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Meagan DeLisle

Achievements

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Best of HN: Bringing Home the Belgians

Two years ago during my brief stint away from horses, I met a wonderful man named Dale Gaebler. I had just moved back to my hometown and was adjusting to my new life as a “grown-up” when my dad suggested I attend the church picnic that weekend. In an attempt to bribe me to step away from my weekend full of Netflix binging he added, “there will be horses there.”

Starved for horse time, I jumped in the car and made my way to the Gaeblers’ secluded little farm just 20 miles down the road. It’s funny how these small events can greatly impact our lives — I had no clue how much this one trip would change mine. Upon my arrival, my dad introduced me to Mr. Dale, who greeted me with what I would grow to know as his trademark wide smile.

“Dale, this girl kind of likes horses,” said my dad.

“You are going to fit right in then,” Dale responded and from that moment on, the Gaeblers became like family.

With Molly, Dolly, and Dale. Photo by Wayne DeLisle

Dale took me under his wing and taught me everything I know about draft horses. His team of aged Belgian mares, Molly and Dolly, were the perfect teachers. I learned to harness them and hitch them to the cart and then after a few hours had passed, he handed the driving lines over to me.

I spent many subsequent afternoons in the driver’s seat of that wagon, listening to the chatter of the passengers behind me. Dale was a golden-hearted man who spent years building his dream farm and then opened it up, free of charge, to local churches and youth organizations for special events. Not only did he teach me how to drive and have a generous heart, but he passed on to me the ghost stories that he had developed over time to entertain the kiddos along the rides. Over time, I perfected my spookiest-sounding voice that I would use to tell those tales as we neared the darkest corner on the trail.

Photo by Wayne DeLisle

I had missed horses, but truth be told I had fallen out of love with the sport after my own far-fetched aspirations had leeched the fun out of riding. Molly, Dolly and Dale brought back that spark in a short period of time and helped settle my once-anxious heart. Dale reminded me so much of my late Grandpa John, who played a big role in molding the woman I am today, and I thought of Dale as another grandfather figure in my life.

Life changed, however, and Wayne and I moved out of my hometown and further from the Gaebler settlement so Wayne could be closer to his farm. Winter rolled around and Dale closed up for the season. Months passed and I wound up back in the saddle again, this time with a much more peaceful state of mind thanks to my time with Dale. I often thought of those two sweet mares and wished I was closer and able to swing by on sunny afternoons again for a few hours of serenity.

When we moved back to my hometown a year later, the one thing on my mind was getting back to the Gaeblers’ farm. I was even closer than I had been before and was itching at the thought of being behind those mares again. Then the unthinkable happened—Mr. Dale passed away suddenly. My heart was broken. The line at the funeral home was hours long, filled with people who had been affected by his bright and shining presence in one way or another. Dale was truly one of a kind.

That was last fall. As I sifted through my phone one day responding to a notification on Facebook, I scrolled past an ad for two big red mares with crooked little stripes down their faces and my heart stopped.

It was Molly and Dolly.

Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle

They were consigned to be sold the following weekend at an auction. Everything became a blur. I picked up my phone and I called Wayne sobbing, and bless his heart, he told me to make it happen.

So I did. Phone call after phone call, I tracked down the contact information for his children until I found someone who could help me. It didn’t matter what I had to do — those girls were coming home to be with me. I owed it to Mr. Dale.

I can’t tell you how much it meant to me when I was told, “Grandpa would love to see you take the girls. It would make him so happy.” That was all it took. We agreed on a price and a pickup date and the girls were mine.

On Tuesday afternoon of this week we loaded up and made the drive to Mr. Dale’s farm for the final time. The girls were waiting by the gate and eagerly loaded up on the trailer. Driving away from the farm was bittersweet. I was so happy to have Dolly and Molly in my care, but knowing that they would never drive the perimeter of that property ever again was a little sad.

The girls have settled in nicely at home and greet me in the morning with soft little whinnies. Molly nuzzled my neck as I curried away what was left of her winter coat and Dolly found herself a nice spot to lay down in the sunshine next to their hay so she could munch and relax. I stayed out with them until dark that night just soaking in their presence.

Molly on the left, Dolly on the right. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

Finally, Wayne came out and wrapped his arm around me and said, “Come on, horse girl, they will be here in the morning.”

That was the most beautiful thing I had heard in a long time.

Best of JN: 8 Show Day Tips to Help You Succeed

Show days are chaotic and it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Check out these eight tips to help you make it through that stressful show day and put your best foot forward every time you walk into the ring, presented by Draper Therapies.

1. Sleep is Your Friend

Seriously, as simple as it sounds, a good night’s rest can go a long way. In the world of late nights and early mornings, it is not uncommon to see riders dragging themselves around the barn aisle or chugging coffee like there is no tomorrow. Lack of sleep or overdosing on caffeine isn’t always the healthiest of practices, however.

Try and dedicate a full night’s sleep the night before a show. Turn the TV off, put the phone down, and call it a night early. If show ring jitters tend to keep you up at night, try a warm shower before bed or indulging in a cup of mint tea to help you wind down. You will be amazed how good you can feel when that 5 AM alarm goes off after a solid night of sleep.

2. Cut the Junk Food

Horse shows are not always known for their super healthy meal options. Consider packing some fruit for in between classes and trade in that energy drink for a water or electrolyte-filled sports drink. Junk food weighs you down and makes you feel like… well, manure. So stop scarfing down Twinkies between classes and pack appropriate meals ahead of time. Your stomach and wallet will thank you.

3. Dedicate Some Time for “Me Time”

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the horse show, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Whether you are a nervous Nelly or someone who doesn’t know what butterflies in their tummy feels like, it is important to find five minutes in your day to just relax and enjoy the moment.

Photo by Alissa King / JN

So go relax by the ring and observe a class or two or listen to your pre-show playlist to get yourself pumped up. There are plenty of studies that validate that positive thinking prior to entering a competition sets you up for success. And in the (not so accurate) words of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “horses make you happy, and happy people don’t just go out and murder their course.”

4. Clean Tack= Happy Horses and Riders

Not only should you polish every square inch of your tack because it looks nice, but it helps you make sure everything is in working order. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a tack malfunction mid-course that could have been prevented by a simple once-over while tacking up.  Common oops areas include saddle billets, bridle pieces, and stirrup leathers. Monitor and maintain your tack to lengthen its life span and make any needed repairs before an accident occurs.

5. Show Your Appreciation

A little appreciation goes a long way and there is no negative to being on the good side of the horse show employees. Keep in mind that even though we are booking some long hours on the show grounds, the staff are often putting in double what we are. A simple thank you can completely change the environment of the show. So don’t forget to thank the folks at the in-gate, have a smile when you enter the show office, and consider supporting riders from rival barns. Equestrians need all the good juju they can get. Besides, if the show staff are going to remember you by name, make sure it’s because of good reasons and not bad ones.

Photo by Alissa King / JN

6. Have a Plan

Winging it doesn’t work in horse showing. Have a structured plan set ahead for your day and back up plans for when those original plans inevitably go wrong. Know your course ahead of time, know the strides you want to take, the corners you may want to cut, and the areas where you can show your horse off. Know when your class falls in the order of go and warm up in ample time. Arrive at the barn early enough to get all your morning chores done without being rushed for your class.

Having a plan takes some of the stress of the environment off of your shoulders. The last thing we need to stress about is if we have enough time in the day to get everything done before our class.

7. Know Your Limits

Horse shows are an opportunity to show off your skills, but they are never the place to push yourself beyond your means. I am a big believer in schooling bigger fences at home than you are jumping at the show, so that when you get in the nerve-inducing environment of the show grounds you are 100% confident that you can tackle the task at hand.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t push yourself out of your comfort zone now and then. Just make sure that if you are moving up a level that you have successfully schooled that level at home and are confident in that decision. Don’t rush the process and put yourself or your horse in a potentially tricky situation. You want to feel brave when you enter the ring, so if you get to the show and just aren’t feeling it don’t be afraid to go down a level for a good experience. No ribbon is worth sacrificing your confidence.

8. Keep it Simple, Keep it Fun

Photo by Alissa King / JN

At my last horse show, my trainer kept repeating the phrase “keep it simple.” Our world can be filled with so many complications and procedures that it is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the details. For the most of us, we show horses because it is fun to us. Don’t suck the fun out of the situation by drowning yourself in thoughts or processes that aren’t necessary. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Smile when you go around on course. Pat your pony. Recall the first time you sat on a horse and go into the ring with happy vibes. Even if you are trying to make a career out of showing horses, you should never forget how the love of horses is what drew you to the sport.

Go Jumping!

From the hunter ring to the jump-off, keep up to speed on the latest news, commentary and h/j insanity at EN’s sister site Jumper Nation! 

Best of JN: Born to Jump

Finding a foal who will not only hold up to jumping, but who will love it and make a career out of it, takes a well trained eye. With most foals you don’t have much more to go off of than bloodlines and conformation, neither of which are 100% reliable indicators of whether or not a foal will grow into the next Hickstead.

But foals like this make it a little easier!

https://instagram.com/p/BhZWpCyn_3S/

High Point Hanoverians, located in Maryland, specializes in breeding, importing, and selling Hanoverian and Oldenburg stock for sport. Currently, they stand four impressive stallions; Rosenthal, Friendscout II, Coeur D’ Amour and Sinatra Song. Each of these studs not only pass on good looks, but some pretty athletic genetics and their foals can be found competing in various disciplines with success.

This little 2018 filly is Cliche, by Coeur d’ Amour. It is obvious she has the heart for jumping just like her daddy! Cliche is offered for sale by High Point Hanoverians if you are in the market for your future superstar. She’s got it all going for her. She’s cute, shes spicy, and she loves to jump! What more could you want?

Now… how to sneak her home without my husband noticing.

Go Jumping!

From the hunter ring to the jump-off, keep up to speed on the latest news, commentary and h/j insanity at EN’s sister site Jumper Nation! 

