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I have transitioned to a new hosting site…   https://gallopingthrough.com

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A long pause, since November…

December brought big changes around here. I took Bravo to the December horse shows, with O’Sheen leased to Lindsay Dyer in Kansas City, and prepared for a winter of shows, with plans to write about all that happened…

When I came out of the ring on Bravo after a beautiful, clean round (with one time fault, oops!) Diane Carney, from Chicago, was negotiating with Kris and Brett about purchasing Bravo. I won’t go into detail, but within a week Bravo was gone from my life and on to fame and fortune. You will be reading about him in national equine press, not on an old lady blog! I was so lucky to ride such a horse, and he truly is as nice as he is talented.

Cue sad music – short days, no more fancy horse, and I went into a tailspin. And did I mention holidays, my least favorite time of the year?! Well, I survived, and days are now longer, the grass is greening and O’Sheen is home. There was a little bit of horse showing. O’Sheen moved up to do Modified Junior Amateur Jumpers in January (1.15 meter). Jane and Derry showed with the usual roller coaster from blue ribbons to falling off (though, as I pointed out to Jane, walking away from a fall at our age is a victory!).

I heard about the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and decided that I would pursue that as a goal, since finding another Bravo is out of the question with my budget. A search ensued, a horse was found, then a substitute for the original horse, but we are one of the 350 competitors headed for The Kentucky Horse Park in October, and very excited to be participating. For this competition, we blog about our progress, so I have started that, and you can read about it here http://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/blog/entry/a-new-horse
I am so lucky to have yet another wonderful horse! And Artie is much more an “old lady” temperament than O’Sheen, who has a lot of “personality”, and not very good manners!

Meanwhile, life happens. My mother, Trudy, age 86, fell and fractured her first lumbar vertebra on February 16. She spent a few days in hospital, then a few weeks in a rehab facility, returned home on March 22, and fell again on March 29, breaking her hip. So now she is in hospital again, having had a partial hip replacement, and facing more weeks in rehab. When I am not thinking about horses, I am contemplating mortality and age. It’s a lot to think about, and I have decided to vent by mentioning it here.

