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What an incredible weekend at Happ’s!

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hobbyhorse23

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Warning: LONG!!

I’m so overwhelmed with feeling right now I don’t even know where to begin. Last fall I completed the Happ’s “VSE Driving Trials Twice!” in September knowing that it would be Kody’s last event before stifle surgery and completely unsure what the future held for us. It was bittersweet and I admit to shedding a few quiet tears in his stall after midnight as I faced the possibility that this would be our last event if things didn’t go right. Despite locking up badly all weekend Kody came home from that event with a second place from Saturday, a first place from Sunday, the 2007 Preliminary Level Happ’s Challenge award, Best Sunday Prelim Overall and Most Improved for our level. He was amazing and I knew to the depths of my soul that if this was our last run we had made it a good one.

October came and Kody had his medial patellar ligaments split in an effort to correct his locking stifle. This was a ridiculously expensive surgery at my local hospital and the recovery was long and painful. It took quite awhile for any improvement to show and when it finally came it was minimal. By January he was returning to full work and we trained hard through the dreary Washington winter. I took him to Oregon in February for an ADT and was dismayed to see that not only were his stifles worse than before but now he had developed ulcers in addition. We treated that and kept training but by early March it was obvious that Kody was deeply unhappy and I felt my back was up against a wall. The first surgery had been so expensive I could not afford to do another one but I could not let my boy continue to suffer either. It wasn’t a matter of not being able to show him anymore; he was miserable just standing in his paddock and this had become a quality of life issue. I am not a weepy person but his despair had me in tears literally every other day. That poor horse is so brave and so full of life but after four years of pushing through this condition it had finally worn his spirit down and I couldn’t watch him struggling anymore. I talked obsessively to everyone who would listen or had the least little bit of experience with the surgery and with the sense of a deadline looming I wordlessly and tearfully begged God to guide Kody and me. I posted about what happened then but the short version is things fell into place with a cosmic “click” and we did the patellar desmotomy with little warning on March 17th. If I needed any proof of divine providence it came when I looked at the calendar the next day- Kody had gone under the knife on St. Patrick’s Day. Our chosen color? Green. Our emblem for the last four years? The shamrock.

Recovery from this surgery was far quicker and it was clear within 48 hours that while sore Kody was experiencing tremendous relief. In appraising his gait with an eye newly sharpened by the previous recovery it seemed to me that there was no way we’d be ready for our summer shows but I went ahead and sent in entries anyway so if by some miracle he was recovered enough we could compete. We did miss the Oregon Gold show at the end of April but debuted with some light work at the Happ’s CDE Schooling Weekend May 10-11 then attended the Pacific Crown AMHR show in Spanaway and just last week the Cavalcade of Ponies AMHR show in Monroe, WA. Kody was coming along so well by then that I post-entered him in liberty (he took off bucking and striking after the music stopped and gleefully refused to be caught) and jumping (he gave me our first clean round ever over a course full of scary jumps he’d never been trained for and won the class) but despite that I was far from confident that he’d be up to a 12km marathon with only an additional week’s healing. That sort of thing takes a lot of conditioning we simply haven’t been able to do! But I knew we were ready for dressage and cones so we packed up and left Thursday morning to give it a try.

I was late of course
but only by about ten minutes and it was for a navigator clinic at noon rather than the all-important vet check at 4PM so in comparison to previous years I felt like I had so much time I didn’t know what to do with it. *LOL* I got the horse out of the trailer and by the time I’d walked around to unlock the tackroom and came back I found Kody laying down and happily grazing. Talk about lazy! Anyway, off to find his stall and get checked in and attend the clinic. The clinic turned out to be in a classroom and held less appeal than the bright sunshine outside so back out I went to find Kody down yet again (still eating) and the sun beating down way harder than we’ve become used to in the cool Washington not-summer we’ve been having. A fourteen year old campsite neighbor who had become strongly enamored of Kody in my absence (“He looks just like my mom’s Trakehner!” “Oh my God, he’s the cutest one on the grounds!” “Wow, he’s STRONG!” “Mom, look at this! He can shake hands! He rears!”) helped me put up the canopy so we could all have some shade. I reflected once again on the advantages of minis as I saw my neighbor unloading two and a half bales of hay from her tackroom and thought about the three or four flakes I’d packed to get me through the weekend.
At that point I looked around and realized everyone else was driving and that for ONCE there was nothing stopping me from doing the same. The heck with polishing my brass, I was outta there!

