This year has been a crazy one with a lot going on in the world but I wanted to give a big update. Let’s start from the beginning of 2020. I was awarded the Lendon Gray scholarship to go toward training with Jim Koford. We were fortunate enough to make the trip for the month of March to get some intensive training and make our show debut at Prix St George level. Stu and I made a lot of progress in the short amount of time we were in Wellington. Due to Covid-19 I was only there for about two weeks but I still got a chance to see a few friends and attend some D4k educational events! We showed the last show of the season and I was awarded my USDF Silver Medal! After we made it back home to Tennessee I started my online equine courses at USC Aiken. Fast forward to June and we made our debut at the FEI Young Riders level with hopes of making the US Festival Of Champions in August. It was a great first Debut and Tryon is so beautiful! I was also able to show at the Kentucky horse park and Georgia Horse Park in July. Our overall average is a 67.169% and I couldn’t be happier. We officially received an invitation to the Championships and are leaving in less than a week! It is Tuesday the 11th of August today. Stu and I are going over to Knoxville for a Jim Koford clinic on Thursday and Friday and then we leave Monday for the show! We are very busy! I’ll keep up to date as best I can. Here are some pictures from this year below.
I was able to get into Lendon Gray’s Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT),
at Hampton Green Farm. The program is laid out where 18 riders are selected to be apart of Lendon’s program. The day in the life of a WITee is you have to be at the barn at 6:30 every morning to do your chores and care for your horse.
7am is the time we start fitness. We usually focus on cardio and core workouts. Jump rope, partner workouts, yoga and swimming! Some of the fitness was running down the road or running on the hacking trails. We also were fortunate enough to have a pilates instructor come in twice a week and teach us. After fitness the lessons with Lendon begin. Some of the lessons were group and private. Stu had arrived and the training was great that I got with Lendon. It was a great way for me to get to know Stu in the beginning of our partnership. During WIT we also were able to speak with top judges, riders and trainers in the sport and go on field trips to watch training sessions of top riders and horses. There were also weekly quizzes and required reading we had to do.
I was selected in the Discover Dressage Emerging Athlete Clinic with George Williams. Stu was fantastic and handled the atmosphere great.
I was so fortunate to get into such a great program for youth riders. Now onto April! Stu has arrived home to Tennessee and now we are adjusting him to the TN life!
I’ll insert some pictures below 🙂
Happy New Year, I know I’m updating this a little late into the new year but better late than never! So I have started looking for a horse in January in Wellington Fl, the horse heaven… WellyWorld as I call it. I came down with my Mom and Dad. We were able to rent a townhome which was nice. We looked at quite a lot of horses.. I literally contacted anyone and everyone who may have horses for sale. You may be thinking that there are a lot of horses for sale in Welly and you’ll find one easy peasy…? Well I thought I would find one fairly quickly and then I could start training etc. NO! Actually it was very hard to find a well trained horse with some quality..(meaning potential to have quality). There were a lot of times I rode a horse for only a couple minutes and just simply said “thank you but this horse is not for me”. Some people respected my decision and some were slightly irritated. It just amazes me the prices of the horses in Wellington. I think that’s what was so difficult because people expect you to pull six figures out of your butt and thats just not right.. a lot of people blew me off because of my budget. Fast forward to to February. We are enjoying going to the Friday Night Light Freestyles and horse shows/clinics which was super fun and educational. At this point I have sat on about 25 horses… No luck. I know what I am looking for and its not impossible but it feels like it after trying that many horses. There was a horse that I had been interested in NC but the owners were not negotiable on price.. the lady would let me know if anything changes. That was back a few weeks ago. The same lady had now contacted me about a different horse they had got in for training and to sell. She asked if I would be interested in a 8yr old Grey PRE Stallion? I didn’t think I would be interested in that type of a horse because they are usually around 15-16 hands and I have long legs.. also he is a stallion. But I like the hotter type horses so I didn’t really care as long as he has good manners etc. I watched the sales video of him and thought he was absolutely gorgeous. He’s also 16.3 hands so I wasn’t worried he’d be to small.
