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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Volunteering, and Playing with Doc

I had a great time volunteering at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships on the last weekend in July, at the Kentucky Horse Park.  I have two main reasons for volunteering. First, it is of course my duty to help support the volunteer-driven sport that I participate in.  There would simply be no eventing if there was not someone to write down the judge's scores, or check bits, or sit in a field and watch horses jump a fence.  These people get up at all sorts of hours to help me do my sport, so I pay it foward.

But, really, it is not just a duty; it is a joy.  The second and more significant reason I volunteer is that I always, and I mean always, learn something. It might be big or small, disturbing or joyful, but it never fails to be educational.  I am not the only person who believes this; check out this post about the cheapest day-long lesson you'll ever have.

For the two star/ Young Rider level, my co-judge and I were at a very tall down bank that was immediately followed by a skinny brush.  I recall this bank being used on Rolex courses in past years.  To get a sense of it here is a picture of me with the bank, taken by the renowned photographer Brant Gamma.  I watched in amazement as the horses and their young jockeys jumped down off the mountain, sighted the skinny brush, jumped it, and then galloped on to the next question.  We did have one runout at the brush, and a couple of people took the option, but everyone took that leap of faith at the bank on the first try. I found it inspiring to watch pair after pair accomplish this feat.

For the one star/ Junior level, we were at a downhill combination of a coop to a skinny-ish brush table.  The combination was immediately preceded by a long gallop and then a 180-degree turn. What I learned here is that how the riders negotiated the turn determined their success at our combination.  Sure, everyone knows that-- but after watching a couple of dozen trips it becomes even more ingrained.  Those who rode the down transition from big gallop to hand-gallop backward, and thus had a horse on its forehand, had some scary jumps.  Those who whipped around the corner on the inside rein were scary also (although the turn itself did help slow and balance the horses).  Those who seamlessly brought their horses back and maintained their rhythm and energy around the corner made the task look easy.

It was a quick day and we were done before noon.  I was back in Nashville in time for supper!

This past weekend I took Doc to Percy Warner Park for a cross country school with the Panther Springs Farm gang.  He was just wonderful!  Someone is going to have a really awesome horse to play with.

PSF is in da house!

Here is a video of him being awesome:

From Standing Order (Doc)

Another entry soon-- Taco has an Ask Taco question to answer, and he's working on it as I write this!

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