Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gearing up for big things!

So it's July 26th... only a few days until August. Why is that important? Because August is when all of the fun starts! Trevor and Jess leave a week from today on Aug. 2nd to make the long haul up to Canada for the Wits End CIC 3*. Luckily Jess won't have to make the trip alone as she is meeting up with Kyle Carter in Atlanta and they will make the rest of the trip up together. I wish I could go, but there are a lot of horses being left behind at the farm that still have to be fed, groomed, and ridden every day. Not to mention that I have to teach as many lessons as possible in the next few weeks and earn as much money as I can so that I can enjoy our trip to England!

The week after Jess and Trevor get back from Wits End we have a big clinic planned. Jan Byyny is coming down to teach a clinic at a friend's farm in Montgomery. I'm SO excited! I'll be taking Jelly for both days and can't wait to see what Jan does with us! Jumping day should just be a lot of fun, but I'm hoping Dressage day turns out to be a serious butt-kicking for Jelly and hopefully we can solve some of the issues we've been dealing with on the flat.

Two days after the big clinic is a schooling show at Poplar Place. I'm definately planning on taking Jelly, but can't decide what level to enter. We've been doing Novice together for SO long, and I would really love to make the move up to Training for this combined test. I know he can do the show jumping well, but he's so inconsistent in his dressage work. Maybe if we can get some good work done before then, in combination with the Jan clinic that week, maybe Jelly will make his big move-up that weekend. We'll see!

The weekend after the Poplar show is a H/J show near Montgomery where I'll be taking all of the kids from Silver Lining. That should be a fun day for all of the kids. :) Then it's only a few days until our plane leaves for England! It's hard to believe how close it is now!

Fingers crossed that the next 4 weeks go by smoothly and with no nasty suprises. We're almost there! Also, my parents got home late last night from their mission trip to Venezuela. They had a great time and are very happy to be home in the air conditioning and far from any machine guns. :) So glad they had a safe and successful trip!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Proud Day for Silver Lining Eq. Center!

Today, all of the kids from Silver Lining Equestrian Center went to Poplar Place for their first Dressage tests. I was so proud of all of them!!! Everyone was on time (ie-pre-sun-up) this morning to the barn and did a beautiful job of bathing and grooming their horses. We made it to Poplar in plenty of time to relax and watch a few tests to see how it's done.

Madison and Autumn went first for the group and had a *super* test. Madison accomplished all of the goals that we had for today and did a great job with all of the little things we have been working on. Ivy and Duncan went immediately after Madison and also had a awesome test. Very accurate and lovely! Then after a 20 min break, Lindsey was next on Jessie. I am so very proud of Lindsey for her judgement today and her mature decisions (she is only 10 after all!). Jessie has been a little "cranky" lately and Lindsey decided in warm-up that she thought riding her test wouldn't be a good idea. So she was given permission to pull up at any point if she felt uncomfortable and after a lovely center line and a good trot circle, she waved happily to the judge and exited the arena with a smile on her face. What a trooper! Lauren was next (also on Jessie) and that kid was determined to make it through her test. She put her 'ninja game face' on (hey, she's only 9) and she rode her little legs off! Unfortunately, Jessie's crankiness caused her to step out of the arena... but that didnt' slow Lauren down! She immediately went right back in and finished her test. lol! The judge allowed her to finish...who would ring the bell on such a gutsy little rider?! She did get an "E" on the scoreboard, but I have never been so impressed with the determination of one single person. She wins the "Determined Rider of the Year" award! :)

I was the last ride of the day on Lindsey's Haflinger pony, Wiseman. He has never done anything even resembling dressage but, as the judge put it on his test, he's a "happy worker." So after 2 prep rides, I took him and just did an Intro test on him and darn if he didn't blow us all away! He had a lovely and very obedient test to finish 3rd in a class of 9 horses!!! Not bad for a first-timer!

After the show was over, I took my main man Jelly cross country schooling with Mary Kate and Duncan (first xc school for both MK and D). We had so much fun! Jelly was..... strong.... to say the least. lol He was very excited. But he jumped amazingly, and schooled all of the Novice and most of the Training courses really well. MK had a great time and did a beautiful job over the Ameoba and Tadpole courses. She also had the most lovely up/down banks and water schooling for a first-timer I've ever seen! Duncan loved it and they took it all in stride. Maybe next time we'll throw in a few BN fences. :)

So it's not even 7pm and I'm SO sleepy and totally sunburnt. But it was worth it. I have a really exceptional group of kids and parents who are all so supportive of each other. We had a really great day together! I'm going to go play for a minute with my new Laptop and probably head to bed early. Everyone say a prayer for my parents this week. As I am typing this, they are on a plane to Venezuela for a mission trip. They will be putting roofs on churches down there as well as spending a good bit of time in the communities with the people.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good Weekend at Maui, and a busy weekend coming up!

