16 December, 2012

Drum roll please

Super assistant, head groom, my other set of arms Lindsey has her own blog...


15 November, 2012

Fall went by way too fast

Something about the best laid plans…pretty much every show/outing planned for this Fall was kyboshed by weather or lack of entries…the ladies and I have made the best of it with some fun jumping lessons, crazy combinations and re-creating XC jumps in the ring, but man, frustrating.

Waredaca (the only show we made it to) was a success despite Hurricane Sandy creeping up the coast. Regal did not make it due to sore muscles not allowing us to stay on a good prep schedule; good news is found a great equine massage person. Elizabeth went down and had a great ride for 5th out of 15 ending on her dressage score. I swear she and Quest grin from ear to ear all the way around the course....

Sandy blew in knocking power at the barn for about 8 days, at home I was without for about 5 days. Followed by a snow storm a week later, riding has been limited, though feeling back to normal now, just in time for holidays to set in!

Change is in the air, but instead of a nice firm northern wind it is blowing around like Sandy…frustrating and adrenaline pumping all at the same time.

On a completely different note, I think I have chosen the stallion I will breed Noor to in the Spring, but I will leave that for the next entry. Stay warm, dry and happy Thanksgiving!  

12 October, 2012

Frequency of updates = Lame

Well, it has been way too long since my last update, lots of balls in the air as they say. Regal has been going well, I did one more Novice at the NJ Horse Park, dressage was much improved, still showed some greenness in stadium with some rails, but he rocked around cross country and we finished 5th out of 14. I have since taken a break from competing to really nail some training points, the progress has been pretty incredible and some lessons with Marion Georgiev have really helped to get us focused and its been great for me to have someone to bounce some ideas off. First and foremost was creating a more elastic uphill connection, that is adjustable. Let’s face it Regal is just too damn big for anything other than self-carriage.  We’ve been jumping a little, not much, this past week I decided to have a good school and test out my new found up-ness. Thanks to my ground crew I had an array of large fences ranging from 3ft to nearly 5ft. Regal was a rock star, a few times I didn’t have him up on the landing where I want, which makes tighter lines, especially bending downhill….err umm…interesting but all in all was feeling very good. We are still taking off too close to the base, while a good skill to have, makes it hard for him to show off his great knees. So that is next on the docket to work on. Regal is on his second round of full shoes, we’ve increased the size, I think a 4 or 5 now?? Yikes, my horse has dinner plates. Next will be Waredaca in Maryland, this is hands down one of my favorite events - wish it was closer, and we will make our debut at Training level. He’s really learning to flick his toes out J Then we will head down to VA Nov 10-11th to finish up the northern season. I’m hoping to sneak South for even just a week to train and show once late season, but a lot of that will depend on weather up north and how fit I can keep him. 

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth and I headed up to Ontario Canada to Timber Ridge Sporthorses to shop for new prospects and came home with a boy and a girl. Elizabeth is super excited to welcome her two new children into the USA in Nov and I am looking forward to being their weekday training mommy. They are both branded RPSI, complete with German passports. Lilly, is 3.5 and jumps like she is bound for Rolex in a year and Roo who is 2.5 is a gentle giant, who I also think will have a great future, once he figures out where his HUGE body goes. You can see them here (look for the dark bay with big ears and a lanky chestnut, somewhere around page 3): 

At home the students are working really hard, we attended their first recognized event with some mixed results, but everyone left hungry to work harder and be ready for the increased level of competition next year. This coming weekend we will head to a hunter pace and then off to Bucks County Nov 4th.  

Rafiki is looking for a new home soon, so if you are interested or know anyone, let me know! I need to free up some space so good home and a quick sale will secure someone a steal!

22 July, 2012

Shows and more shows

Where to begin - I have been lax on my blogging due to a super busy summer. I will start with Regal, our first show out this year, Plantation, I moved him up to novice, he put in a pretty relaxed test, despite an Amish buggy driving by during our free walk to earn us a 30. Overall I was OK with it given he is much more unsettled this year, calling in the warm up and the ring. Stadium he was beyond distracted, he looked and spooked at everything from the jumps to the people, he went but had 3 rails. The first 2 were distracted baby rails where he wasn’t dialed in enough to me to listen up and his biggest flop was grabbing the bit and running down a line with 3 jumps (lucky only 1 rail). We then headed to XC, which was clean with 1 sec time penalty, he was also super looky but did both waters and down bank just fine. We ended up in the ribbons but left MUCH to be desired. A few weeks later was the NJ Horse Park. This time I screwed up my dressage, I have been working on some things at home and made the mistake of changing my warm up and way of riding the test. I tried to school too much and we ended with a 35.5, won’t make that mistake this coming weekend! In a last minute idea and with no prior schooling (we had been schooling well at home), I decided to put in a slow twist full cheek and a running martingale on for jumping, I figured it couldn’t be worse than last time. This was a winning combo, I had more control and he was unable to take the bit away, we rattled a few rails but everything stayed in the cups and we were double clear on a very twisty course with some challenging lines. Cross country was also double clear and he really felt like he knew what his job was. This made me super happy. So the plan will be to run him novice again this weekend at NJ Horse Park, then we will head to Waredaca in Marylad for another novice and pending nothing major will look to move him to training end of Aug or Sept. In the meantime I will be working on our jumping (mainly not being Regal’s 5th leg) and continue our lateral work progression.

