Monday, June 3, 2013

In which Boyd Martin moves into my barn

Actually. . . . not that Boyd Martin.  I do know Boyd and it would be absolutely FINE if he did move into my barn.  Boyd Martin could stay.  We'd provide him food, water and a dry place to sleep.  All I ask in return is rodent removal.  Squirrel counterinsurgency. Reptile patrol.  I'm sure Boyd would do well. 

Roughly six months ago a neighbor left the area.  Left behind at least one of her barn cats.  A big handsome streetwise tuxedo cat beast of the feline persuasion.  We'd see him flitting through the woods occasionally.  Toward the end of March he marched into the barn one day, looked around and said "Hi honey, I'm home!".  Just like that we acquired our barn cat. 

Meet BoydMartin.  He's the coolest cat around.  Meets me every morning when I go out to feed, follows me around and we carry on a running conversation about the weather, the horses, politics and his nocturnal escapades.  He is a mighty hunter.  Just ask him and he will tell you.  There have been a never ending offering of disemboweled, dismembered, decpaitated mammals left very proudly as further proof of his prowess.  If there is a happening at the barn, BoydMartin is in the middle of it. 

BoydMartin has a sense of adventure.  He's the self appointed supervisor of all things barn at Pegasus Ridge.  Unload hay, BoydMartin has the overwatch.  Schooling in the dressage ring, BoydMartin is sitting at C, glad to provide an evaluation.  Makes sure all the horses get the right things in their feed tubs.  Oversees stall cleaning, pasture dragging and mowing.  BoydMartin helps in the carriage shed.  He's also been known to check out the wash and wax job on the trucks.  All in all BoydMartin is a solid citizen and a welcome addition to the tiergarten that we call home. 

And the name?  Boyd Martin has a cat called Manny.  We thought it only fair that Manny have a cat named BoydMartin. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

In which I introduce Baghdad Bob

Baghdad Bob- the most interesting camel in the world. 
He gets around and is frequently the life of the party.
He enjoys a rousing game of Covert Camel.

He's been seen in all the right places with all the right people.

He's a good sport, and a good sportsman.

An ardent supporter of those around him.

Baghdad Bob.  His charm is so contagious vaccines have been created for it.
Stay Thirsty My Friends


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In which Diemer International is revealed

After some public shaming on an international chat board I have been galvanized to get after it and update this blog.  I discovered that I started this post last summer and never published it, no doubt a victim of maternal brain suck, as much of my life over the past 20+ years has been.  Except that since the son doesn't live here anymore I may not be able to claim that excuse.  Menopausal brain suck?  Ah well.

Last Summer was the summer of Diemer International.  Diemers Abroad.  One fateful day, Monday, July 16th, there were Diemers on three continents.  The one located in North America was doing some major facebook sniveling. 

I had the honor to serve as team manager for the U16 (that's under 16 for the uninitiated) national polocrosse team.  We spent 20 days in New South Wales, Australia, and Team USA played in three carnivals in the South West Slopes Zone of the Polocrosse Association of Australia. 

Now, you have to ask yourself, how desparate is someone to visit the Land Down Under that she would willingly volunteer to ride herd on 8 teenagers for three weeks.  Not to mention a 16+ hours plane ride coming and going when this person has taken a vow.  It's like a vow of poverty.  Never pee in the lavatory on an airplane.  Once, a long time ago, I read a story (fiction) about a passenger who got stuck on the loo inflight. 

The team met in Dallas and we endured the flight to Brisbane and on to Sydney.  Quantas gets many many thumbs up for being a first class airline.  I would fly with them again any time.  Landed in Sydney, relieved to discovered that all did indeed follow instructions regarding electronic travel authorities, and after a four hour mini-bus ride we arrived in Harden, NSW.  Did I mention when we left the US the eastern seaboard was enduring record highs?  100 plus temps each day?  Weather in Harden - cold and rainey.  High 40.  Overnight lows in the 20s.  First order of business, a trip into Young for purchase of merino wool long underwear.  I lived in them for the entire three weeks.  The team played well the first weekend, winning two out of three matches, and at the end of the weekend we headed off to our respective host family haciendas for a week of real australian living. 

Real australian living, as far as I can tell, usually involves sheep.  Lots of sheep. Moving sheep.  Counting sheep. Breeding sheep.  Shearing sheep.  Moving sheep again.  It also involves being off the grid as much as possible.  Huge cisterns to collect rain water for bathing, drinking and clothes washing.  Wood stoves for heating.  Lots of tea.  Brekkie.  Instant coffee.  Did I mention overnight lows in the 20s?  I slept in my merino long underwear. 

The floats are different, the lifestyle is different.  The polocrosse play is spectacular and the television is distressingly the same.  

