Friday, August 15, 2008

Hi Everyone,

It is all completed! I am thrilled to have completed my first Olympic Games. I made some mistakes along the way, and I wish I didn't make them, but I have learned from them. In the past few weeks I have learned a great deal about being a competitor at the highest level, training horses and being a team mate. All of it has been an amazing and wonderful experience.

Toddy was wonderful and jumped great on the final day. I made two technical mistakes, which cost me two rails unfortunately. Sometimes at a horse trial a rider can make a slight technical mistake or not have the perfect, magic canter, but after galloping around a four-star cross-country track, I must establish and ride an excellent canter and be technically perfect in order to jump a clear round.

I am thrilled to get back home and get back to work. My expectations of myself have been raised immensely on this trip, and I am thankful for that. This has been my first time competing against the best in the world, and now I know what I am up against. I am inspired to train better and be better.

Thank you to everyone for all of your support and emails. I look forward to seeing all of you again soon!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I have forwarded a couple of pictures from the last few days, I hope you enjoy them. Toddy and I made a couple of green mistakes yesterday, but in the second half of the course we gained confidence and did well. It was by far the biggest course we have done, and we are now better prepared for next time. Toddy looks great this morning, happy, healthy and perky. I must say a huge, huge thank you to Stacey for taking such good care of Toddy to help him feel so good today. She is working her butt off with a lot of early mornings and late nights, particularly over the last couple days with transporting the horses all over.

We jog this afternoon and jump tonight. I will let you know how it all goes.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hi Everyone,

Team Canada all passed the jog the other day with flying colours! Kyle and Sandra did dressage yesterday morning and their scores were 63 and 60. Both horses reacted to the atmosphere, which there is a lot of. Both horses can do better tests but both riders did the absolute best they could with what there horses were capable of that day. Selena went and rocked last night achieving a score of 44! She rode great and her horse went wonderfully. She is in 16th place after the dressage. I was the fourth of the Canadians to go this morning. Toddy warmed up beautifully and did lovely trot work in the test achieving 6's and 7's throughout the trot work, including the extended trot!!! He became unglued in the canter which was too bad but he is young and he will be better next time. There was a lot going on in the main arena and he handled it super for the first part of the test. Mike was our final rider and he rode great to get a score of 48.

The horses are being shipped over to the cross-country site within the next hour. The cross-country site is about 30 minutes from the main venue. I am headed out to have one more walk around the cross country course so this email is short. Thank you so much to everyone for all of your emails, they mean so much to me!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Canadians got the chance to enjoy some sun and ocean time at Sheko Beach in Hong Kong.

More than a little rain in Hong Kong

Hi Everyone,

I have now experienced a level 8 typhoon in Hong Kong! It started in the middle of Wednesday night. The wind was incredibly loud and was so strong it was blowing windows and doors open in the hotel! In Hong Kong when the typhoon reaches level 8 the entire city shuts down and everyone stays indoors. Luckily, it passed by mid day, and I headed out to the stables to see how things were there.

The barns are so well built that the horses didn't even know there was a storm outside. I took Toddy for a walk in the indoor just to get him out of his stall because we were not sure we were going to be able to ride that day. When I say the typhoon was over, it doesn't mean the rain stopped. We were still getting complete downpours with fairly strong wind. The organizing crew was as efficient as they have been the entire time we have been here and managed to still hold the show jumping in the main arena that night.

We started the night with our first riders meeting of the competition followed by a course walk to prepare for the night's show jumping. The show jumping began at 7:15pm and the Canadian team jumped at 8:15pm. It was absolutely pouring the entire time, but the footing in the arenas is incredible and stayed perfect. All of our horses jumped great. It was a course of eight fences, and we could just do parts, do the whole course and repeat jumps. The idea was to let the horses jump under the lights in the main arena. Some of the horses also needed to get familiarized with the jumbotron screen which was showing video footage from Athens. It also showed a cartoon, which explained what show jumping is and what the various faults mean. The cartoon really freaked some horses out. For the most part the event horses were not fazed by it, but it definitely upset some of the dressage horses!