Best of JN: Beezie Madden Wins $1 Million Dollar Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Because when you’re Beezie, winning one Grand Prix just isn’t enough…

On Saturday, March 24th Beezie Madden was the last to go out of five who were clear for the jump off in the $205,000 CaptiveOne CSI4* Grand Prix at WEF. The challenging track had tested many of the riders entered in the class, but Beezie and her mount Breitling LS laid down two beautiful rounds to bring home the hardware.

As if one Grand Prix in a weekend isn’t tasking enough, Beezie was also set to contend the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix Sunday afternoon at HITS Ocala aboard Abigail Wexner’s Coach. The venue was overflowing with spectators, eager to see who of the 43 riders would take home the big purse. When seats filled up, fans lined the grass bank just to get a glimpse of the action.

The competition was hot all day long with riders such as Lauren Hough, Lillie Keenan, Daniel Bluman, and Cian O’Connor all aiming to take home the top spot on the podium. It was apparent from the cheers, however, as Beezie and Coach entered the ring that the duo was definitely a fan favorite. All fell silent as they maneuvered their way around Alan Wade’s jump off course with style and ease.

https://www.facebook.com/USEFNetwork/videos/1885678338132459/

As they sailed over the last jump, the crowd went wild! No one could top Beezie’s blazing fast, yet elegantly executed, jump off time of 44.479 seconds which was a whole two seconds faster than the previous leader.

The 2nd place spot went to Lillie Keenan on her longtime mount Super Sox and Charlie Jayne rounded out the top three aboard Tou La Moon.

To see the full results of the class, click HERE.

From the hunter ring to the jump-off, keep up to speed on the latest news, commentary and h/j insanity at EN’s sister site Jumper Nation! 

Best of JN: The Best Sale Ad on the Internet

Sifting through sale ads can get a little monotonous. In order to get your horse to stand out, you have to get a little creative. This seller knew she was going to need to capture her audiences attention with a little extra flair and it definitely caught our eye. Read the original post here!

“Are you looking for a challenge? A real, “wtf did I get myself into” and eventually, “that was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had” challenge?

Do you dream of competing in the mustang makeover but want the athleticism and potential of a warmblood?

Do you have a great health care plan and an even better life insurance policy?

This 2014 16h solid black RPSI gelding might just be your huckleberry.

He has a very strong personality and is the jerk in the pasture who pesters everyone. He’s the leader of the herd and the first one to investigate anything new.

All the negatives aside, he is a very personable boy who is almost impossible to photograph because he won’t stay away from you. He’s a cute, athletic mover who will make a killer event horse or jumper for the right person. And for the wrong person he will chew you up and spit you out.

His dam is TB by Innkeeper who was purpose bred for eventing but spent her life as a broodmare. His sire is Belafonte d’Avalon, a German Riding Pony who was 2013 Area V Training Level Champion. He also completed his 30 day stallion testing with one of the highest scores ever awarded in North America or Europe.

I had plans to have him started under saddle before I ever offered him for sale because I think the wrong start could ruin him. However, I’ve decided I will try and find him the right person who wants a clean slate to start with.

Priced to sell in the 4 figures but the right person is of greatest importance. And no, this is not (at this point in his life) a great horse for your 13 year old daughter who is SUCH A GREAT RIDER unless you hate your kid.”

We can’t stop laughing and we hope this seller finds the perfect home for their horse to thrive in.

Go Jumping!

From the hunter ring to the jump-off, keep up to speed on the latest news, commentary and h/j insanity at EN’s sister site Jumper Nation! 

Best of JN: The 7 Stages of Panic When Your Trainer Raises the Fences

For many riders, the thought of raising the fences to new heights gets our blood pumping. Hours of lessons and critique have all led up to this moment — jumping a fence bigger than you have ever jumped before. It is exciting and emotionally draining at the same time.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone isn’t easy, but it is how you get better. Those seconds before the big fence can definitely lead to some emotional turmoil if you haven’t had the proper amount of time to prepare for this undertaking.

To help you better handle your emotions when the time comes, the team at Jumper Nation has performed some experiments of our own. As a result, we have developed this “super scientific” timeline of the breakdown of emotions that occur when the fences get bigger. So next time you see the fences get bumped, never fear, you will survive … even though it may not feel that way at first.

1) The “No Big Deal” Stage.

At first glance, the fences don’t even look bigger than normal. You can almost hear the cowboy music playing in the background as you face off against this new fence height.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Whatever. No big. You’ve got this.

2) The “Ummmmmm” stage

Except … the fence does look bigger now as you walk past it and pick up your canter …

Thoughts associated with this stage: Well, this is interesting. Are you sure that is only one hole higher? Ehh … no big deal, right? You’ve got this. You’ve totally got this.

3) The “I Don’t Belong Here” Stage

Ooookayyyy now you’re starting to panic. All the things that could go wrong are spinning around in the back of your head. You begin thinking maybe it’s time to go back to cross rails because there is no way you are prepared for this.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Is my horse going to run out? Oh geez, he is going to run out. I am like 40 strides back and I can tell he is definitely going to run out. Just focus on my distance … breathe … distance … breathe …

Wait, what is a distance?

4) The “WHAT WAS MY TRAINER THINKING?” Stage

You’re 10 strides out and you’re so busy questioning all of your trainers life decisions that you have completely forgotten what contact is or how to achieve it. Obviously they have greatly overestimated your skills.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Let’s just go back to the barn, drink wine, and talk this through.

5) The “Do or Die” Stage

Suddenly you’re a few strides out and you know there is no turning back. Time to buck up and do this thing because there is no circling at this point. Find a little piece of self confidence tucked inside of you somewhere and start humming your theme song in your head.

Thoughts associated with this stage: You can do this, right? How will you ever get to the Olympics if you can’t conquer this teeny tiny, but not really so much tiny, fence? Let’s toss around some rainbows and butterflies because we are making the best of this situation!

6) The “Play Time is Over” Stage

Next thing you know, you’re in the air and you are all business. You are half shocked you got somewhat of a distance and are still on the horse, but that is irrelevant. You are DOING THIS.

Thoughts associated with this stage: You’ve got this. You are a superstar. You are the next Beezie Madden. This jump is a cake walk. There are thousands of fans counting on you to make this happen.

7) The “DO IT AGAIN” Stage

AND YOU NAIL THE LANDING. As you canter away you realize you haven’t taken a breath since you started cantering and you feel like you are going to fall off your horse, but you did it. Acknowledge that you are, in fact, awesome and canter away as your coach yells at you to do it again.

Thoughts associated with this stage:

Go Jumping!

From the hunter ring to the jump-off, keep up to speed on the latest news, commentary and h/j insanity at EN’s sister site Jumper Nation! 

Best of JN: The Pursuit of Excellence with Michael Burnett

Striking out on your own as a professional in this industry can be challenging, but 26-year-old Michael Burnett is taking it all in stride. With two talented horses to carry him up the ranks, a partnership with the legend George Morris himself, and a supportive barn family, Michael is pursuing excellence with every step of the journey. JN caught up with Michael to share his successes at WEF and his plans for the future.

Working with the Legend

Michael caught the horse bug after attending the Trader’s Point Hunt Charity Show with his father. He began taking lessons by the age of eight and found himself in love with the sport. It was roughly a year and a half ago that Michael decided to step out on his own and pursue a career in the hunter/jumper world. He established his farm Burnett Farms in Lebanon, Indiana and began picking up students with whom he could share his knowledge.

“I’m obsessed with the fact that the basics don’t change in our sport, no matter what the culture is,” Michael shared with JN. “The type of horse may vary, but the principles do not.” Michael focuses on instilling those basics in not only his students, but riders across the country. He will be returning to the Hoosier Horse Fair and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana this year as a clinician for the second time.

Michael serving as a demo rider in the St. Louis stop of George’s clinic schedule. Photo by Jennifer Kaiser.

After participating in a large number of clinics with George Morris, Michael was invited back to become a demonstration rider for a portion of George’s 2017 clinic schedule. After riding for George in Chicago, Sacramento, Portland, Birmingham, and St. Louis, George decided it was time for Michael to take the next step in his career. He took Michael on as a student and has been instructing him through the 2018 WEF circuit, a decision that has greatly impacted Michael’s riding and career.

“If you watch George work a horse, you’ll see that by the end the horse starts to look more intelligent. The horse accepts and listens to the rider. This only happens through disciplined riding,” said Michael. “His instruction helps me to better train my horses properly on the flat.”

If there is one bit of instruction Michael has received from George that has stuck with him, it is to strive for excellence. “I admire George’s insistence on being excellent every single day, with the emphasis being on every single day,” he shared. That strict attention to detail has refined Michael’s riding style and opened his eyes up to how each detail counts in and out of the ring.

Winning at WEF

Thanks to his pair of talented horses, Michael has had an immense amount of success in Wellington. With ribbons in nearly every class he has entered, it is clear that his hard work is paying off in the ring. While his primary focus is on the jumpers, Michael has also spent the winter showing a handful of hunters as well.

With wins at WEF in the 1.35m and 1.40m classes, Michael’s main mount, Iron, has been performing consistently this winter. “Iron is very experienced as this is our 11th year showing together. He had a great career in the Junior/AO Jumpers, and following that he’s been top three in around 30 Grand Prix classes,” shared Michael. The duo also recently qualified for the International Omaha’s InIt2WinIt $100,000 Championship and will compete in Omaha later this year.

Watch Michael and Iron take home the win in a 1.40m class at WEF this winter.

Michael’s other mount, C-Max, is not to be underestimated either. “C-Max is fun because he gets better every class and that’s a great feeling as a trainer,” Michael said of the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding. “He has all the quality that Iron does and just as much personality!” Together the pair has had great success including a second-place finish in the Minnesota Harvest $25,000 Grand Prix last fall. 2018 looks to be an exciting year for this young horse as Michael also qualified for the InIt2WinIt $100,000 Championship with C-Max as well.

