Practice Session

Both Trish and Griffin watched Deborah, Tara and Elizabeth in a full speed practice session at RRC. It was more about agility than fence height on a GGT-type surface and grass. With another practice session on the schedule, they will be prepared for the final three shows of their season.

on course: Tara and Candace (Happy Girl) (RRC, Aug 21 2021)

on course: Deborah and Captain Andrew (RRC, Aug 21 2021)

on course: Elizabeth and Lilith (RRC, Aug 21 2021)

While their practices are fairly loose and unscripted, this was a highly choreographed session. They were obviously working to achieve certain goals. No smiles, no back and forth. A very serious practice. Whenever Trish halted practice for a brief chat, they listened intently. When practice resumed, they picked up their focus again.

Several of their competitors, in their next shows, will be those who last competed on the Olympic stage. A few others will be those who regularly compete at the highest level of the sport. The daughters will need to be at their best.

Red, White & Blue Classic: Fan Appreciation Day

A special post by Tara Scott Westin.

They have watched over the past three weeks. Many come every day. Following their favorite horses. Following their favorite riders. They are awed. They are inspired. To catch a glimpse. To be near. To be close. The special romance. The special magic of the equestrian way.

Olivia, longtime follower with Brie (Rancho Mission Viejo RP, Jun 29 2021)

 

making friends, falling in love (Rancho Mission Viejo RP, Jun 29 2021)

 

Griffin sneaking a treat to Captain Andrew (Rancho Mission Viejo RP, Jun 29 2021)

Deborah, Elizabeth and I love this part of the equestrian way. Horses, horses and more horses. The stories are many. Mostly funny. A few serious. There is nothing more special than to be in their presence.

Tuesday was Fan Appreciation Day, a chance to connect with fans and followers. Granted, most of those who watch are friends and families. The June Classic and the Red, White & Blue Classic also draws many horse aficionados. It is a privilege to meet those who follow and support our sport.

Brie, she has her own following. My girl is magical.

About the author

Tara Scott Westin is a fourth year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a BS in Biology in 2017.

She is a highly decorated equestrian with the Rustler Riding Club. In 2006, Tara became the only non-competitive rider to win the Comeback Rider of the Year. She has won Rider of the Year and Regulator of the Year awards, in addition to winning multiple blue ribbons and placement ribbons with Brie, Cameron, Candace (Happy Girl) and Shelby.

 

The Saugerties

With the season opener in Saratoga finished, the daughters have taken their riding season down the road to The Saugerties, for HITS On The Hudson. It is a premier show series for most professionals in North America. This year, the first three shows (spring series) are CSI2* level, followed by three CSI4* level shows (summer series) in late July into August.

Nearly every notable name in hunter/jumper has competed here. One particular alum is Trish, who earned 13 CSI Grand Prix wins here, two which came with Autumn Majesty, who is sire to her current horse, Cold Majesty.

Over the past few years, the daughters have received several invitations to ride HITS shows. They declined the invitations on those occasions due to other commitments, school and other shows. To ride a CSI/FEI schedule, they need an FEI invitation. A rider simply cannot show up and say they would like to ride the FEI schedule. In March, the daughters received an invitation to ride the FEI schedule of the spring series.

The daughters have built a reputation with 1-2-3 finishes and dominant performances, and have proven they are unafraid of the competition. HITS On The Hudson I and II represent a major test for them. It is a test they intend to pass.

Saratoga: Week Two

Week Two in Saratoga began Thursday. It will wrap this evening with the Grand Prix event.

winning ride: Elizabeth and SAM: Secret Agent Man, USHJA National Hunter Derby (Saratoga Spring II, May 14 2021)

The daughters are having excellent meets. Though rated as Level A shows, both have the feel and competitiveness of Premier AA level shows. It is likely the result of drawing a field of riders who normally compete at the AA level.

Also, Odyssey and Shelby have been performing well on the larger stage. It hasn’t been too big for them. They are probably ready to step onto the AA level stage soon. Yet, there is no hurry to get them to the next level. The larger stage, though, may come sooner than expected.

winning ride: Deborah and Odyssey 1.20m Open Jumper (4/5) (Saratoga Spring III, May 20 2021)

The pleasant surprise was the arrival of Brie on Friday morning, accompanied by Trish. The expectation was she would become available over the next two weeks, certainly ready for the SoCal portion of the season. Dr. Kennerly cleared her to compete. With her shoes arriving late, Brie needed some time to become more accustomed to the feel and fit. Trish did the workout sessions with Brie, with an eye on her movement, and through full practice courses. She said Brie did well, and is riding fast.

During the Saturday morning workout, Brie was looking very sharp with Trish in control of the reins. But, of course, Trish is an excellent rider in her own right. She has competed at the highest level of the sport, finishing with 49 wins in 129 World Cup starts.