We went over to the Bea's river venue this afternoon and looked at the cross-country course. It looks great. It is definitely very challenging. The jumps are all really beautifully built and decorated. There are many accuracy questions as well as bold cross-country questions. I am excited to ride it!

We are going to go back over to the venue tonight to ride in the main arena again. The dressage arena is set up with all of the judges' booths. The eventers are allowed in from 7:30pm - 9pm and the dressage riders have the ring from 9pm - 11pm.

We have the jog up tomorrow afternoon, and then dressage for the eventers starts Saturday morning. It is exciting to be starting the competition!

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while since I last wrote, and a lot has happened since then, so I will try to remember all of it! Toddy [Livewire] is doing great! He has had many good training sessions since the last time I wrote. We had an excellent jump school the other day. He was absolutely foot perfect—he is so much fun to ride!!! We had a good dressage school the next day with many clean flying changes!

Yesterday was our final gallop, and it went great. We did a cross-country school to start, jumping into the water, through the coffin and over the trakenher. The organizing committee built a small cross-country course in the infield of the race track. It has beautifully built jumps and is a great place to give the horses one last little confident practice. After we jumped a few jumps, we went out to the gallop. We cantered down the gallop slowly and then came back up it at about advanced level speed. The gallop is right next to the river ( literally about 20 feet away), and the first time we came around the turn to the bottom part of the gallop Toddy was amazed by all the boats out on the water. It was pretty cute. We were going pretty slowly, and he just kept looking over at the river with astonishment that there were all these kayaks and crew boats out there! It was pretty funny! When we came back up with a bit of speed he was all business though!

Toddy and I had a great dressage school this morning. There is a tropical storm coming through tonight, and we had arenas booked for 6:15 pm to 7:30 pm. Luckily we have an amazing chef d'equipe, Graeme Thom, and he organized for us to get a ring steward to come watch us ride starting at 12:30pm this afternoon. Not only did we get to ride earlier, but we got the best ring at the venue, the final warm-up ring before going into the main arena during competition.

Pierre arrived a few days ago, and it is so great to have him here! He is thrilled to see Toddy going so well. I am thrilled to have him here for support. My family gets here on August 7th, and it will be great to have them here as well.

On Thursday, we get to go over and check out the cross-country course. I am excited to see it. From the sounds of things, the course sounds great!

Everything else here is good. All of my teammates' horses are going well and happy. We get to jump in the main arena tomorrow night and do dressage in it the following night. The jog is on Friday afternoon at 4pm, and then we start dressage bright and early Saturday morning. Sunday is also dressage and then cross-country Monday and show jumping Tuesday. They have managed the schedule so that if we get a bad storm, things can be postponed a day. We might have a typhoon on Saturday, but we may get lucky and have it skip us. Luckily, Toddy is from British Columbia, and he learned at a young age how to ride in the rain, so I am sure he will be fine with whatever Mother Nature sends our way!

Thank you again to everyone for all of your support and keep on cheering GO CANADA!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Horses Arrive Every Day

Hi Everyone,

Things are starting to get busy here in Hong Kong! Most of the dressage and event horses are at the venue as well as quite a few show jumpers. It is amazing seeing so many beautiful horses in one place. The dressage riders have been riding mostly at night as that is when they will be competing. It's really special watching those horses train.

Tomorrow the main arena is going to be open in the morning and at night for everyone to go in and ride for the first time. We've been taking our horses up to the entrance gate so they are somewhat accustomed to the ring. We'll be able to go in again on August 2, and then on August 6 we are going to jump under the lights in the main arena.

All of our Canadian horses are doing great! Yesterday was our first day back into hard training. Toddy (aka Livewire) had an awesome dressage school. I am so excited with how he is going. All of the other team members had good rides yesterday as well, and I think we pleased our devoted coach with our work. David O'Connor is a wonderful help to all of us and we are all greatly appreciative for having him here to coach the Canadian Eventing Team.