Achieving Excellence

Michael intends to remain at WEF and potentially show in weeks seven, eight, ten, and eleven with his jumper mounts. Upon the conclusion of his winter in Florida, he plans to show at the Omaha International, followed by some down time for him and his horses, and then aim for Spruce Meadows this summer. While he has goals of competing in International Grand Prix classes, he places more of his focus on the here and now.

Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

“My short-term goal is just to become an excellent rider and go to the top horse shows. Competing against globally ranked riders is the best way to get better because it forces you to raise your own standard.”

JN wishes Michael all the best in his pursuit of excellence. There is no doubt that his name will be one we will continue to hear through the 2018 season and look forward to what he may accomplish.

Best of JN: Sisterhood of the Traveling Breeches – EQUO Launches New Breeches with Purpose

If you’re looking for fashionable, comfortable equestrian clothing that can make a difference, then EQUO needs to be on your radar. Known for their breathable farm to fashion riding leggings, tailored sunshirts and more, EQUO is releasing their first ever competition breeches on February 14th. JN spoke with EQUO owner and founder, Anna Dulin, about the good EQUO aims to do in the industry with the release of their new riding apparel, and how you as the consumer can change a life.

EQUO: Charitable Beginnings

With the release of their new competition breeches fast approaching, Anna knew she wanted to do more than just sell product: she wanted to help others. After all, EQUO was built by a horse lover, for horse lovers and Anna knew this platform would allow her to make positive changes in the industry. “We have an entire division of our company that caters to charity work,” she shared. “It is an integral part of our company.” EQUO’s website best describes the purpose and passion behind the mission of their EQUO Fund:

“Because we have a lifelong passion and respect for these amazing athletes – without whom our sport would not be possible – we recognize our obligation not only to the riders, but to our teammates.

The EQUO Fund was created as a way to protect and aid those teammates that find themselves in situations of neglect or need. A portion of each EQUO sale is directed to The EQUO Fund, where our resources are distributed to the organizations that provide aid to ensure that each and every teammate has the opportunity to live a long, healthy, safe and fulfilling life.”

Even with the establishment of their EQUO Fund in place, Anna knew she wanted to use the launch of their new competition breeches as a platform to assist others. “We are using this as an opportunity to make riding more accessible for others,” Anna shared with JN. “There are youth groups that are hurting for equipment and apparel for kids to ride in and we knew we could make a difference.”

Sisterhood of the Traveling Breeches

After doing their research, EQUO is partnering with multiple organizations that could benefit from the donation of gently used children’s, juniors, and adult breeches for their riding programs. “We are still open to establishing partnerships with other charities that may need these resources,” Anna included. “If there is a need, we want to help.”

And you can play your part as well. By participating in their launch offer you can receive a pair of their competition breeches in either Navy Pier, Tryon Tan, or World White for 50% off of retail price. All you have to do is fill out the form online and EQUO will provide you with a 50% off discount code, good for one pair of breeches. When your new EQUO breeches arrive, they will be accompanied with a prepaid shipping label. Simply ship back a pair of gently used breeches with the prepaid label so EQUO can help share the love.

“It’s all based on the honor system,” shared Anna. “We have everything set up to be easy for the consumer. All of the breeches we receive will be distributed to our partnered organizations to allow for these youth groups to have the apparel needed to enjoy riding, just like we do!”

The EQUO Breech

The carefully designed breeches are a nylon based fabric with a little bit of spandex weaved in to give an appropriate amount of stretch while riding. You can ride without worries thanks to their custom designed gripped waistband that keep your breeches from shuffling around while you are in the saddle. To top it all off a sock bottom allows for a comfortable fit inside your tall boots.

Photo provided by EQUO.

Currently offered in three colors, the company plans to expand their color line in the future and offer a unique yet stylish color palette. The new EQUO breeches retail at $220 a pair, but you can participate in their launch offer to get these fashion forward breeches for just $110, all while helping out young riders all across the country.

Head on over to EQUO’s website now to fill out the no commitment, launch offer form and receive your discount code. Ordering can begin on February 14th and the offer will be available for first time buyers for quite some time. “We are passionate about this,” Anna concluded, “We want to make a difference in these kids lives.”

Best of JN: Behind the Lens & In the Saddle With Giana Terranova

Behind the Camera with Giana Terranova. Photo by Ariane Samson Photography.

Twenty-three-year-old Giana Terranova has devoted the past four years of her life to capturing moments behind the lens, but this winter circuit she is balancing her growing career with her own competitive desires at WEF. She has picked up a lease for the season to help her pursue her own desires in the saddle, all while photographing some of the most beautiful horses in Wellington. JN caught up with Giana after taking home a tricolor in her first division ever with Over Easy at WEF to talk about how she juggles such a demanding but fulfilling schedule.

Where It All Began

The Southern California native’s love for horses was fueled by her grandmother, who signed Giana up for her first lessons when she was eight years old. It wasn’t until she was 14, however, that she began competing regularly when her parents purchased her first horse, Cooper, who she would show mostly on the local circuits. Giana was fascinated by photography and filmography at a young age and began a very popular YouTube channel to document her equine adventures. That love of film developed into a passion for still photography and she began taking photos at the age of 16.

Upon graduating high school, Giana relocated to Savannah, Georgia to attend Savannah College of Art and Design to major in Equestrian Studies. There she rode for SCAD’s intercollegiate equestrian team and began training with Lauren Marcinkoski of Swamp Fox Farms. In an attempt to bring in some additional revenue, Giana began actively pursuing photography as a business under the name Giana Terranova Photography.

Little did she know, that bud of an idea blossomed into something spectacular. “This last year was when I officially went into full-time photographer and made it my one and only job! What started out as just a hobby to make some extra cash for horse shows ended up being a full-time career that actually is funding my horse show career as well!”

 

Photo by Giana Terranova Photography.

Tales of a Traveling Photographer

After graduating college, Giana returned home to Southern California and began training with Courtney Hurley of Hurley Equestrian. As her business took off, horse lovers all over the country reached out to Giana begging her to come to their locations to photograph their horses.

“Depending on the time of year, I can be pretty much all over the place. Besides Southern California I also make Northern California trips and Arizona trips. I usually come to Florida every winter, as well as stops in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in the spring. Summer I normally do multiple trips Northeast, and I’m hoping to add to that list!”

Giana couldn’t have been happier that her passion had developed into a career, but it did put a hold on her competitive desires for a while. “There’s always places to be, sessions to book, and I truly believe that constantly maintaining it and staying on that grind is what really has made my business grow as much as it has,” she shared with JN.

“However, it’s difficult for me to really find a horse that can truly be my partner because of it. I’m never really in one place for very long to be able to buy a horse or even maintain a long-term lease. Because of that I have to take what I can get, ride whatever comes along, and learn along the way!”

Giana showing her summer lease horse, Silbermond. Photo by Izzy Anderson

Ambitions Abound

Thanks to her connections with Swamp Fox Farms, Giana was able to pick up the ride on Over Easy, AKA Easy, a 15.2h Swedish Warmblood mare. The pairing that appears to be a great match as they started out their partnership together with a Reserve Champion in their warm up classes at WEF. “I’d definitely like to thank Lauren and Swamp Fox Farms for finding me a lease for my VERY particular situation,” Giana shared, “as well as Courtney Hurley for helping me become the rider I am today and getting me back into the ring competitively when I didn’t think it was possible before.”

2018 is the year that Giana plans to find a harmony between her riding and photography. “I’d really love to be able to compete consistently in the 3’ hunters at least for this year. I’d love to move up to the 3’6’’ eventually, but my ultimate goal is to be able to compete in the hunter derbies.”

Giana and Easy celebrating their win with Swamp Fox Farms trainer David Loman. Photo provided by Giana Terranova.

As for her photography, she hopes that her travels take her to new places, even outside of the United States. “I always have to thank my amazing friends, family, and clients that have supported me throughout the years, spreading my work and my business all over. Without them, this company would be nothing but a fun idea I had as a teenager!”

And for those of us who have a passion we want to turn into a business one day, Giana leaves us with this nugget of wisdom. “I guess as cliché as it is: just don’t give up. Life is going to try and get in the way and throw curve balls and the best thing you can do is just keep on trucking along. As with most great things, there isn’t a quick way or short cut to success. Working with horses really gives us equestrians a front row view on how that concept works pretty well! If you are truly passionate about your idea for a business, it will succeed.”

Best of JN: When McLain Says Jump, You Say How High: Adrienne Sternlicht’s Creative Jump-Off Course

Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline. Photo by Sportfot.

When there were 16 clear for the jump-off in the $132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3*, coach McLain Ward knew his student Adrienne Sternlicht was going to have to get creative in her ride for the ribbons. The master himself drew up a plan for Adrienne to guide her mount, Cristalline, over an additional obstacle in the ring to shave some crucial seconds off their time. Their ride may not have been the first place round, but it definitely stole the show and drove the crowd wild. Just listen to the commentators cheering her on!

Adrienne said after the class that they “had to get a bit creative” with so much talent in the field, and with Cristalline being a naturally slower horse than some of the others in the field.

“It was exciting for me too,” recalled Adrienne. “We actually didn’t plan that when we walked. McLain told me that at two Olympics, he should have jumped the hedge and didn’t, so surely I could risk it in a three star grand prix. So I did! It was a unique experience for me and for my horse. She’s super brave. She actually responded better than I anticipated. We have to keep learning together.”

With a time of 39.36 seconds, Adrienne and Cristalline held the first place spot until Darragh Kenny shaved another second off of her winning time and Jessica Springsteen came in just 2/100s of a second faster later in the evening.

One cannot be disappointed with a third place finish against top notch competition in a CSI3* event, however, and we give mad props to Adrienne and McLain for their daredevilish attempt to get the job done. Just another reminder that your course is what you make it and a little bit of creativity can go a long way!

Go jumping.

