Katie Murphy
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Katie Murphy

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About Katie Murphy

Katie Murphy’s primary objective is to train horses in a positive manner, so they may progress to the best of their ability while enjoying their work. She pursues excellence in education with renowned instructors and world-class equestrians. At the age of 16, Katie achieved the Pony Club “B” rating, in the original format. Competing on her horse Share The Profit, she placed second nationally among the United States Eventing Association’s Young Riders. The following year, Katie Murphy was invited to join the Area 1 North American Young Rider Eventing team for the Junior Olympics, competed Intermediate and at the Bromont CCI* competition. At her first Intermediate horse trials, she was the only rider to ride double clear cross-country aside from Phillip Dutton and Peter Green. She holds an MBA with a Marketing specialty from Northeastern University. During the past 12 years, Katie has held professional occupations as VP of Relations for Luxequestrian and as Marketing Coordinators for a real estate agency focusing on multi-million dollar properties throughout New England. Her lifestyle enables her to understand the complexities of balancing a career while maintaining the health and education of performance horses. Katie and her horses have achieved multiple Area 1 and national titles with the US Eventing Association and the US Equestrian Federation’s Performance Horse Registry. Most recently, her horse Esccord RGS has placed impressively at the 4 and 5 Year Old Young Event Horse East Coast Championships. Katie is solely responsible for his training.

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Return to Huntington

Me and Deszi at Millbrook. Me and Deszi at Millbrook.

Though I am always excited to compete at Huntington Farm, this event held particular significance: Garth was returning to competition. After months of slow and calculated rehabilitation, progressive treatments, and teetering on the edge of heartbreak, Garth was given the gold star for a return to galloping and jumping. Deszi also got to play. Two horses, one day – why not? They both ran at the Training level.

Deszi’s times were first. She showed slight signs of worry, chewing the bit continuously in the dressage, but aside from that she handled leaving her barn-mate beautifully. She has a phenomenal work ethic – focused, clear, and positive. She is an absolute pleasure.

She put in a lovely test with moment of improvement, and reminders of where we need to strengthen our performance. For our particular dynamic, I need to ride our test stride-for-stride, not movement to movement, and not the test as a greater whole. She placed second with a score of 28.6.

Cross country was fluid, simple and without concern. She is a star. Deszi cruised around the new track like she was warming up for something later. We incurred a little time due to adjustment to fences, looking for a deeper, powerful distance to the jumps. Her canter is so fluid and comfortable, I become lackadaisical – she calms me, and I need to keep engaging her engine stride for stride (same story in dressage).

In stadium, I rode a lovely line over the first fence. It was the wrong line, but a lovely line none the less. We slipped between a pair of standards and the bank complex, crossed our line, and continued our way around course. We pulled a rail from being slightly crooked at take-off, ending in 4th place. A true reflection of Deszi’s character, she stood quietly as Garth left the start box and executed his show jump round. It’s a pleasure to have two intelligent horses that can compete together.

Garth was surprisingly focused and submissive in the dressage. We incorporated a great deal of lateral work to keep him supple and to prevent him from overpowering me: shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, leg yield in all three gates. His counter canter was balanced, and his rein- ack is steadily improving.

During his test, it became clear that Garth was happy to be back competing. He whinnied three times, just to be certain everyone knew he was back.nHe won by nearly four points, earning a 26.7. Cross-country was like reliving his 4 year old season: the jumps didn’t concern him, but the rocks, trees, shadows, suspicious chipmunks and fence judge really caught his attention.

Several times, I found us suddenly on the other side of the gallop track. It’s impressive how quickly he can move laterally at a gallop. He jumped double clear. Stadium was lovely – forward, responsive, powerful springs off the ground – until the final fence. At the last jump, we had a communication error and slipping. I saw a stronger stride, he saw one more stride – he fit it in, then his hind end slipped nearly underneath the jump at take-off, landing his front end between the oxer’s top rails. We recovered, reared, and jumped it clear to win his division. I should have reacted faster to the distance I saw – a split second can make a world of difference.

Thank you to Bit of Britain for your gift certificates and support of Huntington Farm!

A very special thank you to Roger (super hubby) and Melissa Menard. Melissa, a lovely young rider whom I met through teaching the Groton Pony Club, offered to come help us for the day. Like Roger, she has a steady calm about her. She is mature for her age, a pleasure to be around, and is very good with the horses. Like Roger, I knew I could trust her. With cross-country and stadium rides within 20 minutes of each other, I could not have done it without them!

Thank you for riding alongside us!

