Thursday, September 30, 2010

WEG Day 6

Today at WEG the dressage for eventing went on all day. I didn't have tickets for any of that. So instead of hanging out at WEG, Cindy and I went out to Kentucky Equine Research farm where the para-dressage horses are being stabled. Laura and the rest of the para-dressage team was out at the farm doing a mock show where they all dressed in show clothes and rode their tests. They warmed up with the Chef d'equipe Missy Ransehousen, and then rode their tests for Janet Foy. Then Janet came out and gave critiques and individual instruction to each rider so that they could improve their rides.

I talked to Missy about Laura and how she thought Laura was doing. I could see that Laura had improved in her riding since I had seen her on a horse last, and Missy agreed. She said that Laura's main problem with her position was the she was too bent over and that Laura thought she could not sit up straighter.

But with Missy working with her she has been able to be more straight in the saddle and more able to look up. She is also pleased at how much Laura's confidence has improved in the past few months. She feels that Laura's biggest challenge for her test will be accuracy.

I also spoke with Trudy Phillips, who owns Carlingford JD, the 11 year old Irish Sport Horse that Laura will be riding. Trudy got JD from Missy as a young horse and trained him up to fourth level dressage. Originally wanting an event horse, she tried to event JD but he didn't like it much. He'd either come in first or be eliminated. Dressage seems to be a much better fit for JD and he is very patient and willing for para-equestrians. JD is the second horse that Trudy has offered up to the para-dressage program. The running joke is that Trudy trains them and Missy steals them for the program.

Before we left Laura did a very nice interview for the local NPR affiliate. Brenna Angel of WUKY radio spent some time talking with Laura, and I got video of the interview.

I also got video of Laura's training ride, this time using my friend's camera. I burned the video to a DVD in the camera and put the DVD into my computer. Now, true to form, I'm unable to to move those files to my computer and they no longer exist on the camera. So, while I'd really love to share all that footage with you, it's just not going to happen. Sometimes technology is very frustrating. I think Craig might be able to fix it when I get home.

After the trip to KER we had lunch with Laura then headed over to the Horse Park for some light shopping and the reining freestyle exhibition in the evening. This wasn't a judged event, but just a fun thing where some of the top professional and young riders from all over the country did reining routines to music. It was really fun, although I have to say I was a big disappointed with Stacey Westfall's ride. She's well known for her reining without a saddle and bridle, but tonight she just came out and did a standard musical reining ride with all her tack. I found her performance at Opening Ceremonies so much more moving and powerful that I'm sad she didn't do that one all over again. I'm sure there were lots of people there tonight that missed the Opening Ceremonies that would have loved to have seen her ride that horse without any tack and do such a great job with it.

Last to go was Anky Van Grunsven from the Netherlands. She started her freestyle with some leg yields and some flying changes every fourth stride. The horse did a pretty decent job for a reiner. She had good spins too and decent slides, but I was just kind of expecting something more from her. Something a bit outrageous or something.

Then we had a nice dinner with some friends and headed to the hotel.

Tomorrow – A trip to a bourbon distillery and dressage freestyles in the evening! I think it's one of the very few events that has actually sold out so if you don't have tickets now and you want to go I think you're out of luck.

WEG Day 5

Dressage Individual Finals

Today was all about dressage. It was the individual finals, and the top 30 riders from the team competition rode again for the bronze, silver and gold. I'll run down the rides for you, so if you're not into dressage this is going to be booooring!

The format is county, rider's last name, and commentary.

Sweden – Telde - piaffe problems but had a nice passage.
Great Britain – Eilberg - nice steady test
Poland – Milczarek – sticky piaffe, cantered in piaffe/passage transition
Germany – Balkenhol – Very nice test!
Norway – Jebsen – rearing and bolting around outside of arena before test, but no major errors in test. Pretty tense though!
Canada – Trussell – steady test
Australia – Sanna – cantered a lot out of first halt instead of trotting, also cantered in trot half-pass
Spain – Garcia Mena – Nice extended trot and passage, missed the 1 tempi changes
Finland – Kanerva – Piaffe problems and 13 1 tempis instead of 15
Japan – Hoketsu – lots of tension, broke from trot to canter a few times, missed 1 tempis
USA – Konyot – had some piaffe issues
Denmark – Hansen – broke from trot to canter, missed 1 tempis
Denmark – Van Olst – somehow I made no notes on this test!
USA – Bateson-Chamdler – missed 1 tempis
Poland – Rapcewicz – again I made no notes. :(
Australia – Parbery – nice ride!
Great Britain – Bigwood – nice test!
Canada – Holzer – slight piaffe issues, did 17 changes instead of 15 1 tempis
Swiss – Krinke Susmelj – very nice!
Great Britain – Hester – cantered in extended trot
Germany – Koschel – very nice!
Germany – Rath – smooth changes, spun a bit on pirouette
Denmark – Sayn-Wittgenstein – very nice!
Netherlands – Minderhoud – fantastic mover, blew a canter transition, leapt in air during pasage! Whee!
Netherlands – Schellekens-Bartels – resistant piaffe, otherwise nice!
Germany – Werth – nice, broke to trot before two tempis, missed I tempis

Then I got video of all the last riders – Steffen Peters from USA, Laura Bechtolsheimer from Great Britain, Juan Manual Munoz Diaz from Spain, and Edward Gal from Netherlands. In the end Edward Gal and Totalis won the gold with a 85.667. Then Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris won the silver with a 81.708, and Steffen Peters and Ravel won the bronze with a 78.542.

