Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CBF Boarder Stories: The Road to Young Riders

I asked one of our younger boarders, Allison Kohlberg, to tell us a little bit about her goal of making it to the North American Junior Young Rider Championships this year. She's spending the winter in Florida as a working student and, as I understand it, working hard from dawn until dusk, so we are thankful that she found the time to write this guest post for us. You can learn more about Allie and her horse Clover Hill's progress on her own blog. Best of luck, Allie and Chloe! -- Casy

When I signed up to spend the winter in Florida, I was not expecting 30-degree days in the pouring rain, which is why I am sitting inside writing this. Oh well, I am learning to make the best of the situation I guess! All of this “cold” weather down here has given me some time to think about what I want to get out of this winter training with my coach, Jeanie Clarke.

As my horse Chloe and I have developed our relationship over the past four years, my expectations and goals have had to adapt to numerous bumps along the road. For example, during the first winter I had Chloe, she managed to scratch her left cornea, and was stall bound for four weeks. Although she is not “thoroughbred hot,” 28 days of not being able to move around took quite a toll on her, and she grew a bit of an attitude during our daily walks. During this time, my goals were simple: 1. Do not die leading the horse and 2. Make sure the horse does not move faster than a walk. Although these may seem to be primitive goals, it gave me something to work for every day.

I strongly believe setting goals are a great way to progress throughout life, not just in riding. Goals like running a marathon, acing a test, or galloping around the Olympics give us all things to look forward to, and help us to think ahead and plan accordingly.

Currently, I have a big goal that takes a lot of planning, hard work and a whole heap of good luck. Competing at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) this summer is something that I have been working towards for the past two years. After a jump lesson in the spring/summer of 2012, we sprung into action. Numerous things had to be addressed, and right away we started discussing different possibilities. The biggest concern was for Chloe. Could she jump the height? Would she hold up to the amount of work? Would she stay sound? Then there was the question of what I would have to do to enable myself the opportunity to even get qualified.

That is where what I am doing down here in Florida comes in. We realized early that for me to have the best chance of qualifying, I would have to travel south. Because we did this, I was able to approach my school, get the plan approved and finish all of my classes a semester early. From this, I learned how important it is to think ahead, because if I had not, I would not have been able to fulfill my requirements.

None of this would be happening I had not set a goal for myself. I am fortunate enough to have people around me who are constantly helping me inch closer to it. Goals of all kinds are important because they encourage people to go out and do something. For horseback riders in particular, they help us plan how to best utilize our limited time, whether your goal is to go on a trail ride every day, trot 30 minutes or just have fun with your best friend.  Especially in these dreary winter months, make a goal for you and your horse every day, and I hope you will be surprised at how much more useful your time at the barn will feel like!

Stay warm and happy riding!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Day to Remember

A novice-level competitor at the Oct 12 USEA-recognized CBF HT. Photo by Suzanne Adams

In many ways, our annual fall recognized horse trials is like a wedding: you spend months preparing every detail—from the guest list and food vendor, to the decorations and schedule of events. Then one day the guests arrive, everyone jumps around having a wonderful time, and before you know it you’re searching desperately for scissors so you can cut the trash cans down from the fenceline and eating decorative apples out of the fruit stand jump. Okay, maybe most people’s weddings don’t end exactly that way, but in many ways our horse trials is even better because we get to do it again every year! 

I can’t say another word about the horse trials without thanking each and every one of our wonderful volunteers. It says a lot about eventers that they are willing to get up early (in some cases, in the dark), spend the day in less-than-ideal-weather, and still have smiles on their faces at the end of the day. So, to each and every one of you, THANK YOU. It’s trite but true—we couldn’t do it without you. 

Many thanks also to our wonderful sponsors: Nutramax/Cosequin, Bayer Healthcare, Champlain Valley Equipment, Mayo Industries, Platinum Performance, Windy-Lo Nursery, Patterson Veterinary, and USEA Area I. We're lucky to have the support of such dedicated partners!