We received our team clothing yesterday as well. We all feel that much more unified when we show up at the stables or the Olympic Village now. The clothes all show some Asian influence, which makes them special for this year.

The horses did a jump school and a short gallop today, and they were all super. Dr. Christiana Ober was on hand to monitor how the horses all recovered from their workout. All of the horses temperatures were very good and cooled quickly. We are so thankful to have Dr. Ober here to take care of all of our horses. She is a truly amazing vet, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her knowledge and ability here with us.

The Canadian Dressage Team arrived yesterday, and all of their horses are healthy and well. It is great having so many Canadian horses here and looking down a barn aisle of Canadian tack trunks and flags. Canada is one of only four nations to qualify a team in all three Olympic disciplines for this year's Olympic Games. Go Canada!!!

I am so excited and thankful to be here at the Games. I am even more thankful to have my wonderful partner, Livewire, with me. He is such a special horse, and I am thrilled we are doing our first Olympic Games together. He has a heart of gold and loves his job more than anything. I am happy to see him adapting so well to this new show environment, and I am glad he is enjoying the experience as much as I am.

Thank you so much again for all of your support and well wishes!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Arrived And Settling In Well

Hi Everyone,

We arrived in Hong Kong on July 26 and had great flights. The horses all traveled incredibly well and had a super flight. The attendants at the airport got the horses off the plane and onto the air conditioned horse vans within 20 minutes, and drove the horses to the stables, which are about thirty minutes from the airport. They settled into their stalls happily, and the barns are beautiful with every amenity one could hope for.

The athletes' village is a hotel near to the stables. The hotel is beautiful. We have a 24-hour buffet with wonderful gourmet food. Some of the other athletes came today. All of the German horses are here. There are some people hear from Switzerland and Chile as well.

Now, the horses and the riders have all become settled in here in Hong Kong. We took the horses out for their first ride yesterday, and the horses were all happy to be out. It is a beautiful venue to ride out.

There is an amazing indoor arena that is huge and completely air conditioned. There are misting tents next to every outdoor arena that you can ride right into to give your horse a nice refresher. In the tents there are also huge containers of ice water with hoses attached that you can use to spray the horses down. This will be a big help in cooling the horses down during their rides and before they go into the competition arena. The main venue for the equestrian sports at the Olympic Games is the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The Hong Kong Jockey club spent $170 million dollars in preparation for these Olympic Games, and it is proving to be immensely appreciated. The facility is superb from the wonderful hacking and trotting paths in the infield to the practice cross-country course. A huge thank you goes out to John Ridley, who is head of racing operations here and has played a major role in the success of the venue.

All the quarantine vets and stable managers are incredibly impressed with the super condition all of our horses are in and how well they traveled. They have the best care imaginable. Our grooms are amazing and are doing a truly wonderful job taking care of our horses. I am forever grateful to Stacey Wood who is Livewire's groom. She is incredibly hard working and detail oriented. I am greatly thankful to have her here with Livewire and me.

Since the horses are still just doing quiet work, some of us riders thought we would take the opportunity to go and do some sight-seeing. Yesterday, we went to Kowloon. We are staying in Sha Tin, and it takes about 30 minutes to get to Kowloon which is down by the harbor. We took the star ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island. From there, we walked to the Hong Kong Yacht Club, which is a very famous yacht club from when the British were still in power here. We got in small boat and went for a tour around the inlet and into the harbor. After that, we went and just walked around town and saw some amazing things. The number of people here is unbelievable. Everything is so crowded and busy. We went inside a high end car dealership that had a beautiful car for sale for $13 million dollars!!!

We continued to walk around and look at shops as well as some churches and parks before catching a cab and driving up Victoria Peak. Victoria Peak is a mountain that looks right back down on the mainland and the harbor. It is an amazing view. We took the tram back down the mountain and then headed for the star ferry to head back home. It was a great day.

Everyone here says hi to everyone at home! I hope you are all well, and I will write again soon. Thank you all for all of your support, it means so much to me.