Noor was making some awesome progress, she has been coming out relaxed ready to work and while still resistance I’ve been able to work through pretty well. However our last few rides have been pretty awful, she comes out nervous, anxious and on edge. So I am looking to see if anything has changed in her routine or life to give us this upset . I also learned this past week if it is raining the mare needs some time to sort it out, she is not a fan of rain in the face…diva. So feeling a bit disappointed in recent progress, I will schedule her for the chiropractor as well and make sure everything is OK there. I think we will still go ahead and breed her next year, I will continue to work her and compete as she is able.

The Penwick Eventing Team has been rocking and rolling, we took a few weeks to go cross country a few places and well as just getting out in school, there are so many young horses and new riders it has been much needed. We all headed to Oxbow and results were wonderful, Leyla shaved nearly 20 points off her dressage score for 4th, Amanda kept Noble in the dressage ring J and finished close behind 2nd place for 3rd, Ceara had a catch ride on Shadow after digger decided to pop and abcess and rode lovely rounds on a pony she’d never taken XC for 7th, Irina moved up to 2’ course and a new dressage test, riding very well. She had a little blip of forgetting where she was going cost her 2 points in dressage but she came out smiling from both phases and Elizabeth finished at the top with a blue and will move up to Beginner novice at the next show.  
Noble and Amanda




Dimmu is growing like a weed and hit his naughty teenager stage, nothing is safe from the little thief but luckily he doesn’t chew, just grabs and runs, this makes getting tacked up or un-tacked a challenge to say the least. The Fall is looking busy for Penwick Event Team and I will try to be better about my updates!
My co-pilot

Dimmu digging a hole

30 May, 2012

Summer has arrived!

Well summer is here, reaching a balmy, humid 95 on Tuesday. Penwick is in full swing, Regal and Rex are getting ready for Plantation next weekend and then the NJ Horse Park at the end of the month. Regal will do his first Novice, still planning to move him up to training level this year and look at prelim next year if all goes well. While Aston, Spidey, Quest, Noble, Digger, Shadow and perhaps Marbles are getting ready for Oxbow on the 24th. For several of the riders this will be their first full 3-phase so lots of excitement and nerves.

Rides on Regal have been going well, I am still playing with the right bit for stadium jumping, he is still not where I want him to be when we are doing course work. I have increased our fitness rides, with the onslaught of heat I am more worried about the Cleveland Bay in him. So far he is doing well, but the boy is big and filling out!
A few weeks ago I did a quick jaunt to North Carolina to pick up a blue Doberman puppy.  “Dimmu” has settled into his barn/city life well. He has a good natural horse sense, except for his LOVE of chasing tails, I am actually convinced he is part cat….Meet Dimmu:

Not long after I took a quick trip to Switzerland, no riding this time but a long trek up a mountain on a bike, then a lovely dinner over looking Lake Thun for Reto's dad's 70th birthday.

This Friday I will take the lovely Noor for our first XC school and Leigh Ann will bring Valor, should be exciting times, if we both mange to not eat dirt and have some working breaks, I will consider it a success.
This week we also welcomed a new horse, I am debating calling him “Rafiki” he came to me through a childhood riding friend who thought he may enjoy the life of an eventer more than a hunter.  So far so good, he is very sweet and I am thrilled to add him to the growing herd. I may show him myself a bit this season and hopefully one of our riders will call him their own at some point in the future.  Or if he turns out to be a rock star he can stay one of my own rides J Meet “the new kid”…

