Monday, August 19, 2019

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Year in Review: 2018 Recap

Jan 08 2019
This was a year of personal challenges, growth and reflection.  

Nathan and I continued living in our house in Georgetown, KY with our 2 dogs and cat.  While I spent my free time at the barn riding, Nathan spent time taking lessons and studying to be a pilot.  He was also promoted to Deputy Commander of his Civil Air Patrol squadrant.  

We spent our wedding anniversary surrounded by friends and family in Mexico at the Secrets Maroma Beach resort where we got married 5 years before.  It was an amazing trip and one we will need to repeat again!

My friend Lara and I headed to Tryon, NC to see the World Equestrian Games.  Bucket List item for sure!

I completed my 14th year at Accenture and my 2nd year as a Managing Director.  I went on XX business trips to XX locations.  

Cullen and I took a step back and spent the year competing at Beginner Novice.  After our two trips to Aiken, SC and competing at Stable View Horse Trial, we returned to Kentucky and competed at Spring Bay HT, Virginia HT, Midsouth HT, and Champagne Run HT.  Despite only competing half of the show season, Cullen and I won several year end awards.

MSEDA 3rd place Beg Novice Rider
USEA 5th place Beg Novice Adult Rider
USEA 6th place Beg Novice Adult Amateur Rider
Area 8 3rd place Beg Novice Rider
Area 8 3rd Beg Novice Adult Amateur Rider
Area 8 4th Beg Novice Horse 
Blue Ribbon Award
Gold Medal Award 

In August, I made the difficult decision to sell Cullen.  I decided it was time for him to 

In September, I welcomed a new horse to the family.  I will introduce him in the next blog post.  I am looking forward to a great 2019!

Aiken 2018: Part 2

Jun 01 2018

In March, Cullen and I headed back down to Aiken, SC for Part 2 of our spring training.  The highlight of the trip was competing at the gorgeous Stable View Farm Horse Trials.

Day 1: Cullen and I left Lexington early in the morning to haul down to Aiken.  Surprisingly, the weather was a lot cooler and wetter in March than it was in February. 

Day 2: It rained quite a bit off and on all day.  Cullen and I got a dressage lesson from Elissa where we worked on moving his haunches in and out on a circle to increase his suppleness and engagement.

Day 3: A group of us headed to The Vista where I was able to cross country school a bunch of the beginner novice and novice jumps.

Day 4: I had a show jumping lesson at the farm where we continued to work on course work.

Day 5: A group of us went to the Appletree Schooling Show where Cullen and I did 2 rounds of the novice show jumping course.   Despite some issues with the 2 stride combination, I was excited about how the jumps were starting to feel little again.

Day 6: Cullen and I took a day off from training to go on a relaxing trail rise at Hitchcock Woods with friends.  Unfortunately a turkey that was roosting decided to fall out of a tree and spook the group of horses.  I had to track down Cullen on foot (he headed back to the trailers) but was able to get back on and enjoy the rest of the ride.

Day 7: My final show jumping lesson in Aiken.  I will miss jumping outside in Sally’s large jump field.

Day 8: A group of us went to Full Gallop Farm where I was able to cross country school most of the beginner novice and novice jumps.

Day 9: We had another dressage lesson to prep for the horse trial.  We ran through our test and got advice from Elissa on how to improve for the next day.  Later that day we went to Stable View Farm to check in at the show and walk the cross country course. 

Day 10: We competed in the Open Beginner Novice division at the Stable View Horse Trial.  Cullen had a great dressage test followed by an enthusiastic show jumping and cross country rounds to finish on his dressage score of 30.8.  We ended up 4th in the open division (1st place amateur) and we took home a check in addition to a ribbon.  My first time winning prize money at an event!




Day 11: I packed up the truck and trailer and headed home.  I am excited about the progress we made during the February and March training camps and I’m excited to see what Cullen and I can do this year.


What’s Next: Cullen and I will begin the show season in Kentucky starting with the Spring Bay HT in April.

Aiken 2018: Part 1

May 06 2018

Cullen and I went to Aiken, SC for a week long training camp in February.  The trip was a great success!  I can’t wait to go back down to Aiken for two weeks in March and continue to build on what we learned.

Day 1: I got up early in the morning and drove to the barn.  I hooked up the truck and trailer, loaded Cullen, and hit the road.  Eight hours later we arrived at Sally Cousin’s farm in Aiken.  I got Cullen’s stall setup and then tacked him up to go for a quick hack around the property.  A group of us had dinner at Red Bowl that evening before heading to our rental house.  The rental house was a small pool house behind a main residence. Three to five of us stayed there at a time sleeping on air mattresses and futons. 

Our home base in Aiken….Sally’s farm, Cullen’s stall, the barn, and the jump field.

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Day 2: The day started with Cross Country schooling at Shady Hills Farm.  Cullen and I got to practice galloping forward and back in balance, jumping single fences with terrain (up hill and down hill), banks, ditches, and water.  Cullen and I gained confidence throughout the lesson as we dusted off the cobwebs.  In the afternoon, I headed to Full Gallop to watch Sally Cousin’s teach two groups of upper level riders go cross country.  It was a great experience.  Most restaurants in Aiken are closed on Sundays, so we ended up at Maria’s Mexican restaurant for dinner.