I talked it over with my parents about going to try him as soon as we could!
The thing is he was in Tryon, NC and we are in Wellington… haha we arranged it and made the drive up the next day or so after being contacted. When we got there Estudioso was standing in the cross ties, He has such a kind eye. We watched Stu go under saddle, he knows piaffe/passage and has great ability to sit in the collected work which evidently comes easy to the Spanish type horses. After watching Stu go around for a while I then got on him.
He is the most comfortable horse I’ve ever sat on! I rode around and did some walk/trot/canter/lateral work etc. I was falling in love with him! the next day I rode him again and was able to get a lesson with the trainer which was super helpful to get to know Stu more. The Spanish type horses are definitely a different feel then the warmblood breeds. He is just so FUN to ride.
So we vetted him and purchased him that quickly! When you know its the right horse you know. It still makes me laugh that we went to NC to look at just one horse when we were in Wellington for the past Month and a half and couldn’t find anything. Haha. Stu is now being shipped to Wellington to start training in March!
I don’t even know what to say or where to start.. Wonderboy you were such a big sweetheart and I fell in love with your temperament and personality.. When we purchased you, you were so skinny and had hardly any muscle. I remember the day I sat on you and knew I wanted you. You still had such a spark about you. You were just doing Second level with a green change. We worked together and built you up to be strong again and you made me a better rider. We were able to work toward the PSG level. I loved that you were mostly quiet on the ground and I could make you hot to ride. From the beginning of our journey in 2016, you helped me earn the rest of my scores for my USDF bronze medal. The start of 2017, What an amazing year that was because you made all my dreams a reality.. from making the FEI Jr team for NAJYRC where we travelled to compete in NY and then to Regional Championships in Wellington, FL where we were able to win multiple Championships. You always gave me your all and always wanted to work. Wonderboy, you were a ONCE in a LIFETIME horse. I’ll never ever forget you and I’ll miss you everyday of my life. I Love you so much!!
My family and I are heartbroken. My Parents and I took care of him everyday and now that daily routine of going out hearing him nicker to us and giving him treats and scratching him in all of his places he liked, mucking his stall and filling his water buckets is gone… we will miss every moment we had with WB. I had hopes and plans of showing FEI JRs again this year with Wonderboy and him possibly being a schoolmaster for someone as he had such a good temperament until he started developing this disease. This year has been an emotional roller coaster.. there’s nothing worse than watching your partner slowly but surely deteriorate and you can’t do anything about it but watch. In the beginning of 2018, We found out that Wonderboy was diagnosed with Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), Which is a debilitating disease and it is a master of disguise that is difficult to diagnose. It can range from mild to severe.
I had no idea what the disease was and I think more people need to become aware of this disease. We are not sure how WB got this or where he got it.
So much has happened this year… It has been an emotional roller coaster of a year.
