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

Friday, April 15, 2011

First Event of 2011

A lot has happened since my last post!  Last weekend Taco and I did our first event of the season, at Chattahoochee Hills.  But the weekend before that we also did a combined test at Walnut Trace here in Nashville.  And about two weeks before that I got Taco a new truck.  Oh yeah, and amidst all those happenings Taco went bald.

There are many potentially boring details associated with all of these things, but I will go easy on the words and heavy on the photos.

First, the truck.  Her name is Stormy (after a certain book), and she is a 2006 F250 4x4 Powerstroke 6.0 diesel.

As you can see, when I picked her up she had some stupid big wheels on.  I have since replaced these with factory wheels.  I wanted Taco to ride in style, but not blinged out, if you know what I mean. 

Around the same time I got the truck, Taco ate or came into contact with or breathed something that caused him to break out into many hives.  We dealt with this problem last year, but this year was even worse.  Even after being treated with dex and washed with Microtek he still looked like a plucked chicken, covered in bumps, because the hives had scabbed over and turned to rainrot. Dr. Tony gave us something called "Miracle Spray," which is purple and smells like lavender.  Lo and behold, the bumps were gone after a couple of applications... but then his hair fell out. So I had a bald horse. Well, just on the midsection of his body, and he sure smelled terrific.  But still bald, with his black naked skin showing.

Bald or no, we had the show season to get ready for, so Taco, the new truck, and I made our maiden voyage to Walnut Trace for the combined test.  The only four entrants in the Training division were Amy, Megan, Lauren, and me, so we called it the "Panther Springs Farm Training Challenge."

PSF Training Challenge participants!!

I was extremely glad that I had the 4x4, because the farm had just put in a new road and it was verrrry slippery up one particular hill!  After a slightly stressful mixup with the directions, I arrived just in time for my dressage test and we scored a respectable 34.6.  Taco was still a little sleepy and I never quite got him in front of my leg, but I was pleased with it for a first test of the year.

Then we did the showjumping.  This was my first time jumping a stadium course since I embarrassed myself at MTPC last October, so I was a little apprehensive.  But there was no need-- Taco was thrilled to be back in the ring and I made sure we had enough energy.  It felt great, and it was a clear round!

Beautiful photos by Leslie Vancil

The next day, we went to Percy Warner to practice galloping over some things.  Taco hadn't forgotten a thing, of course, and I was pleasantly surprised that I seemed to have kept my XC skills over the winter.  We felt ready for our first event.

The next weekend was the truck's first real test: the 300 miles to Chatt Hills.  I cannot say how much easier the truck was to drive: the longer wheelbase, diesel engine, and tighter suspension all made the ride very pleasant!  As a result, both Taco and I arrived fresh and relaxed at Chatt.

The pictures are from a very young rider, who send good luck to all of us PSFers.  Thank you Peyton!

The venue was very different from the way it had been at the American Eventing Championships last fall-- no temporary stalls, and a spacious, relaxed feel.  It was so much fun to be there, and fun to be competing again!

Our dressage was decent, with a few moments where I didn't keep him connected as well as I should have.  But I was pleased.  Everyone was scoring a little high, and our test scored a 37.7, which tied us for second.
You can see part of his bald spot under my leg. Photo by

Stretchy circle (scored an 8!)

Starting the lenghtening

Cross country was, well, fun!  Actually, I had so much fun I got a speeding ticket.  It seems that going steeplechase at the T3D last October did get me thinking a little more forward!  I had a problem that I never thought I'd have at Training: speed faults.  1.6 to be exact, and I ran it at slightly over 520 meters per minute.  Amy said that she was pleased with our speed between the fences, but that I needed to bring him back more on the approaches.  The Training-level jumps did not back him off at all and so I need to make sure my half-halts are more effective.  Setting aside the piloting issues, Taco was simply perfect.  He sailed over everything, and gave me the most incredible feeling.

All xc photos by

Here is a video taken by Lynda, longtime Team Taco friend (on Facebook, but should be viewable by all).

Showjumping was the next day and I sure was nervous.  Despite the successful dress rehearsal at Walnut Trace, I still hadn't jumped at an event yet since MTPC.  In the warmup, I was finding it very difficult to wait for the base of the fences.  Amy helped me tone things down a little, and I was able to start out my course with the right energy and balance.  Then I got a bit frantic and rushed through fences 6-8, though I did pull myself together again for the last line.  Also, as you can see from the photos, I reverted to drawing my right leg back in the air.  We dropped one rail and wound up 4th in the division.

I was so pleased with my guy!  He was generous and fun and lovely all weekend.  The Panther Springs crew had a great time together over the beautiful courses and footing at the event.  It was a great start to the season.  Next stop: Area III Championships at Poplar Place!!

See you at the next event!