Whitney Weston

Whitney Weston Eventing

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ocala Again!!!

I am so excited to return to Ocala, the birthplace of my east coast adventure!!! It was so nice to eat at my favorite local spot, the Horse and Hound and have the hostess greet me with "Well hello miss Whitney so nice to have you back!"

The horses are sound and healthy, chomping at the bit to get back into work (pun intended...yuk yuk yuk). I also saw Bruce again when he came over to Buck's to look at the new horses. He tousled my hair in greeting, like a puppy I loved the pat! It seems I am always in awe of the presence of the great Bruce Davidson Sr ;)

Enough chit chat, down to the fun media stuff: I recently did a promo video for ECP (Equine Comfort Products) for their amazing new Eventer Pad! Check it out below:


Also new and fun.....drumroll please....
2013 Sponsor Packet!!!!!
YEAH!
                 

This document can be mailed to you hard copy in a beautiful folder with more info from the American Horse Trials foundation, just email me at wweventing@gmail.com and I am happy to oblige!

Jump like you mean it!!
Whitney

Friday, November 30, 2012

Caution: Emotional!!!


Hello Everyone,

I am sorry to have been so absent in my updates on the season. I wanted to take this time at the end of season to update you on everything, and my distance……My dear Thomas (Accelerate) passed unexpectedly at the end of August and I have been grieving the loss. It was very very sad, and has taken me quite a while to deal with the pain of losing such a wonderful young horse. He contracted Potomac fever and was gone within 24 hours. I brought him along off the track at the age of 2 and he showed such promise moving up to prelim at the age of 5 this summer. I will never forget this amazing horse who was the sweetest and most playful animal I have ever had the pleasure of working with.


Thomas at Rebecca Farms last year as a 4yo

This tragedy along with some other injuries of my top horses at the same time brought such a blow to a place deep within me that I have never accessed before. Tenacity has always been my motto and with Buck's urgings I soldiered on and continued to compete and train until I was not able to any more. While I am still working through some of the questions that all horse owners ask in these situations, (why did this happen, how could I have prevented any of this, what is the meaning of it all, should I keep going?), I know this has not beaten me, that I will take this month off to (finally) take a honeymoon with my wonderful and supportive husband luke, and come back a renewed person, with vigor and hunger and strength. I remind myself that this year has been an amazing year of learning and discovery: I moved up to Advanced with Rock On Rose (Lusty), completed 3 CIC***, and qualified for my CCI***. My horse Gin Fizz (Fizzy) moved from a place of being tentative at training level to a fierce competitor at Intermediate. I brought my OTTB from novice to placing at prelim with hopes for the upper levels as the "real thing", and found a new partner in Shining North Star (Simon) who will aim to move up to Advanced next year. 

Lusty and I at Bromont CIC***

I look forward to next year: to trying harder, reaching deeper, going farther. My goal is to qualify at CCI*** and give a shot at Rolex with Lusty, get Simon to a CCI** by end of spring then move up to advanced finishing the year with fair hill CCI***, and Fizzy doing a CCI** then as well. I will be an assistant trainer for Olympian Ronald Zabala and ride as many horses as possible for the hours in the saddle. 

Fizzy and I enjoying a chat during
one of our lessons with Buck

Some might say that I am crazy to go at this again, some might admire the effort. All I can say is that I am doing what I love, what I feel that my life is meant for, and what I essentially MUST do. I have one life and by god I am going to try to do this to the best of my abilities, and remain a good and centered person by the end of it. I have so many wonderful people supporting me; my amazing family, coach (Buck) and new husband have been behind me through all this craziness and for that I am eternally grateful. So many of my media followers, friends from home, and people in the horse world have provided so much love and because of all of you I am truly blessed and fortunate. I thank you and hope that when you need it, I can return that love and support. 

Jump like you mean it,
Whitney

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Success!

Lusty and I jog at Bromont CIC***

Wow, what a busy summer at Team Weston! Since I last blogged to you we have finished 6 competitions, Baby Thomas moved up to Prelim, Fizzy moved up to intermediate and Lusty and I finished Bromont CIC*** with a qualifying score! I am looking forward to Thomas and Fizzy getting great experience at these new levels, and some more Advanced practice with Lusty. Buck and I have been working to solidify some goals for the rest of the year, and I am excited to say that we hope Fizzy will complete a CCI** by the end of 2012, and....drumroll....to finish top 20 at Fairhill CCI*** this fall with Lusty! These are some great goals to push for; it is encouraging to know Buck has such confidence in us;)

 Check out Lusty and my video from Bromont! Still much to learn, but this is a great place to start!
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVggNIkAITY

*moment* while setting jumps before our lesson


Lusty working it over those poles!
Another great shot at Bromont CIC***










Once again thank you to everyone who has been supporting us along the way, this year keeps getting better and better!
Jump like you mean it!
-WW








Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sponsors, Amazing Sponsors! Revitavet!




This year has been an amazing adventure filled with invaluable experiences and opportunities. None of this is possible without you! Much love from Team Weston!


I use Reviavet on Lusty's back to keep her nice and relaxed before dressage, and after especially hard workouts to help with soreness. Whenever a horse comes in from the pasture with a scrape or a cut, I say:


"Revitavet-it!"


