Sunday, October 25, 2015

The highs and lows.

As riders and professionals in general, in an age of social media and instant gratification, we're taught to hide behind "PC" posts... Posts that tell the good side of a weekend. The Side that says We Finished Third!! The part that gets left out? (Except we had three stops, I barely survived my stadium round, and my horse currently won't load onto my trailer and I've now escalated the threats to include dressage boot camp AND cow training.)

This weekend, I really really feel like deserves a blog to properly get you in the mood for how I felt driving home from Kentucky this morning. We'll start with Tuesday. I run my own barn, which includes feeding riding teaching showing ext. Tuesday After feeding in the morning, I got a call from my round bale delivery guy that he wasn't going to be able to drop the round bales until Thursday. So this starts off my day of running around a bit like a chicken without a head, and my Facebook status of:

Things that happen in preparing to leave for a horse show:
1. Write down 100 things to do
2. Remember 6 more things.
3. Throw a frisbee for your dog because
4. Check weather for the 110th time
5. Vow to keep your truck cleaner if it would just tell you where your polo is.
6. Argue with the cleaning lady hat $22 is ridiculous to have 1 jacket cleaned. I don't care how bad it smelled.
7. Thank your feed store for reminding you that you already bought grain yesterday
8. Sit on hold with bank for the 5th time on 1 day.
9. Check fencing for the 8th time.
10. Beg the horses to behave for 5 days. Bribe with apples and carrots.
11. Resume panic packing
12. Ask your groom to buy a hair brush so you don't rock dreads for the jog
13. Sh*| the jog....
14. Loosing weight is annoying because your slacks now look like hood pants...
15. Ask your dog to find something. Realize he still lacks thumbs. But can roll his eyes.
16. Post a struggling Facebook post

‪#‎eventerproblems‬ ‪#‎ihaventevenleftyet‬ ‪#‎p3d‬ ‪#‎longformat‬‪#‎idontevenhavethehorse‬\

I'll preface that my horse went with her owner so I also didn't have my truck this week. So after an eventful Tuesday, Kayla my wonder groom and I head back to the city to put my jog clothes into Target bags pack, and then head on our way. Except there was a Cubs game = a ridiculous amount of people trying to leave the city. Scratch that and we got up for a 2 am departure time. And off we went.

                                                     Thankfully Busy handles stress well

We arrived first thing Wednesday morning, and after the jog has been changed for the 8th time, have a few hours to relax and pick an outfit before braiding the lovely mare and heading on our way. Nothing beats the sound of hearing "Busy Bea - Accepted!" Good start.

                                          Two Jog pictures because I can and she's lovely

I can't say enough about the long format, and especially the education that comes with every step of the way. When Kate (Busy's Owner) and I decided to do this, my intent was to really work on Busy's fitness and teach her to be a bit more relaxed in her cross country style as she can be a bit over enthusiastic, which can lead to minor difficulties as we moved up to Intermediate. I didn't have terribly lofty expectations.

What I ended up with however, blew me away. I came away with a rock solid partnership with an incredible horse. A horse that gave me everything she had, and came back the next morning swinging. A strong, fit horse with extra gas at the end of an hour of work. I spent so much time in the saddle with Busy, so much time watching her heart beat (I swear by the KER Heart-monitor, it changed my life). I know every inch of that mare's body. By the end, we were doing 5 x 5 minute hard gallops, with 1.5 minute rests, and an hour of trotting with 10 mins of slow cantering (Shout out to Lara Knight for the advice!), and about 20 minutes of trotting every day no matter what, sometimes bareback, some times in a halter and lead rope, but lots and lots of trotting. I can never thank Kate Saulle (her incredible owner) enough for trusting me with this mare, and by God I was going to make her proud. I woke up at 4 am after coming home at 11 so I could get a dressage lesson in with my coach, put in 4 hours a week of driving back and forth to her farm, 2 hours a week to jump lessons, anything and everything I could do to make sure we were well prepared.

But having never done a long format before, Midsouth and especially Dorthy Crowell, went ABOVE and Beyond to make sure we all were successful in our outing this weekend. The education was second to none after we arrived, and I made sure to try and ask as many of my dumb questions as I could think of at every opportunity. So we schooled the roads and tracks fully (and timed it!) on Wednesday before a dressage school, Thursday I did a full Dressage school in the morning before trotting all of A, then a quick steeplechase lesson with Dorthy.

