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Archive for the ‘Ariat Jumping with the Stars!’ Category

What an amazing night it was last night! The first-ever Ariat Jumping with the Stars! celebrity jumping event came to a successful conclusion. The crowd at the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum on the State Fair Grounds was completely silent as Bill Keller rode the first round in the class. When he finished, the crowd erupted with applause and whistles!GailRusty ingateDSC_0506a

Second was Rusty Gatenby. Once again, the crowd was silent as he navigated his way around the arena. Of course, Rusty was NOT silent. He was talking to the crowd all the way around, and a wave of laughter followed him around the arena. Huge applause for him when he finished!

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Rachel Blount

Matt Blair was third to go. The former Minnesota Viking was very serious and focused as he made his way around the course. When he finished, the crowd once again cheered and he broke out into a big smile!

The jumps were then raised for the final two riders. Rachel Blount was next up, and she rode a course of two foot verticals. Over the second fence, her horse left long and she was bounced out of the tack. Her landing was soft, and she dusted herself off as she stood up. Her horse was patiently waiting for her. She hopped back on to applause and whistles, and successfully complete the course. The crowd let her know how much they could empathize with her, as they raised the roof with their claps and cheers of support.

The final rider was Cathy Wurzer. The crowd silently watched Cathy negotiate the course, and loudly approved of her round when she finished and came back into the line up.

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Trainers, Gail Nederostek, Heather Parish and Sue Kyllonen flank former Minnesota Viking, Matt Blair aboard Rolly, owned by Laura Jean Critchett.

The three judges cast their votes and commented on each rider. And after the crowd cast their votes by texting, the winner was announced. Cathy Wurzer took home the trophy! All participants received medals, including the trainers.

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Rebecca from Arc de Triomphe, HJ Hoppmann from Ariat, Trainer, Kim Barone, Assistant Trainer, Kate Leis, Cathy Wurzer and Casanova owned by Anne Healy.

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Watch the television segment that ran Friday, yesterday, on KSTP-TV. Rusty and Gail talk about the competition tonite. Is Rusty ready? Watch him jump and see for yourself!

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A rider's point of view in the warmup ring

A rider's point of view in the warmup ring

If I ever live to be one hundred years old, (which is doubtful at the rate I’m going), I now know what my body will feel like. 

After nearly three weeks of hunt seat riding and cantering in two-point position over small fences, my legs are only a little stronger than a well cooked noodle. My lower back and right hip are sore after recently becoming intimate with the arena floor. My ankles are tender after trying to jam my heels into the proper position. (Ankles are supposed to be flexible. Not mine. Mine are like plywood. Pretty stiff.) 

Despite my obvious physical limitations– I’m having a ball!

I had my final schooling session on Cain on the showgrounds today while the incredible Kim Barone patiently tutored me:  reminding me to really flex those (stiff) ankles and sink down into my heels.

Earlier this week, during the Harvest Horse Show, we schooled a bit even as Kim was warming up a horse to take into the Coliseum. In mid-air, over a jump, Kim would call out “Heels down Cathy! Toes out!” and I was left to wonder how on Earth she managed to watch me slog around the arena while she was flying over a fence! She’s amazing and an excellent trainer. 

A patient (and chilly) Kim Barone in the warm-up ring.

A patient (and chilly) Kim Barone in the warm-up ring.

I’m not sure what to expect during the Ariat “Jumping with the Stars” event. All I can hope is that I keep those heels down, don’t wack Cain in the mouth, and remember to breathe while on course. All of that is easier said than done. I hope you all come out and watch. It is bound to be very entertaining!

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Read Rachel Blount’s story about her riding journey and watch the video of her lessons with local professional, Sue Kyllonen. Click on the photo.

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Cathy_Kate_DressedThere are basic rules in riding but there are differences in seat and leg position depending on the discipline. I know this. I’ve had to learn the differences between western riding/dressage/saddle seat and now hunt seat riding over the years.

I’ll admit,  I’m a little dense at times, so it took my equine partner to point out, (not so subtly), that I needed  to learn the lighter hunt seat, instead of pounding my seatbones into his back with my driving dressage seat.  When my instructor Kate, at Raven Ridge, asked me to “sit” the canter, I thought I was. I just couldn’t figure out why Cain felt so uncomfortable and was jostling me around in the saddle. It was his way of saying “Hey! Get off my back!”  I’m now learning all about the half seat and two point position. I just wish my poor, wobbly legs would hold me up in the proper position!

Check out my new riding duds. I’ve always said if I can’t ride well, at least I can look good! The Ariat “Jumping with the Stars” event will be testament to that. I might not ride well, but at least I’ll look like a pro!

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I caught up with Rusty and Gail early on a blustery Sunday morning at Wild Oak Farm. Rusty has some catching up to do. As Gail says, he’s been a moving target. He’s been very busy. Plus, with show season, Gail has been traveling.  Rusty will lesson four days this week, then he’s off to Los Angeles to audition for a part in a feature film and do a story for KSTP TV News.Rusty trota

Barney was feeling pretty fresh with the crisp fall breeze. This was the first time Rusty had felt this side of he big, bay warmblood. Typically he requires a lot of leg to keep going. Barney was ready to go and hot to trot!

Rusty brought two of his four kids to the barn, Ruby and Reed and their Pomeranian, Harvey. Harvey gets along great with Gail’s Jack Russells, but Diamond, the farm’s German Shepherd, likes to chase the little dogs. During the lesson Harvey got loose and Diamond chased him all the way pass the far end of the ring. Rusty and Barney remained composed during the pandemonium. I could feel Gail’s heart skip a beat. Ruby saved the day by managing to catch Harvey and bring him back to the waiting JRs.

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After the lesson Gail had two horses tacked up  and ready for the kids to ride. One of them, Fred, was walking down the lane to the ring right as Diego, the donkey, was being turned out in a paddock. Fred is new to Wild Oak and had yet to see Diego. Diego began to bray. Fred was at a complete loss. Horses sometimes react to donkeys and miniatures with alarm and fear. Needless to say, Fred spent a few moments on the lunge to make sure he was back to his quiet self after all the excitement. Fred is a good guy,  and he came right around.rubysavesharveya

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The kids had a fun, family ride. Okay Rusty, it looks like Ruby and Reed have discovered a new sport. There are lots of nice horses out there. I’m sure Gail could find you two or three. What do you say?Gailsjrsa

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So far. So good. I haven’t fallen off yet! I almost fell OVER yesterday. My legs were so wobbly after my lesson with Kate at Raven Ridge Farm that they nearly didn’t hold up after I dismounted.

I rode a new equine partner yesterday. Cain. His real name is Casanova. Cain is another old pro who has been around the show ring for years. Cain just got done showing in Iowa so he was a little tired and it took all my strength to get him going.  People laugh and say riders have it easy. The horse does all the work. Not really. Riding is physically taxing and more so if (like me) you are out of shape.  Cain and I took a couple of low jumps. I managed to stay on!

Casanova poses for a picture

Casanova poses for a picture

Thanks to Cain’s Mom, Ann, for letting me ride him in the Ariat “Jumping with the Stars” event.

It takes a little while to figure out a horse but I think with a few more rides, Cain and I will become pals. I’ve already greased the skids with him by offering plenty of treats!

Despite the stiff muscles, I find so much happiness while  riding and simply being with horses again.  When I’ve visited the We Can Ride facilities in the past it has been  fun to see the joy in the rider’s faces as they feel the horse  underneath them. It is something I share with those riders: the sheer joy of being with horses.

Here is to happiness in your life–no matter where you find it!

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