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2015: By The Numbers

Jan 02 2016
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As 2015 comes to an end, I look back and I am very thankful for the amazing year and all of the opportunities.  I have a ton of great memories from 2015 that I will never forget.

I spent most of the year working in Hartford, CT, but I also went on business trips to Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, Orlando, and Sunrise, FL.  I spent over 100 nights in a hotel room and flew over 155 airline segments.

2016 Travel (Red = Work Trips, Purple = Personal Trips)
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Nathan and I bought a house in April 2015 and spent most of the year turning the house into our “home”.  We had out of town friends and family visit us  one or two weekends a month from April-November which kept us very busy.  We went to Florida in February, attended the Reiter Annual Family Lake trip in July, celebrated Thanksgiving in St. Louis, traveled to San Francisco in December, and headed back to St. Louis for Christmas.  We also went to two out of town horse shows – Cobblestone HT in Michigan and River Glen HT in Tennessee.  In December, the transmission in Nathan’s 2002 Nissan truck started going out, so we traded it in for a 2015 Ford Edge.

Nathan, Abby and I in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, November 2015
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2015 Ford Edge , December 2015 
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At the end of August, I signed up to join a healthy eating and fitness program.  I was able to lose 17 pounds and 15.25 inches in 4 months.  I hope to continue my fitness journey to reach my goal weight by mid next year.  In addition to improving my health, my goal is to become the best amateur athlete I can be so that I can improve my riding and move up the levels of eventing.

This was my first year competing my beloved Cullen.  We competed in 4 schooling shows and 9 USEA recognized events and finished in the ribbons every time (no eliminations or retirements!).  In addition to training with Megan Moore, we attended clinics with Joe Meyer, Chris Ryan, and Dom Schramm.

Our first show, March 2015
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Summer 2015
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Jumping 4’ in our lesson in October 2015
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I started the year with no expectations for having a competitive show year.  Cullen needed to learn the three phases of eventing and I needed to learn how to ride a different kind of horse.  With Megan’s help, we were able to bond quickly and developed into a great team.  I showed Cullen the ropes in dressage and helped him develop on the flat while Cullen sailed over jump after jump teaching me to be a brave, confident rider. 

I finished the season as the #1 Adult Rider at Novice in USEA Area VIII for the second year in a row.  I was 2 points away from being on the USEA National Leaderboard at the end of the year.  What a great year!!  My eventing goals for 2016 include being more competitive in dressage and successfully moving up to Training without any cross country penalties.

2015 Horse Show Ribbons
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Thank you to all of my friends and family for your love and support in 2015.  Here’s to 2016 being the best year yet!

River Glen Fall HT 2015 Recap

Dec 31 2015
11
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Wow!  I’m still in shock from this past weekend when Cullen and I competed at River Glen Fall Horse Trial and WON the event!  We have worked so hard this year and I think this was the perfect way to end the 2015 show season.

On Friday, Nathan and I packed the truck and trailer and headed to New Market, TN.   This was my second away show with Cullen (the first was Cobblestone HT).  Team CEO brought 12 horses to the event and we all got to stable together which was a lot of fun.  Four of us competed in the same division so we were able to tack up, warm up, and watch each other compete which was great!  There is nothing better than riding and showing with good friends.

A huge thanks to Howard Moore and Nathan Rover for all of the pictures and videos! 

Team CEO riders in Novice Division B
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Dressage: Cullen warmed up well and we performed a respectable test.  The comments I got from the judge are consistent with the comments from our last several shows – happy, submissive horse, accurate test, but lacking pizzazz.  We scored a 37 to sit in 9th place after dressage.  This winter I will continue to work with Cullen to get him stronger, moving over his back, more supple in the bridle, and more brilliant in his gaits.  I think that will help our scores improve next year.

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Show Jumping: Traditionally, River Glen show jumping is big and challenging.  This year, the Novice division competed in a separate arena set up in the grass which added the element of varying terrain to the complexity of the course.  This worked out well for Cullen and I because he LOVES jumping in the grass.  Cullen warmed up great and went in and did one of his smoothest rounds to date.  It was so much fun!  After show jumping, we moved up to 4th place.

Cross Country: The cross country course was also challenging – a real trakehner, a big table between 2 arenas, and a down bank at the bottom of a super steep hill.  Cullen and I flew around the course to have our most positive and confident round to date.  We were on the same page at every single fence.  I was grinning from ear to ear and had a wonderful time!  The 5 minute course ended way too soon.  It will be hard to wait 5 months until I get to event again in the Spring.

Cross Country Jumps 1-11   

Cross Country Jumps 9-16

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After cross country, we moved up to first place!  This is Cullen’s first USEA event win!!  I’m so excited to ride and own this exceptional horse.  He is definitely turning out to be my horse of a lifetime.

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What’s Next: Cullen and I will continue to train throughout the winter and will hopefully attend a couple of local schooling shows.  In March, we will head to Aiken, SC to attend the annual Team CEO training camp.  The 2016 competition season starts in April with the Spring Bay Horse Trial.

