Think Spring!

004As I write this, winter storm Nemo is invading New England.  I hope everyone is safely at home and all their animals are also sheltered from the blowing snow and wicked cold.  Virginia was spared and my emerging daffodils, peony tips, and Rose-of-Sharon buds are thankful.  Seeing my flowers begin to return to my garden beds reminds me that spring is not that far away.  If we can make it through February, any winter weather that decides to visit in March usually doesn’t stick around all that long.  Good thing since I’ve seen some dressage schooling shows on the calendar for March, and by April, winter is just a memory and we can look ahead to pretty days spent at the local show grounds.

I’ve spent some time looking at the available shows and trying to plan Ike’s second show season.  He spent his inaugural year doing Intro classes at licensed and schooling shows and then transitioning to Training Level only at schooling shows.  Because of the classes and shows we entered, I didn’t have to empty the pocketbook to obtain my USEF Membership, my USDF Participating Membership, Ike’s USEF registration, and Ike’s USDF registration.  Since our goal for the coming year is to qualify for the USDF/GAIG Region 1 Dressage Championships, I had to bite the bullet and empty the checkbook to get us street legal for licensed shows.  I’m now scraping together the funds to enter the necessary shows in hopes of qualifying.  I’ve also got my checklist of things to get done before our first scheduled outing on April 29, 2013:

1) Get the trailer inspected.  The inspection sticker expires this month, so hopefully the weather will cooperate and it will get done so that we are safe to travel.

2) Clean out the trailer dressing room.  I’m really not certain how the chaotic state happened, but every time I open the door, I cringe.  Okay, I lie, I KNOW how it happened, but I’m just in a deep state of denial that I actually let it happen.  I am so anal about everything else at the barn that it is so wrong to let the dressing room exist in such a state.  Unfolded blankets, a Christmas gift bag with trash, unidentifiable packages of stuff, and none of it where it should be.

3) Try on my show clothing.  Need I explain why this is necessary?  I did already purchase a new pair of white gloves for this year.  The ones I have been using since 2007 are the color of dirty street snow and it is time for them to retire.

4) Condition and polish my boots. Dreadful, but necessary chore.  I’m seriously considering paying the local shoe repair place or a Marine to do it for me.

5) Tame Ike’s mane.  Yes, there will be a spa day coming up soon.  I openly admit that I am not proficient at pulling and thinning a mane.  I compare it to plucking my eyebrows,  I do the bare minimum to prevent unibrow for fear that I will overpluck and be left with bare skin where hair should be.  My greatest worry is that I will pull too much mane in one place and not enough in others leaving no alternative but to roach it and pray for quick regrowth.

6) Work on my half halt.  Practice centerlines.  Improve our up and down transitions.  Work on my half halt.  Improve our stretch down trot.  Learn half halt timing.  Perfect our circles.  Square halts.  More half halts.  Hmm, there seems to be a preponderance of work on my end in this entry.

7) Do something really nice for my husband.  Without his support, I would not be on this journey with Ike.  Without him, Ike and I would be hacking to shows.  Without him, shows would be lonely.  He is our greatest cheerleader.

8) Organize my paperwork.  All our necessary registration paperwork, rule books, vet certificates are shoved into a file box.  It is all in one place, but that place is my home office and that will not help me when I’m at a show scratching my head while trying to remember membership numbers or test patterns.  Guess I need to accomplish task #2 or fear losing this paperwork in the chaos.

9) Measure my whip.  How awful it would be to put in the ride of a lifetime to only have it negated by a whip that is 1 centimeter too long.

10) Take time to breathe and just spend time with Ike.  While time in the saddle is important to success, I believe the real partnership bond forms with time spent out of the saddle.  The new spring grass will be here soon enough.  I will steal some time to find a quiet spot at the barn and let Ike graze while I stroke his neck and back and remind him how lucky I am to have him in my life.


Psst, Hey You. Yeah, You.

003Shhh, be very, very quiet.  Mom doesn’t know that I’ve got her laptop or maybe she does know, and I’m going to be in big trouble tomorrow for dribbling water and grain all over the keyboard while I type.  She is a little OCD about those kind of things.  I like having a snack while I share my thoughts on the latest goings on around the barn.  Snacks help get the creative juices flowing.

