Happy holidays everyone!
I can’t believe it’s already Christmas and that 2013 is almost here. Where did 2012 go? I for one, cannot wait to get on with next year’s season. After a year of some unbelievable ups and some not so great downs, I’m looking forward to moving on this year with some very exciting horses. After vacation time following Fair Hill, Bobby, along with all his other furry overweight buddies, are getting their buns in shape in the Ocala sunshine. I know Bobby at least is pleased with this change in pace. At least, he’s stopped destroying everything he can get his teeth on in an effort to entertain himself. He’s also not reaching out and biting the dogs tails as they walk by as much anymore, which saves me some trips to the emergency vet. It’s a win-win.
One of the great positive things that came out of last year is a new ride, RF Panamera. “Pax” is six year old Hanoverian mare who I’m incredibly excited to start competing next year. I plan to get to know her a bit better as she comes back into work and event her at the end of January. I also have two four year olds off the track with me and Sterling.
After a good season with Bobby, I was very happy to have been named a reserve on the 2013 Developing Rider list. To be listed among so many other talented up and coming combinations is extremely exciting and I think we all can’t wait to see how the new U.S. program is going to develop over the next few years. There’s some exciting stuff happening and I’m eager to get things rolling in the new year! See you all out there!
Click Here to Register!
Redtail Ridge Farm will be hosting a clinic with Phillip Dutton the weekend of September 15 and 16. Entry limited to 30 riders. Stabling will be available.
The summer’s already well under way now and I’m officially a failure at updating my blog. Everything’s been crazy here at Redtail Ridge getting settled in post-Bromont while also teaching and taking the other horses to events. Sterling is finally starting to come into his own. Could it be that after seven years he’s finally maturing?! I took him to Kentucky last weekend to get him out for a slow weekend in the Prelim division and I’m so pleased with how grown up he was. After jumping the first few cross country fences and not getting the usual death spook or head duck, we settled into a great rhythm and it felt like jumping around a novice course! I had to get over the initial inclination that something must be seriously wrong with him, but he had his ears pricked and couldn’t have been happier to be out on course. Definitely a new, but welcome change for Sterling! Finn also went to Kentucky and competed in his first Training level. For whatever reason he was easier to ride on the more difficult Training course than any Novice I ever did with him. The more I work with him, the more I’m starting to realize that he completely views jumping as a game, so the more challenging it is for him the more focused he becomes and he really rises up to the occasion.
Bobby is starting back into work and feeling great after his vacation. Rewinding back to Bromont, I was so thrilled with the way everything went. I would have liked to get a lower score in the dressage, but at this point in our partnership I was definitely pleased with a 54. He’s naturally a nervous, tense horse and that really showed in the test, but he’s so willing and he’s got so much try that he still allows me to ride him very accurately in the arena. His inner Ricky Bobby came out for the cross country and he finished only eight-seconds over and was great for show jumping the next day where we only had one rail when I let him get a little flat into a double. My main goal for the weekend was to be happy with all three phases so I can build on the experience for Fair Hill, but finishing in seventh was a welcome bonus! We are almost fifteen weeks out from Fair Hill and Bobby is already not pleased that he’s had to leave the luxury life of date night every night with his pony friend, Teddy, and get back to work. He’ll run an Intermediate in the beginning of August followed by the CIC2* at Richland.
In other horsey news, I am officially a Florida resident! I got back from Ocala a few days ago where we met with contractors and got the ball rolling on the farm down there. I’ll start spending six to seven months of the year there, depending on the horses’ schedules. Staying true to my nomad lifestyle, I’ll be going back to Virginia after the AECs in September to train and prep for Fair Hill. Until then my days will consist of schooling up my little homebred guinea pig experiment to make her eventing debut and biting my nails over the Olympic coverage this month. Go USA!