Kody and I spent forty minutes working around the outside of the dressage rings with everyone else, practicing NOT rushing towards the barns, NOT slowing down going away from the barns, NOT breaking into a canter during lengthenings and actually bending through our corners. It was hot enough that Kody broke a sweat (something he rarely does even on marathon) so we were a bit unkempt for vet check but personally I felt our time was better spent working than primping. Vet check turned into a social call for Kody anyway as he spent the entire time visiting with Hawkeye, Steppers, Buddy and anyone else Mom would let him say hello to. His mother was not immune to that same urge and gleefully greeted her fellow VSE drivers including Martha Duchnowski who came all the way from Virginia to compete using Ron Whiteman’s gelding “Buddy.” After a long wait in line Kody just had to throw in one little canter during our trot-out for the vet but otherwise was good and we passed with no problems. After we were officially measured for the first time (my 33.5” horse is 35.75” at the withers) I gave him his dinner and attended the competitor briefing then piled into the pickup trucks with everyone else for the official course walk. What fun! The rest of the evening was spent bathing, clipping, and organizing camp until my mom got there with the RV and we could go to bed.

Friday morning dawned unusually bright and warm, a warning that the day would be far hotter than anyone had expected. Due to the cold snap we’ve been having Kody had not been clipped for three weeks and with our dressage time scheduled for 4:30 in the afternoon I worried that he’d overheat. After playing photographer for the Training level VSE’s in the morning and reluctantly chasing off a flock of fellow drivers who alighted to chat with me Mom and I cleaned the harness and managed to have everything ready to go by 3:00 when I needed to pull him out and start hitching. For once in my life everything was completely cleaned, polished, clipped, washed, put together and organized exactly on time so I was able to braid him, get my show clothes on and head over to standing Presentation without more than a few moment’s panic. Al and Susan measured my wheels (hi, Al!) and discovered just how distracted I was when I completely missed the joke he made about my measurement being 20cm. My response was pretty much “Huh, what? Sure. I have no idea!” :DOH! I got great marks from Dave McWethy who commented that the only problem he had with the minis was that we’re all so well put-together this year that there’s nothing to find fault with.
He made me think I was getting perfect 10’s then got me by putting 9.9 for every single score. Some people’s sense of humor….hehe. I love that guy.

Dressage was, well, dressage. Kody warmed up okay while an official argument ensued about how many judges there were supposed to be for Prelim but when our turn came my “hit the ring like you own it” turned into “wobble up the centerline like a drunk” and it got worse from there. My first circle was too large and somewhat egg-shaped and my half-circle was flat with a distinct gravitational pull towards the rail at the end. Kody was at least bending nicely in his corners and reaching down well for the bit but he’d left all impulsion at the door and almost stalled out a couple of times to my dismay. The second circle and half-circle of Prelim Test #2 were better but still slow and frankly I’m surprised I didn’t get dinged for excessive use of the whip as I tried to convince him of the virtues of “forward.” Our walk transition was nice but there was a distinct lack of “march” in our working walk and as a consequence our lengthened walk was more of a free walk in my effort to get him to use his back and move out. He then spooked at my videographer in the corner so we got into a fight about that and the serpentine that followed was just UGLY as I wasn’t paying attention to my figures and Kody decided to fall out through his shoulder and ignore the outside rein with no warning. *sigh* He did however collect nicely in the following corner and gave me the best lengthened trot he’s ever delivered during a test so I was more than happy with that. It was a distinct lengthening with a well-lowered croup and lots of power but he stayed calmly relaxed and reached forward to lengthened frame instead of rushing and I could see him trying to refrain from cantering. You’ve gotta give them credit for effort! We completely missed our centerline again at the end of the test and walked excessively into our halt at X but at least he stood quietly and backed straight with no resistance. (Yay for stifles that work!) It wasn’t a truly awful test or anything but certainly could have been better in many ways. Still, I was happy with Kody and figured we’d be somewhere in the middle of the pack of six so I went off to unhitch and walk my hazards for the next day. Upon returning I saw we were in third with a score of 49.99 and only two points behind the second place finisher so I gave Kody a trace clip and went to bed with high hopes for the next day.

