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Phew what a weekend

January 29, 2012

This weekend we went to watch the World Masters Dressage at the Jim Brandon Center. Jim Koford our trainer/coach showed Holly Shook’s Pharoh in the 3* on the Thursday and was high enough placed to earn one of the “wild card” rides in the 5* event on Fri and Sat. So while we would have gone to watch anyway, now we doubly had a reason to go.

What an amazing group of horses and riders. We got to see Stephan Peters, Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Tina Konyot, and a host of others. A really world class competition. Stephan Peters and Ravel won, but only just, Charlotte was so close in score that it was basically a tie. The Olympics in London are going to be really interesting.!

Watching all that world class riding seems to have helped us. well me anyway. X was so good today, I not only got 4 X 1tempi. eg 4 flip flops, but then I tried and almost made a 3 X 1 tempis. as in actually 3 1’s. But only almost, the best I could do was a flip, flop, one stride and then another flip! Sitting back while you use you legs that fast is HARD!
X is getting stronger and is more willing to be through and over his back. He did a few steps of Piaffe as well and a respectable attempt at passage. I can feel him learning to stay round and to begining to really sit and lift up his shoulders.

Arwen is getting stronger as well, she can now do the shoulder-in to half-pass pretty well and without losing balance or running. She is starting the changes, but April rather than me.

Halifax has learned how to do changes, he is so proud of himself. He sometimes does a flip flop just show off! We are making progress. The days can be hot but at least the nights are cool.

I am so tired after our busy weekend, so more tomorrow.

The work goes on!

January 14, 2012

Jim teaching April in the dressage arena at Sunshine Meadows.

We are settling into a pretty good routine. In the mornings I get up and feed. Then we turn one set of horses out in their paddock. April starts on stalls while I do any therapy that the horses need. Therapy plate, laser or what ever.
Then we start tacking up and riding. We meet Koford in the dressage arena, and just keep on coming as he keeps on teaching.

We bring in the horses who have been turned out if it gets hot. And the next set get turned out in the afternoon/evening.

Halifax goes out in the roundpen for about 30mins-1 hr depending on the demand.

Lessons are short but intense.
Yesterday X and I were working on the canter zig-zags from I2/GP. It took me the longest time to workout what Jim was wanting me to do.
Half-pass, straiten (leg yield) shoulder in 1 stride, change and immediately the new half pass, rinse and repeat! I finally had to practice the sequence at walk and then trot before I could organize the coordination to do it in canter! No way could I do the 3-6-6-3 or the 4-8-8-4 that the test requires. It took all of my coordination to do two sequences in each centerline pass. We definitely need to work on this. Jim got on X to show me and had no problem doing all of them, so it clearly is not X’s problem!

April and Arwen got to stat flying changes yesterday, poor Arwen, it takes a lot of coordinating the hind legs, and are a long way away from the head for her!

Curiosa is getting more settled, it has all been quite an experience for her. But she is starting to realise that it isn’t terminal and is beginning to relax and work over her back.

Curiosa and April work on trot lengthenings

Olive had a day off after her intense jumping training.

Halifax is having a blast, he gets to show all of these people what a superior fellow he is, even if the humans are not in agreement! He sees so many different horses in the course of the day and he whinnies to all of them in case someone wants him!.

Morning workouts at Sunshine Meadows, the racetracks, busy with trotters.

X had a slight run in with cellulitis, the fungus lives in the sand and you have to be really vigilant about washing the sand off when they come in, but even then he got a hot swollen leg, thank goodness for the laser and the medi tek shampoo, we got it under control before he got too bad.

Beginning to get to work

January 12, 2012

April schooling Olive in the Grand Prix ring (grass ring).

We allowed the horses a few days to settle in and to recover from their trip. Plus Jim had a USET clinic with Ann Gribbons and Stefan Peters which we got to go watch. Then we started them back to work.

As always with Koford there is no slow introduction. I rode X the first day and he was very good. Jim checked out our canter work, (needs to sit more) and our trot work, (needs to be more elastic) and also took a look to see where we were in our piaffe and passage work. It wasn’t a long lesson but very intense. There are so many great areas to ride in here so cooling out consists of a nice long walk around either a jump ring or around the race track, or just on the grass.

The second day X was WIRED! he had so much energy I could barely sit him. Jim hopped on and made use of all that energy, he did 4 one tempis and some Piaffe and passage. The footing is of course sand, but they water it every morning so it does not get to soft.

Arwen has been introduced to the double bridle, and it makes all the difference to my ability to half halt her. Instead of feeling like I am water skiing around the arena, we can actually do a half halt. With brakes installed I suddenly realize how she does not really use her hind end! her balance is very much on the forehand, this is going to have to change.

The arrival of Peter Atkins, meant that not only did we have a party every night, but April got some jump lessons on Olive. Levi is doing well, he seems to like the heat and the sand. Halifax is also doing well, he has to have his turn out in the round pen (which has a 7 ft fence around it) but he gets about an hour to strut his stuff and yell at all the trotters who of course ignore him. But he is also working well.

Settling down in Florida

The facility here is mostly for trotters and pacers, horses who race in harness, so it has a very workmanlike atmosphere . Every morning early the trotters go out onto the race track and do their training. From about 6 am you can hear the sound of hooves on the hard packed sand as they past the barn.

Since I took 6 stalls I got an end room. These are rooms at the end of the barn aisle, which have an ensuite bathroom, other than that they are very basic. 4 walls, a roof, 2 windows, a door. No AC, but it is carpeted. Our other room is in the dormitories, which are a couple of buildings where instead of stalls they have rooms, exactly the same size as a stall! There are shared bathrooms and laundry facilities. There is a kitchen/restaurant/store at the end of the dormitory building. I scored the end room, and April is making do in the dormitory.
A few trips to Goodwill and Target and we got both rooms very liveable in..
As I took a number of stalls we get our own designated turnout paddock. It’s about 200 feet by 100 feet, mostly sand of course. The fencing is only about 3 ft high, so Halifax can’t go out there (he’d just laugh at a fence that small). But the 3 mares can go out together for a few hours and then the two geldings. It is quite a hike though, almost 1/4 of a mile from the barn. But it is a turnout and it’s all ours. There are turnouts even further down the road that ours so I won’t complain!

This south Florida sun is fierce, so we turn out in the early am and in the evening.

Off to Florida we Go!

It’s been a while since I posted. SO I will split this up so that you don’t have to read too much at once!
During the 2011 Show season, Xavoy and I finally got our scores for my silver medal (2 scores of over 60% at 4th and PSG). So with that in hand, I decided that we needed to move onwatds and upwards. We had been training most of the summer with Jim Koford, and Jim migrates down to Florida during the winter. So if we were going to have any reasonable chance of getting any help with this very big step, we needed to go south with him.
Thus April and I planned and schemed and sold a couple of horses and followed Mr Koford down to South Florida. We planned to take 6 horses with us, Xavoy, Halifax, Arwen, Levi, Olive and Curiosa.
Jim had taken stalls at Sunshine Meadows. Sunshine Meadows is a multi discipline but mostly harness horse facility with 170 acres. 700 stalls and many rings and tracks in DelRay Beach. DelRay Beach is a bit south of the more fashionable (and more expensive) Wellington.
I left 2 days ahead on Jan 3rd to get the stalls set up and organise things. I left in 17degrees, with blowing snow, which for sure made me glad to heading south!
The drive down was uneventful, though LONG!

On Jan 5th April and Brandon Shultz each driving a 3 horse rig came on down. It’s a long way folks from VA to So FL, but they made it by about 10 pm.
Horses were unloaded and settled in the stalls. and we all went to bed.

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