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.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why we write our plans in pencil with horses

Oh the joys of horses. I love horses, I love horse, I love horses. After the last month, a few too many tears than I care to admit, sometimes I have to sit down and remind myself as to why I do this crazy career. For those who don't know, my top horse, Man in Black or "Jag" or Black Horse, came in about a 3 weeks ago with a HUGE hock (Think size of a cantaloupe...) as he was JUST getting back to work for the season. It was in our last blast of horribly cold weather, and he's been living outside since November just being feral with Red Horse, enjoying their vacation while I got settled at my new facility. Now mind you, he was TOTALLY sound, WTC. Promising no? So I treated it like a muscle pull or strain, lots of cold hosing, icing, hot packs, you name it. Nothing brought the swelling down. Not even a little. After about a week I called my vet, and we agreed to x-ray it following the holidays with a pre-purchase for one of my clients. Out she came, and she watched him go on the lunge and was quite impressed at just HOW sound he was. We decide to X-ray JUST to be safe... and low and behold, first image we shoot. BIG ugly white thing blaring up the shot. Unfortunately, not a blemish from the machine. Very much an ugly bone chip floating right there plain as day. Cue water works for my poor baby horse who literally has no idea why I'm hugging him and sobbing. After a few more shots (only visible on one angle, so for those thinking of trying to get by on a cheaper vet visit by just shooting one view, here's a great reason why NOT to). The next logical step is to get that bad boy out of there. Now, I am BEYOND fortunate to have such a fabulous vet, (If you're in Northern Illinois, Dr. Lukas of Lukas Equine is second to none who called all the local (and not so local) Surgeons to find the best one we could get Jag in front of the soonest, with the best course of action. After handling all the arrangements, we planned to take Jag to surgery on January 3rd at 9 am.

And I thought I missed riding him after 6 weeks.....

For those of you not in Illinois right now, January 3rd at 9 am was about -12 degrees out. Needless to say my truck didn't start. I tried to jump that for 30 minutes, nearly gave myself frost bite, cried twice (frozen tears hurt) , called every mechanically inclined person I knew, eventually my mother saved the day and borrowed a friends truck and we were off to the hospital. Thankfully, we decided on Dr. Downs at Merrit Equine Hospital, which is just a short 40 minute trip up the road, and they were quite flexible with us. Dr. Downs had suggested STRONGLY that we ultra sound prior to laying him down to make sure we understood what we were going up against. We had HOPED that he had chipped it in a place where we could simply go in, pull it out, no ligament damage and he could be back to work in 6-8 weeks. As per the Ultra sound, it looks like the ligament pulled the bone off the joint, thus rupturing the small collateral ligament at the joining point. Not the good news we were hoping for. HOWEVER! There was a lot of swelling that made it very hard to see really what was going on, so I'm choosing to stay cautiously optimistic. We decided to delay the surgery a month (yayyyy more time to fundraise!) to get that (and I quote) "giant bolder out!" to wait for the swelling to go down, but he warned me that the most likely course of action wouldn't see Jag back to work for 6 months, and probably not competing until next year. Cue another round of water works.

Can you tell he's really suffering through this? 
I've just become an automated treat dispenser. And to think he didn't eat treats this spring....

As I've said to those who have expressed sympathy to me, the one thing I keep saying is that I'm just thankful that there is something to operate on. He has helped me to reach some of my major goals this last season, we have gone from unridable, to mountable, to finishing in the top 3 at all three of his preliminary events this last year at just 5 years old. He has a (hopefully) VERY long career ahead of him, and this is just a speed bump. I am in no rush with him, and we will take it one step at a time. He has nothing but time for me, and owes me nothing. I am thankful for a recent partnership with Revitavet, which I'm confident will expedite his recovery! I had great success with this product when he took a chip out of his knee this winter (have I mentioned I do love this horse.... most expensive $500 I've ever spent...) while working for Katie, and am very excited to offer this product to my clients as a PREVENTATIVE measure... hopefully no one else decides they need to do anything exciting for awhile. It made a HUGE difference in his recovery time, and we used it to MUCH success on horses that were tight through their back prior to dressage, and each time saw a change in their scores. I will be using it on all my horses (and myself) to keep them in top shape.

His version of hand walking... Have I mention I think he's part dog? 

Now, with all of this. I look at my goals I wrote out for my 2014 season, and I must admit there will be some reevaluation. I am hugely fortunate to have started working out of a great facility here in the Midwest, and I have some great clients here with me, and with that I have decided to pass on a full month in Aiken this year to focus on growing my business here. Instead I will take a short 10 day trip down there with Red Horse and hopefully a few other sale horses (if you're interested in possibly sending your horse along, please don't hesitate to contact me!) . Thanks to the generosity of his owner, Qui (Red Horse) will be stepping up as my main focus for the year. Our goal with him (this is like pencil right?) is to see him get some mileage in Aiken, and work on bringing him out this spring at Training Level, with aims at a summer move up to Prelim. He has really grown since his vacation, and his dressage is improving with leaps and bounds. His jumping is more relaxed, he's more self confident, and just over much more mellow than last fall. He's like riding a whole new horse. He's truly going to be a special one, and I'm thankful to have the ride on him.

Hard to believe this is even the same horse! 

I have also gotten the ride on another lovely OTTB, My Barbs "BeBe" thanks to the generosity of another client of mine! I sat on her this summer to try her for a client, and was just blown away by this little mare! SUPER athletic, an absolute blast to ride on the flat. I'm very excited to see where we can go this year!

I'm so excited....

I do still have an opening possibly for another competition horse, so if anyone knows of a horse looking for mileage, experience, campaigned for sale, or a stallion looking to be campaigned possibly. I'd love to finish my bronze in dressage this year, so would love something that could get through 3rd level. I've decided to really use this year to get more competition miles under my belt, and hopefully to keep building a great string of competition horses for my long term goals!

Your horse could join in on the collage of wonderfulness! My current group of horses! 
A pretty stellar group if you ask me...

Horses are a hugely humbling sport, and I keep reminding myself to find the positives in all of this. This gives Jag PLENTY of time to grow up, lots of time to bond, time for me to focus on my current group of sales horses, who with each day come out better than before, and time to focus on my clients. Sometimes we get caught up in our own goals, and forget those around us who are trying to accomplish their own. I'm hoping to help my working student Kayla get to Prelim this season with her Wonder mare, sell some horses so that some of my clients can move onto the next step in their careers, spend some time in Springfield with my lovely contingent down there, and get my Pony Clubbers prepped for their ratings. I know a year will fly by, if that's how long it'll take till I'm back galloping my big black horse. In the mean time, I'm going to make myself the best rider I can be so we can hit the ground running. I've made my self a promise, to not take a single ride for granted any more. I get on each of them with a very decisive purpose. Whether that purpose is a relaxing hack, or an intense dressage school. I want each of my horses to reach their goals, and then exceed them. And like I tell my students, any and every horse that you can ride is a learning experience. Get better. Hold yourself more accountable for each horses success. Make each one the absolute fanciest, fittest, and happiest horse that you can produce. So here's to more hours in the saddle, more days without stirrups. and a very happy and exciting new year :)

He must touch all the things... note the feed bucket he's helpfully placed in our way.
The next few months are going to be full of adorable Jag pictures... be prepared ;)