The “trailer riding” season is supposedly over for the year.  I’m told that when the weather turns cold that Mom and the other people who go to horse shows hibernate for the winter or they go to Florida to prance in the show rings down there.  Pretty sure that we aren’t headed south for the winter, but right now, there really isn’t any reason to leave Virginia.  It has been in the 60s the past few days and today it made it to 70 degrees.  It was really warm with my fuzzy winter coat.  Mom gave me the day off today since I’ve been busy the past 5 days.  I like days like these.  She still comes to the barn to see me and my dirty brother.  She is a walking treat dispenser on non-riding days.  You get snacks for just giving her a little bit of attention.  Cigar and I have her so well trained.  Good Mom.

Everyone tells me that I’m starting to fill out and develop a topline.  Not sure what that means or where it is.  It appears to mean that Mom has permission to bounce on my back while I trot rather than doing that up-and-down thing.  She is doing a better job at bouncing, but still needs to relax her hips a bit more and get a little deeper in the saddle.  I make sure to let her know when she needs to stop bouncing.

Mom and Ms. C have still been fussing at me when I yank on the reins.  Such meanies for not letting me have any fun at all.  I do know that if I am quick enough with my head toss, I can pull Mom off-balance or even pull the reins out of her hands.  She is not amused by these antics.  She continues to also frown on my “extended canters” while we are working.  A boy just needs to blow off steam now and again.  Not sure why I can’t do it with Mom on board.

I guess I’d better try to behave since I don’t want to be on the naughty list with Cigar.  I have to say though, for a horse that always seems to be on the naughty list, he does seem to have the life of Riley…he still gets fed really well, he doesn’t have to do any work and spends his days amusing himself in his paddock, and even after he tries to bite Mom while she grooms him, she still gives him a hug and a treat.  Ha, ha, what he doesn’t know is that I get three treats when I do a good job.  Going to try to do a really good job tomorrow at my lesson and go for the whole pocketful. 🙂

Who is That Horse Staring at Me?

It has been a busy couple of days for Ike and now he is tucked safely into his stall for the night…and don’t worry, that pile of hay is now on the other side of the stall.  There would have been loud protests if it wasn’t.

I was down for the count yesterday.  My snot gland kicked into overdrive, and I spent the day in bed begging the cooties to go away.  They have been around for a week and have outstayed their welcome.  Since I wasn’t riding, I had Ms. C pop on Ike to help gauge his recovery and our progress.  Ms. C felt some wobbliness in Ike’s right hind to start especially when she tracked to the right at the trot.  She would stop and restart and gave Ike the chance to work out the kinks.  Ike was stable tracking left.  By the end of her ride, Ms. C felt that Ike had improved and that we must be still dealing with some stiffness from the vaccines.  Thankfully, it is not lameness.  Too bad I can’t fire up the hot tub and let Ike take a soak.  Now that would be a sight to see.

When I awoke today, the first thing I did was breathe in and out through my nose!  It is sad the things that can make me happy.  But having had to mouth breathe for the past week, it was nice to know that I’m now on the road to recovery…hope I can walk fast enough to catch up to Ike.  I arrived at the barn with about an hour to groom Ike and load the trailer.  Wouldn’t you know it, today was the day that Ike decided to wallow in the new mud like a pig.  Worst part was that it was still wet when I had to start grooming, so all the curry comb did was smear the mud into pretty swirls.  I broke out the bucket and rag and did my best to wipe away the offending mud.  [Note: As I was riding Ike today, I noticed the clumps of mud I missed in his mane.  Nice touch.]  Poor Ike was also doused in show sheen – it was my feeble attempt to disguise his filthy condition.  Perhaps Becky would be blinded by the gleam of his coat…fat chance.  Beauty shop time was over and I quickly loaded the trailer.  Wish I could have two of everything to avoid this process, but the long-lost rich uncle has still not materialized, so we load and unload with each outing.

Today was another milestone for Ike – his first experience in an indoor arena.  The indoor today is large and bright, the doors were open, and I hoped for the best.  Ike would not stand still at the mounting block.  He kept sidepassing away from it, so Becky finally suggested I walk him around a couple of times to let him check things out.  It wasn’t until the ride home that I realized that Ike saw his reflection in the mirror near the mounting block and didn’t realize that he was staring at and moving away from himself.  Silly boy.  Ike made me a very proud horsey mom today.  Becky liked his look, his demeanor, and his movement.  She repeated the same things I hear from Ms. C on a regular basis – too much inside rein, you are overbending the neck, sit up, your weight is too much to the inside/outside, don’t lean back in the halt…hmm, yet again rider error is the source of the problem.  Too help with my tendency to be too strong with one rein, she had me bridge my reins and ride.  Ah, a bit of a light bulb moment and what a difference it made to Ike’s straightness.  It forced me to keep my hands quieter and steadier.  Not something I had even considered trying, but I will continue to bridge the reins on subsequent rides to rethink my overuse of the inside rein.