Here is my issue with the video. I bought a new camera just to take to WEG. I bought it from Best Buy and the guy promised me it took great video and was easy to use. I have been having so many issues with this camera. The software that comes with it is fine for the photos, but it doesn't process the videos. So I have to make the videos in Windows Movie Maker. Except that the format of the videos that come off the camera can't be read by Windows Movie Maker, so I had to download a video converter. Then I could make the videos in Movie Maker and then process them.

However, when I did this for some ready all the videos freeze up at about a minute in. Something about all the converting had corrupted the files somehow and they won't play. My plan was to upload them to my Facebook account instead of YouTube so they might not get taken down. But that didn't work. So I put them on my website. That didn't work either.

So the bottom line is I've spent hours and hours trying to fix this problem and frankly guys, I'm done. Something with this camera sucks and I don't have my other fantastic camera here with me. So while I want to post video it's just not going to happen. I'm really very sorry. I'll start on Day 6 with getting photos and posting them instead of the video. I know video is more exciting and all, but I just can't make it happen. There are plenty of people posting rides to YouTube, so it's best to try and catch them there.

Up for Day 6 – Freestyle Reining exhibition in the evening. Also I'm apparently wrong about there being nothing for kids. There are two things we haven't seen – the Kentucky exhibit and the Alltech exhibit, both of which have kids areas. I will check them out and get back to ya.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WEG - Day 4

Dressage Team Rides Sessions 3 and 4

After some very frustrating computer problems the night before, Cindy and I headed over to the games and on our way over on the shuttle we talked to a nice lady who had this little radio thing that she bought. It was an official WEG radio that you buy for $45 and you can get live broadcast on one of two channels. The broadcast is live commentary about what's going on in the ring at any time. It sounds like a really cool thing for people who might not be familiar with a discipline or who don't want to miss anything. Might be something some of you want to try if you're coming out here.

I did some more fiddling with my computer to work out the issues during breakfast at Bourbon Village. While I was at the booth business center (where they have banks of computers hooked to the internet) Cindy watched the dressage rides on the HD monitors.

Adelinde Cornelissen from the Netherlands riding Jerich Parzival was eliminated due to blood coming from the horse's mouth. I didn't see the ride or the elimination, so the horse could have bitten it's tongue or had the corner of it's mouth pinched. It's a huge bummer for the team because they were in first place in the teams standings, and now they won't have a drop score.

I abandoned the computers so we could go see some dressage in person. Michael Rapcewicz on Randon from Poland had a really nice ride – flying changes were really fluid and ground covering, and the passage and piaffe were nice. He scored a 69.234% which put him 9th in the standings.

Haley Peresford riding Relampagodo Retiro from Austrailia was excused from her class. I had just said that I thought the horse looked a little uneven, and then they rang the bell. It was announced later that the horse was disqualified for irregularity of movement,. Bummer!

Tina had some errors, a break to the canter at the extended trot, and breaks in the second piaffe set, both of which got her some 4's. She still ended up

Susanna Bordone rode in a military uniform – short coat, black breeches with a wide red stripe down the leg, and a military dress hat. It was interesting to see a rider dressed differently! Then there was a lunch break, where I almost scored an interview with Steffen Peters. Unfortunately it didn't happen, and I was pretty bummed. Also another bummer was that the video of Team USA Tina Konyat's ride was deleted when I was downloading it and the camera fell off the table and disconnected from the computer. Sigh.

After the break we started with the last dressage session for the team competition. These were the anchor riders for all the teams, so we were expecting to see some nice dressage. Norway, Switzerland, Poland and Japan had nice steady rides. Totilas and Edward Gal were blow-your-mind fantastic. I'd never taken the time to watch a whole video of a ride of theirs, and wow, it was just great. Of course they put themselves and their team in first place.

Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas

Juan Manuel of Spain wore a grey coat, and I think all of the team from Spain might have done so. I thought it looked ok, but I'm not a huge fan. I know I just said above that it's nice to see something different but I don't know about those grey coats.

Isrbel Werth had a really nice ride but there were some things I didn't really like. I thought her horse was a little tight in the neck, behind the vertical at times, and had an earthbound piaffe. The rest of the test was nice though and her ride put her and her team in second place.

Then Laura Bechtolsheimer came out on Mistral Hojris and kicked some butt. Her test was fantastic and just looked effortless. That put her above Werth and also put Great Britain in second place.

Denmark I liked that the horse wasn't overly cranked in the neck. Really flowing changes, I didn't care for the frame on Portugal's horse – too cranked in the neck, low in the poll, and behind the vertical at times. I know his neck is big but it still seems like you could give him a bit of room in there. The test has some nice moments though.