Now starts the fun. Thursday, my wonderful mother drove up from Florida to cheer me on. That night we drove my car and my moms car back to the hotel. Friday morning? It's dead as a door nail. Thank god we had another car.. So I left my keys under my tire so we'd have them when we went back to jump it. However, the fun doesn't stop there. I wake up and could barely walk. I'm talking serious limp, can't put on a shoe. Wish I knew why. Thursday I'd been a bit sore, but nothing crazy. Friday I'm biting on a towel just to put my zip on boots on. Always fun. So I suck it up and button up my tails, and head down to dressage. We've been working so hard with Wendy Sanders on this, and I came out thrilled to pieces with putting in a relaxed but ambitious test. I went big for my mediums, bold on my counter canter. I hopped off in a bit of tearful state as I was in a ridiculous amount of pain for something in which I have no idea how i hurt myself, but alas my wonder groom was able to take her back to the barn for me. While the test wasn't the sub 30 I was hoping for, it was enough to put us in first. We were standing around chatting with my wonderful sponsor C4 belts and Jon Sonkin, and Kate nearly burst into tears when she saw. And she didn't' think she bred a dressage horse. Psh.

I try not to get too excited after one phase, and its especially hard for me in an event where I only have one horse competing. It's so easy to get so emotionally involved, putting so much pressure on each stage of things. We love these horses, and we love to be competitive or we wouldn't put ourselves through the heart ache. I think checkers would be much easier on my heart.

So now that Busy is done for the day, and we're heading back to the barn, we let out my dog from her stall who stated his resentment in being left behind.... I should mention he's usually very mild mannered

        He wasn't leaving anything to chance with us being able to leave him again...

And I started to try and sort out my ankle as I was going to be in the tack for a lot of hours the next day...


It was cold. Very very freaking cold.

Thank goodness for body worker Charlotte Morris for her incredible work to get me back and moving my foot again before Saturday. I'm grateful and can't wait to have her work on my horses next...

So my mom and Kate head back to jump my car. Except one problem. Someone stole my keys. PLEASE! Steal my new VW. Then you can pass emmissions with it. I joke but really? Who steals keys. Jokes on you have the jump the damn thing too. Oops. At this point I think my mother is seriously wondering how I function alone as an adult. Maybe I am a little too but alas.

So we limp around the Cross country course to take a peak, and it looks fantastic. Flowing, straight forward and great. I'm thrilled and ready to go in the morning.

Next morning, it's obviously pouring rain. Because eventing.

But by the time we start, it's managed to stop, and I can't even begin to put into words the emotions I felt during that hour of riding. You're relaxed for A, until you start to get ready to steeplechase. Then it's three minutes of unadulterated exhilaration. To those of you who haven't done a long format 3 day yet, please put it on your bucket list. Nothing beats the feeling. As you come off steeplechase, it's a 20 minute ride with your horse where you have to know them SO well as to what they need. Is it more trotting? Walking? Some walk and slow canter? I find Busy does best with some slow canters to even out her breathing than just trotting, so we worked in walk breaks, some slow canters, and lots of trotting before heading into the 10 minute box. I can't say enough about how wonderful Kate and Kayla were in getting Busy cooled off and relaxed before we headed back on course. I'm working on my helmet cam now to show both the 10 minute box, so you can see how it all works but its thrilling just to be there in the rush. Then so quickly I was back on and heading onto Cross country.

This mare is just an incredible cross country horse. Imagine never pulling back, just re balancing and kicking and that's what it's like to ride her. She's brilliant, honest and so forgiving and the best part was feeling her come into the back field before the finish and kick it up ANOTHER gear. She crawled a bit all over the 5th to last fence, just misread the squareness of it a bit, but kept galloping and felt great.