Let’s start in January. I began training in the new year with hopes to qualify for NAYC again at the Juniors level with Wonderboy. Training started off fine but toward the end of January Wonderboy started acting differently. He seemed to be uncomfortable and not his happy self as he would be a lot to handle on the ground. I tried to push through the rides and that led to being thrown off twice. The second time I hit the rail road tie that outlines my arena and injured my wrist so we decided to send him for two months of training. We thought perhaps this could possibly be a behavioral issue which was hard to believe because WB was such a well behaved horse. During the nearly two months of training he continued to show signs of behavioral problems however the trainer and I would continue to push through it. WB never felt like he used to when riding although we would get through some of the rides okay but I knew something was still wrong. By the middle of March he was getting worse so we decided to bring him home to be looked at by our vet. The vet thought it might be a hind gut issue and prescribed medication along with no work. After a few weeks I was given the “OK” to work him by lunging in the Pessoa system to get him strong again. He was doing good in the lunging work and seemed to enjoy it. By the beginning of April I decided to get on him to hack him around our property before going into the arena. As soon as I started working him in the arena he would throw his head up, feeling extremely uncomfortable, along with tripping randomly and threatening to throw me multiple times. By May 4th, my last day I would ever ride Wonderboy, I took him to a nearby covered arena, like I had done so many other times, when I got on him I knew he was off balance. There was a professional trainer riding and I asked him to watch us as we went around the arena. This trainer confirmed what I already knew… WB was not lame but he was terribly off balance. My Dad immediately called the vet for a Monday appointment. Monday May 7th, the vet performed a Neurological Exam and suspected WB had Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM). I had never heard of this disease and was surprised when he explained it. A strong indicator that WB had EPM was when the vet crossed WB’s front leg over the other. In normal cases a horse would naturally move their leg back on the ground to steady themselves.. In Wonderboy’s case he just stood there with his legs crossed. We ran an expensive blood test to see how bad it was. The blood was sent to California and would take about a week before we got the results. In the meantime, the vet gave him medicine to kill off the parasite. It was in a dewormer type tube but bigger. A few hours after the vet left, I noticed Wonderboy was in distress. He showed signs like he was starting to colic by pawing, laying down and getting up multiple times, groaning in pain and then acting lethargic. He looked so sick, My heart was breaking seeing him in such pain and discomfort. My mom called the vet right away who said this was a parasite dying off from the medicine and instructed us to keep him in his stall and give him a second tube of medicine he had left with us for this reason. Finally, Wonderboy’s discomfort started to pass and I was relieved. A week later we received the blood test results and confirmed EPM was 89%. A lot of horses get EPM but at a lower percentage which doesn’t affect them on a a day to day basis. Wonderboy immediately started a monthly medication call Protozil. Wb was getting progresively worse and I noticed muscle loss, weakness, tripping, tiredness, resperitory issues and coughing. We were keeping a close eye on him when he was in his back paddock. By June, we were a month into the medicine and had re-evaluation from our vet to see if he had made any progress. There was no difference but we decided to keep him on the medicine and go another month to see if there would be any progress. At this point WB had become so sickly ill and basically deteriorated.. there was nothing more heartbreaking to watch than seeing your horse go from a strong, muscular and happy horse to now being so sad, with an incredible amount of muscle loss and weakness. He started tripping more and more and eventually falling down in the stall, paddock and pasture. We had to keep him in his stall most of the day and in a small paddock that his stall opened up too for fear he would fall and never get back up. Over time, WB would stay in the stall even when his back door was open. He didn’t have the energy to go outside any longer. It was the worst experience I’ve ever encountered. As WB continued to worsen we had the final evaluation performed. July 11th, While the vet was doing the exam… I was standing in the arena holding WB as we were talking with the vet when Wonderboy collapsed in the arena. We knew at this point he was a danger to himself and the people around him. My parents and I along with our vet knew at that point the treatment had not worked and WB didn’t deserve to suffer anymore. The following day my entire family went out and I gave him a big bucket of carrots and apples and we all loved on him before Wonderboy was put to rest. That was the hardest day of my life. The tears and heartbreak will always be with me. I have to remind myself that I was so blessed to have had such an amazing horse. The multiple wins and championships we achieved together were amazing! Qualifying and competing at NAJYRC and Regionals in 2017 were some of the many highlights of our time together. He was truly a “Once in a Lifetime horse”. These memories will live with me for the rest of my life. He was my “Wonderboy”, my steady companion…. My Best Friend.
I will love you always, Wonderboy!
I am so thankful to my family that I was able to compete this year at the Championships. I couldn’t go in 2016 because I wasn’t able to ride due to not having a horse until I got Wonderboy toward the end of the year. It meant a lot to me when my parents told me we were able to go. That was a great b-day surprise ;). We had been going back and forth about making the long trip to Welly World for the Regional Champs and actually had decided it was a no go but that had all changed! Hehe. I was so excited!! Wonderboy and I were working toward the PSG but I decided to back off of that and really start training the tests. These past few weeks we were working really hard preparing. We had to leave Tennessee a week before the Championships started because my dad had to fly out on a business trip. We had to arrange it where we could trailer Wonderboy down before my dad had to leave. The trip went great and we stopped in Tallahassee FL, then finished the trip the next day. Wonderboy was such a good boy, he is such a happy camper all the time. We arrived at the beautiful Stillpoint Farm in Wellington Monday afternoon. Everyone was so nice and welcoming at the facility. After we got Wonderboy all settled we went to the Polo Club to check into the condo that we were staying at for the week.