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Millbrook Marvelous

Waiting to start dressage. All photos courtesy of Lisa Ambrose Cook. Waiting to start dressage. All photos courtesy of Lisa Ambrose Cook.

Last night, Roger and I returned home from the Millbrook Horse Trials. We rode Thursday through Saturday at the Training and Novice levels.

Competing  Deszi at Millbrook was not in our original plans for the season. Garth was originally supposed to run there, and as ARP coordinator for our area, I felt it was necessary that I be present. So, for her 2nd Training level competition, Deszi was asked to step it up. I adore this horse.

Honestly, at the beginning of our partnership I wasn’t so sure about her. Had it not been for my dressage instructor, I would have never looked at her. But I am thrilled that I did. Her dressage continues to improve, and her canter just gets better and better.

She is developing a lovely cadence and suspension, though it is not yet consistent. And, her mind is so clear – she is a kind, non-reactive mare who wants to please and impress. She is truly lovely.

Her dressage test was pinned where I expected it to be. My favorite comment and score? The left lead canter departure: “4. Fresh.” Yes, but isn’t she pretty? And yes, she was fresh!

Our lengthening was conservative. Her canter continues to strengthen, evidenced in her adjustability and jumping. She just keeps getting better. She scored a 33.6, to place 7th out of 25.

Preparing for the drop into the water complex.

Preparing for the drop into the water complex.

True to Millbrook style, the cross-country course was big and bold, with questions that truly tested the horse and rider’s ability for the level. This was not a casual course. As we calmly left the start box, I was fully prepared to pull up after a few fences. As a 5 year old with six months of training, my last intention is to rock her confidence. She loved it – and carried me to each fence with a smile.

Deszi's power booty into the water.

Deszi’s power booty into the water.

She was smart, confident, and ready for more. The jump efforts seemed to entertain her, and she was keen to work to the next. She jumped around with little concern to finish on her dressage score, moving up to 5th. What a cool horse!

Stadium was a fun course – lots to work around, beautiful in design, and a great forward flow. She was a star! Had it not been for loosing some of her power behind, we would have jumped double clear. We had a rail, caught by her hind hoof, over an oxer. We ended in sixth.

Tight knees and keen attention.

Tight knees and keen attention.

When Slick’s owners asked if I could run him at one more competition, I mentioned Millbrook. Excitement grew, and Gracious Plenty (all 17.1 hands of Irish beefcake) was entered in Open Novice. What a gem of a horse.

He is an absolute professional, keen to his job quick to focus, and a sweet soul. This boy also loves to eat, which makes me wonder if there is part Murphy in him. He was lovely in the dressage, though our dressage score did not reflect in our favor.

Slick putting in a lovely dressage test in a BIG environment.

Slick putting in a lovely dressage test in a BIG environment.

The following afternoon, hacking down to the start box I asked him to trust me. I could ask for nothing more as we had known each other for less then two months. He was an absolute pleasure to gallop and jump: honest, keen, and trusting.

Slick super toward the end of cross country, landing downhill on a turn.

Slick super toward the end of cross country, landing downhill on a turn.

Slick covered the ground and worked over the fences with eager confidence. Show jumping was perhaps the best ride of the weekend, offering me a clearer view of what makes this horse tick. Forward and working to keep him light in the front end, Slick needs a lot of power – as we worked through the course, I employed many of the lessons I’ve had this season.

Kim 7

Though he is 11 years old, he was pulled out of a field by his owners at age 9, where he was baby sitting young colts and eating to his heart’s content. His owners and rider have done a beautiful job transforming him from butterball to eventer.

We are all very proud of Slick!

We are all very proud of Slick!

He is a very competent horse, with a wonderful heart and attitude. I am so proud of this horse. This competition was a big step for his competitive career, and he handled everything as a true gentleman.

This weekend was also an opportunity to catch up with a friend from my childhood. KC and I met as juniors, competed in the Young Riders together, and now compete in the Adult Riders Program together. More then 20 years of friendship! We had the most delightful evening at their home with their lovely daughter Lyra, her husband Matt, and friend Linda. This is what these programs are about: camaraderie, community, and friendship. An absolute highlight to the weekend.

Friends of decades! Matt wearing the best T-shirt ever. Roger is getting one…

Friends of decades!
Matt wearing the best T-shirt ever. Roger is getting one…

Although this season has not transpired the way I intended, I think there may have been a greater plan in order. As Garth’s season was put on hold, I was able to focus on Deszi’s training and growing Murphy Eventing. Since that time, we have welcomed many great horses in training and students to our farm.

Despite the upset of Garth’s injury, this year has been the best so far. Each day, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live this life, to consider clients and friends one in the same, and have a husband that supports me unconditionally. Blessed, lucky, whatever you choose to call it – I am humbled but this life of opportunity.

