Equestrian Preview

“Have any of you ridden the other disciplines?”

Deborah and Elizabeth looked at Tara. With a laugh, Tara said she gave dressage a try when one of her friends was unable to compete in a schooling event a few years ago. “I had no idea what I was doing. I ‘followed’ the horse’s lead. Remarkably, we finished with a third place ribbon.”

Tara following the horse’s lead in a dressage schooling event (Jul 2009)

And, so, began the interview with my three daughters. With the Summer Olympics scheduled to begin shortly in Rio, one of our local TV stations had asked my daughters several weeks ago if they would like to do a piece on the Olympic equestrian competition. The local station had been following their riding efforts since last summer, and thought it was an ideal opportunity to introduce general sports followers to equine sports. They agreed to give it a try.

Speaking with the media is not new for the girls. They’ve done a few interviews before. Their longest was a 20-minute, web exclusive for ABC 7 in Los Angeles, last year. One of the questions, they are asked often, what is it like competing far from home. They generally reply that while it can be challenging at times, the aim is to keep everything in perspective – concentrate but relax, and, most importantly, have fun.

The Olympic experience is no different. While the stage is bigger and the expectations are greater, the riders see it like any other competition in their own preparations and with their horses. Many are already competing on the international circuit, so there is not much in terms of additional preparation. Their training is about staying sharp. The focus is safely transporting the horses to and from Rio. Each team has received from the FEI, the governing body that oversees equestrian sports, a comprehensive list of supplies and equipment approved for Olympic competition. In addition, the host nation, Brazil, has provided an extensive list of regulations, practices and controls for the entry and exit of horses. When the horses and their riders and support crew meet, it is a process of settling into their surroundings and back into their routines.

Tara and Cameron on a circle exercise course at RRC (Jun 2012)

At the Olympics, the girls described the equestrian events as seeing horsemanship and horses at their very best. A horse with a very skilled rider will do anything that is asked of it. In the early days of equestrian sports, one would see a rider-horse combination doing it all – dressage, show jumping and cross-country – all to showcase their horsemanship skills and the abilities of their horse. In the present day, it is highly specialized according to discipline for rider and horse. Rarely would a rider be found competing in all three disciplines. And, more rare will one find a horse competing in the three disciplines. A beginner in eventing (dressage and cross-country) is the closest one will find learning all three disciplines.

“Who will win?” Deborah replied equestrian sports is the one sport in which “anyone can win, that is how level the field of competition is. It is very similar to the NFL axiom of ‘On any given Sunday’.”

Eventing (Aug 6-9): The favorite is Michael Jung from Germany, currently ranked #1 in FEI Olympic Rankings. His primary competitor is fellow German rider Ingrid Klimke, the 2008 and 2012 winner of the Olympic Eventing Trials. Other contenders include Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson from New Zealand. Todd is the record holder of titles and championships won. Riding for Team USA is former two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Phillip Dutton. Dutton, originally from Australia won Olympic Gold in 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney). He changed his citizenship to the United States in 2006. Teammate Tamra Smith should also be considered as a possible medalist after contributing to the 2014 Team Gold in the Nations Cup at Bromont CCI*** in Quebec.

Dressage (Aug 10-15): The heavy favorite is Germany in both the team and individual events. Dutch rider, Anky Van Grunsven, is a contender also, winning Olympic Gold in 2008 (Beijing). Leading Team USA is Steffen Peters. Originally from Germany, he became a US citizen in 1992 after the Barcelona Games. In 1996, he led Team USA to a Team Bronze in Atlanta. He currently rides Legolas, who is ranked the world’s #1 dressage horse.

Show Jumping (Aug 14-19): Team USA is strongly positioned to medal. They are led by Kent Farrington, rated in the top ten of best show jumpers in the world. His teammates are Elizabeth Madden, a previous Olympic Gold Medalist. She was ranked as the fourth best rider and top woman rider in 2013. McLain Ward, who helped Team USA win Olympic Gold in 2008 (Beijing) in Team Show Jumping, rounds out a very strong contingent. The UK, Netherlands, France and Germany are also considered strong medal contenders.

Deborah flying Comet over a 1.45 m double fence combination (San Juan Capistrano, Jun 2015)

Last question: “Any chance of seeing any of you in a future Olympics?” Deborah: “Depends.” Tara: “Maybe.” Elizabeth: “I don’t know.” Both Deborah and Tara added, “If any of us has a chance to be a future Olympian, or ride the international circuit, it would be Elizabeth. She is loaded with talent. From our perspective, her instincts are unrivaled by anyone in the world.” Deborah added the observation, “The best part, nobody knows who she is and how strong of a rider she is.”

