Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I have a long post in draft mode, but it seems to be taking me some time to complete it. I thought I better put something up for anyone who might be looking for some entertainment (and you came here?!?). Here's a blog that I have been reading every day. It's the first blog I have religiously read every morning., blogged by a nature photographer/videographer who has been tracking a pack of wild dogs in Africa. The photos and videos are truly magnificent.

I hope to have my post about the show at the Kentucky Horse Park up soon. I've been obsessing with the wonderful photos that were taken, and can't settle down enough to write all the details. It was a dreamy weekend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kentucky Horse Park

We made the long trip to the magnificent dreamworld of the Kentucky Horse Park last weekend. This was Zoe's first show! I am pleased as punch with her outstanding performance. She was absolutely marvelous at her first show, not acting nuts or bonkers ever. She rode like a pro the whole time. It was a pleasant surprise, and I am really proud of her.

We won the class for our second test (Intro B) with a 70%! Our first test was Training Level Test 1, and she wasn't as settled in. She had some fun at the canter, and comments were that she wasn't on the aids enough. :-) We got a 57%. I thought she did great during both tests - beautiful!

We arrived at the Horse Park Thursday after noon, unloaded the horses, unpacked the trailer, and started settling in. The USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships were also happening that weekend, and our trainer, D.B. was riding in the Six-Year Old Championshops. We went to watch the trot out Thursday afternoon. Beautiful, beautiful horses. That was the start of a dreamy weekend. Any horse lover's paradise is the Kentucky Horse Park, especially when the top horses in the country are there.

I can't remember the exact order of things, but I think after the trot out, everyone tacked up for their first ride on the show grounds. I opted not to ride Zoe right away. I wanted to give her time to see the grounds and settle in, just to avoid any excitement under saddle. I walked her down with Lili and Chassara and let her graze and look at things while the others rode. The first day was a challenge getting from the barns to the show grounds. We had to walk through a parking lot, a second set of barns, near vendor tents, and then down a big hill overlooking the 4 rings and warm-up areas. Zoe was a bit tense with blowing nose and a few tentative steps, but she followed me down without incident. She didn't particularly like being up on the hill looking down at the show grounds and got the most prancy there. Once we were down on the grounds, she was perfectly happy to eat grass, but did call for Lili a few times. D.B. schooled B. on Lili (if I am remembering correctly). She looked great!

We got back to the hotel late and threw some pasta on while we unpacked. B. had brought some homemade pasta sauce (yum!), and since we had a kitchen, we planned to make dinner a few nights at least. Bill and N. came by with a few bottles of wine (O'Reilly's Pinot Noir and Cab Sav). We gave a taste of the Pinot and promptly put a cork on the bottle of Yellowtail we had previously opened. The Pinot was delish! The pasta tasted exceptionally good after only eating turkey slices and trail mix all day. We fell into bed shortly after dinner.


Friday Lilikoi had her first tests, First Level Test 1 & 4. D.B. schooled her. B. rode a great test, but went off course twice, still earning a qualifying score and winning the class! In fact, she won both her classes on Friday.

Friday was the start of the Young Horse Championships, so we watched quite a bit, especially the 6-year old test and D.B.'s ride. He won the preliminary! It was very exciting. The best part was being able to watch the warm-up. D. was schooled by Scott Hassler of Hilltop Farm. I learned a ton by watching and listening. Scott also listened to our questions and answered them earnestly.

After D.'s ride, I was anxious to work with Zoe. This was going to be my first ride on her at the show grounds. I went back to the barn and tacked her up. No one was around, and in the morning when I took Zoe out for a short walk and look around, I got in trouble because it made Lili upset, so I was afraid to take Zoe without B. around. I waited and waited, and when B. did come by, I pulled Zoe out of her stall. B. asked whether I wanted to wait for the Championships to end, and I said no, I have to do this now! I could barely wait any longer. So I led Zoe, who was all tacked up, down to the show grounds. It was an easier walk, but she was still on high alert. I longed her first, and she did very well, and relaxed easily. I mounted her, well, almost falling off before I even got on! I mounted without a mounting block and on sloping ground. My hand slipped out of her mane as I was pulling myself up, and I had to use my one leg to pull myself up off the ground. I would have been too embarassed to fall on my butt at that stage, so I managed it. :-) Zoe was ver good even during that. She stood stock still, so I don't even have her to blame for my graceless mounting. :-)