For this marathon all the VSE’s were sent out first regardless of level so our start time was 9:08AM. Just as I was getting Kody hitched a small group of spectators wandered into my camp and it took me a moment in my distracted state to recognize Susanne, Keith and Daryl (BigDogsLittleHorses). After a delighted exclamation and brief hug I went back to hitching and unrepentantly shooed them off to watch the hazards so I could finish hitching in a hurry and make my safety check. Bless them, they understood why I was being so singleminded and forgave me for my rudeness. (At least I think they did!) I HATE to chase away people I want to chat with but if I don’t I'll never get things done. Bad Leia.


As it turned out the officials had lost my green card over at safety check but eventually we got everything straightened out and Kody and I waited patiently for our countdown at the start of Section A. Two minutes. One minute. Thirty seconds. Fifteen. Ten. Nine. Eight. A knot of apprehension about whether or not I was asking too much of my horse tightened in my gut. Seven. Six. Five. Kody pricked his ears and stilled, settling his weight evenly on all four hooves to look eagerly down the trail. Four. Three. Two. My finger hovered over the stopwatch button. One. We were off.

The best strategy on Section A is to hold a nice steady 9kph trot from start to finish but Kody has never been one to start off easy. In our ritual strategy discussion the night before I’d told him it was very important that he take it easy in Section A so he’d have gas in the tank for the more difficult Section E but he couldn’t resist a brief (okay, not-so-brief) canter once we were out on course. I allowed it for awhile as it seemed to be easier on him than holding a trot was but quickly insisted he drop back to a jog and tried my best to conserve his energy. We did an awful lot of walking when we got way too close to the horse in front of us and a little more cantering but at the end we were right on time and pulled into the finish of A a precisely calculated 30 seconds after our minimum allowed time. I kept my promise to let him take the walk section at his own speed but to my own surprise we still came in two minutes under the maximum time and were complimented on our good forward walk. Vet check was more than slightly backed up so we waited almost fifteen minutes for our first exam (you know, the one that is supposed to be done as soon as you clear the gate?) and were quickly cleared to continue. Kody had already flagged a bit near the end of A and if I was really putting him first I probably should have pulled him then but he didn’t seem to be in any pain and his good spirits convinced my selfish side that we were okay to continue. We had already gone six kilometers with almost another six to go and on Section E there would be no stopping, no breaking to a walk, no way to save him at all. It was up to Kody.

The first hazard came perhaps 500 meters after the start of E, just on the other side of the creek. I’d already bargained with my boy that I wouldn’t ask him to trot any of the unmonitored creek crossings in exchange for his cooperation in the water hazard so we dropped to a walk and slogged across. As we resumed a trot and rounded the bend in the mowed trail the hazard came into sight and my gut tightened with the sudden realization that this was it, we were really committed to this. I didn’t have time to worry about it though as Kody’s head came up and his sedate trot suddenly came alive with interest and energy. HE knows what hazards are! I called my number and the volunteers who had been examining something in the hazard squeaked with alarm and ran for their posts. I grinned a coyote grin and said “Let’s go, Kody!” He hit it at a gallop.