It was literally in the heart of Welly World and 5 mins from the showgrounds. My Mom and I went to some of the tack shops down there which was really fun and we also just drove around aimlessly looking at all the beautiful barns that surrounded us. Wellington really is a slice of horse heaven! The next day I got a lesson with David Marcus on Wonderboy, he was a really good boy coming back into work after the trip. I had a fantastic lesson, I learned so much from David and my Mom was taking notes for me. The tips he gave were very easy to understand and really clicked in my head the way he would give examples and show you was like no other training I had gotten before.. I was able to take a lot away from my first lesson. Wednesday I had a lesson with Nicholas Fyffe, That too was another fantastic lesson! He helped me work on the Junior team test and perfect it. Wonderboys flying changes were really big and expressive and he had great lateral work, walk pirouettes and just really good expressive energy! We worked on straightness, transitions, half halts and also keeping my hands more together and lower. I have to say I finished my lesson exhausted and sweating tons..lol but I took away so much from each of my lessons. Thursday we moved Wonderboy over to the show grounds… I was just going to work him lightly and let him see the arenas/showgrounds, oh and did I mention how crazy the weather was down there? Well, it would downpour in one area and 10 feet away the sun would be shining down on the ground like nothings going to happen, or it would be pouring rain and then it would stop. I was thinking it was over and then it would begin thundering and lightning 5 mins later. So I was trying to figure when I should ride him that day. I got on in the afternoon when it was sprinkling and it turned out I wasn’t going to be able to get into the International arena where two out of three of my tests were going to be. That really stunk but I got to ride him in the ring I was going to be in on Sunday. Wonderboy was a really good boy for the short time I was able to work him. Funny story, I was cantering him around the outside of the arena because there were soooo many people riding and I noticed part of my Snaffle Bridle was flopping up and down.. it turned out that my cheeckpiece that connects to the bit ring had come undone! Yikes! WB was so chill about it though and I asked a kind lady who was teaching on the sidelines if she could fix it for me. All was well! Then, a few minutes later it started downpouring rain… I was soaked and so was my WB. I could feel the water in my boots and then we heard thunder so my poor Mom had to walk back in the rain and I was trying to get back to the FEI Barn as fast as possible. I ended up trotting WB back on the pathway because it was like a 12 min walk. He was so good about that, I don’t think you could do that with a lot of horses.. We made it back to the barn safely LOL. Friday was extremely hot, 90 degree weather.. so I was trying to stay cool and keep WB cool until my class which was held in the heat of the day. I was able to get coaching throughout the weekend for my classes from Nicholas which was great. We road the FEI Junior Team Championship test and I had a good ride. WB hadn’t seen the arena before, so he was a bit tense and nervous but we managed to pull of a nice ride and were crowned the Champions!! Wahoo! I was so happy!! After my ride we hosed WB down and I had changed clothes thinking the awards would’t be for another 2-3 hours.. so we went to the show office to check and see if they had my test and I checked the time for the awards which was going to be held at 3:50! It was 3:45!! I had 5 mins to get back to the barn, tack WB up and change clothes AND go all the way back to the arena! I just about had a heart attack and so did my parents.