Best of JN: Setting Realistic Equestrian Resolutions

It’s that time of year, the time that many of us dread- resolution time. It can be a challenge to set a resolution and stick to it, but we have complied a list of a few simple equestrian resolution suggestions to help you get 2018 started off right.

Arrive at the Barn Earlier/Stay Later

Most days I arrive to the barn thirty minutes early or more, which gives me ample time to give Joey or Flash an extensive grooming and once over. When we aren’t rushing through the motions, we are most likely to notice small things here and there and we are building on our bond with our horse.

Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle

Once my lesson is over, not having to rush out of the barn is not only beneficial for myself but also for my horses. Both of my boys get ample cool down time, paired with alternative therapies such as Back on Track Quick Wraps or time under their Accuhorsemat. Scheduling additional time at the barn also allows for more time for my next resolution suggestion….

Clean Your Tack Thoroughly After Each Ride

We are all guilty of tossing our bridle back on the rack after a quick ride now and then, but caring for your equipment as thoroughly as you care for your horse allows for a longer life span of your tack. Crack out a soft toothbrush and really clean in your saddles crevices. Inspect your leathers as you polish them up and avoid a potential stirrup catastrophe. This small change in your daily routine can make a huge impact in the longevity of your equipment and makes your barn look well kept.

Drink More Water

It is practically drilled into our heads that we need to be drinking water ALL THE TIME-which is true. Just like any workout, when we ride we are breaking down muscle fibers through exercise. In order for your body to rebuild and to reduce soreness the next day, you need to drink plenty of water. So grab a water bottle for each ride and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Improve Your Safety Perspective

Safety should be number one in everything we do, but especially when working with horses. Start with simple changes in your day to day like; walking fences in pastures and paddocks when you go out to fetch your horse, observing your equipment and the barn more thoroughly for hazards, and notifying someone each time you arrive at the barn alone and what time you expect to be done.

Read More Literature

King George Morris himself reads a new book each week and if he is constantly learning, so are we! Amazon has exceptional prices on books and many books have audiobooks available- perfect for education on the go. Currently I am reading Peter Leone’s Show Jumping Clinic and have found it to be super helpful with tons of exercises I plan on incorporating in my hacks!

Photo by Meagan DeLisle

Become an Expert

As a child, I was intrigued by breeds and coat color. As I grew, this passion blossomed into a thorough study of breed history and genetics. Now I am studying up on diets, supplements, and forages. This is not only good to know as a horsewoman who might be bringing her horses home in the spring, but it also is helping me to better understand my horses digestive needs and wants. Pick a topic related to the horse world that you may not be an expert on and become one!

Have SMART Goals

It is easy for us to set goals such as “I want to jump 3’ by the end of the year,” but it is also easy for us to get lost along the way. SMART goals help keep you on track and hold you accountable for your own success. The term SMART is an acronym that will help you clarify exactly what you expect out of your performance by a set due date. A SMART goal will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. Get with your trainer and discuss your goals, then dissect them to be SMART goals, and hold yourself accountable.

Pursue Politeness Like the Plague

This is probably one of the easiest resolutions on this list, but it is often overlooked. In the hustle and bustle of the industry, it is often easy to forget to use your manners. Polish up on your politeness. Remember to thank the grooms and in-gate staff that keep our days going smoothly. Follow up your sentences with please and thank you. It seems silly, but it can really pay off in the long run. People take note of respectful young riders and it can often be the one thing you do to open up doors.

No matter what resolution you decide on, be firm and fair when holding yourself accountable for them. It is easy to decide on a resolution, but the hard part comes with living by them. Make a promise to yourself that you will hold strong and start 2018 off right with a resolution to make you the best rider you can be!

 

Best of HN: I Survived George Morris … For the Most Part — Clinic Recap, Part II

While my clinic experience with the legendary George Morris hadn’t quite gone according to plan thus far, I woke up on day two bound and determined to redeem myself. That is, until I got out of bed that morning and felt like 60 years had been tacked on to my age. How I was going to finish out the remainder of the clinic I wasn’t sure, but I popped some Aleve and gave myself a motivational pep talk in the mirror while I tended to my stitches.

Dun Dun Dun … Stirrupless Day

Again our day began with the course build and to my surprise, George sought me out first thing to check on how I was feeling. We made a few jokes again at Wayne’s expense (poor fella wasn’t even at the clinic to defend himself, but I think he has accustomed to his role of token clueless horse show husband by now) and I instantly felt my spirits lift.

When our session started, George pulled me out in front of the group and used me as his example. He taught us how to properly fold our stirrups over for stirrupless work and then sent us out on the track to begin our torture. The majority of our work was done in the sitting trot and sitting canter, but that didn’t alleviate the burn. After about 30 minutes of consistent work, every muscle fiber in my body was screaming for a break but I forced myself to stay strong and persevere. South was feeling his Wheaties that morning and while I struggled to keep our composure at the canter, I felt confident in our performance.

“Meagan,” George boasted over the intercom. “I’ll take your horse.”

I watched as George swiftly mounted South sans stirrups and began demonstrating haunches in and out and how to teach your horse to accept your leg. South was NOT a happy camper with this exercise and quickly grew sassier with each step. As he tossed in a few fussy movements and exaggerated kicks, I prayed that my horse wouldn’t be the horse to unseat George — but in true George fashion he never lost his finesse, even without irons.

Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

After George was satisfied with South’s acceptance of the leg, it was time to mount back up and regain our stirrups for the jumping portion of the clinic — because, you know, we weren’t exhausted enough already.

Thankfully, I did not have a repeat of the day before despite the fact that I had quite a bit more horse on Saturday than I had on Friday. Our courses were similar to the day before, just moved around the field a bit and we focused on selecting distances and sticking to them.

Photo by Anne Barry Weber

“You are a desperate housewife,” George said to another rider in my class. “Don’t ride like a desperate housewife and take whatever stride you get.”

A Gentler George

At the end of our session, George went around our group and chatted with us a bit about our day. “Meagan, do you feel you were properly prepared for this clinic?” He asked giving me the typical George look. I shook my head, I knew I wasn’t. I knew I had rushed into this for the opportunity.

I expected the tongue lashing of a lifetime, but George surprised me and everyone else in the crowd. “Be careful entering clinics, people. Clinics are meant to be testing. You do not want to be unprepared for a clinic because that can lead to unsafe situations. Meagan, you will get there. You just need 50 more hours in the saddle and you will be there.”

Throughout the remainder of the day I became aware that George was treating me differently than some of the other riders in the clinic. I began to question why he was being so kind to me and I am still not sure that I will ever have that answer. As the day drew to a close, I hopped in line for the book signing with my well loved copy of Unrelenting.

George signing my copy of Unrelenting. Photo by Anne Barry Weber

“This book doesn’t have much technical riding information in it,” he said as he opened the book up to the title page. I promptly informed him that my copy of Hunter Seat Equitation was equally as well read and his smile widened. After a quick scribble in my book, he glanced up at me and said, “You are a nice girl, Meagan. You will get there. I know you will. You need more time. You need more work on your leg, but you will get there.”

I waited until I was out of his sight to open up my book and see what he wrote and immediately felt a smile spread across my face.

Photo by Meagan DeLisle

Day Three Brings New Tests

My body was near its breaking point by Sunday, as you can imagine. My fall coupled with the intensity of our riding each day had definitely taken its toll. I made a mental note to work on my endurance and physical fitness as homework and limped around the hotel room as I got ready that morning.

The Horse Gods decided it was time to play a new card that morning by dropping the temperature from a pleasant 80 degrees to a sharp and drizzly 62. I felt my stomach knot up recalling how strong South had been the day before and knowing that this temperature drop would not help. Our course build was accompanied by on again off again rain droplets, but it wasn’t the rain that had me nervous.

George had us set up a two verticals just two strides apart, two strides out from a bank much larger than anything I had ever ridden before.

Gulp.

So I did what every rider is never supposed to do — I got in my head. I told myself there was no way I could handle that bank and before I had even mounted up, I had already counted myself out for the day.

Our flat work left me weary, but I tried my best to work with South and keep him happy throughout the day. All of the horses were a bit fresh, despite three days of hard work. With every walk, trot, or canter step I knew we were one step closer to tackling that bank and my mind was screaming, “NO THANK YOU.” As we made our way over to the bank, I said a quick prayer that I would come out unscathed.

I purposely waited to be at the end of the pack and watched my fellow clinicians navigate the bank to the small verticals two strides away. It’s just a bounce, I told myself. Just like a gymnastic at home, only steeper and scarier and overall more impossible.

I like to believe the photographer cut me out of this photo due to the look of pure terror that was probably plastered on my face. Photo by Jennifer Kaiser.

Somehow, we made it up and down the little course a few times, although I will be the first to admit it wasn’t pretty. Finally, my mind conquered my body and on a trip down the bank South let out a few little hops and baby bucks and we parted ways. I decided to just chill there on the ground for a while as I caught my breath and came to the realization that now I was not only the girl who got stitches during a GHM clinic, but now I was the girl who came off twice. Perfect.

The photographer captioned this one as “Oh no not again,” which I felt was appropriate. Photo by Anne Barry Weber.

I think I will just lay here for a while and wallow in my own shame. Photo by Anne Barry Weber.

Tears. So Many Tears.

I rolled myself up off the ground and stood and George waved me his way. “Meagan. Meagan. Meagan,” he said into the microphone around his ear. “Meagan is a sweet girl. You were not ready. What were you thinking entering this clinic if you weren’t ready?” I was so ashamed, I didn’t know what to say. I thought I was ready, but it had become apparent over the weekend that I probably wasn’t. I was about 50% there. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I needed more finesse, more time to develop myself.

“Ride with me on the golf cart, Michael will ride your horse for you. That is a lot of horse for you. That is a lot of horse for me,” he said patting the empty seat on the golf cart beside him. “You just need 50 more hours, Meagan. Where is that husband of yours? Tell him I said he will pay for 50 more hours for you or you just get rid of him, okay?” And with that he smiled and turned the golf cart to the next obstacle.