Trish and Brie: before the Saturday morning workout (White Hollow Farm, Saratoga May 22 2021)

Side Notes

The shows were fairly quiet, though, open to general public attendance, capped at 25%. COVID restrictions remained in place, with certain areas off-limits to the public.

Riding: The Season Begins

On Wednesday, they will begin riding for real.

Tara and Cameron, 1.45m Jumper Open, Del Mar International Welcome Week CSI3* (Oct 2017)

The daughters have been riding a highly-structured training program to prepare. It begins in January with flatwork, the foundational cornerstone in equestrian sports. It progresses towards jumping full practice courses by March. When the calendar flips to April, it is riding with speed, crispness and fluidity. By May, they are riding at competition level.

While they have been riding on and off through their off-season, the first day of training is riding with focus and discipline. The checklist they have assembled is extensive. It is precise and detailed. The training sessions are done at a steady, flexible pace. The need to push the training harder and faster is unnecessary. The horses, now in their prime, pick up on the training as they advance through the schedule.

dressage transitions with Lilith: Elizabeth listening to instructions from Trish (North Ranch, Apr 2021)

Though it is all business, they have fun. Kent Farrington, one of their favorite riders, said you have to love it all. From long, hard practice days to bitter disappointments in the show ring. When everything comes together in practice and in competition, it makes all the work and time you’ve invested more sweeter. “You’re riding for only one reason, you live to ride.”

The flatwork sessions are primarily dressage exercises focusing on tempo and motion. They form the technical foundation for jumpers. Add the grid exercises, circle exercises, slalom exercises, turning exercises, and cavaletti exercises, the sport is more than jumping a horse over a fence. Together, they are the core skill set for a showjumper. Practicing the fundamentals is how one becomes better. The best professional riders are always practicing their fundamentals, even with the horses they have ridden over several seasons.

Additionally, the daughters have watched every single frame of video from the practice sessions. They have watched every single frame of competition video from the previous season. They break down each ride. The good, bad, and in-between, noting what worked and what didn’t work. No detail is too small.

riding notes and details from Deborah’s 2019 season

How they prepare for a season hasn’t changed much since Trish did the planning. It is the same template Trish used when she was the young rider. She slowly gave the girls more responsibility in how they prepared themselves, much like how she was given more responsibility by her coach. The girls were given complete control of their own training in 2017. “They have the work ethic to handle the added responsibility. Also, they thoroughly study and understand their own riding.

Trish continues to watch the practice sessions from the sidelines, writing her own notes on what they can do better. Afterwards, they compare notes. Often in a technical shorthand only they understand.

“They are ready.”

Happy Birthday Susie and Pinky!

A new month begins, and we start with a birthday celebration.

It is the tenth birthday for the littermates, Miss Susie and Miss Pinky.

Susie

 

Pinky

It does not seem long ago they were baby kittens. So little. Now, so grown up. Miss Pinky has essentially become the cat-in-charge, though Miss Midnight is the senior ranking cat. Miss Susie, she has taken the position of lovebug. They are lots of fun.

Tonight, treats and extra loving.

Happy Birthday Susie and Pinky!

Happy Birthday Egypt!

She loved sitting in the window. Part of her daily routine was watching the outside world. Birds, squirrels, other cats. Her watch, the morning, afternoon, and evening. She was a good tabby girl. Always sociable, always friendly, always ready to visit. Without a doubt, Miss Egypt was the cat in charge.

Today, Miss Egypt would be 16. While over the Rainbow Bridge nearly four and a half years, this day is her special day.

We were blessed and privileged to have been her forever family, and for us to belong to her.

Happy Birthday Egypt!

xoxo

Happy Gotcha Day: Susie and Pinky

It is the Gotcha Day for Susie and Pinky.

They were the last of their litter to find a forever home. Whatever the reason was, they were being “overlooked,” which is very unusual for Siamese. It was our good fortune.

baby kitten days (Dec 2011)

They’re sweet kitties, each very affectionate. Pinky is the more assertive while Susie is the love bug. They complement each other very well. While they play well with each other, they do play well by themselves. Occasionally, there will be a hiss between the two when there is an annoyance. It doesn’t happen often.

Susie (Fall 2019)

 

Pinky (Fall 2019)

The nine years have passed too quickly.

We are thankful and grateful Colorado 9Lives kept them safe for us until we could bring them home.

Happy Gotcha Day Susie and Pinky!

xoxo

One Year

… yet, it seems more like a few days ago when we said goodbye to Maxie.

Handsome. Brave. Easy. Funny. How we miss him so.

Maxie was a good hunter. He found his share of crickets and the occasional garter snake, even bringing his find into the house. And, how he loved to play. Maxie’s favorite game involved chasing, both as chaser and chasee. When he and Tuxie started playing chase, it was best to stay out of their way. They ran at full speed. When it came to work, he was the best office manager. You may believe he slept on the job, but he heard every word said, heard every step taken.

Forever a Musketeer. Forever loyal.

“All for one, one for all.”