Thursday, January 17, 2019

My Blog


New Chapter: Getting to Know Cullen

Oct 20 2014

Dayley, Sterling, and Owen (my first 3 horses) were all very influential in helping me become a better horsewoman, rider, and eventer over the last 10 years.  I will forever be grateful to have had them in my life and for the lessons they taught me.  Now I’m excited to start a new chapter in my riding career with my new horse Cullen.

One of the first things that I learned about Cullen is that he is huge!  He is very well put together so his size is deceiving until you get up close to him.  I am starting to realize that none of Owen’s clothing and tack are going to work for Cullen in the long term.  That means it is time to go shopping!!  The first items on the list: oversized halter, 87” sheets and blankets, 6” bit, extra large bell boots, and extra large Woof boots. 

This Amigo XL 87” turnout sheet fits nicely!


The next thing I learned about Cullen is that he enjoys his turnout time.  He loves being outside and is very exuberant and playful when we turn him out with his buddy Riley.  


Cullen is a little impatient and fidgety in his stall and in the cross ties, but that’s not uncommon for young horses.  Cullen loves the barn cats. 


After spending a few days hanging out at Team CEO and getting used to the new routine, it was time to get on Cullen and see how he would behave under saddle.  Here’s a picture of us just moments after climbing into the saddle for the first time.  He was a perfect gentleman for our first ride!

First Ride

I am thrilled that Cullen has taken everything in stride including his first time being cross tied, first mounting block experience, first walk/trot in the outdoor, first canter, first hack around the farm, first time in the indoor, first time over a show jump (he is used to solid jumps).  Cullen is even learning how to do dressage for the first time – trotting on the bit, accepting the bridle, and being balanced on a 20 meter circle. 


Jumping Cullen felt like sitting on a cloud!  So smooth and effortless.  He even changed his lead over the jump.  What a smart boy!


There are only 2 things that Cullen has disliked about his like in the US so far: 1) processed American horse treats and 2) clippers.  Cullen much prefers carrots and apples, but I am slowly getting him to accept packaged horse treats (since they are easier to keep in my tack locker year round).  Cullen was very taken aback by the clippers the first time I showed them to him, but I am confident that with a little bit of work, he will learn that the clippers are an acceptable part of his horse show life.  :-)

What’s Next: Cullen and I will continue to ride at home and take lessons with Megan as often as possible.  Depending on how things go, we may aim to go to a few dressage or jumper schooling shows this winter.

International Adventures of Coolnaboy Rubens

Oct 12 2014

After making the hard decision to sell Owen in August, it was time to start looking for my next eventing partner.  As luck would have it, Megan was about to head to Ireland on a horse shopping trip and offered to look for a new horse for me while she was there.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I anxiously waited by the phone and computer to see what she would find. 

And then Megan sent me this picture…

5 yo by Tasset

…and it was love at first site!  I was a little skeptical because I didn’t want to fall in love with just another pretty face, so to speak, but I quickly learned that this handsome boy had all of the qualities I was looking for in my next horse.  Coolnaboy Rubens is a 5 year old, 16.3 hand Irish Sport Horse gelding by Tasset (TB) out of Coolnaboy Midge (ISH).  He was owned by a male adult amateur who took him fox hunting and to a handful of Hunter shows around Ireland including the Irish National Show.  After a few rounds of negotiating, pre-purchase exams, and international wire transfers, I was the proud owner of my very own Irish horse!  I decided to call my new horse Cullen which means “handsome” in Gaelic.  Definitely a fitting name! 

Now it was time to get Cullen, and his 4 future barn mates, from Ireland to Kentucky.  We booked them on a flight from Ireland to Chicago for Sept 20.  Unfortunately, that date got pushed not once, but twice due to the pilots going on strike.  I’m not going to lie, the waiting was hard, but I knew it would be worth the wait.  Finally the horses were confirmed on a flight for Oct 4. 

Cullen’s Saturday morning started with a ride from his home on the Western Coast of Ireland to Castlefarm near Dublin via this shipping van. 

Cooper Van

Cullen in his stall at Castlefarm with his security guards.  :-)


Saturday afternoon it was time to load the horses into their shipping crates and onto the plane at Dublin Airport.  There are 3 horses in each of the shipping containers. 

Cargo 1

Cargo 2

Cargo 3

The horses flew from Dublin Airport in Ireland, to Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, to Chicago O’Hare Airport in the US.


Once the horses arrived in the US, they were trailered 20 minutes from the airport to a quarantine facility at Arlington Park Racetrack. 


The horses were held in quarantine for two days before we were able to go pick them up at 9:00 AM CT Tuesday morning.

Quarantine Release

Cullen loaded well and handled the 7 hour trailer ride to Georgetown, Kentucky like a pro.

Trailer Loading

And finally Cullen made it to his new home at Team CEO the evening of Oct 7th.

Finally Home

What’s Next: Cullen is settling in at Team CEO really well.  I’ll tell you about our first week together in the next blog post.

