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Derbyshire Farms HT 2016 Recap

Jun 30 2016
14
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In early June, Cullen and I headed north to Stevensville, MI to compete at the Derbyshire Horse Trial.  I competed there two years ago with Owen (post here), so I knew what to expect going into the weekend.  I was ready for a fun and relaxing time at a recognized horse trial that has the look and feel of a local schooling show.

Friday we arrived at the event and immediately setup our stalls and unloaded the horses.  It was HOT.  The truck thermometer said it got well into the 90’s during the drive so we were eager to get the horses unloaded.  After walking our cross country course, I planned to braid Cullen’s mane, but when I got back to the stalls, I learned we had unexpected guests!  The neighbor’s pet turkeys got lose and decided to visit the horse show!  The strange visitors greatly excited the horses, so we had to shoo them away before I could start braiding.

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Cullen watching the turkeys.
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Dressage: Saturday morning we got to the show bright and early ready to do dressage.  Cullen was great as usual.  It was very hot and humid out and the arena footing was really deep, but Cullen stepped up to the plate and put in a very respectable test. 

Cross Country: A few hours after dressage, it was time for cross country.  After picking up a few time penalties at my last horse trial, I was eager to let Cullen gallop a little more forward this time out.  Cullen responded enthusiastically and we easily jumped around the course clear and 20 seconds under optimum time.

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Spooky log drop into the water.
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Saturday night we drove to one of the neighboring towns and stopped to have a look at the beach area surrounding Lake Michigan and then headed to a relaxing dinner.  It was a lot of fun.

Show Jumping: My show jumping time was scheduled for early Sunday morning.  Cullen warmed up really well and we had a smooth, fault-free round.  It is exciting how quickly Cullen has picked up Eventing as his new “job”.  He loves it and his enthusiasm is contagious. 

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Cullen and I finished the weekend on our dressage score as the 3rd placed amateur and 5th place overall in the division.

What’s Next: Cullen and I will compete at the Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the Kentucky Horse Park at the end of June.

May Daze HT 2016 Recap

Jun 08 2016
4
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I am having a hard time writing this blog entry because I am almost speechless.  Words are inadequate to describe the joy and excitement I feel from having completed my first Training Level horse trial with Cullen.  It was a very successful move-up in multiple ways, but the most important being that I wasn’t nervous for any of the three phases.  Confidently competing at Training Level is something I’ve been working towards for 12 years and trained with 4 different horses to achieve.  Under the diligent coaching of Megan, Cullen and I were well prepared for the weekend.

Dressage: The temperature had risen from 59 degrees the weekend before to 89 degrees at the time of my dressage ride.  I was worried that Cullen would be lethargic in the heat, but he stepped up to the plate and performed his best test to date.  I love his great work ethic and his pleasant attitude in everything he does.  Even though Cullen would rather be running and jumping, he put in a steady dressage test to score a 35 and sit in 4th place in our Training Rider division.

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Show Jumping: After dressage, I had about 3 hours to wait until show jumping and then show jumping ended up running 20 minutes late Friday evening.  Megan had been competing and coaching for 12 hours straight, but her and Howard showed up to meet me in warm up with a smile on their face and encouraging words and advice.  Cullen warm up well, though with the small, narrow warm up space and the handful of other horses around, it was hard to get the pace and rhythm that I wanted.  Nevertheless, Cullen and I went into the show ring, established our canter, and cruised around the course in style.  I think Cullen appreciated the larger jumps that better complimented his large frame and helped him balance and jump athletically at the fences.  We jumped around double clean and I was thrilled! 

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Cross Country: Saturday afternoon I tacked up Cullen for cross country and headed to warm up.  When I picked up the reins, my eager partner took off at the canter ready to run and jump!  It took me a few minutes to convince him that we needed to trot and canter to warm up his muscles before heading out on course.  :-)  After jumping a few of the warm up fences, Megan show up to give me some final words of encouragement and advice.  I headed into the start box with a smile on my face, gave Cullen a final pat on the neck, and off we went!  We jumped around the entire course with ease.  I let Cullen pick his pace and made sure to slow him up before all of the combinations so that he had time to understand and navigate the questions.  With laser-like focus, he picked off the jumps one by one, jumping everything in stride.  We had SO MUCH FUN!  We jumped around clear with just 1.4 time penalties.  Cullen and I maintained our ranking to finish 4th in the Training division.

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Photo courtesy of Xpress Foto
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What’s Next: In 2 weeks, we will head North to Michigan to compete at the Derbyshire Horse Trial.

Wilderness Trace PC CT 2016 Recap

May 23 2016
14
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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
13
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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
41
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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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