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2014: By The Numbers

Jan 02 2015
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As 2014 comes to an end, I look back and I am very thankful for the amazing year and all of the opportunities that I had.  This was the first year I was married to my wonderful husband, Nathan; the first year we lived in Kentucky; the first year I traveled full time for work, and the first year I owned two horses.  I have a ton of great memories from 2014 that I will never forget.

I spent most of the year working in Hartford, Connecticut.  I am very thankful for the opportunities and flexibility that my work allows, but I did not appreciate the Northeastern winter.  :-)  Here is my rental car buried in the snow.

Snow in CT

In addition to Connecticut, I also visited Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California.  Santa Cruz, CA was one of my favorites to visit.

Santa Cruz, CA

I rode 159 days in 2014.  This is amazing considering I spent over 125 nights in a hotel room, far away from horses.

I competed in 7 horse trials and 3 schooling shows and rode in numerous eventing clinics.  Owen and I won the dressage at 6 shows this year and ended up winning 3 horse trials.  Owen then went on to win a fourth horse trial with my friend Andrea in the irons.

Four Wins

After a successful spring at Novice, Owen and I moved up to Training and I completed my first two Training level events which was always a life long dream of mine.

Derbyshire 2014

MSPC 2014

I finished the season as the #1 Adult Rider at Novice in USEA Area VIII.  I was even 2nd on the USEA National Leaderboard for a few weeks this summer. 

This was also the year that I bought my new horse, sight unseen, from Ireland.  Cullen has only been in the US for 3 months, but I am already in love with my new horse and I can’t wait to compete him in 2015.

Cullen 2014

Thank you to all of my friends and family for your love and support in 2014.  Here’s to 2015 being the best year yet!

New Chapter: Getting to Know Cullen

Oct 20 2014
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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!

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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.  

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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. 

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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. 

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

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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
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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.  :-)

Castlefarm

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.

Map

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

Quarantine

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
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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

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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
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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.

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

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

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

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