I thoroughly enjoyed the clinic today.  Got to visit with old friends, see some lovely horses, and come away with some new tips and the feeling that Ike’s journey down centerline is going to be a blast as he matures.

Living Vicariously

My wild riding days are well behind me, and I now choose to live vicariously through the Olympic eventers.  As a young rider, helmets were unheard of at my barn.  I look back in wonder at how we all survived virtually unscathed considering the foolish things we did on horseback.  Bareback rides on the trails, into the ravine, over the river and through the woods…(now you’ve got that song in your head, don’t you?)  Silly games like hanky pick up, rider pick up, and red rover, red rover.  Somehow I never sustained any significant injuries except for my pride.  One day, I thought I had my girth tight enough during a rousing game of red rover, red rover, but alas, I did not, and after one very quick rollback, slid off the side of my horse with the saddle now suspended under my horse.  Needless to say, I never let that happen again.  We’d also jump anything we could sans helmet.  Ah, the foolishness and stupidity of youth.

These days dressage fits my lifestyle.  Keeping four on the floor so to speak suits me just fine.  My supervisor and regional director already get white knuckles when I describe my days at the barn.  I can only imagine what they’d say if I told them I was taking up eventing while showing them a photo of 20A from today’s Olympic cross country course.  [It was the steep drop portion of the Royal Greenwich Borough.]  They’d somehow revise my job description to prohibit any and all equine pursuits.  Since that would be unthinkable, I’ll stick with the more staid pursuit of dressage.  Training a 4-year-old is good enough at this point in my life…but I wouldn’t be above going for a good gallop every now and again.  Think I’ll wear a helmet as well.

Ike enjoyed his day off today as well as a handful of peppermints.  Plan to ride tomorrow and work on our transitions from free walk to medium and stretch down trot to medium trot without performing “the giraffe.”


Red and Blue Banner Day

I love my big man.  He gets four gold stars for the schooling show today: the first one for being a gentleman for getting on and off the trailer with no fuss, the second one for being very well-behaved with his ground manners for tacking and waiting his turn, the third one for his performance in Training Level Test 1, and the fourth one for his second showing in Training Level Test 2.

This was the first show that Ike was asked to do two Training Level tests…and let us not forget that I just rode the current Test 2 for the first time ever from start to finish this past Thursday.  We arrived with plenty of time to tack and warmup – in all honesty, I could have arrived 30 minutes later and been just fine.  I’m just used to tacking taking 45-60 minutes as I played ring-around-the-rosy with Cigar in order to get the saddle in place.  But Ike being the stellar boy that he is, stood quietly and he was tacked in under 15 minutes.  Since we were early, I walked him to the competition area to observe the warmup ring and the competition arena.  I had many friends at this show who’d never met him, so he preened from the attention.  I have no doubt that he knew people were saying nice things about him.

Here we are in warmup receiving instruction from Ms. C.  This picture cracks me up since it looks like Ike is really trying to listen to and understand the direction we are receiving.

Test 1 was up first.  If you remember, we got a 58.3% in our first attempt at this test.  Today——-69.375%!!  Woot woot!  Ike was spot on today.  Canter transitions were prompt and correct.  We got an 8 for our stretch down trot which really helped our score since it is a coefficient movement.  Decent stretch down walk; I could have asked for more, but didn’t want to goose him and then really get hit.  We did get hit on our transition back to medium walk since Ike likes to show off his giraffe neck at that moment.  Our centerlines were not that spectacular in this test, but good enough.  The judge liked us as a pair and liked his trot.  I was in awe that we got first place – a totally unexpected, but delightful outcome for this ride.

