Whitney Weston

Whitney Weston Eventing

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....



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.


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!

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/