Making it Happen

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A thought on how to make it happen. Life is tough. Money is tight. Everything costs more every day. People reach out through fundraisers to help achieve their dreams and are often heavily criticized for doing so. “Get a second (or third or fourth) job” they are told. Support from within one’s community is so incredibly valuable…financial, emotional or otherwise. I have been fortunate to have many wonderful people support me through fundraising efforts in the past and I believe it can be a great way to make it happen… But right now, we are doing something different.

After struggling for years with the financial realities of the sport that I love, working really hard and facing challenges when reaching out for support, we were introduced to an opportunity through some friends to start a new business and control our futures. My parents work full time in very rewarding careers, I have a growing client base riding and teaching in Virginia and Maryland, but we can see the potential this business has for us, and we see the reality of that potential with people we have met in the company. We have found way more than we bargained for, with this great group of women that are now our business associates. Talk about support within your community!

You will see a lot of posts on social media from mom and I about our business. We can’t wait to share what we are doing with everyone, and if people can benefit from our products and we can earn a real boost to our income by doing our second jobs it’s a win win.

We really truly are grateful for this new adventure. Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement, past present and future. 

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Welcome to Winter

This year has been an incredibly busy time of growth and change. With change comes some inevitable struggles, but I think we have been heading in the right direction!

The horses are happy and healthy, (knock on wood) and we all managed to get through the recognized eventing season without any major mishaps!

New partnerships were formed, some others ended, and we are all moving forward towards our goals, with the oncoming winter as an opportunity to reflect and refocus our efforts.

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As always, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to train and ride Chuck Akre’s True Bellamy. It is incredibly difficult to be a successful event rider without the support of people like Mr. Akre who enjoy being a vital part of our team. True Bellamy came out of a tough summer of training hard to put in several great rounds at the preliminary level. I am so excited about this horse’s future with me and I’m glad every day that I didn’t have to sell him as a 4 year old!

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We have welcomed to the team another young Thoroughbred we call Pirate. Jockey Club Registered as Mike and Rob, he will be USEA registered as Thrill Seeker, as he is a 5 year old Seeking the Gold grandson. Without the faith and support provided by Jim and Susan Hill, my parents, Mike and Emma Gaskins and Karyn and Paul Wilson, Pirate would be making someone else a very happy girl. Thank you to the Wilsons and Gaskins! I look forward to a future with this fiery little athlete.

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The most significant change made this year is that, at this point, I am no longer a barn manager! This is a very exciting change for me as it allows me the flexibility to focus on being the rider and trainer that I want to be without having the responsibility of running a barn. I do enjoy the day to day work of a barn, but the logistics of having clients both here in Loudoun County and a boarding and training facility an hour away in Howard County was complicated. Moving my business to Maryland 2 years ago resulted in so many great relationships that I hope to maintain for years to come! A huge thank you to Dick and Jeannette Bair for hosting us at Final Decision Farm for the last year and a half.

I will be available to teach at Covered Bridge Farm in Woodbine, MD Monday and Wednesday evenings, as well as Saturdays through the winter. An additional weekday evening will be added if needed. There is also some availability for lessons and training in the Purcellville Virginia area on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings!

We are very much looking forward to getting an early start to the 2015 season by going to Ocala Florida for 3 weeks in January. I will be coming back to teach the weekend of the 17 and 18 of January, and will be returning from Florida on the 24th or 25th of January.

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I know I have neglected the blog a bit this summer and fall, but follow here and SRB Equestrian Sports on Facebook to stay up to date!

Peaks and valleys

Well, the first half at 2014 has so far been action packed. I would have to say, that in general the good has outweighed the bad but I would be lying if I tried to tell you that it has felt that way all the time.

We all know that this sport and anything to do with horses really can put you through the ringer. I’m beginning to understand that that may just be life no matter which way you look at it. There will always be times where you’re the windshield and times where you’re the bug.

After going through a really rough winter with the injury of Seahawk that ultimately led to him being laid to rest way too soon, we did seem to start the spring out right with a quick trip to Aiken. True Bellamy picked up a win at Pinetop training, and Erin Reilly did very well in her first PT at sporting days, jumping one of the only clear show jump rounds in the division. Tracy Ryan and Sue Southard joined us to get an earlier start on the season and to escape the horrible winter that we had. Fun was had by all! We got a bit of sunshine several good jump schools and had a lot of learning!

