Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Competitors Report From the Winona Washout

I've gotten all sorts of feed back from competitors regarding Winona and I really appreciate all the kind words and support.  I recently got an e-mail from a competitor that I would like to share with you on the Competitors Corner.

I'm sure her story is just one of many that we would love to hear.  Remember as part of the year long Stone Gate Farm 25th Birthday celebration we will be awarding a $100 SGF certificate to the best blogs, so submit your stories now.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Winona Washout ?

After weeks of preparation and unbelievable stress the bottom finally dropped out and I crashed this afternoon (Sun).  I woke up hearing it raining yet again and began to stress all over again about the event when I realized that it was over!!  Well it's not really over, all the clean up and post event paperwork yet to do, but all of the competitors are gone.

Here is the recap of the Winona Horse Trials.  The month of April was the wettest April on record which put us way behind schedule on course preparation.  Fortunately the farm has great drainage with good soil  and we only needed a few days of dry weather for conditions to be near perfect.  Finally we got almost a week of beautiful dry weather and we were golden.  These last week saw us frantically mowing, put fences in place, replacing old fences, building new fences, aerating, put footing around as a precaution if it should be needed, placed more gravel in the parking area and the list goes on.  Although there were odds and ends to finish up  the farm was ready to welcome their guests and provide them and their horses with a good competition and an enjoyable weekend.  Even with rain on Thurs evening the farm and the footing was still in good shape on Fri. until the storms arrived on Fri afternoon.

The competition started with 13 young horses (yearlings to three year olds) for the Future Event Horse classes.  There were several delays due to thunder and lightening.  At one point we sent everyone for cover in the near by stabling barn while we waited it out.  They finally were able to finish in the rain about an hour behind schedule. They are all definitely great event prospects as the boldly trotted through massive puddles and for the most part very well behaved youngsters many of which traveled more than 6 hours just for this class!

Watching the FEH classes from the cover of the tent
The high scoring FEH was Debra Shade's 3 year old gelding Bold Testamony, a TB/Connemara cross by Reputed Testamony out of Balmallo's Rhiannon and handled by Shade's daughter Sarah Kleintop with a score of 79.7.  For those of you who are familiar with the two three year olds Jack and Jill who came to Stone Gate Farm last winter; they made a respectable competition debut. Jill aka Key to the Stars tied for 1st in the 3 year old fillies class with a score of 77.1 and Jack aka Collinwood Super finished 3rd in the three year old colts and geldings class with a score of 75.7.l    Check out their blog  the Adventures of Jack and Jill for 'the rest of the story'.  Full results will be posted on the Stone Gate Farm website and pictures will be posted shortly. 

After the youngsters finished I still had work to do and while I was down in the stadium area I got my first look at how much the stream had swollen with the Fri. afternoon rain. This was not good, but I though if it didn't rain anymore we might still be OK, after all cross country wasn't until Sunday.  So I continued to try to get some final course preparations done until torrential rains forced me back for cover.  Drenched to the bone (fortunately it was still warm) I hung out with Penne (the secretary) and friends Karen and Nancy. That's when it the reality finally hit and I knew that, with more rain predicted, we had to cancel the cross country for the safety of all of the horses and riders.  Only once before in the 27 years of running events, mini trials, clinics and hunter paces have we had to cancel even a portion of a scheduled activity. I remember then feeling like I had been stood up at the alter.  All the preparation done, all the high hopes, all the guests have arrived, all the money being spent and bam, the big event doesn't happen!

The Preliminary ditch before it went completely over the top and washed away ALL of the footing

Like all of the competitors we were extremely disappointed (that's an understatement) that the riders and horses weren't able to enjoy the cross country courses. Having been on the competitor end of such a situation I can appreciate their frustration.  Dave and I were determined to be able to provide those competitors who came the best competition possible in the safest conditions.  As after examining the stadium course and actually having Kevin ride his horse on it to see how the ground would hold with a horse on it the decision was made to move the stadium course after the completion of dressage.

To get the word out announcements were made, text messages were sent, and a meeting was held during the lunch break to discuss our plans.  While we had a group together we served birthday cake to celebrate Stone Gate Farms 25th birthday to kick of the year long celebration (not quite what we had envisioned) and held the raffle drawing where a $25 gift card to Big Dees along with a SGF hat bag, personal cooler and a water bottle.  Sweets and prizes always help to make things a little better.  Of course the warm and dry conditions didn't hurt either.  So we made our plea for competitors to meet us at 3:00 to make the change.

During lunch break I walked around the dressage ring trying to figure out how we were going to fit Leigh Fischer's great courses into the two dressage rings.  I was pleased that we were going to be able to fit it all in except for one jump that was only used for two divisions anyway.  Too facilitate quick course changes it was decided to run the same track with a few modifications for the various levels.  While dressage was still going on Dave and a great bunch of volunteers loaded up all the standards and rails so as soon as the last horse finished dressage we were able to move right in.  While Dave was giving the judge's car a jump to get it out of the ring the riders and volunteers were putting the dressage rings away; I laid out the course.  Then we got busy putting rails and standards where they needed to go.  It was a sight to be seen with everyone pitching in and making fast work of it all. While the TD Muffin Pantaze measured distances, competitors  walked the course and I dragged the rings;  Dave and his crew went back and got all the gates, boxes, wishing wells. Muffin suggested that we pull in a portable cross country  fence for the riders to finish on just for fun. So Kyle got the Pink Panther (a rusted out Geo Tracker) the pull a few portables to the rings and by 4:10 we were ready to start the first horse.

For the first time all weekend I finally began to relax and enjoy the competition a little.  The course was riding great, the riders were appreciative for the opportunity to jump on good footing and the sun was shinning! For a brief moment I wondered if I had made the right decision about canceling cross country, but then the predicted ominous clouds began to roll in and we had to hustle the last few riders into the ring  and finished the show jumping just minutes before the skies opened up yet again.
Putting the finishing touches on the Starter Course

Each competitor had to make a decision this weekend that was the best for themselves and their horses whether they stayed home, went home before the competition started, only did dressage or stuck it out to the end and made the best of a miserable situation.   In the end we had 82 of the original 125 scheduled riders trot down center line and of those only 67 show jumped  Interestingly enough, it was the divisions that had the younger riders in it that most of the riders who stuck it out to the end. Click here for results. What the results don't show however, is the winner CANTER Sponsored award for the best scoring OTTB which went to Nancy Koch's lovely The Quinn Man.

My mother always taught me that "when you're handed a lemon, you made lemonade".  I think we managed to do that this weekend and I am convinced more than ever that Eventers and those involved in the sport of eventing are the absolutely best people on earth.  Another thing that my mother taught me is that you have to keep everything in perspective.  Compared to all they other hardships so many people are going through across the country due to weather related disasters; canceling cross country is trivial.

We realize that for those who have traveled some distance that an offer for cross country schooling doesn't do you much good but we do hope that you will come back again some time and believe me when I say that in the 25 years that we have lived here, this is the wettest that our farm has ever been!!

Many thanks to all of our great volunteers especially my secretary Penne Colao who was sicker than a dog and was still here to do her job,  to all of the riders and their friends who were so understanding and supportive and finally to Mother Nature.  Yes you heard me right, because it could have be cold & wet and all day on Sat and we wouldn't have been able to salvage anything out of the weekend. 

Overflowing water jump and uprooted bush
We may have felt a bit down like the bush in this picture, but like this bush that is already back up we are too and making plans for the next one.  So while many people may think that he Winona Horse Trials was washout; there were many positive things to come out of the weekend.

We hope you'll join us for our fall event.

Dave, Jackie, Kyle and Kevin

PS Brant said that she and Pete got some great pics and that they will be posted soon

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cross Country Updates

Finally a great day for getting a lot of work done.  We managed to get a lot checked off the 'to do list'.  Almost all of the portables are in place excluding those that will be going in the hay fields, replaced a bunch of old logs (the rock gardens near stadium, the Prelim water, and a new Beginner Novice option at the water), added a rail on the down bank for Novice, added a big fat ground line on the bank out of the water & replaced some rotting supports for the log after the ditch for Prelim.  Unfortunately there still is so much to do but I feel like we're making progress.

The weather was fabulous and made for great working conditions.  Looks like the next couple of days will be great for getting a lot more done.  Anyone is welcome to come and pitch in ;)

  Here are some pics of today's work.
Beginner Novice Water Option

New Log for Prelim Water

Big Ground-line for the Bank out of the Water

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Looking for People to "Adopt a Fence"

So this is what $310 can get you.  I hope I don't kill them off before the event ;)  Unfortunately this will only decorate a few fences ;(  If anyone would like to lend a few plants or flowers for the event let me know and I'll find a fence for you to adopt.

Pipe Barn Gets a Couple of Improvements

 Go to the Competitors Corner to see the improvements made to the pipe barn