Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain rain go away!

I must admit that since I have been home here in VA, the weather has been absolutely spectacular! In between trailering Al back and forth to Breeze Hill for our gallops and exploring areas to hack around our new abode on Guppy and Bobby, I have settled into my new life up north, seemingly with ease. Aside from the absence of my mom, which I must say is a MASSIVE void in my daily lifestyle, everything seems to be running smoothly and according to plan.
The best thing about being back in VA for my Rolex prep is the vast rolling hills for conditioning. Although Al was used to galloping the distance in Ocala, the undulating terrain and slow, long hills that VA offers really proved where we were lacking in our conditioning program. Because this will be Al's first attempt at a four star, in addition to my first time back at a level in which I haven't been the most consistent, I want to make sure that no stone goes unturned. Al and I have to be in our best condition physically and mentally at Rolex, and as most professional athletes discover all-too-often, we must make sure we do not peak a second too early. Having said that, when I am not on one of my horses, you can bet you will find me (and Brandon, who has recently been promoted from boyfriend to fitness trainer) running laps, doing the elliptical, or lifting some serious weights at American Family Fitness, which is conveniently located next to our apartment complex! No excuses now Lainey!
This past weekend Bonnie Mosser was very helpful in instructing Al and myself over the fences and on the flat. Aside from texting back and forth about the location of her farm's herd of cattle in regards to her ring, the lessons went really well and I took home an abundance of information that I think will aid in our performance at The Fork and of course, at Rolex.
Of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention how awesome it is to be home and back teaching again. Although I've only been away for a couple months, as soon as I hit VA soil, I was inundated with calls from students seeking help which always makes me beam with pride! Needless to say, when you see a wave of people donning black and gold shirts screaming at the top of their lungs, don't be surprised if they're apart of Team Crow's Ear! Love you guys!
Anyway, just thought I would add a quick update to keep everyone in tune with my daily schedule in preparation for our nation's only four star. On Wednesday, mom and I will drive down to Norwood, NC to prep for a Thursday morning CIC*** dressage ride time. Keep your fingers crossed that Al's and my hard work is illuminated by this upcoming weekend's results! Whether we win, lose, or draw, The Fork always proves to be a good time! Until then guys, have a happy Easter and keep those stop watches on and running....three weeks and counting until the BIG EVENT!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back in the (804)...

After eleven hours and fifteen minutes (a record time for me) of driving from Ocala, FL, Team Crow's Ear finally arrived to our final destination at Deer Field Farm located in Maidens, VA. We were pleased to be welcomed by graciously warm weather, spaciously green fields, and a surprising "moo" from our new neighbor, newly born calf, Higgins. Well, if any of you know Al and his fear for cattle, which is explosive to say the least, the first question that sprang into my mind was the height of the fences surrounding the boys' pastures; because if the wind blew just the wrong way and Al had one whiff of his new tiny neighbor, we would surely find him in another county! Fortunately, Tish Bostic, Deerfield’s trusty farm manager, moved the youngster so I could unload my big and brave four star horse safely!
Since I have been “home,” the weather has been splendid, with highs soaring to the eighties and lows only reaching a mere forty. Al and I found a bountiful field that plays host to hundred of acres of vast gallop space and long, rolling hills which will be perfect for our conditioning in preparation for Rolex. So far, aside from our near “cow” sighting, all of the boys have settled into their daily routines, and are delightedly enjoying their lush green pastures in which they seldom graze but often stare in awe! Silly ponies!
So, although I have moved back north, the plan stays the same: upward and onward! Today marks a week away from The Fork CIC*** where Al is entered to compete. Tomorrow is a gallop day, and the rest of the week should be comprised of a trot set, a hack, and a few lessons (jump and flat) from fellow competitor and friend, Bonnie Mosser. As of now, the main thing I am focused on is keeping up Al’s fitness regimen that my coach Buck Davidson has carefully plotted out for us (in addition to my own), and honing in on the small intricacies within the flat work that need to be improved. The Fork, with its competitive and formidable CCI*** entry list, should be a good assessment of where Al and I stand in our rigorous training program. So until then folks, heels down, shoulders back, and start your watches! The countdown to Rolex has now begun! Tick tock tick tock.... :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homeward Bound

Today, as I was slowly meandering over to the jump field to audit Buck's lessons, I suddenly realized that it was the first day down in Florida that I was able to wear a tank top...heck I may even jump off a ledge here by noticing my skin turn a few shades darker!!! Truth be told, the weather in Ocala, along with the rest of the world it seems, has been unseasonably chilly, so needless to say I certainly appreciated having to shield my eyes from the glaring sun as I watched those beautiful four legged creatures jump fluidly across the field. I was jolted into reality when I remembered that I am going to headed home within the week and suddenly felt the need to bask in the sun's warmth even longer.
The week of Red Hills came and went like the warm weather in Ocala. I always look forward to Red Hills every year, as the volunteers and staff that run the show are always so hospitable, and of course, mom and I cherish honoring our country by singing our national anthem annually for the event. This year, however, had a different feel for me. Because Al is uncharacteristically naughty in the dressage every year at Red Hills due to it being the first time stabling away from home with his friends, I decided to take Al alone. My plan certainly paid off as he was brilliant in the dressage, placing third behind two very competitive and seasoned four star horses in the advanced division. The cross country course was nothing short of difficult, but granted a more inviting appeal as the first seven fences were "gallopy" and really encouraged both horse and rider to settle into the undulating terrain of the course...and boy did Al settle! Al galloped around the course with ease, showing his four star capability and answering all of the questions that Hugh's course demanded. I must say, that when I crossed the finish line and cooled my horse, I beamed with pride as that day was the very first time I started to feel "comfortable in the uncomfortable;" that I finally started to believe in myself again. The faith in Al has always existed, however, it was the faith in myself that wavered...up until that Saturday. Al shot up to the top spot of the Advanced class adding only 11.2 time penalties to his dressage score. The final day of show jumping gave me a reality check as Al had an uncharacteristic rail, which dropped us into the second spot, behind fellow barn mate and Buck Davidson student, Andrea Leatherman. Although show jumping is usually Al's best phase, it was good for me to have the pressure of being the last one to enter the ring, and being able to actually RIDE the course without succumbing to nerves. Al's unlucky rail gave me that extra inspiration to have a double clear round come the final Sunday in April.
When Al returned home from Tallahassee, he was greeted by the friendly cheers of his buddies and fellow Crow's Ear ponies, Guppy and Bob, along with the thumbs up from our vet, Brendan Furlong after watching him trot down the cement. As of now, all engines go...
This week will be spent prepping Guppy and Bob for their preliminary event at Rocking Horse Spring Horse Trials. At the end of the weekend, I will have to start packing and planning for our long trip due north. Until then, heels down, thumbs up, and "ride em like you stole em!!!" (my favorite quote from good friend and esteemed rider, Ralph Hill)