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Wow!

24 May

May 24, 2011

A lot can happen in a week and this last week is evidence of that! A week ago today I was in the library at KU, cramming for my last final. Now that test is one of the furthest things from my mind!
WakeUp, Willie, Mama and I left for Chicago on Thursday, for what proved to be quite the rollercoaster weekend. Willie, my 9 yo Weltmeyer, who is usually a little bit hit or miss, was mister steady all weekend, with 68%, 66.8% and 66.6% in the I1 and Developing horse classes. WakeUp, who is rather consistent, decided this was not the weekend for it. J
WakeUp and I had the first test (the preliminary which counts for 40% toward the final) on Saturday afternoon. We were lucky to have wonderful weather at Lamplight and WakeUp felt good in the warm-up. Unfortunately, I think he felt really good during the test! ūüėČ We had a couple large spooks that led to tension and some mistakes. This was uncharacteristic of WakeUp and not what I had expected from him. Needless to say, I was super disappointed. We received a score of 7.74, which was well below the necessary 8.2 to qualify for the World Championships in Verden.
Therefore, the Saturday night dinner was not as jovial as one could wish for‚Ķ However, with tears making an appearance, Mama, David Wightman and I talked about what we needed to do for the next day. We were not about to accept that it was ‚Äúgame over‚ÄĚ. David was great with helping me come up with a warm-up strategy. I had made a big mistake in taking things for granted, but Sunday was a whole new day and we had something to prove. I knew we needed an 8.51 to make the cut but I also knew that it was possible, as we had received an 8.63 earlier in the season. However, there was no room for mistakes or anything less than our best.
I don’t know if it is good to ride with the feeling that you have nothing to loose, but that is what the attitude was on Sunday. Mama was great to not let anything slip in the warm-up and WakeUp felt so stellar. We pushed for brilliance in every aspect and, because of that, I think the finale test on Sunday was one of the best tests I have ever ridden. WakeUp was forward and through and we did not let off for a second. Even before we received the scores, I was thrilled. WakeUp had shown what an amazing horse he can be. The judges rewarded us with a super score of 8.58, and with that we were once again qualified for the World Championships for Young Horses!
Many things are still up in the air and in question. This is just the start of a new week! For one, we don’t know if we will receive an invite based on the selection trials in California and Virginia. However, I am so pleased with WakeUp and am ecstatic to be able to ride such a brilliant horse. We are also so fortunate to just make it home, with a tornado that killed 115 people hitting just 2 hours from home, striking Sunday evening. Also, we are lucky to still have healthy horses. Let us hope that the Equine Herpes Virus does not claim more horses! And to add to the week, Laika, a Londonderry mare that qualified for the National Young Horse Championships with Mama last year, had her WakeUp foal last night! Another adventure begins!
I have to thank everyone who wished me luck before the show and congratulated me after. It was pretty neat to come back to the barn after the awards and find that my phone had 8 missed calls and tons of texts! A friend said that everyone feels like they own a little bit of WakeUp and me, and I am honored to be a part of such a fantastic group.
Have a wonderful week and thanks again for following and supporting!
EMILY

Back Home!

16 Aug

Home Sweet home!

I can’t believe that only a week ago WakeUp and I were inVerden, competing with the best young horses in the world!  However, after a grueling trip back, I am happy to be home!

We left Verden on Monday morning at 6:30 am to head to Amsterdam.  After arriving there around 1:00 pm and waiting for customs yet again, we finally got boarded on the plane back to NYC. The trip was a little bumpier than last time, but WakeUp, along with his two adorable halflinger travel buddies, handled it very well. We arrived safely in NYC Monday evening.  Unfortunately, one of my bags ran off.  Thank goodness Paul from Mersant Transporters was there to pick me up and try to hunt it down.  Luckily, we found the bag. Not so luckily, it cost us an extra two hours of waiting time.

