2021 US Dressage Final Diary – Ruth Shirkey – 11/10/2021

The time at Spy Coast Farms was really good for Wyleigh. She was able to roll in her stall, eat and relax.  On Sunday, I took her to the round pen for a lunge to stretch her out a bit.  Again, she was very loose and relaxed, going well in both directions.  I also hand walked her and let her graze to her heart’s content.  The Spy Coast property is all pastures and various specialized barns.  Wyleigh thinks this is paradise and would like to stay forever, I think.

After working with Wyleigh, cleaning her stall and making sure she had the food and water she needed for the rest of the afternoon, Eric and I met a former work colleague of mine and went to dinner.  The Carson’s Food & Drink restaurant is in downtown Lexington.  The restaurant has a Prohibition Era themed décor with cocktails to match.  The interior was created using the lumber and bricks taken from demolished local barns and stables.  There was some very nice wood paneling that was clearly reclaimed and looked way too nice to have been in a stable, but I guess you never know, right?  The food was terrific and I recommend the restaurant to anyone coming to Lexington for a meal.

On Monday I rode Wyleigh in the Spy Coast quarantine area schooling arena after giving her a nice massage.  I was especially concerned about her back and hamstrings, due to the long trailer ride.  These areas had been a bit of an issue when we went to the 2020 Festival of Champions.  I am happy to report that she felt really good.  Nice and relaxed over her back and ready to work.  We didn’t do too much.  Some long trot and canter leg yields with her neck just in front of the withers lowered, to get her stepping under and through.  When she was carrying herself and this was going smoothly, I then switched to transitions in and between gaits to help her collect herself just a bit.  All in all, the ride was only about 35 minutes including a 10-minute walk warm-up before and cool-down after. I also needed to keep the ride short since I had a work call with my boss that was scheduled just as I was ending my ride.  I am so lucky that my boss is Dutch (he is in Amsterdam) and actually knows what Dressage is.  After the ride, we went over to the KHP stabling to get Wyleigh’s stall prepped for her arrival the next morning and to set up our tack stall.

Tuesday morning, we were up at 6am to get everything ready to move Wyleigh to the KHP.  The transfer from Spy Coast to KHP was really simple.  The distance is only a couple of miles since the two properties are right next to each other.  We literally went out the Spy Coast driveway, turned right on to the parkway then took the second exit right, into the KHP.  It is a bit of a twisty drive once you are in the KHP including a roundabout.  The drive to the indoor heated barns takes you right up to the Alltech Arena.  The outdoor stabling is still a bit further from the Alltech arena and is about a 5-minute walk away.

The stabling in the indoor heated barns is on concrete, not my favorite thing.  When I think of the lovely stalls at the Murieta Equestrian Center, with the rubber mats, I just wish every place we had to stay overnight had such accommodations.  To overcome the poor horse accommodations, I rent the rubber stall mats, that are only 1/2-inch thick and cover about 75-80% of the stall floor.  Then I put in 8 bags of shavings, knowing how much Wyleigh likes to roll and lay down in her stall.  Each day, we would remove about 1 to 2 bags worth of shavings in the cleaning and replace the removed shavings with fresh.  The total count of bales of shavings used was 15.  Believe me, Wyleigh made good use of the bedding.  She laid down every night and even laid down again after having her breakfast every morning.

There is a very good Night Watch service that serves this competition and we had used them for the 2019 competition.  They start their watch at 9pm and go on until 5am.  They refill the water buckets and best of all, take care of the morning feedings.  This means that Eric and I can sleep in until 7am and get over to Wyleigh a bit later, knowing she has already had her breakfast and will be ready to go when we get there.

Once we were all setup in the barn, I went to get my entry packet and make sure I did not owe the Show Manager further information.  It turns out my entry was in the “Perfect Entry” box and I did not have to address any missing necessaries.

It was now time to tack Wyleigh up and get her over to the competition arena where we would be competing on Thursday for the I-2 AA Championships.  This arena was one of the furthest from the barn, a 10-minute walk, though not quite as far as the Rolex Arena which is another 3 to 5 minutes’ walk from the indoor barns.  The footing is all sand, and did not present any issues for us.  The winds were starting to pickup due to the incoming storm that was arriving over the next couple of days.  Predictions were that the rains and winds would be occurring pretty closely to our ride time of 2:29 PM on Thursday.  I was prepared, since this was what had happened 2 years before for our I-1 Warm-up ride.