We cooled her off, and she was back to resting TPR in less then 10 minutes and on her way back to the barn. I was just thrilled how she felt, how she recovered, and as we put her in her stall I just was in awe of this incredible mare. A year ago she'd just done 2 novices with me, and here we were finishing up just a couple seconds over time and still sitting in first after her and my first long format. What a privilege to ride this creature. As we brought her out that evening for another walk, I noticed a bit of swelling over the knee. As we iced her legs again, I noticed the swelling had increased a bit more. Our third walk out, her knee was quite swollen. As Kate and I looked at it and discussed, my heart began to hurt already. As riders, we know everything about our horses. While Busy jogged sound, she just looked a bit sore. So we iced and we iced and we iced, and we walked.... And we said some prayers, we begged, we bartered with the eventing Gods.... and we tucked her in for the night slathered to her eye balls in poltice, hoping for the best in the morning.

We went off to eat at the competitors dinner, and got about a plate of food each before the course designer, Brody Robinson, asked anyone sitting there for help. No one seemed to be moving very quickly, so I volunteered my team for another fun team building activity as we reset the 1* for Sunday morning. 3 hours, a lot of swearing and laughing, and thrown out backs and cursing of heavy potted plants, and no additional volunteers, it was pitch black and I got a course walk from the designer himself by golf cart light. I was thrilled, and tried to be optimistic about jumping it the next morning.

Well morning came around 5, so we could get in lots of icing and walking. We walked for about an hour, iced for 20, another hour of walking and I hopped on her to see how she felt. She felt fabulous! Loose, relaxed, forward!!! No sign of soreness in that still large knee. So now comes the question. Do we present? Do we jump? The mare feels great, she feels ready to jump she's keen. She's jogging pretty good!

So we get her ready, figuring we can jog and then decide. As I walked her up there, I prayed to anything and everything I could to just let this mare feel her best for Kate. Just please. Walk her on up there and we're pretty quick into the order. She took two steps down the lane and it took everything in my years to not burst into tears. I could hear it in her step. She was just a tick off. They sent us to the holding box where the vet walked over. As Kate came running, I looked at her and she nodded in agreement as I withdrew her then and there.

I should mention at this point, that Kate is the reason Busy is on this earth. Kate took a chance on her lovely bred yet not as wonderful personality mare and bred her to a lovely Clydsdale stallion on the corner for $500. She was there to see Busy drop on the ground, put in every single ride, before handing over the reins to me last summer on blind faith alone. She jumps every fence with us, rides every step of our dressage test, and feels every bump and bruise along the way. Busy won her first Novice with me, has been 2nd a handful of times in her 9 show career, and here she was poised to win the biggest event of her career thus far, and we both sat there knowing there was no chance we'd ever risk that beautiful mare. It was never a question of the thousands of dollars you spend in the months proceeding a big event like this. It's never about what you deserve. How hard you've worked. None of that matters in that moment. You are simply heart broken that this beautiful doe eyed creature doesn't feel quite right. That never in a million years would she say no, and that she places her entire faith in you to not push her. Event horse don't know the word no. If I asked, Busy would have walked into that show jump ring and laid down a beautiful round, of that I have no doubt. As I walked back to the barn trying not to let anyone see me crying my eyes out, I couldn't even look at Kate. I felt the weight of letting down this beautiful horse, this incredible women who gave me this opportunity... If only I hadn't missed, or if I'd done more to prepare, or a thousand things.... Maybe I wouldn't have to look at Kate and apologize to her and Busy.

Once she's in her stall and munching and knocking over her buckets, I realize Busy has no idea that she missed out on anything today. Well maybe a meal but she usually feels that way. It's me who feels robbed. Who feels sorry for myself, the could have beens, the what ifs. The damn cooler and neck ribbon I wanted so badly. And then I cry harder because damn I'm a terrible person for even thinking those things. I'm the one who screwed it up right?

Everyone in this sport is so wonderful. So quick to remind me that indeed, these things happen. I'm not the only one who will cry today. I'm not the only one who will hug their horses neck until it's soaking wet. And even though I'm a "professional", it's ok to feel this way. The high of yesterday, it's what brings us through the lows of today. They're what push us through the moments where you just want to hang up the boots and take up waitressing or writing books from the safety of your couch. And maybe Chess will be your adventure sport. A bruised King can't take you out of the championships.

But then, you remember that feeling of galloping flat out as fast as you can down the long side to that big brush fence. And you know damn well that you'll be back on those babies Monday morning, getting the next generation of event horses ready to do the same thing.