Just chilling with George. Here he was telling spectators that we had made him rich by purchasing his books and using them as coffee table ornaments rather than actually reading them and learning from them. Notice the smile I am trying to suppress in the background. Photo by Jennifer Kaiser.

Of course, I won’t lie — I didn’t mind riding with George one bit. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I had the best seat in the house. I got a first hand look at what George was seeing and I think I learned so much more that way than I would have had I continued to struggle through the rest of the day. Of course, my heart was hurt because I felt I had let myself and George down, but in a way I knew this was for the best.

My group came to a close and I cleaned South up for the final time. After auditing the 3’6” group we broke for lunch and it was time for Cassie and I to head home. I thanked Brody and Jen Robertson for being such gracious hosts and made my way over to George. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just blubbered a big thank you and even apologized for not being fully prepared upon entering and watched as that closed mouth smile spread across his face.

“You will get there, Meagan. You will. You just have to keep working. I will be back next year and so will you.”

So here I am — alive, with a few bumps and bruises and stitches, but alive. I am a different person because of this opportunity and because of my idol. So many people prepared me for what to expect. Told me George was going to tear me apart and make me cry and you know what — they were right, but they were also wrong.

George tore me apart and built me back up. He broke down everything I thought I knew and he started the building blocks of a new me. And as I drove away from Altamonte and a weekend with my idol, I did cry. I cried because my dream came true, I cried because I was braver than I had ever been before, and I cried because my idol believed in me.

Now — to be the best me that I can be. See you next year, George.

Best of HN: I Survived George Morris… With Six Stitches!

As I drove to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon I was filled with excitement and nausea — my life-long dream of riding with George Morris was finally coming true. Part of me wanted to sing to the high heavens while the other part of me wanted to run away and hide for a few months. With only three weeks to prepare, I knew I was going in as a bit of a wild card (read about my preparation here and here). With a car packed full of tack and many outfit options, I left the comfort of my home barn in pursuit of a life-changing experience. I had no clue just how true that would be.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

After a nice flatwork session on Thursday afternoon, I arrived at Altamonte Show Stables early Friday morning to give my mount Point South the grooming of a lifetime. My coach Cassie Zimmerman and I beat the sun and all of the other riders to the barn that morning and I took those few peaceful moments to my advantage to just “zen out” and come to terms with the reality I would soon face. We had to meet George down in the jump field an hour prior to the scheduled start for my 3′ group for the course build. I was about to be face to face with my biggest idol. I won’t lie, I’m like border-line creepily in love with George Morris. I had dreamt of this day for so many years and knowing it was about to become real life was almost too much for my little heart to handle.

The other riders began drifting in to feed and groom their mounts. I cannot tell you how welcoming the atmosphere was at the clinic. Each rider was so friendly and kind. We chatted like we were old friends, all of us trying to tone down the level of our nerves before the day began. One rider, Morgan McAllister, and her mother took time out of their busy morning to teach me how to place studs in South’s shoes and make sure my tack was George-ready. I can never thank each of the riders, spectators, and Altamonte farm family for all that they did for me this weekend.

Finally, it was time. My heart was jumping up in my throat. We walked to the field and waited as I stared at the grass blades and dew that covered my once perfectly polished boots. “Are you ready?” asked Mackenzie Altheimer, the sweetest Junior rider that I have previously had the pleasure of interviewing for Jumper Nation last year, as a large white diesel pulled over on the side of the field. The passenger door swung open and out popped George.

George, the overseer of all things. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

He was all business. No time was wasted: we immediately launched into building courses. He was meticulous and prepared, he knew what he wanted and expected nothing but the best from us. We got to work hauling around heavy standards and brightly colored poles all around the field to complete his vision for the day. As we constructed a few of the fences, I felt my heart sink to my stomach — some of the questions were so technical that I wondered if I was going to be able to hold my own. But there was no time for self doubt; there was work to be done.

The first group was dismissed to tack up our horses with strict orders as to what time to arrive back down at the field. My fingers rattled as I tucked each piece of leather into its keeper. This was it. A quick polish of my boots after I mounted and Cassie sent me on my way with instructions to have fun and try hard — easier said than done!

Endurance Is Key

We hacked around the field allowing our mounts to adjust to their new surroundings as we waited for George’s instruction. Seeing him on the back of that golf cart in his 2010 Ariat Olympic jacket was too real for words: I was really on a horse in front of THE GEORGE MORRIS. That is when it hit me, my nerves were gone. I was in the saddle, my happy place, and despite the fact that I was riding in front of the one person I idolized more than anyone else, I was calm. He called for us to line up in front of him and we went around introducing ourselves. Then it was time for the work to begin.

I cannot stress to you how important being physically fit is for these clinics. Don’t get me wrong, I am not grossly out of shape but I was definitely not in shape enough for what was I was in store for. We launched straight into 45 minutes of flat work. Trotting, cantering, galloping, half seat, full seat — you name it, we were doing it. We even performed some shoulder in work to which I received a “Thereeee, Meagan’s got it!” from George. I hid the smile which desperately wanted to bloom across my face, keeping in mind the fact that Jen Robertson told me that George would eat me for lunch if my naturally smiley nature carried over into the clinic.

Photo by Cassie Zimmerman

We launched immediately into over fences work and despite being absolutely exhausted, I was excited. We started by trotting over a small log and then began working on a bank jump that was super fun to jump. South was in his element and was going around like a champ. We worked on my heel, which George would later tell me was “alright” (after he berated two of my fellow riders for their heels, an “alright” to me felt like a gold medal) and continued on. I even received a much sought-after “beautiful” from George after demonstrating a stop on a perfectly straight line out of a single fence. Our focus shifted from the bank to a triple combination with a sharp left turn to a small liverpool. While I by far wasn’t the best rider there, I was ecstatic feeling like I was holding my own amongst fellow riders with extraordinary horses and a lengthy resume of accomplishments. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

“I Can Get Back On!”

Note to self — NEVER EVER get too confident. As we rode around I felt great mentally, but physically I was fatigued. Our last line of the day was to be the rainbow triple combo to the liverpool again, bumped up just a hair but nothing too large. South’s approach to the triple was great. We got in a hair long to the first, but gathered back up by the second. I can’t tell you what happened at the third: all I can tell you was one minute I was on the horse and the next minute I wasn’t.

Anndddd down I go. Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

I lay on the ground in disarray. Did I seriously just fall off on the last line of the first day of the George Morris clinic? WHY ME? I went to lift myself up, only to be pushed back down by a crowd of people that had surrounded me, including George.

“Can she get back on or is she too bloody?” he asked.

Bloody? I’m not bloody, I thought. “I can get back on!” I said as the world stopped turning.

Amongst that sea of bodies somewhere is a dazed Meagan….photo by Jennifer Kaiser

“No. Nope. She cannot get back on, she needs stitches,” said a new voice behind me.

STITCHES? I was beyond confused. I had simply fallen off, how the heck did I need stitches? A wad of napkins was placed against my chin and two people helped me stand. Jen relayed directions to the nearest Urgent Care to Cassie as I stared down at my new Le Fash show shirt that was now covered in blood. I couldn’t piece together what had happened, nothing hurt other than the general sore feeling you have after hitting the ground. I didn’t have a headache and I wasn’t dizzy so I knew I didn’t have a concussion. I felt completely fine, but I could tell by the horrified look on the faces of the spectators faces that I wasn’t just fine.

George grabbed my shoulder, “You go get your stitches and come back to ride tomorrow, okay?”

Blood all over my new shirt…..Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

After a quick trip to the Urgent Care and six perfectly placed stitches later, I was able to watch the video of my fall and realized just how scary it was. I came unseated at the last fence and fell underneath South. His back hoof hit my helmet and slid down, the stud catching just below my chin on my jawline which resulted in a tear larger than a quarter. Two inches higher, it would have been my eye; two inches lower, my throat. It was a fall that I will never forget.

My George Morris Scar

In true Meagan fashion, I am no quitter. After a quick stop to the tack shop to pick up a new helmet and a change of clothing so I didn’t look like an extra on a horror flick, we made our way back to the clinic to audit the remainder of the day. Even just auditing a George Morris clinic is such an enlightening experience and I soaked up everything I could like a sponge, in between changing out tissues to wipe off the blood that would occasionally seep through my band-aid.

Back at the clinic to audit — hospital band, bleeding stitches and all! Photo by Anne Barry Weber

At lunch, George made his way to me to have a look at my chin. “How is it?” he asked as I proudly showed off my six perfect black sutures.

“It’s fine. Clear to ride tomorrow!” I boasted which brought out a smile on his face.

“And your husband, what did he say?” George questioned.

I grinned. While at the Urgent Care I made two calls, one to my mom who promptly freaked out and told me there was no way I could ride the remainder of the weekend (thankfully Cassie was able to talk her down) and one to Wayne. I thoroughly expected Wayne to declare that we were selling both of my horses and that this was the day I would retire from jumping but instead he simply asked, “Will it leave a scar?” When I told him the doctor said if it did, it would be minimal, he responded with, “You should let it scar. It’s not just any scar, its your George Morris scar!”

George busted out laughing when I shared that story with him and said, “You should’ve told him I hit you!” We joked and chatted a bit and then he didn’t even object when I asked for a photo with him to document the origin of my George Morris scar. With his arm around me, he gave me a quick squeeze. “You are a nice girl, Meagan. A sweet girl.”

Displaying my George Morris stitches! Photo by Cassie Zimmerman

Those words would never, ever leave my mind.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Best of HN: The Horse Haircut That Destroyed the Internet

Horse owners can be a bit particular when it comes to the grooming care of their horses. Hunter-jumpers are constantly trying to achieve the perfect pulled look while many breed competitors or western horses aspire to have long, luscious locks.

Bangs, however, have never been a popular fashion statement in the horse world. Take a gander at this photo that has been making its way around the internet showing off a somewhat tragic, albeit kind-hearted haircut of rescue horse Sammy.

