Monday, June 30, 2014

I Can't Help Myself

 Memba' this post?

You know, the one where I went on and on and ON about how much I love Guaranteed Gold and all his golden delicious gorgeous babies?  Well...let me tell you something about myself.

I can't help myself.

When I receive a message that says - "Hey Tori!  You still want one of those GG babies? Call me - I have a deal for you".

Hmmmm.  I'm at work at the moment.  I can't call...FACEBOOK ME ASAP.

Sits at desk checking phone every .4 seconds.  Dying.  Suspense...tell me nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

  A friend of mine, the one I bought Penny off, had two GG babies, registered Thoroughbreds, in for re-sale.  One was a yearling and the other a two year old.  Both colts, both fairly unhandled.  I was pinning over them from a distance for quite some time.  Not needed, and not in my price range.  Was the biggest tease ever to see pictures of these babies every day on Facebook!

 The two year old was sold - the "nicer"  Apparently, the yearling was, well, not that nice.  Personality wise.  The vet was out to geld him and he managed to head butt him and kick him all in the same visit.  That is pretty special.  She said he was too ill mannered and wild at the moment to be worth her or the owners time.  They want him out by the weekend and if I can come get him or arrange trailering - they would gift him to me.

Hmmmmmmmm...major dilemma.  Want golden horse so desperately but do I NEED him? No...I guess I don't.  But he most definitely needs me.  I can't help myself.  Spunky little asshole needs me in his life - to set him straight, spend some time teaching him manners, respect, and most importantly of all - love.

 So that was that.  I had my friend ship him to Alaynes house that Friday night.  I thought a month at a busy stable would be good for him.  Get him used to being handled, the hustle and bustle of he could be turned out safely while he is still a stud...although he is pretty un-masculine at the moment!  The first night he wouldn't let anyone near him.  He thought he was pretty wild and tough.  I worked him in the round pen for about 20 minutes and he eventually let me catch him and lead him around a little bit.

 He certainly had no manners or skills.  He didn't like if you asked him to do anything and he came straight at me with his ears pinned a few times.  An easy solution to that is me coming at him growling and then using my rope to work him more in the pen.  I love doing round pen work, especially with horses that are a little nervous, shy, or unbroke.  I was really looking forward to the challenge this guy might bring.  Not to mention when he was trotting around I was just sort of standing there drooling over his nice big lofty trot.  Holy hell...this horse is nice.  Not just really nice.  Ohhh...excitement builds even more.

  I was sort of hoping this might turn into a fun project.  Taming the wild beast...getting to work on my John Lyons skills type of thing.  Alas the golden horse softened up in a just a few days.  He is pretty much eating out of the palm of my hand now.  He lets me catch him, brush him, pick out his feet and lead him around.  He is still a bit shy but starting to understand I want to do nothing but give him little golden hugs and kisses.

 The vet is coming out next Wednesday to geld him and check him over.  He will move to my place this weekend.  Very excited to have him home.  So ya, I can't help myself :)  Introducing...Dirk Diggler...AKA Goldmember II

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Touch A Rainbow Horse Trials Recap

zoooooooomies -photo cred CHunter

  On Sunday TTE headed to one of our favorite events - Touch A Rainbow Horse Trials!  William was entered in the Pre Entry Open division again.  This time we had a decent amount of riders in our class - 9 total.  I recently had the greatest discovery of all time when I decided to take a few minutes and look through the updated rule book.  When I landed on the legal dressage bit page - I realized they have made the Mullen Mouth Happy mouth bits legal for dressage now.  HALLELUJAH!  This is the ONLY bit William will happily accept and go into the contact.  Anything jointed he just tries desperately to avoid.  With his little parrot mouth, small lips and low palate, finding a comfortable bit has been tiresome.  Having learned this just three days before our event - I was feeling very excited to be able to show in it!

being such a good show pony!