The weather could have been better, but it also could have been worse (technically, it didn’t rain). Whenever I heard anyone whining about it I said, “We’re eventers! We’re supposed to be tough.” Or, “This is bracing English weather!” As a native of sub-Saharan Area II, I’d prefer overcast to blazing sunshine any day, especially if the footing is good.

Speaking of footing, I am allowed to brag because I wasn’t among the legions of people from CBF and Mayo Industries that have been slaving away on our new arenas for the past several months. The footing in them was awesome. It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago these areas were still coming into being. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be out in our large outdoor jumping arena and look over to the right to see three horses flatting in the large arena that will be the Renate Lansburgh Arena and two in the small arena just above it. All I can say is that this place is feeling big time and there’s a lot more to come.

Since I mentioned it, I’ll close with another word on the Renate Lansburgh Arena. As I wrote in my last post, we decided to dedicate this new space to one of our closest friends and colleagues. Although the arena is complete, we are still hoping to meet our goal of raising enough funds to cover the cost of it. If you have already donated, thank you. We are so grateful. If you’re still interested in donating and haven’t done so, please click over to our sponsorship page.

Now, I’ll leave you with some wonderful photos from our resident photographer Lauren Murphy, our wonderful friend Suzanne Adams, and even a couple by me. For official event photographs, please check out Amanda Sylvia’s webpage. She got some great shots!

You can find the full results from the horse trials here (you really don’t need me for that).

Until next time,

PS Actually, “next time” is on Sunday (10/27), when we’re hosting our unrecognized Halloween horse trials. I could really use some volunteers, so give me a shout at boarders@coursebrookfarm.com if you think you can help. You’ll get an amazing longsleeved t-shirt and the opportunity to see our very own Matt Mayo (aka Costume King) dressed as a... well, you’ll just have to find out!

PPS We know you love us, but it’s even nicer if you like us on Facebook.

CBF co-resident instructor Erika Hendricks is seriously into decorating show jumps

Decorating show jumps the day before the show. Big thanks to Windy Lo for the plants!

Admiring our handiwork

The CBF plank

Calm before the storm: quiet and fall-like the day before the event

CBF co-resident instructor Stephie Baer walks the course with a student. Photo by Lauren Murphy

Erika on the move. Photo by Lauren Murphy

Co-organizer Nici Hornblower gives a spectator a lift. Photo by Lauren Murphy

Nici adjusts jumps between divisions. Photo by Lauren Murphy

Jump crew in action. Photo by Lauren Murphy

CBF's Zoe Michas and her horse Carmen in the novice division. Photo by Lauren Murphy

View of the show jumping arena. Photo by Lauren Murphy

Photo by Lauren Murphy

CBF volunteers extraordinaire Rica and Kathy. Photo by Suzanne Adams

The core team: Nici Hornblower, Sharon Cora, and Erika Hendricks. Photo by Suzanne Adams

Zoe and Carmen on cross country. Photo by Suzanne Adams

Volunteer coordinator Janet Sinclair collecting xc score sheets. Photo by Suzanne Adams

A competitor on cross country. Photo by Suzanne Adams

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Announcing Plans for the Renate Lansburgh Dressage Arena

Although she’s been retired for several years, many boarders and friends of Course Brook Farm have worked closely with Renate Lansburgh. Originally from Germany, Renate moved to the US in 1956. She competed in dressage and eventing until she decided to focus exclusively on dressage in 1981. She competed to the FEI levels in dressage, earned USDF bronze and silver medals, and is an “R” judge. She has been a fixture around New England shows and training facilities for many years. 

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Almy Designs www.galmydesigns.com

CBF boarder and student of Renate, Rica Trujillo remarks: “Renate was always very correct in her training. Some of what she taught me I didn't fully appreciate at the time, but with more experience I have come to realize how valuable her lessons were. Her love of horses and concern for their wellbeing was apparent in the way she taught and her approach to training.”