These notes are funny until you are the one the notes are directed towards … oh dear. Photo by Matt Spencer.

Of course, as the story unfolds it came out that the trim was made with the best intentions. A kind volunteer felt that Sammy’s forelock was bothering him and thought he would help out and make him more comfortable. I can’t shame a Dad that has the best interest of the horse at heart, so props to you, Dad — just place the scissors down next time and everyone will be happy!

And where there is one, there are bound to be more. Take a look at these reader-submitted photos of a handful of horrible haircuts that might make your skin crawl …

Photo by Jennifer Abel-Bogash

“I honestly didn’t think he would look like Moe from the Three Stooges,” said Jennifer. While we see the resemblance, this little cutie definitely ranks as cuter than his human doppelgänger in our minds!

Photo submitted by Lauren Kasden

They say a good set of bangs will really accentuate the face … I’m not sure that applies to horses.

Photo provided by Olivia Coolidge

This one … well, this one is kind of cute in an OMG NO kind of way. I think the longer mane definitely balances out the bluntness of the bangs … right? “This horse is very old and her forelock gets in her eyes, which causes her to get eye infections,” said Olivia Coolidge. “My sister asked if she could cut it for my Grandma, and she did this!”

Photo submitted by Julia Kranz

A 10-year-old child committed the above forelock crime to Julia’s horse. Julia doesn’t mind: “My love is blind for this horse. Hair grows back. Heart horses come only once possibly twice in a lifetime.”

Photo by Chloe Ras

Chloe snapped this photo of her friend’s horse. “I think his bangs are becoming all the rage in Europe,” she said. And we agree! Lots of famous show jumping stallions in Europe are sporting the blunt bang. Will this trend catch on here in the States?

While this may not be the desired look for everyone, we think these horses and ponies shine through their questionable haircuts. Has a horse you know been a victim of a forelock crime? Share you photos in the comments!

‘I Don’t Need A Helmet’ … Until I Did

Megan and Joey.

This post originally appeared on EN’s sister site, Horse Nation.

This past weekend I had one of those “near death experiences” you read about online. A pivotal moment in my time as an equestrian that changed my life forever. The more days that pass by from the incident, the scarier the reality of it all gets.

Had I not had my helmet on, I probably wouldn’t be typing this today.

I grew up a backyard equestrian, so when I transitioned to jumping I knew helmets were most definitely important. There is a undeniable risk factor involved with pointing a horse at a stick and saying, “Hey, can you please jump this?” I didn’t, however, understand why I needed one on flat days or trail rides.

But, as it usually goes, barn rules overthrew my passive feelings towards helmets and I happily donned one for each ride. It wasn’t a conscious decision; it was just a thing I had to do. If I wanted to ride my horse I had to put the helmet on, so I did. Of all of my equipment, my helmet was definitely my most under-appreciated. I drooled over my saddle and my new stirrup irons. Heck, even my custom whip got more attention than the brain protection I wore each day.

How quickly that can change.

A friend and I went on a post-flat day trail ride through the woods on our barn’s property. Joey had earned a relaxing ride and I had no hesitation about taking him on the trails, which he had seen multiple times before. Always brave, Joey led the way with no arguments. As we neared our last leg of the trail, we had to go down a decline — nothing too steep and nothing new to either of our horses. Joey, the natural leader, walked on without a care in the world.

Something (and we are still unsure as to what it was) suddenly became a concern to Joey, and he shot his head up and immediately began backing up rapidly. I patted his neck, turned him in a circle, and talked to him softly and kindly. When he came back to me, we tried to go forward again but received the same reaction.

No big deal. My friend urged her horse forward to be the leader and give Joey a boost of confidence to make his way down the trail. At first, this appeased my big brown chicken, and he followed along, alert but not spooked. We made it past the original scary spot and all was well when the imaginary monster suddenly reared its ugly head again.

Like before, Joey began backing up anxiously, but unlike before I no longer had my power steering … I tried to calm him down and get him to turn around, but the only direction he was heading was backwards and as fast as he possibly could. I gave him a little smack on the butt in an attempt to switch the gears from reverse, but he had shut down mentally and was spiraling into a dangerous place.

He began backing into trees and brush, which only elevated his fear. I was at a loss. My normally brave and bold horse was reacting in a way he had never done before, and I wasn’t sure what my next step was. He was going so fast that I wasn’t sure I could safely dismount and guide him out of the woods by hand, but when I looked back and saw a deep rocky ravine quickly approaching, I knew something had to happen.

I made a few last ditch efforts to steer him out of the woods and back to the trail but he was in full on flight mode at this point, and I knew my only option was to bail.

I have never been one to enjoy a purposeful emergency dismount. I believe the safest place is on top of the horse and if you are choosing to meet the ground, you better be prepared for the consequences. In this instance, I knew it was safer for me to tumble down that ravine on my own rather than atop my horse. So I bailed.

I know that not everyone believes in a greater being, but I have no doubts that there was someone watching over me. The sequence of events that followed could have played out a variety of ways — with nearly all of them ending with me or Joey on our way to emergency care.

When I dove off of Joey, I held onto the reins in an attempt to keep him from flipping over backwards down the drop. This effort caused Joey to turn so he was facing the ravine, and he slid down it face first. Letting go of the reins, I tumbled halfway down the ravine, only to be caught by a nasty thorn bush. The force of my sudden stop resulted in the back of my helmet smacking a large rock. I looked up as Joey fell to his knees at the bottom. He immediately hopped back to his feet and trotted up the other side.

Filled with adrenaline, I pulled the giant thorns from my body (wearing a tank top while riding sounds like such a good idea until you’re plucking Godzilla-sized thorns from your skin) and made my way back up the incline to meet Joey at the top and keep him from trotting off in fear.

We were both scraped up, but we walked away. Neither of us took a lame step. Neither of us had serious injuries. And my head was still in one piece.

As we walked back to the barn I had yet to process what exactly happened, but my friend was still in shock having seen all of it unfold. It hit me right as I was untacking Joey — we should have been seriously hurt and we weren’t. I cooled Joey down, tended to his minor wounds, tossed him in a small paddock with a friend with some hay and fresh water, and sat down on my tack box, my mind a mess. I slid my helmet off and suddenly remembered hitting my head, so I turned the helmet around in my hands.

There was only a small rub on the back where the rock met my helmet. Knowing the dangers of riding in a helmet with a fall, I pulled out my phone and filled out an accident report on the Charles Owen website so I could send it back in for research purposes and order a new one. The accident report asked for a description of the event. As I pieced everything together, I quickly realized what would have happened had I not had my helmet on that day.

I used to say that I didn’t need my helmet on a casual trail ride. I used to say that I knew my horse and that he never did anything silly.

And had I not had my helmet on that day, everything in my life could have changed from present tense to past tense.

Mind your melon, folks. Wear that helmet and wear it proud. I firmly believe that had I not had my helmet on when my head met that rock that this story would have had a whole different ending. Every single decision has its consequences. Which consequences do you want to live with?

Best of HN: If Horse Shopping Were Like ‘The Bachelorette’

In the world of game shows, you can’t go a day without hearing about the latest drama on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Seriously, most of my friends are borderline addicted to this show and its many, many twists and turns. While I don’t personally think it’s practical to meet, fall in love, and get engaged to a random person in six weeks, who am I to judge?

The more I thought about the concept of the show and how it just doesn’t apply to the ever-practical equestrian community, I couldn’t help but wonder what the show would be like if done in a different theme… you know, one with horses instead of guys or gals.

Imagine a world where you can “speed date” a plethora of horses and make your pick of the crop… let’s call it The Equestrian.

Toss me in a room of 25 eligible event horses of all breeds — Thoroughbred, KWPN, Selle Francais — suddenly I understand how those girls are so happy all the time.

But now there is work to be done. I have to weed through all of these potential partners and find the good…

…the bad…

…and the most likely sedated….

On The Bachelorette they go on all these dates and do all these group activities so that the eligible lady can sort through all the candidates and find her one true match. I imagine on The Equestrian that a true test of character would be to require all of the horses to stand tied for great lengths of time and unleash a herd of small pony children running down the barn aisle … the least likely matches would weed themselves out, but the strong will remain.

In every group you have your stereotypes: I see the typical jock as the OTTB who has transitioned into his new career and is always a liiiiiittle bit too eager to go on course looking something like this guy:

Then you have your hunk who knows he is a hunk but you can’t help but like him anyway. It’s like my old trainer always says, though, pretty is as pretty does.

And of course you can’t forget the quiet, sweet guy in the corner… who will most likely be afraid of everything and all sudden movements but darnit he is just so cute…

It all boils down to you picking the one you feel you mesh the best with, though, so you start eliminating them one by one…

Ummm, probably because you tried to kick me… like seven times… and you tore off your very expensive blanket like the first day that we were there and I have NO time for that nonsense…

…Only to find yourself later blindsided by a lameness issue from the horse you thought you had the best connection with.

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In the end, you toss the golden carrot to the horse of your dreams and ride off into the sunset.

‘Cause girl, you got some ribbons to win and you ain’t playing no games.

Go Riding.

The Horse Show Husband Takes On Rolex

My husband Wayne and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary, a significant mile marker in our journey together. In honor of this momentous occasion, we decided to take a trip and enjoy some quality “us time” — away from work, away from the dogs, and most of all … away from the time-consuming, checkbook-leeching horse.

Luckily for Wayne, I am always game for an adventure. Unluckily for Wayne, Rolex fell just two weeks after our anniversary and somehow our weekend getaway turned into a horse-filled escapade with me practically running through vendor row while he cried into his empty wallet.

Of course, I couldn’t simply stand by and let the little golden nuggets of the Horse Show Husbands first ever Rolex slip by without recording these precious memories. So I did what any good horse obsessed wife would do- I created Wayne his own hashtag (#horseshowhusbandtakesonrolex) and documented each hilarious quip, quote, and observation for all of social media to see.

