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Blog Archives: May, 2008


Claire Stanton and Jen Alnwick go west to Montana and Idaho

Claire and I have just returned from a trip that took us to Montana and Idaho. Claire was bold enough to invite herself to come along while I worked shooting photos for my book, so I said sure, why not? We arrived in Missoula, MT and drove south to Victor where we stayed in a cabin on a ranch provided by a friend. Great cabin, but the pet peacock kept us up all night screaming.

Sleep or not, we had a heavy itinerary and found ourselves on our way to St. Ignacious the following day where we were to camp out (horses and all) with 150 other riders who had signed on for the 100th Anniversary National Bison Range Trail Ride. The range was sanctioned by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908, and it is on a Native American Indian reservation, land owned by the Salish-Kootenai tribes. It is open to the public exactly one day a year, and only for this ride.

Claire is quite handy, so she set up the portable electric fencing for the horses and she set up the tent, as well. We had dinner, and after pulled pork sandwiches and cake for dessert we sat around the bonfire chatting with the locals. They were intrigued by Claire and loved her accent, although they were still skeptical she might be able to ride a horse! Little did they know; because the next morning Claire became the rockstar of the entire weekend when she performed some pretty amazing stunt manuevers on a, well, rather difficult Medicine Hat Paint gelding she was riding. From then on in, she was legendary. Hi ho, silver, no doubt.

Fast forward to Salmon, Idaho where we met up with a cowboy named Ward. He breeds paints and we spent the day there from pasture to pasture looking at all of the new babies. Claire swears she is going to take a little buckskin and her mom back to Cedar Crest. Ward made us dinner and told stories until late at night. He had some amazing Native American Indian artifacts at his ranch, and some tall tales to go with them.

We ended the trip back in Montana, this time in Corvallis, to see my friend, trainer/cowboy Chris Bohenek start a new 3 year old mare under saddle. She was an Arab/Oldenberg cross. His techniques for starting a horse are not your typical cowboy/horse whisperer ones. In fact, he is quite educated about the fundamentals of dressage and seat to hand riding. It was pretty interesting stuff, and although I have seen him in action before, there is always something to be learned.

I think we were both sad to get back home since we had such a great time. But the good news is that we represented the east coast and Cedar Crest quite well. No-one west of the Mississippi thinks that anyone east of the Mississippi can ride a horse, especially being from New York. And while I do not ride nearly as well as Claire, we did have one old cowboy remark under his breath, "Huh, well you two girls sure can ride..." I think he is still trying to figure that one out!


Posted by JAlnwick: 05/31/2008

Footing disappointment at H.I.T.S., Saugerties.

With the high cost of gas and so trying to keep the cost of travelling down for ourselves and our clients, we travelled to our local A rated series of shows at the HITS complex in Saugerties full of hope and expectation of a good summer of showing on their much vaunted new and improved footing. We are depressed at having to report that again this year the footing was so hard as to be potentially detrimental to the safety and welfare of the horses and so we reluctantly had to scratch all of our entries for this week. Many other riders seemed to be doing the same but again this year I have to question the efficacy of the USEF stewards who were noticable by their absence in the discussions and representations made to the show management about the footing.

The stewards have many tasks to perform but as at the same show in 2007 they seem to be oblivious to their duty in relation to the welfare of the horses competing at USEF rated shows. Having been involved in top national and international shows in other countries I do have to ask why these stewards are so clearly negligent in their duties? Both the stewards and the rated judges have a duty to the Federation, the show management and to the competitors to ensure that all aspects of the show meet the standards laid down in the rules both to the letter and the spirit of the law.

After all the complaints by USEF members in 2007 and assurances that the Federation would be taking steps to ensure that a AAA rated show would not offer substandard conditions, especially when they do so at a premium price, I have to ask why special interest was not paid to HITS Saugerties BEFORE the show started in order to ensure that there was not a repeat of last year?

As members we are obliged not to act in a way as to bring the Federation or the sport into disrepute. Why are event organizers not required to act in the same way?

All members should now complain to the Federation so that they have no choice but to live up to THEIR duties and reponsibilities. In the meantime, we are faced with the prospect of having to travel much further afield in order to compete with our horses this summer if we wish them to stay sound and happy in their work.


Posted by Cedar Crest: 05/28/2008

Grainne Sugars Clinic at Fitch's Corner Horse Trials













A number of riders from Cedar Crest took advantage of the opportunity to ride with one of Ireland's leading trainers, Grainne Sugars B.H.S.I., over the cross-country course at Fitch's Corners during the Memorial Day weekend. On the first day of the clinic, Blonde Redhead vocalist, Kazu Makino, shared a lesson on the old hand, Penny Sparkle, with Joanne Blackmore on our young homebred, Tom Cruz. Grainne concentrated on the requirement for control, balance and forward planning both in the initial flatwork and over some of the cross-country fences in keeping with the current and rightful concern in the sport to train responsible, disciplined riders.

Later in the weekend, our daughter Alison and her new pony, Cedar Crest Bewitched, joined a group of eight riders for a two-day session covering dressage, stadium and cross-country. Also gaining from this experience was amateur rider Gerry McNamara and his new purchase, Irish Joker. Again the first day of flatwork and stadium jumping set the scene for the cross-country session on day two by establishing the requirement to balance horses through turns, first to poles on the ground and subsequently to more complex fences. Horses and riders learned a great deal and ended the clinic much more confident about their chances of success when they set out across country at their first events of the season.

Posted by Cedar Crest: 05/28/2008

BHS exams

This past December Nancy, Janet and I barreled off to Florida to take our British Horse Society exams, Stage 1 and 2. After several weeks of lessons and lectures with Cedar Crest (and lots of bleary-eyed studying on my own) I felt very prepared for Stage 1 and optimistically hopeful for Stage 2. (I knew going into it that Stage 2 was a stretch for my level at the time.)

The trip was fun and the three of us shared an apartment with a pool; a nice break from New York’s winter weather. I took a few practice lessons at the test center beforehand and sorely missed Penny, Max and the other lesson horses back in Pine Plains who helped me build my confidence over my first ever courses. (Anyone who currently jumps higher than 2’6” please don’t laugh.)

The results for me were mixed. I aced Stage 1 without a problem and passed everything but the lunging for Stage 2. At first I was very disappointed at not passing Stage 2, but that didn’t last long. I pushed myself quite hard and Sam, Claire and Louise were so helpful throughout the preparation leading up to the exams. I’m especially appreciative of the horse care lectures, as now I feel much more confident as a horse owner.
Posted by jrubinic: 05/05/2008
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