From my father:

My Darling Daughter Shannon, hold your head up high and be proud of what you accomplished, know that it was a sport accident, not for the lack of talent or training and ability. If the road was easy you would have to wait in a long line.

All are very very proud of you and Know that God has a plan for you and this is part of it.

Love You,


You will cry. You will laugh. You'll cry as your writing a blog. You will spend an unhealthy amount of money at a Candy factory. Your boyfriend will spend an unhealthy amount of money on bribes to get you out of the house. But you will be back. Because it will happen again. You'll get to see the highs of winning the few ribbons, and the lows of an injury from a beloved horse. And I promise it will all be worth it because Life is so short. And you don't get out alive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mykonos Collection from Soybu

Each season, Soybu comes out with a new selection of adorable clothes. As someone who is just coming out of the 'I'll just throw this t-shirt on" and stepping into the "Well I might actually put a whole outfit together" I have to say I'm absolutely in love with this latest collection!


Besides always being so Incredibly comfortable, these clothes wear SO well. I mean like the kind of comfortable that you could happily travel for hours in the truck and not look like you've spent 24 hours in a truck kind of comfortable. 

For me, the priority is always clothes I can ride in, and this adorable zip up, (The Jacinda in black) is just perfect! Form fiting, yet flexible enough to make a perfect spring layer for South Carolina weather. 

I also got the Peace Jacket, which I CONSTANTLY am getting compliments on, for both its form fitting type and for the adorable design on the back! 

HIGHLY recommend to all of my clients to check out the cutest clothes on the market for active wear! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Retired Racehorse Project

In all of my infamous spare time, I will admit to having taken awhile to starting my blog for the Retired Racehorse Project this October. However, I will do my best to catch you up on where I'm currently at with my lovely young mare, Sandipat!

I am fortunate to have a wonderful owner in Carolyn McCann who has supported me on a couple of other OTTB projects in the past, as well as owning my competition horse Caliente 'Cali'. So when Sandi came to my attention, I got in touch with her about potentially partnering with me again. This was a big (17 hh) well built LOVLEY type. Totally screamed eventer :) When she first came on the market, she was more than we were looking to spend, so I kept an eye on her to see where she ended up. She was quite sassy in her jog video
(another sassy mare? I needed it... haha), so you had to look past that as to what she'd be with some miles under her belt. Well, after about a month of stalking, my Facebook friend and Jen Ruberto posted her again at a lower price point. I have a huge respect for Jen's eye on horses, so after messaging back and forth a bit, I made an offer. 

Her Original Canter Photo!

Now, anyone who knows about buying a horse off a picture and a short video... you never quite know what is going to walk off the trailer.  But in the middle of the night the day before a horse show, Sandi and ALL 17 hhs of her self strutted off and into a stall. She was everything I'd hoped for and more and I was thrilled. 

Fast forward about a week or two, and I let Sandi hang out in our big mare's field here at Full Gallop Farm in Aiken, SC where I'm SO fortunate to be based out of. A friend of mine down here, Kate Cummings, offered to help me a bit with hacking Sandi out while I was full speed ahead with my competition horses. I'm hugely lucky to have had such a great first few rides on her, and I was able to see just how exciting this young mare really is... 

As my few horses got rolling, I took over riding Sandi full time in mid Febraury, and we haven't looked back since. My goal for Sandi this October is to show her off as well rounded, relaxed, and the event horse ANYONE would want to compete. I want her to be brave, rideable, and fun. So I have used this spring and the incredible facilities that Full Gallop offers to work on hacking through water, across ditches, tons of hill work, lots of road work, all to aim her at having an incredible base of fitness heading into the summer. She will do her first HT at Spring Bay here in early April at the Horse Park as her first introduction to the environment that comes with the facility so I can see how she reacts and tailor the rest of my summer around that. 

She certainly already enjoys water!!

She says she deserves all the cookies for making short work of her XC schooling yesterday!

