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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Way Overdue Poplar Post and T3D Teaser

I've been waiting until the arrival of the photo CD before posting about Poplar Place/ Area III Championships on the first weekend in May, but that means that this post is 3 weeks overdue. 

To cut to the chase: it went fairly well.  We ended up fourth in a decent-sized division.

Dressage: better energy, still needing more uphill balance.  All photos by David Mullinix.
Good boy Taco. 33.2

We ran cross country next.  This was my first time running at Poplar, and I loved the feel and layout of the course.  The championship course added a few extra combinations, which Taco ate right up.  I was much better at adjusting the pace in preparation for jumps and getting to the base (as opposed to Chatt Hills, where I didn't bring him back enough and had some long spots).  I had a couple of time penalties, for being a little too slow this time as opposed to too fast.
Little corner

The boat after the water

Showjumping was our best round since the AECs last September.  As with dressage, I still needed to improve Taco's balance at times, including to the first fence, where I had a rail.  But for most of the round we had decent energy and balance.  Taco jumped great, for his part.

Overall, it was an improvement on our last time out, and I was delighted with how lovely Taco was.  He is so consistent and professional, and a joy to compete!

Next Wednesday, June 1, we travel to Indiana for the Indiana Eventing Association T3D.  We did our last gallop today, and we will do one more dressage  and one more showjump school before we leave.  The goal this time is to finish-- and to continue to build consistent pace and balance, in all three phases.  And enjoy ourselves, of course!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ask Taco Special Edition: Ask Questie

Today's blog post comes from Taco.  He decided to interview Our Questionnaire, a recent Rolex and Jersey Fresh competitor owned by Kathleen McDermott and ridden by Heather Gillette.  Instead of the usual advice column, Taco is the one asking the questions this time.  Enjoy!

Dear Mr. Questie,

Although we have never met, our humans are friends and I have heard a lot of good things about you.  I understand that you are a top-level event horse and possess great intelligence and athleticism.  As part of my ongoing venture into online journalism, I am writing in the hope that you will consent to answer a few questions.  I will put them in my "Ask Taco" column on the Team Taco blog-- it will be a special edition because I will be the one asking the questions this time. 

Best regards,

Questie and his human, Heather, preparing for cross country

Hi Taco. I would be happy to answer your questions.  I met your person at Rolex this year, she was very nice and loves you a whole bunch.  She tells all sorts of stories about you.  You are a lucky guy. 

Where were you born and what kind of horse are you?  I am a New Zealand Tb.  I was born on the North Island of NZ, all the way on the other side of the world from where I live now.

How and when did you get into Eventing?  I started eventing after I stopped racing in NZ.  I wasn't a very good racehorse so my people brought me home and then decided to let me try jumping.  I LOVED it right away!

When and why did you begin your partnership with your current human?
I met my current human when I got off a Fedex plane with my friend Gerry in May 2009.  It was very strange being on a runway with super huge jets at a big airport in Newark NJ, USA... what an amazing place!  I went on a trailer ride to a wonderful place called Pottersville where I now call Merrywind Farm home.  It is horse heaven with big fields and lots of grass!  I met Heather because my people in NZ had an agreement to find me a new person after the Olympics in 2008.  You see I was supposed to represent NZ but got very sick from eating too many dandelions.  It took me a long time to get better, but my people took very good care of me.  I continued to improve and get stronger once I got to the US and with Heather.  Now I am as good as new!  I am a very lucky horse to have always had such good people to look after me.

What do you think about your job?  Do you like it?  If so, what part do you like the best?  What part are you the best at doing? 
I LOVE my job.  I am so fortunate because I get to travel and go lots of places. It is always a big adventure! Sometimes I go with my friends from Merrywind, other times just with Heather.  I like the cross country the best.  I get to run fast and solve lots of puzzles.  You never know what you are going to find out there on xc.  It is so exciting.  I am getting much better at doing dressage, we work very hard on that!