At the same time I was coming and going down under, the son was headed below the equator to a different continent.  The Open National Polocrosse team headed out to Zambia, and played a series of test matches against the Zambia national team.  While the results weren't what Team USA had hoped for, there were great photo opportunities and it sounds like it was a trip of a life time.

In which the Big Horse becomes the answer to someone's dream .

Growing up and moving on. . . putting paid to hopes and dreams.

Well, that sounds dramatic. . . The reality is that while one set of hopes and dreams has been cancelled, another set has been answered.  The big horse (aka Bo, aka Cold Harbor) has a new dance partner.  My mother used to say if it's meant to be it's meant to be and this has all the earmarks of "meant to be-ness. "

Last December we took Bo from the Queen of Darkness down to Aiken to meet Dom and Jimmie Schramm.  Dom is from Queensland, Australia and tells me his "hometown" is outback all the way.  He relocated to the states in 2010 and made the very smart move of marrying Jimmie Holotik.  The pair are chasing their own dream and it's been lots of fun to be a part of that.  An unfortunate accident ended Dom's hopes of campaigning his own Oxlea Aargo and when Aargo retired to the hunt field Dom found himself without an upper level partner to compete.  Enter the big horse.

Dom and Jimmie are currently based out of Quarter Moon Farm in Cochranville, Pennsylvania.  He and Boyd Martin are good mates and Boyd, who formerly had Bo, has been terrific about offering advice and coaching Dom.  Thanks to rule changes this year from the Federation of European Idiots, we have had to revamp our year end goals, but Dom and Bo are getting to know one another.  They have had a light but very successful spring campaign, with top placings at Preliminary and Intermediate, including a double clear XC round at Southern Pines HT II.  The very tough and very impressive new course at the Carolina Horse Park produced only three double clears at the Intermediate level.  Bo and Dom had the afterburners on and made the course look like a cake walk.  Next on the calendar is the Virginia International CCI*, a step down, but necessary to check the boxes to get to the year end goal.  Dom is a real thinking man's rider, and determined to make the best of every opportunity handed him.  Jimmie is the perfect partner, and keeps the lid (mostly) on this wild and crazy guy.  They started a hugely popular and award winning You Tube channel last year, called Evention - you can see Bo on some of the episodes now, the barn is filling up and they no longer are living in an apartment filled with spiders.  Success comes in many forms.

Chase the dream and pay it forward. . .

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In which I putter on about lots of things

Whinge.  To whine or complain.  Today I am whinging because I smashed my little toe this morning on the dining room table.  It's turning a lovely shade of purple.  It throbs.  It hurts to but a shoe on.  I probably have cracked something. 

I realized this morning it has been ages since my last blog promoting drinking and driving.  The 12 year old scotch did the trick once again in early May.  Monster Pony, the 'gator and I traveled to Tryon to the Carolina Carriage Club HDT.  New location, and lots of new location issues, but a really fun show with clever and challenging courses.  Dressage was by far the MOST challenging, with warm up on a hillside, and a half mile hack down the road to a stone dust dressage ring carved out of the woods.  It was level.  It was dusty. It was deep.  Not our best score, although I was quite pleased with how Bryn went.  Cones was challenging and showed really good use of the terrain.  We had a silly ball down at 18, two from home.  I was just thinking. . . YES!  double clear is within my grasp!!  That will teach me to think! Marathon was a blast, with some wide open hazards that allowed us to really put the pedal down.  Scoring took forever, and we finally packed up and headed home without knowing results.  Thirty mintutes from home I got the phone call from Alicia Henderson, the organizer, telling me we had won our first recognized driving competition!!

Bryn has had a light summer, and we are just now getting stuck into work for our fall competition schedule.  I have just two on the calendar - love both events and am looking forward to both of them!

The new face in the paddock is Fred.  Fred is a five year old welsh gelding, and I am having a lot of fun starting him from scratch (with lots of help from trainer and friend Craig Kellogg).  We have progressed over the last four months from being halter broken (Fred led a sheltered life until he moved to Raeford) to dragging a tire around in the woods. Fred has had several name changes - migrating from Feral Fred to Friendly Fred.  Fred meets carriage in September and I am really looking forward to working with and competing this flashy guy. 

Another new face at the farm is JR's Boy.  Boy is a nine year old dark brindle greyhound and the track record holder at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We weren't really on the look out for a second greyhound, but I have always had a soft spot for the seniors, particularly after having Pops spend the end of his days with us.  I mention Pops because he is the reason Boy had to come to us.  Pops was JR's Proud, racer extraordinaire with a fantastic stakes winning record and 91 recorded get to his credit.  Pops sired many top racers - and one of his best was Boy.  When I saw Boy's name listed on the up for adoption roster at Senior Sanctuary I knew he had to come to us.  He is funny, LOUD, boisterous, and larger than life.  We hold regular conversations at five in the morning, I am usually in the bathroom and he is intently doing the staredown, playbowing and demanding snappy comebacks.  I don't do snappy at five am.  It's a challenge. 

