Thursday, January 17, 2019

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Aiken 2016 Recap

Apr 26 2016

This was my fourth time going on the annual Team CEO Aiken training trip and I had an amazing time!  Last year Cullen and I spent the time getting to know each other.  Now that we have a good partnership, we were able to jump the “big kid” jumps and we had so much fun!  As a bonus, the weather for the trip was the best that we ever had!  We wore short sleeved shirts the entire trip and none of our activities got rained out.

A huge thank you to Megan Moore, Nancy K, Cindy K, Christina K for the pictures and videos!

Day 1: We got up early, loaded the horses, and drove 8 hours to Aiken.  The drive was quick and smooth with minimal traffic and construction.  When we arrived, we got the stalls setup and then went on a quick hack around the training track to stretch our legs.  After our ride, we had dinner at Red Pepper.

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Day 2: We went trail riding in the popular Hitchcock Woods and then went to dinner at Casa Bella


Day 3: Cross Country Schooling at Jumping Branch Farm and then went to dinner at Zorbas



Day 4: Show Jumping Schooling at Paradise Farm and then went to dinner at Up Your Alley




Day 5: Dressage Lesson and then dinner went to at Tako Sushi


Day 6: Cross Country Schooling at The Vista and then went to dinner at Aiken Brewing



Day 7: Hitchcock Woods and then went to dinner at Magnolias Café

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Day 8: Cross Country Schooling at Paradise Farm and then went to dinner at Mellow Mushroom




Day 9: The drive home wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the drive there.  We had to take a 90 minute detour around part of I-75 North which was closed do to a rock land slide.  The detour took us even more into the mountains and through some smaller towns.  The trip was exhausting but we made it home safe and sound.


I am already looking forward to Aiken 2017!!

Cullen’s Irish Life

Apr 24 2016

Social media is a wonderful thing.  In the past few weeks, I’ve been in contact with one of Cullen’s breeders and also his former owner on Facebook.  They generously shared pictures and stories about Cullen’s life in Ireland before coming to the US.  I am so fortunate to have this incredible horse in my life. 

Cullen was born July 5th, 2009.  He still has that adorable face and those long legs!




Cullen’s sire is the famous thoroughbred stallion Tasset.  Tasset is a chestnut who was born in 1990 in Canada, raced 10 times, and was then sent to Ireland to stand at stud.  He has sired many successfully eventers and show jumpers. 

Cullen’s dam’s name is Coolnaboy Midge. She is a registered Irish Sport Horse but I don’t know anything else about her breeding.  She had 2 other foals, one older than Cullen who is eventing in the UK (Coolnaboy Jay) and one younger who still lives with the breeder (Coolnaboy Joy).  Cullen’s registered name is Coolnaboy Rubens.  According to Google, Coolnaboy is a townland in County Wexford, Ireland.

Here’s a picture of Cullen’s dam, Coolnaboy Midge, at a jumper show.


Cullen fox hunted in Ireland in 2013 and 2014, possibility with the famous Scarteen Hunt.  I was told that he regularly hunted in “bank and ditch country” and that he was quite good at his job.

Cullen competed in several shows in 2014 including the famous Dublin National Show where he finished 3rd in the Medium Weight Hunters class for 5 year old geldings.





Spring Bay HT 2016 Recap

Apr 24 2016

The 2016 season is off to a great start!  In March, Cullen and I headed to Aiken, SC for the annual Team CEO training camp.  Cullen and I had a blast jumping all of the “big kid” jumps.  We tackled Training (3’3”) and Preliminary (3’7”) questions confidently.  I’m a little behind on my blogging but hope to write a post about the Aiken trip soon.

Needless to say, jumping around the Novice (3’) course at Spring Bay HT in early April felt easy. 

Dressage: The first weekend in April in Kentucky was very cold this year.  I wore running pants under my breeches, an Under Armor shirt under my show shirt and 2 pairs of socks.  It was a little hard to ride with extra clothes, but I got used to it fairly quickly.  Cullen was a perfect gentleman in warm up even with the cool temps.  We went into the show ring and had a very respectable test.  In fact, it may have been our best test at a horse trial to date, though our score didn’t reflect it.  Since I hadn’t ridden a dressage test since River Glen HT in Nov 2015, I made a few mistakes on the test and left some points on the table, but I think we will do even better the next time out.

Cullen is looking incredibly fit and handsome! (Photos By: JJ Sillman)


Show Jumping: After dressage, we went back to the trailer to hang out for a few hours before getting ready for show jumping.  I tacked up with 2 of my friends and then we headed down to the show jumping rings.  The warm up was crazy.  There were horses flying around every where.  I had some problems finding a rhythm and catching the jumps out of stride, but luckily, I knew things would be better once we were by ourselves in the show ring.  Luckily I was right.  Cullen marched around the show jumping round with ease.  So much fun!



Cross Country: For the last 5 years, the Beginner Novice and Novice courses at Spring Bay have been the same.  This year, we were all pleasantly surprised that they changed the courses – new fields, new jumps, and new challenges.  The course was filled with questions appropriate for the level but which allowed the horse and rider to practice for the next level – corner, mini sunkin road, half coffin, faux ditch and wall, bending four stride, log into water, and more!  Cullen and I had a blast going around the course. 

Cullen and I finished on our dressage score in 6th place in a large division.


What’s Next: Cullen and I went cross country schooling at Masterson Station Park and jumped the entire Training course the weekend after Spring Bay HT.  So much fun!  Cullen and I are planning to run the Training Combined Test at Wilderness Trace Pony Club show in May.

Practicing over the Training jumps at MSP.


2015: By The Numbers

Jan 02 2016

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)

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

2015 Ford Edge , December 2015 

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

Summer 2015

Jumping 4’ in our lesson in October 2015

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

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

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

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.



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


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.

2015-11-15 16.23.17

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.

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