Please feel free to call or email me with any questions or ordering info. I can even give you access to special discounts! (541) 784-8403/westwoodstables@gmail.com/http://www.revitavet.com/


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Jump like you mean it!!!
-WW

Saturday, May 19, 2012

We are crazy horse gypsies....

Thomas being fabulous last year as a 4yo
Yes its true. I was reminded of our interesting lifestyle (which has become to feel completely natural by the way. I no longer batt an eye at not having time to find a laundry mat, seek out internet, or running out of propane and taking cold showers....the list goes on) during our competition today. I took Baby Thomas to his last training level event before moving up to prelim (yay!). On grounds I thought I was going crazy and asked several people if they heard bagpipes playing. Thankfully, others were hearing it too. Just across the hill from us a scottish festival was happening.

"What crazy people!", I thought, "What compels seemingly normal citizens to dress in kilts and blow into a carpet bag all day for fun?" Then I was reminded, "oh riiiiiight. We hop on horse's backs in tight pants to jump things at fast speeds for fun." Well to each his own I suppose!!

A slightly less flattering photo of Thomas. Check out Team Weston's Facebook page
 to see him galloping and grunting in his dreams here
Annnnyway. Apologies for the absence from updates. Below I will outline my basic travel schedule in the past few weeks and you will understand why!

-pack up barn in Ocala, FL
-Drive to Kentucky, watch Rolex for one week
-Drive to Bruce Davidson's farm, train for one week to compete at MD horse trials, stay overnight
in Maryland
-Pick up handsome husband who flew in from Afghanistan on 2 weeks leave!
-Drive back to Bruce's.
-Train some more then go to Jersey Fresh to compete in CIC3*
-Relinquish "HH"to the airport once again :(
-Drive to Buck Davidson's in Riegelsville, PA
-a few days later compete at Fairhill International
-Still living out of trailer!
Lust-Bucket looking fabulous
Archive Beak: Me as an 8yo competing on my horse Thunder! 


So. Besides sifting through my dirty laundry pile for the cleanest pieces like a scavenging raccoon,
I am loving the new farm! It is beautiful here and love love loving all the opportunities to compete only a few hours away from home.




Quick competition updates:
Lusty knawing happily on her stall guard before Jersey CIC3* Dressage
Lusty has been fab, getting to a point where we can push for a little more in the dressage. The good news: The "Red Dragon" is now calm enough in the ring where we will be able to have a short warmup without (hopefully, knock on wood) getting too amped up in the ring. As of now we have been mounting at the stables and heading right into the ring. I am becoming more confident at the advanced/3* level xc, and we are both getting smoother in the show jumping. We get more practice at Bromont CIC3* in a few weeks, can't wait!





Remember to friend me on Facebook to see daily pics and updates at:



even lusty, has a fan page!

and the blog!


Jump like you mean it!
-WW

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Rolex First-Timer

The Imposing Rolex Stadium, where Dressage and Show Jumping were held


Such a crazy few weeks.....as always! The very next weekend after The Fork CIC***, I took Thomas, Atlas, and Fizzy to Ocala HT. Fizzy did her first CCI* with flying colors, ending on her dressage score in 9th place out of over 50 entries! I was so pleased with her ability to handle the pressures of FEI with enthusiasm and a fantastic work ethic. I am very excited for this little mare's future! The boys were also incredible, making great strides in their learning curve.

After Ocala was done and accomplished, we spent the week helping Buck's crew pack up BDJ South and then drove halfway north to stay in Lexington, KY with the ponies through Rolex!!!


rk3de.org

This was my first time there in person. For years and years I have eagerly tuned in to the broadcasts of Rolex CCI **** at Kentucky; I remember sitting in the computer lab at school writing my senior thesis with Rolex playing in the corner of my screen. Then it seemed like such an impossible task to compete there, so I was very interested to see how I would feel on the actual grounds now that I am one year away from competing there myself.

Arriving early was amazing: Amy and I were able to crawl all over the grounds before the crowds (and security) showed up. The action started on Weds with the jog. It felt like a fairly standard jog, except all the foreign horses went in a bunch and then were cleared out to quarantine before the US horses jogged. That made it sound like they were sick, possibly carrying a zombie-like contagion, but really it was just being careful.....I guess you never know.....
Titanium "ti-ti" being jogged by BDJ
The jog went well, with only 1 pair not passing, but by far the most exciting moment was when Phillip's horse spooked, slipped, went down on his side, and layer there for a few terrifying seconds. Could his horse really not make it sound to the dressage ring? Luckily the horse was fine, dazed a little, got up and continued to jog down the runway be accepted.

