Friday, June 11, 2010

Dressage Days

While I'm working on a gazillion other "Making a difference in the lives of horses" part of my blog (things I can't quite write about yet for several reasons...some angry...some really really good!), I have managed to get out and have myself some horse adventures.

This morning I dropped my husband off at the airport and headed to Donida. The purpose was mainly to catch up with Ruth if she had a moment during a break from being a scribe for the Dressage show this weekend. We did, in deed, have a few minutes to toss around some really great ideas about Thoroughbreds and non-track career options. (more on that later!)

The announcement came and she had to return to her duties so I decided to pull up a fence pole and watch a few tests. I am not up on what's what in terms of the levels and what they're expected to do but the one I planted myself in front of appeared to be one that included walk, trot, canter and minimal side passing. It was great to see the collection of the horses in motion and the looks on the rider's faces when things went well. To my untrained eye, I also saw a few looks of frustration when things didn't go as well as the rider might have hoped.

The arena next to that one seemed to have some higher level riders. There was lots of fun movement going on over there. I was about to head out when I heard over the loudspeaker that "Gwen" had a 5 minute call so I thought I'd hang out to see if it was Gwen Blake, who owns Donida Farm and from everything I've heard is a truly amazing rider.

Sure enough, she entered the ring on a drop-dead gorgeous Black Friesian who I assumed was Tjesse 400 based on the name embroidered on the saddle pad. Just watching them circle the outside of the ring got my heart racing...what a truly lovely pair they were and when the test began, things really got going!

Tjesse 400 is powerful and the passes where he was coming towards me practically took my breath away. His has these huge, exaggerated steps and they come down so hard you can practically feel them. He was stunning and the little laugh I heard from Gwen as they came around a corner told me she was having a blast letting him do his thing...and he obviously knew what he was doing. How exciting to watch a horse and rider out there really enjoying their passion! WOW!!!

Here's a video I found of Tjesse 400 on YouTube of them a few years ago, It's kind of a long one but you get a sense of his power & movement...WOW again!!!

I thought back to an afternoon a few years ago when I was at the Northshore Golf Members Lounge and someone asked what we all wanted to watch on the bar TV. It was during the Summer Olympics and when no one spoke up I asked if they could find any of the equestrian events. This guy at the bar complained that the equestrian events were boring, especially *dressage*... in a playful way I looked at him and said "Obviously you don't ride!" adding that what they make look so seamless and easy (ok, boring to him) actually took a lot of work and was not nearly as easy as it might appear. When you have spent hours, if not days/months/years just working on a collected trot I guess you get a huge appreciation for what it takes to ride for an average of a 5 minute program. Sheesh....boring?? I don't think so!!! (Really?? From people who Like to watch GOLF on TV!?)

I hadn't written about it yet, but I did manage to catch one of Jaime's tests a few weeks ago at L'Apertif. Only knowing her horse, Slam (Grand Slam) in his barn persona (or is that horsona?), I was impressed to see him doing his job...a job he obviously knows well and enjoys! Jaime too... since I met her a few years ago, I've only ever known her in the rescue realm but had heard that once upon a time she was a very active dressage rider. Seeing them together them on this stage was a delight.

Watching these two friends do something out of "MY" normal scope of experience with them was not just new to me....the look on Jaime's fiance, Mike's face was priceless. I'm sure he knew he had quite a catch there but when Jaime and Slam won FIRST PLACE in both of their tests and walked out with an arm full of ribbons, a medal and prizes, one could tell he suddenly realized that his catch was grater than he'd imagined. She was practically a ROCK STAR at that point!

It turns out about the time Jaime got heavily involved with rescue, dressage took a back seat and something like five years had passed since she'd last competed. In that time she also met Mike, so I get the feeling he was not aware of just how good she was until a few weeks ago. How cool is that? I would venture to guess that an occasional discovery on an admirable proportion is good for any relationship. Congrats to all three of you!

Next week I'm going to be a ring steward at the Chablis Sport Horse and Dressage Day on Friday and Beaujolais Dressage Show on Saturday. I'm very excited to participate as a volunteer and can't wait to see Jaime & Slam again as well as getting to see all of the other exhibitors.

I hung out at Chrissy's yesterday watching horses get their teeth done and we were talking bout Dressage and the upcoming shows at Donida, including the schooling show that Ruth and Jack are going to be in at the end of the month. Chrissy asked if I'd ever considered showing Coconut in a Dressage Test and I joked "Sure, in the non-collected, walk/Trot only" and she said "They have that!!" (except the non-collected part!) so it's something to think about, maybe something to work's always good to have a goal, right? I seriously doubt that she'd be ready for the SAFE show in August but maybe next year?

Speaking of the SAFE Benefit show...that's another upcoming post...maybe this weekend while I'm entertaining myself while Les is in New Orleans saying goodbye to CJ, his best friend who always asked how "Miss Coconut" was and thought it was very cool that when life took a healthy turn for me, I got a horse! Much love to you CJ... Crawdads & dirty rice my friend! Thank you for loving the man I love the most and always loving me too, even though I kinda took him away. There's a special place for smiles like yours!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chinook Pass

We learned today that Chinook Pass, one of the all time great Thoroughbreds and the oldest living Eclipse Award winner passed away today at the age of 31 years.

Although I didn't know him, personally, I did get a sense of his personality in Monica's Horsebytes story. Please go read it and smile...

RIP Chinook Pass
1979 - 2010
(photo from his Facebook page)

This from my husband: "One of Washington's best. May your pastures always be green and your oat bucket plentiful."