It wasn’t smooth or pretty, we wheeled left around A at a trot and overshot our turn for B before Kody realized he needed to be listening for directions. We wove through C and I tried to warn him we were going to have to turn hard right for D but he had the outgate in his sites and wasn’t responding. I had to wrench him around and as we slid sideways and tried to avoid a post I vaguely registered something unusual happening on the left side of the vehicle and the crowd of observers gasped. I was too busy to care so since the dirty side was still down and all cylinders seemed to be firing we finished our spin and shot for the outgate. The volunteers tried to converge on me and I dodged around their helpful grasp with a shouted promise that I would stop on the far side of the finish line. I’d be danged if after all that work to get there I was going to ruin a hazard for a little technical difficulty! Once we were safely past the outgate and the timers had been stopped I looked down and realized that my left tire had come completely off the wheel during that last turn and was flopping around the frame like a rubber hula hoop. I couldn’t believe it. People were moving to head my horse and offering to see if they could get it back on but I suspected the effort would be futile and without knowing if we’d already eliminated for it coming off in the first place I made a fast decision and waved them out of the way. With an apologetic grin and a cheery “Hold onto that for me, will you?” I clucked Kody up and set off down the trail barely seconds after stopping. Crazy, maybe, but I didn’t know what else to do and the strong plastic wheel itself seemed sound for driving on. I figured at worse I was heading back towards the campsite and at least if I drove on it for awhile and it didn’t work I’d know I’d done everything I could to continue. Kody had stopped and stood like a seasoned campaigner while I removed the loose tire but now that we were back on the move he was jazzed and insisted on trotting the next two creek crossings all on his own. Good boy!

Everything seemed fine as we approached the second hazard so I made the decision to keep going. Susanne, Keith, Daryl and my mother were all watching and noticed nothing wrong as we ran A, B, and C (almost missing C through driver navigation error) and I swung him wide on the approach to the massive hill up and over the Tunnel. With a strident “Hup! Hup! Let’s go, Kody!” he lunged up the slope and made it all the way to the top at a gallop. I was so proud! The outgate was mere feet beyond the bottom of the descending slope so I held him to a walk most of the way down but he willingly surrendered his hold on the cart when I asked him to race off the bottom and out the gate. The first of our three major challenges, the Tunnel, was cleared.

The second big challenge, the water hazard, was next. I’d spent half the night choosing my route with great concern over keeping Kody out of the water as much as possible to spare strain on his stifles and thought I finally had it figured out. Kody was now tired and jogging slowly across the field but as the covered bridge and the crowd began to emerge above the horizon of waving grass he again perked up and seemed to find extra reserves of energy. A true professional at heart, he knew which hazards were the big ones and rose to the occasion. He hit the ingate at a strong trot and zipped down the hill and into the water without hesitation. We trotted through A then made a keyhole turn in the water (slowing only a little) and headed back under the bridge through B. Kody didn’t have enough gas left to pick up a canter but I give him major credit for holding a strong trot and even accelerating on his way out of the pool. He lunged up the hill to the top, made another keyhole turn away from the covered bridge and zipped through C with the momentum from turning down a slope. From there it was a straight run around the heavy construction equipment, down the slope, back through the water to D and up and out to the exit. I was so proud of him I could have busted. He’d done everything I’d asked of him and all that was left was the greatest challenge of all: Distance.

The last three hazards weren’t fast but they were solid and Kody developed so much of a second wind that when I was finally able to give him a chance to walk out in the back 40 where no one was watching he said “No, thank you” and kept going. We actually trotted all the way to the end of E and had to slow to a walk the last few feet to avoid coming in EARLY. I can’t say enough about the heart of this little horse. The judge confirmed with me that there were no additional problems out on course and promised to check and see if there were penalties for losing my tire then left us to wait for the vet. After a few minutes however she came back and told me that we’d been eliminated for going backwards through A on the last hazard and not correcting. Given that my memory of that hazard was quite distinct I was confused to say the least but wasn’t going to worry about it until I could talk to the TD. A few MORE minutes later she came back and told me apologetically that there’d been an error with the numbers, it wasn’t me but someone else! At this point I was cracking up. I wasn’t going to believe I wasn’t eliminated for one thing or another until a ribbon was in my hand!
Some days are just that way.