The Area 1 Adult Rider Program Team Challenge was also held at the event. We had  eight teams competing together for nearly $5,000 worth of prizes – made possible by our members and Smartpak. Check the Area 1 website for results, coming soon. There will be another Area 1 ARP Team Challenge at GMHA in September – come join us!

Thank you for riding along with us!

Katie Murphy

[email protected]murphyeventing.com

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Groton House Ties

If you’ve lived, competed or breathed horses in Area 1, you know of Groton House Farm. This private estate is open only a few times each year for the horse community’s enjoyment. Despite the wear and tear on the fields and dirt roads that meander alongside the pastures and cottages, this family graciously opens their home to us.

Groton House is a destination event. The horse trials ties us to the fundamentals of our sport: community, galloping tracks, and the gorgeous horse country that has made New England a favorite among equestrians.

IMG_3087 Originally, I had planned to compete Garth and Deszi at the event. But, while Garth continues to earn gold stars during his recovery (and a few     naughty marks for bucking, rearing and bolting), Deszi had the pleasure of competing on these gorgeous grounds for the first time. Deszi has now had five months of training.

She is a professional through and through: I have yet to see this young Thoroughbred become overwhelmed by a show environment. We had a short dressage school, and after carefully eyeing the judge’s booth, she entered the ring calm and confident.

She was lovely, and pressed for her “new” trot with a new level of engagement and suspension.

Our canter transitions resembled something of a camel’s first sight of water, but aside from that, she was lovely. Scores were very tight – she scored a 33.9 for a 7th placing, just 2.2 points out of first. There was a two-way tie for first, a three-way tie for 4th, three-way tie for 8th and a tie for 16th place. That’s a lot of ties!

IMG_3100Deszi continued her success on cross-country: a cool, confident horse navigating the fences without concern. She is a blast to ride. She has fun, and she focuses on each fence without hesitation. She is a very cool mare. She cantered around with little effort for a double clear round to move up to 5th place.

Show jumping has been our weaker phase, in part due to some strength issues in Deszi’s canterIMG_3137. We have been working on her canter quality religiously, translating this across stride lengths, distances to jumps, and through varying approaches to fences. It has paid off.

Unfortunately, we did have a rail that dropped us to 9th place, but let me tell you – when I placed her to a deep distance, she maintained her balance and her stride, allowing for great form over the fence. She was just a little delayed with that form, and ticked the rail with her front toe.

She is getting rather nonchalant about these Novice fence heights, which concerns me, and I think her move up to Training level at Huntington Farm is coming at the perfect time. I also must remember that although I have owned her since last summer, she is still very green. She is a special horse, and we have a great future of exciting experiences ahead of us.

Groton House is a smaller event now, offering levels of Novice through Intermediate-Preliminary at their USEA recognized horse trials.

Less then 20 years ago, this competition was one of the Olympic selection trials. The likes of Bruce Davidson, David O’Connor, Karen O’Connor and many more hacked their phenomenal partners down these same dirt roads, and galloped them across the same rolling grass fields.

The competition may be quieter today, but the history and heritage comes alive with every hoof beat.

IMG_3135Thank you, Paige Basset of Spotted Vision Photography, for the photos!

Thank you for riding along with us!

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Rainy Day Recuperation

Deszi at her recent event, GMHA.
Used with permission: Flatlandsfoto Deszi at her recent event, GMHA. Used with permission: Flatlandsfoto

It is raining outside, and I am at the Myhre Equine Clinic while the vets assess Garth and administer his treatments. This is the first day I will not be riding any of the horses at the farm.

The ring is dragged and the fields are mowed. Our first cut hay, straight from our own fields, is as green as an Irish salad. The horses all love it, and our fields are in great health. Our six-stall barn is nearly filled with horses: They are all happily eating in their salads with fluffy bedding and plenty of room to stretch their legs. I think we are all going to enjoy a quiet day at the Autumn Hill Farm.

There has not been one day that I have not ridden since returning from Aiken. The horses needed to be worked, the temperatures were cooperating, and I had energy to spare. In addition to catering to the needs of our own horses and the horses in training, I have been adjusting to the needs of our property. As spring blended into summer, property maintenance has become a primary focus for us in our “free time”. The most extensive chore? Mowing the lawns. Our grass grows incredibly fast. We are wondering what may be in the soil…

Roger and I were chatting last night about our life together, and the new directions that our choices have led us. I am happier then ever, not just in spirit but in physical health as well. Farm work and training various types and levels of horses is interval training within itself. What I find amazing is that I no longer have symptoms of issues that may result from stress or upset that I otherwise did not pay attention too: biting my nails, digestive upset, for example. Although the physical work, business management and social balancing acts are greater then I’ve ever experienced, I am at my absolute happiest. I think I have found a purpose, a fulfilling existence, and I am pursuing my dreams with a full heart.