Midsouth Team Challenge HT 2015 Recap

Nov 06 2015
14
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For many eventers, Midsouth Team Challenge Horse Trial is the highlight of the competition year.  The event usually accepts 500-700 entries and fills on opening day with 200+ on the wait list.  The competition is tough – all divisions are “open” divisions with amateurs, juniors, and professionals all competing together and the show jumping and cross country courses are typically championship level.  The 2015 event did not disappoint and Cullen confidently stepped up to the plate and was phenomenal in all 3 phases.  Best of all, we had a blast being on the Team CEO Leprechaun team with fellow eventers Erika and Holly and their Irish Sport Horses Smartie and Reilly.

On Friday, I volunteered to be a jump judge for the CCI* cross country.  I saw numerous upper level event riders tactfully pilot their horses around the course.  I had a good view of jumps 7-9 including the second water, the angled brushes, and the hidden corner.  Watching these riders made me even more determined to improve my riding and continue to grow my partnership with Cullen so that we can move up the levels.

The Team CEO family was out in full force this weekend – volunteering, bringing food/drinks, helping to groom/tack, taking pictures/videos and cheering everyone on.  We had riders come who were not even entered in the event plus numerous family members (aunts, moms, husbands, etc.)  It was amazing to see everyone and to feel the love and support.  Team CEO is the best!

Wendy brought custom Coke bottles for us!  (PC: Wendy Long)
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Dressage: Our dressage time was scheduled for early Saturday afternoon.  We headed down to the dressage complex and had a good warm up.  Cullen and I had a great test overall, but we had a few small mistakes which left points on the table.  We scored a 36 to put us in 17th place in a tightly packed division.

Erika and I before we headed to dressage (PC: Elise Forrest)
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Our dressage test (PC: Megan Moore)
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Show Jumping: The incredibly talented Brody Robertson was the course designer and jump provider for show jumping.  He setup a beautiful course which was challenging but fair for each level.  Many of the jumps were considered spooky and I was relieved that I was riding Cullen who is reliably brave and confident over jumps.  Our show jumping time was late Saturday afternoon.  The warm up ring was absolutely crazy with tons of horses zooming around in every direction.  I am so thankful that the chaotic scene did not bother Cullen and he remained relaxed and focused throughout our warm up despite my fear of us being t-boned after landing from each jump.  Once we were done with warm up we headed to the competition ring and put in a beautiful clear round.  Cullen was forward and responsive and jumped around the course with ease.  It was so much fun!  Being one of the only double clear rounds, we moved up from 17th to 4th place!

Our team waiting to warm up for show jumping  (PC: Howard Moore)
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Our team waiting to warm up for show jumping (PC: Howard Moore)
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Show Jumping Round (PC: Howard Moore)

Cross Country: Sunday was cross country time!!  My teammates and I spent the morning dressing ourselves and our horses for the costume contest.  Riders were dressed in Leprechaun costumes over our usual riding equipment.  Horses had gold tape on their boots, gold bell boots, and rainbow ribbon in their manes, tails, bridles and breast collars.  We ended up winning the costume contest for the entire show!

Team CEO Leprechauns about to head to XC Warm Up  (PC: Howard Moore)
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We headed down to cross country warm up late Sunday morning.  The sun was shining and the air was crisp and cool.  The horses felt great and we all had successful rounds!  Cullen felt amazing as he conquered all of the challenging jumping efforts – big down bank to a spooky stone wall, the Rolex crater, double mounds, and the Rolex water.  Despite being one of the most difficult courses we have tackled this year, it was easily our smoothest and easiest round to date.  All while dressed in full costume!

Cullen over the open oxer (PC: Dustin Fichter)
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Cross Country Start and Finish (PC: Howard Moore)

Cross Country Middle of the Course (PC: Nathan Rover)

Cullen and I ended up the event as 1st place amateur in the division, 4th place overall in the division, 6th place Novice team, and 1st place in the costume contest.  The points from this show also moved me onto the USEA Area 8 Leaderboard as the 5th place Novice Adult Amateur Rider.  What a weekend!  I could not have done any of this without the support of my trainer, Megan Moore, and my husband, Nathan.

After the show (PC: Megan Moore)
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USEA Area 8 Novice Leader Board
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What’s Next: One more event for 2015!  Cullen and I will head south to Tennessee to compete at the River Glen HT in November as our last event of the year.

Octoberfest HT 2015 Recap

Oct 27 2015
10
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I am sure I sound like a broken record, but this was my best horse trial with Cullen to date.  He was absolutely wonderful the entire weekend putting in three solid phases and proving that we are becoming a confident team.