We had an hour before Test 2.  Ike seemed a bit distracted in warmup (there were people starting to leave which seems to worry him) and the distraction continued into our ride…let me show you our entry halt…

“Look Mom, people are leaving me!  Oh dear, what if I am left alone?”  The trot to the right was also not our best effort.  Ike flattened and the hind end started its own orbit on our trot circle.  I got him back on the trot diagonal, so we were successful with the canter transition and our canter circle.  Our stretch down trot in this test was a 5.5 effort – Ike never really committed to the stretch.  The rest of the test was steady with lots of 6’s and 7’s.  Focus returned for the final halt (8).  When it was all said and done, we got a 67.857% and second place.  I’m tickled with Ike’s performance with this test as well. Again noted in the comments was the need to work on the transition from free walk to medium walk – point taken and understood.  The judge also commented that the front and hind ends sometimes appear to belong to two different horses – just not in sync.  I had to laugh since she was spot on with her observation.  She said that in time with consistent, correct work, we should see the problem less and less.

It was great to be amongst friends today.  Weather was great for the end of July.  Ms. C was present to witness her pupil’s success.  My supportive husband was there to cheer for us, and he was able to relax rather than having a white knuckle grip on the warmup ring with one hand and the cell phone in the other ready to dial 911.  Feeling very lucky as the day winds down.  Life is good.


Big sigh of relief.  Yesterday, I finally rode the Training Level Test 2 test from start to finish and the best part, I remembered it.  While it was not perfect, if we can ride the test on Sunday like we did yesterday, I will be happy.  Yesterday was only my second time on Ike in the past two weeks.  Some might say that it isn’t enough time to properly prepare for a show.  I say, that is life, and I’m just going to enjoy the rides I do have.  He is young.  He is fit.  He is smart.  I don’t think the time off has hurt his training at all.  So we don’t progress as fast as others.  Dressage training is not a race.  It is a process and a journey to be enjoyed.  There is no ribbon for the first one to reach a particular level by a particular time.

It has been over a month since Ike last rode on the trailer, so today before my lesson, I decided to load Ike for a refresher.  When I tried to unsnap the lead rope to thread the chain, I couldn’t.  The snap had rusted and I couldn’t open it enough to remove it from the halter.  Sigh.  So I decided to try loading without the chain….success!  Ike and I walked right up to the trailer, I said, “Ike, load up,” and my big star walked right on like it was the easiest thing in the world.  One less thing to worry about on Sunday.

Now back to the riding part.  Today was my first lesson since before vacation and my last chance to get Ms. C’s input and have her critical eye cast upon us.  She is tough!  Nothing gets by her eagle eye.  She was pleased with our canter work today, but our trot work was not up to par.  Weight was not in the right place and Ike kept trying to snatch the reins.  Not sure if Ike had some gas or just needed to poo, but for the first part of the lesson, he’d move a bit stilted in his hind end and keep lifting his tail.  We took a brief walk break to see if that might encourage something to happen.  Gas and a bit more gas.  Then I “pushed” the gas pedal and we continued working.  The trot work improved, but I also worked harder to get and keep a good connection over his back (read: many, many, many half halts).  We did ride Test 2 from start to finish – solid canter work, okay stretch down, and a 50/50 split on the trot work.  BTW, Ike nailed our centerlines today.  Fingers crossed that we can find that 9.5 again on Sunday for our final halt.

We only practiced the Test 1 canter transitions since at the last show Ike was disunited on the left which got us a 4 from the judge.  To help him keep his weight to the inside, I hinted at a counter flexion.  Boom!  Big man rolled into that left lead canter – what a yummy transition.  The canter itself was also fabulous.  If you recall, the canter is picked up on the second half of the 20 meter circle at A.  When we hit that open side of the circle, centrifugal force still haunts us and we fall out.  The slight counter flexion just helps prevent the fall to the outside and gives us a better chance of canter success.  It is only a temporary thing until Ike develops his self carriage (grows into those legs).

Decent ride times for Sunday T-1 at 9:52 and T-2 at 10:55.  Slightly cooler temperatures predicted.  Fingers are crossed that we clear the 60% mark.  Stay tuned…

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

I could have ridden yesterday, but thought that it was a bit too hot (my car said it was 104 degrees when I left the house).  I would have ridden if I’d realized that there was a nice breeze at the barn and the temperature was really only 94 degrees, but since I’m not Bent Jensen at PVDA’s Ride for Life (, I did not ride in my yoga shorts and sneakers.  I should have packed my riding clothing just in case.  Ah, hindsight, how clear you are.