The last Swiss horse was super leggy! I thought he was also a little too tight in the neck at times. He had some problems with the piaffe that earned some 4's and a 3. Ouch. Then the last Australian horse went and he looked great in the neck. Much more comfortable. But then he broke to the canter at the extended trot. Nice passage and flying changes.

Italy's last horse has these great floppy ears and lots of room in the neck. I know I keep harping about the necks but really how comfortable can it be for those horses to em cranked in so tight? Anyhow, he had some problems with the piaffe,

Then Steffen Peters and Ravel rode. He had a really nice ride, except one little bobble in the beginning where he broke form the trot into the canter.

Steffen Peters and Ravel

He ended up with a score that put the US in fourth by just a little bit, so no medals for us in the team competition. We still have a chance in the individual! Netherlands took the gold, Great Britain took the silver and Germany had the bronze.

Then we met up with Laura Goldman and had one last lovely dinner experience in Maker's Mark Bourbon Village. We made plans to meet up next week, and then we headed back to the hotel so I could blog baby, blog!

Day 5 - Individual Dressage Finals

Monday, September 27, 2010

WEG - Day 3

Dressage Team Competition – Sessions 1 and 2.

We woke up to drizzle. Ugh. And it was supposed to be fairly chilly all day. Luckily we had seats under the cover (again, thanks Purina!) so the only thing I was really worried about was being too cold. I always overpack when I go anywhere, so I decided this time I didn't need a sweatshirt or a warm vest. Now I was regretting my decision.

We weren't sure when the ride times were, and we didn't want to miss any of the USA rides, so we bought a Day Sheet when we arrived. Day sheets are the ride times and order of go for all the sessions of the day. Each discipline has their own day sheets and they are $2 each at the gate. The rides were supposed to start at 8:30 and we weren't sure when breakfast would start at Maker's Mark Bourbon Village, so we headed over there first once we saw that the USA rider was last to go in the first session. Luckily breakfast was served at 8:30, so we went inside and ate while we watched the first few rides go.

We really didn't want to leave the nice warm tent and sit outside in the cold and rain, but the video feed started having issues. It was cutting in and out, stopping, breaking up, and that was driving me crazy! So we went out and found our seats in the rain.

Here is how the dressage works (or so I've been told). Everyone rides for the team competition, and a few rode as individuals. The top 30 horse and rider combinations will come back on Day 5 and ride the Grand Prix Special test to determine the individual winners. Then the top 15 from the Grand Prix Special will be invited back on Friday night to do a musical freestyle.

Most of the stadium has seats that are not under any kind of cover. Luckily for everyone with those tickets, the covered seats were either not sold out or the people with the tickets just didn't make it. So there were a lot of people sitting oder the cover who just kept moving around when the real owners of the seats came. I think this is okay. I mean, if the place was sold out and you were trying to squat in someone's seat that would be an issue. But there were plenty of seats under cover so it wasn't a worry.

The cold was for me, however. I really hate being cold and I get cold very quickly, and it was cold and wet and I was shivering! But there was no way I was going to leave. There was so much great riding and horses in the arena one after the other that it was really easy to pick apart each little movement. I know that's what the judges are for, but when you see 15 world class dressage horses in a row you start saying “I think that pirouette was a bit big” even though there is no way you'd be able to do better!

For the USA Todd Flettrich rode Otto. They had a bit of trouble with impulsion in the piaffe work, and you could hear people in the crowd softly clucking to try and help out! That's kind of dangerous, since if the judges heard that it could get him disqualified. I know, because it happened to me once! Todd ended up with a 66.553%.

Between Session 1 and Session 2 they held the Endurance Medal Ceremonies. The United Arab Emirates took the Team Gold, France took silver and Germany the bronze. For better coverage than I could write, check out this link -

For the Session 2 the second US rider was Katherine Bateson-Chandler riding Nartan. She did a great job and scored a 69.617%.

After the competition was over for the day, we headed downtown for the International Equestrian Festival. It is being held in the convention center in downdown Lexington, and it's a pretty nice setup. They have lots of vendors and even a round pen with actual horses where they do demonstrations. They also have people lecturing on nutrition and training methods.

We also were able to ride a mechanical dressage horse, Amerika. I got on and Cindy took video. It was pretty fun, actually. If I could possibly afford one I might consider getting one! It was really great because she had five gaits – walk, sitting trot, extended trot, collected canter and canter. It really did feel like a horse in some ways, but I just didn't have enough leg to make it work. My "instructor" was Beth Collins ( so check out her page! Even with mechanical horses, I still like my Arabians better!

Then it was late, and we went back to the hotel and to bed. After I fiddled around with more videos, of course.

Day 4 – Dressage Team Sessions 3 and 4.

WEG - Day 2

On day two the plan was to get up early and head over to see the reining which started at 7:30.

Well, that did not happen.

We didn't make it to the venue until about 8:30, and then found out that the breakfast place, the fantastic Maker's Mark Bourbon Village wouldn't open until 9:00. So we waited until 9, ate breakfast, and watched the reining on the TV monitors in the hospitality tent. We saw the last rides as we were just finishing up. So we completely missed Session 3 of reining.

