Monday, August 26, 2013

Eventing in the Northwest

The Northwest has to be my favorite place to event in the country now. I admittedly have always wondered what attracted people to the "dreary northwest" and now I can see the attraction. You get the feel of Europe without the cold. The people are friendly, and the cross country is the way it truly was meant to be......with terrain, several natural hazards and did I say terrain?

NLE made a decision this spring that competing in the Northwest would be scheduled into this summers season. We have several up and coming youngsters as well as needing to get qualified for the Gold Cup at the American Eventing Championships. 

So off we went to what everyone in the country knows is an amazing event; Rebecca Farm. Just like every year they did not fact they had more entries than I have ever seen at an event and its a testiment to the entire team that they not only allowed all of us to come and compete, but that they were able to run so smoothly. After a very successful run at Rebecca Farm we went home for a month and back up to the Northwest to Caber Farm this past weekend. 

Most of you know John Camlin. That is if you've evented on the team back when they had black and whites for photos and natural ditches without groundlines.
John owns and operates Caber Farm along with his wonderful wife Cindy, & right hand man Marc Grandia.
John made nearly 20 advanced horses in his day and was short listed for the team a few times. Helped prepare riders for their first 1*, 2*, 3* & 4*. Competed at Rolex several times as well as Europe and now gives back to the sport of eventing by keeping the theories of James Wofford and Jack LeGoff alive. 
John has been a staple in the sport of eventing on the west coast and the one thing you can count on is that John will always provide a helping hand whenever your feeling a little in need in the warm up....his antimidating demeanor is truly a fasod and not far behind that serious look on his fiercely competitive face is a kind and caring man.....who probably loves eventing more than anyone I know. 

Caber Farm gave you a feel of being a bit on the east Richland Park with a European feel. It reminded me so much of Boekelo with a family run atmosphere. They had so many volunteers that they didn't need everyones help. Since when do you see that at an event these days.

I was so happy we made the drive to this event.....not only to support a friend, but to see how the Northwest does it. What a treat it's such a great feeling to see that the west coasters have everything it takes to prepare for the big time as well. From the kid who was clearly competing in their first event, the adult amateur who was out for the weekend to have a good time, to several Northwest professionals competing, it was a very intertwined mix of competitors that made it what eventing was for me as a kid. The old school way of eventing. Lots of OTTB's, some draft crosses as well as warmbloods were all around. 

The show photographer was exceptional as well...I had many photos to choose from on all of my horses and surprisingly enough not one of them was bad. The overall vibe was refreshing and fun and so nice to have that feel at an event. 

Every morning the fog would rise right above the cross country jumps and give a feel of tranquility. 

Caber Farm was extremely well ran, with a friendly atmosphere. Challenging but rewarding cross country courses and the show jumping was very rewarding if you rode your lines correctly. All of my horses finished the weekend feeling like
they gained months of training and I can't tell you how pleased I am with all of their progress. 

An event that everyone should come and see. I'm really looking forward to attending Aspen Farms owned by John and Susie Elliott in two weeks! 



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ashlynn Meuchel & NAYRC

Boy how time flys!!! It seems like yesterday that I was nervous and unable to sleep wondering if I would make my areas young rider team.....and now I'm headed off to Kentucky to coach Ashlynn Meuchel from Area VII at her first NAYRC. 
It's such a great time in life watching and mentoring these kids...for some this might be their career highlight and for others, just a stepping stone of riding accomplishments. It is the start to having our youth "think" and "dream" big! 
I met Ashlynn a few years ago when she and her father drove down from Washington State determined to find the next "superstar" for her to pursue her upper level riding career. They rode several horses at different farms in the area but would decide on the purchase of a talented, but quirky Irish horse by the name of Morning Star aka Tyson. 
I was a bit skeptical of the partnership as Tyson had a shady past. One that some would easily compare to the fighter Mike Tyson......and we cautiously joked about this several times. A common criminal with a lot of talent. But something happened between a girl and her horse. 
Tyson hadn't quite found what makes him happy before he met Ashlynn......and in fact his current owner and I conferred that a lengthy trial period to determine if the horse was suitable was required......several wonderful riders would see the talent he exuded however his personality would just deter them from pursuing a career with him......until Ashlynn. 
I would describe Ashlynn as a mellow, witty, intelligent girl who has a very natural gift of riding. A bit of a Tomboy but a "girl" when you get to know her. She loves her family, her friends and animals and is strong minded. Secretly she is stubborn which makes her a fierce competitor and she will be able to pursue what ever her heart desires. Whatever Ashlynn decides to do, she will be great at it. 
Ashlynn has reluctantly been separated from her family at age 18 to become a working student for me the last 5 months in preparation for the biggest competition of her life. North American Young Rider Championships! She has ridden several horses a day, worked endless hours, and all with a smile.....whether it was fabricated or real she was taught well by her parents to grin and bare it. Having multiple lessons a day.....riding hours without stirrups, Ashlynn rarely complained even when she was at her all time low of home sick. 
She learned to be more attentive about turning out horses.....the care and first aid that is required from a farm of 30 + horses and to treat ever horse as if it were her own. She learned how to get her horse fit for a three successfully compete at the Intermediate Level and improved on her seat and technique in dressage, cross country and show jumping. From saddle fitting, when to ice, nutritional program to treating scratches, Ashlynn will take home with her an experience that has helped shape her riding career. 
I'm not certain if the sweet marshmallow (Tyson) will show up to Young Riders and corporate with Ashlynn's desires. He just might be the gangster we've seen him be in the past, but what I do know is Ashlynn deserves a huge congratulations for preparing herself and her horse to the best of her ability. She took a tough horse and learned to ride him. She has sacrificed being away from home and missing some of her senior year activities to commit herself to her championship. It's a rare trait to find in our youth these days the commitment and dedication it takes to be the best and I just wanted to share with the rest of the world that there are riders out there who still have that "True Grit" (by Denny Emmerson) and dedication it takes to compete and be great. 
So whatever the outcome of Ashlynn's first North American Young Rider Championships, she has prepared the best she can....she's a fierce competitor and now it's all up to the criminal or the marshmallow and that thing called luck to how it all turns out. 
Regardless, Ashlynn has already won in my eyes!!