My car said it was only 99 degrees when I left the house today, but the stifling humidity returned overnight, so it felt like 102 degrees with not a cloud to block the sun.  What was I crazy enough to do?  My riding lesson!  The horses were having a mid-day siesta with fans a-blowin’ when I arrived, and Ms. C and Mr. D had hosed them down to help bring down the body temperature.  Grooming was the bare minimum, i.e., the saddle and girth areas and the hooves.  We were ready to go in under 20 minutes.

Ike’s walk was nicely forward which was surprising given the weather conditions.  His trot was lovely, I mean really lovely.  Well connected, balanced and rhythmic.  Ms. C commented that the front and hind ends appeared to be moving as one cohesive unit.  Yea!  Progress.  So that means that either the boy is maturing into his body mass and the topline is getting stronger and/or the rider who sits astride the middle section is doing a better job with her half halts and aids to better help Ike find that sweet spot.  Since most everything is dependent on the rider, I guess we have to say that the rider is finally catching a clue.  Even his canter work was solid.  He hit his transitions and I was actually able to ask for and achieve a shoulder-fore on the right lead.  Ike still tends to get a bit quick to the left, especially down the long side, “Wee, let’s go faster!”  It too shall get better in time.  Total ride time – approximately 35 minutes before the rider cried Uncle, but I will take 35 minutes of the solid work we had today over an hour of, “Are you talking to me?” work with little accomplished.

I have to say that I thought I was in good physical condition, but this heat and humidity kicked me hard in the backside.  The weekend is not looking promising for riding here in Virginia.  We are facing more very high temperatures with heat index values well over 100 degrees by mid-afternoon.  I do so love the cloying humidity that plagues Virginia in the summer.  It will be interesting to see what my car registers as the temperature each day.  Maybe I can use the car as a roaster and slow-roast some of the 8 pounds of tomatoes we received from our CSA share.

Three Cheers for Ike

Another blue ribbon day for Mr. Ike.  I could not be prouder of my 4 year-old and how he handled himself today.  I am exhausted, but a power nap this afternoon has kept me going long enough to get this blog post done.

The day started early, but what a gorgeous day for a dressage show.  I finished Ike’s braids while he was still in his paddock – such a good boy to be so cooperative rather than playing catch me if you can.  He walked on the trailer like a champ and we were on our way.  We arrived at the show grounds about 90 minutes before my first ride.  Ike was much calmer this time out.  Could it be that he is gaining confidence?  No whinnying at every other horse.  No rearing in our stall.  Ms. C arrived soon after we did; we are very lucky to have her support for our centerline adventures.  I know we’d be lost without her guidance.  Hopped onboard with 45 minutes to warm up.  The scary tractor was nowhere to be seen, so warm up went smoothly.  The judge’s booth was scary today…you just never know.  I was the only one in the Intro B class, so this blue ribbon gets an asterisk like Ike’s first show ribbons.  Even with his nervousness near the judge, Ike got a 69.375%.

Had a 90 minute break before the next test.  Ah, now Ike had to learn the restart.  I did leave his saddle on so he understood that work was not over.  Ike had no problems with the second warmup.  Got my first test back just before my second ride.  You would think that you had to use differential equations to score with how long the scoring takes at shows.  The judge wanted Ike to be more forward, so we rode the edge for Intro C.  Overall, that strategy worked, but we did break into canter on our circle to the left…so we went a bit too far over the edge on that one.  Such is life.  67.75% for this test with both canter leads correct and a 9.5 for our final centerline!!!  How cool is that?

Had a two-hour wait for our Training Level debut, so Ike was untacked and had some down time.  I was feeling confident about the restart, but that balloon was deflated when we arrived at warmup.  The water truck and the big tractor were out working on Ring 3.  Pretty sure that Ike believed the boogie man was hiding in one of them.  Warmup was challenging with a couple of explosive airs-above-the-ground canter transitions that I didn’t ask Ike to do.  I was hopeful that the chaos would be over before my ride, but I WAS WRONG.  It got worse.  The tractor was parked right outside our arena as we entered, but then it started up and headed to Ring 2 just as we entered at A.  The water truck then went into the warmup arena…boogie men everywhere.  Ike was a bundle of nerves under me.  I could feel his heart pounding through the saddle.  Needless to say our individual movement scores took a hit as well as the collectives.  58.6% for our Training Level debut, but we still won the class.

So Ike now has three shows behind him and he keeps getting better with each one.  I think he is going to be a super dressage mount as he gets older and gains more confidence.  We now have 5 weeks before our next outing – a schooling show hosted by my local chapter.  Lots of time to decide what tests to ride.  Stay tuned!