We still had tickets to session 4, which we were able to see. The Americans were in the lead at that point, but all the countries had their anchor riders going in session four, so it was still possible that someone could catch up. Nobody went off course that we saw, and there were some really nice horses and riders. I think the biggest mistakes I saw were overspins and flying changes that were not clean.

In all there were 21 total countries competing in reining, with an additional seven countries represented with individual riders. In the end, the USA team of Tim McQuay, Craig Schmersal, Tom McCutcheon, and Shawn Flarida came out with the gold medal, with Belgium taking the silver and Italy with the bronze.

After the reining we walked around a bit to see what else there was to see. We went over to Walnut Grove, which is another vendor-type area that had a beer tent, champagne tent, and a bourbon tent. Bit of Britain horse supply was there too in a rather large tent.

Then we walked to Equine Village, which was another vendor area that had smaller tents in a park-like setting, all in amongst trees. Here there was more artwork, some horse supplies, and different associates that had their tents set up. Right in Equine Village is the Al Marah Arabian Horse Galleries. We tried to get in to see the special exhibit, Gift from the Desert, but they were having a special receptions and it was closed to the public. Bummer.

Next to Equine Village is a large arena where Kentucky Horse Park was running their breed demonstrations. They showcase different breeds of horses and what they are known for. I've seen it before so we didn't stay to watch, but it's really neat. Then we took a little tractor driven trolley around the breed demo area and up to Alltech Arena where the reining was held., It's nice to have some sort of in-park transportation. There are tons of golf carts to take staff and competitors around the show but very little for the spectators.

Then we tried to find the kids area. First we found this large sandbox that had a mechanical cutting horse and bull that the kids could try out. We thought that was it, and that would have been pretty weak. But then we found a barn that had a whole bunch of really cool educational displays about the horse and it's health. There was also stuff about barn safety, boxes where you could stick your hand in and guess the horse-related item, and one stall that had a felt replica of the horse's digestive system stretched out so you could see just how bit it was. It was draped all the way around the stall.

From my vantage point, there is very little for kids to do here. I think if you are 12 years old or older, and a horse crazy kid, you'd really enjoy this. But I think younger kids and kids not into horses would have a pretty boring time here,. And from a parent's perspective, there is nothing worse than taking your kids to something you want to go to that they don't and are going to be bored. It's the worst. If you think your kid can sit through hours of rides, then bring them. Otherwise I'd seriously consider having them stay home.

We were so tired after that, and all the horse things were done for the day,. So we left site and got some dinner and went to bed early. Cindy brought her pedometer and it turns out we walked 6.25 miles that day! No wonder we were tired!

Day 3 – Dressage Team Competition, Day 1, Sessions 1 and 2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Falling Behind

So, yeah, tomorrow is Day 3 of WEG and I don't even have a post about Day 2 up yet.

It's almost 1 am and I need to get some sleep. And no Dad, I'm not partying, I'm working on blog things but it's just not working out.

Like I said before, I hope you friended me on Facebook. I've been sending pictures there during the day with my cell phone. They are kinda crappy but it's something!

Ok I need sleep. Sorry folks, it's the best I can manage tonight!

WEG - Day 1

There's a lot going on here at WEG. I hope you decided to friend me on my Facebook account because I've been sending pictures there by mobile uploads. If you're not my buddy you're missing it!

I'm here with my friend Cindy, and we weren't able to make it here until Saturday at 4:00. Which means we missed both reining sessions for the day. Sucks. Anyhow we opted for on site parking for $20 a day. I wasn't going to go with this option since the lot is a far walk to the main gate, but just a few weeks ago they added shuttle service.

We went through security, which really wasn't that bad. I've read on some bulletin boards how tight security is going to be, but it's not like they strip search you or anything. They do look through your bags though, so don't bring anything you shouldn't!

Since we had already missed the reining we headed over to the trade show. It was one huge building and then four rows of tents with all kinds of horsey vendors. There were hay steaming machines (to sterilize your hay for horses that have heaves or allergy issues), ceiling mounted hot walking machines, thermal imaging machines, and treadmill machines. There were super nice horse stalls, jewelry, tack, riding apparel, artwork, and I could go on and on. Lots to buy.

Then we went over to the Maker's Mark bourbon Village tent. This was not AT ALL what I was expecting. See, I thought when I got the passes from Purina that is was a ticket for a shot of bourbon at a small roadside tent. I had NO idea that this was a high end hospitality tent, offering full breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus open bar. Oh yeah. And the place is incredible. It was a large tent that looks like a nice restaurant inside. Even the bathrooms are awesome. No blue water portapotties here. It's a trailer with wood paneled bathrooms. I'd never seen anything like it before.

We ate dinner and then went to opening ceremonies. It was three hours long! I'll try and do a quick summary, but it's going to be a long one no matter what. Here goes.

First, there was an intro with people doing a ballet number. Then, some Native Americans came in on horses and did a quick blessing, wishing all the competitors good luck. It was kind of neat.

