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May Daze HT 2015 Recap

May 29 2015
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This past weekend Cullen and I attended the May Daze Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park.  This was Cullen’s second recognized event and his first at the Novice level.  I can sum up the weekend in two words: easy and fun!  That is not to say that the actual event was easy, but that Cullen and I are really starting to click and riding him around Novice was so easy that it felt like we had been doing it for years.  Getting the opportunity to ride such a wonderful horse, get coaching from such a talented trainer, and be surrounded by such great riders and friends is truly a blessing.  Finishing on our dressage score of 32 was icing on the cake!

Dressage: Cullen was great in warm up!  He felt supple, relaxed and forward.  I tried timed our warm up perfectly so that I would get the best possible work out of Cullen in front of the judge.  Unfortunately, the rider in front of me had several errors while on course and ended up taking longer than expected.  Cullen tried to hold it together, but by this time he was getting fussy in the bridle and was lacking impulsion in his gaits as he was starting to get tired.  Alas, the show must go on!  We still put in a decent test to score a 32 which left us in 9th place in a very competitive division. 

Photo Credit: Lara Nickles
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Cross Country: After riding dressage at 9:20 AM, we had to wait until 5:02 PM to go out on cross country.  Being at the trailer for 7 hours definitely tested the limits of Cullen’s patience!  Luckily, the weather was nice and he got to spend the day in the shade, enjoying the breeze and a pile of hay.  When it was time to go out on cross country, Cullen was his usual enthusiastic self.  Did I mention…he LOVES to jump!  As soon as we left the start box, Cullen was all business.  He was adjustable, responsive, and incredibly focused on his job.  I was pleased with the Novice course as it offered several combinations of jumps that required tactful riding – 2 jumps set as a 90 degree turning question, a 3-stride half coffin on a slight bending line, a down bank with a bending line to a skinny brush, and a roll top one stride before the water.  Cullen needed a little extra encouragement at the big ditch, but jumped everything else out of stride and in a great rhythm.  We had so much fun!

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Photo Credit: Jj Sillman Photography
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Show Jumping: When we returned to the Kentucky Horse Park Sunday morning, Cullen was raring to go.  I think he thought we were going to run cross country again.  Fortunately, this was another jumping phase, so Cullen was happy.  Cullen warmed up well and then we went in and had a fabulous show jumping round.  I could not be happier with how our round went. 

Photo Credit: Howard Moore
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Photo Credit: Jj Sillman Photography
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We finished the weekend on our dressage score of 32 in 7th place.  
Photo Credit: Lara Nickles
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What’s Next: Cullen and I will compete at Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the Novice level in June.

Wilderness Trace CT Recap

May 22 2015
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I went to the Wilderness Trace Pony Club Combined Test last weekend where Cullen and I got to compete at the Novice level.  This was my first time at this local schooling show and I really enjoyed it.  Both the dressage and show jumping competition rings had good footing, the volunteers were nice, and the show was well run.  I definitely would go back to this venue again in the future. 

Dressage: Cullen warmed up well for dressage, then we headed up to the show ring.  Cullen went in and performed a very respectable test scoring a 30.  Our transitions from April were much improved, but I know we can do even better once Cullen gets stronger and more consistent in dressage and we continue to build our partnership.

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Show Jumping: Cullen warmed up well for show jumping and was very excited to get to do his favorite thing – jump!  The show jumping ring was very spooky with several large shiny panels, large plastic filler boxes, and colorful gates.  Cullen never looked at a single thing.  He marched down to every single fence and jumped it with style.  Jumping the Novice sized jumps was really fun, but I think he’s telling me he’s ready to go higher!

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Cullen and I went double clean show jumping to finish on our dressage score of 30 in 1st place!  Our first blue ribbon together!

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What’s Next:Cullen and I will compete at the May Daze Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park in the Novice Division.

Spring Bay HT 2015 Recap

May 22 2015
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I attended Spring Bay Horse Trial in April with Cullen. This was our first horse trial together and Cullen’s first Beginner Novice event!  My only expectation for the weekend was to finish on a numerical score (no eliminations, retirements, rider falls, etc.) but I didn’t need to worry.  By finishing on our dressage score of 34 and ending up 4th place in a large open division, this outing far exceeded my expectations!

Dressage: After being locked in a stall for 3 days due to bad weather, Cullen was very fresh and full of it Saturday morning.  We kept our warm up short and headed into the show ring.  Cullen was very responsive and obedient during the test.  We still need to work on our transitions and some of the movements, but we are definitely on the right track!