It was interesting to see the difference between how the horses were received in Amsterdam vs. NY.  In New York everyone was required to wear scrubs, blood was immediately drawn from the horses, the feet had to be disinfected and shoes had to be scrubbed. In Amsterdam the vet only compared markings to the health certificate. We arrived finally arrived at the quarantine station in Newburgh, NY around 2:00 am and then I had to say bye to WakeUp for the next 48 hours… not the easiest thing to do.  I was dropped off at a nearby hotel around 4:00 am and was a zombie for the next day. I was so so so tired!  Luckily, I had a book and could just enjoy being a vegetable for the day! Wednesday I took the bus to NYC and enjoyed being a tourist and meeting up with some great friends! The only contact with Wakey that I had during quarantine was thedaily phone call telling me that he was eating, drinking and not running a fever!  He was therefore released on Thursday morning.  Brook Ledge then took WakeUp and me to Kentucky. We were getting closer but it was another late night! By the time we had the horses settled and the helpful drivers dropped me off at yet another hotel, it was around 3:30 am.  This was about the time that Mama left KS to come pick us up.  On Friday, Mama arrived in KY and then Mama, Wakey and I left KY on the final leg of the journey home. I think we all let out a sigh of relief as we arrived home Saturday, once again around 2:00 am!  We were home!

This has been one exciting journey! In the last monthWakeUp has ridden in nine different modes of transportation, stayed in seven different barns, traveled twelve days and had seven different vets sign health papers! In this last month I have not driven a car, cooked, used a laundry machine, slept in my own bed, ridden without instruction, given a lesson, cleaned a stall, done a flying change, watched an English movie, used the same internet connection for more than a week or seen my dog! I know we both learned so much but not just about half-halts and quicker hind legs! Wakeylearned how to travel in a box/facing forward/facing back/facing sideways/besides a stallion/besides a pony/in the air/on the ground, not be such a picky eater, graze on the lead rope, drink out of various automatic watering devices and pass the scary scary foal statue. I learned about cultures, different ways to do things, how thin skinned I can be, the importance of friends and family, the ability for attitudes to affect impressions and impressions to affect attitudes and that I can trust WakeUp to be silly but not stupid. I met truly wonderful people and made many friends!  It was anexperience that I will value forever.

I know that this experience would not have been possible without so many people helping me. I thank you for not only supporting me but also doing so without terms. I felt no pressure to prove anything to anybody or to make sure that nobody was ‚Äúsorry‚ÄĚ they helped. I hope everyone knows how much it means to me when I am told that people were reading my blog during the lunch break of a local show, when I receive a welcome home text or when someone writes to me to tell me they are proud of me. ¬†I am thankful to have a wonderful horse, a fantastic family and stellar support group.

Now… I am going to clean some stalls, go to the pool, drive my car, ride a flying change, watch a movie in English, do some laundry, sleep in my own bed, remember Dr. Moeller telling me to use my left leg and hopefully see you soon!

Thanks, EMILY

Emily and her family at the World Young Horse Championships

Back in the USA!

10 Aug

Emily wanted us to let all of her supporters know that she and WakeUp arrived in NYC last night and WakeUp is in quarantine in Newburgh. He will be released on Thursday and they start the trailer ride back to Kansas. WELCOME HOME!

How are you feeling?

10 Aug

August 7th, 2010

‚ÄúHow are you feeling?‚ÄĚ asks the reporter. I had just finished the awards ceremony and looked at¬†Wakey¬†and Mama strutting back to the barn. ¬†(Yes, I think you can say Mama was strutting. :)) I think I started to say something‚Ķ but instead I was real classy and just started crying! I am so happy, so proud, so excited, so relieved, so exhausted, so bummed, so ecstatic, so thankful, etc. ¬†I just hope¬†WakeUp knows how good he was. He and so many others have made possible a moment that I will never forget.