 Possibly the greatest accomplishment of the day was when William walked off after I mounted him - without fuss!  We headed straight to the dressage warm-up.  No backing, no spinning, no being "stuck", and best of all - no bucking!  It was almost as if he knew - ok, time to go - and away we went.  We had a nice warm up, I was pleased with how he was going and feeling good about our test coming.  When our number was called we trotted around the outside twice and the whistle blew - William felt ready and was quite relaxed.  He did the best test he has ever done and scored a 46.5 (31 American), landing us in 3rd place after dressage - against some nice competitive dressage horses! Go Willy!

lift off

  Needless to say I was pretty thrilled with that result.  However, we all know what eventing is about and it is never a dressage competition.  Pressure was on now to not screw up the other two phases.  We had a long 3 hour wait until showjumping.  David, who boards at Alaynes, was competing in my division also on his mare Zoe.  We walked the cross country twice and then the stadium.  I had no worries about cross since we had schooled the course a few weeks prior at the cross country trials.  However, William can be funny and a bit looky even with things he has jumped before so I knew I would still have to be on my A game to jump around.

  The stadium course was rather small - even for Pre Entry.  These tiny courses are difficult to ride when your horse is very forward, as there is nothing there to back them off or demand respect.  William was very "on" in the warm up.  He knew exactly what was coming and he wanted to eat it alive.  He was ready to go...and into the ring we went.  Things were a little more forward than I would prefer - but with him forward is much better than balky and backed off so I will take it!  Some of the lines were set on an exact half stride and I opted to go for leaving the 1/2 stride out knowing this horse was going to want to zoom zoom around.  We were crooked to the 4th fence - a tiny plank and sent the rail flying.  We jumped the rest clean and very brave and left the ring with a big smile!  We need to work on our waiting and pace skills and I think a few gymnastic lessons should sharpen that.  We are definitely ready to hit the next level up in the showjumping ring soon.

  I was a little sad about our rail - hoping it wouldn't knock us down the placings since there were quite a few clean rounds.  It just meant the pressure was on even more for cross.  A stop would surely bump us out of the ribbons and no way was I letting that happen!  I had a few minutes to relax then it was time to get back on in all our blue and white gear and head to the start box.  William cantered off nice and quietly and jumped the first fence great.  I planned to trot down the long laneway in order to kill time - since this course is quite short and the Pre Entry speed is very slow.  My plan backfired though because at the end of the lane I realized we only had about 1.15m to finish the course! I kicked it into forward canter mode and we zoomed around the course.  William did not look or balk at a single thing - just zoom zoomed around like an old pro.  We jumped clean and came home with 2.8 time penalties.  Obviously, I was kicking myself for being so dumb about trotting so slow down the long laneway - and I thought for sure we would move down.  

 Things never work out the way you think they will in eventing - it turns out I wasn't the only one who was too slow.  David was the only rider in our division to end with 0 time faults.  He moved up from 6th to finish 4th, and I moved up from 3rd to finish 1st!  What a surprise!  I was excited and so proud of my little Willy.  Words just can not express how much love I have for this little horse.  He really came into his own this day - and was ready to try his hardest for all phases.  He is starting to mature and the future seems promising for him. After all the doubts, struggles, and tears - it seems he will actually be - quite the little event horse.

oooo pretty

David and Zoe - his first event in over 20 years!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Touch A Rainbow XC Trials Pics

making Pre Entry look like Rolex lol 

I bought a CD of pictures from the cross country trials at Touch A Rainbow a few weeks back.  I picked it up this weekend when we were there competing.  Proceeds from the photots go to their therapeutic riding program so you can't beat that.  Photo credit to Cat Hunter.

my face though - lol 

Friday, June 20, 2014

More of Sugar on Set at Degrassi!

 For those of you who don't know what Degrassi is, it is a very popular teen based TV show produced here in Ontario, Canada.  The original Degrassi was aired in the 80's and I grew up watching it.  A few years back they reintroduced it as Degrassi - The Next Generation.  It's popularity has gained once again.  For those who follow music, the hip-hop/R&B artist Drake got his start on this series.  I have actually been on the set for Degrassi myself a few years ago, so it's really neat to have Sugar there doing her thing now!

check that plume!

  Oh Suggie....hope you don't forget about us back in our small town when you are all rich and famous.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Do You Even Roller Coaster Brah?

