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Year In Review: 2016 Recap

Jan 02 2017

As 2016 comes to an end, I look back and I am very thankful for the amazing year and the abundance of opportunities.

I spent most of the year working in Hartford, CT, but I also went on business trips to Atlanta, GA, Philadelphia, PA, Nashville, TN, Orlando, FL, and Houston, TX.  I stayed over 110 nights in a hotel and flew on over 65 airline segments.  In May, I completed a Harvard Business School course and in December I was promoted to Managing Director.

Even with a busy life at work, I was able to ride over 150 days this year including 10 horse trials and 1 combined test.

In between working and riding, Nathan and I added a new addition to our family – a German Shepherd Dog named Charlie!  We also spent a lot of time doing home repair projects including remodeling our upstairs bathroom.  In January, we took a vacation to an all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and in July we spent a long weekend at Kentucky Lake with the Reiter family.

Charlie, the newest family member.  Nathan and I in Punta Cana.
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New bathroom post-remodel.
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The riding season kicked off with our annual training trip to Aiken, SC.  Cullen had an abundance of confidence and enthusiasm!  He easily jumped through Training and Preliminary cross country questions as well as jumping around our first Training/Prelim sized show jumping course.  What an adrenaline rush!

Prelim roll top and Prelim oxer in Aiken, SC.
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When we got back to Kentucky, Cullen dragged me around the Novice cross country course at Spring Bay Horse Trial and we quickly determined that I needed a slightly stronger bit so that I can participate in the conversation.  Switching from a loose ring snaffle to a 2 ring snaffle helped tremendously.

In May, Cullen and I tackled our first Training Level combined test and Training Level horse trial.  What an exceptional experience!  Once I got through the butterflies (aka sheer terror) I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.  As Megan pointed out, I would approach the first fence with a look on my face as if I was marching towards my death, but I would end the course with a huge smile on my face. 

May Daze Horse Trial – our first Training!
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Cullen and I continued to gain experience at Training Level throughout the summer.  The highlight was our big WIN at Richland Park Horse Trial in August.  It was our 5th event at Training Level and by far the most challenging cross country course I’ve ever ridden.  Cullen and I stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park adding just 0.4 time penalties to our dressage score.

Richland Park Horse Trial – our first Training win!
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Another highlight of the summer was scoring a 29 in dressage at Jump Start Horse Trial!  This was the first time I scored in the 20’s at a USEA recognized event with any horse.  It is an extra special achievement with Cullen since he did his first dressage test only 18 months prior.

Scoring a 29 in dressage at Jump Start HT!
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At this time, Megan and I were spending a lot of time discussing how to best keep Cullen happy and healthy as an athlete.  How often does he get ridden? Is he staying fit enough?  Does he need chiropractor or acupuncture treatments?  Is his shoeing sufficient?  Are his feet getting sore from the hard ground during the summer months?  After consulting several professional vets and farriers, we chose a plan that we felt was best for Cullen. 

Though we finished the year strong with 3rd place finishes at Jump Start HT and Middle Tennessee HT, Cullen made it clear at Midsouth Team Challenge HT that he wasn’t feeling 100%.  We had uncharacteristic stops during cross country and show jumping.  After the event, an adjustment in veterinary care and farrier care got him back to his happy, healthy self.  We will continue to watch Cullen closely in 2017 to ensure that he stays that way.

My goal for 2016 was to be able to confidently compete at Training.  When I look at the year overall, I can see that I definitely accomplished that goal!

- Ranked 7th Training Rider in Area 8
- Ranked 3rd Adult Amateur Rider in Area 8
- Ranked 8th Training Horse in Area 8
- USEA Blue Ribbon Award
- USEA Silver Medal Award at Training
- Possible CT and HT awards for MSEDA

Thank you to all of my friends and family for your love and support in 2016.  Here’s to 2017 being the best year yet!

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