Riding: The Nationals

The Nationals in Las Vegas, they signal the end of the riding season on the West Coast, and for my daughters. Their readiness is palpable. Simply, it is the most important show of their season.

Part of the World Cup tour, the CSI4* rated show draws a very competitive field of riders. The best of the USA horse show circuit and professionals on the Cup tour are featured. While the stage is larger, the expectations greater, my daughters approach to the Nationals is that it is no different from any other show. It is about riding.

“It is no longer about practice and other shows,” says Trish. “It is no longer about potential. It is about being kinetic. To achieve it, a rider needs to trust themselves and their horse, especially at this level.”

ready to compete: 028 Lilith/Elizabeth Ramos USA

The horses, they’re ready too.

Time to ride.

“Ride now, ride forever”

Advertisements

Riding: New Territory, Higher Stakes

My daughters have rarely competed past the Labor Day (USA) holiday. Going to school, followed by obtaining their university degrees, precluded any notion of riding late into a season. When they did compete in the fall, it would be from a favorable calendar, or they had proven themselves in the classroom to gain a few days off. The time away would not cause them to fall behind. Mark and Trish both have placed a premium on studying and having good grades for their riders who are students also. It prepares them for life away from the show ring, away from horses. Moreover, a good student makes for a better rider.

The girls have found riding in September and October to be a challenging, grand experience. With the shows and events more national in setting, and higher rated, they draw riders that are among the best. The skills of their fellow riders are very polished, their experience level substantial. They are similarly detail-oriented in charting and studying their own riding, but are also watching the other riders and horses. It is about learning what other riders are doing to be better – on and off saddle, inside and outside the show ring.

the details: Elizabeth’s course notes and riding notes for season 2017

While the very best riders in show jumping win around 20-25% of their starts, making basic adjustments, including minor ones, are relatively few. They become particularly more reluctant late in the season. A rider will stay within their skill set, opting to trust in themselves and in their horses. A horse, knowing their rider trusts them wholly, gives them the certainty and confidence in any competitive setting.

My girls love the higher stakes. “In riding,” Elizabeth begins, “there are no automatics. Talent and a strong work ethic will open the door. The rest of it, the intangibles, the rider needs to bring them to table. They are what separates individual riders from one another. When it comes together, it all falls into a rhythm – the riding becomes more instinctive, much easier.” And, when the rhythm develops, its inherent consistency follows.

after the practice: Deborah and Comet (Del Mar Horse Park, Oct 2017)

“There is a crispness to the riding,” Deborah adds. “It is fast. It is precise. It is clean. It is focused. Yet, a rider cannot be afraid of making mistakes or taking risks.”

Finishing the thought, Tara adds, “When it comes together, it is as close to perfect one can imagine. Every move is fluid. What was hard is easy. And, what was easy is unreal.”

close to perfect: Tara and Cameron (Iowa, Aug 2017)

The hardest part – to keep it going.

Pebbles: Rainbow Bridge Day

It is the twelfth anniversary of her Rainbow Bridge Day. Pebbles is very memorable, quickly bringing a smile as we remember her. A beautiful girl, she was happy, a close confidante and loyal littermate. With Pebbles, you knew she was in charge – not only of all things feline, but of all things.

meezer kittens: Pebbles squeezing into the box with Dino (Mar 1990)

kitchen cabinet high ground: Pebbles surveying her kingdom (Jul 1991)

summer is easy: lounging under the tree (May 1992)

fashion: Pebbles with her leopard-print, leather handbag (Oct 1999)

patio comfort: relaxing on a summer’s eve (Aug 2002)

Pebbles at eleven (Jun 2000)

We were most privileged to have our Siamese girl for more than 16 years. Every day was a good one with her. We miss you much.

Love you always,

mom and dad
xoxo

Photos are from the Two Cats Two archives. They were taken using a Canon FTb 35 mm SLR using Kodak Gold (ASA 200) film.

Riding: Grand Prix Day

The day begins early, shortly after 5:30 am. The horses are beginning to wake and stir in their stalls. Soon, it will begin like every other day. My daughters are quiet during the ride in, studying their checklists and going over what they want to accomplish in their minds. Horses are animals with a set routine. Whether at home, or on the road at the show, it is about keeping with the daily schedule.