We again had to wait quite a long time for the vet to come examine Kody after all of that so I’m sure our stats are pretty much meaningless. By the time they took his P&R and temp he’d cooled out completely from the run but had started panting from standing in the direct sunlight waiting for the vet! Go figure. We were eventually cleared to go back to our trailer and it was obvious poor Kody had finally run out of get-up-and-go. He dragged all the way back to camp with his head down but even then he still picked up a willing trot at a tentative voice command when I was trying to see just how tired he was. The little dude just never quits.

I found to my surprise that Bob the Hyperbike manufacturer had arrived at our campsite unbeknownst to me and he took the tire failure quite personally. Thanks to him I had a completely new set of wheels and tires within fifteen minutes and a stronger set on order for the future. Martha Duchnowski expressed major misgivings over the way the tire had come off but as far as I’m concerned the incident only proved that the Hyperbike is the toughest vehicle out there. Losing the tire didn’t even slow me down and the wheel held up through five more hazards and another six kilometers without sign of failure. I don’t know of any other vehicle that could claim that, big or little! I have non-skid strips on my seat and stirrups so I’m unlikely to slide out sideways and I continue to feel safer in the Hyperbike than any other cart. Accidents happen and equipment fails; if it didn’t, there wouldn’t be rules about how to handle tires coming off. Bob stands behind his product and so do I.

So after all the excitement died down and Kody had been cooled, stretched, washed, massaged and rubbed with liniment I turned him loose to graze and went to find Suzanne and company. We spent an enjoyable afternoon watching the big horses run the water hazard and generally socializing until the three of them had to leave for home. Keith and Daryl both got hooked on Friesians so “BigDogsLittleHorses” may soon have big HORSES too! *LOL* I was dismayed upon returning to the RV to find that Kody was panting even in the shade and hadn’t laid down or drunk anything yet so I whisked him off to his cool stall and left him in there slurping a soupy beet pulp mash until the temperatures dropped somewhat. He was quite royally stiff by the time the exhibitor dinner was over that evening so we took several long walks and did a lot of gentle stretching until he stopped gimping and starting trotting around me in energetic circles. It was obvious however that he’d thrown his back out again so all bets were off on how cones would go the next day. We had our usual private talk then I put him to bed and fell asleep listening to the sweet sounds of a classical violin being played by the camper next door.

Sunday morning dawned cooler than the previous two days and Kody was dragging as I pulled him out of his stall after breakfast. He seemed cheerful enough but was clearly tired and sore and I wasn’t sure he was going to be up to providing a clean round. He kept his ears up as I harnessed him though and seemed willing so off we went for soundness check. He made a real effort to give me a forward trot in front of the judge but it became clear as we warmed up that “speed” simply wasn’t in his vocabulary that morning. It crossed my mind that he might be holding back for the real thing but I asked him if that was the case to show me just a little spurt to reassure me and he stayed dead as a doornail so I threw up my hands and assumed we’d be in trouble on course. No pressure, right? Ha!

Even when we trotted through the field of cones to salute the judge I couldn’t get a rise out of him. We snuck up quietly enough that the judge didn’t even notice us so it was amusing to see that gentleman startle as he turned around and there we were waiting. He gave me a salute and a smile and I turned Kody for the ingate. All I can say is I should have trusted that horse! He put his ears up and picked up his front feet and off he went at a sturdy gallop, tiredness put aside to do his job. It wasn’t a smooth or pretty run, I’m afraid I pulled him every which way, but Kody has grown into a horse who understands his job description and he listened to my corrections without overreacting and took us smoothly through each set of cones in spite of my hindrance. He finally flagged between 13 and 14 but bravely picked up the pace again when asked although we knocked a ball off 14 in passing. When we made the tight short turn from 19 to 20 and passed it with only that one ball down a dawning feeling of delight flooded through me and with collecting line and uplifted voice I encouraged him to gallop out exuberantly. Kody heard and pricked his ears to make one last good run of it, little feet pounding the mown hayfield. You see, the part I didn’t tell you was that after marathon Kody and I had moved up to first place by a margin of four points. We could have no more than one ball down and no time penalties to maintain our status and thanks to Kody that’s exactly what we had.

