Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Post competition news

Meagan and Bentley competing.
 They are safely at Hubertus Schmidt's -- took four hours instead of two in the snow storm. She has had one lesson so far and also rode a 6 year old stallion of his this morning. Lucky girl!
I made it out between storms and more closures of the airport -- what a mess European travel is right now. And yet we have almost no snow at home :-(

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This is a little of what Bemtley can do -- Bentley at the National Champs -- just so you know what can happen.
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 Well, our evening is over. I guess it could have gone better, but if you were to have asked me two weeks ago to tell you honestly what I expected, I would have said, “please, let us get through without a Bentley explosion. Having been here before, I knew the difficulty of this arena, the excitement, the closeness of all the crazy/gorgeous decorations, the tough warm-up, etc,etc,etc. Anyway Meagan and Bentley made it through warm – up holding her own against the rider who was pretending she owned the arena (it was really rather amusing), the jumpers coming out of awards, the three trucks going through the warm-up pulling trailers filled with arena stuff along with the tractor that drags, the 10 jumpers coming out of the awards and being oblivious to the riders warming up. Anyway they warmed up well and the beginning of their test was so much better. Then as she came toward the corner for her canter pirouette, it became a bit too much for him. Bentley stopped dead and I was afraid he was going to rear and/or spin, but Meagan was very cool, finally picked up a canter then  did like a quarter pirouette. From there on there were some very uncharacteristically weak changes, she tried to put in another pirouette with only a little success. She tried valiantly to make it all work. And came out with a smile — 63+ % and 7th place (very close to 6th). The first time, I believe that a US rider has made the A final.

I assure everyone in America that we were very well represented. Despite being quite sick, Meagan was always positive, did her best, smiled, rode well, and turned out to be a leader amongst the riders. The tope riders all have AMAZING horses — on a par with our Olympic horses, (some are Grand Prix). I am pretty sure that she is the only rider who has done all the riding on her horse since she acquired him – she gets an average of maybe three lessons a month, and has to go in the ring never knowing if Bentley will pull a Bentley. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s pretty impressive.

So I leave Monday (weather permitting — Europe is in the midst of a mega wild winter) and tomorrow Meagan and Bentley go to Hubertus Schmidt’s for 4 – 6 weeks. This will be the first time that she has some long term daily lessons. I am thrilled for her and can’t wait to see her when she returns for part of the Florida season — no longer a young rider, but showing with all the professionals.

And a huge congratulations to her parents — more supportive and fun to be with wouldn't be possible and her great brother Brad who made it here today to watch. Brad took a lot of pictures so hopefully we will have some tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Meagan and Bentley day 2

 This morning the riders did the Young Rider Individual Test. Most riders did better than yesterday. We warmed Bentley up much less. The warm-up ring was still crowded, but outside it was quieter (last night we got about 5 inches of snow – today is sunny and cold). Bentley was pretty normal in warm-up — still not as powerful as usual. He definitely could use a longer arena to get him going — this arena is square. In the stable he looked tired. The long trip, two moves, yesterday’s nervous breakdown may be catching up to him. Meagan said as soon as he went in the arena he deflated again. It’s a bit like going from cold New York to hot, muggy Florida in 3 seconds. He was still behind the leg, but not so much as yesterday. She went off course (same place another rider did) but with a 66+% she held onto 6th place and made it into the A final. Everyone rides their freestyle but the top group goes tomorrow night and the bottom group goes Sunday. I never understand this because only the winners get publicity — so the winner of the bottom group will get more attention than 3 – 7 th place in the top group :-?

Meagan is the only FEI Dressage rider competing in a helmet. Someone came up to me during her warm-up and asked where I was from and did we not have top hats in America! Today, however,  the head judge, at the awards, congratulated and thanked her for wearing a helmet. No one can say she is being looked down on for having the courage of her convictions.

This afternoon it’s off to the famous Christmas Fair in downtown Frankfort — a party for the riders at our hotel tonight and then on to the freestyle tomorrow. Wish us luck. We are trying to talk Clipmyhorse.com who has live video coverage of the competition to make it available in the US.

Cannot tell you how proud I am of Meagan — she is representing the US so beautifully.

Results: http://eventcontent.hippoonline.de/542/sta_erg/24_ergDEU.htm?style=hippo 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meagan's first ride

Thursday  Again we went to school early — in the arena at 6 AM — along with 14 or more other riders — fortunately Bentley was calm and we got out quickly before 14 – 17 horses were all cantering, pirouetting, doing lines of changes all at once — saw a few pileups at X, each rider looking accusingly at the others. We finished Bentley’s relaxing stretching in the warm up ring with just a few others.
I am starting to see people I know — Jan Brink from Sweden. Sven Rothenberger with whom I competed in my day whose kids have been cleaning up from the time they were pony riders.  Mr Markowski, head of the ground jury and Dieter Schule who judges a lot in the US. Klaus Martin Rath is everywhere as the organizer.

When we walked over for the competition tonight it was, I would guess, in the low 20’s, high wind, and snowing. After spending a little time with Meagan, I went over to watch the 1st 7 riders. It is interesting how the draw for order of go can go. The top European horses were all in the first half and tomorrow they are all in the second half — both draws were done yesterday in public.

