels down, Chin up!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The nature of the beast...

This is been a very exciting past 10 days...  I LOVE being back in my element in "the North."  It's so nice being near "my people," the ones that I love.  To make it even better, my two most favorite pony boys were along for the ride!

Renn post Novice XC, ready to strike a pose.
Last Saturday, Renn got to have his confidence boosting run at the Maryland Horse Trials.  He was in the Open Novice division against a lot of big name riders.  I have been working very hard on Renn's dressage.  He has world class breeding in dressage, so it is quite ridiculous for him to be getting 40's in the dressage!  Well, I was THRILLED after my dressage test.  Baby stallion was quiet, rideable, and quite forward and floaty.  He was so grown up!  I couldn't wipe the smile from my face.  He ended up with a 33.5!!!  His best score ever.  He went on to jump a very rhythmic, quiet double clear show jump round.  I'm glad that I decided to back him down, as he was a bit green and worried on xc.  Mostly, he was just squirmy to the water complexes. He was still double clear, though. :)  Funny thing is, even ending on a 33.5, he was still only 9th! 
I spent the week doing a lot of riding and teaching.  The boys were both super in their flat and jumping schools.  I had a lot of fun teaching all of my new students up north. :) 
Yesterday, the Maryland Horse Trials II was my big day of riding both horses (Bug in the Intermediate and Renn in the Training) in a one day, plus coaching a student!  It was my first time with all of that in one day.  Thank God for my friends, Elaine Ohler and Katie Douglas.  They helped me juggle everything and took care of the boys when I had to move on to the next thing.  They were soooo much help!!  Thank you, Ladies. :) 
I have been schooling Bug in the double bridle some, as I feel like it helps me really get him where he needs to be.  I decided to try it at the show, though it's not something I want to use forever.  I felt that he had one of the best tests of his life.  He was quite good.  Unfortunately, the judge did not agree.  We got a 41.6.  I was bummed.  I'm so frustrated with our dressage.  I KNOW this horse can get good scores.  I WANT to work my butt off to get it right.  I think I make progress, but the scores never show it.  *sigh*  Oh to be a natural dressage rider!  The superstar went on to jump double clear in the show jumping.  Though my show jumping woes are not completely fixed, I felt that it was a much better round than we've been having, even if it wasn't perfect.  I still have to learn to go forward to my distances.  Luckily for me, my superstar of a horse saves my butt when I mess up.  He is just SOOO scopey.  He went on to rock around the Intermediate XC like it was nothing.  Unfortunately, as always, I didn't push him enough to make time.  The biggest problem is, I don't ride at a true gallop to the fences, and he hangs in the air for soooo long.  We lose a lot of time from  being in the air.  We had 14.6 time penalties.  We ended up 10th in our division.  I am so disappointed.  I KNOW that we can do so much better than this.  I am determined to work hard, take lessons, and get this straight.  I have every intention of going to the CCI** at Fairhill this fall and holding our own with the big boys!
The baby stallion, Renn, had yet another lovely dressage test!  Actually, it wasn't quite as good as his test the week before.  He spotted the horses galloping xc next to the dressage and got a bit more "up" than the week before.  However, he still had some super lovely moments.  His score was a 34.  His excitement carried over to the show jumping.  Unfortunately, he was a bit wild and ADD.  haha  He was m ore worried about getting to the galloping part!  He had FIVE rails.  He went on to ROCK AROUND the xc.  He wasn't squirmy or backed off at all.  He was such a star.  Now, to figure out how to have that boldness but to still have a rideable horse for the show jumping!  I'm still really happy with him. 
I have to send out a big congrats to my student, Catherine Schumak, and her horse, Mr. Secretagentman.  They competed in the Junior Novice the first week and placed 3rd on a 33.9.  They went on to complete their first Junior Training with a 37.7 in dressage, one unlucky rail in sj, and a double clear xc!!  They ended up 8th in a big division of 19.  So very proud of them!  They're on the road to their big goal of the Training 3-Day in May 2012. 
I'm spending the day with my parents, then back home to NC tomorrow.  I will back up north next month for Waredaca. 

Thanks to everyone who has made all of this possible for me.  I feel so blessed with love and support.  I just hope that I can start bringing home some big finishes and making people proud! :)

Heads up, Heels down!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just be quiet and listen...