    On Sunday Jessica and I, and our boys headed to Toronto to seek some thrills at Canada's Wonderland - the best theme park around these parts!  A good horse free weekend was needed before show season gets on full tilt and this was just what the doctor ordered.  I am kind of a thrill junkie, I guess that's why I love cross country so much.  Roller coasters are another love of my life.

we are excite!
rockin the Great Canadian Minebuster

Getting ready to run on the Ghoster Coaster
  It never fails, the minute I strap in and we start moving...the click click click makes my heart wrench and I immediately start doubting myself as to why I strapped myself into this monstrous metal train of death.  All that fear subsides the minute we start to descend over the hill...and it is replaced with sheer adrenaline and ecstasy as we go blazing down at top speed.  The absolute fear followed by the most exciting ride (next to eventing) is what keeps me coming back to the park.  I love love love this place.

I will not ride this one.

See...I'll wait instead :)

  There are a couple of new rides at the park.  One of them is the Leviathan.  It's the 7th tallest coaster in the world - and has a reverse angle drop - something like 86 degrees.  This coaster doesn't have a shoulder harness, but this tiny little plastic thing that sits in your lap.  That is it.  300+ feet in the air and the only thing holding you in is a metal bar with a plastic blob on the end.  I won't lie and say I wasn't terrified to go on this.  I surely was. My tiny little hands could barely hold onto the handles on the plastic blob.  Alas, my entourage forced me upon the ride unto which, I did not die.  In fact - it was a f*cking BLAST.  If you love roller coasters - the Leviathan is definitely for you!

This is my "don't die face"

might pass out - they think it's hilar

I didn't die!

 They have another new ride called the Guardian that was absolutely kick-ass.  It was the longest line of the day but definitely worth the wait.  It runs through Wonder Mountain, and involves a video game type set up where you shoot lasers at villians. I'm going to use this opportunity to brag that Jessica and I kicked some major ass against the boys in this - and were undefeated in the two times we went on. Woot Woot!  There is a wicked surprise at the end of the ride but I will let you find out for yourself what it is - go ride it!

  An absolutely fabulous day - thanks Wonderland :)

In the mountain after riding The Guardian

146 - that's my winning score :)

such a fun ride!

now in love with the Leviathan! Even rode in the front ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When I Have No Words for Once

   I've been struggling with my feelings after the news of two rider deaths and one horse death this weekend.  Maybe it is the fact that one of the lives lost was a young Canadian man, who was following his dreams, dreams I can relate to, dreams that are in line with my own.  Lesley Grant-Law has posted an excellent piece on what has happened - and her thoughts on the problem.  I happen to agree whole heartedly in everything she is saying.  Something has to change - and it won't happen by us shrugging it off as a "risky sport".

 I am going to share Lesley's post below:  from Horse-Canada where Lesley has her own blog column.