23 May, 2012

Rolex Kentucky 2012

I am long overdue for a Rolex recap and as result its going to be shorter than it should. Leigh Ann, Reto and I drove down (which was actually not a bad drive) and arrived in great time, meeting Leyla and Elizabeth and Myles who flew in separately. We hit up the race track and in the first race picked the winner who had long shot odds, she also was a favorite to try and fit in the back of Leigh Ann’s Prius to bring home as an event horse, go figure. But back to Rolex, it was pretty awesome. It was refreshing to see four star horses have their bobbles in dressage and spook at the judges or crowds to and from the ring. It was breath taking watching Allison and Arthur in their test, that horse is just LOVELY, cannot say it enough. Cross country was wonderful to watch, the weather was great for trekking around. The slow start, with several riders failing to make it to the second half of the course, was a bit disconcerting, however it was a fair course from where I sat watching. I think what I was most impressed with was the sheer technicality needed for some of the combos, especially the coffin.  Show jumping looked pretty straight forward the fences you would expect to give some problems did, what stood out to me was the horses that were really fit showed it and were all in the upper half of the field, those heading in first you could really see their horse was tired etc. I know obvious but there was a clear line between the top 15 and the rest. Fitness is what seemed to set the final placing.
Came away from the weekend very inspired, my poor horses felt and are still feeling my renewed vigor . My students had fun when I re-created some Rolex style fences at home. Onward and upward, the future looks bright!
Regal is entered in his first Novice and I am having some break throughs with Noor, so hopefully she will be on the show docket sooner than later...

16 April, 2012

Penwick introduces a mare to the event team

Because one horse is never enough...

She arrived today and I hope to start eventing her later this season.

05 April, 2012

My thoughts on show records and winning

Winning, let’s not lie; everyone likes to do it now and again. For some of us it *must* happen every time we compete or we are a mess.  But in horses we have many variables. Ourselves, our horses, the weather, health, fitness, money, distractions (peacock next to the dressage ring anyone?). Lots of things out of our control and can impact your competition day and frequency.  

As someone who has had to work her whole life to have horses I have ridden many horses that no one else would ride, because that is what was available. There were countless young horses, OTTBs, whatever I could sit on until they were sold or moved.  It turned me into a versatile rider, it also showed me I loved to bring a horse to a point where your more average rider can take over the reins. It has also made me the creative instructor I am today.  When I look back at my achievements in Pony Club, going to Nationals for jumpers, taking a young TB through prelim as a teenager, helping countless horses that were misunderstood get comfortable in their own skin and find their job in life and more recently competing a list of young horses coming along in the world of eventing,  I can look at each record and smile remember the day, the horse and the lesson. Like the very windy Sunday morning when Rocky jumped into the water at Plantation at our first Training and I got very wet. This was before the rule change that once you fell you were done. So I climbed back on and finished, walking by Boyd Martin soaking wet was very high on my embarrassment list at the time, as he was enjoying teasing me about my over jumping horse at the stadium ring only the day before.  

Showing can be approached two ways. You can stay at the lower levels trying to perfect everything. Doing lots of local small shows where you know you can win before ever dipping your toe in the ocean that is the “recognized world” or you can put yourself out there compete against the best and learn by watching your competitors warm up and compete . The victory for me is much sweeter to put myself out in the big ocean and see how I float.  Because a non-primary color ribbon is not the end of the world.

Last year, Regal’s first show year, we were top 3 every time out with some of my best lifetime dressage scores on a horse that I raised and trained myself.  Driving home from the first show (a very large one) I had myself a little happy cry. To know that a product of my style and training was really that good, to people that don’t even know us confirm that was a great feeling. We were first the whole event until we were too fast on XC bumping us to 3rd. I had been tearing around on Spiderman earlier and forgot to slow down J But it didn’t matter and it still doesn’t.  Our season was cut a little shorter than I wanted after he outgrew my saddles and we had to wait for his back to get un-sore, but no matter we’ve got new saddles and we are ready for this year.

Some of the winning riders are not always the best teachers and even if you’re not winning doesn’t mean you are inferior to those that are, just at a different place with your horse. Your show record is not a shield to hide behind or your logo that represents you; it’s the marks on a day in your riding history. Chin up, fix it forward, it’s about the journey.
Even Boyd has his days:

04 April, 2012

Winter in a nutshell

Well it has been some time since I updated. It’s certainly not due to lack of things to talk about, however I have been very busy with a rapidly expanding horse client base, my own horses and their young horse challenges and just life in general.

Over the past few months we have welcomed several new riders to the Penwick fold, I am looking forward to seeing them develop and the most recent addition of Ceara. We are all looking forward to meeting her adorable pony and her TB gelding Digger at the end of the month when they move to the barn. Penwick is in full force with schooling, course work and smoothing out our dressage tests with the first show of the season in just a few weeks. We have a big show team this year and I am going to have to be extra mindful to make time for myself this season! Amanda has partnered with Noble, a 6-yo unraced TB gelding, who each week just blows us away with his learning. Look out for them at BN this year!

Noble with Amanda

Noble with Deena

Emily has really formed a lovely partnership with Aston , with the help of a hackamore, and I am excited to see them out and about this year.

