Monthly Archives: June 2012

Farewell, “B”

Yesterday, Mom let go of her little shadow, B.

An aggressive cancer found only weeks ago took him sooner than we all expected. It was also found he had an enlarged heart, but how else would he have had so much love for Mother?

B carried a lot of emotional baggage from his life before us, but he was dedicated, protective, and thoughtful. He will be missed.


Happy Birthday Bailey!

Today is Bailey’s 13th birthday. It is also a bit of an anniversary (close, anyway) of Bailey’s homecoming. We are so happy to have our Bailey back with us. I hope Mom gives him lots of birthday carrots and kisses.

Bit of Britain Catalog Cover

Groovy! My photo of Bit of Britain mastermind John Nunn and his horse Smilelikeyoumeanit competing at the 2011 AEC was used on the cover of the USEA Winter/Spring 2012 Omnibus. That same photo was later digitally recreated by artist Susan Tuckerman and printed on the cover of the Bit of Britain Spring/Summer 2012 Catalog. How cool is that! The BoB catalog can be viewed online or you can request to be sent a hard copy in the mail. Check out more of Susan’s lovely artwork on her website, too.
Original photo by Leslie Threlkeld
Cover Artwork by Susan Tuckerman

Bit of Britain has been a generous supporter of the USEA for many years, and I’m happy to call several of their wonderful employees my friends. I can’t give away any secrets yet, but BoB and USEA have some fun collaboration projects in the works to be revealed in the months to come!

Navigating the Upperville Horse Show

I don’t know why it is called navigating, because I actually just tried to stay aboard. Kate is a top international combined driver, and I got to ride along in the carriages at the Upperville Horse Show this year! It was SO COOL!

My groovy get-up for the cones competition. I think I pull off tweed quite well!

The first ride was a cones competition where you drive your horse as fast as you dare between sets of cones with tennis balls balanced on top of them. The point is to post the fastest time without knocking down any balls/cones, which adds 5 seconds each to your time.

Scrutinizing the competition.

I was not entirely sure what to do. I just didn’t want to screw up!

And we’re off!

Kate was first in the ring for her division. She had to set the pace, go as fast as she could and hope no one could catch her. She started right off at a gallop.

Between this photo and the one above, you can see the margin of error is slim.

The first few turns were smooth and easy, like a lovely drive in the country. I was generally able to tell where the next set of cones would be and prepare myself to shift my body weight one way or the other. I had one hand on the rail next to me and tried to smile.

By halfway, Kate and Winslow were really rocking, and I was holding on with two hands trying not to look like an amateur. I couldn’t tell where the next cones were anymore because usually they were behind us. I was amazed at how quickly and sharply Kate could steer that massive carriage and still she didn’t knock a single cone!

Two hands so you don’t wreck!

No one came close to her time, and she won by a landslide. I’m learning that she’s fairly well known and lots of people came up to her to compliment her round. One lady even expressed her disappointment because she thought she had a shot at winning until she saw Kate’s name on the entry.

Later that same day…

A dear friend of Kate’s recently passed away from pancreatic cancer and her husband had arranged for Kate to do a driving demo before the Grand Prix competition on the last day of the show to raise awareness of the illness.

Kate drove her friend’s pony, Bouncer, who had been at our farm for a few weeks preparing.

As we galloped around the ring during the demo I heard the announcer list Bouncer’s many accolades. I had no idea he was an individual world driving gold medalist. He even has his own Breyer model! Although I was told later that his model has, ahem, a few extra details that geldings do not typically have.

We just went in the ring and “winged it” galloping around the Grand Prix jumps between a few cones that had been set up. People clapped, we laughed, I leaned, and it was just an overall joyous occasion. I hope I get to “navigate” again!

Thanks to my friends Amanda and John Dayton for taking pictures and letting me share them with you here!


Handsome Samson

We got a full night and day of rain and grossness yesterday, but thankfully the sun had come out by the time I got home from work. Except it was humid. Really humid. And buggy.

Being that the ground was wet and mucky I didn’t want to risk sucking a shoe off in the grass, so Sam and I went to the arena to do a little actual work. He’s got quite the belly on him and the Odd Couple doesn’t run as much in their new pasture. Time to knuckle down!

The arena is on a bit of an incline, so we got a little hill work in while we were at it (harhar). After an easy walk warm-up we went ahead and picked up the trot. 15 minutes of good long and low with some transitions thrown in, and Sam was thoroughly pooped. Besides the humidity getting to him pretty quickly, I was smacking these horrible green biting bugs off his neck while he tried to shake others off his face.

All in all, he was really well behaved and tried really hard to work. He loves long and low work, and he was doing his best to be light and balanced. I didn’t ask him to be too low and too light because he just doesn’t have the strength, although he offered. So long as he was soft in the jaw, carrying himself, and had a somewhat low frame, I gave him lots of “gooood boooooy”s.

I even tried a teensy bit of lateral work at the walk, just to see if he remembered. He moved well off my leg and softened in the jaw leg yielding both ways and even crossed over well in a really wide walk pirouette. I let him go as wide as he wanted, so long as he was crossing over and moving off my leg. It was better than I expected!

Sam likes to be challenged and made to think. He really is very smart and thinks he’s one cool cookie. It was great to do a little actual riding and have him want to do everything right. I’m trying to be mindful of my position and not get back into old habits. I worked on keeping a consistent contact with my thighs and calfs and half halt with my body, not my hands. I must have done something right in his training, because Sam is very responsive to body cues so long as I do it right, especially for down transitions :).

I walked him briefly at the end, but it was so humid and buggy I just took him to hose as he wasn’t going to get cool walking. He got a nice bath before dinner, but I only had to turn my back once to put a few things away before he stepped around the corner and knocked every bottle he could reach off the shelf.

Hamster’s Healing

The boo-boo on Sam’s left-front has virtually healed. Below is May 13, the day he arrived in Virginia. By this time, he was only being treated with Equaide every other day rather than every day.

Ten days later, May 23. We had been experiencing extremely wet weather, so I was often forgoing the Equaide and saturating it with Vetericyn instead. You can see in the picture how soggy everything is.

June 8th. The wound has closed completely, and I am no longer treating it. This comes exactly three months after the initial injury. In case you missed it, here are my previous posts about the healing process: Part 1, Part 2.

All that is left in the healing process (hopefully) is making sure he has plenty of heal support as the hoof itself continues to grow out.

Thanks to Nick Meyers in Georgia for so diligently attending to Sam’s crazy feet for so many years. Here in Virginia,  Naomi Eastwood and Ian Harden are his new farriers, and they have been very sweet and attentive as he adjusts.

And of course, Mom, Sam’s Maj (Her Majesty), for doing the rinse, treat, repeat, every night for two months.  You are all such good souls. Sam and I appreciate you very much.

Finding Our Feet and Next Steps

Friday I thought, since he’d been getting so much exercise running with Harold, that it was about time I see how a little jog goes with Sam.

You’d never know he was once a Prelim horse.

His lack of balance was LOL-worthy. Trying to get him to turn on uneven ground was…I don’t even know what to compare it to…trying to bend a 2×4 around a slip’n’slide. He basically fell to the outside, and while he tried, he just couldn’t seem to coordinate bending, turning, and balancing all at once.

The half-halts came every three strides or so. He tried his best to respond. If he did manage to balance, he certainly couldn’t hold it for long. As a result, we clicked, clanked, and generally stumbled around the field with our noses poked out for 10 minutes.

I think Sam was just as amused and confused as me.

I think we’ll be doing some lunging on the hillside to help us find our feet.