My typical schedule with her right now looks something like this for a week:

Day 1: 10 mins of walking around the hills, through water ext. 20 mins working on circles, outside rein, steering, and transitions. 
Day 2: Fitness - 10 mins of walking, 10 mins of trotting (utilizing hills, road work to tighten tendons, and the varied gound) and 2 slow canters to work on her canter without craming her into a small space
Day 3: O/F work - From small grids of trot poles, to xs 3 strides to a small verticle, some cross country work trotting small logs. I make a big effort to make sure I ride her as softly as I can, encouraging her to CHOOSE to jump the fence not FORCE. 
Day 4: Hack Day - walk trot canter slowly and relaxed around the whole property, allowing her to use her neck and body to learn balance
Day 5: Dressage work  - I work in a dressage ring so she begins to learn the boundaries and her balance in a smaller ring
Day 6: O/F work - Sometimes I will use SMALl courses to teach her the thought to keep looking for the next fences! 

She shows bravery, incredible athleticism, ( Read : I need my trusty C4 Belt to hold on to for all XC schoolings, and I think I saw the top of the flags yesterday ;) and I cannot wait to see where this season takes us! She LOVES the attention, cuddling, and is So personable. As soon as I can sort out where our Stadium school video is,,, I will up load it!!! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Murano Collection from Soybu!

I am not a shopper. Not in any capacity. This is usually an activity that takes bribery of some sort...

Thankfully this year, I have partnered up with an incredible company, Soybu (click here to check out for yourself!)  that makes this process So. Much. Better. Why you ask? Because I look adorable in their clothes. Shopping is not enjoyable under the harsh lights at most stores, with that itty bitty little attendant helping you and telling you she has that SAME outfit and loves it! Of course she loves it she's adorable. Me? I ride horses for a living, Isabel (my groom....) cuts my hair at horse shows and I color it out of a box when I'm feeling SUPER adventurous.... So! Fashion has never been my strong suite. But with Soybu, this is no longer the case! My girlfriends in Chicago have even ask ME where I got my clothes ;) This is a first.

The best thing about Soybu (and especially the Murano collection this season) is that the clothes fit well for the fit people of the world. Too often, "fashionable" clothes only fit a certain body type, and all others, well, too bad. EVERYONE I know who's worn these clothes looks just so cute. Even when they're more loose fitting, they're still designed to lay well around your body.

For me though, the biggest test is how the clothes are to ride in. Since realistically this is all I do with my life. Here's a picture of me riding Busy Bea in the Hunter Derby in October wearing the adorable Athena Jacket in Black . This was perfect for those schooling shows where coats are waived, and for day to day riding in the spring and the fall! I wear a polo underneath and you are set and adorable.

Form fitting, slimming, and so classy. 

I also ADORE the Annalee Tunic. I was a little unsure as I normally stick to black, but I ordered this in a cute blue and I get compliments on this everywhere I go. The stretch is perfect for riding, with arms that are *Gasp* long enough! (and cute thumb holes! my favorite!) This is perfect for over a tank top or Under Armour to stay layered. 

Great fit, totally stays out of the way, and SO comfortable

While I don't know if I have a picture of it, I wear my Darling Coat nearly EVERY morning on cold horse show mornings. It's perfect, as it's cozy to layer, keeps myself and my breeches clean with it's awesome length, and zips up from the bottom which is perfect for riding in! 

The last of the Murano Collection that I have currently is the Rhonda Sweater! I LOVE this sweater as something that can easily transition from wearing out to Coffee with friends to throw under a jacket and ride in all winter. Cute, comfortable, and so practical.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


10: You've recently seen a conformation shot something like this

My... what a lovely black horse that is. It's got 4 legs, ears and a tail. Yup. Definitely a horse. Now can I see what it looks like?

To which you get

You're right. Never mind. 

9. You've recently seen a jog video that looked like something out of the Blair Witch Files

                                                      OH! Was that it?? I think I saw it! 

8. You've put up an ISO (In search of) ad, for a 16-17 hh gelding suitable for eventing and dressage priced under 5,000, and you're currently looking at 

"She's 12 hh, can get really forward on trails, doesn't really like to go to shows and is priced at $14,000. I'm negotiable but not that negotiable"


7. Looking at a horse that is supposed to be currently jumping 4' courses with ease. See picture of this 


Seems legit. 