So, on we go, uphill and down, over fences and galloping through gateways…

November A Show Wrap Up

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Afraid I’m not much of a horse show correspondent. I’m old, and I get too tired! And life is too hectic – seems I can never quite catch up…
So here we are, two days beyond the show, as I reach back into my failing memory for a few highlights..
Saturday, as always, is a long day – hunters until mid afternoon, and then a reset for jumpers. The jumper classes are Speed classes, though, so once they start, they go quickly. Alas, there were many hunters, so jumpers did not get underway until late afternoon. Jane and Derry set off at a blistering pace in the Low Adult class, and Derry was jumping out of her skin, when Jane had a “senior moment” and lost her way. She had a refusal as a result, but whipped around and finished within the time allowed for only four faults. Although she was 7th in the class, she was 3rd in the Zone placings – not bad! Jane was pretty mad at herself, but pleased with the way Derry was going.
I would rather forget the High Children’s / Adult Speed class. I tried the course first on O’Sheen, and after two rails, about halfway through the course, I circled before an oxer when I lost rideability. For those who are unaware, that is a pretty bad thing to do. I have no idea what our final fault total was, but there were some good moments, too. He finished well.
Then, hoping to redeem myself with Bravo, and with Brett Taylor there to watch his horse, I circled out of an oxer AGAIN (a different oxer this time). I had already had an ugly four faults, turning too tightly to a vertical, and I didn’t like the turn I was making, so circled. Oh, dear!! Again, though, there were moments of brilliance on Bravo’s part, and in some ways I felt we were making progress. But it was a fairly disappointing day, to say the least.
The Grand Prix had 14 entries. I missed the first part of the class, but it was carnage, apparently. Richard Rinehart had a STOP at the first jump! At least four people had problems at jump #1. Only Megan Ghere, from Oklahoma, went clean, and she went clean on BOTH her horses. Kris helped her prepare for the class, so I think he gets some credit. It was her night, for sure – she finished first on Renoir Du Boisson (a gray horse from Andy Kocher) with a double clear, and her dark bay mare, Girl Scout, was second with a four fault jump off. There were NO 4 faulters in the first round! Third place went to Danielle Risler from Omaha, who also had a stop at #1, Richard was 4th with Julio. Robert Mendoza, from Indiana was 7th and Ashley Marshall was 8th. It was an accomplishment to get around the course! I can’t remember all the results, but many riders were dismayed. On Sunday morning I chatted with Dean Battaglia about it – he set the course, and no one was as upset as he was at the way the course rode. It was designed to be fairly straightforward (it was “only” a $10,000 class), but it certainly didn’t turn out that way. One person commented that she thought it rode badly because of the poor footing. There are a lot of complaints about the footing at the NEC – it’s a difficult situation, with so many different events taking place there. And footing is complained about for one reason or another at many venues. Still, it is worrisome. If a place gets a reputation for poor footing, it cannot attract top horses.
As for me, footing could not be blamed for my mistakes, and I was pretty nervous heading into Sunday. As I was driving home on Saturday night at 10 PM (very late for me), I realized that I had forgotten to take the truck to get the trailer, which was parked at the NEC. I needed the trailer at home on Sunday morning to haul Stella over to the show for her transfer to Kingdom City with JoJo Kyger. That meant a fairly sleepless night, as I waited for the 4 AM alarm, a drive to the NEC, back home for Stella, and then showtime.
Jane and Derry had a perfect trip in the final Low Adult class. It looked unbeatable, until the very last horse went around just a tick faster than Derry. That final horse was Chip, so we cannot be sad that he won the class, and was champion in the Low Adult Division. But Chip was not in the Zone Finals – and when those results were tallied, Jane and Derry were 1st, making Irish Amber (Derry’s formal name) the 2014 Northern Zone 7 Finals Low Adult Jumper Champion, winning a beautiful leather halter!!! Not to mention glory in Jane’s old age – I am pretty sure that Jane was the oldest competitor in the division. Most “adults” at the horse shows are very young (evidence Chip and his 19 year old college rider, Kylee), less than a third Jane’s age! And have I mentioned that Jane is even older than I am?! And we are getting very tired of being told how amazing we are, still riding at our advanced years! I understand that people mean well, but I feel as young as ever, until I get a comment like that… or look in a mirror!
Last jumper class on Sunday morning, the High Children’s / Adult Classic (Adults are bad enough, but riding against the children is really demoralizing, especially since they tend to be so fearless and fast!). For this class, Bravo was drawn as my first ride. Kris has helped me so much this week! The schooling went well, and we finally jumped a double clear round. Kris had advised me that it would be better in the big picture to have a slow double clear, than to try an inside turn for time and have a rail. So we went around to the in and out and Kris was, as usual, right. That double clear held up for a primary color – 3rd in the Classic!
O’Sheen was very good – he really hasn’t had many miles at 1.15 meter, which is the Classic height. He jumped around pretty well, but had two rails for an 8 fault score that left him out of the ribbons, with 20 entries. His rails were early, and he finished well. All that stands between O’Sheen and real success is my thin wallet. He probably won’t do another A show until after Bravo leaves, but he is such fun to ride, and such a character, that I won’t be too heartbroken when the inevitable happens, and Bravo moves on. I am so lucky to have two great horses in my life at the same time!
And speaking of moving on, Stella has gone to Kingdom City in search of her new home. JoJo loves her and reports that she has settled right in. So I am hoping that either JoJo herself, or the latest inquiry from equine.com, will result in a perfect situation for Stella and a few dollars against all I spent this past week. It was all worth it. At this point, every show is fun, even with frustrations, and I feel most fortunate!

November A Show – Day 3

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Not quite as long a day today. Cousin Mary slept in a little while, so I spent a quiet morning at the show, puttering and getting ready.

Speed classes and a posted order actually caused the day to run ahead of schedule, almost unheard of at horse shows. Bravo did the High Training class – walked right into 1.15 meter and jumped around really well. Alas, once again I made a mistake, causing 4 faults at an oxer off a short turn into a line to an in and out. My subsequent ride to the in and out was abysmal, but Bravo jumped clean in spite of me there. He finished with three perfect jumps. It seems that I get one thing right, and then screw up something else, which is very frustrating (probably even more frustrating for Bravo!).

Jane and Derry were clean in the first round of the Low Adult class, then had a cheap rail in the jump off. But there was only ONE double clear round, and that was Chip, who was the last to go, and the winner. Jane and Derry got a primary color – 3rd. A great start to the Zone Finals division!

