Enjoying the Ride

Mo and I went to one more dressage show in August (Dressage By Chance? August 6-7). I am happy to report that the weekend went great. The first day we won both 2nd level classes and the TIP high score, and on the 2nd day we placed 2nd and 3rd. All of our scores were decent (mid 60’s) and high enough to qualify for our Bronze Medal. I had needed one more score after the show in May because we had the same judge for every test.


Me, Mo, and our coach Barbara.

After the By Chance show, we decided to go home and take it easy as we had pretty much been doing dressage boot camp since spring. I took a couple weeks to hack and jump and do a lot of stretchy work because he had been somewhat body sore when in hard training (doing new stuff is hard). Mo has been quite enthusiastic about the jumping; I think he missed it. I however, could do without the running off, hopping, and bucking.


A medium canter from the August show.

I’ve been feeling somewhat wimpy getting back into jumping. It’s scary when you haven’t done it in a while and your horse is feral when you do. I have been taking some jump lessons, we also did a Tim Bourke clinic recently, and I signed us up for a cross country school in October. I think that it will either be a confidence boost or send me running. I’m hoping the former.

All in all, it’s nice to be home and to take things down a notch. We have settled back into our normal schedule of a couple hard dressage days, hacking, a stretchy day, and a jump day. I like cross training because Mo needs to be kept busy and brave! We are keeping fit and looking forward to seeing what 3rd level is all about for next season. Hopefully by this time next year, I will have my Bronze Medal *knocks on wood*.


The Awesomeness That Was May

As a young person and somewhat recent college graduate that is just finding her way, it is really difficult for me to financially make the horse thing happen. Earlier this spring, my friend and trainer USDF Gold Medalist Barbara Strawson offered me the opportunity to put myself and Mo in full training with her for the month of May. She knew we wanted to make the move up to 2nd level and continue to earn our Bronze scores, and that we needed some help. She let me work out a deal with her making it doable for me, and fair for her. I will admit, I was actually a tiny bit worried that full training would be a bit much for us, since we normally do about 3 lessons a month. However, I was so wrong. The month of full training that we did with Barbara was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It was hard work, but I loved every minute. We were able to ride with Barbara about 5 days a week, it was awesome. Barbara also sat on Mo a few times to educate the both of us, that was also very fun. We also got to hack at Little Bennett Park, which back’s up to Barbara’s place.

We worked a lot on Mo’s lateral suppleness and consistency in the bridle. We also worked on getting him stronger and more adjustable so we are able to get more collection for the more difficult things ahead. At first, he was a little irritated he had been thrust into “dressage boot camp” but we both soon realized that we are capable! Having Barbara sit on him was really helpful because although he looks pleasant and easy to ride…he is a squirmy little sucker. Barbara helped me to ride him more effectively and to not become frustrated when Mo is just in a mood and feeling uncooperative. I think we have both gained confidence and become more solid, taking us to that next level that we need to be at.


Barbara schooling Mo.

We competed at 2 shows in May. One was a schooling show at By Chance Farm, our first go at 2nd level to see where we were at. It wasn’t the prettiest test, and I forgot where I was going once…haha. We placed first in our 1st level 3 with a 67.9, and 3rd in our 2nd 1 with a 64. I honestly think the judge was pretty generous because I was not riding very well; I get pretty nervous. However, it was a good experience and we had our base line.

We also entered Dressage at Heavenly Waters, our first rated show at 2nd level. We are still green at the level so we did not expect to place; I just wanted to survive. The weekend turned out to be so much fun. We arrived Friday, unpacked, moved the horses in, and schooled, had dinner, then checked into our hotel. Saturday I was really nervous before my rides because I never know how the dressage judges will like my little off track horse. We won 1st 3 with a 69.5 and 2nd 1 with a 68.3. I was shocked! We also won reserve high score champion for 1st level and 2nd level on Saturday. Sunday I felt more composed and aimed to improve on my scores from Saturday. Saturday gave my confidence a much needed boost and brought my nerves down so I was able to really start to ride my tests, not allow the tests to ride me. We won our first test of the day, 2nd 1, with a 66%. It wasn’t the score I was hoping for but we did make one mistake in that test so it made sense. We waited around all day (8:30 to 4:00) to ride our last test of the weekend. I tried to ride the crap out of that test because I wanted to break into the 70’s for our last test at 1st level. However, I forgot to have Barbara take off our overreach boots from the warm-up…so you know how it goes…eliminated. That was a bummer, but oh well, at least we didn’t need the score. As we were packing up, Mo and I were announced as the TIP High Score winners for the entire show. That made up for our last test! All in all, I could not have asked for more from Mo, at his 2nd level debut! So happy with him.


Ribbons from Heavenly Waters!



Some canter from one of our tests! Picture by Claudia Weeks.


I gained SO much from my experience in May. I gained a sense of confidence about myself as a rider, that I CAN do this. Both Mo and I have come back stronger and more solid and ready for 2nd level. Now we just need to tackle those pesky changes for 3rd level!



More from Heavenly Waters. Photos by Claudia Weeks.

Season Recap

This year has been such a good year for Mo and I. We have learned so much and he has made a ton of progress. We did not get to move up or do as many shows as I had wanted because I ran out of money and had to call it a day. Being a college student and trying to compete is hard!