After that, however things seemed to unravel a bit. After training hard on what we felt were all of the right things, True Bellamy ended up having a very uncharacteristic run out at his first prelim attempt at Loudoun. Our day ended as a result of that, because he ran out to the side underneath of a tree branch which ended up unseating me. No one was hurt, and it may have been a good thing that we didn’t get any further that day.

It just so happened that following week we had the saddle fitter and the massage therapist scheduled to come out. Both of them had some surprises for me, and we went a little bit back to the drawing board. Thanks to my wonderful support crew I have managed to borrow saddles in the meantime until I can get a long-term situation sorted out. But with the better fitting saddle and continued body work from Gibby Booth and Courtney Molino, he is feeling much better.

I have also been able to get a few lessons from Lauren Kieffer and one from Jackie Brooks in recent weeks and that has really helped me to feel like we are back on track! He scored a 27 in the dressage and had one rail which was the result of me not making fast enough decisions at the Morningside combined test on Saturday. We did a second show jump around where the communication with a little bit smoother and I gave him a better ride.

Now that I feel like his body is where it needs to be, and the dressage and show jumping are better than ever it’s time to get back out and do some more cross-country schooling before we even pick our next horse trials. The goal is a horse that goes out and feels completely capable and confident about everything that he faces! After all he is only six and I feel like we have plenty of time! Huge thanks to his owner Chuck Akre has been so supportive over the last two years of our partnership and was able to come and watch Trubie win the prelim ct at Morningside on Saturday.

My students have not been without their struggles either. Gmork was diagnosed with Lyme disease after some poor performance and back soreness prompted Erin to have a blood test done on him. luckily after only a short course of antibiotics he was feeling super and they returned to competition at Waredaca with great success completing the prelim with just one rail to add to their good dressage score.

Laila upgrade to the training level did not go as planned due to lack of power brakes and steering in the show jumping. After a quick tack adjustment and a good cross-country warm-up she went out on course but unfortunately was so nervous from the sticky show jumping round she cantered right past the third fence! She also redeemed herself at Waredaca with just a couple of spooky moments to add to an otherwise excellent performance.

Alayna and her new mare had a super go at Loudoun in their first training level together. For a number of reasons Waredaca did not go as well for them. External factors seemed to cause a lot of extra nerves, and although we had three good warm-ups, every time the whistle blew the impulsion went away. After two quick stops early on in the course Alayna got just mad enough to go forward and the rest of the cross-country was excellent. I think a lot of the time things have to go badly for you to really understand how to make them go well. It really sucks when you have these moments out at competitions, instead of in lessons. But it’s a different ballgame when you are out under a bit of pressure and that takes practice. I’m glad we had the opportunity to go back and school later on that week, and figured out a few different strategies to help get things to go on the right path.

Laila and Alayna joined me at Morningside on Saturday and both had huge improvements. I know they are both looking forward to Seneca this weekend. Erin and Karissa will both be contesting the prelim with Lila and Alayna in the training level!

The winter training projects Lusie and Pirate have both been coming along extraordinarily well. Lusie is a really adorable trakehner mare, who was kind of pulled out of the field and put into training with me in December. I rode her in a combined test in early April and a couple of cross-country schools. Her owner Hallie has taken over the reins in recent months and is doing an excellent job with her. I see her weekly for lessons, and I’m very excited about their future together She is seven or eight and is definitely mentally mature enough to be pushed along a bit. She is sticking to the unrecognized beginner novice/elementary circuit this summer to make sure that all of the T’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.

Pirate is a five-year-old off the track thoroughbred gelding sent to me in February by the same Canadian couple who owned True Bellamy and Harbour the Truth when they were racing. Pirate is only about 16.1 hands, but he is built super uphill and has a really wicked canter. He is supposed to be for sale, but we may have to figure something out in order for him to stay a while longer. Bay thoroughbreds are apparently my kryptonite. For some girls it’s shoes and handbags. I bet that would be cheaper!

Anyways, expect updates to the results and upcoming events pages soon! Thanks for reading.

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End of the Season

Well!! It has been so long since my last blog I seem to have trouble even figuring out where to start. I have been procrastinating blogging for a couple of reasons. In August my reason was that my foot was broken and all of my plans were down the tubes and I had nothing good to say. In September I still didn’t know what my prognosis was, and was grouchy and restless from staring at my horses and not riding!! October … well that was when the “where do I even start” set in… and I got off my crutches and was way too busy walking around just for the sake of walking around to sit and blog!!! Those of you who follow SRB Equestrian Sports on Facebook or Twitter are probably mostly in the loop, so thank you for keeping up with that.

What better time to check in and give an update than the evening of the year’s last recognized Horse Trials?!