Then the University of Kentucky cheerleaders came and did a routine to some live country music. I have to say that I don't think the music matched very well with a cheerleading routine. Then the Culver Academy Black Horse Troop and Color guard raised the flag and we had the National Anthem. Then things really started cooking.

They began a Salute to Kentucky. They brought in World Champion saddlebreds, both ridden and driven, and William Shatner himself drove one of his horses in the exhibition. Then they brought in standardbred trotting horses with sulkys to trot around the arena. Then, which I still can't believe, they brought in the trumpter from Churchill Downs and actually had three thoroughbreds race around the arena! The winning jockey was none other than Chris McCarron, fantastic jockey and United States Racing Hall of Fame inductee.

Then Wynonna Judd sang the Kentucky anthem, and there was the parade of athletes. There were 58 countries represented, so it took quite a while. Then came a salute to the Arabian horse, which I just thought was ok. I'd have liked to have seen more of the versatility of the breed, personally. They just had western english, and native costume horses out there. No dressage Arabian, or endurance? Not impressed.

After that was the Fresian Train. I'm not sure why it's called that, but it started out with two Fresians doing a dressage-type performance which then increased to four, then ten horses. I finally had to put my camera down when they did their walk work because I was starting to tear up, it was so beautiful. You'd think the walk work would be the most boring but something about the music and the horses was powerful.

Next some really neat carriages came in carrying the dignitaries, who then made speeches. That was a bit boring, but I understand why the President of FEI and the mayor of Lexington needed to say some words here. As a reward for sitting through the speeches they sent in what they called “Fanfare” which was a musical ride with 24 horses (or more, I couldn't get an accurate count). Then another ballet performance, this time with an Andalusian among the people doing Spanish walk and other cool moves.

At this point I was starting to wonder how long this was going to go. I think lots of people were getting a bit tired of sitting, and the next performance didn't make things more exciting. They had an operatic performance that was ok, but there was no accompanying horse performance. Lots of people left, but they missed out because Tommie Turvey and Dan James came out to do some trick riding.

The next thing was Cadence of the Country, where different acts representing different parts of the country came out. The American Cowgirls did trick roping, then more trick riding, and Stacy Westfall did a bridleless bareback reining ride.

After that came the second place where people got up and left en masse. They had the American Spiritual Ensemble sing some southern inspired gospel-type music. I think the music was fine, but it became clear that people didn't want to just have music, no matter how good it was, unless there were horses in the arena. Certainly good music plus good riding is great entertainment, but good music alone was not enough to hold the attention of the majority of the audience.

During this performance, twenty children from Haiti were brought out onto stage. They didn't really do anything but stand there and wave while the ensemble sang. It was all very puzzling, since our feeling was the instead of bringing the kids all the way to the US to see a horse show, they could have used the money or resources to, lets say, build homes for them back in Haiti to replace the ones destroyed by the earthquake.

It was getting really late now, and lots of people had bailed. But it still wasn't over! They did this salute to New Orleans which included ornate carriages, mini horses, and a really funny stubborn mini donkey. Clearly this donkey wanted nothing to do with this ceremony, and the only reason why they got it to cooperate is because it was a MINI donkey. A full sized one would have sat on it's butt and said “Go ahead. Move me.” But the mini's handler outweighed him so he got dragged around.

So you'd think, this is it, It's GOT to be over now. No! How about this? Lets bring EVERYONE (well, almost everyone. I think the Native Americans bailed during the opera too. And most of the Fresian Train) back into the arena to run around! I tell you, it was MADNESS.

But then it was over, and it was time to fight the crowds back to the parking lot. However I took a moment to meet up with Nina Akerly, one of the winners of “The Contest”. We chatted for a bit and then we decided we really needed to get back because it was getting late!

The ceremony was three hours! Now, since the tickets were $150, I can understand wanting to pack the event with lots of performances to give you your money's worth. But I thought it was too long, and many of us could have done without the musical performance that had no horses in them. I think most people are here to see horses, not listen to music. That's my main complaint about the ceremony.

Since we stopped to chat after the ceremony, we ended up almost in the back of the line for the shuttle back to the parking lot. However we met some very nice volunteers that filled us in on the Haiti kids thing. It seems that the President of Alltech, Mr Lyons, spent a lot of his money in the relief effort in Haiti. While he was there he saw a need in their music programs. So he recruited University of Kentucky graduate music students to go to Haiti to help develop a music program. To give them something to strive for, he told the students if they learned the songs they would perform at WEG. Unfortunately they were so overwhelmed at Opening Ceremonies that they couldn't perform their song. But still a nice experience for them.

Something else quite alarming happened as the Opening Ceremonies was ending. Etian Beth-Halachmy, famous for this cowboy dressage, had a heart attack and fell from his horse on his way out of the arena. They rushed him to the emergency room. We spoke with a volunteer the next morning who said that he was doing well. Apparently they removed his spleen too.

So the volunteers seem to be the ones in the know. If you're down here, strike up a conversation. You might just get the inside scoop on something!

Next up, WEG Day 2 – Reining all day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WEG and three cool things that got me there

I'm sure you're all aware that I entered the Purina contest to win a chance to blog for Purina at WEG. If you know that, then you most likely know that I lost that contest. You may also know that my family banded together to pool some money to send me to WEG. So generous of them, and completely unexpected!