June 14, 2014
Today Jordan McDonald died. 
Today Jordan McDonald died after a rotational fall on cross country leaving behind, amongst others, a wife, Shandiss, who had been his sweetheart since the time they were teens.
I met Jordan over 10 years ago in Florida, when he and Shandiss were working students for Peter Gray, where I rented stalls. I would often stop in for a drink or a quick chat with them at the end of the day. Back then, if I had to sum Jordan and Shandiss up it would be that they were pure; straight ‘granola’ if you know what I mean. Two young loves, been together since teenage years, loving the horse life, dreaming large, having fun and working hard.
The years have gone by and just over a year or so ago they went on and finally (lol), got married, had secured very good owners in one particular family and had made a large life decision to move to the UK to get experience riding over there. One couldn’t help but think, fantastic, a win for the little guys. Here you had two kids that grew up, fell in the Disney version of love, found big money supporters and went to follow the yellow brick road off to the UK to get that next life experience. Maybe, just maybe, in these days of millionaire barn brats, high speed dating, fake boobs, fake lives, maybe…. a little bit of pure good, pure romance, Cinderella type stories still exist.
But now this.
I was at a little event today with baby horses and clients when I happened to come across this news. How? Facebook. I read a post from a friend of mine in the UK that said, “Who knows what happened at Nunney today?” and then someone replied “a Canadian boy died.” I got together with my fellow Florida Canadians and we just could not believe it. My body had no idea whether to cry or throw up.
Jordan wasn’t the only casualty of Eventing today. He was joined by a young German lad as well who, thank god, I did not know, but most certainly the sadness is all too real for his family and friends as well.
I have made a life out of this sport we love. I have achieved probably, statistically, well above average success at the sport and naturally my husband is amongst the top 10 per cent in the sport and, of course, was at one point number one in the world, so I think it is obvious that we are true believers and lovers in the sport. But, this is what I am here to say now…
I read reports today from many people that I respect, Authorities in our sport, stating that there is ‘risk’ and has always been ‘risk’ and we do all that we can and blah blah blah. Of course, on the one hand, they are right, but on the other? Although we ‘accept the risk inherent in horses,’ I am pretty darn sure that if someone had walked up to Jordan this morning and asked him if he was willing to never ever see his wife or parents again if he got on that horse today, well I am pretty dam sure he would of said no. Here is the other thing that no one wants to say..
It is not ok. It is sick. It is stomach turning, repulsive, heart breaking and inane. The fact that a luxury, ridiculously expensive, sport ends up in people dying is madness. Perhaps acceptable madness? But madness none the less.
I personally believe that it is a numbers game. I have seen so very many bad rides go without a scrape (some of them mine) and so many good ones end up in injury (some of them mine) that I tend to agree with the belief that no one can make this sport safer than life itself as David O’Conner likes to say, but at the same time, that does not make it anywhere near ok.
I can only begin to imagine the crater of loss that has been left in Shandiss’ and the McDonalds’ hearts. As a wife of an event rider, there have been occasions when I think of how I would cope in the worst case scenerios, and I can honestly say that aside from the fact that I have a son to protect, I cannot imagine how I would wake to take another breath if I lost Leslie in that way. I can promise you one thing, my son will never be encouraged by me to event. If he has the passion we will support it, but believe you me, I will be pushing dressage or show jumping as hard as I can.
I don’t want to sound anti-Eventing; I love Eventing. I think, in a way I pay tribute to Jordan to ask the tough questions that we would all rather avoid. I think I make an interesting point when I say if someone had asked those boys today if they would trade their life for that ride, I believe they would have said no. Of course, they would have said no! I don’t want rid of our sport, I don’t know what the answers are, but I sure hope we keep questioning ourselves and looking for a way to make it safer and don’t just shrug our shoulders at these ‘accidents’.
I am sick of people shrugging it off by stating we ‘accept the risk’. I am here to say I do NOT ‘ACCEPT’ the risk any more than I ‘ACCEPT’ that I may get into a car today and have someone crash into me and kill my son. Do I know things happen? Yes. But it is not ok and I do not ‘accept’ it. We must try and try and search for safer options to the sport we love.
To Shandiss, the McDonalds, and the Winter family. The Event community mourns for you. 

I need some time to reflect on my feelings of eventing right now.  I feel sad, lost, and unsure of whether or not this is the same sport I fell in love with.  I guess only time can show me what is right for me.  Thank you Lesley for sharing your thoughts with us.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sugar Goes to Hollywood

  Well, not quite Hollywood.  Toronto to be exact.  It's close enough though, there is a booming film industry in this area.  As I have mentioned before, I used to work in the film industry in Toronto.  It was really fun and I made some decent money at it for awhile.  Now, there is a new star in the family.  Sugar got herself a part in a TV commercial!

  My coaches' cousin works in the industry, and does a lot of the work with animals for TV and movies.  They were in need of a Shetland pony for an upcoming commercial, so we sent Sugars photos off for consideration.  Next thing we know - she had been chosen for the role!

  Sugar leaves tomorrow morning to be prepped for the shoot.  She is staying with my coach while the shoot happens and will be home next Thursday.  I am a little nervous for her as she has never been off property and won't have us there with her.  I'm sure she will be fine though - she is really an excellent little pony.  Apparently her part involves her standing next to a pool with a child on her back.  I guess all those times I made Ozzy ride her will pay off.

  Hopefully she isn't too divafied when she gets back - wanting only sliced carrots and to longer share her stall with the pig.  *sigh* Movie stars these days.

 Break a leg - Suggie!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ottawa Horse Trials Recap (Pics Galore!)

  Yesterday, William and I, along with the TTE crew headed to the Ottawa Horse Trials, hosted by "Eventing at the Park".  We were entered in the Pre-Entry Open division.  I have a lot of great pics from the day thanks to Jessica coming and helping us out.  