The small final class started at 3:00 in the afternoon.  My last chance to get into the Grand Finale was to be top 3 in the field of 28!  I was going into the small final placed 6th.  It was a tall order but I wanted it so bad!

WakeUp and I schooled in the morning (exactly as the 5 yo winners from last year, Andreas Helgestrand and Honnerups Driver, were schooling) and he was super. He was a little fresher, which was exactly what I was hoping for!  Scott Hassler and Dr. Moeller both said there was a strong possibility to make it that afternoon. Now the pressure was on!

After watching the amazing six year olds (including Eva getting 2nd¬†and 9th!!!),¬†I was so ready to get on! ¬†We had another super short¬†warmup,¬†Wakey¬†felt great, and I was ready to be top 3! ūüôā ¬†I felt more confident in¬†WakeUp¬†this time. ¬†I really have to keep bragging about how he handled everything. We had to go from the¬†warmup¬†ring, walk down a skinny, gated off path and squeeze through the entrance with about 6 inches to spare on each side due to the people crushing in! ¬†This opened into a plethora of flags, people, banners, flowers and signs that your horse was just supposed to ignore. ¬†It was a huge, electric atmosphere and¬†WakeUpwas literally perfect with it!

The test felt really super. There were no bobbles trot bobbles today and he felt light, steady and more uphill than yesterday.  We finished with an 8.5 walk, 6.8 trot, 8.5 canter, 8.0 submission and 7.9 general impression.  That was a 7.94 final score and put me in first as of then!  Wakey had done his job and I was so proud!

The rest was a waiting game to see how everyone else did. I tried to watch but my hair was getting thinner by the second!  So I treated myself to an ice cream and sat in the barn waiting for a text from Scott and his family, Pat , Mama and Laney, who were watching scores. The first text was that I should get ready for the awards ceremony! EXCITING!  Next news came from the people stabled next to us; they had gotten an 8.18 and were in second. Well… there my hopes fell. But hey, I had an awards ceremony to go to!!!!

The awards ceremony was the best part of the weekend. With music blaring, they started to announce everyone for the victory lap around the ring. ¬†WakeUp¬†stood on that small path with the other horses (they sent 4th-8th¬†in alone). Some of the others were rearing, spinning and I don‚Äôt blame them! ¬†Wakey¬†was just like ‚Äúguys‚Ķ seriously‚Ķ don‚Äôt you think this is a little ridiculous?‚ÄĚ ¬†Guess what color the 4th¬†place ribbon is in Germany? BLUE! Ha! I was in the awards ceremony with a blue ribbon! ūüôā ¬†We trotted in and blasted down the long side in a freaking stellar trot. Then‚Ķ it was soclassic!¬†¬†The two horses in front of me (5th¬†and 6th) were rearing, spooking and just trying to get out of the ring safely. I just halted my¬†stellar pony, waited for them to get out safely, patted¬†WakeUp¬†and then had the next long side, in front of the great people here supporting me cheering like crazy,¬†to leave the ring in another crazy stellar trot! Wow‚Ķ that was so freaking cool I can‚Äôt even tell you!

We finished 4th¬†in the small final! We were just .02 away from the 3rd¬†place and Grand Finale! Overall we finished 16thin the World! ¬†I have to blame Mama because she asked me in the morning how I would feel about being close but not making it into the finale. I said that I want to be as high as possible, if not making it in, then as close as possible! ¬†That is about how it is! ūüôā ¬†Of course I am disappointed and would have hoped that we could have gotten those 2 cents but I am also so very happy. We had a fantastic show! I think we represented the USA and Midwest well! ¬†Most importantly, we put in two solid tests and¬†WakeUp¬†was great!¬†We both gained such a valuable experience and lifelong memories!

Thanks so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much everyone!  I wish I could give everyone a big hug and let you know how much it means to me that you all wanted me here, were cheering me on and believed in me and WakeUp. THANKS!

EMILY

Congrats Emily and WakeUp!