We raced back to the barn my Dad threw on the saddle and the bridle, I polo wrapped WB really fast and had no time to check if the tack was even on right. My Mom was too busy helping me get dressed and fix my hair etc. We looked like a mess lol. Then I saw the show manager, Monica, coming down to the barn in the golf cart telling me to hurry and get to the arena or basically you will have to for forfeit your award. I jumped on Wonderboy and no joke galloped him to the arena and I was only like 5 mins late so we did all that in less than 10 mins! Pretty proud and laughing about it now looking back on it. Shoutout to my Dad for putting the tack on right too! Haha. The awards were so fun taking two laps around the arena with music playing. It was a moment to really take in. I knew in that moment that all our hard work really paid off. Saturday was the Third Level Championships, another extremely hot day. We had a good ride in the scary, international arena and ended up being named Reserve Champion by only a tenth of a point!!! It was so close! ( we were more prepared that day for the awards ceremony and I could actually breathe this time) lol. Sunday was the Second Level Championships and we had a fantastic Test!! WB was so with me and had great energy. I knew he was tired but he never showed it and gave his all. We earned a 74+% from the judge at C! WOW! Our overal score came to a 72% and we were the Champions leading a very competitive class!! This ended the week off perfectly and I couldn’t have been more Proud of WB than I already was. Here are some Pics!
NAJYRC was a great experience.. I’m excited to tell you all about it!
It has always been a dream of mine and I’m sure many other young aspiring dressage riders one day hope to be able to compete in it as well. Once the team was selected we only had a month or so to raise funds for the trip. It was held in Saugerties, NY this year which was quite a long, expensive trip to make. Along with the Region 3 Team working to get Sponsorship and raise funds, my parents and I were doing everything we could! My Dad was calling online companies to see if they’d be willing to donate anything to the team and my Mom was driving around with me to local Tack/horse related shops. We were also emailing a bunch of different places seeking sponsorship. I’m very thankful to everybody who contributed just to name a few.. FarmVet, Barn Girl Jewelry, fenwick, Custom Saddlery, Lettia and a BIG thank you to CTDA (Central TN Dressage Association) and all the Members who donated to my GoFund Me page. We made the trip a week before the competition started. My family and I trailered half way to the VA horse Center to stay overnight, then finished the trip the next day to NY. Wonderboy was so good as always and was just as excited as me to have finally arrived Sunday! When we got there we unloaded everything and I walked WB around. It was very hot, especially in the barns.. we didn’t have any fans up yet so it was hard to breathe.. but it was Summer so what did I really expect? Lol. We Rented a house only 5 mins away and it was right on the Hudson River! It was beautiful, even though we were hardly there at the house. Our days started bright and early in the morning and it didn’t end till 5 or 6 in the evening where we could go home and shower. Then we would have to go back and do night check later that night. We were responsible for taking care of our horses and were expected to keep all our stuff clean and tidy in the barns. The next day, Monday, we had a team meeting where we were able to officially meet everyone. Some people I already knew so that was nice and some people were on the team the year before and were really welcoming to the newbies. We officially checked in and were given wrist bands to get into the barn.. the security was very strict. I had a great first ride on WB, he was handling the atmosphere very well. It was at least a 15 min walk to get to the arenas.. there was a lot going on! We had to walk over the bridge and through the woods passing crazy golf cart drivers to Maintenance/Water trucks all around. It was crazy! Once we made it safely to the arena I worked him lightly, getting him loose the first ride there. The Next day was the the Opening Ceremony, It was so fun! We got all dressed up as a team and walked around with our banner where they announced all the teams. Wednesday was the jog inspection mid morning and you had to be on time! Making sure you are prepared for anything and there were a lot of time changes made so you always had to be ready for anything! Thursday we competed the Team Test. I was a bit nervous like everyone else, we put in a good ride and placed 5th as a team. I think all of us on the junior team had some kind of a mistake or bobbles. The Young Rider team killed it and won Gold! I was so happy for the them, they all rode beautifully. Friday was extremely hot and we had to be careful not to get overheated. Some girls had to go sit in the air for most of the time to save their energy for the tests. I remember getting over heated and having to sit in the car with cold air running. That afternoon I rode the Individual test. This was a very important test if you wanted to make it to the freestyle because you had to make it to the top 18 and we also found out you had to beat one of your teammates! That made things pretty interesting on the team. We had a nice ride with some bobbles but the good thing was we were able to make it to the freestyle on Sunday! That was my goal. I was so happy and proud of WB! Saturday was the Young Rider Freestyle where we supported the Team, that was so fun to watch and hear all the different music play. I also rode WB and we worked on parts of the freestyle.
