Sunday, November 20, 2011

Retired at the Ocala Horse Properties


   "You made the right decision" was the txt from the owner of the horse my eventer rides. There it was, just what she needed to hear...cannonball reload! It was a nice solid shot, BAM! she fought back all the emerging doubt, unwanted difficulties and screeching skepticism that comes with an "R" on their record. "R" means retired on course and when in uncertainty, probably is always the right thing to do.
     The Ocala Horse Properties (we all still call it the Florida Horse Park) Horse Trials scrunched all three phases into one jam packed day.  We arrived the day before giving us ample time to walk the course two times, clean tack and set up a tent. Yes, we assembled the 4 man, it's called eventing on a budget. "Can you sleep?" my rider asked. Oh crap, here we go tossing and turning all night. Shuteye was nowhere to be found. In the car, out of the car, in the tent, out of the tent, her search continued. She settled for the fetal position crammed on the back seat. Groggy and compressed however, happy without worry because there was plenty of time. I would have to say, that mare's perfectly weaved in button braids were proof, that everything was going well. Then there were the smiles from the breakfast sandwich, confirmation of wellness. Can you picture that toasted egg + bacon saying cheese?
     Her dressage score was respectable, laying them a foundation of a 37.7  which fastened them into seventh position. Braids were kept in, since show jumping was next. Considering what had happened at the last show, them getting through this was absolutely necessary! She rode with confidence clearing every jump, only dropped the final one. Lastly, they still needed to run across the country and clear twenty-two jumps. Looking ready, my pair rushed over to warm-up and at the first little coupe, she seemed to almost stop. Then the next jump... definitely a mother's "WHAT THE?"  Bunny hopped it. Yikes, I could see her slightly start to panic. A couple more unfavored jumps then the start box judge yelled "YOU'VE GOT 20 SECONDS!"  Off they went into the box, out towards their first jump. I could see the hesitation, they jumped it. Second question needed coaxing. They barely scraped over the third. Forth jump, the mare refused, with a cleared second attempt. Rider felt like, this quarter horse had run out of gas. She was sleep running! They came up to the fifth jump, pony acted squirrelly, rider pulled up while raising her hand. That was enough, it was all too rough.
     I was proud of my cautious rider, even though at that moment she wasn't feeling very proud. No need to risk anything if it didn't feel right.  Thank goodness for the text from the owner, she turned her frown upside down.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rocking Horse Fall Off HT's

     I started to brush off the dirt, then thought better about doing that. White footing fragments littered her newly dry cleaned show jumping jacket. It was as if an eight month old baby had just puked milk down her shoulder to the backside of her arm. Obviously she had taken a tumble, a fresh hit to the ground. Like any good mother, I began to smack away some of the impurities, some soil, the dirt together with sticky sand. My hand briskly slapped as well as dusted, really I just wanted to hit away her humiliation. Turn back time. Grant her a "do over".  Then I stopped, better not bring more attention to what had just happened.
     Rocking Horse Fall Horse Trials started off as well as ended in an unwanted disconnected kind of way. Right off the bat, we had a bobble, a bad car battery.  DRATS a three hour set back! A three hour tour! All I could do to calm myself down was keep the Gilligan's Island theme song repeating in my head. You know the one..Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, That started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny mare. We towed into the dropping sun, rolled into the showgrounds on Friday night at six. A prompt early morning dressage test overshadowed their straightaway ten forty-five cross~country start time. The daylight started getting dark, we had better find her mark. If not for the courage of our fearless walk the mare would be lost. THE MARE WOULD BE LOST! Sunshine waned, weakened her line, made it hard to find the jumps. We had to make the best of things, cause it's an uphill climb. Without further delay, she braided her mares' mane, went to bed without sleep, faced an early bird wake-up call, missed the free breakfast to start the show tied for fifth, after the flat. YIPPEE! My rider, not without the pony, was a "jockey for position".
     I set off to find some nourishment, can't have this pilot feeling like she could "eat a horse" or anything, not before they run across the country. DRATS once again, she solely wanted a bacon, egg and cheese on whole wheat breakfast sandwich, but for the most part all they had were crepes crunched in cups. Eager to please, I harpooned that food and brought it to her. Not happy while running out of time we walked the end again. Us being "out of time" ended up giving her time. Time penalties galore, almost enough to count as a refusal. Her fine fifth place position, plunged to nasty ninth.
     The chips were down, but her spirit was still up before going into the final showjumping phase. The course was walked, paced out to perfection. Warm up jumps were flawless, not a rattle, nailed every distance, she looked just like Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum but without the "Shutterfly".  The announcer introduced my equestrian along with the cremello quarter horse, the whistle blew, off they went. Every jump was off. The chips that were down earlier had found their way directly into how the horse ran it. Chipped in, popped up, every jump looked un-smooth, however, nothing had fallen down. Then, on the sixth jump the horse sprung straight up, leaped it big, everybody gasped, (by the way she heard that!) we thought the horse would land on top of the jump, they cleared it with surprise. That's when, the pair came around to the fateful seventh jump. Nope, that was enough....the mare stopped and my eventer popped over it alright, unfortunately without the horse. It was like, a ship set ground on the shore of some uncharted desert isle, and everybody fell off. Better luck next time.

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I hold my breath and hang on tight, every time they gallop across the country. Mother of an EVENTER