Time is flying by as usual, and we're already here in July.  I can't believe it!  Tomorrow, I pull out with Bug and Renn for Maryland.  We will be staying up there from July 8-18.  I'm excited to be teaching some lessons, riding extra horses, and competing the boys.  Best of all, I get to see family and friends!! 

Originially, Renn was supposed to do Training at the first Maryland Horse Trials and Prelim at the second.  However, after having a less than stellar XC schooling session, I have decided to listen to what Renn is telling me.  He's just not quite ready to move up.  He wasn't acting like himself, and he lost a lot of confidence.  This isn't normal for him, so I've decided to take a BIG step back and try to gain back my "oh so confident" boy.  He will be doing Novice at the first Maryland and Training at the second.  Renn is only 7, so he has plenty of time to move up.  We will see how Maryland goes and then go from there. 

Bug is feeling great and ready to go!  He will be doing his first horse trial back since the CCI** at Jersey.  His dressage is steadily getting better.  He is jumping like a champ.  I've been working very hard, and I have big plans to do well this fall!  :) 

I want to send out congrats to a RSS student, Leigh Ana Castillejo, and her horse, Top O' The Hill.  They did the BN combined test at TTC earlier this month.  They showed a lot of improvement in their dressage, and they had the best show jumping round I've ever seen them have!  They ended up 4th in their division.  I'm very proud of them. :)

Well, that's all for now!  I'll check in during our big trip.

Heels down, head up!  Stay cool.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Blessed...

I know, I know!  I just blogged a few days ago, and I'm back!

Here are a few pics of Bugger doing his thing at the Jersey Fresh CCI**.  Love that horse!

Congratulations are in order for Rocky Start student, Maddie Whisnant!  Her parents bought her a new horse for her 13th birthday.  His name is "My Daddy's Cash," and he's a 10 year old Appaloosa/TB cross.  He is quite fancy, and we are excited to help Maddie with her progress with Cash!

Check out this article that was written about Renn and Rocky Start Stables!!
Equine Globe, June 2011

We are doing a lot of work in preparation for our big trip north to both of the Maryland Horse Trials.  Catherine Schumak and her horse, Mr. Secretagentman, will also be making the trip.  We are very excited.

Until next time!!  Enjoy this break in the heat!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love what you do...

Wow, I have really been remiss in my blogging!  Life has been full since I last posted, but I will try to be short and sweet. :)

1.  Bug and I got our CIC** qualifying round at Fairhill International the end of April.  His dressage improved vastly from the CIC at Poplar.  He skipped around all of the questions on XC, though I did go very slow due to the muddy footing.  Our show jumping left a lot to be desired.  We had one rail, which should never happen with this horse.  I rode very backward throughout the course.  I left Fairhill with a mission to improve our show jumping quite a bit.

2.  Bug and I completed our first CCI** at Jersey Fresh!  Our dressage was less than stellar, as I got a bit of a case of nerves and didn't really ride at all.  Add that to less than forgiving judges, and you get a not so spectacular score.  :(  However, Bug went on to conquer the VERY TOUGH XC course.  It was over 9 minutes long.  I was worried about Bug's fitness, as I had never run anything this long.  Also, I find that I really haven't gotten a good feel for 570 yet.  I think I'm flying when I'm really not.  haha  Anyway, Bug jumped through everything with ease.  I definitely crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile on my face.  He definitely has what it takes to compete at the top levels.  He LOVES his job.  We experienced a LOT of rain the night before show jumping, making the footing less than stellar.  Combine that with a bit of nerves, and you have some backward jumps at the beginning of our show jump course.  However, unlike at Fairhill, I realized what was going on and kicked on to a great last half of the course.  We were the first double clear show jumping of the day, and one of only 7 total double clears out of 30+ rides.  We completed our first CCI** in 18th place.  I am so thrilled.  Now, it's onward and upward to kick some butt in the CCI** at Fairhill this fall!  I have a lot of work to do.  My goal is to start completing in the top 6 at everything I do.  I truly believe we can get it together and make this happen!  He got a vacation after Jersey and is returning to work now.  His next outing will be the second of the Maryland Horse Trials.  Check out his XC video from Jersey!