That was cool thing #1.

So I roped my trainer into going with me, and I bought tickets to four events on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th days of the competition. I was super stoked when they came in the mail.

Then I started looking at hotel rooms. WOWZA. The hotel industry isn't kidding around with those room prices. A crappy little hotel close to the Kentucky Horse Park that I've stayed in once is charging $350 a night for a room. I paid $65 a night, and it was overpriced considering the condition of the place. And I'm pretty sure the price will go back to $65 once WEG is over.

It seemed like the close hotels were super expensive, and even the gross little hotels were too much. Since Active Travel was a co-sponsor with Purina on the contest, I contacted the Purina contest coordinator Brant (that might not be his official title but that's what I'm calling him here to make it easy) and asked him if he could give me a contact for Active Travel. I wanted to see if an actual travel agency could help me find a room that wasn't a Roach Motel that also wasn't $450 a night.

Brant said that he would give me a contact, but he also had hotel and ticket packages available for the first four days of WEG if I was interested. Am I interested?? Hell yes I am! It sounded like he was offering to GIVE me the package, but I didn't want to assume anything so I asked him flat out - is this comped or do I have to pay for it? He said in consideration of everything I did for the contest the package would be free, and that I should consider it a consolation prize. Then a few weeks later I asked if he had any extra packages for sale for a friend of mine, and he said he didn't have any for sale but he had an extra ticket pack that he'd send to me.

This was cool thing #2.

I'll be staying at a SUPER nice hotel for the first four days, all free of charge! After that I'll have to stay farther from the Horse Park in a decent hotel, but who cares!! Then the tickets from Brant came in the mail and I was even more blown away. Look at how freaking awesome they are!!

Much cooler than my boring Ticketmaster tickets! The Opening Ceremony ones have "2010" in a goldish hologram running up the side, and each of the Reining and Dressage tickets has a cool hologram on it with the WEG logo and "2010". And Brant sent me some tickets to the Maker's Mark hospitality tent (how did he know I love bourbon?) and the Endurance hospitality tent. Now I don't know what those will mean but again, awesome!

After I lost the contest I then tried to trade my WEG blogging to get support for Para Dressage WEG competitor Laura Goldman. I tried and tried, and it seemed that nobody could help me. Then, Jane from Equestrian Collections contacted me and we worked out a deal where they would support Laura by donating some funds and riding attire and I'd blog for them. They were able to get Laura within about $300 of what she needed to pay her expenses for WEG. Because of all of this I know this really cool lady, Laura, and I will get to see her at WEG, living a dream that so few of us will ever accomplish - representing our country in International equestrian competition.

This was cool thing #3.

So what does this teach us?

#1 - Have a stellar family.
#2 - It doesn't hurt to ask for help. You might end up with free tickets (or something more than you asked for)
#3 - Share your good fortune with others and help them out. You just might help someone else realize their dreams.

Meet us at WEG

Jackie from Regarding Horses and I will both be at WEG and are trying to plan a time to meet up. Anyone else interested? We're thinking maybe Wednesday September 29th after the afternoon dressage session. I don't know where yet ... we'll have to decide that once we know who is in on it!

Send me a facebook message, shoot me an email at dressagemomblog{at}yahoo{dot}com, or comment here to let me know!

Wow, I have so much to do. Ack!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Don't miss anything...

Right now my Facebook page - - is public. However, before WEG I'm going to change it to friends only. I'll be posting WEG updates there, so if you want to see it all send me a friend request!

Also make sure you like Equestrian Collections on Facebook - I'll be blogging for them from WEG in exchange for them sponsoring Laura Goldman, member of the US Para Equestrian Team for WEG.

I'll be at WEG on Saturday the 25th! Yay!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kaswyn and the Lawyer

Okay, so I'm pretty happy right now. I took a video of Kaswyn on Monday.

I think that sometimes he looks just a pinch weird on his left front, but that is mainly when I got him going slow and he's a little on the forehand. I also think he looks a bit weird at the left lead canter. It kind of looks like he's dropping that shoulder a bit more than he should, but I can't see how his foot would effect that. Could simply be habit of way of going? Regardless, there is no doubt that it's better than it was before.

Also today I rode him for 20 minutes. We schooled pretty much everything, and then I put him back on the lunge to see how he looked. He still looked great.

In my heart I think we have found the problem - irritated neuromas or nerves that somehow grew back after neurectomy. Or at least a big problem that needs to be solved. If it's not the only problem, then by solving this one the other issues should become more apparent. But right now, it's looking promising.

After 5 years I might be getting my horse back. I think my heart will explode from the pride and love I feel for that animal.

I'm glad I didn't give up. And I'm glad Dr. G listened to me all those times I took my horse over to see him. The last time I went, if you'll remember, I told Dr. G what I wanted to do and if he thought it would work. He though it was a good idea so he went along with it. Later I said to him "Thank you for considering my suggestions. I appreciate that you listened to me."