Rainy day dogs helping with barn chores.

Rainy day dogs helping with barn chores.

Every day I ask myself “Is this really my job?” With every smile from a student, each ride on a horse, and the numerous “ah hah!” moments in between, I am reminded how incredibly fortunate I am to have the opportunity to build on my dreams and my goals. It has taken more then 10 years to build the reputation, client base, and skill set that has enabled me to pursue my passion as my career. But this is not a career, it is not a job, it is life itself. A life worth living, cherishing and sharing.

Thank you for riding along with us!

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Lessons of Youth at GMHA

Vermont scenery never disappoints. If you don't like the weather, just wait - it will change.
Photo by Lisa Ambrose Cook. Vermont scenery never disappoints. If you don't like the weather, just wait - it will change. Photo by Lisa Ambrose Cook.

Deszi competed at GMHA this weekend. Two gorgeous days in Vermont at a spectacular venue. Their new footing is holding up brilliantly, the courses were pristine, and the drainage systems were working hard after the rains earlier in the week.

With all this positivity, I thought we were poised for success. I thought wrong – at least in the manner in which I chose to define success for the weekend at that moment. In other words, I was hoping to win. We did not win.

Deszi’s dressage was not the quality of our performance at Hitching Post. There was tension, and she was working against my hand throughout the test. My favorite part? We had the same judge this past weekend and at Hitching Post (No, seriously, I was really excited about this!).

I was looking forward to reading the comments, comparing her notes to my own, and reviewing the two tests side-by-side. Although Deszi has consistently placed in the top after dressage at her three other USEA novice competitions, this was not one of them and accurately reflected her youth and inexperience. The judge noted this, and she was spot on.

Show jumping followed later in the afternoon. A very inviting course, with plenty of distance between fences and honest approaches. Deszi was a star and casually navigated the course. There were several fences I chose to move-up to instead of asking for a deeper distance. The deeper distance is quickly becoming a strong contender for us, but it has not yet become consistent.

The last related distance down the long side started nicely and ended poorly. I waited for a closer distance, Deszi misunderstood. From the video, it looks like she placed one of her front hooves down for that last, closer stride, got confused, and jumped long anyway. She tagged the rail with her hind and it fell from the jump cups.

We recovered and jumped the final fence in good form. She was unfazed, and went right back into “work mode.” She is a diligent mare with great focus. I was most pleased with her simple lead changes. She was on point, shifted her balance right away, and picked up the new lead immediately. A great step in the right direction toward flying lead changes.

Cross country was fun. It is so cool to ride a young horse that looks straight ahead, locks on, and canters up to the fences with the casual confidence of a school master. And her gallop is brilliant. As we climbed the hill between fences at the start of the course, I enjoyed every ground-covering stride; effortless and smooth. Her adjustability has improved drastically since this spring in Aiken. She has grown in height and strength, developing significant muscling.

She has a chill attitude about cross country: confident and bold, yet composed. She assesses the fence, environment, and surrounding stimuli as she works over the terrain. She jumped around beautifully, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I adored this ride on her, but more importantly, I appreciated the experience we created over the course together.

After the great cross country run, Roger and I had our typical post-competition recap of the event. I reminded myself that she has been in consistent training now for only a few months. Last year, she was ridden for three weeks and then had the remainder of the fall and winter off due to a bone chip surgery, rehab, and the winter (ie: pony holiday).

She is a remarkable horse and has many more shining moments just waiting to be polished and shown to the world. Deszi is more confident then Garth was at this point in his training. Amazing how speaking with Roger brings so much clarity, and a more accurate perspective of how things are versus how I think they should be.

Here’s a little sneak peak into my psyche: I am far more competitive that I realized. I am competitive with myself, not wishing ill upon my competitors, but I do not enjoy losing. And by losing, I mean not bringing home the blue. But, it is the generosity and pure honesty of a young/green horse that sets me straight every time. Despite not bringing home the blue, there were many winning moments for us. And that is the most important piece within my partnership with horses – continuous growth and improvement, not the ribbons we hang on the stall doors.

Thank you for riding along with us.

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Garth Goes Muddin’ at MCTA

A well-deserved graze.

A well-deserved graze.