3.  Renn completed two Training events at The Ark and the Virginia Horse Trials.  His dressage is improving daily, and he is a machine on the XC!  Unfortunately, our record shows a "20" at The Ark.  He jumped into the water with quite a leap and landed on all 4's.  He jolted me on landing, and I had to circle before going to the rolltop out of the water.  However, he's such a great ride on the XC.  His show jumping has been a lot better, though, he did have quite a few rails at VA.  I believe that was mostly because of great distraction in the coliseum.  The plan is to do Training at the first Maryland Horse Trials and move him up to Prelim at the second.  I am very proud of my baby stallion!

4.  I am excited to announce that Renn is being bred to 3 outside mares this month.  Elaine Ohler, one of my best friends from college, is breeding two of her lovely mares, a TB mare and a Paint mare.  Also, Carrie Hatfield of Michigan is breeding her lovely Trakener event mare, Tiki.  I love to follow the progress of Renn's babies, as I believe they are quite talented!

5.  Speaking of Renn's babies, "Spicy Rendition," owned by Paula Giammatteo, made her debut in the Hunter in-Hand classes at the Sandhills Classic.  She placed 1st in the 2 year olds class!  I am so thrilled to have one of Renn's first babies out and about in the show world already.  Congrats to Paula and Pepper!

6.  In more Renn baby news, congratulations to Catherine Schumak on the purchase of "Fuerst Love"!  It will be a lot of fun to assist Catherine in the training and competing of this very special Renn baby. 

I think that is the majority of the big news from Rocky Start.  :)  I would like to remind everyone to give their horses a big kiss and hug.  After hearing about the fire at True Prospect, it makes me realize that no matter what happens in the show ring, we must always remember that we are just so blessed to be around these incredible animals.  I thank God every day for blessing me, and I pray that my ponies will stay happy, healthy, and sound!

Until next time!  Stay cool!

Friday, April 15, 2011

You can stick a Fork in me....

.....but I am NOT done. :)

So, once again, my competition weekend did not live up to my hopes and dreams and expectations.  The Fork is a lovely place.  It's one of my favorite events.  The facility is gorgeous, the show is well-run, and it's just one of those venues that makes you feel big time.  

As usual, Bug was great for his dressage warm-up.  He felt really good, and I was determined to get the test done.   I was NOT going to panic if he misbehaved.  As per his usual, Bug went in the arena and started to get a bit fresh.  However, instead of having a panic and forgetting to ride, I just kept putting my leg on.  I rode every corner and tried to be as accurate as I could.  He actually settled right away if I put my leg on instead of panicking.  I left the arena knowing that the score wouldn't be stellar, but proud of myself for not shutting down.  We ended up with a 41, which isn't great, but compared to what we've been getting, it's an improvement.  We're making headway.  

After walking the XC course with Kim, I was feeling like the course was tough, but that if I kept my head, we could get it done.  Unfortunately, I had a panic at one combination that led to a 20. :(  It was a large open oxer at the top of a small knoll, landing in 6 to a very real triple brush on an angle.  I didn't quite have Bug in hand enough, and he decided to jump the oxer HUGE (the photographer got a picture of it, and he's jumping at least a good foot over it).  Instead of landing and putting him on his feet to go forward to the triple brush, I panicked and just rode to the triple brush.  He never even saw it.  The rest of the course was quite good.  We are really starting to work as a team and get the right spots.  I was so disappointed that I caused that run-out.  Otherwise, it was one of our best runs.  

Unfortunately, my brain fart moments carried over to show jumping.  All those that know my horse, know that he wants to jump around clean.  If there are rails involved, it's all my fault.  Well, we had 2 rails....and I totally forgot where I was going on course and had to circle.  Thus, 12 sj penalties!  I was appalled.  My mind was so out of the game.  I couldn't seem to concentrate on what I was doing.  My horse put in a huge effort, and I failed.  

If nothing else, this has renewed my determination.  It was the kick in the pants that I needed.  I am working hard, and I WILL do well at the CIC** at Fairhill.  Poplar and The Fork were learning experiences, and I will take the knowledge that I obtained and put it to use.  I WILL NOT let my horse down.  

We are heading to Kim's next week for lessons and a vet check-up for Bug.  After that, we head to the CIC** at Fairhill for Easter weekend.  

Thank you to everyone who supports us!!  Bug loves having fans, and I love having the support.  Knowing there are people out there routing for you makes the determination even stronger.

Chin up and leg on! 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking a tumble...