I apologize for not updating my blog lately! Juggling the horses between barns, states, time zones, dimensions (you name it, they’ve been there) has kept me running around like crazy! Now it’s just me and The Bob in Virginia and all of a sudden I have too much time on my hands. All three of the boys (Bobby, Sterling, and Finn) went to Plantation HT and then Virginia HT this month where they all had great outings.
Ricky Bobby lived up to his very dignified name this past weekend at Virginia and won his Intermediate division! I think I’ve finally figured the key to his dressage warmup. All I have to do is ride him as many times as physically possible before my dressage. Thankfully, I had an afternoon dressage this time, but I have a feeling those 7:30 am ride times are going to be really fun from now on… Anyway, it worked because he scored a 26! The stadium went alright, having two rails in the triple when I let him get tense and short to the first oxer in the line. Won’t do that at Bromont! The really exciting part was the cross country where, for the first time, he took me to everything and felt hungry for the fences. He made it feel like he was jumping around an easy prelim course, and I couldn’t ask for a better note than that to head to Bromont on!
Sterling had a fantastic weekend, only adding a rail and a few time on cross country to his dressage score. This was his first prelim back since last October and he felt more confident in the questions than he did last fall. I’m really excited to get him up and running again. He’ll do some local prelims when I get back to Ohio until he feels comfortable and then we’ll start prepping for a one star this fall or maybe some Intermediates depending on how confident he feels. Baby Finn also had a solid weekend and actually felt bored on the cross country for the first time! He’ll hopefully do just one more novice before he steps it up to training.
Next time I post it should be from Canada! Probably when I’m hopelessly lost somewhere in Quebec with my trailer as I’m completely clueless about the French language and obviously even worse with the dialect of Mapquest. I am fluent in terrible, fragmented Spanish and Bobby clearly only speaks German so unless we come across a French-Canadian with a German mother that was an exchange student in Mexico, I’m afraid we’re screwed. What I really need is a talking GPS in my truck (hint, hint, birthday anyone?) and while we’re at it I think Bobby and I would really flourish if we had one of those Equine Motorcoach things. Yeah. Off to Canada!
The last few months have been hectic to say the least! All the ponies are now settled in Ohio after the migration from Ocala and Bobby’s detour to North Carolina for The Fork. My stomach was in knots packing Bobby up that week as I didn’t have the most desirable preparation in the weeks following Poplar and before we left for North Carolina. Bobby had decided that running fast on the cross country at Poplar was about the most fun thing ever and clearly thought it would be a fantastic idea to try to desperately convince me that we were supposed to be jumping the cross country tables in the next field rather than the lame show jumps in our lessons. Fortunately, we pulled it together for one good jump school before I had to leave for North Carolina. Not exactly the lead up I wanted going into his first two star! Needless to say the drive there was torturous.
Shannon Brinkman photo.
The weekend had its ups and downs, but Bobby just continues to amaze me. He has such an amazing brain for such a young age and takes everything in stride. I still need to iron out some things, like knowing how long to warm him up for dressage in an electric environment like The Fork so he doesn’t feel the need to bring out his “I’m Ricky Bobby and I wanna go fast” personality while in the arena. The jumping phases keep improving every time out as we get to know each other better, and I’m excited to take him to Virginia for May leading up to Bromont to stay with the O’Connors. Finn and Sterling will be tagging along to Virginia as well, which is exciting because Sterling can finally start competing again! He’ll run a training level before he gets back into it and aim for a one-star this fall.
Shannon Brinkman photo.
I can’t finish this post without saying that I, like everyone else, was absolutely shocked by the passing of Amy Tryon. Amy played a major role in where I am today with my riding. I remember going to try Woodstock at her farm in Washington and not even knowing how to hold a dressage whip, let alone anything involving dressage that didn’t include the “bare your teeth and get through it because you get to go cross country” mentality. Despite that, she couldn’t have been more patient or made me feel more at ease. Once Woody had arrived in Ohio and for those first few months (realistically closer to a year…) where we did everything short of wrapping his entire body in bubble wrap, she answered the phone and responded to every e-mail answering all of our excessive questions about the most minuscule things. Along the years Woodstock opened so many doors for me and I don’t think I would be in the same position today without that. I’m extremely thankful to her for giving me that opportunity and helping me take advantage of it.