Well, this week has been a whirlwind of chaos. The good kind of chaos, ofcourse. ;) Trevor and Remi got home from Chicago on Monday after a good weekend for both. Trevor had a pretty good dressage test in the Advanced division. Not his best, gotta get that canter work a little more forward, but solid work. He jumped phenomenally XC Saturday! Jess took it really slow w/ him, wanting to be sure he stays sound and is fit enough for his tasks. But he jumped better than ever! SJ went well for Trev. One rail came down, but as I say "Whatever." lol I think he and Jess disagreed on the striding down a line so the rail fell. I think we can definately consider it a very successful outing for the 2 of them! One step closer to the big show!
Remi ran Novice at Maui Jim and was awesome. Was 1 point off the lead after dressage... the funny part? Jess turned the wrong way after the first trot down center line, so he was 1 pt off the lead with a 2 point error! She won't do that again... :) He jumped fast and clean xc and also had 1 rail in SJ on Sunday. He finished a good 3rd place. (Only his 3rd HT, finished in the ribbons in all of them and finished 1st and 3rd in 2 of them. Not bad!). Trevor, Remi, and Salsa are going down the road this weekend to an "A" jumper show in town. Trevor will do a Mini-Prix, and the others will go do some jumper classes to keep sharp.

At my other barn, all of my kids are getting ready for their "Big" schooling show at Poplar Place on Saturday. It will be the first dressage test for all of them... *gulp* All of the kids have worked SO hard to prepare for this show, I really want it to go well for them. There are a couple of opinionated ponies being ridden though, so we'll see. ;) Introductory tests A and B have never been so daunting! Say a prayer for them all that they keep their cool and ride as well as I know they can! I'm also going to be doing Intro B on one of my girl's Haflinger pony. That should be fun to see! Afterwards Jelly and I are schooling XC with another one of my students. It's her first time on xc and she is *very* excited. So it's gonna be a big weekend! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Well, Jess left the barn this morning with 3 horses in the trailer heading off to Chicago by way of Nashville for the Maui Jim HT the weekend. After spending last week at Jan byyny's Surefire Farm, Trevor seems to be fit and ready for his Advanced run. He jumped at home yesterday and WOW was he jumping out of his skin! Jess told me to set them up "big".... yeah... I have to confess that when I'm setting fences, I'm Jess's biggest challenge. haha Somehow 4'6" doesn't look all that big when I'm standing right next to it (which seems so Let's just say that Trevor should be plenty prepared for his SJ round on Sunday. :)
Remi is going to run Novice this weekend too. He's our cute little do-it-all horse. He's a stylish little hunter with an easy way of going, a fancy and easy dressage horse that has won the dressage (and then his whole division) at major horse trials, and a game "if you want me to I'll do it" type on XC. So he should be a fun ride for Jess this weekend.
The third horse on the trailer was Bo. Bo is Jess's retired Intermediate horse and one of the *coolest* horses in the world. He's the type that anyone can get on and go out in the trot field or have a dressage lesson on to learn some upper level movements, or Jess can pull him out of the field right before a show to "make sure her eye is on" and jump him around a 4' course like he never had a day off. He also is the horse that took me around my first Training Level combined test (packed me around, might I add! Lol). So Bo is going to Nashville for a few months to babysit Jess's sister's horse for a while. I hate for him to not be at the barn! But he'll enjoy chillin in the pasture and getting fat.

Like most things in life, when the old leave, new will come. That's exactly what has happened at the barn. With Bo leaving (and Salsa scheduled to go to his new home in a few weeks) we just got 3 new horses. Vicki is a 4yo Holsteiner filly that Jess's sister raised and started. She is now at our barn ready to get some education and fix herself on the road to the upper levels. She is a plain bay, and a BIG girl! Far from finished growing, she's about 17hh (totally dwarfs little 15.3hh Trevor!). Such a fancy mover and with a great brain too! She'll certainly be something special. The other new horse is known as "Shaq". He's on off-the-track Steeplechase horse and easily the prettiest horse I've ever seen. He's a 17hh dark blood bay with a white blaze and 2 even white socks on his fronts. He won't start being ridden for 6-8 months as he just came off the track, but he will be a fun one when he is ready! The 3rd new horse is a boarder, one of Jess's students. Irish is a sweet little guy that just seems very happy with life. That's a good type to have to deal with every day and I'm glad to have him there :)

So I have the barn to myself this week. It will be an interesting week getting to know the new horses and riding the ones Jess left behind. I'm excited to start getting updates from Chicago. Hopefully it'll be a great confidence-building run for both of them and a great stepping stone to being ready for our big trip in 2 months. Prayers for a safe weekend for all!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Jersey Fresh and plans for the Fall

