photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Friday, April 19, 2013

(Late) Chatt Hills Report

We went to an event!  Our first one since the injury in June 2011! Taco thought the Novice fences were rather unimpressive.  I hung on and managed to survive the whirlwind that is Cat Burglar, Wonder Horse.

But first, we went to a schooling jumper show. Taco was beyond ecstatic.  Instead of shipping to the vet, or the boring indoor arena, or even to a clinic at Southern Promise, we went to a SHOW! His jumping was extremely enthusiastic, and he never came near a rail all day.

Our first ribbon for 2 years!

Chatt Hills was two weeks later.  We went down to visit our friend Lynda at Run For It Farm on the Sunday before the event, so I could do some work in Atlanta. We had a great time riding together!

I also send a shout out to Kim Keeton, DVM-- she has been a friend for some years but I never have had the pleasure of watching her in action as a talented and hardworking sport horse vet.  She gave Taco a thorough checkup and helped make sure he was ready and able to event-- and she also reassured me afterward that his tendon remained cool and tight.

We arrived at the event at the tail end of a torrential downpour and settled into one of the coveted end stalls.

We had a very nice flatwork session in one of the rather wet warmup arenas-- very civilized and professional.  I had visions of pulling down one of the below-30 scores that we've occasionally achieved in the past. Watch out, world! Then we walked the Novice course. I began to get a little worried.  The jumps looked a little too small to get Taco's attention.  But then I thought about what a nice time I would have cantering around easily with my best buddy.

The morning came and I successfully braided his wild mane.  I tacked him up with my new fancy dressage pad and sparkling boots (how I got them that way shall remain a secret). Feeling like a hotshot, I hacked down to dressage.  Taco's back!!!

Yep, Taco was back.  My 17-year old veteran proceeded to get hotter and hotter in the warmup and spooked at more and more random things. This was not what I remembered from the last time we showed!  Amy tried to help me, but the busyness of the warmup was a little bit too much for my made horse to handle.  So we just stopped warming up and waited for my ride time.

The test was OK.  Besides some head-tossing, it's hard to tell that I was sitting on a powder keg.

Then it was time for cross country.  I was a little worried about getting down to the warmup, since hacking can be a little interesting when Taco is having a bouncy day.  But it was not problem!  We hacked down like it was nothing.  I was very happy I had survived what I thought might be the toughest part of my day.

Then it was time to warm up.  And I just about got run away with.  The mild bit I had did very, very little to curb Taco's speed.  And he was jumping sideways every time a horse passed him.  I was apologizing to the pros on their greenies every time we toured the warmup area.  Amy came to the rescue and actually managed to convince me to jump a few things before going to the start box. And then we were off! At 470 mpm.  This was the speed I managed to negotiate: Taco wanted 570 and I wanted 400. I'm not super fit, either, so I had to dig deep. And the jumps did not help slow him down one bit.

We pulled up, me out of breath and him happy with his "warmup" and ready to run Prelim. He was very, very pumped so hacking back to the barn was a problem. In lieu of getting tossed off, I decided to hand walk him back.  We got back to the barn and I was totally pooped while he was pleasantly refreshed.

So all in all it was a good day!

Showjumping day went well too.  I changed to a slightly less mild bit, which helped slightly. As I warmed him up, I noticed how good he felt-- like he hadn't worked hard at all the day before (because he hadn't). When we started jumping in warmup he got pumped again, jumped sideways away from the other horses, and generally carried on.  But again, I survived, and he was jumping great. My job was just to manage his energy and keep it focused in the right place. We went in to jump a pretty nice round, if I may say so myself.  I made one glaring error in the second line-- mostly because I allowed him to take over for a minute and then jumped ahead-- making him hit a rail. But not too bad.

Basking in our glory (Taco was certain that he was champion of the whole event), we went back to Run For it Farm for the week.  We had a lovely, relaxing hack and did some easy flatwork.

Run For It Farm

Next stop: MayDaze and our return to Training Level!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Team Taco-- Comeback Coming Soon!

Hello again, Team Taco fans.  The long-awaited competition comeback is fewer than three weeks away!  I have entered Chattahoochee Hills at Novice. And we have a little jumper show this weekend to get us warmed up.

We've had a productive year, with our usual lessons from Amy, clinics from Heather Gillette and Kyle Carter that got us leaving home and practicing our skills. Plus Lainey Johnson paid us a lovely visit.

Taco's Aunt Heather (photo by Leslie Vancil)

And we enjoyed hanging out at home too.

The main reason we did not compete last fall was due to heavy time demands at my job, and the fact that I have not been able to ride more than 3 days per week since August.  Thanks to Amy, Taco has stayed fit, but me... not so much.  Luckily I went to Florida last week so that Heather could help me get into shape.  I rode her former Advanced horse, Groovy, a delightful gentleman.

Which brings us to now. Amy gave us a great jumping lesson last weekend, and our jumping "lesson" this coming Saturday will be at the schooling show! Here we come 2013!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

One Year Later

Hello again, Team Taco readers!

