I'm sorry for the lack of updates. Just when things start to wind down for the year, my computer decided not to cooperate so I wasn't able to access my blog! In any case, life at Fairwind Stables has gotten a little quieter as we approach winter but there is still much to catch everyone up on!
As you can see from the picture, I've put Piccolo back into work after weaning Tess in October. I'm really enjoying having my sweet girl back to ride every day and she seems happy to be back in work - I figure it has to be easier than raising a foal (not that I'm speaking from experience with little ones or anything!:)) Her fitness has improved daily and I've just put her on the market if anyone is looking for a fun horse to compete. It's been a hard decision but I know I can't compete two of my own horses in 2013 so one has to go.
Tess has been doing well and already stands about 14 hands! She gets turned out with Claire's pony, Spirit, and the two get along great. The weaning process was fairly painless and both mare and filly don't even acknowledge each other these days!
Podge is enjoying a vacation which, for him, involves being covered in mud most days! He has perfected the method of pawing a bare patch in the field and rolling in it repeatedly! I have worked him lightly and, while I'm not advertising him heavily, have decided to put him on the market as well. I'd be happy to continue competing him next year but also know I just didn't do him justice this year. I feel like he would do so much better with someone else who can focus more on the work that goes into a preliminary level horse. He's a very forgiving, kind boy and I appreciate him most for his temperament - especially now that I'm a mom! - but I also know my focus is elsewhere these days. He improved leaps and bounds this year; if only his rider had her head on straight! If anyone is looking for a horse to learn the ropes on or to carry on at prelim, contact me.
That's it for now.
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Podge checking out the cross country
I had a game plan going into this weekend and was feeling more prepared than ever as Podge and I started our first Preliminary together in nearly a year. I've started to realize that, while I've made some improvements in my riding and Podge's training, I've been mostly stalled the last few years. I've really taken a step back and tried to figure out what exactly is needing improvement and how to go about it (rather than going on what I've come to realize is a bit of "autopilot training" lately). I got stuck doing things a certain way because that's how I always did it ... and that didn't always work for us. The funny thing is that things I've noticed in my own riding and training are things that I tell my students all the time - I just needed to pause and reflect on my own riding more! Those kind of things that seem to obvious in hindsight!
So, bottom line is that we've made huge progress in all three phases with this realization and I'm looking at events more as a check of our progress than being competitive ..... not that a good placing would be so bad though! I also realize that, with Claire just turning 3 years old and Ian just 4 months, my time in the saddle needs to be so much more productive as this time is more limited than in the past.
Dressage was by far the best test that Podge and I have had together. He warmed up great and I knew that was partly due to my newfound realization that he needs more time to do suppling work at the walk and very little work at trot and canter before we head into the ring. I've also realized that he needs plenty of time outside of his stall grazing and handwalking before we even tack up. He's always been a stoic, calm horse so I admit that I haven't given as much thought to his mental well-being at shows as much as I would with a young horse that gets anxious or a hot horse that just needs to move. But, he was a very happy horse all weekend - that's saying a lot for a horse we jokingly refer to as "Eeyore" for his lack of emotion! He was light and supple in the dressage ring - still room for improvement in the leg-yields and transitions - but the tightness that we usually struggle with was gone. Hooray! We scored a very respectable 33.5 to put us into 4th.
Heading to stadium next, I had a very thorough plan for how I was going to ride my course, I knew my lines - up to 10 stride ones and walked the course 3 times. I planned to ride him in a snaffle again. He's always gone in a 2 ring elevator bit but I was finding that it was curling him up too much. We always school in the snaffle at home and I felt fairly confident that if I stuck to my plan - be patient and ride one fence at a time - he'd be just fine. He maintained a really good canter all the way around the difficult course and we just pulled one rail coming out of a combination. He had drifted a little right over fence 7 shying at something outside the arena and I planned on 7 quiet strides to the in and out at 8 but we ended up coming in on a strong 6 due to the drift. Ah well...everyone had troubles with the course and we actually moved up a spot even with our time penalties. Time is not usually an issue for us in stadium but I really didn't mind since my goal had been to go around quietly and PATIENTLY.....so hard for me in stadium!
