Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nearly at WEG

At 70% off, these pajamas looked a good alternative to sleeping in travelling clothes. The only problem was they turned out to be 'youth' sizes so they were a tight fit! Amie's luggage has now arrived.

The facilities at the training camp are very flash. As it is primarily a competition venue we have it mostly to ourselves.

Not much time to sit around!

Canada geese have apparently become pests but they are huge birds and are a lovely sight by the ornamental lake.

Travelling with wheelchairs involves using renting a small truck as well as passenger vehicles. We followed the GPS back to the hotel and ended up having one inch to spare under a low bridge!

The horses are due to arrive at WEG on Saturday as thousands of spectators arrive for the cross-country. They all use the same entrance so for Amie and Elizabeth, the team organisers, trying to amend arrival times has been, and still is, a huge and time consuming problem.

Sandy Mitchell, who rides for Bermuda, had a awesome ride today. He is all ready for WEG.

Pop Art (Canada) and Victory Salute (Australia) both go in the Grand Prix Freestyle tomorrow - go Canada, Go Australia. I saw them both compete in Aachen. Both lovely, well ridden, horses.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joys of travelling

Jindivick seems a long way away. I left my garden just jumping out of its winter drabness.

Wilbur sits very still and the dogs run right past without seeing him.

It is always a horrible feeling to realise that all the luggage from your flight has arrived at the carousel except for yours! There is a nasty moment when you think someone else has taken your case. Then you just follow procedure and queue up at the airline luggage counter. My case had not left Los Angeles. It arrived at the hotel at 2 a.m. after flying via Atlanta to Cincinnati.

Amie, who works for Equine Canada in Para Equestrian, was not so lucky. When she flew from Ottawa to Toronto and then on to Cincinnati she had to pick up her bag at Toronto airport and take in through Customs before boarding the plane. Her bag was not there and then she had  problems clearing customs without her luggage. She still does not have her luggage 36 hours later. 

We are having a pre-WEG training camp. We move to WEG on Saturday. It would be nice to think in time to catch some of the cross-country. I think it will be a matter of 'so near and yet so far'. Time will tell.

Friday, September 24, 2010

National Interschools Championships

LongdenCorp sponsored the Wednesday evening State Challenge Freestyle at the National Interschools Championships at Sydney International Equestrian Centre. Equestrian NSW hosted this event and ran the two days of competition extremely well. I imagine that future WEG and Olympic riders will include at least one rider who competed at this competition.

Lesley Anne Taylor and myself judged the freestyle together which was lots of fun. Some of the riders were riding their first freestyle ever. Some of the choreography and music was interesting, though a lot of the music was 'background' music rather than fitting the rhythm and tempo of the horse. It takes many hours to work out the track with the compulsory movements and then find music that fits the horse and rider. Some of the riders were on borrowed horses which made it much harder for them.

Everyone learned, at Hilary's expense, that you need to supply two CDs to the sound person. She rode again after the last rider and we started judging again at the point where her music 'crashed and burned'.

It was the first time that LongdenCorp has had a 'stall' at a competition. It really is quite involved acquiring banners and stands and having them in containers to protect them when travelling. One of my business partners Chris Curran and myself drove the 11 hours from Jindivick to Sydney on Tuesday and then home on Thursday evening.

Brett Davey, a local event and dressage rider, rode in my Masterclass on Wednesday before the freestyle.
He has recently started riding Beth Turner's FEI dressage horse Welthill.  It gave him a good training opportunity with an audience. It is not easy working with a total stranger and he did a really good job and I am sure the young audience were inspired by him.

The Masterclass covered both the rider's and judge's points of view when riding tests. I really appreciated the great feedback I received.

Now home again for just a few days before flying to Cincinnati for the Canadian Para Equestrian
training camp.

These two horses meet in the truck that is taking them from Vancouver to WEG. It is the first time that Para Equestrian has been included in the World Equestrian Games. All those involved are really excited about it.

Thomas and Bessie on their way to the tree with the rabbit holes.

They do not care about the lovely views.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

From Pagosa Springs to The Getty Centre

Leaving the Parelli's in great spirits and looking forward to returning to Jindivick, the drive to Durango airport went quickly. I actually stopped to take this photo - 'the head within the head'.

Lovely countryside and lots of wild sunflowers along the road.

Plans changed and I had a day in Los Angeles. The Getty Centre, designed by the architect Richard Meier, would be one of the most beautiful and spectacular  complexes build in the 20th century. It houses the J. Paul Getty Museum and is build on top of a hill overlooking the city and the bay. Parking is at the bottom and access is via a single track tram which wends its way up to the top and, with precision,  passes the other tram on its way down at a small double track area.

The Centre is vast and has been built, and is run, with meticulous efficiency and respect for art of all kinds and for the visitors. There is no admission charge so it is available to anyone who is interested.