If you’re crazy, you choose to drive home from Aiken alone. 19 hours. You are nuts when, a few days later, you make a day trip to pick up your new horse in PA. You have reached clinically insane status when you then head to Maryland, compete and return home the following day. Kim suggested MCTA as a way of filling a gap in our competition schedule before the VA CCI* – so Maryland it was! I had never been, but her assessment of the courses was reason enough to make the trip.

Roger and I giggled a lot on our drive down: The MCTA event was located in Cockeysville. Childish, yes, but also entertaining. Easy to get too and an absolutely gorgeous setting. The land was absolutely stunning: rolling hills of lush grass cascaded toward blue skies, farmhouses and barns bordered the weathered fencing, and a light breeze deterred biting insects from lingering. Due to traffic, we arrived later then expected. We quickly settled Garth into his stall and walked cross-country. The sun was setting quickly and the green and blue flags looked awfully similar. All three of our rides were within 1.5 hours of each other, beginning at 8:30.

Though miraculously recovered from the 6″ of rain a few days prior, the grass rings were quickly getting chewed up and slippery in areas. It was not our best test. A fine test, and mediocre test – a tired test. The best part of this phase was the warm-up: though Garth began his new spooking antics among the other horses, I have found a way to handle the explosions discretely and constructively. This was a step forward. The test scored a 37.7 and we placed 16th out of 21 (Ouch).

Everyone was tired.

Everyone was tired.

Stadium was in a rolling field just above the cross-country start. It was a lovely course with turns that added another level of complexity due to the slippery footing. Garth was a star and listened beautifully. Two fences from finish, we pulled a front rail to an oxer with his front hoof – It felt like he slipped on take off and couldn’t quite get his hind-end underneath him for the push off the ground. We ended the course in good form over the final fence. Many rails were pulled within our division. Despite our 4 penalty points, we moved up to 14th place.

Cross-country was a stunning course. The fences were pristine and gallops between jumps were a perfect test of his fitness. Virtually the entire course was soggy earth, with standing water in areas that was quickly chewed up into deep mud. Garth was honest, bold and forgiving – particularly when we galloped by fence #8 and had to gallop back to stay on course. That’s what I get for walking XC in the dark! He jumped double clear and moved up to 9th place. Had we not pulled a rail, we would have moved up to 5th overall.

This was an amazing venue. I would love to return for another competition, but hope they place preliminary over two days as they did for Intermediate and Advanced. Due to our long drive, it was too much within the short period of time. A welcomed surprise was Starbucks coffee in the stabling Saturday morning. What a treat!

Thank you for riding along with us!

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Deszi Goes to College

Deszi showing great form at UNH

Deszi showing great form at UNH.  All photos used with permission from Triple-G Photography.

This past weekend, Deszi competed at her second event: The UNH horse trials. The weather was the complete opposite of the warm, sunny Aiken we had left just one week ago. For nearly two decades, there has been some form of precipitation at the UNH event and this weekend did not disappoint. Gray days, rain, and raw temperatures in the low 40s had many horses wound up and tight. Transitioning from 80 degree days, sunshine and a clipped coat, Deszi was no exception.

She warmed up nicely, but felt tight from the chill. The judge’s booths were decorated beautifully, and Deszi was concerned that there were brightly colored flowers there, but no where else to be seen in the early spring New Hampshire landscape. She put in a nice test for her second competition, despite a poor moment in our right lead canter circle. A nice transition upward, and then resistance in the canter led to a flying lead change and poor balance through the correction. The tension carried through into the following down transition to the trot. I am focusing on her connection with the bridle; encouraging her to work into the bit more consistently. She was tied for 4th with a 33.5.

deszi 2

Photo by Triple-G Photography.

The next day was our show jumping following immediately by cross-country. The stadium course flowed nicely between fences, necessitating accuracy and planning on approach due to tight turns within the space. As the first competition for many, horses were refusing fences more then they were knocking them down. Deszi was a star. She cantered around confidently in a steady rhythm and carefully navigated each fence. Moments of hesitation were shadowed by confidence as she worked off the leg to make light work of the jumps. The biggest change in her jumping work has been the improvement in her strength and balance. Our gymnastics and flat work exercises are paying off, and she is now able to hold the quality of canter within an adjusted stride without losing the power and engagement. She jumped double clear to maintain 4th place, but break the tie.

Deszi Do is living up to her nickname! She cantered around cross country like a child skipping through the playground: happy, confident and relaxed. Despite spooking at puddles on our hack to the XC warm-up, she worked over the course with little concern. She is happy in the open field and was very smart about adjusting her stride, working to the desired distance and maintaining confidence despite questionable assessments of the task at hand. We enjoyed a slight hand gallop on a long stretch and trotted through a muddy area toward the end of the course. She jumped double clear to end on her dressage score and move up to 3rd place. She also won the TIP Champion award for the novice level.

deszi 3

Photo by Triple-G Photography.