Did you like going to Rolex and Jersey Fresh? What competitions will you do next?  
Rolex was a big adventure!  There was a huge stadium with thousands of people in it all clapping and cheering me on.  But before that all my friends and I hung out with some reining horses in a big arena when a tornado went by.  I didnt even know what a tornado was, but we all ran for shelter!  We don't have those in NZ.  There was so much rain in Kentucky that the xc was very muddy and sticky.  I didnt feel like myself while on course and Heather decided to take me home early.  I was sad to not jump all of the jumps, but just didn't feel like it was safe.    Jersey Fresh was good, though I was a bit rusty on xc.  I did a very lovely dressage test and worked very hard to show off all that I have learned in the past year.  I hadnt done a whole course since March and it took a few minutes to get into the groove.  I will have a little vacation time now and then get back to it.  I think we will go to Millbrook and then out to Richland Park.  I am not sure what we will do in the fall.  Whatever it is I will be happy to run and jump some more.

What do you like to eat, and who are your best friends? 
I really enjoy eating clover, I search all around for it.  Carrots and apples and anything that comes in a crinkley wrapper!  My best friend is Gerry, we traveled all of the way from the other side of the world together.  I have a new friend Groovy that I hang out with too and Dragon comes with us on our travels sometimes too.  My old NZ mom came to visit last year and said she could see I love my new person very much, she could just tell by how I looked at her.

How did you achieve the extremely fashionable dappled look that you are sporting this spring?
I do look like a super model with my dapples, don't I?  Just kidding!  Though the girls at my vet's office call me Brad Pitt... whoever that is.  I have to wear a special coat because I am allergic to flies. It covers most of me so  I don't get sun bleached at all. That and my person uses a shampoo that has all sorts of good stuff in it.  It makes me super shiny and my skin and coat are perfect.  It has olive oil, honey.. all sorts of natural stuff and nothing that hurts my eyes.  It smells good too, so the girls like it!  It doesn't bother the environment either, which I think is very important.

Questie's dapples

Do you have any advice for horses who would like to become excellent Event Horses?  
My best advice is find a good person who you can trust and form a good partnership with them.  Then work hard to learn all of the skills you need to solve all of the different puzzles you will come across.  You have to do dressage, even if you don't like it.  You aren't allowed to go xc if you dont!  Be brave and be careful.

It has been fun answering your questions!  I hope I get to meet you sometime.  Take care and happy eventing!

I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Questie as much as I enjoyed doing it.  He is a Most Excellent Event Horse.  I will be rooting for him later this season and I hope you will too.  -T

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rolex Interlude

I'm back from a full, exciting weekend at the Rolex CCI****!  This year I worked in the stabling office for the first time, which was a job I really enjoyed.  The stabling office is a very busy place during Rolex-- it is the main liaison between grooms and competitors, officials, and show management.  Our team of six was led by Mary Fike, president of MSEDA, who has been doing the job of running the office since 1982.  We were tasked with an assortment of jobs, including making coffee (not my specialty), dispensing information (results, orders-of-go, credentials requirements), assisting with some quarantine monitoring for foreign horses, taking messages and items to riders and grooms in the stabling, handing out XC pinnies and the famous gift bags to competitors, and welcoming riders, grooms, and their guests into the office to watch the live feed or use the fabulous massage chair that the event provides.  It was a busy place but I liked the nonstop action and wide variety of tasks, and I was delighted to help the riders, horses and grooms do their jobs.

Me with "Fast Betty," the preferred golf cart in the office

I also cheered on my friend Heather Gillette and the lovely Our Questionnaire (aka Questie) during their first attempt at a CCI****.  After a steady test in the notoriously electric stadium at the KHP on Friday, her groom, her husband, plus one of her other friends and I saw her off on cross-country on Saturday.  She didn't feel that Questie was quite his usual self, however, and pulled up after Fence 10.  I was so proud of her for making the right horsemanship decision and saving her wonderful horse for another day.  Look for an edition of Ask Taco featuring Questie sometime in the near future!

Heather and Questie getting ready for XC

Now that I'm back at home, final preparations have begun for the Area III Championships at Poplar Place this weekend!  I finally got to jump again-- between seemingly nonstop rain and a couple of lost shoes, a jump school has been a long time coming-- and I've already started packing our essentials.  My goals for this weekend are to strike a better balance (literally) and correctly manage Taco's energy in my approaches to fences, and to be straighter in my body.  He feels fabulous and ready for anything, although we are having some cosmetic difficulties: lingering baldness issues.  I have started him on APF Pro after a conversation at Rolex with Mike Van Noy, the vet who developed it. I'll update here when I determine whether it helps with Taco's allergies and resulting hair loss.

Oh yes, and we got our entry confirmation for Indiana T3D!  Woo hoo!  It is only one month from this weekend...