Walking the course was sooo exciting. YES it was huge. YES it was imposing. YES I know I will have the experience to do this in 1 year. I was pleased to see that the task looking daunting and difficult, but doable with a little more experience.
Huge a** log
Thursday and Friday I basically lived in the Rolex Stadium. I watched every single test. Little audio devices were being sold so you could listen to Sally O'Conner (who was sitting in a Range Rover next to the dressage ring) comment on the rides. Being a 4* rider, trainer, and now judge, I learned a lot from her perspective. For example when she is judging a lengthening down the long side of a standard dressage ring, she wants to see 10-11 steps, which indicates a good stride. It was surprising how many riders had errors in their tests. 3 riders failed to enter the ring within the 45 allotted seconds after the bell rung, and 3 other riders forgot their tests. Sally said that when u hear the bell if you are at the other end of the ring, turn straight around, don't risk it! From the riders off course, I learned that riders at this level even have mental lapses, and every single rider got back on course and did not let it affect the rest of their tests.

I did not take many pictures on cross country day, I was so excited it bordered on manic. I waited at the first water complex to watch Andrew Nicholson come through, which he did with style. I heard he retired at the next water element as I was waiting for Karen O'Conner to come through, much to my surprise. Karen came galloping into the water complex, got popped out of the saddle over A, then steered towards B and never quite got in the saddle, popping off in the water after B. I realized I had been gasping, stumbling backwards and grabbing Amy through the ordeal. (poor amy) I could not believe that happened to one of the most seasoned riders so early on in the course. Karen, like a true pro, got up, shrugged her shoulders with hands up, patted her horse and walked off. After that rider after rider continued to have problems until finally someone made it around the course. What a crazy day! I was riding each jump with every competitor, and by lunch I was exhausted. Really counting strides, holding my position with the riders. And yelling encouragement with the rest of the crowd. But boy what an education. It was amazing to observe what mistakes led up to run outs and falls. It's much more challenging to be the rider and get the right canter, with the right balance, on the right line, in the moment.....But by the end of the morning I was able to anticipate what would happen at any given fence depending on what was happening during the approach. After XC the leader board was seriously shaken up, with only 6 double clears and about half of the entire field surviving the day to head into show jumping.

Early Sunday we arrived for the second jog. There were a few withdrawals, some holds and a couple didn't make it, which is always heartbreaking. The whole crowd was on pins and needles the entire time!

Check out the final placings and great coverage at
www.eventingnation.com

A few hours later we were watching show jumping. I have never been in such an interactive crowd. Everyone was cheering, clapping, yelling, oohing and ahhing, gasping when a rail fell, then great silence and concentration in between each fence.  Whether the riders were happy or disappointed in their rides, one got the real sense that the entire stadium was backing the rider up, encouraging them on. In a crowd of tens of thousands, being televised across the continent and viewed overseas, it warms my heart to feel the sense of community and heartfelt encouragement from complete strangers to these riders. Hopefully remembering this will make my first 4 star at Rolex next year feel a little more welcoming than daunting.

Ride like you mean it!!!
WW









Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight, APF!!

Lusty and I getting ready for Advanced at Red Hills! Thank you APF!

What makes Lusty so shiny, beautiful, and perfect? APF! Supplements certainly do wonders for the body and mind, and Lusty shows the benefits. APF stands for Advanced Protection Formula. This daily supplement is easy to give in grain, and supports their muscle, immune, and cardiovascular systems to name a few.


"APF's broad protective benefits support your horse's natural ability to "adapt" to stress. These unique nutrients guard against the damaging effects of stress through every stage of your horse's life -- beginning with the developing musculo-skeletal and immune systems of the foal to the geriatric needs of the senior equine companion."


We ask so much of our amazing animals, I want to make sure I do everything to make them feel their best and ready for the job!

Please call or email me for orders that arrive fast! westwoodstables@gmail.com/541-784-8403
For more info you are always welcome to ask me any questions, or check out their site at:

http://www.auburnlabs.com/index.html

Jump like you mean it!
-WW

Shall we do a three star? I think so.....

After such a wonderful trip to Poplar, my friends and I had a little look over the qualifications on the drive back to Ocala. Oh how studious we felt using our smartphones to research USEF, USEA, and FEI rules. Turns out, I was qualified for a CIC three star! And as luck would have it, our next outing was The Fork International Horse Trials 2 weeks later in North Carolina. Just when I thought I had figured out Advanced, time to step it up for a Three star! Yikes!

Well, Lusty and I were up for the challenge as we drove the solid 10 hours to NC. We arrived on the monday night before competition, Buck had training sessions and it was great to get settled in early. We had a few days to preview the property, take some flat lessons and even jump on weds. Lusty seemed a little excited about this property but settled nicely for her work.

Lusty didn't do dressage until friday, so I had the opportunity to watch many of the three star division go on thurs. Certainly was intimidating to have such a huge division with competitors prepping for Rolex 4star and the Olympics. There were somewhere between 50 and 60 entries in the 3 star....

Walking the course for the first time with Buck was exciting. Though, when Buck says "thats a big freaking fence" as advice on 75% of the course walk, it makes one nervous!!!
My friend Natalia at jump 10, ditch and wall. Doesn't do it justice, there is a deep 5 ft wide ditch in front!!!

Friday finally arrived for our dressage. It felt like ages since we had been on property for 4 days without competing! Even with our routine going so well, Lusty never truly settled like normal. She would strike a pose next to the dressage ring (while trying to graze her) and stare in the direction of the xc course without blinking or breathing for minutes on end, still like a deer in deep concentration. Lusty had competed here over 2 years ago and still knew where the course was, over a mile away....she is the smartest horse I know.