It is hard to believe that most of New Hampshire has been snow-free for only three weeks. Friends have posted photos on Facebook of pesky snow piles, hiding in the shadow of a large oak tree, refusing to dissipate into the spring earth. Our time in Aiken gave us a great start, and we were able to transition back to life at home in New England without disruption to the horses’ training.

Kudos to UNH, their team, and volunteers for bringing this event together!

Thank you for riding alongside us.

Next up: Aiken in the Rearview and Garth goes to Maryland.

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Life in the Chateau

Welcome Home! Welcome Home!

Our time in Aiken is nearly at the end. Last night, Roger and I were chatting about the excitement of coming home and what I’d enjoy leaving behind with this southern experience – at least until next year. Namely, living in my trailer.

I have affectionately named the LQ “The Chateau.” Meant as a complete mockery, my metal box on wheels has housed me and my two dogs for the past 10 weeks. It’s been a lesson in simple comforts and navigation, as the three of us dance around each other and try our best to guess where the other will move to next.

Here are a few poignant observations from Life in the Chateau:

Size Matters:
Life in the Chateau can feel a bit restricted. The living space, without the bed, is about 53 square feet – just enough to stretch your arms. Basic daily patterns become a dance when Roger visits as there isn’t enough room for the two of us! Now, say “Cozy” with a sarcastic tone and you’ll know how I feel.

And in the middle of the night when you need to use the bathroom? Be careful! As you leap from your mattress, be sure to carefully negotiate the yellow lab snoring peacefully on his bed, on the floor. No one likes to be smooshed. No one.

The Gypsy Life:
I live out of my suitcase. The suitcase sits on the pull-out sofa. The minimal hanging space is used for jackets, laundry and extra blankets.

Fine Dining:
The limited storage, small fridge, tiny freezer don’t provide for many culinary delights. The two burner stove is helpful, but the last time I cooked chicken the entire “Chateau” wreaked of hot oil and charred flesh.

Guess how many microwaveable meals are on the market? Now, narrow it to Kashi meals (because you’re trying to be smart about pre-made foods). Narrow it further to no red meat. That brings it to four choices at your local Kroger. Now, imagine “enjoying” those meals over, and over, and over again. It gets old. Quickly.

Living with Pets:
Consider the tasty treats you give your dogs (especially gassy labs). The air circulation is poor, and scents linger.

The boudoir - often claimed by Sophie.

The boudoir – often claimed by Sophie.

Bed Buddies:
Sophie LOVES the all-you-can-eat manure buffet at the farm. She also sleeps on her pillows next to my mattress. One night, I woke to the pungent odor of feces. I thought I had slept walked and fell into a fresh pile. No, it was only Sophie nuzzling up for a cuddle.

Nature’s Exfoliation:
There is sand everywhere in Aiken. Everywhere. And, even when you think you’ve cleaned, it appears again. It’s like a bad boyfriend – it just keeps coming back, and you can’t stay away!

Water Conservation:
Showers are short, efficient, and necessary given the amount of dust and dirt in Aiken. But scrub quickly as you’re likely to run out of hot water! Water on – spritz, water off, scrub/lather, water on – rinse, water off. Luxurious, right?

A Little Nasty:
Your toilet. Don’t look down!

Getting Dumped:
Fortunately a State Park nearby has a camping ground where I can empty the tanks. A big hose attaches to the LQ and then to their tank. Water moves fast, and has a curious way of finding openings I may have overlooked – a particularly unpleasant experience when emptying the black water tank – sewage. Ick.

Kashie culinary delight, anyone?

Kashie culinary delight, anyone?

Down and Dirty:
There is no end to the dirt. You find it everywhere. Even when I continuously sweep the floor and wipe the dog’s feet off, the sand finds a way in. It has a curious way of sneaking into the most unpleasant places, like between your bed sheets. Word of advice? Just give up. You will never fully rid yourself of it, especially with dogs. Consider it a home-made exfoliation service.

Despite my lack-luster accommodations, I am thrilled to have been able to make the Chateau our home for the season. I have the convenience and comfort of being just footsteps from the horses. I also save on costs by living in the LQ. I am more appreciative now of our new home then ever before. I can’t wait to be in a place where my mudroom, kitchen, office, living room, and bedroom are not all within inches of one another. A bathroom where I can shower and still have hot water left over to wash my face. All of this reminds me of how fortunate I am to have a LQ, horses – some people would be over the moon just to have one form of reliable shelter. I have two.