Irina has finally nailed down how to get the best out of Quest and I am really excited for them to have their first year showing together. Elizabeth (Quest’s owner) is also excited about the season ahead and will take Quest to a BN combined test at the end of the month. They will be hard to beat on their lovely dressage. 
Irina helping make bran mash for the ponies

Leyla and Spiderman have been working very hard on their dressage, they will both tell you what a droll it is, but Leyla is seeing the payoffs in stronger more controlled jumping and I think is a believer J They will also debut in their first season together at BN, but Spidey is already telling her to learn quick as he wants to move up!
Leyla saying "I AM RELEASING Chelsea"

Perri and her partner Shadow are making tons of progress. Perri has been learning to teach Shadow to stretch into her hand and he is loving this new style of riding. Perri has also been joining the older girls for jumping and is keeping up easily! Perri heads for her 2nd XC school this weekend and will head to the Pony Club dressage rally at the end of the month. Unfortunately I will miss it as I will be at Rolex with Leigh Ann, Leyla and Elizabeth! Its been years since I have been down there and I cannot wait! I will wait for when it is more official but Decker will have a new lease starting soon. He has been a rock star recently, especially with Amy who has been riding him in the Sunday jumping group.

Regal has been making steady progress and will probably do his first show in May when I return from Switzerland. I hope to end his season this year at training, he can already do all the XC at that level, we just need to smooth out our stadium round. After a lot of careful consideration I will be finding Valor a new home (may have one already that would keep him in the family!) I just don’t have the time to give 2 green horses all they need right now. I am considering replacing him with something more experienced so I will be able to continue to compete two horses this season, which I prefer! Stay tuned for those details.

Last but not least a HUGE thank you to Lindsey, who keeps me sane and the barn running. Not to mention the awesome progress she has been making with the young horses!

22 January, 2012

In which Chelsea, Regal and Valor return to lessons

Friday I had two dressage lessons, the first in a very long time. I did over an hour on Regal and about 45 minutes on Valor, who couldn’t take more due to his lack of fitness. By the end I had a nice thin sweat going despite it being 20 degrees, however I love that feeling, really gets me pumped up and inspired.

Vanessa and I are new to working with each other and I have a more liberal style of riding dressage, so there were a few major changes right away. However, I was surprised at my body and its ability to hold the course and not revert too often back to what we know. My position was give two thumbs up but, she thought my dressage saddle was a bit small in the seat which was preventing me from being as effective as I could be, so this coming week I will try working in her saddle. The funny thing is I just got this saddle this summer and it is my favorite saddle of all time. *Sigh*

With Regal we worked on his “over achiever” brain and slowing everything down. This was really helpful as sometimes I struggle with feeling like he is going along with his big movement and I am not control all the steps. He pretty quickly figured out what we wanted though he would try to rush back into “I know what you want, let me do it NOW”, lots and lots of patience from me, very quiet hands and soft legs that were “alive.” We also used downward transitions to help rebalance him when he got too discombobulated. Once we mastered that pretty well in the trot and canter and had mostly uphill, obedient, soft transitions we moved into should fore into leg yields off the quarter line. On his weaker side this was VERY hard, though after three attempts he really gave it his all and we had a few good steps several times in a row. The nice thing was he had a little sweat going on the bottom of his neck and a nice even foam on his mouth. Regal stayed very relaxed in the work, which is awesome.

Valor, who is very green but good, walked up the ring bucking. I was like “oh god”, I had to laugh at myself as I tried to explain, “he isn’t normally like this…” I guess the chiro the day before unearthed something or the fact he was in the dressage saddle for the first time…I let him has a few minutes to run around in the ring. He literally bucked non-stop. Finally settled in and I got one. He is Mr. Wiggles and his hind end goes like a tractor trailer. Shoulders turn, hind end flies out and around (warning makes wide right turns). After some attempts to get him forward into the bridle at the walk we abandoned that path and went for the trot, it was a win. He is also a busy body, who needs to be kept thinking and guessing what is coming next. So we did lots of transitions within the trot, then about 300 figure eights controlling the haunches, getting him to turn off my hips and no hands. Also a success, how did I luck out with two super smart horses? Valor also got very foamy, had moments of a really lovely back swinging trot. We did a little canter but he is so uneducated with leg I chose not to push it and just work on trot. So all week Valor gets to trot figures until we are both red in the face. Hello fitness here we come.

So we have a bunch of homework before Friday which will be our last set of lessons before Vanessa goes to Florida for 6 weeks.

And some photos of my new 17.0H pony Valor before:

Week two at my barn, still need to get a body clip:

01 January, 2012

Royo Transforms

Thanks to Amanda and Lindsey working really hard on Royo's dressage recently he has really come into himself. Today Deena rode him in her lesson and I was so blown away. I cannot wait for this guy to show this year with Amanda!

Whomever buys this copper boy is going to be so lucky. He is so sweet yet talented!