WE WON!!!


Kody KNEW he’d done good. He pranced deliberately back into line with his neck arched and his eyes absolutely shining and when I got out of the cart to praise him he watched me eagerly to see if I was pleased. I spent a good bit of time whispering loving nonsense in his ear and hugging him repeatedly and he soaked it all up like a radiant sponge, supremely content with his world. I've got to tell you, I’ve been privileged to know some very special horses but Kody is in a class all his own and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. To come through two surgeries in six months, all the resultant loss of training and conditioning time, and then a mere three months after the second surgery not only attend the event, not only finish the event, but WIN the event!
I am in awe of his heart.

I was also amazed by the outpouring of support from not only fellow VSE drivers (many of whom have been through that procedure with their own horses at one point or another) but from my friends in the Pony and Horse divisions as well. It’s humbling to realize so many people have come to care about you and your horse and I was reduced to tears at the awards ceremony as I tried to find the words to thank them for a weekend full of truly warm hugs and heartfelt congratulations and for their support during the previous fall when I was so down-hearted and worried. They all knew this win wasn’t about the ribbon and their understanding of that made it all the more precious to me. I’m choking up again just writing about it. *sniff*

Candy Washburn told me Saturday night that if we won she was personally throwing us a party and she kept her word when Kody was allowed to be the sole equine guest at the birthday party of one of the Training level VSE drivers, shamelessly mooching red licorice and chocolate cake off anyone seated at ground level. I swear I TRIED to keep him under wraps but his honorary aunts all pooh-poohed that idea and insisted on spoiling him. *LOL* I guess he earned it. We also received the (in)famous Mis-Happ's award for the tire incident so we got plenty of good-natured teasing over that.

All in all the Happ’s CDE 2008 was a weekend I hope I will never forget. I got to meet Martha Duchnowski (owner of www.minihorsecde.com) and Al and Susan from Texas, renew friendships with fellow drivers and once more pair up with a remarkable mini named Kody for yet another wild drive. I noticed last year that I was set up for a pattern at Happ’s- the first year I attended I got fourth in Training level, then first the next year. When I got fourth my first year at Prelim I said wouldn’t it be funny if I won the next year?
Well…I don't know if it was funny, but it sure was fun!

Kody and I have two more CDE’s in the next four weeks so look for writeups of them too. I’ll post pictures as soon as I can on the photo forum but I get the impression some people (…Margo, Susanne, Amy, JJay…) are going to shoot me if I don’t hurry up and post my results so here they are!


For a quick sneak peak you can see the professional photo gallery here: Blue Ribbon Equine Photography

That’s my favorite photo of Kody doing the lengthened trot in our dressage test. He’s got his nose out and up a little more than I’d like, but it was more important to me that he truly stretch his frame and he did that very nicely. I can’t wait to see him once he’s strong enough to really drop his croup again!

Okay, I’m going to post this before I find something else to go on about. It was, as I said, a long and amazing weekend. Thank you for reading along!

Leia
 

Margo_C-T

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What a READ, Leia! I felt as if I were there with you and your great little guy! MANY thanks for the detailed and gripping rendition--and a HUGE congratulations for your win! I haven't yet gone to see the pics; wanted to post this ASAP--but am SURE I will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed your telling of the "Kody at HAPPS, 2008" saga!