6. You very specifically ask if it's quiet even with an amateur. "Yes yes! He's great! Anyone can ride him!"

"He always seemed really quiet! I mean, no one else has ever ridden him but I didn't think it'd be a problem! "

No, horses are just like cars. Anyone can ride em right?

5. You have finally found a lovely horse that seems to fit all your parameters. It's got great videos, good pictures, conformation looks great, seems to have experience... 

"He seems a little off.."
"Really?? I don't see it at all"
" He's hopping on 3 legs....."

4. Or my other favorite.... "Nope, no vices."

So the fact that he's currently cribbing on my arm.... Not a vice? 

3. "He's a solid 17 hh" 

With shoes... and lifts... and a BIG hill....

2. Absolutely Upper Level Potential. VERY brave. 

Except on Days that end in Y. 

1.  You've found the PERFECT horse. Found a current picture, great videos, everything. You've hooked up the trailer, you pull in. You have your happy little check book all ready to write the check.....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Soybu - Love it.

As a rider, I certainly struggle with finding time to sit down and write a blog during the competition season. It seams like all I have time to do is ride, drink coffee, and drive. However this year, I did make a big effort to work on spending more time on my personal fitness and having a more well rounded life. (read : perhaps sleep? See friends? Find out if my boyfriend did in fact still enjoy dinner?) 

One of the major things that I have taken up this year has been meditation and yoga, thanks to the inspiration of one of my lovely owners, Barb P, a true Yogi herself ;) 

In this, I found Soybu. Want to know the best part? I use all my yoga clothes for riding as well!! And traveling, as I think most of my year is spent in a car. As someone who's not really skinny, but not really fat, but sort of fit, looking for clothes of any style, well is miserable. I find myself constantly tugging, pulling, judging and never quite comfortable. 

But thanks to a friends suggestion, I ordered a pair of Soybu yoga pants and have never looked back, and I am THRILLED to be a Community Leader for such a fantastic brand now! Not only were the pants comfortable, flattering and all and all wonderful, but after a year of (a LOT) of wear, they still look brand new. 

As riders, we spend a tremendous amount of time focusing on what our horses need, fitting them up for their next competition, why not spend some time focusing on yourself and your own fitness? It doesn't matter if it's something as simple as stretching, crunches and push ups in the morning, get yourself in to a routine to make your self the best rider you can! 

If you're looking for clothing you can wear one day to the barn and the next week for your run down the beach, or to the coffee shop with friends, look no further. Soybu clothes fit seamlessly into my life, and are my go to favorites by far. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rolex Motivation...

So this year so far has been a whirl wind... I just got back from Rolex Kentucky 2014 - A great way to really hit the spring season running! Though I have been fortunate to this year again to have had the opportunity to head south not once, but twice already! I headed to Florida for a client and dear friend to pick up her horse, to bring him back up to Illinois to be sold, shopping for other clients, and on my way down, through the ending of Atlanta (also known as the Snowpocalypse), I brought along Red Horse (Millennium Qui) for a week of schooling and coaching. I was able to get in lessons with Jon Holling and Lynn Symansky, both of whom I HUGELY recommend riding in front of at one point or another.

Qui and I out for a "trot" with Guinness... aka a lovely gallop through the FL country side

Jon worked on a lot of grid work with my characteristically unadjustable horse TB. Qui has a 14 ft stride pretty much always, and struggles to keep a 10' bouncy canter together for a period of time. Jon worked a lot on me allowing him to make "educated mistakes" instead of trying to baby him to every distance, because as I always tell my students, we're never perfect. I was going to miss and he had to know how to adjust to that. By the end I was getting a lot more relaxed jumps out of him, ending with a solid training level SJ course that was relaxed and flowing, with a great rhythm. Jon is an excellent clinician, getting the most possible bang for your buck in a short viewing of horse and rider. It's sometimes hard to ride with someone who you're only going to get a brief view of your riding, your horse, and expect to take much home. But I have to say Jon was hugely educational, very encouraging, while challenging and giving me a great bit of homework.