6 Aug

Emily and WakeUp finished 4th in the small finale today with a score of  7.94.  They missed out on the Grand Finale by .o2 points. She reports that WakeUp was a superstar.  Congratulations to Emily and WakeUp. We are all so proud of you.

Some stress is good‚Ķ right???

4 Aug

So today is the packing day for the show. Usually this is no big deal. At home most of the show stuff is already in the trailer and I know exactly what I have to pack. Here… not so much! Do we need buckets? What hay should I pack (since the normal bales obviously don’t come with)? How can I get everything washed beforehand?  I take for granted that all my show stuff (show sheen, baby oil, boot polish, rags, sugar, shampoo, etc) is just in the trailer and now I have to figure everything out again and the language difference is sometimes not so easy.  But I think we have everything under control. Dr. Moeller’s groom may be very annoyed with me but she is super helpful!

The vet comes this evening to get all the health papers for WakeUp’s trip back to the States in order. (We will leave Monday morning super early and arrive back in NYC Monday afternoon.) Tonight I have to pack up all my stuff from the hotel (a rather large chore) and get my luggage back to the barn.

Scott Hassler and his family, as well as Jennifer Keeler, came today. Scott seemed happy with the way WakeUp was going and said we definitely deserved and belonged here. He is a very calm personality and I appreciate having him here.

Tomorrow we leave!!!!! Everyone keeps asking if I am nervous/excited/scared. I am excited. I think this will be an amazing experience. I am not nervous (yet) because I can tell myself that WakeUp and I will be the same team before as after, no matter what. I am happy with the training we have done and know we both learned a lot. There have been so many positive things that have come out of this already that I am satisfied. Of course I am competitive and I want to do well! Of course I dream about putting in that perfect test and being able to remember every little tip everyone has given me as we go through the test.  However, I am happy and refuse to be nervous or scared.

Thanks everyone! I hope to be able to text updates to the wonderful Meghan and Beth at High Performance Equine so they can relay them to you as I don’t know what the internet access will be like. Wish me all the luck to kick butt and know that I am so grateful! Thank you!

EMILY

Super Ride!

28 Jul

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

So… I had a super ride on the Wakey Wakey today! Yesterday we had a left leg lesson and it seemed to get to heart of it.  Today we had some really super moments where he started to get shorter by pushing his hind into the front and then accepting the standing hand in the front.  He at the same time has to carry more, which is not on his list of favorite things, but he is learning it!  Perhaps more importantly, I am learning it!   He takes the work great and I am so lucky to get to ride a horse that can give me the feelings.

PSI did the photos for the next auction and I have to say they thought of everything!!!  The pictures had to be perfect so the ears had to be forward, the people had to be smiling, the hats had to be straight, the end of the reins had to be on the outside, the railing had to be freshly painted, the clouds had to pass, etc.  It was quite the production but the photos turned out absolutely gorgeous.

It is fun to see all the people who are here as well! Yesterday came a lady from Oman and we went to the tack shop together. It was interesting to hear about the differences in her country. The tack shop was also quite the production! However, I was quite excited because I only spent 13 Euros and didn’t want anything else! High Performance Equine saved me from selling my soul in a German tack shop!

The weather is finally back to a typical German summer as I am told; rainy and about 60 degrees Fahrenheit! BRRR! Enjoy your ponies and thanks again!!

EMILY

Pony races!

26 Jul

On Saturday I went to the Landesturnier in Rastede. This is a larger show about 2 hours from Hagen.  I had a lot of fun and it is always interesting to see how differently things are done!

I have decided we thoroughly spoil our horses.  Here it is rather normal for the horses to be braided the night before, then travel to the show and wait on the trailer until the starting time.  The horses are often tacked up in the trailer and just pulled off for their ride. The horses seem to know that pawing is futile and that they should drink when offered water. Some have temporary stabling on the grounds but they usually do not stay overnight.