Irish Times

Sep 14 2014

In 2010, I planned an extensive 10 day trip to Ireland.  I figured it was a good way to try out overseas travel in a place that predominately spoke English and had a reputation for being exceptionally friendly.  I am so glad I went as it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.

My two college friends and I did all of the typical touristy things:

  • Stayed in Dublin
  • Saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College
  • Visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle
  • Toured the Waterford Crystal Factory
  • Toured the Guinness Factory
  • Stayed at a Bed and Breakfast
  • Kissed the Blarney Stone in Cork
  • Ate dinner at Dromoland Castle
  • Visited the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry
  • Spent the night at Ashford Castle
  • And much, much more!

Guinness Factory & Waterford Crystal Factory

GuinnessWaterford Crystal Factory

Blarney Castle & Ashford Castle

Blarney CastleAshford Castle

Cliffs of Moher & Ring of Kerry

Cliffs of Moher 2Ring of Kerry

In addition, we spent two days at an equestrian center where we got to ride five times including show jumping lessons, cross country lessons, and mock fox hunting.  My friend Staci decided to ride the same horse all five times, but I got the opportunity to ride five different Irish horses.

I learned a ton about riding in Ireland and riding Irish horses.  I learned that, in general, the horses are:

  • Forward, but not hot
  • Alert, but not spooky
  • Athletic, but not over zealous
  • Patient and forgiving to adult amateurs
  • Brave beyond belief, but still with a good amount of common sense and self preservation
  • Friendly and enjoyable to be around on the ground





I hope my next horse has all of the fabulous traits of a wonderful Irish Sport Horse.

Team CEO Eventing Weekend (July 2014)

Sep 07 2014

We had a special guest at our eventing clinic in July – baby Hiccup!  Hiccup was born at Team CEO a few days before the clinic and lost his mother less than a day later.  During the clinic we learned about orphaned foals and nurse mares.  This little guy is a fighter and it will be so exciting to watch him grow and to see what the future holds for him.

HiccupHiccup 2

As with prior eventing weekends, Friday we participated in private dressage lessons, Saturday was small group show jumping lessons in the indoor, and Sunday was cross country.  Owen and I learned a lot and conquered a ton of challenges that Megan setup for us.

We jumped the single barrel during our show jumping lesson!

Single Barrel

Video clips from cross country lesson: Eventing Weekend - July 2014 - Owen XC 

One of our biggest accomplishments was learning how to balance the canter more effectively before a cross country fence.


This Training cabin was our warm up fence!  We have come a long way!


We jumped a vertical, down into the hollow, bending line out of the hollow, to the Prelim skinny brush!


Jumping the brand new set of roll top cabins that the farm purchased for this clinic.


Midsouth Pony Club HT 2014 Recap

Jul 19 2014

Four weekends ago Owen and I competed at the Midsouth Pony Club HT.  This was my second Training Level event and I was excited but nervous about cross country and show jumping.  The cross country course was big and had a lot of questions that Owen and I hadn’t seen in competition before and the show jumping course had a lot of twists and turns and jumps with challenging related distances.   

Friday: I had an early Friday evening ride time for dressage which gave me plenty of time to bathe and braid Owen during the day before heading over to the Horse Park.  When I arrived at the Park, I tacked up and headed down to the dressage complex.  Because of the bad thunderstorms earlier in the week, Owen had been locked in his stall for a few days straight.  He was full of himself during dressage warm up and I had to try to keep him focused on the job at hand.  When we went into the show ring, I had to work harder than usual to keep a steady tempo and to execute all of the transitions on time.  Despite what I thought was an average test at best, Owen and I scored a 30 and ended up in first place after dressage.

 Trot Lengthening


Saturday: Saturday afternoon we were back to tackle the cross country course.  The very first jump was spooky so Megan encouraged me to ride strong out of the start box and attack the course.  After that, the plan was to keep Owen in a controlled canter throughout the course so that I could add leg and encourage him to the jumps. Except for some trouble at the A element of the coffin, the course rode better than I expected.  I was especially thrilled at our ride at the water complex.  Owen handled the huge log into the water and the up bank out like a pro.  What an awesome experience!

H175-L_3596 MSPC Rally 2014   H175-L_3602 MSPC Rally 2014


H175-4_2173 MSPC Rally 2000

H175-4_2170 MSPC Rally 2000


Sunday: Sunday morning we headed back to the Horse Park to ride the show jumping course.  The course was great for Owen because all of the twists and turns helped to keep him focused.  The one thing I learned from this round is that I need to support Owen more going through the combinations.  Owen is an extremely careful jumper, so he tends to land in the combinations and get “stuck.”  I need to make sure to ride out of the combination as positively and encouraging as I ride in.  Definitely something to work on!

H175-L_1584 MSPC Rally 2014   H175-L_1583 MSPC Rally 2014

H175-L_1587 MSPC Rally 2014

IMG_2099   IMG_2096

What’s Next: We are headed to Champagne Run Horse Trials in July to compete in the Training Level division. 

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