Thursday, May 28, 2020

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Aiken 2018: Part 1

May 06 2018

Cullen and I went to Aiken, SC for a week long training camp in February.  The trip was a great success!  I can’t wait to go back down to Aiken for two weeks in March and continue to build on what we learned.

Day 1: I got up early in the morning and drove to the barn.  I hooked up the truck and trailer, loaded Cullen, and hit the road.  Eight hours later we arrived at Sally Cousin’s farm in Aiken.  I got Cullen’s stall setup and then tacked him up to go for a quick hack around the property.  A group of us had dinner at Red Bowl that evening before heading to our rental house.  The rental house was a small pool house behind a main residence. Three to five of us stayed there at a time sleeping on air mattresses and futons. 

Our home base in Aiken….Sally’s farm, Cullen’s stall, the barn, and the jump field.

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Day 2: The day started with Cross Country schooling at Shady Hills Farm.  Cullen and I got to practice galloping forward and back in balance, jumping single fences with terrain (up hill and down hill), banks, ditches, and water.  Cullen and I gained confidence throughout the lesson as we dusted off the cobwebs.  In the afternoon, I headed to Full Gallop to watch Sally Cousin’s teach two groups of upper level riders go cross country.  It was a great experience.  Most restaurants in Aiken are closed on Sundays, so we ended up at Maria’s Mexican restaurant for dinner.

Day 3: Cullen and I had a show jumping lesson at the farm.  We did course work and practiced making the striding in lines with related distances – 4 stride, 6 stride, etc.  It was fun to practice jumping in a large open jump field after being cooped up in the indoor all winter.  For dinner, I met a friend at Takosushi – my favorite Aiken restaurant!


Day 4: We took a break from jumping and had a dressage lesson.  We practiced the beginner novice test in a dressage ring.  Cullen was forward and his gaits have greatly improved over the last 3 months.  We are working on getting Cullen soft in his neck, bending through his body, and engaging his hocks.

Dressage ring


Day 5: We had another show jumping lesson to build on what we learned from Day 3.  Dinner was homemade Stromboli made by Elissa’s mom, Liz.

Day 6: We drove 30 min to Appletree Farm to participate in a schooling show.  Cullen and I competed in the beginner novice combined test division.  Cullen was great in dressage – it was his first dressage test in front of a judge in 6+ months!  He was a little lazy in the walk work, but the rest was good enough to score a 31.  We jumped around the show jumping course clear to finish the day in 1st place!

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Show Jumping

Day 7: We had our third and final show jumping lesson at the farm.  Elissa raised the jumps and we continued to build on what we learned during the week.  It was interesting to jump Cullen Day 3 when he was super forward and often running away with me, Day 5 when he was forward but not running away, and Day 7 when he was quite tired and behind my leg so I needed to kick him up to the jumps.  It is always good to practice all three situations as you never what kind of ride you will have the day of a horse show. 

Day 8: Cullen got a day off and I headed to Pine Top Horse Trial where I watched Elissa and the other students compete in the dressage and show jumping phases. 

Elissa and Fernhill Superhero in the Open Intermediate division.

Elissa and Hero - Pine Top HT

Day 9: I loaded up Cullen earlier and headed home to Kentucky.  We had a quick and uneventful drive home.  Cullen traveled very well. 

What’s Next: We will be in Kentucky for 2 weeks and then head back to Aiken for another training trip and to compete at Stable View Horse Trials.

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