So enjoy, at my wonderful, patient, and loving husbands expense, fellow horse lovers. I present to you, the Horse Show Husband’s first ever trip to Rolex.

“Are you going to let me gamble on these horses?” Wayne asked, followed by my realization that Wayne had NO clue what he was in for this weekend.

“Oh my gosh: this show shirt is only $70!” I said with utter glee.
“WOW, WHAT A DEAL,” he replied, rich with sarcasm.

Upon observing dressage for the first time: “So I can walk a horse in a circle and have thousands of people cheer for me? Jumping a fence is scary, I can do walking in a circle.”

“Is that old guy going to be here?” He was referring to George Morris… I kept all of my comments aside and took it as a bonus that Wayne remembered one of my equestrian idols.

“Hopefully we won’t have to do as much walking today,” he said as we left the hotel on cross country day.

“Thank God these people drink,” he said as we gulped down a mimosa at the Eventing Nation tailgate.

Mimosas made the 8 miles we walked that day a little less tasking…..Photo by Meagan DeLisle

“Soooo…” he said while watching Michael Jung conquer the cross country course, “when do you start doing this again?”

“I don’t, I just do show jumping. I am not gutsy enough for this.”

“Thank God, this is terrifying and I was coming up with thousands of ways to tell you that you couldn’t do this,” he said with a look of terror on his face.

When I asked Wayne what has been his favorite part of Rolex so far, he replied “Well… I watched a horse jump over sticks. That was fun. Watched a horse walk in a fancy circle. That was fun. Got a $9 beer. That was fun.”

At the conclusion of stadium, Wayne was booking it back to the car faster than my little legs could handle. When I asked him to slow down, he provided me with these words of wisdom: “You just lived through three days of heaven, you can deal with ten minutes of hell.”

Wayne booking it to “beat the crowds,” but really I knew he was horsed out for the weekend. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

All in all, Wayne was an absolute trooper and we actually had a blast. He didn’t flinch when the girls at the SmartPak booth knew who he was when it came up in conversation that I was the one who wrote about horse show husbands for Horse Nation. He willingly turned his head as I bought plenty of goodies to bring home for Joey. And he didn’t complain, not ONE time, about the extreme weather changes and the hurry-up-and-wait atmosphere.

He even admitted at the end of the trip that he enjoyed the experience and was glad we decided to go, but followed that up with YOU can come back next year — not WE can come back last year, so I guess he is all Rolexed out for one lifetime. It was just another reminder that we as equestrians truly rely on the support of our loved ones as we pursue our dreams and I am one of the lucky ones.

Go riding and go horse show husbands.

Best of HN: All Kinds of Kinds: Alternate Careers in the Horse Industry

There’s much more to the equestrian industry than the conventional careers of riding instructor, trainer or breeder. Meagan DeLisle speaks with four industry pros in alternative career paths to learn more!

Many equestrians dream of quitting their day job and getting to spend their days surrounded by all things equine. For many of us, however, that isn’t in the cards: the costs of running your own training, breeding, or consignment business are high, and startup can be difficult. We chatted with four industry experts who have careers or exciting side jobs in the equestrian industry that don’t fall into “typical” equestrian categories to find out more about their “alternate horse careers”.

Meet our professionals:

Chelsea Smith: Owner of Smith Equine Media LLC, a provider of website design, social media administration, and marketing services to a string of high end clientele such as Double Dan Horsemanship, Meghan O’Donoghue Eventing, Indiana Eventing Association and Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association.

Chelsea and Photo credits: Makenzie Lynn Photography

Chelsea Smith. Photo by Makenzie Lynn Photography

John McQueen: Owner of Queenie Productions LLC, a premiere horse show management company that provides a variety of show experiences such as the Lake St. Louis Winter Festival, Tulsa Rendezvous Horse Shows, Greater Oklahoma Go Shows, and the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show. John is also a member of the organizing committee for this year’s FEI World Cup in Omaha.

John and his confirmation hunter, Frank the Tank. Photo by

John and his conformation hunter, Frank the Tank. Photo by Windcrest Photography

Eric Sampson: Traveling horse show announcer, announcing at some very well-known shows in the United States including Three Lakes, Pine Top Intermediate and Advanced, Texas Rose Horse Park Horse Trials, MSEDA, Penny Oaks and Indiana Eventing Association Horse Trials.

Eric Sampson and Tardis, photo by Lee Anne Zobbe

Eric Sampson and Tardis, photo by Lee Anne Zobbe

Dr. Julia Gawley: Owner of Trail Ridge Veterinary Services, LLC. Dr. Gawley has been practicing veterinary medicine for 12 years, but in 2012 she tailored her clinic to specialize in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy after seeing the benefits of alternative therapies firsthand. Her services are available for pets of all kinds. Dr. Gawley enjoys horseback riding and owns a farm with two dogs, five cats and two horses.

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Doctor Julia Gawley. Photo by Kevin D. Gawley

Professional roundtable

What led you to start your own business?

  • Chelsea: After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Equine Science and management and completing my MBA while working for equine-related offices like the United States Equestrian Federation, United States Dressage Federation, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners, I knew I wanted more. I wanted to directly connect with equestrians, and, more specifically, to enable them to spend more time doing what they love to do — ride!
  • John: An opportunity presented itself and my wife had been in corporate America for 20-plus years. I had been on the road as a judge and trainer and this was an opportunity for she and I to work together and we took it!
  • Eric: Depending on how I count, the announcing business is either the third or fourth business I’ve started. I’ve been a freelancer in several very different fields over the years, everything from working as a sound technician (OK, fine, I was a roadie) to being a freelance wildlife photographer. I’ve just always been drawn to work where my interests lead me.
  • Dr. Gawley: I’ve been a veterinarian for twelve years. When I became certified in spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic), I realized its unique approach to overall health. I wanted to be able to reach out to horse and dog owners and felt the best way to promote this relatively new modality was through my own business.

How long have you been following this career path?

  • Chelsea: I officially started my own business, Smith Equine Media, LLC on April 4, 2016 (my 26th birthday!) and went full-time on September 1, 2016.
  • John: I have been managing horse shows for probably the last 10 or 12 years but doing it on a very small scale. When we got to start Queenie Productions we increased our time managing horse shows greatly.
  • Eric: Announcing is a side job for me, a really fun way to work in the horse industry that doesn’t depend on my riding ability or horsemanship… thank goodness! That wouldn’t get me far. But I’ve been doing this for something like 11 years.
  • Dr. Gawley: I have been practicing spinal manipulative therapy for five years now. I have the advantage of years of experience with conventional veterinary medicine, knowing what it can and cannot offer. Being able to combine that knowledge and experience with chiropractic allows me to guide my clients toward the best approach for their pet’s individual health care.

What was the “a-ha” moment for you when you decided to give your own business a shot?

  • Chelsea: Let me be completely honest. I had NO INTENTION of EVER starting my own business. After a few months of being the webmaster for one of my clients I found myself overwhelmed by both website work and sponsorship management. After several months of trying to balance my own business with having a small farm, two OTTBs competing in eventing, three dogs, and a husband on top of a full-time office job, I knew something HAD to give, and fast! So I went full time with my business.
  • John: Transitioning into horse show management didn’t really take me off the road, it actually put me on the road a bit more but it gave my wife an opportunity to be a part of the company and for us to spend some time together! That was the best part!
  • Eric: After a few years of just muddling along, doing mostly dressage shows, I got to work with the wonderful Cyndi Kurth, who is a full-time horse show announcer. With Cyndi I learned that the job is so much more than announcing names, scores, horses, owners and breeding. It’s about communicating useful information to riders, instructors and spectators. I learned that I could help a show run smoothly and on time, as well as help deal with the inevitable problems that come up. That’s when I knew it was a job for me, when I felt marginally useful.
  • Dr. Gawley: I knew I could best promote and apply this type of treatment if I had control over my own schedule, to focus on providing spinal manipulative therapy. I also wanted other veterinarians to be able to refer patients to me, and that works best with me running it as my own business.

What was the most difficult part of stepping into this new career path for you?

  • Chelsea: Starting your own business is financially terrifying. I went from an office job with a salary and benefits to nothing. From day one I knew had to hustle — sink or swim. All I knew was that I wanted it badly and that I did NOT want to find myself back in an office working for the proverbial “man.”
  • John: Having been involved in all aspects of the horse show industry, I had a pretty clear ideas of what needed to happen and what didn’t need to happen. Keeping the health benefits of the horse and rider foremost and going forward. I very much think we are a service industry and sometimes I think that is forgotten. I never felt like this was a new career for me. I just felt like I was changing my job title.
  • Eric: Ignorance being bliss, I didn’t find any of it very difficult! Until I started to grasp what the job is really about. I’m just really grateful to the shows that got me started, and were very patient and encouraging while I sorted things out.
  • Dr. Gawley: Not knowing how it would be received by pet owners and colleagues. However, many owners and veterinarians go to the chiropractor themselves, and know how good it makes them feel. It wasn’t hard for them to extrapolate that to their pets and patients. And when clients and fellow veterinarians see the amazing results after adjustments, there’s no denying the benefits.

What would be your biggest piece of advice to those who may want to venture into an “alternative” career in the equine industry?

  • Chelsea: Know your limits, set business hours, save everything, and you CAN say no!
  • John: The biggest piece of advice is don’t be late, don’t expect to leave, and plan on working harder than you have ever worked in your life. If you are not willing to do all of those things, go get another job.
  • Eric: My advice applies to any job or career: Show up. On time. Ready to work. Ask appropriate questions. LISTEN to the answers. Work to get better. See a problem that you’re comfortable fixing? Fix it. Be as self-sufficient as possible, without exactly going rogue. Volunteer. Get a sense of how a show flows. There are a dozen jobs — paid and volunteer — that you likely have never heard of; ask about those.
  • Dr. Gawley: Follow your heart and believe in yourself. If it’s something you as a horse person see a need for, other horse people will likely see it too. Be willing to commit and work really, really hard. Many people work two jobs while they are getting their dream career going. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. I pursued an intense functional neurology and neuroanatomy post-doctorate training course, while working full time, in order to become certified in spinal manipulative therapy.