I made sure he got his walking and grazing time before cross country on Saturday morning. He was in a good mood and his body seemed in good shape after the previous day. I had some concerns about the XC course and spent time rewalking parts of it and going over my plan. I decided to switch out my old bit for a slow twist snaffle, We always lose so much time on XC because I spend a lot of time rebalancing him before jumps. His overall balance has improved so much and, just like in stadium, I was finding the old bit was curling him up too much. He warmed up great in the new bit and was definitely feeling ready as he danced to the start box - who is this horse?! He jumped beautifully around the first part of the course.I was able to allow him to gallop on between fences without feeling like he'd trip over his feet or we'd need half a mile to set up for jumps! Two waters, some gigantic tables, a combination were all great.....right up to the brush and ditch combination. Admittedly, I was worried about this jump since he'd never seen anything like it before and we had to jump a big brush fence and land with just one stride downhill to the biggest ditch we've ever seen. I rode in just as I planned and put my eyes on other side. He wouldn't see the ditch until he was right at it. I sat up and back over the brush....but might have needed to sit a little more to the right as he spun off that way on landing and I ended up sitting on the edge of the ditch in my inflated air vest. Sigh. A long walk back to the barn.
So, we go forward to Jumpstart in a few weeks. It's hard to feel sorry for myself for too long with two beautiful little faces watching me watching me in warm-up and knowing how fortunate I am to even be able to compete right now much less at preliminary! We came back to Ohio and got on with "real life" - a birthday party for Claire who turned 3 on Saturday. She, fortunately, didn't mind spending her birthday at an event just so long as she could go to the playground by the dressage arenas!
This weekend was my return to eventing since Ian was born 4 months ago. Podge and I have been working so hard on strength and balance for both of us and I was anxious to see if we could maintain the work we'd been doing at home in competition. Not to mention keeping my head on straight with a nearly 3 year old and a baby! Well, 1 out of 2 ain't bad........
We started Saturday morning as the first rider in the ring at 7:30 meaning we left the hotel by 5am attempting to keep both little ones asleep - no such luck. My mom entertained them as I got Podge braided and I headed up to the dressage. He started out just a little behind the leg and lazy in the warm-up. I got him moving forward and felt we had just the right amount of energy and he was feeling very light and supple - a great feat for Podge - just as they announced that there was a delay to start the dressage! I did my best to keep him tuned up but not wear him out over the next 15 minutes but the extra time really didn't help us. Of course, there were lots of times that I've needed the extra time and reminded myself that this is all part of the game. I feel fairly happy with his test. While the score didn't necessarily reflect the improvements we've made in our dressage, I felt I was able to push for higher marks than I have in the past and just wish we hadn't had that unfortunate delay so I could see what we really could have scored.
On to the cross country which was an absolute blast. I don't think I've smiled that much on XC in a long time. I felt confident about the course and he was manageable and fit. Not to mention, we had perfect weather. In fact, I was having so much fun that I forgot all about the turn after fence 14 as I continued on to the last fence - number 17. Now, I've been told that having kids makes your brain mushy. Add that to very little sleep over the last several months and I can convince myself that it was only a one-time screw-up. Atleast, I don't normally make the same stupid mistakes twice! I was still grinning all the way back to the barn even after the TD told me about my error.
They allowed me to ride stadium on Sunday morning and, again, was first into the ring. Podge felt a bit tired in warmup but was jumping great. I've never been able to compete him in a snaffle due to him getting very unbalanced and strong on his forehand but decided, since he'd been schooling so well at home, I had nothing to lose. The first fence - a big oxer - woke him up a bit but then the remainder of the course rode fairly well. We just had one rail coming out of a combination that I rode too strongly into. I'm still struggling a bit with this new, mostly uphill ride I'm getting and have to remember not to do too much to help him as he's naturally a scopey jumper and I'm so tall in the upper half of my body. I'm really thrilled with his performance especially after being out of competition since last October. This weekend gave me a good idea of what I need to work on for our next time out
Things have been hoppin' around the farm! First off, we are celebrating 10 years here at the farm and I hope to post some pictures of where things started and how they look today as soon as I can find the time. It's been a fantastic decade helping horses and riders develop as well as working toward some of my own goals. I often think about how fortunate I am to be able to do something that I love so much and make money at it. Especially now, with two small children, to have a job that allows me to work at home and have such special people that come for lessons and support my life as a mother and an instructor and horse trainer - it's really become such a family affair.
Podge has been working so well this season and I'm anxious to see if all our hard work is proven at our first 2012 event next weekend - Penny Oaks. I was disappointed to hear they got rid of their Preliminary division due to the hard ground this season but they have added a P/T division so we'll still get a chance to do the Prelim dressage and stadium and, hopefully, get a good confidence-building run on the Training course. Not such a bad idea after such a long break having not competed him since last fall before I had Ian. We'll be attending a schooling dressage show this weekend to make sure he remembers what to do in that small sandbox before we go to Indiana.
The filly, Tess, is growing by the day. I can't get over how big she is already at just over 3 months and she looks so athletic and muscular already that I can't wait until she's big enough to ride....although I know I have quite a bit of time until then! She's not a timid one at all. I let her follow Piccolo to and from the field and it's pretty common for her to trot through the arena and check out jumps and she even popped off the little bank the other day. I wish she was a little more reliant on her mother especially when I'm waiting for her to get in the field or stall but, admittedly, I love watching her show off her confident nature.