So by the half way mark the scores went from 74.5 Fabienne Lutkemeier of Germany to 54.4 for the Brazilian rider, Victoria Riskalle. When Bentley arrived at the warm up ring the fabric walls of the huge tent were billowing and making noise, the snow was blowing in under the walls, and you could hear the snow blowing against the roof. He was WIRED! Bill tried to hand walk him, but it became obvious that it would be better to have Meagan on him. We finally found a spot where he would stand long enough for her to get on and she moved right off at a trot. So there were not only the 7 warming up to compete but also a few overbearing  Grand Prix riders who rode by their own rules. Bentley was more on edge than I have ever seen him and Meagan handled him beautifully. She was obviously nervous to start with, but both she and Bentley gradually settled into their routine. Of course Bentley can over react (to put it politely) to noise and he is also insecure about leaving the group. So we had everyone at their station to get her into the arena. Bill was near her to lead her if needed and myself and a friend were at the entrance to the show arena to be certain that the curtain was immediately pulled back totally and that everyone was out of the way so Meagan could power forward to get into the arena before the previous rider had left. All went well. They had a very good start to their test, but I kept whispering to myself “more forward, more power” which is not usually a problem..... But it was. Bentley has used himself up with all the nervous energy in the warm-up and he just deflated during the test. No mistakes, just no oomph. I have actually never seen him like that. We had the usual amount of warm-up time, but the extreme nervousness just took it out of him. Her extended trots and canter are normally superb and even they were barely average. Meagan rode very well, a clean and accurate test. So she got a 63.368 — a fair score, but the worst she’s ever gotten I think. But with that she finished 6th!, behind all the top Europeans, but ahead of eight others! I was proud of her. She is amazing at handling difficult situations.

So tonight is a party for all the World Cup riders and families back at Schafhof and then Meagan does the Individual test at 9:46 tomorrow morning. Now that we know that Bentley will settle fairly quickly even if he starts as a nervous ninny, we will plan a shorter warm - up.

Here are the complete results: http://eventcontent.hippoonline.de/542/542online1DEU.htm?style=escon 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday -- school and jog

 Finally got to bed after 1 and up at 4:45 AM to go to the stable so Meagan could be one of the first riders in the show arena — wanted to make sure we weren’t with a mob — and we were first :-) Even though the hotel is directly across the street to the public entrance to the Festhalle, we got a bit lost driving there. It is definitely quicker to walk as long as we know we can get in the front door.

Meagan is fighting a wicked chest cold — a tenacious cough that must be making her really miserable. We have tried medications we found here, but with no success. She can’t sleep well and has major coughing spasms. Some friends flying in today are bringing an arsenal of medications for her.  However when she rides she is total focus and concentration.

The jog was a bit anticlimactic. In Europe they don’t take these things as seriously as we do with several members of the ground jury as well as the vets, people watching, riders dressed nicely. Here there were grooms, coaches jogging and riders in jeans and overcoats. It was lovely that the non Europeans were well dressed in slacks, nice sweaters, vests, most had their hair done up and horses were braided. Some truly gorgeous horses, fabulous movers. It was a bit wild at times — the jog was in the stable area warm-up with nice spongy footing, but right next to the stalls and the people arriving with their huge trunks, horses rearing up on their stalls to see, bags of shavings being dropped onto the pavement. No lack of entertainment — watching extremely athletic horses being extremely athletic.. Bentley was a perfect gentleman. The first class for the YR World Cup starts about 5:20 on Thursday. We haven’t heard yet about the draw to know exactly when Meagan goes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

arrived at the show grounds 12/14/10

 Yesterday, Monday, was a light day for Bentley. We have to try to plan to have the horse ready to be his best on  the days of the competition, so we decided to make Monday a sort of day off. Since we cannot turnout or really even hand walk outside due to the ice, Meagan hand walked as usual and just gave him a light stretchy work under saddle. Today, Tuesday, Bentley had a hand walk first, then a normal workout in the early afternoon. He was a bit tight especially on one side of his back and was a little strong. But Meagan handled it well, understanding that this is the way he often is on the day after a day off. He expect him to be better tomorrow if only because it’s the second day after his day off. She had some super trot work though by the end. We leave for the Stadthalle about 6 PM tonight — it’s near- and will be allowed to work in the show arena tonight about 8. We plan to make that the stretchy work that we usually do in the AM. We want him to have his first time in the show ring a very relaxing ride.

We watched some of the regular riding here. The young horses work in groups. For example we watched one group of three – working almost nose to tail — the four year old was leading with two three year olds following. And they HAD to stay in line. When the last horse had a little bucking fit he was put instantly back in line again. They worked big circles and serpentines at trot and circles and straight lines at canter – nicely forward at all times, very consistently on the bit. There were other lovely young horses that the staff rode and we also watched Ann Katrin school several horses -- one of her older former competition mares, Wahajama, who is heavily in foal but obviously wanting to work. Of course for me the most fun was watching her school two ponies :-) Nothing like watching an Olympic gold medalist riding ponies!

Today is well below freezing — feels like it is on the 20’s — we had about 3/4 inch of snow last night and it has no intention of melting today.


The amazing truck from Schafhof took the three horses (Meagan, Canada and New Zealand’s) to The Stadthalle in Frankfort — about a 30 minute trip. The horses are in temporary stalls in the indoor parking area. After settling Bentley who travelled like a trooper, I took Meagan to the warm up arenas and the main arena. Her eyes went about as big as Mica’s did when we came a couple of years ago. The arena is beautifully decorated for Christmas with Santa’s holding up the letters, topiary rearing horses, bunting all over the walls and around the huge TV screens hanging from the ceiling. It is still impressive, even though I was here before.

Meagan brought Bentley out and hand walked him around — the only thing that bothered him was the vacuum at work in the hallway. She did a little stretchy trot and he was as calm as he could be — absolutely a star. We met Megan from Australia and Anna Kasprzak from Denmark — individual bronze medalist in the Kur at the European YR Champs!

I am now settled into the Hotel Hessischer Hof across the street from the Stadthalle, but it’s one of those situation where you can’t get there from here — have to drive all around. It will be faster to walk I think. It’s a fabulous hotel — heated towels even :-) It’s almost midnight and I have to be up before 5 to Meagan can school Bentley in the arena tomorrow before the show starts.