Well, I for one can’t believe how fast this Ocala season is going by! We have just under six weeks until the Fork and the anxiety attack that is the great migration north. It never ceases to amaze me that an entire community of people pack up their belongings, horses, dogs, people, pretty much their entire lives, and live in two completely different places every year. I for one can never quite get normal people to understand my nomadic lifestyle. There are lots of raised eyebrows when they see that I have an Ohio driver’s license, a Virginia billing address, and a Florida shipping address and there is also a lot of trying to (usually unsuccessfully) explain that I am in fact Elinor MacPhail.
Finn at Longwood schooling event (Palmer Photo)
As for the horses, they are all doing well and are off to a great start this season. I competed back to back weekends at Ocala and then Rocking Horse which went much better than the previous Rocking Horse at the end of January. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to have any vivid flashbacks, but lets just say that I finally got to feel my air vest deploy while I practiced being a buoy in the water jump as well as successfully not making it through a single cross country flag on another horse. Sweet victory. Needless to say, there was a serious reevaluation of myself and the path the horses were on and I’m happy to say that all was back on the right track at Ocala two weeks later.
Bobby competed at both Ocala and Rocking Horse and we had great weekends at each. Because he’s such a long horse with a big stride we’ve really been working on my upper body being soft and creating the canter I need sooner so I don’t end up unknowingly creating a curled, charging monster. Sterling is getting more rideable each day and he has an appointment with the neurologist at the end of this week. Hopefully we’re in the clear! The babies are coming along well and they will be headed to Rocking Horse in March followed by Poplar.
The boys at Longwood
I am also officially moving back to Redtail Ridge Farm in Columbus, Ohio in April and staying through October when I’ll come back to Ocala. I’m looking forward to helping run some of the mini trials during the spring and summer and Redtail will also be hosting a few clinics and camps throughout the year.
See you out there in March!
Well, we’re only three weeks into the new year and already plans are being changed. Which is honestly longer than I thought it would have lasted so I guess I’m in good shape. Where to start….?
Sterling’s EPM relapsed, meaning he’s back on treatment and only hacking for the next few months. Even though I am disappointed, I’m looking on the bright side. I hope this explains why his behavior has been so dramatic lately and he can bounce back even better than before with a better program.
We also found that the extent of Zytha’s lameness is worse than we originally had thought and she’s going to need another twelve months of rest. The upside is we’ve decided to breed her while she’s having her year long siesta and so hopefully we’ll have a bouncing little baby (please, please, please let it be a colt! No more mares!) next spring. The baby daddy search is on which has been amusing. I didn’t realize how nerve-racking it would be to pick the right one and now I understand why everyone on Millionare Matchmaker is so uptight and loud all the time…
On a totally different note I’m considering making Slowcala my main base for seven months of the year. This means I may be returning to the Motherland (Columbus, Ohio) for the summer months to teach so that I don’t have to start feeding my horses cardboard.
I had three horses competing in the Longwood schooling event over the weekend. Usually the first year running an unrecognized event can be dicey while the kinks are ironed out, but the Watkins did such an amazing job. Everything was so professional and it had the feel of a recognized show. The sponsorships and prizes they were able to put together were incredible and I really want to thank Betsey and Joe and all the volunteers who worked so hard to get everything together so it could run smoothly. The event marked the first time that I rode RF Eloquence (“Ricky” Bobby) in competition and although it highlighted the things still missing in our relationship, I am so excited about what a machine he is on the cross country course. I was interested to see how his spookiness would translate onto the course, but he is completely in his element once he leaves the start box. He will be running an easy prelim at Rocking Horse this weekend along with the babies.
See you out there!