Even so I was very pleased with her level of relaxation in the ring. I knew not to push her too much since her mind was elsewhere, especially since our goal for the weekend was to experience our first three star together, learn a lot, but not nessessiarily to be competitive. She was a very good girl, though we didn't achieve our level of awesomeness at Poplar :( Still....the first test finished it was time to focus on our massive xc course!

Sat:
Another lucky note: I was about three-quarters into the order of go, so I could watch several of the other experienced riders on my course before I went out. This did not have the effect I thought it would, because I saw many retirements, refusals, and falls by top riders. As I walked my course and watched every fence being ridden, it took much longer than anticipated because I had to wait for a horse to do it well so the mistake wasn't in my head! This did not instill much confidence that the course was "do-able" for a rookie like me!


Breathing deeply we warmed up with Karen O'Conner and the like, so amazing! Lusty was very excited around the start box, but I know better than to try and contain her in the walk. I allowed her to trot and do a little canter around the box, she just couldn't wait to get out there!

Captain Mark Phillips didn't waste any time to test us out on course. The first four fences were galloping, and ever increasing in size and width. As I walked the course the days before I gave up going close to the jumps, it doesn't help confidence to see they are up to your chin and wider than I am tall! The 5th fence was a very skinny and long chevron, bending to a right hand corner, the first technical test. Then on to more big things......The course road very well, except a rookie mistake made by me at the last combo: After a huge gallop fence there was a steep downhill where we cosy up next to the water jump, tight turn to jump a double corner. I over estimated how much I needed to set lusty up for this line, and we ended up with not enough energy for the first corner. I fixed the mistake and came with more energy, not speed and went easily through the combo. After the finish I couldn't have been happier, smiling so big and Lusty oh so happy I finally am letting her jump the big stuff ;)

Show jumping was certainly the biggest thing I have jumped at a competition. Lusty was jumping so fantastic I couldn't have asked for better. I used a little too much hand in ratio to my leg at two fences and got the rails for it. The best part was seeing Boyd afterwards:

"You sure looking great there, mate! Oy she looks good and fit"

love him :)

Alright friends of Lust-Bucket: here is a little photo treat from our last few events that I finally got my hands on. Thanks to Lusty, my family, friends and everyone at BDJ, I am officially a 3 star rider!!!

Jump like you mean it
-WW





Monday, March 26, 2012

March is "Mare Madness" at Poplar Place

A short week and a half after finishing Red Hills, Team Weston found ourselves back on the road, this time heading to Hamilton, Georgia to compete at Poplar Place. Once again we brought the mares Fizzy and Lusty for another practice at Prelim and Advanced. If it is possible to be more hilly and grassy than Red Hills, Poplar accomplished this! So beautiful, crazy hills with three water complexes, and the grounds absolutely gorgeous. We were settled in late Weds pm, ready for a good day of dressage and walking the courses on thursday.

The girls both did a beautiful dressage school in the warmup ring, then I went to begin my several hours of course walking. It was a very warm day, with all the hills I am starting to feel quite fit!
The "Drop of Doom" as my friend, Siobhain O'Conner and I aptly named 17b. This ABCD combo came off a tight turn after a long gallop, one stride over a log to this drop, three strides down a steep hill, over a coffin, then one stride up hill to a skinny chevron. Guess I better sit up and keep  my leg on, huh ;)

My mermaid jump has a tramp stamp???
This was a fun combo: big log, one stride, over the mermaid then out to the red bridge on right
Couldn't resist: Sio getting cozy with mermaid
Needless to say, the course was fantastic, challenging, and intense. I thought Red Hills was going to be the most intense advanced of the season....I was wrong! While the spectator presence was not as prevalent at Poplar, the course was certainly more technical. Well, after having this preview of the courses (AKA fright-fest), I returned my focus to the dressage I would be attempting the next day.

Lusty had a 9am dressage time, so I took her out for her hack and graze at 730. She was very relaxed despite the xc course being visible close to her ring. Around 8:58 I got on Lusty just as the rider in front of me was saluting at the end of their test. Lusty refused to trot toward the ring. When I asked, she stopped, did a little rear and shook her head. I was thinking "oh boy....we are in for an epic dressage test..." So I allowed her to wander towards the arena at the walk. As soon as we rode through the gates, she happily broke into a relaxed swinging trot. Such a silly girl! She did not want to be rushed ;) We got a nice canter around the ring before the judge blew the whistle. I am pleased to announce that Lusty did the best test we have ever done, and actually the best scoring advanced test of her career! Samantha Clark at Eventing Nation (www.eventingnation.com) is quite the fan of Lusty and has been posting coverage of us for almost a year now. She was kind enough to post all weekend about Lusty, this was my favorite!!!

"Rock on Rose and Whitney Weston did a very nice test this morning in the Advanced - so pretty and delicate it's funny to see this little chestnut mare daintily skipping around the dressage like a ballerina, and then watch her the next day devour the cross country courses like a monster! Let's hope she does the same tomorrow. "


Lusty was sitting pretty in 5th after her test, I was so proud!! Fizzy had a great test later on that put her in 11th. But saturday was the real question.....


