Monday, July 23, 2007

Pony Power!

From the USET:


Pony power wins for the USA!

Theodore "Teddy" O'Connor led the U.S. Eventing team to both team and individual Gold at the Pan American Games in Rio this past weekend. In addition, Miranda Caldwell drove her ponies to individual Gold in the Pairs division at the Combined World Pony Driving Championships in Dorthealyst, Denmark. It was quite a showing all around.

At the Pan American Games the Eventing team seized the lead from the very beginning and never let go. The team earned the Gold medal with a combined score of 162.80, far outstripping the Silver medal Canadian team at 211.10 and the host Brazilian team at 235.60. Teddy, the 14.1 hand Thoroughbred/Arabian/Shetland cross, ridden by owner Karen O'Connor, placed third in dressage, led through the difficult cross country phase, and finished with a clear round in stadium jumping. Phillip Dutton, riding Truluck (owned by Ann Jones and Shannon Stimson), was extremely close to O'Connor's score, finishing only 1.1 point behind. Completing the victorious team were Gina Miles on McKinlaigh (owned by Thomas Schultz and Laura Coats) and Stephen Bradley on Charlotte Harris' From.

The U.S. team also swept the first four places in the individual standings with Karen O'Connor (Teddy), Gold; Phillip Dutton (Truluck), Silver; Gina Miles (McKinlaigh), Bronze; and Darren Chiacchia on Better I Do It (owned by Adrienne Iorio), fourth. Stephen Bradley finished 13th overall and Mara Dean retired her mount, Nicki Henley, during the cross country phase.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, the USA's Miranda Caldwell and her ponies took the individual Gold medal in the Pairs division by a slim 0.73 points over Germany's Steffen Abicht. In the team competition, the U.S. finished with a Bronze medal behind Germany and the Netherlands. The team consisted of Rochelle Temple and Suzy Stafford (Singles), Miranda Caldwell and Tracey Morgan (Pairs) and Allison Stroud and Laurie Astegiano (Four-In-Hand).

A marvelous weekend all around for U.S. teams!

Up next is Show Jumping at the Pan American Games, with team and individual competition starting on Thursday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tevis Musings

After coming to the conclusion that I am a sad, obsessive person, I accepted that fact, then went back to organizing my new "Tevis Notebook."

I am officially 364 days away from my goal now. Which means every opportunity to train must be taken advantage of. Not that it wasn't I said, I train a lot more than I actually compete. We've probably been ready for 50s for the last couple years, but I tend to be a bit on the cautious side, and that in this partnership, I'm the one likely to be categorized as "The Weakest Link." And I don't even like that show!

I started putting together a list of things I need before The Big Day. A few little things, here and there, that I'd need anyway, but my 3 big purchases: sheepskin cover for the saddle, crew cart, and DryBack Skito pad. Well, ideally, a new truck as well... *grin* aren't we the optimist...then I can berate Dad to drive carefully with "my" rig...;) Kidding, Dad, if you're reading this! *big grin* He's the better driver than me, anyway, so likely the roles would be reversed...

Is it sad that I already have a travel plan in place? And am scouting out hotels? I'm trying to figure out how much time I want to give myself beforethe ride. I've come to the conclusion that, as much as I would like to go up for the Educational Ride, if they repeat that next year, I think I'd just be pushing it. It's just a little too close to the ride for my comfort, especially with the distance involved in travel. I think my preriding will be limited to the week before the ride, and I'll probably just ride past No Hands and back. Maybe to the Quarry, but even that's pushing it further than I want to do right before the ride.

I'm going into the ride at a disadvantage - Mimi may be the Go Pony, but she's a little small (don't tell her that - she thinks she's 16 hands...proof that maybe half of it is just in your mental perspective) and has small feet. I don't know. I haven't even gotten to a 50 yet, so all of this might be for naught, and I could be counting my chickens before they hatch, but I need a goal to works towards. Besides, you never know until you try, right?

The odds are against me finishing. But the odds are against anyone finishing. I'm not sure that I'm any further behind in that regard than anyone else is - taken from the same perspective, that being a first time rider that doesn't have regular access to the trail, or a horse that is a natural competitor. Well, take that last part back - Mimi is a natural competitor, at least mentally. But she requires more management, physically, than a standard Arab that can be pulled out of the pasture, conditioned for several months, then taken to an LD. We've definitely had more than the recommended 2 years of LSD training - closer to 5, truth be told!

So, the countdown towards my "moment of truth" we have what it takes to become a Tevis Team?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hitting the ground oozing...

No, I'm not dead. I was just busy, busy, busy. Graduation hit, and my life went crazy. I'm still real job hunting, working, and riding.

It's way too hot to ride right now, but for some crazy reason, I'm still out there. My CoolMedics vest is saving my life. Except now it's humid, so the vest doesn't help. I hate monsoon season.