Runaway, runaway

So above is a tranquil photo of Ike…rewind to about 30 minutes earlier and it was a much different picture…

Ike and I had just finished our short and productive ride.  I initially worked on establishing our forward and rhythmic trot -no four wheelers revving their engines today.  We then rode Intro B and Training 1 back to back.  I was pleased with our efforts.  Broke into trot during our right lead canter, but that was our only bobble.  I had started the ride with my dressage whip, but dropped it near the mounting block after a few minutes since Ike’s right shoulder was not as pushy today.  I had finished my ride, run up my stirrups, and then leaned over to pick up my whip.  For whatever reason, it startled Ike and the reins slipped from my hand.  Luckily, they were still over my his neck so there was less of a chance for Ike to step on them.  I said, “whoa,” but Ike said, “No,” and he struts off looking like a high-stepping Dutch Harness Horse.  Neck was up, tail was up, and his front legs were perfect right angles.  You could have served drinks on his forearms.

Well Ike’s antics got all the horses fired up.  Why does he get to run around the barnyard????  Thankfully, all the gates were closed.  And more thankfully, the farrier was done working on my friend’s horse.  We were able to catch the runaway fairly quickly and calm the barnyard.

Ride times aren’t too bad for a recognized show:  8:48, 10:37, and 12:37.  Tests run Intro B, Intro C, and Training 1.  If all goes well, I should have my first two scores in hand before the final ride.  Same judge for all three rides as well.  Best news – Ms. C will be there to school us!

Goals for Sunday:  1) Breathe and enjoy the ride; 2) Keep our impulsion on the circles; and 3) Get the correct leads for canter.  Hopefully Ike’s Training Level debut will go better than Cigar’s did.  We scored a 49% (yes, that number is correct) since Cigar decided that he was not going to canter that day.  Much like a young child who clams up when Mom asks them to speak in public.  Would love to get above 60% for Ike’s first try.  Is that too much to ask?

Do You Ride?

Imagine if you will the following picture as you are walking through the grocery store: before you stands a woman with a ball cap shoved on her head to hide her sweaty, helmet-flattened hair, her shirt is also wet with sweat and has a green smear of something across her chest, her tan pants are close-fitting and also have unidentified stains on them, and she has on a pair of tie-dyed Zocks with her feet wearing a pair of clogs.  As you approach her, there is an intoxicating aroma of horse, sweat, and hay with a hint of leather conditioner lingering in the background.  Do you ask that woman, “Do you ride?”  Really?!  The devil on my shoulder is goading me to say, “why no I don’t, why do you ask?”  The angel on my other shoulder twists my earlobe until I do say, “why yes I do.”  Why else would I  be clad in such odd attire?  Unless I was aiming to get my photo on the last page of Glamour magazine with the black box obscuring my identity, there really isn’t any other reason to look that awful except when you are done riding but desperately need groceries.

Have had two productive rides this weekend.  I have tried to focus on our trot rhythm and my proper timing for half halts.  Sometimes I really feel like an uncoordinated klutz in the saddle.  It gives you a true respect for those riders trying out for the US Olympic team who regularly score in the high 70s at Grand Prix.  In any case, I persevere and continue to practice.  Still debating on whether or not to carry my whip at the next show.  Sometimes it seems to help, but shifting the whip from one hand to the other is another one of those klutz-inspired moments for me.  And then I have to decide where does the whip need to be to make it useful.  I could really use it behind my left leg when asking for right lead canter, but within a stride desperately need it at the right shoulder to keep us from collapsing to the right.  AARGGH.  It will have to be a show day decision and based on how Ike feels in warm up.

We did a practice session with the trailer yesterday.  Ike performed flawlessly.  Phew.  One less thing to fret about.

Ike also is in need of another beauty school day.  It seems like his mane has grown at least an inch since April and he is also sporting a Miami Vice five o’clock shadow.  Put that on the list of things to do this week.  The dry cleaner did manage to remove the slobber from my show coat.  Thank goodness they put the protective plastic sleeve over the clean item…I managed to promptly drop the coat as soon as I arrived at the barn.  Couldn’t even make it the 50 feet from my car to the trailer.  Klutz.

One week from today is our Training Level debut.  I think I’m actually a bit nervous already.  It will be a long and sleepless week.