The horse world is speckled with variations. But, one thing we all embrace is the willingness to sacrifice our personal comforts for the betterment of our horses. As the dogs and I trip over one another and traipse sand throughout the Chateau, the horses are enjoying their private, 24-hour paddocks. I would not have it any other way.

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

Full Gallop – D and G Get It Done

deszi win

Desert Sonorous “Deszi” earned the blue at her first horse trials.

Full Gallop was a full day on Sunday. I competed Garth in Open Preliminary and Deszi made her debut in Open Novice. It was a long day, a full day and a great day.

Winds were high at the horse trials, and lifted Garth’s spirits far above his usual stature. I have realized that Esccord RGS may be prejudice. He finds paints, duns, and the occasional white horse upsetting. So much so, that he will rear, spin, and bolt to avoid being near them. Either that, or he’s just being a turkey.

In our dressage warm-up, he spooked laterally so extremely I was concerned he was going to trip and fall onto his side! Once he grew accustomed to the “others,” he had some lovely moments – including a trot lengthening that was so dramatic that it may have been an extension. Incredibly cool. Our test was calm and quiet compared to our warm-up. Despite our studs, the footing was a bit slippery and effected some of our movements. There were lovely moments, and some that could stand to be improved.

garth scoreStadium was a lovely course: nice lines, great flow, and fences softer in size for the level. Aside from my approach to one fence (and Garth proving he is made of gold), I felt it was one of our better rides. The triple was set at long distances – and thank heavens it was – I asked for the longer distance instead of the close and powerful stride (sorry, Kim). Garth compensated for my idiocy, and carried us through the line. We finished double clear.

The cross-country course was designed with the purpose of providing a galloping track. There were many softer questions and the course provided a nice move-up. There was a lot of distance between fences and it did not have the flow of the course earlier this month. During the ride, I had a great response from my leg but a deaf ear to the half halt. I was able to press him forward for the stride, but the adjustment was not there in time. Perhaps it was the wind, his lonely sister back at the trailer, or our softer XC bit – either way, Garth and I were not on par with one another this round. Although we jumped double clear to maintain a tie for 6th place (Event Entries reflects 5T) among 20 riders, it was not a stellar ride.

With Bromont in sight, this event proved to be an excellent reminder of our weaknesses. Garth has become incredibly fit while in Aiken. His trot sets and gallops are going well, and he is becoming a confident athlete. He came off the cross-country in good form and immediately recovered after our brief walk to the trailer. I suspect his fitness may directly relate to the exuberance at the start of the day.

Between rides on Garth, Desert Sonorous made her debut. She was a star! Deszi has earned the nickname “Deszi Do” while in Aiken because she gets it done, and all with a smile. She is a very cool horse who appreciates a partnership and will set the world on fire if you tell her she can. Originally, I planned to compete BN at Sporting Days but she had a slight nosebleed prior to the event. Two weeks off and she was back on track. We has schooled a lot of XC down here and she was bold, confident, and smart through and through. I felt Novice was well within her capabilities, serving as a confidence boost for her as she began her eventing career. This was her first horse trials.

scoresAlthough initially a bit up in the dressage warm-up, she handled the busy area and winds beautifully. She performed a very mannerly dressage test and tried hard to keep her focus. The only hiccup was after our entry and turn at C: the horse in the neighboring ring was working into the corner directly next to ours – this blew Deszi’s mind for a brief moment. A correction, and we were right back at the movement. The rings were close together and I think she thought that horse was coming directly at her. She kept her cool and was a very good girl. We were very proud of her! She tied for 2nd with a 31.3 in the division of 14.

By that afternoon, the winds were blowing the jump standards and fillers over. One rider had a standard crash to the ground when she was two strides out. Deszi and I were lucky, and the fences stayed up during our ride. She once again proved to be mature beyond her years. She marched into the stadium field, and carried on with a lovely canter that flowed fence to fence. A few looks here and there brought us to the trot and she carefully lifted herself out of stride over the fences. She jumped double clear and I think was quite proud of herself! The tie was broken and she maintained 2nd place.

The cross country course was lovely for this level. There was a quiet flow fence to fence with plenty of distance for a straight approach. The first water was an option, and Deszi cantered through it without a care. There was a sharp turn through the tree line between fields that had hard-packed clay – potentially slippery after all the rain. We came to a walk to carefully navigate the area, and carried on over a hanging log and softly over the trakehner. She was brilliant through the second water and confident up the mound and down the drop. She cantered the rest of the course with the same soft rhythm. When we finished, she seemed content and not the least bit fazed. Deszi looked at me as if to say “That was nice. What’s next?” On top of our wonderful rides, she won her division. Roger and I were beyond thrilled and so proud of her.