There were a few folks out also getting their horses familiar with the arena, including Alice Tarjan on Serenade.  Together, they make a lovely combination, but I wasn’t there to watch them practice, I was there to get Wyleigh ready.  We worked on suppling and throughness for a bit.  She was going nicely and though I would have liked more of everything, I was happy to work with the reality of what we have now.  I know Wyleigh would be focused on Thursday and nothing in the competition arena was going to trouble her, so I kept it short, in order to keep as much energy and enthusiasm as I could for the actual performance.

Tuesday evening, Wyleigh’s breeder, Cheryl Johnson (Hidden Acres Farms), came into Lexington from Adrian, Michigan.  She invited Eric and I over to her hotel to have homemade Turkey Chili and Chocolate Chip cookies.  It was a great evening and we enjoyed visiting with Cheryl and making our plans for the rest of the week.  In addition to the wonderful food, unbeknownst to me, Cheryl had been collaborating with Eric and my good friend Carolyn Adams (Yarra Yarra Ranch), to create a stall banner with Wyleigh’s name on it.  Cheryl presented the banner to me and I was so thrilled.  It would look great in front of Wyleigh’s stall and mean so much to me knowing that my closest supporters were thinking of Wyleigh and me.  Cheryl and I agreed to get together the next morning, Wednesday, to work Wyleigh, then go explore the local Tack shop we had heard about, which turned out to be right next door to her hotel.

Wednesday morning’s ride needed to be in the Alltech arena, since that was where the Grand Prix final would be.  When I arrived at the barn at 9am, I found Wyleigh laying down and enjoying her deeply bedded stall.  I couldn’t help but take a picture and send it out to her friends.  She looked so happy.  Did I say how much I love the Night Watch service and knowing that Wyleigh has already had her breakfast and she can also sleep in?

Wyleigh is very familiar with the Alltech and went right to work.  I was staying with my plan to save our energy for the show, but at the same time, I wanted to make sure she was giving me what I needed from her without wasting energy.  She was focused and working well.  The trailer travel for this trip just doesn’t seem to have affected her in any way.  We ran through some movements from both the I-2 and GP tests and called it a day.  Once Wyleigh was back in her stall and happy with an alfalfa snack, Cheryl and I went back to the Alltech to check out the Vendors.  

There are a number of Vendors that come to the Dressage Finals on a regular basis and we recognized some from 2019.  Considering the supply shortages being experienced in just about every area of our economy, there were still plenty of boots, saddle pads, saddles, brow bands, stock ties, helmets and a multitude of other equestrian related items for sale.  Cheryl found a beautiful teal colored PS of Sweden saddle pad, bonnet and shirt of similar color.  I found a beautiful silk scarf with a hand painted horse as well as a pair of Deniro boots in Tobacco that I had hoped to order but actually found and brought home from the CUatX store.  I would say our visit to the Vendors was definitely a success for us both.  That did not stop us from going to the Tack Shop of Lexington store though.  This is the tack shop that is next to Cheryl’s hotel.  It was a very nice tack shop with lots of top-quality products.  I wish we had something more like this in the Livermore area.  The Dover Saddle shop is lovely, but it is quite a long way away from where I live.

Wednesday night we treated ourselves to Red State BBQ for dinner.  This is a small BBQ joint about 15 minutes from the KHP.  They make very good barbeque meats as well as the Corn Pudding (which is a side, not a dessert), and the Beer Cheese Grits are pretty delicious too.   I also highly recommend the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale to drink with your BBQ (if you like beer that is).  The place is always busy because the food is good and the prices very reasonable.  There is graffiti all over the walls and you can’t help but read it as you wait for your food.  We were sitting in a booth and when I looked up at the graffiti near the ceiling, I saw “Hidden Acres Farms”, Ruth S, written there.  Cheryl Johnson’s breeding operation was called, Hidden Acres Farms.  I know I did not write the graffiti on that ceiling.  It is a mystery as to who wrote it.  How weird it that?

After that wonderful meal, we went back to check on Wyleigh and make sure we were ready for the next day’s competition.  Since my ride time is at 2:29pm, the braiding would wait until the morning.  We went to bed with warm tummies and a bit of excited anticipation for tomorrow…

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  • judy serienagyNovember 27, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    RED STATE BBQ – yeeeessssss! Love that place; I’m glad you got to dine there. Not sure that I should refer to it as dining, that may be a little too snooty for Red State, huh? Love these reports, Ruth … I’m right there with you.

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