I was able to sit on some lovely sales horses while I'm down there... 
Nothing teaches you more than simply riding anything and everything you can

Lynn had a much more old school feel to her, which I loved. She expected me to hold myself and my green horse to a much higher standard than I had been. So many of us ride our horses like babies, so babies they remain. We focused a lot on pole work, and again, keeping Qui to a more round, correct jump. She kept on me about every transition being accurate, my outside rein being more active, and enforcing correct, straight lines to my fences. No drifting through the turns, which many of us struggle with. Again, HIGHLY recommended, though not for those looking to be coddled.

Marlette "Marley" for his 2nd ride since November. I mean, common. He's so fabulous.

I came home feeling thrilled with my horse and his progress, and ready for an exciting season. I was then fortunate a month later to head down to Aiken, SC for 10 days to show some sale horses at Pine Top HT and Poplar HT, and get some early season cross country in for the youngsters. Good news? I sold all my sale horses that were slated to go! Bad news? I had two competition slots to fill at both horse shows, and no horses to ride for the week!! One of my fabulous owners stepped up and helped me to purchase a lovely young OTTB, Marlette aka Marley, as a new OTTB sales project for myself, and I brought one of the sold horses down to his new owners, as well as one of my clients and her horse for a week of boot camp with us!

Hannah and Youkon :) 

Easily the best part of this trip however, was on my way down to Aiken, I stopped in Springfield, IL where I have a lovely group of students, to surprise one of them with her new OTTB that I had found her that week. Congratulations to Hannah on her new horse :)

Full Gallo's Darth Mal and I on our way to a double clear stadium. What a lovely young horse! 

When I arrived at Full Gallop Farm (what a perfect facility....) in Aiken, and spoke with Lara Anderson (who is just a dream btw!) about my dilemma, she went right to work on finding me a new mount for that weekend! Did I mention I arrived on Friday, and the show started on Saturday morning?? I hoped on one of her LOVELY OTTBs, Full Gallop's Darth Mal, once Friday, had a lovely warm up, jumped a few stadium fences, a few xc fences, and off we went in the morning! I also dragged along poor Marley, who'd not been ridden since September, and did the BN dressage test with him to the tune of a 40! Not bad for a horse that missed his right lead and was a bit confused about the change of scenery! Mal and I had a lovely dressage test in the Novice and jumped around double clear in a big stadium round, and I'm confident would have jumped right around the cross country had it not monsooned the next day! But as eventers, we did do a flat school in the sand at Full gallop all the same ;)

Full Gallop's Kipper! Showing how fabulous he is on my first ride!

Full Gallop's Sundance Kid at Poplar Place!

Marley and I snuggling. I'm obsessed.

Marley proved to be an absolute gem of a young horse, immediately settling into this crazy new life like he'd done it all his whole life. Day 2 I body clipped him sans even a halter, day 3 he hacked the whole cross country course including water, ditches and small banks, Day 4 he started over small fences, day 5 we went on another xc adventure where he did some small logs, all the while never spooking, bucking, leaving anything. He took it all in stride. He's truly one of those special horses with all the pieces in place. This horse is now available for sale, or we are entertaining partnership options to keep him with me. More info on that later. During this time I also rode a few horses for Lara, as she has a string of just outstanding OTTBs at her farm always for sale, as she does a wonderful job of rehoming and retraining them for new careers, and she allowed me to show Full Gallops Sundance Kid at Poplar Place as well! He finished the BN olympics (we had more than half of our division eliminated or RF!!) with just a silly stop on my part. He has since sold to a lovely young lady in TN where he will continue to event! Go OTTBs! Lara and I have since developed a lovely partnership of bringing some of her quality OTTBs back here to the midwest! What a lovely opportunity for me, as well as buyers her in our area to get some of the best sport horse prospects in the country! For our first round, I brought home Full Gallops Kipper! He was one of those horses that within 5 mins on him I was like Lara! This is the one I'm taking! I tried 4 more... he came back with me :) He has since sold to one of my lovely young riders, and will be her event partner for the future! SO thrilled he will stay with me in my program!!

Isn't this what we all hope for when we sell horses??