Lessons have been going really well and I have such an enjoyable group of students right now that are setting the bar so high this season! Just a reminder that I'll be attending Penny Oaks, Kentucky Classique, Jumpstart, and Team Challenge so if anyone wants to stable near me, put "Fairwind Stables" on your stabling form. I'll be available for coaching, course walks, etc - j
Finally, I'm able to start planning on some events for the remainder of this summer and fall. I will be competing at Penny Oaks HT, Kentucky Classique HT, Jumpstart HT, and Team Challenge HT. If anyone would like coaching, please let me know. Also, please be sure to enter "Fairwind Stables" if you'd like to stable near me. Fingers crossed that we start to get some more rain and some cooler temperatures!
We have another new addition here at the farm. Meet "Spirit" or, as I like to refer to him "what the heck was I thinking?!" In all seriousness, he's a terrific pony for Claire who will be 3 in September. She has been helping feed him and clean his stall (with her pink wheelbarrow, of course) and she leads him to and from the field. She's riding him on the leadline now but keeps asking when she can jump.....sigh. So, in addition to the expense of buying all the new tack that goes with a pony - even though I have 4 of everything needed for his bigger counterparts in the barn - and one more beast to take care of around here when things are already busy enough; I'm pretty sure I'm gaining a few gray hairs every time she wants to do anything with him. He has incredible patience with her as she walks everywhere BUT straight to the barn when he comes in from the field or she spends 20 minutes learning to pick out his feet. He has given me no reason to be worried but it's much harder teaching my fearless daughter when I see all the things that could happen! I've apologized to my mom for putting up with watching me event all these years! Joking aside, who could regret buying a pony when it brings a little girl this big a smile!
Between rides with my two assistant trainers
This was a busy weekend for the horses and riders from Fairwind Stables. Jessy and Willow headed off to IEA for their move-up to Training. I couldn't be there but the report when she got back sounded fantastic! They had a solid dressage test and a clear stadium on a course that was changing up the scores dramatically. They finished on Sunday by just adding a few seconds on an otherwise clean cross country. Way to go!
Julie and Legend competed in their first dressage show at the Riding Centre. Julie hasn't competed in several years and Legend had only shown a little bit in hand with his previous owner but you never would have guessed it by watching this pair in their first test. Legend had a few greenie moments but mostly presented a relaxed, consistent test. Their second test had some cantering and Julie did a great job riding Legend's HUGE canter in that little 20x40 ring! She's done a terrific job bringing this young boy along over the winter and I was glad to see their hard work pay off at the show.
Chelsea also made her debut in the show ring with Specter. Despite some leftover baggage and nerves from her previous horse, Chelsea did a great job in both Training Level tests with Specter. Her first test scored a very respectable 61 and the judge was very complimentary. They were able to go perform a more relaxed test and greatly improved other than that stinking wrong lead! A great start for this partnership and a happy horse and rider at the end of the day.
Connie and Lena
May has been a really busy month around here! I've been teaching a lot of lessons and am so grateful to my parents who have stepped up as the best babysitters I could have. Not to mention that my dad has taken on all the mowing and maintenance around here as I learn to balance running a business and being a mom to two little ones! I don't know what I'd do without them. Now I just need to learn to make my brain function better on little sleep!:)
Podge is back in regular work and his dressage is really starting to improve. I'm not sure yet what this year holds for us as far as competitions go but I'm enjoying the time to really step back and correct some things in both my riding and his training that have been holding us back without the pressure of preparing for an event.
Piccolo's filly, Tess, is growing so big already! She seems to be an overly confident young filly with, admittedly, a bit of attitude already. She has started to whinny at me in the morning when it's time to come in but then proceeds to explore the farm when I try to bring her and Piccolo in. Piccolo is far more concerned about where her filly has wandered off to than Tess is about her mom!
Check out the horses for sale page. I've added two of my student's horses that she bred herself. Both Lena and Fritz have been coming weekly for lessons and they are both lovely horses with bright futures ahead of them.
Last but not least, a big congratulations to Jayne Whitton who finished 4th at Greater Dayton with Jude in the ON and also to Jessy Pack and Willow who also finished 4th in the NR division. Both students finished on ther dressage scores!
Just a quick note to mention that I plan to resume teaching lessons this week. I know that many are getting ready for Greater Dayton and I'll be available to coach at the event if anyone is interested. Please email, call, or text me if you'd like to set anything up.
Also, I've decided to name Piccolo's filly "Tess". Her fancy name will be "True Star". Be sure to check out the pictures that Lauren Pritchard of Heart and Light Equine took of her and posted on facebook.