After walking each course 4 times (uggghhh....again) I felt certain about my lines and distances, of which there were many. And did I mention it POURED most of friday? I was lucky not to have done dressage in the worst of it, but the stalls were all flooded, mud everywhere. We had to lay down straw in the aisles so there was a place to walk! This gave some concerns to the footing saturday, but the ground had been nicely aerated, and absorbed the rain well. Even so....we had maaaasssive studs in. 


Fizzy was early in the day, and only slipped around a turn once, foot perfect everywhere else! This was a real test in her ability to keep a technical line while still being bold and she passed with flying colors. This little mare feels ready for her one star in a few weeks!


Okay, deep breath, now on to advanced! Always intimidating to be in the middle of seasoned four star riders like Leslie Law. Lusty was "up" but jumping like a pro in warmup as we practiced some gallop oxars and angled verticals. She certainly didn't want to calmly walk around the start box, she was ready to go!!! And just as Samantha predicted, Lusty devoured the course like a monster! ( though I will argue, a really cute and adorable one) She felt effortless over the larger jumps, and really listened to me and came back for the technical obstacles. The "drop of doom" felt so easy, she sweetly jumped off it for me like it was nothing. I made a "green" mistake by having her too forward to a technical line, so we had a drive-by there, but circled right back around and did it perfectly. Even with a stop, we finished with only 11 time penalties. There were so many problems on the course with other riders (in fact, a riderless horse chased lusty and I after we crossed the finish line. I jumped off and hid her behind a truck so the horse wouldn't run into us!), we only dropped to 7th place! I'm not usually one to brag, but Buck said we were one of the best rides out there that day ;)


Lusty giving her input on stud choice for my friends in the intermediate
Show jumping began the next morning with Advanced. Lusty had her usual hack around 730, then we were on around 840 to warmup. It was tricky keeping her calm because the lower levels were finishing cross country literally right next the the warmup ring (yikes). Lusty stayed focused and calm and jumped like a pro both in the warmup and in the ring. We had one of the few double clear rounds in Advanced!


Fizzy was a very good girl later on in the prelim. We had 2 down and dropped to 7th, but I am so happy with how she is coming along, such a fantastic girl.


When I checked the placings on my phone a few hours later, found out that Lusty and I moved up to 4th with that double clear! I must admit my eyes got a little misty. I feel truly honored and lucky to have such a wonderful partner and amazing people around me who have supported us to get to this level. We are competing with the best and being competitive. With more to learn and more to see, I know it won't be easy, but I am eager to continue on this grand adventure and can't wait to try the next advanced!!!


Jump like you mean it-
WW

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight, Ice Horse!!

Thank you all for following the progress of Team Weston as we conquer the east coast!

Ice Horse is another of my amazing sponsors who support our season; we couldn't have healthy and sound horses without their products! Please support Ice Horse and let me know if you have any questions about
their wraps or cooling system. I am happy to give a first hand referral! Ice horse is so easy to use not only at competitions but for home use as well on injuries or just maintaining a cool healthy leg.

http://www.icehorse.net/

Ice Horse at Red Hills Advanced last weekend!!
"Our top-quality insulated cannon bone/tendon leg wraps stay cold for up to two hours of convenient and thorough cooling of the tendons, ligaments, muscles and connective tissue. The unique design both conforms to the horse's leg and provides optimum compression, assisting the cold penetration of inflamed soft tissue. After just three hours in the freezer, they're ready to use again.

Because there are also times when heat therapy is called for, our wraps can just as easily be used for targeted heat application. Ice Horse Tendon Wraps utilize a patented Propylene Glycol formula which is food grade for quality assurance and non-toxic properties."

Jump like you mean it!!!!
-WW

My First Advanced

My apologies for blog absence. It has been a few crazy weeks of training at BDJ! But I am happy to report that all that hard sweaty work paid off at Red Hills International Horse Trials last weekend. 
Took this pic driving in the front gates!

Red Hills is the talk of eventers every spring. It is renouned for its competitor parties, thousands of spectators, and crazy challenging courses. Check out the fantasticalness at: http://www.rhht.org/

The venue was beautiful, with security surrounding the horse barns (which had cool "circus-like" tents over top the stalls). Grooms had to wear gold admission bracelets and riders green ones. The staff was so friendly and were constantly driving around in golf carts offering competitors and grooms rides to their destinations! I was really happy about this since the xc course was 15 minutes of backroads away from the stables. I'm not joking: I made the decision to never try to find the course on my own because I got lost in the woods the first time. Luckily it was so easy to hail a "cab"! 

It seemed like every night there was a dinner or activity for the competitors. Thurs night we had Red Hills traditional "bang bang shrimp". Yum. I have never seen a competition with such involvement of the community. The police were there guiding traffic, security officers patrolling the grounds, mounted posse, buses bringing in spectators from the town center, and van shuttles taking spectators to the cross country and show jumping courses. There was a huge trade fair with shops, pony rides, fair food, and even a shark pet tank! This really pumped up the volume and atmosphere. When I rode to cross country, there was a white chain link and post lane parading us right through the trade fair where spectators clapped, wished us good luck and checked us out in the program. I felt like a celebrity! The same on course: so many people there (with security of course) cheering on after every fence!