It's been pretty quiet on the ride front, although I'm the sad, obsessive person that has my ride schedule planned out through summer of next year, where I hope to go to Tevis! Last ride was over Memorial Day weekend...Descanso NATRC. Did both days, finished, although that was the slowest timed ride I have ever been at. Honestly, I'm not even sure if the overall speed was within NATRC-legal limits. And for an oprganization that is so gung-ho about its rules and regulations...

Needless to say, Mimi was pissed, having to go so slow. I'm not going to do a whole write-up of the ride, just because 1) that was almost 2 months ago and 2) it really wasn't my favorite ride, and I just don't feel like putting the energy into it. The highlights:

  • Cuyamaca State Park is beautiful. I hadn't been there in about 4 years, so the last time I saw it was pre-fire. It was sad to see all the damage that the fire caused, but amazing to see how fast things were regenerating, and how tough some of those old oak trees are to withstand the flames. Sunday morning, part of the trail went through the area of the park that hadn't burned - wow! It was beautiful, but I was so glad I have a horse that is agile, pays attention to her feet, and is small. Parts of the trail were quite overgrown, so I'm thinking that in a sense, the fire might have been a good thing, as it cleared off a lot of the invasive underbrush from the other trails.
  • Got to see and ride with Kaity again, for the first time in about a year and half. Mimi and Sonny took turns being Bad Pony on Saturday.
  • I was really happy with the horsemanship performance Mimi allowed me to put in. She was so well behaved for the obstacles, which included, in true CP fashion, an off-side mount, opening and closing a gate, a sidepass, and a downhill back, to name a few. I actually got 2nd place in horsemanship.
  • We need to work on the whole "impulsion without losing out mind" at check in/out. Mimi starts being lazy and she gets marked off for lameness that isn't actually there. But if I get her too animated, she starts bouncing around, thus losing me points for "lack of control." Pfffft. AERC, here we come. They just want to see forward movement, and prefer to see the horse dragging its rider along. :)

Ride pics:

Me and Mimi Sunday morning. This was just after you spent some time weaving through the unburned part of the forest, where some of the grass was as high as my head! Granted, short horse + short rider doesn't make that quite as impressive, but meh. The trail ended up on the top of a slight plateau, where there were these field of purple flowers carpeting the hills. We went on a fire road for a while, then all the way back down to the bottom of the hill. Gotta test out those cruppers, y'know. ;)

Dad and Beamer, Saturday morning. Beamer's 3rd NATRC ride, and it's safe to say we have a competition horse. He really rearranged his brain in the 6 weeks between First of Spring and Descanso and he really has his head together now. HE only put in a couple little crowhops within the first 5 miles of the ride, when we were doing some power trotting on the fire road. Dad said it was fun. :) Crazy man.

So what's next for us? Still plugging away, even in the heat. Dad's getting a new saddle, so after that happens, we'll be able to pick up the training in earnest again. We'll probably hit up Prescott and the Groom Creek area, where Michael and Julia Elias of Horses Dacor live. They've invited us to come up and ride with them some time. Precott = higher elevation = cooler temps. I'm in! Plus, I never pass up a chance to ride with experience endurance riders. Helps give me a better sense of speed and timing as well.

I'm planning a 3 day overnight camping trip over Labor Day weekend up to Flagstaff and Little Elden Springs Horse Camp, one of AZ's premier horse camps. Better call and make reservations now. There are over 200 miles of trails that base out of that camp, so I think it's safe to say that will be a good training weekend.

Man vs. Horse in October is our next ride, and we're probably just going to do the 25. Had to put Bryce Canyon on hold, unfortunately. Maybe next year... But I love M v. H! It was my first AERC ride, and it's a total blast! Not to mention, the runner stations are very generous and let you pig out on junk food they supply for the runners. After that, who knows? I'd ideally like to hit up Paso Del Norte and do the 50's 3 weeks after M v. H.

I'd love to do Death Valley this year, too! Dad probably won't join me on that adventure...I don't think I've managed to corrupt him into being that extreme yet. So I either need to have my own hauling vehicle by then, or bum a ride from someone. My goal is to have my 300 Tevis qualifying miles ideally by March.

Some of my thoughts about Tevis, and why I truly do think I can do it with only a year of 50s under my belt. Despite what Indiana Jones says, in this case it is the years, not the miles. I've owned Mimi for going on 11 years. She and I have done everything together, short of carting and 3 day eventing. While I don't have that many competition miles, I have been training, conditioning and competing for the last 6 years. I condition a lot more than I compete.

Before we started doing distance work, Mimi already ahad a good base on her from our showing days. POA shows were all day affairs, starting with lunging the tar (and the bucks) out of them at 6 in the morning, to finish up doing 18 second gymkhana barrel runs at 9:00 at night. Those ponies had to have some stamina to be able to handle all that we asked them to do. Flat classes, jumping classes, high speed reining classes...

Naturally, the idea of doing Tevis revolves around the ability to complete 50s, since we haven't yet managed to get on one of those...*grin*. But Mimi's not called the go-pony for nothing, so Tevis 2008, here we come!