Big hugs to you, and a special one to your boy,

Margo
 

MountainMeadows

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Ahh, Leia, it is so great to read such a heartwarming story about you and Kody -- he is a lucky little fellow to have such a loving mommy. I am soooooo pleased that you did the second surgery -- and if you recall, I kind of suspect that little Mr Kody would be back and doing just great this summer


Congrats to you both & BIG hugs from everyone here at Mountain Meadows


Stac
 

Minxiesmom

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Thanks for posting this. As usual, I felt like I was right there with you. You even got a couple of tears out of me. I love your Kody. You have really helped him turn into an incredible horse. Your writing has been an inspiration for me. Pictures are wonderful, he might have made some mistakes, but he is really looking like a dressage horse. Mistakes you can fix with practice. Look out next time when he really is in shape!

Diane in OR
 

Marty

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Leia, when I began to read this incredible story my phone rang but I was so captivated I told the caller to call me back in a few. Still stuck inside the sentences of this remarkable journey the phone rang again and I told the caller I was still tied up with something. Well Leia, this is such an awesome story I just couldn't tear myself away not even for the love of Dan who also interrupted. I am just amazed with Kody and the bond between you and the story filled with so much love, not to mention talent. You are truly a competitive force out there to be reckoned with and Kody of course quite the athlete in miniature that he is.
 

Kendra

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Every day for a week I've been logging on hoping to see this! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Off to look at the pictures ....
 

Shari

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Congrats Leia and Kody!! Well done!


You know,, you really should write a book!
 

nootka

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Woohoo!

When I heard the news as you were on your way home, I could barely contain my happiness for you.

i've been waiting and knowing this is what I'd read...I am just so impressed that it is so soon!!!

Kody is amazing and so are you, girl!

Thank you for sharing!!!

(enjoyed reading about the Hyperbike, I feel like you were just going that hard, and things went great for what happened...sounds like no big deal! Bob should not feel badly at all, he should be proud)

Liz
 
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susanne

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It was, indeed, a great time!

Leia, we came by knowing we'd only say hi and then leave you to be...which is why afterwards you had to track us down. I know all too well how hard it is to have visitors when you're deep into pre-event tunnel vision!

We came prepared for rain or sun -- hence the beach umbrella. However, The weather ended up perfect, if just a bit muggy. At one point I was a bit warm as I was heading over to visit with Susan and I thought, "She's sitting out there with no shade, I wonder if she needs our umbrella?" Then I realized, good grief! She's used to Texas -- this is nothing!

I so enjoyed visiting with Al and Susan! What great people!

The atmosphere at Happs during a CDE is somewhat like a European horse fair -- or what I'd imagine one to be like. The grounds around the barn was filled with vendors of carriages, harnesses, hats and food, and traffic along the dirt lane consisted of pedestrians and assorted horse and carriage turnouts. Further out were RVs, trailers, horse enclosures, and a mouth-watering array of carts and carriages ranging from Smart Carts to war wagons.

Out on the fields of Happs stood an assortment of hazzards, all appearing quite different on foot as opposed to in a cart. We came prepared to walk, but parked ourselves at the water hazzard, which consisted of a covered bridge over a gravelled "pond." We were also close enough to meander over to the dry gulch (check out YouTube to see Leia and Kody show their stuff on this hazzard), the Fir Forest, and the Tunnel/Hill. Off in the distance we could see the "Nuclear Site," a hazzard built from upended cement mixers...defintely a strange site in a hayfield!

One of the best things about such an event (well...at Happs, anyway) is the cameraderie between competitors. Everyone cheers for everyone else and for their horses.

If you haven't been to watch one, you really need to find what is in your area and go -- it's like nothing else you will find!
 

ClickMini

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Thank you so much Leia for writing this up! Kody has come through this with flying colors, that is for sure. I am sorry I couldn't make it, if there were any way possible I would have been. I will have to miss Inavale also, but I am still hopeful for Beaver Creek. In fact I am nearly positive I can make that one. I have babysitters all lined up. :D Only 3 weeks to go!