Unfortunately, my weekend going to Georgia for the Poplar Place Horse Trials was not all I had hoped and dreamed.  
The day before I was supposed to leave, the fun began.  I went out to feed the boys, and Renn's right hind leg, from hock to fetlock, were skinned and swollen.  The theory is that he got down to roll in his stall and kicked out a low board and got his leg stuck in the hole.  I was sure that the injury was mostly cosmetic, but nonetheless, he was out of going to Poplar.  Bug would be going the journey alone.  
I'll keep the Poplar recap and short as I can.  Our dressage was less than stellar.  His outline was good, though he was a bit more into my hand than he has been.  I did not pay attention to detail and accuracy, and it cost me big time.  We ended up with a 68.3, which is barely a qualifying score.  I was hoping to break 60, but yet another dressage disappointment this year.  This solidifies my thoughts that I need major dressage boot camp with Kim.  If anyone can push me to make it happen, it is her.
I walked the XC three times.  It was a stiff course that asked a lot of good questions, though it was very rolling and gallopy, which I was excited about.  My time was early afternoon, and I was not excited about waiting around being nervous all day.  What didn't help was that the Advanced XC was going very badly.  There were multiple horse and rider falls.  Buck Davidson lost a front tooth when his horse fell in the water.  Michael Pollard's horse randomly broke her leg galloping on course.  I send out my thoughts to the rider and owners of that special horse.
I made my way down to XC.  Bug warmed up great.  I was seeing my distances and feeling good about going.  Out of the box we went!  He jumped the first two perfectly and in sync.  He came down a large hill and got up a bunch of steam.  In hindsight, I probably didn't have him quite enough in hand as we went up the next steep hill to the panda bear at the top.  Bug was a bit strong and started to take off, then peeked over the side and thought, oh wait, that's not what I thought it was.  He hung his right front leg, but his hind end had already pushed off.  He had to twist fiercely to get over the fence and not fall.  This ticked me off of the side, but I wrapped my arms around his neck and hung on all of the way down the hill.  I was determined not to fall at the two star!  Unfortunately, there was no way for me to pull back on, and I had to drop to my feet and hit my butt.  
Wow, talk about a bummer!  Falling off at the third fence of your first CIC**.  Nice.  I have a lot of bruising on my arms from trying to hang on, a lot of sore muscles...but my pride has the biggest bruise of all.  After I walked my xc, and I would talk about the fences that worried me, I kept getting, "Ooooh, don't worry!  You're on Bug!"  I kept saying, "I don't want to take anything for granted."  It just goes to show that unluckiness doesn't play favorites!
I thank God that it wasn't worse.  Bug had a bit of swelling and soreness in his right stifle, but he seems to be almost 100% today.  Luckily, we have a Plan B, and we'll be heading to the CIC** at Fairhill the end of April.  
Our next outing will be at The Fork next week.  
This weekend, I'm heading to my alma mater, Wilson College, to teach an eventing clinic on Saturday and Sunday.  I'm really excited about that!  I hope to get to see a lot of my college friends.
Thanks for reading!  Keep your eye on the next jump!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Counting my four legged blessings...

I must start by saying that I am TRULY BLESSED.  I have two of the coolest horses on the planet!  If I didn't know it before (which I'm pretty sure that I did), I definitely know it after my weekend at Full Gallop Farm.  

I went down Friday to Aiken to have jump lessons with Kim.  Renn was having a hormonal day and was pretty wild.  However, I did the best that I could, and once we had a good moment or two, we quit while we were ahead.  I was praying that he would calm down for the show!  He's normally very well behaved, but you springtime can do crazy things to the boy's hormones!  

Bug's jump lesson was much better.  Kim really has me working on knowing where I am on the course at all times. She also has me riding more forward in my show jumping, as it helps to keep Bug from adding a chip in front of the fence and jumping way up over it and landing steeply.  He's so athletic, that I can place him under the jump, and he'll still jump up over it, but it's so hard on his legs.  I've been trying really hard to tune my eye in and tune myself into the rhythm of the forward that he needs.  It was quite a good lesson, and I was very happy with him.

Bug was entered in the Intermediate, and Renn was entered to do his very first recognized Training.  My student and friend, Naomi van Yperen, volunteered to tag along to groom for me, as this was my first event of the season running both horses and coaching a student, and I wasn't sure how it was going to work.  Thank God she decided to come!  Even though there seemed to be a lot of down time, my boys' times seemed to be really close together.  

