We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology,
in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
~ Carl Sagan ~
June 19, 2012
Another good competition for the Windchase riders at Seneca
Valley last weekend. The
weather was glorious, and for the most part the horses went really
Cindy had a great ride in the Preliminary wiht River Star,
jumping double clear on XC and SJ. Ballinore
also went brilliantly in the Training, getting ready to move up
soon Ė this horse shows the potential to go to the top.
Working student Tori Rosenblatt also jumped clean around the
Prelim on her Aileron, successfully completing her move-up Prelim
Novice, working student Jessica Gebbett put in a great performance
on Knickerbocker Glory, placing 4th, and Heidi was 6th
with Tulla Gold. Hannah
Milne and Emma Dixon had good performances in the BN as well.
Hannah has trained the four-year-old Lionís Share herself, and
done a great job producing him into a confidant and willing
congratulations to Emma for winning the overall series high point
award at the unrecognized Loch Moy events with her good mare
Jessica riding Knickerbocker Glory
Hannah and Lion's Share
After a busy
spring season, we will be letting down on the Eventing front just a
little bit now and concentrating on starting the three year olds and
bringing along the greenies.
But first, I am heading down to my sisterís house this weekend
for our annual Dawson Family Reunion.
I am really looking forward to getting to spend some time with
weather was perfect at Waredaca last weekend, and the horses went well.
River Star went like a champ for Cindy in his first Preliminary;
there performance was only marred by going through the wrong set of
finish flags for a technical elimination!
But they jumped great, which is what really counts.
Working student Tori Rosenblatt also had a productive run in just
her second Prelim, and Tulla Gold and Logan both went well for Heidi in
River Star and Cindy Anderson-Blank
Aileron and Tori Rosenblatt
lovely weather has continued all week, and I have been in seventh heaven
just to be riding again. Up
to three a day now!
I have been having an increased interest
in flower gardening the last few years, and this time of year there is
always something blooming. The
hydrangeas planted around my office at the barn are spectacular!
Back in the saddle again! After
not riding for three months following shoulder replacement surgery, I
got back on a horse Sunday for the first time.
It really felt marvelous to be riding again, and I have been
walking around with a big grin on my face ever since.
I still have to be careful and conservative, as I am under strict
doctorís orders to not fall off. (Actually,
the doctor doesnít want me to ride at all for another month, but I
figure what he doesnít know wonít hurt him . . . )
So no jumping for a while, and no riding the ones that are likely
to buck me off - but no matter, I am happy to just be back on a
My good Irish mare Sirius had a lovely colt by Salute the Truth a
couple of nights ago. He is
a flashy chestnut with four white socks and a blaze, and he is quite
tall and strong. I have high
hopes for his future!
May 28, 2012
Happy Memorial Day.
to say Thank You to all of the soldiers, past, present and future, who
have fought for the freedoms that most of us take for granted. Americans
place a high value on freedom, and it is something we expect - most of
us have never lived any other way. But
this is not how it is in many parts of the world.
It is the Veterans who we have to thank for the privileges that
we enjoy, those who have fought for our country and have died for her. Freedom
of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press:
Thank you, American Veterans, for ensuring that values such as
these are our way of life.
Our first foal of the year, a filly out of our nice new broodmare
Mah, by Windstar. The babies
are so much fun!
We had a good day at Loch Moy yesterday at the Starter
Trials. The young horses all
had successful outings, led by Cindy Anderson-Blank winning the
Elementary with Pat and Jim Bewelyís Irish Sport Horse Warrior Queen
in the mareís first ever Event.
Mariah Ben-David did a good job introducing Magix to
competing, and Hannah Milne rode a double clear to be in the ribbons on
Lionís Share in the Beginner Novice.
Karen Eichert also had a great cross-country round in BN
with her Lochcarron. Emma
Dixon and Jessica Gebbett both had excellent rides on their own horses
in the Novice.
Trainer Heidi Wardle schooling Tulla Gold at Windchase
star of the day for the Windchase camp was Heidi Wardle, who won
the Novice by a large margin on her dressage score of 24, riding
Guy DeCorteís talented Irish Draught, Tulla Gold.
Heidi has done a super job developing this horse as a
competitive Eventer, and though this was Tullaís first event of
the year after a layoff, he was in super form.
And by the way, Happy Birthday, Heidi Ė we are so happy
to have you as part of the Windchase Team!
Even though I am quite happy for my life to be totally
dedicated to the horses, it is nice to get away and do something
different every once and a while.
Last week Jineen and I played hooky from work at the farm
and went hiking at Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah National Park.
We have been there a number of times before in the autumn,
but this was the first time we have visited the park in the
It was a lovely day, with a few clouds and rain showers
mingled with the sunshine. We
hiked down through the forest along a stream with a series of
waterfalls, admiring the wildflowers along the way.
Then we took the trail up Old Stony Man Mountain, coming
out to incredible views at the top.
We saw deer, ravens, squirrels and several types of birds
that were new to us, but alas, no bears this time.
All in all, we had a wonderful day.
I have long resisted the notion, but
recently I finally decided to take the plunge and join Facebook.
I donít intend to use this to communicate with my friends
as I donít enjoy the lack of privacy, but rather I will use it
as a platform to display my photographs and to share some of what
is going on around the farm. So
to talk to me, please send a regular email rather than posting
messages and comments to me on Facebook.
But you may want to visit my Facebook
Page to see recent photos and Windchase happenings.
Both of Windchaseís Training horses went really well at
the Loudoun Horse Trials last weekend.
Ridden by Cindy, River Star placed 5th with a
double clear, and Ballinore also jumped clean around the
cross-country in great form.
to Windchase working student Tori Rosenblatt, who completed her
first Preliminary event at Loudoun with Aileron, jumping clear
over a challenging XC course.
And Heidi Wardle had great double clear rides in the BN
with Kilronan Farmís Bridon Loughlara and Nicola Haslingís
talented young horse Reiver.
Springtime is magical, and this year it
has been exceptionally glorious, with all the flowers and
blossoming trees lasting much longer than usual.
The pastures are carpeted in yellow buttercups, and the
wild irises along the creek are starting to bloom.
The flowering cherry by the lake was fabulous for weeks,
and recently, when the pink petals finally fluttered down to the
lake, the fish thought they were a delightful buffet.
There must have been over fifty bass, many of them over
eighteen inches long, having a feeding frenzy.
I love to see the baby Canadian geese.
Each year, half a dozen pairs of geese nest around the
lake, and it is fun to watch them raise their families.
The newly hatched goslings are fluffy yellow puffballs,
incredibly cute. One
pair that made their nest right beside the water jump hatched out
ten babies this year.
But one determined pair of geese made their nest on the
roof of the tractor shed. The
female goose sat on the eggs while the male stood guard beside her
on the roof. We
thought this was ill-advised; though this high location would be
safe from the foxes, if the eggs hatched how would they get the
babies down off the roof?
Sure enough, we discovered one
evening that they had hatched out four babies. There
they sat, the mother and father and four adorable goslings, some
fifteen feet above the ground, no food and no water, and it would
be months before the babies could fly.
I had seen nature documentaries where ducks made their
nests in trees high above the water, and when the babies were
hatched they had to jump from these lofty heights to land in the
water below. But the
difference was, those had been ducks not geese, and also, the
tractor shed was a long way from the water!
We wanted to get the babies down, but this would present a
challenge; they were at the top of the shed out of reach, the roof
was not strong enough to support a person, and the father goose
was prepared to go to any lengths to protect his babies.
(If you have even seen an adult Canadian goose in attack
mode, it is an awesome sight.)
We put some corn and grass on the roof for food, along with
a pan of water, and left them alone with the intention of getting
the babies down the next morning.
But sure enough, nature knows more
than we do. In the
morning, the goose parents apparently instructed the babies to
jump from the roof! When
we arrived at the tractor shed armed with protective blankets and
a fishing net to rescue the goslings, they were happily trundling
off across the field behind their parents. Another
was a beautiful day for Eventing at Redlands Hunt Pony Club on
Anderson Blank had great rides on both River Star and Ballinore
in the Training, with River Star finishing in 2nd.
Tori Rosenblatt had an excellent dressage test and show
jumping round, but withdrew before XC to save her horse for his
Preliminary debut this coming weekend at Loudoun.
Kilronan Farmís Bridon Loughlara
placed 4th in the BN with Heidi Wardle, and Hannah
Milne had a great go on Lionís Share, missing out on the ribbons
because her stirrup leather broke on XC, causing a technical
elimination when she got assistance by borrowing a stirrup to
Sundayís riders were not quite
so lucky with the weather, and Heidi, Jessica
Gebbett and Carrie Trimble all had to ride the Novice course in
the cold pouring rain. They
made a good job if it though, and congratulations to Jessica, who
placed 2nd with Nickerbocker Glory in their first
River Star and
Ballinore at Redlands
We had an odd thing happen last week; Cindy was driving her
truck out through the galloping field to set up some XC schooling
jumps when she drove over a deer antler, puncturing her tire and
completely ruining it. Two
days later, our farm hand Kenny drove the tractor over another
antler, which again punctured a tire and caused a flat.
The tractor repair people say they get several of these
each year, but in 25 years at Windchase we have never had this
occurrence. What are
the odds of it happening twice in three days!
We compared the two antlers, expecting them to be a pair
shed from the same deer, but alas, they do not match.
So I guess there are two more out there!
It has been a beautiful spring, but an unusually dry one,
but finally yesterday we got a bit of much needed rain.
The bonus to the dry weather, however, has been that all of
flowers and the tree blossoms have lasted much longer than usual.
Experiencing natureís glory each day is a real treat.
We took a bunch of horses
and riders to the starter trial at Loch Moy last weekend, and
Windchase riders had a successful day.
Jessica Gebbett, riding in her first ever event, won a
division of BN on her own Nickerbocker Glory, and Emma Dixon also
had a win with Stella. Hannah
Milne had a good go in the BN with Lionís Share, and Heidi
Wardle placed with Bridon Loughlara and Reiver at that level, and
with Double Agent in the Novice.
Cindy Anderson Blank was 2nd in the starter
division with Soul of Mercury in this talented mareís first
event, and also had a great run with Ballinore in the Training to
finish 6th. Look
for these horses on the For Sale page.
Jessica Gebbett on Nickerbocker, and Emma Dixon riding
Stella. Both were winners!
shoulder is coming along with rehab, and I am doing plenty of
physical therapy. Unfortunately
my doctor says I canít ride for several more months, so I
continue to live vicariously through watching others have all the
fun riding my lovely horses. It
does give me a bit more time to concentrate on my photography, so
that is the silver lining; but I am definitely looking forward to
being back in the saddle.
Easter at Windchase
April 2, 2012
At the end of each winter, when the trees are starting to
bud and the grass is showing the first hint of green, there is a
feeling of being poised on the brink of spring.
Then as the trees blossom and the early flowers open, the
woods turn a hundred shades of pastel.
But there is always one particular day when you get up in
the morning and go outside to find that suddenly there are leaves
on the trees, where the day before there were only buds.
In place of the mere promise of foliage, the buds have now
unfurled at dawn to present a million glorious leaves, all soft
and moist and new, perfect, untouched by time.
And thatís when you know that spring is here in all her
glory, full of growth and joy and potential.
The spring Event season has started well for us, with
Windchase horses getting out for their first competitions of the
year. At the Loch Moy
combined test in March, Hannah Milne took one of Windchaseís
youngsters, Lionís Share, to his first ever competition and came
home with a win in the Elementary Ė this is a particularly nice
accomplishment for Hannah as she has mostly trained Lion herself.
Heidi Wardle was 4th on Kilronan Farmís
Briden Loughlara in this division. Emma
Dixon also had a win at BN with Stella.
Cindy Anderson-Blank placed second in the training with
both River Star and Ballinore, and I am looking forward to
watching these two talented horses compete through the season and
move up to Preliminary soon.
Then this past weekend we attended
the Morven Park horse trials.
Cindy Anderson-Blank had a great ride on her thoroughbred
Windsor in all three phases, finishing fifth with a double-clear.
Cindy also rode Lochcarron to fifth in the BN, and Tara
Swersie was fifth with her talented young horse Whiskey Tango.
Tori Rosenblatt had a double clear in the Training with Aileron,
in preparation in moving up soon.
One month and counting!
It has been four weeks since I had my shoulder replacement
surgery - I would like to say that time flies, but actually the
first few weeks went by at a bit of a crawl.
Sitting in a recliner chair was the only really comfortable
position, preferably combined with an ice pack and an oxycodone
pill. But now I am
getting a little more mobile, and am able to spend at least part
of the day at the barn teaching lessons.
In the meantime, we have been
enjoying the earliest and warmest spring ever, following on the
heels of an exceptionally mild winter.
The flowers are blooming, the grass is coming in, and the
footing has been great for cross-country schooling all month.
The competition season starts this weekend, and the horses
are going well. Because
of my shoulder I wonít be able to ride for at least several more
months, but I will be living vicariously by watching Cindy and
Heidi riding in the Events!
Sadly, we bid farewell to an old friend: Lucky the duck
passed away last month. Lucky
originally arrived at Windchase a dozen years ago as one of a
group of thirteen newly hatched male ducklings that had been part
of a school classroom project.
Windchase became their home, and they grew and thrived. As
the young drakes matured, in the absence of any female ducks, they
attempted to mate with the Canadian geese and with each other, but
neither option was particularly successful.
the years, the other ducks were prey to foxes and other predators,
but Lucky seemed to have a knack for avoiding being eaten.
The other ducks were picked off one by one, until finally
only Lucky was left. He
led a mostly solitary life, hanging out with the Canadian geese.
But in his final weeks, Lucky seemed to have found true
happiness; several pairs of wild mallards came to the Windchase
lake, and they seemed intent on staying.
Lucky was thrilled to have company of his own species, and
could be seen showing the mallards around the lake, and bringing
them up to the house for corn.
But Lucky mysteriously went
missing about three weeks after the mallards arrived.
We discovered a group of vultures eating some feathered
remains beside the lake, and Lucky has not been seen since.
Did he become involved in some kind of duck love triangle?
We donít know if it was accident or he met with fowl
play, but it was clear that he finally met his demise.
I will miss the pitter patter of his little webbed feet,
waddling up from the lake in the evenings for corn.
1999 Ė 2012
was a valiant drake
Who lived on the Windchase lake
The last of thirteen
He was kind of a queen
But the vultures attended his wake.
the years he survived
Of other duck friends he was deprived
But for this lonely drake
It was a fatal mistake
When he tried to take mallards as wives
*This literary eulogy is definitely an indication of too many pain
Well, I survived the surgery, or at least so far.
On February 21st I underwent a total shoulder
replacement surgery, where they replace both the head of the
humerus and the shoulder socket with an artificial ball-and-socket
joint made of titanium and plastic.
I try to avoid thinking too much about the details of how
they remove the existing joint and get the new one in, but on the
whole it is a fairly serious and gruesome procedure.
have been having progressively worse problems with my left
shoulder for a number of years, but its condition has rapidly
deteriorated over the last 12 months, to the point where it hurt
all the time, and it has significantly affected my ability to
ride. I finally
decided it was time to do something about it.
It is very important to get the right doctor for such a
complicated surgery, and after much research I chose Dr.
Edward McFarland, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; he is
one of the leading shoulder specialists in the world.
went back yesterday for a post-op check and everything looks good
so far, and I started physical therapy today.
I have major rehab ahead of me, and it takes between six
months and a year to totally recover from this operation.
But it is already starting to hurt less, and I have been up
walking around in the spring sunshine a bit. Some
people might think worst is behind me now, but I know the hard
part is just beginning Ė that would be staying off a horse for
three or four months!
Today was a beautiful warm sunny day for February, and I
went for a lovely hack on one of my homebred youngsters.
I made sure to enjoy every moment of it, because it is the
last time I will get to go out for a ride for at least several
am going up to Johns Hopkins Hospital tomorrow to have a total
shoulder replacement surgery.
I have really bad arthritis in my left shoulder, and it has
gotten steadily and rapidly worse over the last year.
It has now reached the point where I can hardly use the arm
at all, I can barely ride, and it hurts all the time.
So time to do something about it!
I have found an excellent shoulder specialist, and he is
going to give me a new shoulder joint.
I am not looking forward to the surgery or the months of
rehab, but I am looking forward to taking a positive step toward
getting better, and just getting on with it!
good news is I have a fabulous staff at the moment, so I have no
worries about the horses continuing in their training and
progress. Jineen does
a great job running the barn, and with riders like Cindy and
Heidi, the horses will all stay in top shape.
I have a super group of working students at the moment in
Meredith, Hannah, Mariah and Tori.
And as always, Kenny keeps the place looking good.
So much thanks to the great Windchase Team!
And in the meantime, if you e-mail me in the next week or
so, donít worry, I will reply when I can, but it may have to
wait a week or two.
February 12, 2012
Itís been a pretty mild winter so far, but it has turned
bitter cold this weekend. So
on that note, I think it is a good time to read about my Caribbean
vacation to RoatŠn!
Click here for Tropical
January 28, 2012
Hello from the island of RoatŠn,
Honduras, where I am having a great vacation with my sister and
her family. Today we
went on a shark dive; check out the video I took with my new
January 21, 1012
Sleet, snow, freezing rain, wintry mix Ė that is a
sampling of our weather today.
A patchy ugly couple of inches of snow under a layer of ice
Ė tomorrow it will be a bit warmer but still sloppy and wet.
But hey, I donít care Ė by this time tomorrow I will be
sitting on the beach in the Caribbean, sipping one of those drinks
with the little umbrellas in it!
Winter is not my favorite season, but so far the weather
has been pretty mild, and I am hoping that trend will last for a
while. Although the
majority of our schooling has been in the indoor arena, we have
been able to hack the horses out often, and we even got to do a
little cross-country schooling last week.
Windchase jumping clinics are going strong, and we have been
having a lot of fun jumping on Sundays.
Click here for more information if you would like to join
New Year's Day at Windchase
In the meantime, I am getting
ready to have a little fun in the sun! I
fly out this weekend for a scuba diving trip with my sister and
her family. We will be
staying on the island of Roatan, in Honduras Ė which, in case
you donít know, is in Central America.
I am really excited about the trip, and will tell you more
about it when I get back. I am looking forward to testing
out my new underwater camera!
hope some of you have enjoyed my Africa
Journal from my trip to Botswana last July.
In case you read it early on, I have now added videos of an
adorable baby elephant learning how his trunk works Ė if you
missed it, go to Botswana
January 1, 2012
Happy New Year 2012!!
Finally, it's ready - my travel journal
from the fabulous trip Jineen and I took last July to
Africa. Sorry it took so long to get posted, but things are
busy and I wanted to do it right. I hope you enjoy the
photos and the account of our travels. Feedback is always