  We started the day by walking the courses while the horses waited on the trailer.  After course walks I unloaded William and took him for a stroll around the venue.  This place is an equestrian park and although not huge, there is a lot to look at for greenies!  Here is the course; definitely not an easy course for Pre-entry, but most certainly looked fun!  I wasn't too worried.  I figured William was going to give everything a big look but if I rode him well he would pop over them all.

  Soon it was time for dressage, our favorite part of the day (can you sense the sarcasm).  Unsure of how William would be when I mounted, I gave myself lots of time to get on and get to warm up.  He was quite a bit better about leaving the parking lot than he was at the last event.  That doesn't mean he didn't try some of his usual tricks though.  I came about this close to coming off.... I gave him a big boot and we were on with it.

ready for lift off

my face says it all

  Much to my surprise, once we got to the warm up ring William was an absolute delight to ride.  He was soft, supple, actually taking the contact and not being too fussy in the bridle.  I was excited to wear my new navy blue jacket and velvet CO I bought off of some riders on Facebook (thank you English Tack Trader ;).  I have always loved the look of blue and chestnuts, and I am really happy with how the overall outlook turned out.  

 Once in the ring, William did the best test he has ever done with me.  I was so happy at the end, it was as if he knew he had to do it, went in, did it, and at the end was like - are you happy now?  Ya, I was.


could not love this photo more

I believe this is what they refer to as "engagement" lol

  We aren't prefect but we tried pretty hard.  We ended up second place after dressage with a 58 (39 in US) which I was thrilled with (The judge scribed "attractive horse" on our test :))  We were less than a penalty behind the leader.   For me, this meant added pressure for the jumping phases, which I hate.  I am doing much better about not getting stressed in stadium.  I am sure Penny really helped me with that last year and I was only a bit nervous going into the ring yesterday.  William on the other hand seems to have suddenly figured out what goes in the ring and was very very excited.  We cantered up the first fence and when he saw it he locked on and from then on it was all - weeeeeeeeeee - around the course.  

  Because of this we had a rail mid course.  Too forward and close to base, the fences too small to cause any sort of concern to move the legs out of the way.  I could have fought him to bring him back more but I am not about to get into a game of face pulling at a show.  We can work on this at home, I am just happy he was so game on about being the ring jumping courses.

nice, Willy

fence 1 - weeee

my reins kept getting caught...annoying

the jump was back there William...



more fence needed...

I was giggling at fun

  After stadium I had just enough time to take him back, sponge him off, and then get ready for cross.  It was very hot and humid...I was a complete sweaty mess all day.  William was having many sponge baths to ensure he stayed comfortable.  With no warm up really needed...we set off for the long walk to the cross country course.

  Shortly after that we were on course!  William was braver out of the gate this time but still quite looky.  I knew I would have to ride him to the best of my ability if I wanted to go clean.  I gave him a strong positive ride to the first three fences and he went right over.  The 4th fence was a stone wall and I knew he would gawk at it - they always gawk at stone walls when they are green!  He went left and right and I gave him a good growl and then he just flew right up and over!  The rest of the course rode extremely well.  I will say I definitely worked on the clear round we came home with, but William certainly had his big boy horse shoes on yesterday.

  I was so proud of my little Willy.  We were clean inside the time to hold onto our second place.  After cross he had a nice bath, poultice wrap, and much on a haynet while we waited for Pam to go with Winston.  The rest of TTE did amazing.  Alayne was 1st and 3rd in the Open Entry with Paige and Zoe, and Pam ended up 2nd with Winston in a very competitive Sr Pre Training Division.

Alayne and Zoe

Pam and Winston

 It was a truly success day.  Walking back from cross country with William I couldn't help but let the feeling of happiness over come me.  After three really long years with this horse, there seems to be a light coming out of the tunnel.  He is by no means easy, and I doubt if he ever will be the type of horse you can just get on and have a go with.  I am starting to figure him out though, and through all this time I have learned what works and what doesn't.  I am always learning with him, which is a good thing but can be frustrating when it doesn't go right.  I am so glad I never gave up on this horse.  This horse has something in him that is truly special.  If we can find the keys to unlock it, there is no telling what he could do.

 I get the sense that this is just the beginning of our journey. 
my silly Will

TTE - myself, Alayne, and David, Zoes owner

the face

can we go home now mom?

 Thanks for all the pics Jessica!
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