Dr. G said "Let me tell you a story. I knew this guy who was a lawyer, and his son, who had just finished law school, came to work for him. He was assigned a case where this man had been accused of a crime.

"So the son has a meeting with this guy and after it's over says to his dad 'I'm not sure that went very well. We got in the room and this guy told me what he was charged with, but then told me all the things he thought I should be doing. After ten minutes I stopped him and said "Hey, I'm the lawyer here, I know what we need to do!"

"So the father says 'Big mistake. This guy, he's been living with this problem. Night and day that's all he thinks about, it's all he has time for. With you, you just had fifteen minutes to hear about it. You should always take into consideration that this guy is living it, and that he knows more about it than you could pick up in fifteen minutes.'"

"That's how I look at it with you. You're living it. You see it all the time, thinking about it. You know your horse. If you were making a big mistake, I'd tell you, but I think your suggestions are valid."

Right now the plan is to see how long he stays sound. Eleven days so far. I think the max is 6 weeks for this kind of injection. Here's hoping!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Catching Up - Part 3

So it came down to this. My horse wasn't quite right. He wasn't lame, but he wasn't right. I present to you a series of videos to further explain what went on.

(The first three videos are all short, just me lunging him. )

Here is Kaswyn the day I decided he needed to go to the vet.

You can see the left front leg has a shorter, choppier, more stabbing stride than the left front. So that became -

A horse went to the vet.

When I got to the vet I sat down with Dr. G and I asked about doing a "long term block" on the leg that would mimic repeating the neurectomy. He said that there is really no such thing as a long term block, only what he'd call "extended analgesia". There is a mixture of meds that, when injected, are called a "racing block". They will provide extended pain relief, but not really block the nerves. You can only get that for a short amount of time with a "real" nerve block.

This cocktail is carbocaine (local anesthetic, something that will block the nerves short-term), vetalog (steroid anti-inflammatory), and sarapin. Sarapin is derived from the pitcher plant, and has been used for years as a pain reliever for neurological or muscular pain. This is the long term analgesia that Dr. G talked about. The carbocaine would tell us immediately (well, in eight minutes) if we were on the right track. The vetalog would help relieve any inflammation, and the sarapin would give long term pain relief. So then...

A horse got injected.

Dr. G injected the cocktail of meds right above the neuromas. As we waited the eight minutes we discussed the possible causes of his discomfort. Dr. G said that it could be the neuromas. I said that they weren't painful on palpation, but Dr. G said that didn't mean that they didn't hurt when he loaded them with weight. Or they could be rubbing up under the joint and bothering him. Maybe that's why he's never really lame - because it's just discomfort. It's enough that he compensates and then messes up his back, hocks, neck, etc, and it makes him uneven enough that I couldn't really show him.

After the eight minutes we lunged him and saw a 80% improvement. Dr G said "Now, you have an hour and a half. Get him home and ride him. Then call tomorrow and give me a report."

So I got him home and rode him. He felt kind of weird, because he still had carbocaine in his foot and I'm sure it felt weird for him to be working on it. After I finished working him I decided to take video of Kaswyn on the lunge line to send to Dr. G so he could take a look for himself.

Here is Kaswyn that night after getting his injections.

The next day Kaswyn started one gram of bute in the morning, no turnout, with riding at the walk. This happened for three days. This video is Kaswyn two days after the injections. Still on 1 gram bute, no turnout.

Looks pretty good, right?

Here is the last video. It's longer, as it was the day Kaswyn could go back to full work. He had NO bute that morning, so he'd been off of bute for 24 hours. He also hadn't been turned out yet. This video was shot by Susan, who was sitting on her horse. She's not a very good videographer anyway, but Albert wouldn't stand still so it's very bumpy.

A horse is sound.

You can see that he looks great. Don't you think? Am I just imagining it? I don't think I am. He felt really great also. I'm pretty damn happy about it.

So now what? Well, I think we know now that it's the neuromas that are bothering him somehow. I don't want to repeat the surgery, since that will just cause more neuromas, and higher up which would certainly interfere more with the fetlock then they are right now (if they are, but they might be).

Dr. G had a suggestion. There is a technique, being tested by a vet at Ohio State, where they inject the nerve with an alcohol solution. This would be in place of repeating the neurectomy, which I don't want to do at this point. So depending on how sound Kaswyn is and how long he stays that way, he may be a good candidate for the alcohol injection in the nerve technique.

But right now, my boy is sound. And I can tell that he feels better than he has in years. So we're both happy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

WEG happenings

So, lots of things happening right now as far as WEG goes.

First, the horse blogging community has banded together to help raise money for Laura Goldman! Check out Behind the Bit blog -

So if you donate to Laura and leave a comment on the blog, you could win a prize! This post also lists the horse bloggers who are participating in the fundraising effort. Pretty cool huh?

Oh, and if you're a horse blogger and want to join the horse blogging community, check out -

So far there are 105 members and it's growing. It's a great community, so come join us!