Pictures from a video by Nathan  
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Show Jumping: Cullen was laid back and relaxed in warm up even with all of the other horses goofing off and spooking around him.  One horse almost slammed into the side of us and he calmly stepped out of the way and kept walking.  What a good boy!  When we headed to the show ring, Cullen turned into a jumping machine.  He knew his job and performed it to perfection!  He was clearly showing us that he was ready for bigger jumps!

Pictures by Jj Sillman
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Cross Country: Due to massive amounts of rain the week leading up to the event, the cross country course had standing water in a lot of places, including the start box.  Luckily I was sitting on an Irish horse with lots of experience in the rain and mud!  Cullen rocked around the cross country course from start to finish without missing a beat.  I had an amazing time and so did Cullen!  We finished the event on our dressage score and earned our move up to Novice!

Pictures by Jj Sillman
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What’s Next: We are going to compete at the Wilderness Trace CT at Novice and then May Daze HT at Novice in May.

Spring Training, Eventer Style

May 06 2015
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I am having a blast riding Cullen and getting to know him.  Every time we do something new, he steps up to the plate and answers each and every question with confidence and authority.  Whether I’m at a horse show, taking lessons, participating in a clinic, or riding alone, I can’t stop grinning from ear to ear every time I sit on him.  Cullen continues to exceed my expectations in every way. 

Cullen’s dressage work is getting better and better with every ride.  He now knows “the game” and understands what I’m asking him and he tries really hard.  As he continues to get stronger, the dressage movements should become easier for him.  In the last week, he has shown me a couple of super fancy moments.  So exciting!

Practice ride in the dressage ring at Team CEO.   
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Practice ride in the dressage ring at Team CEO. 
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My confidence and trust in Cullen while jumping has grown tremendously over the last several weeks.  We have met all of our training goals to be confident at the beginner novice and novice levels.  Now we will keep practicing to be ready for our big move up to Training (target: 6-12+ months from now).

Cross Country school at Team CEO.
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Cross Country school at Team CEO.
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Cross country school at Masterson Station Park.
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Cross country school at Masterson Station Park.
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Jump lesson at Team CEO – 3’8” oxer!
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Jump lesson at Team CEO – single barrel!
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What’s Next: Cullen and I will compete in a Novice combined test the weekend of May 16 and then compete again at May Daze Horse Trials the following weekend.

Paul Frazer CT 2015 Recap

Mar 29 2015
21
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I feel like this year is a clean slate for me.  New year, new horse, new show season.  Despite all of my success last year, I couldn’t start the year with the same expectations for this year.  Cullen has never evented before so we get to start from the beginning and do it together.  Paul Frazer CT was our first horse show and also Cullen’s first time at the Kentucky Horse Park.  I had no expectations other than to finish the competition with a positive experience for the both of us. 

On Saturday, I got up before sunrise to head to the barn to wash Cullen’s legs and braid his mane in the 20 degree (“feels like” 12 degree) weather.  It was COLD!  I think the weather in Aiken had me spoiled.  After getting Cullen cleaned up, we loaded and headed over to the horse park.

Dressage: I tacked up Cullen and headed down to dressage.  I trotted and cantered a few circles for warm up and then headed over to the show ring.  We were assigned to ring one which was setup as a large arena converted to a small area with the practice circle at the end.  That gave me the perfect opportunity for Cullen to get used to the white fencing and to get the idea that we were not allowed to jump out of the ring.  :-)  I didn’t need to worry as Cullen was the perfect professional for his first dressage test ever.  He was consistent and obedient which was exactly what I wanted for this point in our training.  We have plenty of time to work on our gaits and transitions throughout this year. 

Show Jumping: Cullen got to relax in the trailer for a couple of hours, and I warmed up by sitting in the truck, before we tacked up for show jumping.  By this time in the day, it had warmed up to a balmy 32 degrees.  :-)  Cullen was a complete gentleman in the warm up area.  Luckily it wasn’t too crowded for his first time in there.  We went down to the show ring for our round and nailed it!  I was so happy with our course!  We had a great pace and rhythm the entire round.  Cullen stepped over all of the fences without batting an eye.  A few times Cullen needed to put in his half step, but we’ll get that smoothed out as we get more practice this year. 

Overall, I was thrilled with our day!  We finished in 7th place out of 15 riders and finished on our dressage score of 39.  And the best part was, it was a blast!  I had so much fun!

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What’s Next: Next weekend Cullen and I are headed to Spring Bay Horse Trials where we will compete in a recognized event together for the first time. 

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