Once on her, we walked around the longe area for about a minute and I took her into the foray of horses warming up. I had no idea how she would act in this situation. In the past, she has reared, bucked, etc. So I was worried she might be a little reactive to all the excitement around. I had nothing to worry about. She started out like a pro and was tuned completely in to me. She felt extremely responsive and relaxed. I had a blast riding her! It was great fun to feel her listening so closely to me. She's such a good horse.

We were planning to make dinner back at the hotel, but with D.'s win, everyone wanted to go out to celebrate, so we ended up at a Mexican restaurant. It was a nice dinner with lots of toasts to D.'s and Catapult's success. During dinner I wondered aloud how S. was taking the car ride with all the dressage girls. About a minute later I got a text message, "Get me outta here!". It was hilarious to receive it just after I had mentioned this to the group. I passed my phone around with the message on the screen for everyone to read. They had a good laugh. After dinner, it was back to the hotel for bed. S. and J. were due into town late that night. It was good to have my hubby sleeping close to me that night.

Saturday was an early start, but at least we didn't have to braid manes. B. had a local person braid for her, and decided to have her braid Lili again for the Saturday tests. Lili looked so nice! It was a slow morning for D.B., so he didn't make it in time to school Lili before her first test. B. kept looking at me to give her some advice, and I was really afraid to say anything. I have to get better at that. I hope the advice I did give helped her out. She had a good test, not going off course at all. Lili got a 66.2% at First 1.

Between her tests, I got to take Zoe out again. S. made this little video with his digital camera.

It was another great ride. I was looking forward to finally getting our tests done on Sunday.

B. had a super-dooper ride on Lili for her afternoon test. D.B. was there to school her, which makes a huge difference. Lili got a 66.9% on First Test 4 -- only her second time riding it! When she came back with her first place, she had the biggest smile and was walking on air. I am so happy for her!

Sunday - the big day

Finally Sunday rolled around. I skipped dinner Saturday night -- too tired and already thinking about my rides. Hit the pillow, and went right to sleep. Practically jumped out of bed at 5 AM Sunday morning. (jumped in Epona terms, not the normal person's terms)

D.B.'s groom offered to braid Zoe for me. She did a spectacular job. I got to wear my new white Irideon breeches (I love Irideon!). Every day we have been able to do more and more, so I got to mount her at the barns and ride her down to the show grounds. She was calm and collected. At the schooling rings, B. was able to help me warm her up and get me to relax. Things go to pieces when I get tense. :-)

We entered the ring for our Training Level Test 1, the harder test first. Zoe was great! We got all of our canter transitions easily (when I get tense I usually mess those up by overpreparing and making the horse tense). She felt really good, if still a bit distracted. I couldn't believe the test ended so quickly and so overshot my turn down the centerline at the end (thinking there HAD to be another trot across the diagonal!). So, I went off course, but Zoe handled it all well. We got a 57%, with judges comments of "beautiful horse. horse not on the aids enough. playful canter." I was really pleased with her!

Our second test, about 30 minutes later, was Intro B, a walk/trot test. Zoe felt much more settled in, and I was definitely less nervous. On our final trot across the diagonal, I felt Zoe was really underneath me and solid, so I pushed her just a bit and we did this fabulous medium trot. It felt awesome, and we got an 8! Also ended with an 8 for our final halt. This gave us a 70% on the test, and a first place! What a dream she is!

You can see some of the professional photographers shots.

We also got to see Opus*, Zoe's and Lili's sire at the show. He is a cool looking stallion, and you can see Zoe in him. Sven snapped this shot of him early Saturday morning.

Also check out the brag about Lili and Zoe on the Little Bit Farm news page!

The final excitement of the weekend was getting to watch David Blake win the 6-year old Young Horse Championship on Catapult! Go, David, Go!