I loved the pics also. You always look like you are having a grand conversation with your horse. LOL

Ally and I were back on the trail today. I believe horses have memories better than elephants. She for sure remembered the exact spot that the devil deer came out. I kept a steady contact on her and asked her to come back onto the bit, and move forward. We drilled it again and again, and ended up having a super drive. I did change back to her old bit and it also made a big difference in our straightness in the arena. The combination of that bit with a check is too much, but she is fine with it when she is not checked up.

Anyway, I am so looking forward to Beaver Creek, Happ's MiniMacroMarathon, the Trail Drive, and the Happ's VSE DT-T. I am starting to be a little hopeful my summer schedule is somewhat salvageable.
 

hobbyhorse23

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Marty-


Kody says "Movies? Hey, everyone knows I'm a star!"



susanne said:
The atmosphere at Happs during a CDE is somewhat like a European horse fair -- or what I'd imagine one to be like. The grounds around the barn was filled with vendors of carriages, harnesses, hats and food,....
That's more what it's like back East and in California from what I can tell. We haven't had any vendors at all here in past years but Marjean came with Camptown Harness stuff last year and this year we had Scotsman Carriage and PleasureThyme Farms sent some carriages and a few of Hardiwick Hideout's synthetic harnesses. The hat lady is a welcome addition but is there one day only, sadly. Hopefully it will continue to attract new vendors so we here in the NW can shop for goodies in person at our shows like everyone else does!

We were also close enough to meander over to the dry gulch (check out YouTube to see Leia and Kody show their stuff on this hazzard)
OOOOHHH no. Heck no. That is an OLD video and in no way "shows our stuff" in hazards. Don't go looking for it, please!


Minxiesmom said:
The videos on You tube are GREAT! http://www.youtube.com/results?search_quer...s+Liea&aq=fThere are two of Leia and one that Steve Mackin did of the whole event.

Diane in OR
Hehe, well guess I won't need to post THAT link! Dang, it was the only one I had ready and even that was only thanks to Daryl. Oh well.
Just means I need to behave myself and edit the other photos!

Leia
 

Kathy2m

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A great read as usual Leia, congratulations to you and Kody, makes me want to go drive, we dont have anything until the end of August. Kathy
 

Al B

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Great story Leia. It was great to meet you and all the other fine folks there and to see Susanne again.

Two comments though.

1. Hot. Come on. We were wearing sweaters. It got all the way up to 73 Saturday.
When we got home Monday it was 99 in the shade.

2. You got a 9.9 in presentation because that was the maximum the computer program would accept. Everyone that maxed got a 9.9.


And congratulations to Kody. He looked great.
 

mrsj

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Wow, what a read - but I enjoyed it. Congratulations to you both on your bravery as well as your win
 

DrivinTime

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Congratulations, Leia and Kody!!! Woooo hooooo!!!

An awesome story about what these little guys can do, and the obstacles they can overcome. Thanks so much, Leia, for writing up your experiences so compellingly... The photos and videos are great, too! Taken altogether, I felt like I was there! (I WISH I was there!)

Give that boy a carrot!

Lori
 

MiLo Minis

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Congratulations Leia and Kody!!! I know only too well the feeling you have about your boy as you know Willie and I struggle with the same type of problem and like to compete in the same type of event. I got choked up reading of your weekend's adventure same as I do when out on a course with my boy and he performs like he shouldn't be able to. Anyone lucky enough to own at some point in their life a "one of a kind" horse like Kody and recognize it is experiencing something really special. Congratulations and not just on your win.
 

hobbyhorse23

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Thanks everybody! I normally wouldn't make another reply so soon but gotta respond to Al.


Al B said:
1. Hot. Come on. We were wearing sweaters. It got all the way up to 73 Saturday.
When we got home Monday it was 99 in the shade.
Hey now, I don't know which thermometer you were reading but all of ours said 86 or above!
Considering we haven't gotten above 60's for more than a day or two all year I think we can be forgiven for not having our Sun Lizard skins on yet.


I know you got some photos of Kody and I, could I request one of those photo CD's too?

Leia
 

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