O’Sheen was really good in the High Children’s/Adult class, but had a rail at 4A, an oxer into a one stride in and out near the gate. I overrode it, expecting some green hesitation, but he was right on his game and didn’t need that. Everywhere else, he was clean. There wasn’t much time to prepare Bravo, but I had help from both Jane and Mary, and great schooling from Kris. Bravo was amazing, BUT, once again 4 faults at 4A – so frustrating! Small consolation is that I was not alone. Many horses had a rail at that jump. O’Sheen was quicker around the course, and he earned a 7th place ribbon, but Bravo was out of the ribbons. I feel so inept sometimes. And I saw some pretty awful pictures of myself on Bravo, so was ready to give up showing, if not riding altogether. But it’s so much fun, and I am eternally optimistic that I will get it all together. Mixed in with the bad pictures are some very good ones, so glass half full, on to tomorrow!

November A Show – Day 2

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Too tired to report last night! It was a hectic day, as I actually left the show to attend a luncheon in downtown St. Louis at The Missouri Athletic Club, where Harry was honored with the Veteran’s Achievement Award. It was very moving, as are all patriotic affairs. I was overcome with emotion from the initial singing of the National Anthem, by a Korean veteran who could barely walk, and whose breathing was so compromised that I expected a reedy, sad rendition. After he wheezed out a few words, he set to singing and belted out the most powerful version of the anthem I have ever heard in a deep bass without a hitch.

We sat at the head table for a delicious meal, after which Harry was called onstage for presentation of his award, with lots of “whereas” and “therefores”, and his acceptance speech was, as always, brilliant. But even after 30 years I get overwhelmed by Harry’s talent for speaking. He was brief and eloquent, and dropped his prepared notes to speak completely spontaneously. He dedicated the award to the less than 1 percent of our population that serves in the military to protect us, and gave praise to the other Vietnam veteran honoree. The Commander of the Fleet sent a letter in Harry’s honor, commending his service since his commission in 1960. Harry kept things light, of course, and mentioned that he was happy, like an old warship, to still be “afloat”. As Harry likes to quip, he had a “court martial downgraded to a Bronze Star” (he didn’t say that onstage). It was nice to hear his heroism in Vietnam described publicly and applauded. Better late than never! I was, as always, consumed with pride and fighting for emotional control, so as not to make a scene crying.

Back to the bubble – I returned to the horse show in time to see Richard Rinehart, the penultimate rider in the Open Welcome class, win it with Julio. Robert Mendoza was second with his horse, Clyde. Indiana conquered in the Welcome!

Jane and I were posted together in the orders, so we could school together, which was nice. First, we did the Hopeful (1 meter) class with Derry and O’Sheen. Jane and Derry had the first jump down! A frustrating four faults, but a nice round otherwise. The classes were Power and Speed. O’Sheen was very good, and had a double clear trip, after a somewhat reluctant turn to the first jump in the Speed portion. Despite the slow turn, he was 4th (of 22). Chip, Katie Young’s horse, now at William Woods, well ridden by a girl named Kylie, was 3rd.

In the Low Training (1.05 meter), Jane and Derry did get to the speed section, but had the first jump of the speed part down! Just not their day. Bravo was great, but had a vertical in the speed portion down behind with a light rub, as we shifted left in the air. My fault! But he was brilliant and VERY fast, without hurrying at all. He has such scope, it continues to astound me!

O’Sheen had a rail in the power phase of Low Training. He was a little tired, but is becoming more rideable with every trip, thanks to Kris, who keeps me thinking straight and forward.

Finally, in the High Training (1.15 meter), Bravo jumped around spectacularly in the power part. I felt like I was staying with his jump a bit better. Then, as I turned to the first jump in the speed section, I overdid my outside aids, and turned him left so well that I turned PAST the jump, for a technical four faults. I was so upset, that I proceeded to cause a rail when we did jump the oxer, turning in the air. Just as I start to get things right, I manage to sabotage the round!! Very frustrating – this is such a difficult sport, which regular people cannot possibly appreciate. And riding such a talented horse as Bravo, almost makes it worse, because the mistakes are usually mine. But what a rush it is when things go right! And overall, we are headed in the right direction. Despite 8 faults and time faults, Bravo got a brown ribbon (8th) for his clean trip in the power portion. What a privilege it is to ride such a horse! Unfortunately, Brett Taylor couldn’t be there yesterday. We missed him – he is such a positive, fun participant – especially for me, he keeps things from getting too serious. And, of course, he has given me this opportunity to ride the horse of a lifetime. Which is not to discount O’Sheen, by the way – another horse of a lifetime in his own way. I am incredibly lucky!