Now on to the details. Even though this competition had so much atmosphere, it was still important to ride our very best and focus on every moment. Fizzy was first in the prelim on friday. Fizzy trotted out from the security area at stabling and saw the wall of spectators, stopped dead in her tracks.
Fizzy: "you want me to do WHAT?"

Oh yes. With some coaxing she walked past all the spectators flashing cameras at her into the warmup area.      Fizzy was definitely "high", but was focusing well on the task at hand. Buck said that TB's were bred to canter and felt more comfortable in the canter. So I picked up steady rhythm, did counter changes of rein just allowing her to flow off each leg, relaxing in the counter canter. Amy, my fantastic groom, cleared a pathway so we could do a gentle canter through the crowd and around the ring. Fizzy really relaxed well and focused despite the crowds. I was so proud of her!! She had a great test putting her in 6th place on a score of 33.

Lusty and I had had a fantastic dressage school on-grounds the day before. We were all "schooled up" as Buck said and just needed to keep her relaxed throughout the day. This made me a bit nervous because there are so many technical movements in the advanced test: half passes at trot and canter, flying changes, pirouettes, made me think I should practice as much as possible!  Even so, I gave lusty a relaxed ride very early in the day. Then Amy gave Lusty plenty of hand walks so she could graze and be relaxed outside her stall. Then I got on Lusty just a rider or so before her dressage time. Lusty had the same reaction as Fizzy with the crowds: "!!!!", but I just kept relaxed myself and lusty went right to work. We had the best test to date, 41 in advanced, I was so pleased!

I had my work cut out for me in cross country. Not only was I unfamiliar with the course, but every jump was hidden and sneaky around a turn, which you couldn't see because of the thick forest. I walked both the prelim and the advanced track 4 times. Thats a lota miles......but well worth it. I made "friends" with the courses and felt ready about every line, every turn, every jump. I was so fortunate to have Fizzy at Red Hills so I could test out and feel the terrain before taking lusty out advanced. Fizzy was AMAZING. Never putting a foot wrong, I never took a tug, and she just ate up that course like it was sunday brunch. Fizzy had the fastest time out of all the prelim horses. 


Lusty and I taking a nap before XC
A great start to the day, I knew I had to ride Lusty just like that and really go for it. I was able to watch some three star horses go (our courses were very similar with only a few different combinations). Buck was great and walked around the course with me commenting on what riders did right and what I should not duplicate! 

After watching a few combinations I felt calm and ready to go. This course had everything: maxed out galloping fences, (some around blind turns), skinny combinations up and down steep hills, corners, the biggest trakhener I have ever seen, and my favorite: a steep gallop down hill to a big drop into water, three strides, up bank bounce to a vertical hedge. It was a challenge for sure, but everything rode beautifully. It was an amazing feeling, like winning a huge battle. And really it was a huge battle, all the mental and physical training in these past few weeks really came together and gave us the confidence and skills to tackle these obstacles smoothly.

Amy shouted "breathe!" at me as I walked to the start box. Lusty left the box very relaxed almost asking me if we could really go for it. I told her yes by closing my legs and we were off! The course was amazing and more challenging than anything I had ridden before. The jumps just kept coming! Everything rode just as planned, except for the last water combo: Lusty tripped into the drop and almost fell! I circled in between A and B, not sure if I could get her safely back on her line without flipping her at the B element. In the moment I was protecting her, hopefully in the future with some experience I will know if we could still have gone for the B element. But you can't look back all you have on course is your experience and your instinct, and I followed both of those the best I could. I was so ecstatic with the day, very proud of my girls! 

After a long afternoon of icing walking and poulticing, a nice dinner was well deserved, great BBQ Red Hills!

Sunday left show jumping. Fizzy was at the end of division B (3rd place good girl!), so I was able to watch a few rides in A. This was Fizzy's type of course; it was set on a steep hill with rolling terrain and thick grass. The ring was surrounded on two sides with high bleachers filled to the brim with spectators, the third side a huge tent with people a table eating brunch, and the last side with banners and flags as tall as the trees. To say the least there was a bit of atmosphere ;) Even so Fizzy jumped amazing and smooth, zooming around the turns and staying so focused! She ended in her 3rd place and we had a nice interview with Samantha Clark at EN, see below:


Fizzy show jump
Fizzy victory gallop!
Lusty's course was the same as the three star, so I was able to walk a little early and watch some of the three star ride before I got on. As always, it's a little daunting riding right after Phillip, but ride we did! Lusty was great, and we finished with a few rails, but overall I am so proud of the weekend. Fizzy has really stepped up to the plate this winter and I finished my first advanced!!! And what an advanced it was, I now feel ready for whatever the season will throw at us, pics of the weekend coming soon, Thank you all for your support!!!!
Jump like you mean it!!!
-WW


Me sitting on a large advanced table, wider than I am tall!!








Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lessons with Bruce "the deuce" Davidson

After a crazy weekend at Rockinghorse, I freshened up by giving myself a very stylish haircut with nail scissors and a great top ramen dinner. Ahhh life of living in a trailer! The horses had a nice day of rest and a day of hacking, then we had the pleasure of Bruce (god knows hows many olympic medals) Davidson teach us in Buck's absence. I have to admit we were all a little nervous. Stories abound speaking of his gruff style. The last thing I wanted to do was piss him off! Luckily he was nothing but charming, upbeat, supportive and patient! Every time Bruce opened his mouth to say something it was like gold coins from a slot machine, I felt so lucky!!! Amy took so many fabulous videos I just picked a few at random....


video

The exercise:
He had us canter in a circle over a small jump working on using a slower pace in a half seat, focusing on getting the horse to relax their back over the fence. He stressed the importance of focusing on the rhythm instead of hunting for a distance. That if you have a good canter and the horse keeps its rhythm, he can jump out of any distance. For the babies if they land on the wrong lead turn to the new direction and continue on the circle the other way, being more insistent overtop the fence that they land on the new lead. Sometimes it takes them a few figure eights to get the correct lead. Then the jump would go up to a larger skinny oxar, but the canter must stay exactly the same. For horses that want to be a little tight in their backs overtop the fence, Bruce wanted us to get close as possible "knock it with their knees" so that they were forced to lengthen their backs to make it over the fence.

video

Then we took that canter to a different oxar on a larger circle, which made it all the more tempting to get too quick or hunt for a distance. But the trick was to keep everything the same as we were jumping on the smaller circle. Bruce had the back rail high, and the front rail to the oxar much lower, which he said fills in the jump to make it look more solid, so they jump it better. I thought it also rode very well because we had the height of the back rail, the double rails of the oxar to assist with the arc, but not as high as the back rails so it wasn't as scary!

We then took the canter we gained from the first two exercises and took it to a triple. And the triple felt so nice because of the relaxed back!



Then the scariest of scary.....a max oxar to circle over to finish. But because of the great canter from the previous exercises, it really felt like no big deal. Just a huge confirmation that a relaxed good canter is the key to jumping well.


It was a fabulous confidence building day, I really enjoyed a great time learning with my fellow riders and learning from the master!!! Until next time....

Jump like you mean it!
-WW


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Try #1


Well, I got 2/3 of my first advanced done, and done well! Lusty was really relaxed in the dressage. We need to work on the timing of our flying changes, but overall I was very happy with her. In the show jumping I was thrilled with both of us. I kept my cool and lusty jumped great. There were 2 jumps where I held a little too much with my hand and got 2 rails, but just plane thrilled! The next day was xc, and I admit I was nervous, not about the actual course, but about the pressure of it. There had been a lot leading up to this event, I had been waiting all my life to go advanced, felt like everyone was watching, and put a ton of pressure on myself to finish. Every athlete knows this is a recipe for disaster. To perform your best, you must be "in the moment" and able to think on a dime. My internal monologue was "no worries, just finish, get one under your belt". I was telling this to myself in an attempt to keep cool, but the effect it had on me was to dull my senses and tense up. My usual monologue is "get straight, ride through the flags, support with leg, get the right canter for the fence at hand". Should have stuck with that! The biggest thing I realized after this weekend is that advanced is not the crazy move up from intermediate that I had always thought it to be. Yes, there is a lot more asked in the dressage, the show jumps are higher and more technical, as well in the xc. But one must remember:  it is still the same game. I didn't need to approach the competition any different than I usually do. I realized this when I was in warmup later in the day with Fizzy; I was chatting and joking with people like normal, feeling relaxed and confident. Ahah! well, there we go, chill it out dude!

I have to remember the learnings and successes of each day, even though the result on some is not what was hoped. Fizzy was amazing in Prelim, finishing a challenging weekend on her dressage score in 5th place. Buck was really pleased as well, she is now aimed for the ocala 1*! Thomas is getting more confident at training as well. good pony.

On sunday, BDJ brought back the "naughty pony trailer" full of horses who had had issues on the weekend. Coincidentally all of them had eliminated at corners! Buck was so awesome to come and coach us; he was flying to TN the next morning for surgery to fix his collarbone. We warmed up a bit then did the first part of the course. There was a large table then the two evil left handed corners. Over the table lusty drifted left, then ran out at the first corner. AHAH! Buck told me that if she's drifting left on a table, we might just be in trouble for a large left handed corner....duh.... So we also fixed the canter and did the corners and got it right away! After everyone was good with that we put it in the course. Lusty was fantastic and I am confident we would have done well on the whole course after the corners. While it was annoying we didn't get it right on the day, we were very fortunate to come back and have this learning experience. My instinct was to drive up to Pine Top the next weekend and give advanced another go, I am so eager to prove I can do it! Buck advised to wait, practice a bit more, then do Advanced at Red Hills. So this week is a little rest, then gear it back up! Here is lusty and my show jump, good girl!
video

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Competition Numero Dos

This weekend was a bit lighter at Ocala Horse Trials with only Fizzy and Thomas. They both moved up a division with Fizzy in Prelim and Thomas in training! This was a real test to see if all our hard and intense work these past few weeks were sticking. No joke, being sore is a natural state now for me!