It's that time of the year where we are happy to look back on a very successful Spring season and plan ahead for the Fall. Trevor has had a great year so far and finished off his Spring season with an incredible showing at Jersey Fresh CCI 3*. He and Jess had a really great dressage test to be the top placing Canadian pair after the first phase. Saturday, both Jess and Trevor had their 'game faces' on and made simple work of the cross country course. An unfortunate timing error due to a hold during their run made for more time penalties than they had actually earned, but what can you do? Trevor continues to make my life easy in the barns on Saturday evenings and after a couple of rounds of ice boots, a hand walk, and a smiling vet at the evening jog he was ready for Sunday. Jog-ups are probably one of my very favorite parts of 3-days. That's my phase of the competition ;) Trevor was handsome as ever Sunday morning with his shiny coat, 27 braids, and and knock-out quarter marks. He went on to show jump very well and finished just out of the top ten (darn xc time penalties!). He certainly earned his vacation!

Special congrats to Jess's coach Jan Byyny for her awesome weekend at Jersey Fresh! Jan and Waterfront finished 2nd in the CCI 3* and Jan also finished (I think it was..) 6th in the CCI 2* with JR (InMidAir). JR also won "Best Turned Out" for the 2*, so Yay Lizzie!

Now we are preparing Trevor for his big Fall season. He had a break after Jersey and is now back in work. Next week he travels to Chicago for his first event back at Maui Jim HT to run in the Advanced division. Jess is also taking Remi, her Novice horse. Then Trevor will travel to Toronto with Kyle Carter and his horse Parker to run in the CIC3* division at Wits End. And if all goes well... ***drumroll please*** Jess, Trevor and I will leave at the end of August for England to run the Blenheim Castle CCI 3*. I am so excited about the trip, and really proud of both Jess and Trevor for coming so far in the past couple of years and being so ready for this challenge. It should be an awesome trip and we'll get to share it with some of our Canadian friends. Jessica Pheonix is also planning on taking her two 3* horses Digby and Tucker to Blenheim, and both Diana Burnett and Kyle are taking their horses Manny and Parker to run Burghley 4* the week before Blenheim.

So one step at a time. Here's to a great run next week at Maui Jim! Everyone say an extra prayer that all of our horses and riders stay sound and healthy this season!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Allow me to introduce myself

Hello all!
This is my very first blog post ever, so bear with me. I'll learn as I go. ;) I have been wanting to start a blog for a while to chronicle some of the big adventures I have coming up as well as just the day-to-day adventures in my life. I'll start by introducing myself...

I'm Steph. Stephanie James, actually. Steph is a whole lot easier to spit out, so people generally just go with that. I am a professional three-day event groom and I LOVE what I do! I work for Canadian rider Jessica Hampf who rides the brilliant (can you tell I'm biased? haha) High Society III (Trevor) at the CCI 3* level. We have a barn on a beautiful farm right here in Alabama where we currently have 7 horses with more on the way very soon. I could type forever about each horse, but I'll spare you the details. Like pretty much every other person in the horse industry I love to ride, but grooming is my passion. That includes keeping the barn clean, currying Trevor until every hair on his body sparkles (this is actually an unhealthy obcession of mine that Jess constantly teases me about), going to shows, managing Jess's craziness (just for you Jess!), etc. I love it all. :)

I also have my own group of horses at another barn nearby where I teach beginner-type lessons. I have been blessed with a small but wonderful group of families and their horses to teach lessons to, train, coach at shows, and just teach the basics of responsible horse ownership and care. Our group right now consists of 7 horses (must be my magic number), 2 of which are my own, and 4 families.

Two of the kids that I teach I also take care of... is it really "babysitting" when they are 9 and 10?... 5 days a week. I started teaching them lessons in 2005 and from there the relationship grew to the point where today we are really more family than anything. :)

So that is the basic run-down of my list of jobs. Reading through that most people would probably wonder how many hours there are in Alabama days... let me assure you that there are PLENTY! lol But I love all of the things that I do and even though it makes for LONG days, I nearly always go to bed with a smile on my face and am happy to start again the next morning.

The rest of 'me'? I love God with all of my heart and thank Him every day for allowing me to live all of my dreams so far. I have an amazing family! I have the greatest parents in the world (If you thought your parents had that title, sorry. :) Mine take the cake!). I also have a sister who has turned out to be pretty cool and a good friend. She is married and has a son who is the cutest baby in the world! I have an awesome boyfriend. We have been together for a little over 5 1/2 years and counting. My horse "Jelly" is the greatest friend a girl could have. He is the cutest, sweetest, most satisfying thing in the world and even after 5 years of looking at that face he still makes me giggle. :)

I think that's enough about me. It's a pretty good run-down of who I am and what I do. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get to the "Adventure" part. ;) We have some awesome things planned for the rest of the year! Stay tuned!

God Bless!