In reflection, in a lot of ways this has been the best year yet. At the same time, this year I have faced some challenges that I had no idea how to deal with and was completely discouraged on more than one occasion.

I am so grateful for the friends, clients and students I have met this year, and for the old friends that have stuck with me through the last few years. I have to congratulate all of my students on their successes this year. Tracy and Fudge have broken on to the US Eventing Scene this year with ribbon finishes at most of their outings, and a 10 point improvement in dressage scores in the last 6 months. Alayna had a successful upgrade to Training level after some great runs at the Novice level early in the season. Her mare has been retired at the ripe age of 19 and we are all so grateful to Filey for getting Alayna to where she is today! Alayna is looking forward to her 2014 season with a new partner. Erin has had success at the training level on her old mare, Annie as well as her new partner, Rumsey Keefe’s Gmork. Erin and Gmork finished their season with back to back wins at the Training level. Gibby and her Connemara Delaney had a rough start to the year, but after busting their butts all summer, they had a few great runs at Loudoun, Seneca, and Marlborough to finish out the year at solid at Training level. Karen and Smokey are building towards a happy partnership in the hunt field after my fun spring and summer campaign with the big grey guy. Lesley Arnold’s Cricket Song is still (unbelievably) looking for her future partner after a super summer with Erin, she is at Emily Daily’s Cady O’Daly farm. If you’re looking for an awesome little horse who has no limits to her talent, email Emily to set up a time to see Cricket! We have welcomed Laila and Facesso to the team this fall, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for this lovely pair. Karissa and her boy Dance on the Double showed great improvements this fall and completed their first CCI 1* at VAHT.

Chuck Akre’s True Bellamy spent August and September being ridden by my student Erin, who kept him going while I was sidelined due to a fractured calcaneus and a severe ankle sprain. Thanks to Erin’s help, Trubie and I returned to Competition with a win at Morningside Prelim Combined test, and what could have been a win at the Waredaca Prelim/Training hybrid division. Unfortunately for Trubie, I made a mistake that cost us 20 penalties at the end of a wickedly fun cross country course. He was 3rd after dressage and show jumped clear to the top of the leaderboard only to be let down by his pilot…I will be kicking myself for a while over that one, but I am so proud of this horse for his first 2 efforts in Preliminary dressage and stadium, and I am so grateful to Mr. Akre for the ride on this little prodigy.

My boy Seahawk had the first 6 weeks of my injury off work, seeing as his year started in February and he had a few great runs. I have been slow bringing him back because of what was hopefully his last growth spurt, that was conveniently timed at the end of his planned time off. He is finally feeling like his big fancy self again, and is 3 jump schools in to the winter training sessions! Stay tuned for more news about him very soon.

My lovely wonderful superstar Port Authority had such a great time at Surefire and Maryland HT this summer. It is such a treat to be out there on a horse like him. I was absolutely devastated when I broke my foot because I saw our fall season and our plans to qualify for the 2014 WEG disappear into thin air. Turns out though, that “Ollie” may have enjoyed his outings, but despite the fact that he was 100% sound after MDHT, his suspensory didn’t enjoy the runs as much as we would have hoped. After a long 2 year process of treatments and rehab and very careful management, we have made the decision to retire him from upper level eventing. Battling with a suspensory injury in an aging equine athlete totally sucks, and in many ways it is a relief to be done with the attempt to return to the international scene with him. He has proven that he will hold up to a heavy work load in good arena footing, so we will only do what he can handle and he should have another few years of fun work ahead of him. I owe this horse so much, he is the reason that I have clients and students and fun young horses to ride, and he is the reason that I moved out east and have built a life that I love. I have had a few months to come to grips with the fact that I have gone cross country for the last time with this phenomenal athlete, and nobody can ever take away any of the experiences he has given me.

I am so grateful that he has no idea that he is physically limited, he was not lame, nor was he positive to flexions or palpations on the day of the fateful ultrasound (conveniently the day after I broke my foot). I am also so thankful that we decided to ultrasound even though he looked so great. A lot to be said for conscientious veterinary care!!! I owe Dr. Ober  a great deal for her management of this horse through his CCI 3*s and 4*s , and also through his injury and subsequent rehab. We as a team are very proud of this horse, and I’m excited to see what the next chapter of his life holds! More info about him will come as we make decisions about his future, but as of today he is still sound, happy and loving life in some moderate work with a big old belly.