Renate continues to be an integral and valuable member of our community and to honor her Course Brook will be dedicating a new regulation-sized dressage arena as the Renate Lansburgh Dressage Arena. There will be a dedication ceremony and we are working out the details hopefully to arrange for Renate to attend.

CBF is currently launching a fundraiser to support the construction of the arena to honor this exceptional horsewoman and individual. If you are interested in contributing to the effort, you can find more information at http://www.coursebrookfarm.com/images/PDF/renate2013.pdf, or contact CBF’s general manager, Sharon Cora, at info@coursebrookfarm.com.

We are privileged to call Renate a friend of Course Brook and hope that this gesture will express our gratitude for her numerous contributions to our community.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Water Complex is Born

The final product (just add water)!
Last week was a big one for us at Course Brook. It’s times like these when everyone stands back and appreciates how far we’ve come and we realize that some of the hard work is really paying off! 

On Wednesday and Thursday, jump builder Eric Bull (of ETB Equine Construction)—who you will recall from earlier posts as the man behind our twelve beautiful new training and prelim cross country fences—and Olympic eventer and course designer John Williams descended on CBF to build a fabulous new water complex in the upper jump field. These two wasted no time getting started and with all hands on deck—including our best equipment and operators and some excellent volunteers—the hole was dug, the liners and gravel put down on the base, and four new banks were installed, all within the span of 48 hours!

John and Eric (with some help from Tyler) unload one of the pieces of liner for the base of the water jump

Incredible teamwork unrolling the liner!

Powered by Course Brook (and John and Eric)

Brief break for a photo op...

Then straight back to work, spreading the liner

Eric and John made sure that the liner was perfectly aligned on all sides

John and Eric have worked on courses together on a number of occasions and from talking to them it sounds as though one is always roping the other into one of those projects that starts like this:

“It was 10 days before [insert name of major CCI somewhere in South/Central America] and there were literally no jumps built yet.” Enter Eric and John, a lot of sweat (and probably tears), and miracles apparently happen. John regaled us with a story of one particular course that required a tree to be cut down. Instead of a chainsaw, a guy showed up with a machete and spent the best part of two days trying to saw the limbs off of the tree. You name it, John and Eric have seen it. They collaborated on the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara and John in particular has been working a lot in Mexico and South/Central America, designing new courses in some unlikely locations.

Matt and John talk shop

The guys lean while the ladies do the heavy lifting!

You’ll note from the photos above that Matt spent some time picking John’s brain about the course at CBF. John is designing our prelim course, which we plan to debut in 2014. His vision for the property is to make it as spectator-friendly as possible. That means trimming some of the lower branches of the trees in the back woods (although Matt assures me not too many) and situating our water jump where it is now: right smack in the middle of the upper jump field and next to an ideal spot for spectators. We want to be sure that the course rides well and that people can see as much of it from one place as possible, and John’s plan is to do just that.
Still smiling

CBF General Manager Sharon with CBF's very own volunteer/mother/person extaordinaire, Sara!

Meanwhile, Eric was doing a lovely job of mobilizing our volunteer force of teenagers to unroll the liners and spread them evenly across the floor of the water jump… Not as easy as it looks! Everyone was very impressed with the girls’ efforts, with Eric remarking that he’d never had anyone in riding boots come out and help with the installation of a water jump... And he’s built almost 200 of them.


John's car. Amazing.

Installing the banks on Thursday
Of the design of the complex, John said that the far ramp was specifically built to be very gently sloping to make it extra inviting to young and green horses. The banks are of varying heights to accommodate different levels. The future plan is to add a mound on one side to create some interesting upper level questions. Of course we'll be adding portables as needed for various events and schooling opportunities. I asked about a Rolex-style duck for a water-to-water, but so far no dice.

Another excuse to include a photo of John's tiny car

Needless to say, we are beyond thrilled with the new water complex and the steady improvement of our cross country course, from upgrading the footing in the softer areas, to our new jumps. It’s truly inspiring to get to meet people like Eric and John, to hear their insights (and war stories); their energy is infectious. Many thanks to them for all their hard work.