Though it seems quiet, the main horse barn is humming with activity. The barn crew is finishing their deliveries of stall supplies; the riders are slowly filtering in. Those riding in the first events of the day are the most busy preparing their gear and horses. Arriving at the barn, it is straight to work for my girls. The first order of business is a check of their horses and their stalls, followed by setting up breakfast. The breakfast is precise in what they are fed. It is a mix of ultra-premium hay, rolled oats and scientific horse feed, with the balance varying slightly for each horse. After getting them started on breakfast, along with fresh water, the girls check on the stall supplies they’ve ordered. And, so begins another day.

morning workout: Elizabeth and SAM on a circle exercise, the froth normal (CHP, Jul 2017)

In the early morning workout, a sense of the day begins to develop between my girls and their horses. Of importance is the energy, prompting and workout level. Though it is Grand Prix day, it is keeping it like any other day. Preparing for the event tempers the anticipation and expectations. They become an X-factor of sorts as the marquee event draws closer. No other event is greater, or better, than the Grand Prix. It features the best riders with the best horses in attendance, with a few riding it as their only event. Yet, the competitiveness is even. Anyone riding the GP can win. Deborah often compares it with the NFL maxim: “On any given Sunday …

During the morning meeting, the GP riders are briefed on the day’s schedule, weather and practice windows. With the event always scheduled for the late afternoon, or in the evening, knowing the schedule aids them in managing their time and routines. The most important part of the meeting is the blind draw for starting positions, with a preference for a later position. Between the short workouts and walkthroughs, there is much to do during the day. Though the downtime is very little, it is keeping the day very relaxed and routine. In their workmanlike approach, my daughters can often be found studying their practice video and leafing through their notes. It is staying with what they know, trusting in themselves and their horses.

finishing touches: flora and greenery for the 1.40 m Grand Prix course (CHP,  Jul 2017)

It is when the GP course build begins, a quiet anticipation grows among the riders. Having kept themselves busy for most of the day, they are ready to ride the event. The course length and its difficulty depends upon how the designer wants to challenge the horse and rider. Once the course build has been certified to specification, it becomes available for a walkthrough inspection by the riders. With a printed copy of the layout in hand, the riders will walk the course with an eye on every physical feature – from fence height and distances to the firmness of the footing material to sight lines.

the walkthrough: former RRC teammate and mentor, Megan (r), with her riding student Roxanne making her GP debut (CHP, Jul 2017)

While several riders will walk the course with their trainers (instructors), others will make it a solitary walk. My daughters walk the course together, quietly discussing their observations among themselves. They are also writing additional notes and observations. After completing their walkthrough, the girls secret themselves and talk about the best way to attack the course – which riding line is the safest, which one is the most aggressive, and which one is the best.

Once they finish their course analysis, my daughters tightly focus their remaining preparations on the event. It is their time to be alone in their thoughts, planning and visualizing their rides with no diversions and no distractions. The schedule and weather delays are taken in stride.

the golden boy: Mr. Ed receiving a perfect groom from Elizabeth before donning his show tack (CHP, Jul 2017)

A final brushing of their horses is a calming time between my daughters and their horses. They too are aware of the event before them. Soon, they will be dressed in their best show tack. The ground work is precise and methodical. Every hair, horse and rider, perfectly in place. My girls, absolutely perfect in their Grand Prix clothes.

It is time to be a champion.

the championship look: Captain Andrew Evan Stedman and Deborah (CHP, Jul 2017)

Tuxie: Too Suddenly, Too Soon

A year has passed. Much of the shock has faded, but a touch remains. Tuxie’s missing presence is very noticeable too, from watching the world wake in the morning to chasing around the house to snaking on the lap in the evening. His quiet, laid-back personality is missed the most.

Maxie has missed his littermate brother the most. They did a lot things together since their kitten days. Tuxie and Midnight, they took turns bossing each other around. The trio lived true to their Musketeer title, always keeping an eye on each other.

watching the world: flying birds and melting snow

tucked in on a cold winter day

with the optic yellow

Tuxie was a happy cat, friendly once he got to know you. The boy wore his smile everyday. Since Deborah and Elizabeth wear their hair long, Tuxie loved to play with their French braid or ponytail. The braid and ponytail were exotic. Whenever Tara had her hair cut and styled, Tuxie would try to rub against her hair. He loved the scent of the hair product that was used.

Tuxie left too suddenly, too soon.

We love and miss you much.

xoxo

Happy Birthday Meezers!

Dino and Pebbles, our much loved Siamese kitties, while they are no longer with us, we remember their special day. Born on this August day in 1989, their story began.

office managers: Dino and Pebbles (Oct 1999)

Littermates, brother and sister, they were loyal to one another and loyal to their one. Though they could often be found together, they also did their individual activities.

fashion plate: Pebbles with her leopard-print leather handbag

quality control: Dino giving the laydown test to fresh laundry

They were both skilled in teaching the same lesson – they had first dibs on the furniture, always.

couch control: a stretched-out Pebbles

couch control: Dino in his spot

We are glad they both lived long lives, and allowed us to be part of their forever family.

Happy Birthday, babies!

xoxo
mom, dad, & girls