Bug's weekend was a great one.  After walking the XC with Kim, I was mostly concerned about two combinations on course.  The first was a cabin- 2 strides, down large bounce banks-3 strides to a large corner.  In order to get to the corner, you either had to take a direct 3 but jump the corner at an angle with a great chance of a runout, or you could take it on a bit of a bending line and jump the corner squarely.  However, you would have to be quick to make the turn.  The other option, due to the way it was numbered, was to circle out after the bank and come back to the corner.  My plan was Plan B, to take a bending 3 to the corner.  The second combination that worried me a bit was a sunken road.  You jumped in over a rolltop drop, 3 strides across the bottom and up to bounce out over a wedge.  All of this was set up at a slight left to right angle.  

Finally, Bug was very quiet for his dressage!  I was so amazed that I forgot to really push him for brilliance in the test.  I just sort of rode around the pattern.  Oh, and lest I forget, I definitely halted in the wrong spot, earning me a -2 for an error.  :(  We ended up with a 42.3, which was not what I was hoping for.  I plan to really buckle down before Poplar and get this dressage thing together!  We were sitting about 18th or so out of 22 after dressage.  Disappointing.  

The show jumping was by Marc Donovan, and as usual, it was a great course with a lot of questions.  The show jumping at FGF is on terrain, so that always adds for some extra excitement!  I had walked the course with Kim, and I knew all of my striding.  Bug and I went in there, and we had yet another great show jumping round.  I feel like we are really starting to get it together.  He is getting a lot more rideable instead of just overjumping everything by 3' and shooting me out of the tack! :)  We moved up to be tied for 12th with our double clear round.

Cross country day was filled with nausea and apprehension.  haha  I BELIEVE in my horse 100%....but not always so much in myself.  My goal was to jump around clean and be within 20 seconds of the time.  I'm still learning how to go Intermediate speed and still take the jumps without riding too slowly.  With the CIC** at Poplar looming on the horizon, I knew that I really needed to try to get it done.  

Bug was a superstar!  He answered all of the questions with ease.  He did the step combination like a pro!  I later found out that I was one of very few to make it through the combination, and I was one of even fewer to do it without circling.  He made it feel so easy!  He tackled every challenge with style and athleticism.  Also, we ended up just 20 seconds over the time, which is exactly what I was shooting for!  It's tough to make the time at FGF due to the twists and turns and hills, so I'm very happy with that.  We ended up 6th out of 22!!

Here are the links to Bug show jumping and the steps combination on XC:

Renn's weekend was pretty exciting as well.  I walked the Training XC the first day that I was there, and I was definitely rethinking FGF as a move-up!  It was a TOUGH course.  The questions were very tough and seemed more like a mini Prelim.  After walking his XC, I was thinking I might be more nervous to go Training than Intermediate! haha  He had a full coffin on a bend that was hidden in the woods, a water to water jump, a house to a set of 2 stride down steps to a double chevron, a drop into the water then up a mound and over a rolltop, and another down bank combination. 

Renn was very good for his trotwork in his dressage test.  He was pretty wild for the cantering, thus giving us a 46.8.  This put us second to last in his division of 20.  He went on to jump around the Training XC like a superstar!  Yes, he was very green, and there was some bobbing and weaving, but he jumped around clear and only 1 second over time.  His clear round moved us all of the way up to 8th!  There were so many stops and eliminations.  I was THRILLED that my baby stallion got around and with confidence!  He grew up as we went around the course.  Unfortunately, he is still very green in the combinations in show jumping, thus causing us to have 3 rails on Sunday.  However, we ended up 10th out of 20, and I am so pleased with him.  I told him that after that Training XC, they would all seem like cake from here.  

Check out his videos of SJ and the second water of XC:
I am so happy with my boys.  I have two horses that I believe are going to make top notch upper level horses, and, hopefully, international stars. :)  I must thank everyone out there who has helped me on my journey.  I've been working my entire life for this.  I've never had the big bucks to just do it.  I've had to make my horses and take things one step at a time.  I'm just hoping that the road will keep going for me!  I would love to make the Developing Riders List, as I think that is a pretty cool accomplishment.  

I am seeking out sponsorships of all kinds at this point.  It is very difficult to make it all happen when you own your horses yourself.  If anyone has any ideas of places to send my proposals, or advice, etc, please let me know!!

Our next stop is Poplar Place Farm in Hamilton, GA the weekend after this one!  Bug is doing the CIC** and Renn will be doing Training again.  Say big prayers and wish us luck!  