At the end of the day, Ruth Anne competed Allie in their first event together at the Tadpole level. They did a marvelous job! Sadly, I was riding during their dressage test and missed the fun. Their stadium was lovely and calm. Aside from a cheap rail – Allie felt no need to JUMP the fence when she could canter over it – it was a fabulous first outing. Their cross-country ride was a pleasure to watch: relaxed, rhythmical, and confident. They made it look easy. Ruth Anne came through the finish flags with a big smile and gave Allie a loving pat. They came home with 4th place. I am so thrilled for these two! This is the first of many fun and fabulous outings for this new partnership.

A magnitude of appreciation goes to Roger, who flew in for the long weekend to help, support and enjoy some southern sunshine. We had many thoughtful discussions about the horses, their performances, our weaknesses (horse and rider) and where to go from there. Roger may not ride, but he is there every stride with a very good understanding of what is happening. Sometimes he shocks me with his keen observations! Thank heavens for him – I could not have done this alone.

Thank you for riding along with us.

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook

A Learning Event

Katie Murphy and Esccord RGS at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry. Katie Murphy and Esccord RGS at Fair Hill. Photo by Jenni Autry.

A few weeks ago, Garth competed Preliminary at Full Gallop Farm. It was a great day – not because of the ribbon we brought home (spoiler: we did not win), but because of the great learning experiences this competition provided.

An early morning from the time change and clear skies set the tone for a beautiful day. The footing was slick from all the rain and the dressage rings were on grass. We warmed up nicely, though he felt tight in his back. I wondered if the combination of three 30-degree days and the jumper show Friday had some lingering effects on his muscles. Dressage was fine – it wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t what either of us are capable of, but it was perfectly fine. We had some tension in the canter, and I think we would both prefer to perform a flying lead change at X instead of a simple change. He tied for 5th with a 35.0.

Somehow, magically, Garth developed a ton of muscle over the winter. And he grew. He’s big, strong, and becoming a bit opinionated. He thinks he is very cool (I do too, but I try not to inflate his ego). While working with Kim over fences, he was so strong through the neck and into the bridle that riding him was hard work. He has given me a great set of well-defined arms and shoulders, but that’s not what I was hoping to achieve. She suggested a pelham – pure magic. Pure magic at Sporting Days a weekend prior. Today, over fences, he was backed off by the bit. When I rode him correctly, forward and straight, he was spot on. But, if I did not put all the pieces together in time for the next jump, we had a poor ride. Example: Fence 1 – I see a slight move-up distance (I’m sorry Kim) to the oxer, but I did not support with sufficient leg to support the half-halt with this stronger bit. Garth, appropriately, put in another stride and I gave him a poor ride. Perhaps his way of telling me to wake up and ride? I think all of this is a culmination of a tight back, fatigue and a long wait (stadium ran 30+ minutes behind), and me learning to ride the horse I had today in new equipment. Sadly, we pulled a rail at the last fence with his hind end. The first rail on his record. Shame. I was enjoying all those zeros! We stayed in the tie.

Cross-country was a dream. This horse is a dream! He is freakin’ brilliant. I adore him. The ride was the kind of ride I look forward too – and when I’ve experienced it, nothing tops that time in the tack. After switching bridles and putting on his galloping boots, we headed to the start box. We saw nearly every fence out of the gallop stride. We adjusted strides out, and pressed forward to the distance. He was sharp, keen, and on target. He was having fun. We breezed around the course like we were jumping baby logs. The course (designed by Hugh Lochore, designer of the new Red Hills course) was lovely and fair, with some great questions: a coffin of a chevron, ditch, narrow roll top; jumping logs into the water with a bending line to a corner up a slight hill; two narrow houses aside the second water complex place atop hills, on angles, with a valley in between them; and a sunken road with a skinny chevron 2 strides out. He locked on to each fence and worked right up to it. His gallop was efficient, ground covering and light. I found myself questioning if I had ridden all the obstacles. Absolutely brilliant. If we continue in this manner, Intermediate is well within our grasp.

Garth ended in 5th place. I’m not sure how he feels about the color pink, but he is drenched in blue in my eyes. It was a fantastic day. I am so glad we ran this event, and were able to learn so much about our partnership and my riding. I am thrilled to have felt the “new Garth” on XC. I could not be more pleased, more excited, or more proud!

Thank you for riding along with us.

Katie Murphy

[email protected]

Murphy Eventing on Facebook.