Last word to Elizabeth: “I still don’t know. I’d rather remain as that unknown rider who comes out of nowhere, then slips back into anonymity. Makes for a better story.” With plenty of smiles and a few laughs, the easy interview wrapped.

Note

The local TV station indicated portions of their interview will tentatively air on Sunday, Aug 7th during the late evening sportscast. It is unknown if the one-hour, late night news, sports and weather broadcast will be livestreamed. The station is currently fashioning the three-hour-plus interview into a 45-minute web exclusive.

Happy Birthday Musketeers!

We celebrate our Musketeers, Maxie, Midnight and Tuxie, becoming 11 years old today. When we first saw them as tiny, three-week old kittens, little did we know they would  become part of our family.

And, how have they grown into the beautiful (Midnight) and handsome (Maxie and Tuxie) cats they have become.

Midnight

Maxie

Tuxie

They are a tightly-bonded trio with their own individual personalities. While it doesn’t seem like it on some days, they genuinely look out for one another. When one goes to the vet for their annual check-up, the other two patiently wait at home.

They have earned and wear the title of Musketeer to the fullest.

 

Happy Birthday Musketeers!

xoxo

Show Ready

Another week, another show. This week, it is much closer to home.

Cameron sampling the grass (Colorado Horse Park, Jul 20 2016)

After a week of practice, it is back to the show ring. This show is a little bit of fine tuning for the girls ahead of the Iowa shows in August. Their riding coach, Trish, will be watching and advising from the side. She is very proud and pleased at how well they’ve been riding this season.

Today was a pretty easy day with a light workout this morning, and the “Walk of Champions” later this evening.

A Rainbow Bridge Day

He loved the scent of fresh-cut flowers. The one scent Dino enjoyed the most was gardenia. When that plant bloomed, it was like he consumed all of its scent.

In summer, Dino enjoyed the greenhouse very much. The plants, the scents, were very intoxicating.

When July 18, 2008 came, we awoke very early as usual. Though his appetite had slipped away, his eyes were bright, clear and alert. It was his approval to say it was okay to say goodbye for now.

We miss our Siamese boy very much. Not only was he the best of friends, Dino was a very loving member of our family and confidant.

Love you always,

mom and dad
xoxo

Twenty Two

She has become a lovely young woman. Her eyes, very kind and very loving. Tara, though, is quiet and reserved. She would rather listen and watch. “You learn more listening and watching than interacting.” Among the closest of family, the closest of friends, our maker of smiles can be a live wire. Easy going and relaxed, she knows who she is. And, it shows in her confidence. Horses have done that for her. But, so has her mom, Laurie.

Tara can also surprise. Her songs of the moment can be found on her phone. They are Shout To The Lord by Darlene Zschech and Agnus Dei by Michael W. Smith. Surprising choices indeed since she only wears her faith at Sunday Mass, or when Andrea sings at a large, local evangelical church every few weeks. The video of these two songs can be seen here.

 

Happy 22, Miss Tara!

xoxo
mom and dad

Off The Saddle

Though we arrived later than we had planned, it was good to be home. Four weeks away, while it passed quickly, it was long enough. Another week away would have tested our endurance. Missing from our welcome home was, of course, Miss Egypt. Our always sociable, ready to visit tabby girl would have positioned herself right at the door, making it a bit hard to come inside.

Miss Egypt showing an inattentive Pinky how to greet the family

Both yesterday and today have been spa days for the girls. It is the opportunity to pamper themselves and not to be dusty and sweaty, with bits of hay here and there. They get to be young women with polished nails and nicely coiffed hair. Yet, it is not to say they are not analyzing and reanalyzing the video from the past few weeks of competition to improve their riding skills.

The few days off-saddle is also a chance for the girls to recover from the bumps and nicks they’ve picked up along way. Elizabeth has been riding with a moderate wrist sprain for the past three weeks, which has finally begun to feel much better.

wrapped with care: Elizabeth’s wrist support made from horse wrap boots

While we carry a variety of velcro wraps and miles of adhesive tape (for horse and rider), the best wrist wrap for Elizabeth was fashioned out of a new pair of horse wrap boots. With a little tape, it provided the maximum support for her wrist when it was very sore.

Similarly, the horses are having their spa days to be just regular horses. No fences to jump, no exercise routines to repeated over and over. Tomorrow, they will have a vet check-up and a farrier check-up.

athletic but just regular horses: Comet and Mr. Ed enjoying the days off

It’ll be back to work on Sunday as practice begins anew for a show in two weeks. The show will be used as a tune-up for the two shows in Iowa, in August.

Happy Fourth!

When the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, John Adams said it should be a day celebrated with parades, fireworks and general merriment.

And, so whether the day is celebrated in the backyard, at a parade, watching a fireworks display, or firing your own fireworks (where permitted), to all our friends across America, may you have a Happy Fourth!