Thanks for reading and keep kicking on!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Learning lessons and moving on.

Wow, once again I have failed at keeping up with the blog.  I hope I can remember everything!

Back in mid-February, I took both of the boys to the Frostbite Series at Why Not An American Ark.  Bug did 3 Prelim dressage tests back to back to try to get him to behave better in the arena.  He LOVES to warm up really well and then go into the arena and be wild.  He went from a 43 in the first test to a 35 in the last test.  He also competed in the Prelim Horse Trials.  He had two double clear jumping rounds.  I was thrilled with him.  This day was all about kicking off the rust again, and I felt like we did a great job! 
Bug doing his dressage test at The Ark

Renn was competing in the Training Horse Trial.  This was his first time out since November, so I was sure there would be some major rust.  He surprised me, though.  He was very very well behaved.  His dressage test had some issues, but on the whole, I felt it was a lot better than we were given credit.  I think he got a 38, but the test felt more like a 34 or 35.  Oh well.  He went on to jump a very green but double clear show jumping round.  There were dogs penned at one end of the arena, and they were barking wildy.  Renn found that to be very scary!   However, he kept it together, and we got it done.  He went on to jump a very big boy XC round with just a few time penalties.  Once again, I was THRILLED.  My boys were great, and I felt like I had knocked the rust off.  
Renn show jumping at The Ark

Two weeks after The Ark, I packed Bug up, and we headed to Thomson, GA for the Pine Top Advanced Horse Trials weekend.  This was to be our first Intermediate of the season, and I was very excited.  I wanted to have a good weekend, where I felt like I rode my best, and we got around safely.  I walked the XC with Kim, and I felt like it was a nice, straight forward course.  Yes, it was Intermediate, and I still had to be "on," but it wasn't trappy or scary.  

Bug warmed up like a pro for his dressage.  I was sure he was finally going to behave.  Alas, I was wrong.  He was a wild man.  I have to figure out how to be able to have the conversation with him in the arena and keep riding him forward.  We ended up with a 43.2, which should not be happening.  I was frustrated yet again.  Due to the close timing, I had to bring him straight back and tack up for show jumping.  

The course was a tough one, and I knew that I had to keep riding forward to make all of the striding.  Bug was a superstar.  I felt like it was the best round of our lives.  We were together, forward, and hit every stride perfectly.  He jumped around a lovely double clear round.  This moved us up to like 10th out of 22.  I was thrilled.

For XC, I knew that Bug was going to be a bit wild, as he LOVES his job.  He started out the course quite well and listening, but he got a bit fresh in the middle of the course.  He was leaving some strides out, and I was letting it get to me.  Unfortunately, this cost us a lot of time, as I got discombobulated after launching a big table and went down the wrong path in the woods.  I had to turn around and go back.  :(  After that mishap, he really started listening a lot better.   He was great for all of the combinations, but he just thinks that he can launch the gallop fences sometimes.  However, I think we were on the same page by the last half of the course.  We ended up with 22 time penalties which dropped us way down the rankings.  Unfortunately, he had been pretty close to his minute markers, and would have been in the top 8 had we had just a handful of time.  
Bug jumping into the water at Pine Top

I have tried not to kick myself too much over the loss of direction, but I'm competitive, and it's hard not to do.  

Our next stop is the March Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials this weekend in Aiken, SC.   Bug will be doing Intermediate again, and Renn will be doing his first recognized Training!  

In other news, my student, Catherine Schumack, and her horse, Mr. Secretagentman, won the Novice combined test at Hillcrest Farm the end of February.  I'm very proud of the hard work she's done with him.  They will also be going to Full Gallop to compete in the Novice division.

That's all for now!  I'll check back in after Full Gallop. :)  Keep kicking on!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Kicking off the rust...

This has sure been an interesting winter, as far as the weather goes.  I have been trying very hard to keep up with riding, but it sure hasn't been easy!  I know that we have had it pretty easy compared to other places, but it still hasn't been a good winter for riding!  I have had to get pretty creative.  I'm hoping that spring is right around the corner, because I think I can speak for myself and the ponies when I say, "We're sick of this!"
Win the War has gotten too big for his britches. :) Sammi braids Firedrake.