So, today is another chance to get things right! Bravo will do High Training this morning, then Jane and Derry have decided to do Low Adult Jumpers, but Kris thought O’Sheen should do the High Children’s / Adult classes. That will mean two rides in that division for me, but I have help from my groom, Cousin Mary, so will manage. She was a huge help yesterday, and it’s fun to see how much O’Sheen knows and loves her. I am nervous, but excited for another day on the roller coaster…

November A Show – Day 1

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Old ladies showing again, after a very long hiatus! We are at the Queenie Productions November A Show, which is the Northern Zone Finals.
We have THREE horses – Jane and Derry, and I am showing Bravo AND O’Sheen! So it feels quite hectic – I can hardly believe I ever showed multiple horses all the time. Of course, there are other things taking up time in my life these days, too.
But horse shows are a great way to escape the real world, and we are so lucky to be able to do this! We had a good schooling day on Tuesday. We are all rusty, but we have Kris to help scrape off the rust. The horses were all good, and we felt ready for today.
The show is HUGE!! Very well attended, and great fun to see lots of old friends again, but it makes for a long day. I fed this morning, then rode Bravo, who was perfect. O’Sheen was just too hairy, I couldn’t stand it, so I body clipped him in the aisle at the show. He was so well behaved, that I was finished in an hour and a half!
Finally, at 3:00 in the afternoon, it was time to show. Jane and Derry, and O’Sheen and I did the Hopeful (1 meter) jumpers. The bad news is that we old ladies were both totally freaked out by the chaos in the warm up ring – the horses were fine, but Jane and I were fried! Cousin Mary arrived from Iowa in time to see O’Sheen go. Orders were posted to speed the day along, so we had to go when we were told. Jane and Derry had a good round, with an unlucky rail at an oxer in the first round. O’Sheen was quite frisky, but good – double clear, alas, ridden by an old woman, he was out of the ribbons. There were more than 30 in the class.
We returned for the Low Training (1.05 meter class). Again Jane and Derry showed the way, but again had an unlucky 4 faults in the first round. O’Sheen was double clear again, and faster this time – finished 8th, just barely in the ribbons, but fun to get a brown ribbon.
Bravo started with Low Training, and was super, but had a 4 cheap faults at a plank jump (#9). He came back for High Training and the 1.15 meter height was quite intimidating to me! It was nice to be mounted so well, and he was amazing – jumped the best ever. Unfortunately, I put him to an impossible distance at an oxer and had 4 faults there. He showed what great amateur horse he is – most horses would not have been able to cope with such a big mistake – he barely had the back rail of the oxer down. It was not our night, and the stupid plank jump came down again, too, for 8 faults. But he was delightful to ride around, and even though things came up quickly, he was very rideable and just a blast to ride. Dr. Taylor came to watch, and was very supportive, as usual, and had some good advice (keep coming forward). I am so lucky to ride a horse of this quality and to have gained such good friends as well! The Taylors continue to be so nice!! And once of this could happen without Kris’ schooling and wonderful, calm influence.
So, despite being quite overwhelmed to start with, Jane and I had a great day, and we are looking forward to a better day tomorrow.
Katie Young’s horse, Pass The Chip (Chip) was showing – he is now with William Woods – he looks great, and was in the ribbons in the huge Hopeful Jumper class. They just love him. We think of him as “part of the family”, so it’s good to see him looking so well, and so appreciated.
All orders will be posted tomorrow (even the hunters), so we hope the show will finish a little earlier, as we are already exhausted!

STL Charity Weekend

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Saturday dawned sunny but cold! A very difficult week for the hunters, but perfect for jumpers, as long as you were riding and not standing around. It was brisk.

Bravo had a perfect amount of energy, and I am beginning to figure out better flatwork in the warmup. Jane and Derry, alas, did not have as much energy as we did, and their jumping warmup did not go well, so Jane elected to drop out of the High Children’s / Adult section. Bravo and I had a good trip, but 4 faults at an oxer that I over rode and failed to support. He was really good, and never close to another jump, but ended up 7th, as they combined the Children and Adults. The combination was retroactive, so the blue ribbon in our class of two, with my time faults became a 7th also. Boo hoo!