One last thing - Equestrian Collections has agreed to sponsor Laura Goldman! It's not a full sponsorship, so keep those donations coming. Anyway, in exchange for helping out Laura I'll be blogging for Equestrian Collections. They are setting a blog up now but it might not be ready in time for WEG, so I'm not sure how this will all go down. I'll keep you posted. If the blog isn't up and running I'll be posting on Equestrian Collections Facebook page. If you're on Facebook, you should "like" Equestrian Collections ( so that you can get my updates from WEG.

WEG is just around the corner. I'll be there from September 25th to October 3rd. I'm getting pretty stoked about it! If anyone out there wants to arrange a time to meet up that would be so fun! Let me know and we'll set something up.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Catching Up - Part 2

Now that you're all caught up with the trail riding and trailer business (and future opportunities to have lessons at my trainer's barn - yay!), I'll update on this one -

A horse possibly choked.

So I get to the barn Saturday afternoon and I walk by Albert's stall to say hi. This is not unusual, since he's in the first stall. What is unusual is that he's got his lips on his door and is making a huge mess with gummy, brown spit. I open his stall and take a good look at him. He wasn't eating, or even picking his hay which he had plenty of. He didn't seem in distress, but he kept dripping this mucky brown spit from his mouth. Didn't look like he'd drank any water either.

I decided to let him be, since he didn't look upset, so I went to walk Kaswyn. Afterwards I went back to Albert's stall and he was still dripping spit. I stuck my hand is his mouth but could not find anything in there that was stuck or anything.

I took him out to lunge him, since every single time I work him he coughs a few big coughs right at the very beginning. I thought that maybe if he had something caught in there that he could then cough it out. He lunged just fine, but no coughing. Just more spit. I thought he had to have something in his throat. I hadn't seen him chew or swallow the whole time. I'd never seen a choking horse before, but I thought it was probably a bad thing that he wasn't swallowing.

I called Susan, who was at work but said to call Marge and the vet if I thought we needed to. Marge came out and looked at him, and said that it might be some red clover in the hay. I guess red clover gives horses and cows the slobbers. I didn't know if it was a good or bad idea to try and feed a choking horse, but we fed him a little piece of wet alfalfa cube. He chewed it up but didn't swallow. Time for the vet.

Dr. C came out and took at look at Albert, but said he didn't really look like a choking horse. He asked us to try and feed him more alfalfa cube, which he again chewed but just held in his mouth. So Dr. C got the hose out and passed a long tube down his throat and into his tummy. Then he took a funnel and dumped water in the tube, and it emptied. He said he didn't think he was actually choking because if he was the funnel would not have emptied.

Here are some things I learned that day -

1) A real choking horse will have hay and green goop coming mostly out of the nose.
2) Horses produce GALLONS of saliva each day, so if they are choking that spit just pours out the nose and mouth.
3) Clearing a choke can get very messy as the horse starts coughing the crud up. Apparently everyone gets covered in hay and spit.
4) The biggest risk of not attending to a choke right away is not throat abscess (which I what I always thought, for some reason) but pneumonia if the horse aspirates the hay/spit gunk into the lungs.

So Albert probably wasn't really choking, but after the vet left Albert went back to eating right away. I think he had something stuck in his throat anyway, even if it wasn't totally obstructing the esophagus. But at least I learned something!

Part 3 - What's the deal with my lame horse?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Catching Up - Part 1

Ok, lets get started!

On my last post I listed a bunch of things that were going on that I didn't have time to write about yet. Well, here are three things I'll catch up on today.

Two horses went on a trail ride.

We have no outdoor arena, and no access to trails at our barn. After nearly two years of only riding in the small indoor arena, I got Susan to go out on trail with me. We took a "trail ride" by walking down the street, like this.

When Susan's dad heard this he said "That's not very safe." And so, he got her a used trailer. Really super cool. It's not perfect, and needs a little work, but for the amount of money he paid it could not have been passed up. Two horse, ramp load, dressing room. Just fantastic.

Not to appear ungrateful, we put it to good use as soon as possible, and here is a short video of our first trail ride out.

Which leads us to...

A horse is more out of shape than he should be.

This would be Albert. We were out for an hour, walking only, at a very easy pace. But that boy got so sweaty it was silly. Yes, it was hot, but not THAT hot! Well, I didn't think it was. Susan thought it was too hot, but she hates the heat. I guess her horse does too. But that might be because...

A horse is fat.

Again, Albert. I don't know how he got so chubby, but he's packed on a few pound that he really needs to lose now. So he's out of shape and is fat. We'll fix that.

Part 2 - did someone choke?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

No time to write, however....

So I'm really busy right now, and I don't have time to write what's been happening the last three days with Kaswyn and Albert. Here's a quick summary -

Two horses went on a trail ride.
A horse is more out of shape than he should be.
A horse went to the vet.
A horse is fat.
A horse got injected.
A horse is sound.
A horse possibly choked.

More details later! Oh, and thanks for all of your comments on the last post. I really would like to comment back on all of them, and I will eventually, but, well I have to go right now!

I'll get caught up soon, so check back. :)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pain, or not?

Here is a video I shot of Kaswyn in Tuesday. I can certrainly see the uneven strides in the left front leg, but the question is - is it pain, or mechanics?

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr