January 1, 2001 (or, 01/01/01!)
It's 2001. Can you believe it? I can remember, back when I was in High School, and that movie came out, Space
Odyssey 2001. The thought of living until the year 2000 or 2001 seemed like science fiction in itself, totally unobtainable.
And here we are!
We had a really fun New Year's Eve party last night, the theme was 'Windchase Survivor'!
It followed the theme of the TV show Survivor, with team challenges and voting off participants, one by one.
The game featured the orange relay, a 'sucking up' contest, the slick willy catch game, a theatrical rendition of 'Indecision 2000', and a Striptease finale!
All 'G' rated, of course. Amanda Draper was the grand winner of the coveted 'Windchase Survivor' Award.
Imp, Sirius and Temair are all back in work now after their holiday, since the first of December, starting to leg up and get fit in preparation for the spring Event season.
Both Imp and Temair are very naughty doing their conditioning work, any noise is an excuse to spook and buck.
Too much pent up energy! All of the horses are officially a year older now, so I told them that it is time to start acting like grown-ups.
Things have been kind of quiet and easy around Windchase during November and December, as far as horses in work, and I have enjoyed having a little break.
But now that the holidays are over, it is time to start getting more serious.
By the time I get back from my (much needed) vacation, it will be starting to get really busy.
I am trying to get everything done that I need to at the last minute before going off on my trip, so I will make this short, as I need to start packing.
I'm off to Ireland day after tomorrow, I can hardly wait.
Oh, Danny Boy . . . .
Until next time,
December 29, 2000
Well, I think White
Christmases are over rated. We have had snow on the ground now for over a week, and it has been wicked cold.
The water troughs have all been freezing, and the ice has been packing in the horses feet when they are turned out.
It has been too cold to sprinkle the arena, so it has turned into a dust bowl.
I think we solved that problem today though, with two truck loads of wood chips added to the footing, to hold a bit more moisture.
Unfortunately, we had to spread it largely by hand with pitchforks to get it smooth and even, so it was quite a busy day.
And six more inches of snow predicted for tonight! OK, enough whining, let's get on to the fun stuff!
I am off to Ireland on January 3, for a week's vacation and possibly a little horse shopping as well.
Jineen is going with me, and so is my sister Patty. We should have a great time, and I am really looking forward to it.
We will be based in County Tipperary, and will probably travel all over the south of Ireland.
I can hardly wait. Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes are calling!
Have a Happy New Year!
Until next time,
December 15, 2000
I can't believe that it is almost Christmas already. How the time seems to fly! I still have quite a lot to do to get ready for the Holidays.
We have started a new Christmas tradition in the Dawson family. Instead of giving gifts to each other, among my siblings and I, we decided to instead donate money to a charity of our choosing, in the name of the person we would have given the gift to. Actually, my brother George started this last year, when he told us, "I decided to take the money I would have spent on your gift, and give it to a worthy cause, and to take the time I would have spent shopping for your gift, and do something I enjoy." The more we all thought about this the more we liked it, so this year my whole family is adopting that plan. My Mom and I have decided to give our Christmas money to a school in Africa for the Masai children that we learned about when we visited Kenya. They are extremely poor, the average wage for those people that have jobs is about $35 per month. They have few desks and books in the classrooms, and they don't even have a bathroom in the school. They are trying to make improvements, and we felt that this is a place that our donation could really make a difference!
We had our pump for the well break down the other day, that was an adventure. With no running water all day, we ended up having to carry water by hand for the some 65 horses at Windchase. I have always said that if worse came to worse in a situation like that, we could dip water out of the lake to water the horses in the stable, but this is the first time we have ever actually had to do it!
Yesterday we had a fabulous ice storm, in the morning after a freezing rain every leaf and twig was coated with a layer of ice. It was unbelievably beautiful, like a crystal fairyland, especially when the sun came out and the ice glistened like diamonds. There is not a day that goes that I don't go around the farm here at Windchase and appreciate how beautiful it is, but one of the most wonderful things about it is how totally different everything looks in different seasons and weather conditions.
By the way, do you know what you get when you cross Santa Claus with Britany Spears?
(Scroll to the bottom of this page for the answer)
Until next time,
Mom with the Masai people
December 5, 2000
Now that Event season is over, I am having a bit of a break, my
schedule is not quite so busy as it always is during the Competition
season. All of the experienced horses are having a vacation, so I have
time to concentrate on schooling the youngsters, and also on getting
some horses sold, to finance next year's Eventing!
We had a great Thanksgiving, hope all of you
did too. Most of my family were here, and my Mother cooked a fabulous
feast, as usual. We had our traditional 'after Thanksgiving dinner
walk', where we all go out and waddle around the farm in the dark and
cold, looking at the stars and envisioning bears chasing us. Not for
the faint of heart!
Jineen, Mom and I went to see the Redskins
play last Sunday. It was really a stinker of a game, which the Skins
lost, but we had a lot of fun anyway. Much thanks to Mike Nixon for
getting us the tickets!
I think we have figured out how to solve the
Presidential Election mess. Have them play rock, paper, scissors. One
round, no recount.
Time now to start getting ready for
Christmas, so I better get busy!
Until next time,
November 15, 2000
weekend, I was down at Oceana, near Virginia Beach, to teach a clinic at the
Oceana stables, on the military base. It is always one of my favorite
clinics of the year to teach, with a great group of students participating.
The riders there are very enthusiastic and eager to learn, so it is
rewarding to have an opportunity to work with them. Much thanks to
Katherine Waldrop for organizing the clinic.
It was particularly fun to see how well Deana
Jones is doing with her nice mare Illuminator, a former Windchase horse.
It is always exciting to watch the progress of horses that you have started
and then sold on, and Deana and Illuminator seem to be a great match.
Corrine Janowiak also is doing very well with her horse 'Donkey', and we
look forward to having her come to Windchase as a working student starting
I don't want to turn this into a political
space, but I have to say, how can anyone NOT want to make sure that the
Presidential votes are properly and accurately counted in Florida?
I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next
week, as most of my family will be here to visit during the holiday weekend.
It will be great to have a chance to see them, as we don't all get together
as often as we would like. Hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving also!
Until next time,
November 10, 2000
finished up the 2000 Event season at Virginia Horse Trials last weekend,
certainly one of my favorite events on the circuit. The Virginia
Horse Center in Lexington is an incredible facility, Brian and Penny Ross
do a great job of running an enormous number of horses on the weekend, and
the scenery and the views of the mountains from the top of the hill are
Better Angel went superbly in all three
phases to win the Training Horse division by a good margin, she thinks
Eventing is great fun and is eager to move up to Preliminary next spring!
Unfortunately, my Preliminary ride, Pedro's nice mare Almazara, got sick
just before making the trip and had to stay home, so Amanda and I had a
pretty relaxed weekend. We are not used to having so much free time
on our hands! Roberta D'Ascoli competed also, riding Pam
Rosenstock's campaigner Alex, and was third in the Novice Rider division.
A nice chance for Roberta to come full circle, after having such horrible
luck with her horse falling ill at these Horse Trials a year ago.
With the Event season over, it is nice to have a
chance to relax a little, spend a bit of time with family over the
holidays, and concentrate on the young horses. The experienced Event
horses, or 'the big guys', as they are known around the barn, are all
either on holiday or recuperation rest, so I have plenty of time to ride
the young ones and the new Kiwi horses. It has been a frustrating
competition season on the whole, as Star Bright and Enniskerry Imp both
missed their autumn Three-day Events due to injury, but the 2001 Omnibus
schedule came in the mail the other day, and we are already making
exciting plans for next year!
Also a very tough week on the Election
front! Who will our next president be? I had a dream that
aliens from outer space landed, and demanded, "Take us to your
leader," and nobody knew what to do!!!
Until next time,
A blast from the past
Jineen on her first horse Pepper in the old days.
October 29, 2000
KIWIS ARE HERE!!! The three Event horses that my friend Pedro
Gutierrez imported from New Zealand arrived in good shape this week.
They are all three really nice, and we have been having a lot of fun
starting to ride them, and getting to know them. They are all experienced
competition horses, and will be offered for sale.
Along with all of the American-bred horses
here at Windchase, and the horses imported from Ireland, as well as the
Irish sport Horse breeding program, we also have horses here that came
from England, Canada and Belgium. With the arrival of the New Zealanders,
we are now truly "Windchase International"!
On a more domestic note, we took the
young horses out on Saturday to the Dominion Valley Pony Club Horse Trials
at Foxcroft School, in Middleburg. Aside from being depressed that I was
there instead of doing the cross-country at the Fair Hill CCI***, it was a
lot of fun. I rode three horses, which made for quite a tight
schedule in the morning as times were tight, but things went smoothly,
with Amanda and Emily keeping things organized as usual, and having all of
the horses looking great and ready with time to spare. I don't know
what I would do without them!
I rode Better Angel
in her first Training level, which she won nicely. Jubilee
was again third in the Novice Horse, and she now thinks she is an old hand
at it. I also rode KC, Petra Buc's nice young horse that has been in
training with me. He made his Eventing debut in the Novice, where he
finished fourth. Melissa Hunsberger had a great go on the nice Irish
mare Rakish Rosebud, winning the dressage and
finishing fourth overall in the Training. Kylene Sevigny also did well in
Training, placing 6th, with one stop cross-country.
Don't forget to vote!
Until next time,
October 24, 2000
It has been a lovely autumn as far as the weather goes, but I have had a
disappointing Event season, with several of my horses sustaining minor
injuries to prevent them from competing in their Three-Day Events.
The latest and most depressing of these incidents was that Star Bright
injured himself on his last gallop, and will have to miss the Fair Hill
CCI***. He strained one of the ligaments in his hock during his
speed work, and pulled up quite sore. He will now have to have a
period of stall rest before resuming work. I was really unhappy
about this, because Bright is such a wonderful horse to ride, and I was
really looking forward to Fair Hill. The good news is that he should
heal up and be fine for the spring, so it could have been much worse, but
we are all pretty much bummed out about it.
On a lighter note, I had fun with the
Novice horses at Waredaca this weekend. Better Angel went nicely,
and will move up to Training next weekend. Jubilee was fantastic for
her first outing, behaving like a lady in every respect, and finishing
third in her division. She was quiet and smart, and jumped
beautifully, even though the show jumping course was quite spooky, with
plenty of Halloween decorations!
Congratulations to Joerg Eichmann of
Brandenburg Farm, who successfully moved his two nice young horses up to
Preliminary at Waredaca, winning the dressage with both of them in their
respective divisions, and finishing fourth with Donavan. Pedro
Gutierrez traveled up from Mexico to ride his gray mare Almazara in the
Preliminary with good results, finishing eighth. Working student
Anne Clayton has also moved Blackjack up to Training and completed in good
form the last two competitions, and Roberta D'Ascoli was well placed in
the Novice at Elysian Hills last week.
We are still eagerly awaiting the arrival
of the three New Zealand horses, they should be here this week, having
been delayed somewhat on the trip from the West coast. It will be a
lot of fun to get to know them and see what they can do!
Until next time,
October 20, 2000
a lovely weekend at the Radnor CCI** Three-Day Event, even though my
finish was not as good as I had hoped for. In the days leading up to
the competition, Sirius was feeling extremely fit and energetic, and not
really in the mood for dressage. I rode her three times a day, which
made her quite cranky! We had the bad luck to draw the 8:00 am
dressage ride on Friday, which was unfortunate, since it is not light
until around 7:00, and Sirius needs about two hours of warm up time.
We solved this problem nicely, however, because there was a full moon.
I was on Sirius at 5:20 am Friday morning, and we had a lovely quiet
schooling session all by ourselves in the moonlight. She was relaxed
enough to put in a credible dressage test, scoring somewhere in the middle
of the pack.
On Saturday, she thought Steeplechase was a
blast, and was exceedingly fit and strong. She was not at all tired
in the 10-minute box, and actually behaved quite badly, she did not think
she should have to wait to go out on course! She jumped boldly
around the cross-country, but unfortunately had a technical run-out in a
corner to corner combination, resulting in 20 jumping penalties. She
Show-jumped well on Sunday, lowering just one rail, and I could not be
displeased with her performance over the course of a demanding
Congratulations also to Natalie Compton,
who completed Radnor in good style with High Tech, despite an unlucky fall
when jumping off of the Irish bank.
The other exciting news is, THE KIWI'S ARE
COMING!!! My friend from Mexico, Pedro Gutierrez, has
purchased three experienced Event horses in New Zealand, and they are due
to arrive at Windchase sometime tonight. They will be offered for
sale in November, affording an exceptional opportunity to purchase a top
class competition horse from one of the leading Eventing countries in the
world. I am really excited about working with these talented horses!
Until next time,
October 8, 2000
Congratulations to Kathleen Dingus on her awesome performance at the
Morven Park CCI*. It was her first Three-day Event, and she rode
both of her horses to excellent finishes. Kathleen placed 2nd in the
Young Riders division with Excelsior Springs, and 5th with Springcroft
Tiamaria, having clean and fast cross-country rides on both horses.
It was an impressive performance for a talented young rider in her first
CCI. It is really exciting to me when my students do so well!
Kathleen Dingus and Excelsior
Unfortunately, I was not able to compete Enniskerry Imp in the CCI* as
planned. He sustained a very minor injury to a leg at his last Horse
Trials, and it was just enough to make it risky to run him in a Three-day
Event at this time. As he is young and very talented, I opted not to
take the chance, but to save him for another day. I rode Star Bright
in the Advanced division, but it was just not our weekend. He won
his dressage, but bobbled while jumping into the water on cross-country,
and I had a fall. Having bruised my back somewhat, I opted not to
continue on course. This was a disappointment, but Bright is fit and
well, and basically in good form for Fair Hill, so it should not be much
of a setback. I now look forward to taking Sirius to Radnor this
Until next time,
October 1, 2000
weekend I ran both Star Bright and Sirius in the Advanced division at
Menfelt. Star Bright was awesome, putting in a good dressage test,
show jumping clean, and then sailing around the cross-country foot
perfect, to finish fifth. It was an excellent preparation for the
Fair Hill CCI*** at the end of October!
Unfortunately, I did not have quite as good
a go on Sirius, who was doing her first Advanced. She did a credible
dressage, and show jumped well. On cross-country, she went great for three
quarters of the course, but when we got to the water jump we ran into
problems. She jumped in fine, but didn't understand the second
element, a log in the water. She started to jump, but at the last
minute put on the brakes and I took a dive. I was pretty much completely
submerged, in quite a comical fashion. In fact, I was told it was
worthy of a gold medal in the Synchronized Diving competition!
I ran Sirius back in the Intermediate this
weekend at Middleburg, and that went much better, she was fabulous around
the cross-country, so she should be in good shape for Radnor, which will
be her next outing.
We have been enjoying the fabulous autumn
weather, and the footing has been superb. I love this time of year,
with the leaves just starting to turn, and the air so clear and crisp.
This week is Morven Park, where Bright will do the Advanced, and then it
is off to Radnor the following Tuesday with Sirius. Then with Fair
Hill at the end of the month, it looks to be quite a busy October.
Congratulations to the USET Three-day Team,
who won the Bronze medal in the Olympics in Sydney, and to David O'Connor
for winning the individual Gold.
Until next time,
September 20, 2000
Valley Horse Trials was a definite success. The weather was
beautiful, the footing was good, and both of the horses I ran won their
Temair was excellent in all three phases,
and won her Preliminary division. This was her third Preliminary
Event, and having jumped quietly around the first two in good form, I
decided that she was ready to go for time on the cross-country. This
suited her perfectly, as did the rather difficult show jumping course on
Sunday, leaving her the winner.
Better Angel also won her Novice division,
putting in a much improved dressage test. This time she realized
that she was not supposed to jump the little white chains! She
jumped great, and seems to love her job! Being only four years old,
I won't compete her much this year, but she will be ready to get really
serious in the spring.
Other Windchase students did well also,
with Anne Clayton placing fourth in Novice, Kathleen Dingus having good
runs in the Preliminary with Jasper and Excelsior Springs, and Emily
Curtis completing the pre-novice in good form.
It's Menfelt this weekend, with Star Bright
and Sirius in the Advanced, and Enniskerry Imp in the Intermediate.
Sirius in particular is excited, it will be her first Advanced. I'm
looking forward to it!
Until next time,
Dec. 15: A Thank-you note from Santa Claus!