Day 3: Cullen and I had a show jumping lesson at the farm.  We did course work and practiced making the striding in lines with related distances – 4 stride, 6 stride, etc.  It was fun to practice jumping in a large open jump field after being cooped up in the indoor all winter.  For dinner, I met a friend at Takosushi – my favorite Aiken restaurant!


Day 4: We took a break from jumping and had a dressage lesson.  We practiced the beginner novice test in a dressage ring.  Cullen was forward and his gaits have greatly improved over the last 3 months.  We are working on getting Cullen soft in his neck, bending through his body, and engaging his hocks.

Dressage ring


Day 5: We had another show jumping lesson to build on what we learned from Day 3.  Dinner was homemade Stromboli made by Elissa’s mom, Liz.

Day 6: We drove 30 min to Appletree Farm to participate in a schooling show.  Cullen and I competed in the beginner novice combined test division.  Cullen was great in dressage – it was his first dressage test in front of a judge in 6+ months!  He was a little lazy in the walk work, but the rest was good enough to score a 31.  We jumped around the show jumping course clear to finish the day in 1st place!

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Show Jumping

Day 7: We had our third and final show jumping lesson at the farm.  Elissa raised the jumps and we continued to build on what we learned during the week.  It was interesting to jump Cullen Day 3 when he was super forward and often running away with me, Day 5 when he was forward but not running away, and Day 7 when he was quite tired and behind my leg so I needed to kick him up to the jumps.  It is always good to practice all three situations as you never what kind of ride you will have the day of a horse show. 

Day 8: Cullen got a day off and I headed to Pine Top Horse Trial where I watched Elissa and the other students compete in the dressage and show jumping phases. 

Elissa and Fernhill Superhero in the Open Intermediate division.

Elissa and Hero - Pine Top HT

Day 9: I loaded up Cullen earlier and headed home to Kentucky.  We had a quick and uneventful drive home.  Cullen traveled very well. 

What’s Next: We will be in Kentucky for 2 weeks and then head back to Aiken for another training trip and to compete at Stable View Horse Trials.

Aiken 2018: Prep

Feb 13 2018

You would think that going on vacation is relaxing, but there is a ton of work involved in getting ready to go on vacation with your horse.  It typically takes me 10 weeks to get ready for our annual trip down South each year.  Here is a summary of some of the planning involved as Cullen and I get ready to head to Aiken, SC this weekend.  This year, I am fortunate that we get to go 1 week in February and 2 weeks in March to train with Elissa.

Veterinary Care – In December, I had the dentist out to float Cullen’s teeth.  I have him see a dentist twice a year to make sure he is comfortable eating and holding the bit in his mouth.  In January, I had another vet visit to give Cullen his annual vaccinations and update his Coggins test and health certificate.  Cullen was vaccinated for 9 different diseases (that is standard for show horses)!  Cullen typically spikes a fever for 24 hours after getting vaccines so we watch him carefully to make sure he is comfortable and recovers well.  I had a third vet visit to do flexion tests and jog him to make sure Cullen feels good and is up to the physical demands of the training trip.  Cullen passed the exam with flying colors!  There is a forth vet visit planned later this week to do a final updated health certificate.

At this point, I could also have one or more additional treatments done on Cullen as needed – acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic therapy).  Fortunately, at this point in the season, the treatments aren’t needed and my checkbook gets a little relief. 

Waiting for the vet

Truck and Trailer – In January, I took my truck to get an oil change, filter change, and general overall inspection.  After paying for this work to be done, Nathan and I decided it was time to upgrade the truck.  We ended up trading in the white 2004 F250 Diesel for a black 2016 F250 Diesel.  The new truck starts and drives like a dream!  The truck needs a gooseneck ball installed in the bed, but then it should be all ready to go.  I also took my trailer to get annual maintenance which includes checking the tires, floor, lights, brakes as well as packing the ball bearings.

The new truck

Fitness and Basic Training – Before investing the time and money in a training trip, I make sure Cullen and I have a basic level of fitness and training.  Cullen has been ridden 5 days a week consistently all winter including 45 minute dressage schools and jumping small courses and gymnastics.  Unfortunately, the weather and the footing outside has been so bad that I haven’t gotten to do any trot/canter sets in the field.  I’ll have to remember that gap in fitness prep when we school cross country in Aiken.  For myself, I’ve been working out consistently for the last 3 months – weight lifting, circuit training, Booiaka dance, and running on a treadmill in addition to riding.

Jumping in the indoor

Road hacking on a day when it was too muddy to ride in the fields

Working out with the personal trainer at the gym

Tack and Equipment – In the Fall, I had the saddle fitter come out and check my saddles.  He found that the dressage saddle fit Cullen well, but the jump saddle needed a minor adjustment.  The saddle was sent to Florida for a few weeks to be adjusted and now it sits in a better balance on Cullen’s back.  Fortunately, all of Cullen’s other tack fits him well and all of my barn equipment is in good working condition.  I bought Cullen a neck cover for his Back on Track sheet, but otherwise didn’t have to buy anything special for the trip this year.