The shows are also very well attended. There were only two dressage rings and one warmup ring but they were completely surrounded by people. The shows seem to be a real event with restaurants being set up (yep, with waitresses, alcohol, multi-course meals, menus, etc). Dogs run around free. There are kids with cotton candy and people from the neighborhood pay to get in! It is almost like a carnival atmosphere and a part of the culture of the area!

The general quality of riding and horses is, as expected, high. Sure, it is great to see a PSG class with about twenty entries, but what really swept me off my feet was the presentation of the ponies! They are amazing! They are totally just large horses in smaller packages. They have such amazing gaits!  The pony classes are huge and small adults as well as kids ride them!  I just can’t tell you how impressive they are!

The young horse classes are truly awesome as well! There were so many young horses that were real head turners!  It is amazing to see the three year old stallions trotting around like super stars in the material class!  The real stickler for the judges seemed to still be that the horses were consistent, soft in the back and steady in the rhythm. It did get a little exciting when they had to do the victory gallop with crazy loud music, huge sashes and everyone clapping.

Finally, the best part of the show for me was the pony challenges. This was a team challenge of kids riding mini ponies bareback in various tasks. There were about 12 teams with four or five kids on each team! The challenges included racing to one end of the ring, jumping off, running in a potato sack back to the start while leading your pony, tagging the next kid who then was to race to a line of buckets, jump off and run across the upside down buckets, jump back on, grab a flag, race back to the start and hand the flag to the next. They would then gallop off, do slaloms and switch horses and gallop back! The kids (probably around 8 to 12 years old) were crazy! They raced those ponies like pros! The teamwork was amazing and they had the handoffs down to a science including slapping the next horse on the butt for them to run off with extra gas! I really have never seen such a thing and almost died at how those kids and their horses worked together! They were fearless and having so much fun; galloping with legs and arms flailing as if their lives depended on it! The audience (numbering about 5,000!) was clapping, shouting and just enjoying seeing the young onesgoing for it! Those mini ponies ran like crazy and knew their jobs! I wish you all could have seen it!

On the other hand, my not so mini pony, WakeUp, enjoyed a nice Saturday off. To thank me for it, he scraped his face on who knows what… Does he really want to make sure thateveryone at the World Championships knows he is Mr. Scarface from the Wild Wild West or something???? Luckily it is just a scrape, far from the heart, and hopefully the hair will be back within a week. He is looking really good otherwise and finally eating very well!

Finally, wish my mother some luck for the final test of the National Young Horse Championships! She was fourth in the 6 year olds after the Preliminary Test and I am so excited for her! I so wish I could be there and can’t wait to hear all the details!

Thanks!

EMILY

Doing Great!

25 Jul

Well Wakey Wakey is doing great. We are getting more even pushing from behind and really working to create self carriage starting from the hind legs. Dr. Moeller is adamant about my legs always being on and every aid starting from the legs; whether it is an up transition, a down transition or a half-halt. Yesterday we had a good lesson schooling the trot work and today we worked on the canter on the race track.WakeUp is feeling very strong and riding him makes me smile.  That’s what it’s all about eh????  Today a good friend took me to see another barn in the area. It was a fun change of pace and I especially enjoyed it since it was a family run farm with lots of young horses. The whole family was super sweet and I felt so welcome. It reminded me of home with the siblings teasing each other but working together. On a funny note… I think the people from the hotel think I am a little crazy. Today I had all my clothes that I hand washed in the sink hanging around the room from random lamps, chairs and tables. I wonder what they thought about the cool/funky boot socks from HP Equine? I also have a rather elaborate supply of German chocolate and bread in the room. The important things right?  Again, thank you all so much for your support! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and finds a reason to smile… EMILY

Congrats Jana!

24 Jul

Jana Wagner and her mare Laika scored a 7.68  in the 6-Year-Old Preliminary test at the 2010 Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships placing her fourth.