So, it’s only up from here! Now we just need the grass around the water complex to grow… And a little water!

-- Casy

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Major Announcement!

We are excited to announce that international advanced-level event rider Stephie Baer is officially joining Course Brook as co-resident instructor. She will work in collaboration with our existing resident instructor Erika (Hawkes) Hendricks to continue to grow the quality of the instruction and training that CBF offers its boarders and the wider eventing and dressage community.

Stephie has competed at Bromont (Canada), Mexico, Rolex Kentucky, and Burghley (England) and was short-listed for the 1998 U.S. World Championship Team. She has been teaching beginners through advanced-level riders for 35 years and has trained countless horses through the levels. She has been a member of the Course Brook Farm family for at least 15 years and has been a huge part of developing the facility into what it is today.

As she has been an invaluable member of our community for years, it is our pleasure to welcome Stephie into a more formal role at the farm. She teaches seven days per week at CBF and her lessons are $95/hour. Anyone interested in scheduling a lesson or simply coming out to see her teach, please contact us at info@coursebrookfarm.com.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In Full Swing

There’s so much going on around the farm that I’m not sure where to start… The summer calendar is full of exciting events and clinics at CBF and I have a feeling that the pace isn’t going to slow until we’re all standing around the inevitable cake to celebrate Erika’s birthday and another successful fall recognized horse trials in October.

Stephie doling out the instructions. Photo by Lauren Murphy.

As usual, everyone had a great time at our annual Stephie Baer Memorial Day clinic and BBQ. Thank you to all the riders who attended and especially to Stephie, who apparently has endless reserves of energy! This is always one of our favorite events and this year’s didn’t disappoint. 

In case you couldn't tell, Jess's schoolmaster used to be an upper-level horse. Photo by Lauren Murphy.

CBF's Jenn and Cherokee on their way to a blue ribbon in our second spring combined test. Photo by Lauren Murphy.

Coming up next weekend is the third and final combined test in our spring series. We’ve got some great prizes for end-of-series champion and reserve champion horse and rider pairs. All you need to do to qualify is to compete in at least two of the three shows (and do well in them, of course). We’ve been really lucky with the weather for the first two, so let’s hope that luck holds for the last. We’ll be celebrating the end of the series with a BBQ down by the pool, so whether you’re competing, spectating, or volunteering (speaking of… contact me at boarders@coursebrookfarm.com if you’re available), please join us. Click here for entry information. 

Ari and AC made the show jumping in our second combined test look easy. Photo by Lauren Murphy.

One of the stipulations of Lauren giving me photos is that I always include a pic of her horse Ami.

In July, we are excited to host our first annual adult riders’ camp, July 5-7. Whether you are a seasoned eventer, have just started eventing, or just want to try something new, you will benefit from the instruction over the course of three days offered by three fantastic instructors: CBF instructors Erika (Hawkes) Hendricks and Stephie Baer, as well as dressage trainer Rachel Markels-Webber. Each instructor will cover one of the three phases of eventing. Daily unmounted lunch and lecture sessions will also be held. To qualify you must be able to jump at least 2’. Entries are open now, so see our shows and clinics page for more info.
Nici and Stephie were trying out the new xc jumps before they were all even unloaded

Those of you who follow us on Facebook will already know that we recently received a shipment of twelve new training and prelim-level cross country jumps from jump builder Eric Bull out of Virginia. I can’t tell you how excited we are to upgrade our course with these jumps so that we can continue to improve what we have to offer our boarders as well as those who come for shows and clinics. If you haven’t had a chance to see (jump!) them in person, they are not to be missed.

Our twelve new jumps arrive

Finally, speaking of cross country, there will be a special feature blog post later this month covering a major improvement to our cross country course. I don’t want to jinx us, so you’ll just have to wait until then…

-- Casy