It was one year ago this weekend that Taco got injured, at the Indiana Training Three Day. Here are my posts from June of last year that describe Taco's awesome performance and then our discovery of his SDFT injury.

I'm pleased to report that Taco is back in action.  I have been very conservative with his rehabilitation, and gone a little bit slower than I could have, but he is cantering and in a couple of weeks we plan to jump our first fence!

He has muscled out from all of the long slow work we have been doing, and he is now on regular turnout (everybody breathed a sigh of relief when he reached that milestone).

The leg has stayed cool and tight (knock wood). I am feeling very optimistic.

I'm not sure when we will return to competition-- I will be traveling for research this summer and commuting from Atlanta this fall, so it might be a few months before we can take on a horse trial.  But I am willing to be patient-- I have waited this long for him to recover, and he is happy and healthy again!

Doc has continued to be wonderful.  He finished on his dressage score and got a ribbon at the April Chatt Hills, and if I were able to handle two horses, I would be moving him up to Training.  Like Taco, he's incredibly generous and athletic, and he's also a bay Thoroughbred, but otherwise the two have such different builds and personalities and it has done wonders for my riding to be working with them both. Because I can't have two horses, Doccie will be moving on soon.  I'll miss him more than words can say.

Doc and me (r) with Megan and River at Chatt!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back to Work!

Tony came to ultrasound Taco this week.

He also palpated and flexed the leg.  All looked good!  Taco jogged very energetically, so to speak-- there was plenty of mane-tossing and strutting.

We sent the images and exam results up to Duncan Peters, who gave the OK to start legging up.  Starting this coming week, we will walk 30-40 minutes a day and trot 5 minutes.  After that we will start increasing the trotting.  If all goes well, we can maybe canter in 8 weeks.

Doc is still being his lovely little self.

I was laid up for January myself, and I have been riding again since the end of the month.  But all three of us-- Taco, Doc, and me-- are back in action now.  We are ready for 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Fun With Doc

Doc has had a busy month!  We went to Pine Top for the famous Thanksgiving Horse Trials. The weather was perfect all weekend and Carol, the dogs, Doc, and I enjoyed the beautiful venue.

Doc tried very, very hard in dressage.  We put in a steady test and got a 38.

Then he was really stellar in showjumping, jumping clean even though I didn't quite have the pace and balance right.

And he was super fun cross country!

We finished on our dressage score and had a truly enjoyable weekend.

Then, last weekend, friend of Team Taco Heather Gillette was in town for the USEA convention.  She was a finalist for the very prestigious Broussard International Grant.  And she consented to help out a few friends and me!  Here is some footage from our really fun jump lesson.

Unfortunately, less than a week after she left us, Heather was kicked by an ill horse back home in New Jersey... and her jaw is broken.  Team Taco is sending all of our get well wishes.  From what I understand, having a jaw wired shut is absolutely no fun at all.

Safe travels, Team Taco reader, and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taco is back under saddle!

I've been sitting on Taco!  On November 2, I tacked up up and climbed on board.  We had a little bit of pharmaceutical help to make sure he stayed nice and mellow.  He was indeed very mellow, and he had a nice stroll up and down the driveway with Kate and Graham to keep us company.

Since then, we have been taking our little strolls without drugs, and he has been very calm and settled.  He is not in his true rehab workout stage yet, but the little bit of work keeps his mind occupied and helps him feel like he has a job again.  And I can't begin to say how good it feels to be on his back again!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Doc's Middle TN Pics

Several weeks ago, I took Doc (Standing Order) Novice at Middle TN Pony Club Horse Trials, held at the beautiful Percy Warner Park in Nashville.  After he was so good at Flying Cross at our joint debut, I thought he might really have fun with the Novice course at PWP.  And I was right!  He really showed what a special little horse he is!

Here is some video, taken by Carol:

And one more clip from Elizabeth:

Yesterday our photo CD from Nikkrody Creative & Photography arrived in the mail, so here are the pics!

Dressage was a substantial improvement over the last time, with a slightly more relaxed outline and bigger steps.

He was super bold cross country!  His gallop was so easy to ride and I just let him roll on-- which, I was astonished to discover, got us some speed faults.  I think I had better get in the habit of checking my watch for going too fast-- I am used to being a little too slow!  But he was simply phenomenal-- so much fun, and easy to ride.  He reminded me of why I love eventing so much.

Cute knees

That nice gallop of his!

Log before the water... the water...

... out of the water...

... and away!!  Of course, we did not need to make a quick getaway, but I was on the job!

Bench before the half-coffin, which he skipped over easily

Honestly, it didn't feel like we gave this table so much room.

We came back on Sunday to showjump, and he felt lovely in the warmup-- cracking his back and springing over all of the warmup fences.  We had a mostly lovely round in showjumping, except I overrrode him to an oxer on a turn, missed my turn to the next line, and got a rail because we were crooked.  But he was totally unfazed and trying to please me as he always does.

Too much fun!  And we even got a purple ribbon as a keepsake.  Next stop: Pine Top!!