It's official...the 2011 show season has begun!  Bug and I headed off to Aiken this past Tuesday for a dressage lesson with Kim Severson in preparation for the Full Gallop Horse Trials the next day, Feb 2nd.  Bug's dressage has been getting steadily better.  Kim was happy with how much progress I've made both in my position and with Bug.  I am not a natural dressage rider, nor have I had strict instruction in it for very long.  Bug would much rather be galloping around and jumping than trotting around in the arena.  We still have much work to do, but isn't that always the case?
My good friends and adopted NC family, Jenny and Sammi Majors, also made the trip down to SC with me.  Sammi and her horse, Firedrake, were competing in their first Training together.  Sammi is an excellent rider, and her mom, Jenny, is an excellent eye on the ground.  She's been helping me with my dressage, as I don't get to see Kim as much as I'd like.  I am determined to get my flatwork up to par!
Wednesday's performance at Full Gallop was definitely useful for knocking off the rust!  Bug and I were entered in one of the two Open Prelim divisions.  I had assumed since Bug hadn't gone XC since last fall, that he would be a bit fresh.  Fresh was an understatement.  haha  He warmed up beautifully for dressage, and when we got in the arena, that fell apart.  He was so exuberant to be at a show again, that everything fell apart.  He went on to show his excitement in the show jumping as well, costing us 2 rails.  Everyone that knows Bug, knows that he is not a rail taker.  He just decided that Prelim was too small, and he didn't need to pay attention.   
The first fence of SJ.  He was being a star at this point. :)

I decided before ever entering the start box, that I was going to go very slow.  I wanted Bug to pay attention and get the job done.  I did NOT want to be the scary person on XC.  We were almost a minute over time, but I was pleased with his round.  He was very ADD, but he answered all of the questions and was much better about coming back to me.  
Getting our gallop on!

I think we have successfully knocked the rust off, and I am looking forward to the next outing!  Both he and Renn will be going to The Ark Frostbite series on Feb 12.  Bug will be doing 2 dressage tests plus the Prelim horse trial.  Renn is doing the Training horse trial.  It should be exciting!  

Some more exciting news!  Rocky Start has acquired two new horses.  Valid Adventure, "Avery," is my new resale project.  He is a 2007 bay TB gelding.  I'm very excited about getting started with him.  His grandfather is Fappiano, who is known for producing event horses.  
Valid Adventure, fresh off the track.
I also acquired, Pine Island Girl.  She is a 2006 bay TB mare.   I am planning to breed her to Renn this spring and have a beautiful baby in 2012!  
Pine Island Girl the day after leaving the track.
All in all, I'm very excited about the start of 2011.  I hope everyone has a great year as well!

Until next time...kick on!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Year is Here!

When I was little, all of the "grown-ups" would say, "Cherish your youth, because as you get older, time will fly!"  Wow, they weren't kidding!  I can't believe that we are in 2011!

The year has started off well so far.  Duncan C's Waterford, aka Newton, went off to his new home with Alex Harvey in Maryland.  They are getting along great, and he promises to send me pictures soon!  I'm so happy to have found such a great match for Newton.  

This past weekend, I had the great opportunity to ride with my coach, Kim Severson, at a local clinic.  The weather was horrendous, from pelting us with ice balls (think Dip N' Dots ice cream falling from the sky!), to 50+ mph winds, to 11 degrees in the mornings.  However, being the tough, dedicated eventers that we are, we all rode in the clinic and learned a ton.  

Bug is BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!  I show jumped him with Kim both days, and let me just say, that horse is sooo amazing.  With the help of the vets at VA Tech and some of my close horsey friends, I came up with a new feed and supplement regime that seems to have been the perfect choice for my superstar boy.  He looks and feels better than ever!  Kim was very happy with how he looks and how well he is going.  I am still working on getting my eye back, but by the second day, we were totally in sync and getting every spot.  

Renn was also an amazing boy!  Once again, Kim was very happy with how he looks and how he's going.  He has become a completely different horse in the past year.  We also show jumped both days, and Kim had him jumping some BIG BOY jumps.  He rose to the challenge, though, and answered every question.  I am so thrilled with how well he's doing.  He definitely seems ready to go!

The next excitement for Rocky Start Stables will be the addition of another resale project and a new mare to breed Renn to!  Stay tuned for pics and information!

The 2011 show season is just about upon us, and I must say, the boys and I are very excited!  Bug will head out to his first event on Feb 2nd at Full Gallop Farm in Aiken.  

I hope to keep everyone updated regularly from now on!

Thanks for reading!  Kick on!