We at SRB Equestrian Sports are currently planning the schooling show calendar for December and January, as well as trips to Aiken in late January and February. There are 2 stalls available at our home base in Woodbine, Maryland, and I am always available to take on new students in Howard, Carrol or Frederick Counties in Maryland, or Loudoun County, Virginia.

Thank you so much for continuing to follow along with me, and stay tuned for pictures and videos from the recent horse shows and training sessions, as well as exciting upcoming events!

Learn how to get a front row seat to the action at SRB Equestrian Sports by joining Team Seahawk. Check out Team Seahawk Syndication Proposal

 

Seahawk Waredaca Canter

Spring has Sprung

There’s certainly been a lot going on here at SRB Equestrian Sports!! The Annual Northern Migration is complete, a busy competition schedule is already underway for my horses and my students, and I have managed to reconnect with most of my non migratory friends in the last few weeks.

One of the big highlights was this past weekend, where I made a trip down to the Fork HT for my favorite event of the year. Trubie and Mosby (Seahawk) were absolutely fantastic at the Training Level. Both of them have completed 2 recognized Trainings each now, in addition to their unrecognized trainings. They both handled the electric show atmosphere like champs, especially Trubie who hasn’t had to stable at a horse trial up until now. The last time he spent the night in a strange stall and had to perform the next day, he was racing!! Aside from being pretty worried about the photographers with their loud scary cameras shrouded in rain gear during Thursdays Dressage Downpours, he didnt seem fazed.

This was by far the biggest cross country track they have faced, which was exactly what I was hoping for when I decided to make the trip. The Fork has always provided a great experience for the horses, the fences are always beautifully built and set well into the terrain so that the horses come off the course smarter and more confident than they were when they left the startbox. Congrats to Tremaine Cooper on putting his own stamp on the property with challenging courses across all levels, and a huge thanks to Jim and Bernadette Cogdell and all who are involved in putting on a great event.

The showjumping arena at the Fork really gives the horses a good introduction to a big atmosphere. The jumps are bright and well decorated, and there are spectators all around. Both of them were very focused on their jobs in the arena and jumped beautifully on their last day of competition, each putting in clear rounds.

I also did the Young Event Horse competition with the boys, which was a new experience for me. I really want to ride them both at the YEH Championships, which will be held in the fall. They both achieved their first of two qualifying scores, and they will do the 5 year old division at Waredaca in June for their second qualifier.

I took Port Authority with me to keep him in work, and I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with David O’Connor, which was so great. He hasn’t seen him work in over a year and I think that he was pleased with the way he is going. David was responsible for producing Ollie to where he was at Rolex and the World Games, and even if he’s not my team’s coach anymore, he knows me and he knows the horse and I am so grateful that he is willing to check up on me when he has time!!

I also had a dressage lesson with the current Canadian team coach, Clayton Fredericks. Clayton hadnt seen Ollie in nearly a month, and he sent us north with some homework to do. I was really pleased to be able to show off a much stronger and MUCH more submissive Ollie, and I was so happy that Clayton thinks we are on the right track. I will see him again in May hopefully at Jersey Fresh, where Ollie is doing the test ride for the 3 start. Homework, Homework, Homework.

Another highlight of the competition weekend was of course, catching up with friends I don’t get to see often enough.My mom came out to groom and hang out, and most of my pals were stopping at the Fork mid-migration. This sport keeps us all going at warp speed and in different directions. Some of my friends are on top of the world, and others are facing some struggles that come along with the sport, life, and growing up.. I just wish I could spend more time with each of them. You’re only as strong as your support system!!

Now that I’m back up North in Maryland, I am focusing on building my team of students and getting to know more people!

I have some continuing projects, such as producing my horses in training, Seahawk’s Syndication and Ollie’s rehabilitation into competition form, but the immediate project is getting more and more students! The more the merrier, so if you’re in the Northern VA/ West Maryland area, give me a call and come out to the farm in Woodbine to meet me and have an introductory lesson.

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Next Up: Ollie’s test ride at Fair Hill CIC, and Loudoun Pony Club HT at the end of the month!!