I was very happy that Brett suggested Bravo should do two classes a day. The Low Adult course was different. He jumped around really well, and I began to get the understanding of what Kris calls “plugging it in” as I ride up to the jump. Instead of letting go as I get to the jump, as I have been doing, I ride the hind end up to my hand and support the scope off the ground, which creates a really powerful, high jump. Bravo has a very different style of jumping from the more Thoroughbred type horses I am used to – and his scope is unlike anything I ever imagined! It was very exciting when I got it right at several jumps. We were clean, and jumped off smoothly, for a primary color – 3rd!

Jane and Derry did the 1 meter Training class, and were double clear for the win and a crystal glass!! Then, they also did the Low Adults, but Derry was tired, and after a good clear first round, had 8 faults in the jump off, so they were out of the ribbons.

We had time to go home to tend to things there, then returned for the Maclay Regionals, which were won by a girl from Tennessee, Martha Ingraham, I think. I gave my notes away after the class, and my brain no longer retains much information. I’m just glad my brain retained the courses, and I never went off course! The Maclay course was brilliant – Allen Rheinheimer is a top course designer, and we are so lucky to have someone of his caliber setting here in St. Louis once a year. Several local juniors performed well in the class. Notably, the expected winner, Hunter Holloway, from Kansas, did not have good luck. Her horse spooked on the way to the second jump, which she coped with, but later he spooked again, creating an add stride in the 4 stride following the in and out on the centerline. There was no covering up that error, and she was called back in the lower group on the flat, an unusual position for her. Hunter’s riding on the flat was so superior that she did end up in the top ten – 8th, I think, so will probably get to the Finals where, we hope, her luck will be better. Luck is a big part of this sport, good or bad. Dealing with that is an important life lesson.

Sunday was an early start, a magnificent dawn, another perfect Fall day. I braided Bravo for the Classic. First, we did the Low Children’s / Adult class. We had a nice, clear first round, but 4 faults in the jump off coming off an inside turn to the in and out, to finish in 8th. Jane and Derry were double clear – a good trip to finish on, and they were 5th, I think.

In the High Children’s / Adult Classic, Bravo was posted third in the order. The course was challenging, but we had a beautiful trip. He jumped high and easily, and I rode well. But I rode like an old lady, and had 1 time fault!!! I was so mad at myself, and I know where I took too much time, and so wish I could reride that turn! Oh, well, luckily, Bravo doesn’t know what an idiot I was – he was perfect and I am so lucky to ride him. He thought it was just a clear round class with no jump off. And he was very happy to hop into the trailer and get home to the grass afterwards. His clean round did earn 5th in the Classic, which paid our way. Ashley Shaw won on Golden Star, well deserved, as she is maturing into a real jumper rider. Chronologically, she could probably be my great grandchild!

We took the horses home, then returned for the Grand Prix. We were confused about the start time, so missed half the class, thinking it started at 2 PM, when it actually started at 1:30. That meant we missed Saer Robertson’s debut in the show ring. Bred to ride, the son of Brody and Jen Robertson earned a blue ribbon in the Leadline at the same time Ian Millar, “Captain Canada”, was winning the 1.5 million dollar class at Spruce Meadows at age 67!!! An auspicious start to Saer’s career. I am looking forward to riding against him before long…

A good course brings the cream to the top, and Karen Cudmore was 1st and 2nd in the Grand Prix, winning on veteran Southern Pride, with the only double clear. SuperBad was runner up. Hunter Holloway and I Love Lucy were 3rd, Caroline McLeese and Caprisio finished 4th. Andy Kocher had 5 of the 15 in the class, but it wasn’t his day, and no clear round was to be had. He was 5th and 6th, I think, with two 4 faulters.

Again, some sadness overshadowed the week, as I learned of the death of a friend when I opened the Chronicle and saw his obituary. Trip Hoffman was my first serious crush. We went to Porlock Vale Riding Academy together in 1974 and have been friends ever since. I last saw Trip in 2010, and he was as handsome and funny as ever. I don’t know why he died, but the world is diminished without him. Remembering his laugh and our young adventures will keep him with me, but I will miss him.