Monday, November 1, 2010

Jeddien's Retirement

When your horse is a wonderful dressage partner, one with whom you have enjoyed years of dressage education, fun, and success, the retirement of that amazing equine can a difficult thing to accept, embrace, and enjoy.

Since the 2009 USDF Regional Championships, Jeddien has not competed.   Training continued, but with Piper coming along well in his training and two youngsters in the pipeline (including Jeddien's daughter!), it has been easier to accept that Jeddien is pushing 20 years old, struggles to maintain her girlish figure, and quite frankly has nothing else to prove in life.

And so, without planning, without any fanfare, Jeddien quietly retired from competition.   She still gets ridden occasionally, but no longer is she asked to try to work towards the next level, Prix Saint Georges.   She continues to go hacking, which she totally loves, and happily lets my dressage students have a feel of the upper level movements.

Surprisingly, and as a magical Swan Song for the old mare, Jeddien was accepted into the "Dressage Today" magazine's video clinic with Axel Steiner, "O" judge.   She is in the November 2010 issue, page 16.   The photo Mr. Steiner and his wife, professional photographer Terri Miller, critique is shown above.   I smile everytime I see it.   Carole MacDonald always seems to capture perfect snapshots!

Jeddien's History

Jeddien (Bustron x Uriant) was born in Holland June 21, 1991 on a small sheep farm.   She and her mother, Enia, were the only horses on the farm.   Interestingly, Jeddien truly hates sheepskin touching her body, squealing and kicking out at it.   I'm sure there's quite a story there....

With the help of Frits Donderwinkel, I imported Jeddien into the UK in March 1994 after viewing two videos of her.   She passed the vet check and I purchased her for a mere 5500 UK pounds, about $8000.   I started her and trained her.   We competed and won together in the UK through Advanced Medium Level.   We qualified for the Regional Championships, both Summer and Winter Seasons, nearly every year and competed at Medium Level Restricted and Medium Elite at the Winter Championships at Solihull.   When my husband and I moved to the USA in 2005, Jeddien came with us, as did Piper Warrior.

In the UK, Jeddien and I trained with Robert Pickles, FBHS.   We attended clinics with Christine Stuckleberger and Jan Nivelle for dressage, a Parelli UK instructor, and Tim Stockdale for showjumping.   Yes!   Showjumping.   In one competition at Merrist Wood College, Jeddien earned a double clear ribbon on her first time out over a colored course!   She loves to jump!

Once Jeddien understood what was expected, she won the majority of the competitions in which she was entered.   She even had her photo in UK's "Horse and Hound" magazine twice!   In her final show at the 2009 USDF Region 8 Championships, she walked away with two 3rd Level Reserve Championship titles!

In 2006, Jeddien gave birth to a stunning little chestnut filly who was sporting four even white socks!   Born with legwraps on!   Bea Yewtee is by the late "Da Vinci", a gorgeous gray FEI stallion who stood at Cornell University in his later years.

It was a year later that Jeddien first competed in the USA, starting at 3rd Level, then 4th, and for one weekend, 1st and 2nd, and only then so I could earn my USDF Bronze Medal.   In 2007, 2008, and 2009, she competed in the USDF Region 8 Championships at 3rd Level Open / Professional, coming 3rd, 7th, and Reserve Champion respectively.

Jeddien was also the very first horse several riders ever rode, including my husband who went on to train at a British Horse Society approved Riding Center in the UK.   Jeddien is thoughtful and careful with all new riders and has been the source of a lot of smiles.   Most recently, she let a first time young rider invent his own game of equestrian soccer where they, together, scored goals with her big Parelli ball.   He thought it was much more fun than doing 20 meter circles at the walk!

The Future

So now, the plan is simple.   We will continue to ensure Jeddien enjoys her life, well into her senior years, on our horse farm in New Hampshire.   She will continue to be pastured in the daytime with her little gang of geldings and stabled indoors in the evenings.   She will, of course, continue to run up vet bills, dental bills, saddle fitting bills, and farrier bills.   It's a good life, an easy life, and one which she enjoys.

Nope, there was no retirement party for Jeddien.   But some fellow competitors have commented to me about her absence from the show ring...   Relief, maybe?   I like to think so.   :-)

Jeddien is a wonderful unique character, a true chestnut mare, a real star and prima donna dressage queen, and my Horse of a Lifetime!   As Axel Steiner put it, I have been blessed to have such a willing and generous equine partner!   She is also a beloved member of our family, now and always.