Dressage: Cullen and I didn’t have dressage until late in the day Saturday.  The weather was sunny and beautiful as we walked down to the dressage complex to warm up.  Our warm up was good and brief and we were ready to compete.  When we headed down centerline to start our test, I must admit that I was distracted and wasn’t fully concentrating on my riding.  I definitely think I could have ridden better, but Cullen stepped up to the plate and put in a very professional test to earn us my all time best score of 29.0!  (Maybe I should pay less attention more often!)  I hope to continue to build on our dressage experience this year and put a little more pizzazz into our tests next year, but I’m very proud of how far we’ve come.

Show Jumping:  About an hour after dressage, we were tacked up and heading towards show jumping.  In our lessons over the last few weeks, Megan has had us jumping 3’3”-4’ regularly, so I was a bit underwhelmed when I saw our 2’11” Novice level course.  Needless to say, I had no nerves in show jumping warm up for one of the first times ever!  We went into the show ring and had one of our smoothest show jumping rounds to date.  A clean round left us with a score of 29 and tied for first.

Cross Country: Sunday morning it was cold and sunny at the Horse Park with frost on the grass and fog in the air.  It was so cold that I put studs in Cullen’s shoes while he was still wearing his winter blanket.  I tacked up quickly and we headed to warm up.  In the warm up area, I was warned that many horses and riders were having problems out on cross country due to low visibility on the course.  The combination of frost, fog, and sun was making the course a spooky and unpredictable.  My plan was to ride every fence and be prepared to support Cullen with extra leg when needed. 

Fog, frost and sun (PC: Megan Moore)
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Fog, frost and sun (PC: Megan Moore)
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Cullen and I left the start box in good form and continued around all 20 jump efforts with no problems at all.  Our round was smooth and confident and easy!!  It is so much fun to ride around a 5 minute cross country course knowing that you and your horse are completely on the same page.  Cullen is turning into quite an amazing Eventing partner!

Water Jump (PC: JJ Sillman)
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Saddle Rack Jump (PC: JJ Sillman)
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Cullen and I finished in 2nd place (the other rider finished closer to optimum time without going over), but I am totally thrilled with our entire weekend! 

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What’s Next: Cullen and I will compete at Haygard Midsouth Team Challenge HT next weekend and River Glen HT in November.

Jump Start HT 2015 Recap

Oct 03 2015
21
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I can’t say enough great things about my amazing horse, Cullen.  Every time I ask more of him, he steps up to the plate and gives 110%.  Jump Start Horse Trial last weekend was no exception.  We have been working incredibly hard on dressage over the last several weeks; specifically, getting Cullen stronger, more supple and more balanced in all of his movements.  After this last show, I would say that all of our hard work is starting to pay off!

A huge Thank You to Howard for all the pictures, Nathan and Cindy for all the videos, and Megan for her coaching and support!  It takes a village, and Team CEO has the best people ever!

Dressage: It rained all of Friday night, so the dressage rings were fairly sloppy by Saturday.  Cullen seemed to love the wet footing and the cooler air.  He warmed up really well and stayed focused and relaxed.  Then we headed over to the show ring and put in our best test to date scoring a 30.3 in dressage!  We had our best canter transitions ever in a test as well as our best free walk.  It was magical to feel our connection and know that we were totally in sync.  This is the first USEA test where Cullen has been truly competitive in dressage, and I’m so excited to see where the future takes us!

The dressage judge wrote “Happy Horse” on my test.  It is always nice to get conformation that our horses love this as much as we do.  Thought, ff she thinks he’s happy doing dressage, she should come out and see him jump!  His enthusiasm for jumping is absolutely contagious!

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Cross Country: A few hours after dressage, it was time for cross country.  Cullen was full of it in warm up and was goofing around a little bit.  He was enjoying the cooler weather and knew it was time to JUMP!   I wasn’t too worried because I knew he would settle in and do his job once we got out on course.  We headed towards the start box and off we went!  I let Cullen pick the pace and settled in to steer and enjoy the ride.  We were quite sticky to jumps 2, 3, 4 and 5.  I sat up and balanced for jump 6 which was a angled combination with a set of rails.  After that, we seemed to get a rhythm and take everything else in stride.  In hind sight, I probably shouldn’t have let Cullen start out at the quick pace in the beginning.  He is a careful horse and at this point still needs time to read and adjust at each obstacle to get us to the other side in an organized manner.  Nevertheless, we had a great time on course and finished double clear to move up to 2nd place in the large Novice division! 

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Show Jumping: Show jumping was held Sunday morning.  My plan for this phase was to pick a canter, find a rhythm and make the round as smooth and seamless as possible.  On a good note, I was able to ride according to plan and had a very smooth round on Cullen.  Unfortunately, we had 2 rails down which dropped us from 2nd place to 10th place.  Nevertheless, I am thrilled with the weekend that Cullen and I put together – 3 great phases and a healthy, happy horse!

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What’s Next: I have a couple of exciting training opportunities next weekend, followed by Octoberfest Mini Event, and Team Challenge Horse Trial.  October is a great time to be outside and riding your hose!

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