I then returned home, rejoined the boyfriend, packed up our entire house, and moved in by my poor mother for a month until our apartment in Chicago is ready! Just a few short weeks later, we headed down to Kentucky for Spring Bay HT. I brought Qui (owned by Isabel Turner) down to do the Training, and Sabrina ( my own mare currently leased by one of my clients) for a tune up to do the Novice. Unfortunately, in warm up Qui stung himself a bit and we felt it best to scratch rather than risk any injury, and gladly was trotting soundly down the cement a few hours later, fit and sound a fiddle. Always better safe than sorry however, and he enjoyed the weekend for its environment and had a HUGELY educational school on Sunday over a VERY big Training track, coming away educated, sound and happy. I have not ridden Sabrina regularly since November 2012, and she has been with one of my amateurs safely teaching her the ropes, so she was more or less a catch ride for me! She put in a relax, albeit boring, dressage test for a 37, had a BEAUTIFUL show jump round despite one rail where I lost a bit of my rhythm, and then put in a foot perfect cross country run to finish in the top 10.

Sabrina being her typical perfect self. Huge thanks as always to my wonderful sponsors:
Turning Point Designs, Heritage Gloves, Majyk Equipe, Soybu Clothing, Revitavet, C4 Belts, Genuine Equestrian, and 

Had a few quiet days of showing horses, vettings, ext, then I headed up with Qui and Marley to a jumper show at Silverwood! All three of us needed some more miles in the ring, and no better way to do it! A huge thanks as always to Laura Roseling for her excellent coaching, both the horses and I came away with a brilliant education. Qui jumped around 3 full classes with only one rail through 3'3 with ribbons in every class, and Marley ribboned in both of his classes at 2'9 and 3'! I was just blown away by the young gelding who just a month ago was getting his canter figured out again! What an insanely talented and level headed guy. Truly can't beat that type of brain. His owner and I would love to see him stay in my program to develop him through his potential, and have decided to open up to partnership options! This would be a wonderful, affordable opportunity for someone looking for an educational, fun, and unique way to be involved with an up and coming young professional and hugely talented young horse. You could use it as an opportunity to buy in early to purchase him and keep him in training for a much more affordable rate, while you wait for him to progress to the upper levels, then taking over the reins when he has reached his potential and having a lovely made horse for a much more affordable price. Or you could join in on the fun of a sale horse, and reap the rewards as his training and experience progress, thus increasing his value! Or you could simply enjoy it as a true hands on experience of the development process! Get an up close and personal view of what we do to develop these horses, from our daily schedule, how he's handled at shows, what the upper level shows ride like, the decisions I make for him, personalized course walks, what we do for preparation, his conditioning, a front row seat at our weekly lessons with area professionals, and lessons on Marley himself from me! We have lots of ideas and opportunities for the right person to join us on this fun journey, as well as references from current and previous owners!

Red Horse at the Jumper Show - Love him

Marley showing off how talented he is!

Last, but certainly not least, was a team trip to Rolex Kentucky! We had 10+ people this year, with more already excited to go next year! I was fortunate to be able to volunteer in the D box this year, where I was right among the riders, coaches, and supporters, hearing the cheers and gasps of great rides, and heartbreaking stops and falls. Not much is cooler than standing next to DOC (David O'Connor) and listening to him thinking out loud about each pair, and watching him step right in to help cool off horses. Truly reminds you that it takes a village to do what we do. What a wonderful experience. Can't wait to use so much of what I took away from this weekend in preparation for, you guessed it, another show! (Not before I move back to Chicago on Saturday!) Heading to Lake Geneva mini event on Sunday to get Qui out for a full run, Marley out for his first "event" at Novice, and to school some of my students! The weekend after that I will be down at Hunter Oaks for a Cross Country schooling (text 815-814-5179 to join!), the following weekend Friday we will do a dressage show with Qui and Quinn, Saturday Qui will do the Training CT at Fox River Valley Pony Club mini event, Marley will do the Novice again, and Grace (my lovely Connemara cross sale horse!) will do her first event ever at Beginner Novice! Then we'll head out to Catalpa for a schooling at Catalpa Corners in Iowa City, IA (again, text to join! 815-814-5179) and finish May at IEA in Indiana! Phew! Sounds like a great month ahead for the Gypsy crew!! And we still have 1 possibly 2 slots available for full training/sales horses, but those spots are filling up QUICKLY! Please message me ASAP if you'd like join our team!

Pretty cool.....