He was so amazing, I was so happy with how much energy he had. Sunday I rode earlier in the morning and it was a little bit cooler. It was a great way to end the competition. I couldn’t believe the competition, there were so many talented riders and horses and the freestyles were extremely difficult. Overall it was a great week and I am so grateful I was able to be apart of something this big!
I look forward to hopefully getting this opportunity again to compete at this event.
Hi guys!! These few months have been sooo hectic!! A good crazy kinda hectic! We showed in June at the TN Dressage Show right where I live in Franklin, so it was great that the grounds were so close! We had a wonderful first day competing at the FEI Juniors Level where we earned a 72+% in the team test! One judge had us at a 76%!! WOW.. I think I cried when I saw the score.. I was so happy😁 I also won the Youth Team competition with my two teamates and got high point champion for the competition.. there was a little miscommunication when they gave out the awards so a younger girl got the champion ribbon and she was so happy I told the show mangers not to change it and just let her keep it. I was then nominated for the Youth Shining Star Award! it ended up being all resolved! It was beautiful weather too. Sunday was an interesting day. We had a lovely individual test but I had different judges so there were different opinions.. lol. Which had brought my overall average score down and I ended up dropping to 5th place for standings to be on the Region 3 NAJYRC team. Knowing that the cutoff date for qualifying was the next week I was very emotional because I thought I was knocked off the team for good. There was one last qualifier at Tryon, the last show to compete for a spot back on the team. We drove to Tryon for the one individual test score I had to get to make it back on the team! I had a lot of emotions all week and pressure knowing I had to make a 66% or higher. I only had one chance!! It was a very nerve racking week but thanks to my supportive/encouraging parents and brother I was able to pull it together with the help of Katie Stoy and my wonderful Wonderboy! We got a 68%!! We even won the class!! Wahoo. My whole family was crying, we were so happy that I was back on the team in 3rd! NAJYRC here we come!! Continue reading “Big updates!”
Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been so busy with training in Alabama and all the shows I’ve been going to these past few weeks! I’ll give you all an update. Wonderboy and I have been training and working really hard to improve in our weak areas. I showed a few weeks ago at Poplar Place in Ga and we debuted FEI Juniors level. My trainer was not able to be at the show but she actually knew someone who could help me over the weekend which was great! It was a great learning experience for us. Quite nerve racking competing against some tough competition and very well respected FEI judges but all I wanted was to have a clean first few tests and of course to have fun ;). We also showed 3-3 test and received a 68+% from Lilo Fore!! The second day it poured rain during my ride and there were some mistakes in my test but we learned from it and were ready for the next weekend show. This show was at the GA Horse Park, WB and I had a good ride on the first day with some tension and the heat hit him a little hard so he was a bit tired. Sunday we had some costly mistakes and I was disappointed but realized that these FEI tests are a whole new level and I think you really have to ride them meaning (show them) a few times to get better. So, I took a deep breath and figured out what I needed to work on to get our scores up for the next show, which was actually this past weekend! It was nice because I had a few weeks to really make changes and improve my riding with Wonderboy. We had much better scores in the tests with 66+% and 68+% in the team and individual tests. I also showed an awesome FEI freestlye that my trainer let me use which was so so so fun!! I had only ridden over it twice before the show so I was a little nervous but I really just wanted to have fun and go with it. I was so happy with Wonderboy the whole weekend. He really tried his heart out for me… I could just tell. He was so cooperative and listened to me. My trainer even told me in the warm up we were riding at a 75% quality. I actually got a little bit emotional just because I knew how hard Wonderboy was trying and I think that’s what is so special about this sport and why I do it. I was so excited that we scored a 70+% in the freestyle. It’s so rewarding when all your hard work, dedication and training pays off. I think we all have to remember that we’ll have our ups and downs but you just have to keep pushing through and fighting because it WILL pay off and boy, it feels incredible when it does. I’ll post some pics below from the past weekend and I’m going to try and upload videos of my tests!