Check out the YouTube Channel for clips of The Fork!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do3BfF1dteA

Ocala 2

I had a great time this past weekend riding Harbour the Truth, Wind in the Willows and Seahawk at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter 2 Horse Trials. It was, as usual, a great event put on by the hard working folks (Jon, Peter, etc) at Equiventures, and there were a ton of horses!! I never really do get used to the idea of 475 horses at one event, after growing up in BC where 100 horses was more the norm. I really like being at these shows and seeing some great riders on some really nice horses, and its especially rewarding when the horses I ride hold their own in a tough crowd! All three of the horses I rode this weekend are North American bred 5 year olds. Seahawk and Harbour the Truth were bred to race, and are now excelling at their new career. Wind in the Willows is an Irish Draught Sport Horse mare, bred and owned by Lesley Arnold of Huntly, VA. I am very lucky to have such high quality youngsters to play with, and I really like the idea of representing the breeders on our continent. Importing horses from overseas works for a lot of people, but it is definitely a fact that there are good horses being bred and produced right here in the USA and Canada for us to enjoy!

Willow went out and rocked her first recognized event, and first novice level competition, with style. Her steady and obedient test earned her a 33, and she put in two confident jump phases to finish 4th in her division. This mare is just a couple months of strength training away from being able to start thinking about going Training level! She is offered for sale, and is the horse for anyone looking for a serious prospect.

Harvey was his usual rock steady self, earning a 30 in the dressage for his cute and rhythmical way of going, and caught a lot of attention out cross country for his very entertaining style of cantering around like he is set to a metronome no matter what obstacle he is pointed at. Ditches, banks, water and coops… you can’t really worry or unsettle this guy about any of it. He may only be 5, but he is really confident about his job. I added a couple of time penalties to his otherwise clear showjumping round (apparently we were too relaxed) and he finished 6th in his division of novice. Harvey is also for sale, and would be suited to a kid or an amateur based on his totally relaxed attitude about life. He does have a very good jump, and is cute enough on the flat to be suited to a more ambitious rider, but I think he is so valuable as a packer type horse. I will be sad to see him go, but I’m sure he will go soon!!

Seahawk is currently being spoiled, petted and generally catered to for his performance on the weekend. He has officially completed his first training level horse trials, and he did so in a way that makes me SO excited about his future. I love riding this horse on a day to day basis, he tries really hard and even though he is young and not really finished filling out, he gives me the impression of a real athlete. We had a lesson on Friday afternoon with our dressage trainer Jacqueline Brooks, and she made some adjustments to his frame that made his already good movement go *pow*!!! I was able to channel that feeling into his test on Saturday morning, and we were rewarded with a score of 24, which put us in 2nd place. Show jumping was no problem whatsoever, he actually really enjoys the jump ring, I think the atmosphere of some spectators and lots of decorations lights him up a bit and he gets a little showy. I was most nervous about the cross country. “Baby Mo” has had some ups and downs along the way of learning about cross country, and although I was pretty sure we sorted it out last fall, I just really wanted it to go well on Sunday!! We had a great school last Wednesday at Jenn and Jon Hollings, but I was still a little nervous when we left the startbox. I shouldn’t have worried. He handled the coffin with the bending three out, the drop with the bending five, and the sunken road complex with the corner coming out like it was old hat. I’m really proud of him!! He ended up staying in 2nd place through the competition and has a pretty red Equiventures ribbon to celebrate his first Training level. He will go out again at Rocking horse three and then maybe the YEH 5 yo and the Training level at the Fork in April?? I have a week to decide about that so that I can get my entry in on the opening day!!

Here’s a bit of iPhone video from his cross country, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGI3DXQvyzM

I would like to officially welcome Scott and Lisa Robinson to Seahawk’s team. I announced a while ago that I had made shares available, and Scott and Lisa are the first to get on board. I am really excited to build a team of fun people to support this horse to his full potential, and if you think you or someone you know would be interested in getting involved, please email me at srbequestriansports@gmail.com Owning event horses is out of the budget for most people, and Syndication is a great way to open up the possibility of owning a high quality event horse with team potential to a larger number of people, because you share the expenses with the other team members. I really think this is the way the majority of upper level horses are going to be owned in the future and I can’t wait to be a part of that.

In other news, Ollie is continuing along with his program of jumping once a week and working hard on dressage domination. He is feeling fantastic, and I can’t wait until his first run back, hopefully sometime in June.

Trubie is entered at Rocking Horse Three, and is getting fitter every day 🙂 His spring season may have been delayed but he is going to come out rocking and rolling.

Phil will be going over to HITS later this week to do some level 2 and 3 jumper classes, and maybe meet his new owner. If you are looking for a horse with great movement who is very easy to ride over fences, let me know!

Scott and Lisa Robinson’s Anglo Arab Gelding, Nations Poet is also on board for the Rocking Horse 3 Horse Trials, and I’m really looking forward to giving Poet and Scott some good experience so they can have a fun Spring and Summer together!

Stay tuned!! Its a busy next few weeks