The big horse is in the house for awhile. . . or at least in the neighborhood.  He is enjoying a protracted visit with the Queen of Darkness, whose name shall be changing to Annie Sullivan The Miracle Worker shortly.  Thanks to Lynn Doki and Dr. Megan Ross Bo has got the beat.  Three that is.  Shaken, not stirred.  Can flying changes be just around the corner?  Our goal is to bring that charming Australian an easier horse to ride on the flat, and hopefully in the end reunite Bo with the guy he brought to the dance to start with. 

I have lots more to blog about - but will save Diemer International for next week.  In closing, the lovely photographs were done by our good friend Meri Hyoky.  She is in town for a short while longer before returning to her new home in Lesotho and is available for photo shoots.  Great eye and great to work with!  Two thumbs up!

Monday, April 16, 2012

In which I discover the secret of a great dressage test

I won't keep you in suspense.  Scotch.  12 year old Scotch.  The Queen of Darkness agreed to function as a carriage appointment last Friday in what ended up being our season opener.  She showed up, booze in hand, and said "Here, have a snort".  Being the obedient student, I did.  I have sort of suspected that being half lit was the answer, the last dressage test I drove was enhanced by marshmellow flavored vodka and cranberry juice.  Thanks Reba. . . but the scotch is da bomb!

While giving new meaning to "driving drunk" we managed to produce a soft and relaxed test and a carrer best score of 51 and change.  Bryn's driveability remained the entire weekend - we planted ourselves firmly in third place.  Stubbornly stayed put the entire weekend, including going into cones with three balls plus in hand. 

Next time I am giving the scotch to the pony as well!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In which I have a lightbulb moment

Not a nerve, not a chord.  Not sure what. . . . but a recent post on a driving digest by a noted judge struck something in me. The gentleman wrote at length about the concept of "tracking up".  His judging premise du jour is tracking up above all else.  I know this to be true as he was the judge at C in my last recognized driving competition and we were heavily  penalized at every movement.  One comment in almost every box.  Not tracking up.  At the same time, the judge at E, a classically trained dressage rider well on her way to Senior status, pinged the pony for lack of impulsion (not tracking up) , but also rewarded his relaxation, rhythm and submisson. Judge at C - thumbs down,  Judge at E - thumbs up.  I haven't decided whether the practice of having multiple opinions in dressage is an encouraging or discouraging situation.  Of  course, someone is surely apt to make at least one positive comment, thus rendering the other judges' outlooks as warped, uneducated or otherwise ignorant.  Insert disclaimer here:  Judging is never easy, and I hope that if I ever get the opportunity to sit at C, I can come up with observtions and scoring that will help competitors better their partners. It took me 3 1/2 months to realize the judge at C, in a convoluted sort of way, did just that. 

Which brings me to Dressage Anonymous and the Six Step Program.  While pondering all of this, coupled with my irritation over "not tracking up" - don't tell me what you see, tell me what I need for a better score! and tempering all that with the knowledge judges must comment on what they see on the day - so unfair!  Can't I just bring a video in of my last lesson with the Queen of Darkness and let them judge that!!  I dug up an old eventing book by Jane Wallace called The Less Than Perfect Horse.  It's out of print now, but well worth re-reading.  The early chapters are all devoted to the six steps to self carriage, and NOW finally, I am beginning to have a grasp of what all that means.  It's a little like being able to speak a foreign language, but not truly understand what you are saying.  There has been something lost in the translation for sure, and finally, 20 years after I bought the book, I have stumbled across the rosetta stone to intrepret it. 

Relaxation, Rhythym, Contact, Straightness, Impulsion, Collection. 

Brynnie and I spend a lot of time stuttering up and down the first four steps.  Sometimes we get them out of order.  A lot of times step one and step four are a struggle.  More and more we get to the point each day where we can take the next step up to impulsion, teetering there precariously, trying to find our balance.  It's exciting to think that maybe, just maybe, we can plant ourselves firmly on that next rung.  Take the pledge.  Stand up and say hello, our names are Bryn and Dana and we are on the road to recovery. So while I have to thank the judge at E for confirming where I am on the training ladder, I must also acknowledge the judge at C for reminding me there is a training ladder, to understand where I am on that ladder, and to acknowledge that steps on the ladder can't be skipped.