Dressed up in his dressage tack

Grain, Hay, Supplements – The barn owner is going to pack up grain and hay for me to take on my trip this year.  It is important that the horse’s diet to remain the same when they travel to reduce stress and the risk of colic.  In addition to hay and grain, Cullen will also be fed an electrolyte supplement in Aiken to keep him drinking well and replace the salt he will lose from sweating.  When we get back to Kentucky, Cullen will be fed a supplement to clear any sand from his gut. 

Farrier – Cullen gets his feet done by a farrier every 5-6 weeks year round.  I have to time the visits so that he sees the farrier the week before our trip South.  The goal is to make sure Cullen doesn’t have to be seen by an unfamiliar farrier out of state.

Cullen’s feet after a farrier visit

Body Clipping – Cullen grows a super smooth, light winter coat.  If we stayed in Kentucky all winter, I wouldn’t get him clipped, but it is very beneficial to get your horse clipped before heading down South to warmer temperatures and lots of sand.  It makes cooling off horses after a ride and hosing them down so much easier.  Plus, Cullen is so handsome when he is clipped.  :-)

Cullen after his body clipping

Well, that’s about it!  All I have left is to do laundry and pack for myself.  Stayed tuned for a bunch of Aiken training blog posts in the next 6 weeks.

Year in Review: 2017 Recap

Jan 02 2018

I will always remember this year as a time of challenge and growth for me.  Many family members (including myself) experienced health issues, I encountered training issues with Cullen, and work was incredibly stressful.  Even though I didn’t meet many of my goals for the year, I learned a ton and I’ve made some significant changes so that I can start off 2018 better and stronger than ever before.

Nathan and I spent a week vacationing in Antigua with my family in March and a long weekend at Kentucky Lake in July.  I also took a trip to Nashville in July to see two of my best friends from high school.  Nathan and I celebrated our 4 year weeding anniversary in August this year by taking a trip to Cumberland Falls.   We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in St. Louis, MO visiting family and friends.  Career wise, Nathan started a new job November and I successfully completed my first year as a Managing Director at Accenture.

Antigua Vacation                                    Cumberland Falls Vacation
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I spent most of the year working in Hartford, CT, but I also went on business trips to Phoenix, AZ; Atlanta, GA; King of Prussia and Philadelphia, PA; Nashville, TN; and Sunrise, FL.  I stayed over 100 nights in a hotel and flew on over 66 airline segments. 

Even with a busy life at work, I was able to ride over 169 days this year including completing 3 horse trials at the Novice level – Spring Bay HT, Penny Oaks HT (cross country was canceled), and River Glen June HT.

Spring Bay HT
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I started the year by taking a 2 week trip to Ocala, FL with my friend Nikki and our two horses.  It was a wonderful and relaxing vacation.  While there, we boarded at the fabulous Sweet Dixie South Farm and were able to take lessons from Dom Schramm (show jumping and cross country) and Peter Gray (dressage and gymnastics).

Sweet Dixie South, Ocala, FL
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In September, I decided to make some changes for Cullen and me.  I moved Cullen to Rockbarton Farm which is a private boarding barn closer to my house.  In addition to an indoor arena, outdoor arena, jumps and large grass pastures, the full service horse care is second to none.  I also started working with a new trainer, upper level event rider Elissa Gibbs.  Elissa has been phenomenal about working around her busy schedule to accommodate my crazy schedule to work with Cullen and me.  She’s been riding Cullen during week when I travel and also gives me weekly lessons.  I have seen drastic improvements in both our jumping and our dressage in the 4 months we’ve been working together.  I can’t wait to continue our progress in 2018 and start showing again.

Rockbarton Farm
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Despite our abbreviated show schedule, Cullen and I won some really cool year end awards.

MSEDA High Point Adult Amateur Eventing (perpetual trophy) 
MSEDA 3rd Sr Novice Horse Trials
USEA Eventing Gold Medal at Novice
USEA Area 8 8th Adult Amateur Rider Novice

Year End Awards
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In addition to training with Elissa, I’ve been working hard to increase my fitness in preparation for the 2018 show season.  I’ve been working out with a personal trainer twice a week where I lift weights for about 60-90 min.  I also just started going to a Booiaka fitness dance class 1-2 times a week.  I also plan to start running more to increase my cardio stamina with a goal to run 500 miles in 2018.

I am anxious to leave 2017 behind and I look forward to a great year in 2018! 

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The Archive


2019 Jan 1 1
2018 Jun 14 1
2018 May 16 1
2018 Feb 26 1
2018 Jan 29 1
2017 Sep 2 1
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2016 Nov 22 3
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2016 Jul 35 2
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2016 May 14 1
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2016 Jan 20 1
2015 Dec 11 1
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