Fizzy put in a solid dressage. We have been working ever day with her connection from the hind legs to the bridle (ahhh age-old quandary). We were able to get the connection through most of the test with only a couple of over-zealous moments finishing with a 33 or so. Lusty was brought along for "show-relaxation-acclimation" time. She actually was excellent working well in a busy warmup doing her dressage duties like a pro. Then for fizzy show jumping. It was a fairly challenging course with plenty of shiny scary things to look at. Because we hauled in to the show, the jumping was already underway and left no time for walking (another first for me, I have never jumped a prelim course without walking first). Never mind, counted how many strides other riders were doing, watched how turns were riding. Fizzy warmed up well, with my goal focusing on using my leg every stride and not taking back with hands, yadda yadda. We certainly met our goals, albeit just a midge too quick, and tapped 2 rails. Fizzy was really excellent and jumping smoothly like a pro. Next time don't need so much oomph and will keep the rails up!

Saturday: Amid many a wardrobe change, (Dressage whites for Thomas, then XC gear for Fizzy, then Show jump kit for Thomas!), the real test of the day was Fizzy's xc course. It was very challenging, especially for a move up course. Lots of questions and max fences. But no worries, Fizzy was a superstar ;) Really bold and solid for all the technical things as well. I had so much fun!!! Thomas was a bit fussy in the dressage, not scoring his best, but was quite a good boy in the show jumping.

Thomas was the only ride sunday morning, we were finished by 830 with plenty of time to head back to the farm and ride the rest of the horses! I love being able to compete while still working the non compete horses all in the same day. I was most proud of Thomas and how bold he was in his first training xc.

This week marked the one month anniversary training with BDJ! I love everyone here and the program is certainly working, I am so excited to see what gems next month will bring!!!

Jump like you mean it!
WW

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ridin'

That's what we've been 'doin!! Monday was awesome. Lusty and Fizzy had a jog up with the famous Dr. Furlong. Both were perfect, passed! phew! Ready for a long healthy season!

Yesterday Thomas and Fizzy went xc schooling. Fizzy not only conquered her "enemy fence" (the tall brush), but Thomas jumped crazy cool stuff. He did: bounces, up and down, coffins, etc etc. Buck said approvingly "big day for him eh?". oh yeah. go thomas! He played with the big intermediate boys, I am so proud ;)

Today Baby Atlas had the big learning session! He jumped a liverpool for the first time and several combinations, with turning questions...whoa. As always, Buck asked more than I thought possible for him, but he rose to the challenge.

Buck: "He'll be alright, your horse..."
again in an approving tone, guess no sale truck for you today Atlas!

Man I had no idea riding a 3 ft course on a green course could be so exhausting, so I will head to bed now and leave you with my blog on bruce davidson's site that made it to Eventing Nation along with a video someone posted!!!

http://brucedavidsoneventing.blogspot.com/2012/02/whitney-rocks-on.html

http://youtu.be/QtnjmIS1sfk

Jump like you mean it!!!
-WW

Busy Day Off!

First of all, I would like to brag that Amy and I were at a Super Bowl party with Darren Chiachia and Leslie Law last night...

now that aside, on to today!

This was supposingly my day off, but no rest for the wicked~
Brendan Furlong, vet extroidinaire is coming to the farm today to watch every single horse go up,
give any injections needed for this long and exciting season. Also, a fitter from Amerigo is coming to talk to everyone about saddle fit. I am thinking about having Lusty fit for a special Park Trader saddle and get a price quote, though I am scared to see the total cost.....yikes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Equine Comfort Products! Sponsor Spotlight!!!


For all you checking into our blog/shenanigans for the first time...welcome! I try to do an update several times a week here as we are training "hard-core" in Ocala Florida, playing with the big boys ;) So far everything has been incredibly successful, from watching the Pro Derby Cross in Wellington to competing to viewing the USA team training sessions. All the horses move up the levels this month, with Lusty and I going advanced! I could not do any of this without my wonderful sponsors, the first of which I am thanking in this month's "sponsor spotlight". This is the second year I have been working with ECP, and I can't imagine a more wonderful product with amazing people behind it! Equine comfort products have made my horses truly happy with their work  by using their half pads (make with beautiful 100% sheepskin) and now these really cool bell boots. I used to deal with constant sores and rubs after competition from rubber bell boots, but ECP created them with sheepskin around the ankle! Check them out at: http://www.equinecomfort.com/. See below a few pics we took last weekend out here in ocala at competition! Thank you ECP, Team Weston loves you!!

2012 sponsors will be happy to hear how widespread the media attention of Team Weston has become!! I have your logos up on

-Our official blog (here)

www.westwoodstables.com in several locations

-Sing your praises on the Team Weston Facebook page, currently 96 individual fans, and reaches
38,076 friends of these fans! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Weston/144699698921475
-Whitney Weston personal Facebook page with 851 friends at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10300327
-We are also media networking on Linked-In and Twitter
-Check out Team Weston's guest writing spot on the Pro Riders Organization blog!
http://www.professionalriders.org/news.htm#Blog
and on Bruce Davidson, USA Olympic legenend's site:
http://brucedavidsoneventing.blogspot.com/