Mo and I at MDHT on the way to a 29 in dressage.

Mo and I at MDHT on the way to a 29 in dressage.

Here are our results this season:

• 2nd place Training level May FADS show
• 3rd place First level May FADS show
• 5th Place May MDHT ST
• 1st place Southwind Farm CT and Jumpalooza (novice)
• 7th place September MDHT ST
• 6th place September Seneca Valley Pony Club HT
• TIP Reserve Champion Seneca Valley Pony Club HT

Even though we did not get to do as much as I wanted, Mo proved himself and is now definitely ready to move up. I’ve learned to stop comparing my horse to other horses and just worry about what he needs. He is doing better than ever and looks great! This winter I will be fixing all the little holes in my riding and training so we can go into next season even better.

Show jumping at Seneca

Show jumping at Seneca

The Start of Summer: Competitions, Training, and Traveling

With the start of summer, Mo and I competed in the MDHT Spring Starter Trial #3. Mo had a couple green moments (ended 5th) but overall I was very satisfied with him and he will move up soon. 

We recently spent a few days with Liz Millikin in VA and I am definitely happy with the renewed confidence she gave me in myself and in my horse. We stayed at her place and trained under her for a few days. We hacked, received a lesson on the flat, and had a lesson focusing on my eye, aids, and getting Mo to move his feet over poles. I have a renewed respect for Mo and for myself. We are good, we can do this, we will keep improving.

Now that we are back in MD, I am looking forward to training and competing Mo this summer. I am also looking to pick up rides, muck/feed jobs, or anything to do with social media. Image

Nothing to Prove

I have noticed a phenomenon in the equestrian world: amateur riders feeling the need to prove something about themselves through their riding. I feel as if maybe everyone, deep down has this urge, but I don’t think it is a healthy, positive, or successful way to make progress in riding. I don’t believe that is a very responsible place for motivation to stem from. There needs to be a certain amount of concern and respect given to your equine partner.  Make realistic goals for you and for them, don’t over-face them or risk an injury by rushing through the levels (which no one will be impressed by). Not all horses learn or make progress at the same rates. Don’t get frustrated if your horse isn’t competing at the level you planned or the level your peers are going at.  Also, consider your own progress. Look back a year and remember where you were then, no doubt a big improvement.

For example:

My horse is a beautiful TB gelding. He is super talented and I am very excited about him. However, he has taken more time to develop in certain areas and I cannot compare him to another younger horse competing at higher levels than he is. He is doing really well with the program I have him in and by not rushing him I also don’t leave any holes in his training. Looking back to this time last year, he didn’t have steering and was a nervous-nelly. At present, he is going 1st level and I hope to have him eventing at novice later in the year. He still has his moments, but he is much more relaxed than last year and he trusts me 150%. Also, another factor, my guy is not an easy ride. He might look easy because he’s going well and has gotten over a lot of issues but he’s not a simple ride and he is not for everyone. We are a great team, progressing at the pace he thrives at; we’ll get there.

Be confident in your riding abilities and yourself. You are a good rider and you don’t need to prove your “skills” to other people. You know your horse best and what he or she needs in order to be successful and happy.

Mo and I doing some flatting.

Mo and I flatting.


Dispell the Myth of The Aboriginal North American Horse

Hippies for Horses

The Myth is the BLM calls them feral based on the assumption that the Spaniards brought horses to The Americas.  The traditional story that has been circulating for centuries is false.

The traditional story is promoted by the federal government:  

Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who we know don’t read science articles and certainly don’t know how to do independent research to ascertain the truth. They listen to the cattle/sheep ranchers, Big Oil & Mining corporations and possibly others.

The Native Americans don’t have a written history; their history is primarily oral coupled with their culture, ceremonies, pictographs. The word ‘horse’ was in their vocabulary before the conquerors arrived; pictographs of horses etched on the rocks; their description of creationism included the horse.

Each year more horse bones are found and more researchers search the diaries of the…

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Mo March 2013

Mo March 2013


Mo March 12th, 2014

Mo March 12th, 2014

Yesterday, March 12th, was Mo’s 8th birthday. I’ve owned him for a little over a year and can’t help but gush over him. He is such a beautiful animal and is turning into a fabulous partner. Physically (as you can see above) and mentally he  changed 110%. He gets fancier everyday and we have a bond and partnership I’ve yet to experience with another horse. I’m really lucky to have grown up with horses and to continue to have them in my life as a young adult. I’m really thankful for everyone who supports me, teaches me, or has been there for me in any way. I feel like this year will be a really good year (knock on wood). I’m really enjoying the journey with this guy. When I first sat on him, he didn’t steer (at least not at the canter), there was no such thing as rein contact, bending wasn’t an option, when you mounted up he would usually think about running out from under you, and a lot of things were scary. Now days, Mo is that horse who falls sleep in the cross ties, I jump on him bareback and toodle around, he is getting ready to compete first level this season, jumps with confidence, and hacks out like he’s the “baddest thing out there.” I know this post is full of mushiness and babbling but it is necessary, gotta recognize my favorite horse of all time!