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Wilderness Trace PC CT 2016 Recap

May 23 2016
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Last weekend, Cullen and I attended the Wilderness Trace Pony Club Combined Test schooling show.  Wilderness Trace is a great local show put on by some really nice folks and we enjoy attending this show every year.  Last year, Cullen and I ran Novice as our move up and finished in 1st place!  This year, Cullen and I made our big move up to Training and finished in 2nd place.  I guess that means we will have to attend in 2017 to try the Preliminary division.  :-)

Dressage: It was cool and damp on Saturday – perfect Irish weather.  Cullen had an extra spring in his step as we warmed up for dressage.  As always, he was very obedient and tried his hardest in our test, thought we did have a couple of green moments.  This was Cullen’s first time competing the Training level test so he wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  This was not Novice Test B which he had performed in our last ~10 shows.  Nevertheless, he was a good sport and followed my lead and continued to improve.  We got an 8 on his trot-to-canter transition that we have been working very hard on over the last 2 months so I was thrilled!

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Show Jumping: After a quick tack change, it was time for show jumping.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t any more nervous than usual for show jumping despite the fact that we were jumping a course 4” bigger than our usual Novice courses.  The course had tons of difficult turns and big oxers, but I knew that Cullen and I were well prepared to handle it.  In fact, Cullen seemed to go even better with the faster speed and bigger jump effort that was required for the Training course.  He was focused and responsive our entire round.  He loved it out there and I was super happy with how effortless everything felt.  We have definitely formed a great partnership. 

We jumped a clear round which left us finishing on our dressage score of 35 and in 2nd place.  Less than 1 point away from 1st place.  :-) 

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What’s Next: Cullen and I will compete at May Daze Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park next week at Training Level.  I am excited about our big move up!

Aiken 2016 Recap

Apr 26 2016
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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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

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I am already looking forward to Aiken 2017!!

Cullen’s Irish Life

Apr 24 2016
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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!

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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.

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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.

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Spring Bay HT 2016 Recap

Apr 24 2016
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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)
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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!

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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.

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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.
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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!

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