The museum has various temporary exhibitions as well as a huge permanent collection. After seeing the rather disturbing and confronting photographic exhibition 'Engaged Observers' which shows the works of various war photographers and those interested in the struggles of survival, I joined a talk on the gardens.

Richard Meier designed the gardens and water features within the buildings. The trees are on the same grids that the buildings are designed on. Total precision. These trees are seen from an angle and then straight ahead here only one tree is visible. They are pruned monthly to keep their desired shape.

Robert Irving designed the outside garden. He was an artist with no gardening experience. He describes his work as 'a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art'. The deepening path zig-zags down a hill through manicured lawn  on either side of water, trees and shrubs, to the sunken garden. As one passes from bright light to filtered light the boulders become smaller and the shrubs become larger. There is every shade of green and all types of leaves. As Robert Irwin is an artist and not a gardener he chose the plants according to their colour and shape rather than their rarity. (the trees continually have one in five leaves taken off to ensure the light remains filtered). There are 20 gardeners! 

The azalea maze is made up of red, pink and white. At this time of year there is a scant flowering of the red flowers.

Invigorated by the pungent smell of garlic along the back of the maze I returned to the galleries.

Just loved the energy of this eighteen inch high sculpture by Italian born Paolo Troubetzkoy (Russian prince father and American mother). The bronze  'Dancer' is the Russian Countess Tamara de Svirsky.

I will certainly return to the Getty Centre when I am next in L.A. Maybe in  different time of year when there will be different sights and smells.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Flight cancelled!

Durango, Colorado,  airport closed its runway for most of the day yesterday cancelling flights. Apparently it was repairing the runway. With other 'would be' passengers we spent the day waiting, being re-routed and missing connections. Annoyingly I had no warning of the change of plans.

Instead of being home now I am at Los Angeles airport about to embark on the 15 hour flight to Melbourne.  Poor internet connection here so photos of the truly awesome Getty Centre, where I went
today, will be downloaded on my return home.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

At dusk - the statue outside the shopping centre in Pagosa Springs. It seems so odd to have this in the home town of Pat Parelli whose training methods are built on trust and understanding rather than what this cowboy and rearing horse demonstrate.

The gently winding drive through the paddocks of the Parelli ranch is the beginning of a peacefulness. Driving at 10 miles an hour gives time for reflexion and appreciation of the surroundings which are quite stunning. On arriving at the hub of activity I saw at least 30 horses, of all ages, sizes and shapes, being worked in various areas - by people also of all ages, sizes and shapes. There is a structure and hierarchy that works and everyone seems to know where they are at present and where they are wanting to go.  What struck me was seeing good and accomplished horseman wanting to know more.

So nice to spend two days and never see horses being forced into overbent outlines!

I know little about western riding but looking at a group of riders it is so obvious which ones have natural ability and which ones were struggling.

I went to Pagosa Springs to work with a Canadian Paralympic rider Lauren Barwick. She won a gold and a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympics.

Here she is riding back from training. So nice to see dressage horses having a life outside the dressage arena.

How lucky for me that both Pat and Linda were there and I was able to meet them. Such gracious and interesting people. So positive and full of energy. Such supporters of Lauren.

Lauren with her home bred three year olds.

Bird's eye view of the Parelli ranch.

Tomorrow morning we work horses early and then I drive back to Durango and fly via Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles where I have a seven hour wait before flying to Melbourne and then back to Jindivick - can't wait.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Far from stupid

This sign was on the corner of a stable block outside Montreal.

During the last two weeks I have helped two totally blind riders who both have wonderful dogs. One outside Adelaide and one outside Ottawa. I think that the training of guide dogs would have to be
one of the most standardised and successful training method anywhere in the world.  

One never sees a badly behaved dog that is working with its harness on. I know that a lot of dogs do not 'pass' and so do not become 'guides' but it is certainly a very successful system. 

Overlooking the Ottawa River

Outside Adelaide

Two wonderful dogs who give freedom to their dearly loved owners. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coaching in Canada before WEG

Last weekend in Vancouver the Para Equestrian team riders had their last competition before WEG. Great preparations as riders and trainers decide what is possible to achieve between now and Kentucky. It is a long trip for these horses as they have to go thousands of miles across Canada and the USA. 

This is one my favourite signs that is near Tsawwassen where I stay when i am in Vancouver. I think it is to stop road rage when you have to slow to a crawl and are unable to pass. 

I was teaching another WEG bound rider north of Toronto today. Her coach owns Flare - who has the gentle temperament of my Black Bess but the look of a large size Thomas. She gave me dog therapy.

Black Bess

Dylan Thomas

Tomorrow I drive from Toronto to Plantagenet, which is near Ottawa, to work with a rider who is totally blind. She is just starting her dressage career. The quality of dressage does not change due to disability. It is just that much harder as she has to become accustomed to 'feeling' the size of the arena as well as developing good riding and competition skills. Then I see another rider who is preparing for WEG who lives just outside Montreal.