What do you do to set yourself apart in the industry from your competition?

  • Chelsea: My goal is to make websites, social media administration, and sponsorship management EASY for my clients. I love to remind them there is no need to recreate the wheel. Let’s focus on what needs to be done and move on.
  • John: What I try very hard to do, and once again it goes back to customer relations, I spent 40+ years at the in-gate. That hasn’t changed a lot. I am out in the field, I know if you have a bad day or a good day, I am there to support you and cheer you on. The entire staff has been instructed to be the same way. We are hands on.
  • Eric: Well, I try my best to follow the advice I’ve outlined above! To be honest, I really don’t see the other announcers I work with as my competitors. They have all been very kind, generous with their advice and assistance, and fun to work with.
  • Dr. Gawley: I am one of only a few veterinarians certified in spinal manipulative therapy in the area. Also, I do small animal medicine, surgery and chiropractic, but my horse work is exclusively chiropractic. That allows other veterinarians to refer horse cases to me for chiropractic, without feeling like I will take their clients. I strongly recommend owners seek a veterinarian certified in spinal manipulative therapy to provide this care.

What has been your proudest moment since starting your own business?

  • Chelsea: Launching the Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association is, so far, my proudest moment. Since the website went live in January 2016, we have seen a significant increase in engagement and membership. It has truly been incredibly rewarding and humbling to work with the MSEDA.
  • John: I guess the proudest moment is when one of the dads stopped me and asked me if I was John McQueen. And I said, “Well that depends are you happy or are you mad?” Every Thursday during the winter we do Free Soup Thursday, it’s my way of giving back to people who are coming to my horse shows. And he said, “I just want to thank you. I’ve never had a horse show manager offer me a saltine cracker, but you gave me a bowl of soup and saltines to go with it!” That was my key that I was right with the goal of customer service because they were hunting me down to thank me.
  • Eric: Any time I can fix something that was not previously working, and it makes the show just a little better, or life a little easier for the organizer, that’s a win. When I can help a competitor or volunteer smile, that’s always a big thing for me. Overall, though, I think I am proudest that the organizers I work for trust me, trust that once I step on to the show grounds I am there to work and happy to take on almost anything they need.
  • Dr. Gawley: My proudest moment is always when my patients feel, move and behave better as a result of being adjusted. When I can help these athletes maintain peak performance, or when I can help resolve a roadblock that was pain based, there is nothing more gratifying! Some of my best outcomes include a mare who was extremely head shy, improved tremendously after I adjusted her neck; a horse who started bucking when going into the canter, stopped after his pelvic misalignment was resolved; and a dressage horse who didn’t want to flex to the right, improved after releasing the shoulder.

It is never too late to pursue your own dream, so take these helpful tips, trips, and potential career paths in mind and forge ahead! There are many ways to immerse yourself in the industry, so take your passion and make it a career. And most of all — never give up! Just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is not worth it.

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Best of JN: What it Means to be Adult Ammy Strong

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Photo by Sassy Strides Photography.

Sarah Mahoney caught the riding bug at the age of seven after attending a week long ‘pony-camp.’ At the end of the week, she found herself crying her eyes out because camp had concluded and she wouldn’t be seeing the horses again. After seeing how much riding meant to her, her parents made arrangements with one of the trainers at the camp to allow her to come out and work at the barn in order for her to learn as much about horses as possible–and that’s where it all began.

Ten years later, she was still riding with that trainer and had even purchased her first pony and made it through the pony hunter ring on him. As it often happens, however, adulthood snuck up on Sarah. At the age of 17 she sold her ponies as she prepared to attend college in North Carolina. She still finds herself teary-eyed thinking about those ponies loading up on a trailer knowing they would never return. Sarah tried her hardest to make time for horses in her life and even rode a handful of times while in college, but her time playing NCAA Division II volleyball made it difficult to have horses in her life.

After college, Sarah coached a variety of high school and club volleyball teams, but volleyball had taken its toll on her physically. After moving from Florida to Georgia to be with her now husband, she decided to take some time away from the court only to find herself without a hobby to consume her time. On a whim, she scheduled a riding lesson at a local hunter/jumper barn.

Sarah recalls telling her husband after the lesson, “I can’t believe I hadn’t gotten in the saddle in 10 years. I forgot how much I loved the sport, the horses, and the barn atmosphere.” That lesson was the hook, line and sinker. Sarah found herself 100% submerged back into the equestrian lifestyle.

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Photo by Sassy Strides Photography.

While riding in Georgia, Sarah made many friends, several of whom were also Adult Amateurs. They bonded over many of the same struggles as devoted but busy horse lovers, in particular balancing their passion with  ‘real world’ responsibilities. At the time Sarah was driving 45 minutes to the barn 2-3 times a week to ride her lease horse at the time. Sarah and her teammates joked about making t-shirts with Adult Ammy Strong on them because of all of their struggles making their dream a reality, but nothing really came from it.

That is, until she and her husband relocated to Florida and she found herself looking for a new job and a new barn. Of course, the job search had to come first because without a job how was she going to pay for equestrian expenses? Her mind flashed back to the motto ‘Adult Ammy Strong’ and she thought to herself that she couldn’t be the only Adult Amateur struggling with balancing their real life with their passion for the equestrian world. Adult Ammy Strong was officially born.

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Mahoney.

Sarah credits the success of Adult Ammy Strong to the fact that it’s a vast demographic of the sport, and yet deeply underrepresented. Juniors are often highlighted for the Equitation and Junior Hunter Finals and professionals will find the limelight when they score big prize money. She knew that AA’s work extremely hard (in more ways than one) to afford their time in the saddle and felt it was important that the community be able to connect to support and celebrate each other.

With the start of a new year, Sarah has plenty of goals in mind–both for herself and Adult Ammy Strong. She has intentions of showing her 2010 Thoroughbred gelding Wow Factor in the Thoroughbred Hunters and wants to dabble in the National Hunter Derbies. Their partnership is still fairly new, as she has only had him for about a year and they have experienced some rough patches along the way. He may not be the easiest of rides, but he makes her a stronger rider. The more they go through, the more excited she grows about their future.

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Mahoney.

As for Adult Ammy Strong, Sarah wants to grow the audience base and continue to share stories that connect, inspire, and support the Adult Amateur community. She has selected the 2017 Adult Ammy Strong ambassador squad and is very eager to see what they will bring to the table this year. They come from all over the country and represent Hunters and Jumpers of all levels of experience, attending everything from local shows to WEF, HITS, and more. She can’t wait to see how they will connect with other Adult Amatuer riders and embody what it really means to be Adult Ammy Strong.

Check out Sarah and all of the Adult Ammy Strong Ambassadors and their stories at www.adultammystrong.com, and you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Jumper Nation offers a dynamic array of engaging content custom curated for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. In addition to aggregated horse show news and results, we feature rider profiles, training tips, barn tours, style guides and much, much more, all complimented by a vibrant social media presence. Check us out today! 

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Best of HN: 10 Scary Things I Have Said To My Horse Show Husband

I write a lot ABOUT the infamous “horse show husband,” but the world rarely gets his perspective. Naturally silent, Wayne happily plods along and nods his head as I blabber on endlessly about all things horses for hours on end. I finally decided it was time for the world to hear (or read, rather) his voice and to place some shame on me for once. So I handed him a notebook and pen and asked him to write down the ten scariest things I have ever said to him and rank them in order from kind of scary to downright terrifying — and he has spoken!

10. “Babe, look at this cute photo I took of Joey at the barn.”

Wayne’s thoughts, “They always look the same and I feel like I am in some kind of trap.”

But....I swear each photo of him gets cuter and cuter! Photo by Meagan DeLisle

But….I swear each photo of him gets cuter and cuter! Photo by Meagan DeLisle

9. “Wayne, can we make a quick trip to the barn today?”

Wayne’s thoughts, “The barn is an hour away. There is no such thing as a ‘quick trip’ to the barn and we are going to drive up there, brush Joey, feed him a treat, take some photos, and drive home. Almost a whole day… gone.”

8. “Hey, the barn offered me a job today.”

Wayne’s thoughts, “Your job is salary, has great benefits, and pays for all of the horse expenses. How the heck are we supposed to make that work?”

7. “Do you think we can set aside some extra money for the horse show next month? I miscalculated.”

Wayne’s thoughts, “Of course you did.”

You can tell by Wayne's face in this horse show selfie that he is absolutely THRILLED about me refusing to tell him where the Show Office is so he won't preemptively look at the bill....Photo by Wayne DeLisle

You can tell by Wayne’s face in this horse show selfie that he is absolutely THRILLED about me refusing to tell him where the Show Office is so he won’t preemptively look at the bill….Photo by Wayne DeLisle

6. “I hate being so far away from Joey, what are the odds of us building a barn on the farm one day?”

Wayne’s thoughts, “You mean the farm that makes us money because we can plant soybeans on it?”

5. “If we did bring him home, he would need a friend. They are herd animals, ya know!”

Wayne’s thoughts, “Sounds like an excuse to get a 2nd horse to me…

4. “Joey needs a blanket, he’s cold. Joey needs his feet done, his toes look awful long. Joey needs more supplements. Joey needs an ‘ovaltine’ pad for his back” (when Wayne was writing these he LEGIT wrote ovaltine instead of Ogivly. I. Am. Dying.).

Wayne’s thoughts, “How did these things survive back when the Indians were the only ones around?”

....he asks all of these things as he carried our beloved late ShihPoo Yoshi around at the horse show so his feet wouldn't get dirty. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

….he asked all of these things as he carried our beloved late ShihPoo Yoshi around at the horse show so his feet wouldn’t get dirty. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

3. “How long do you think until we can buy another horse?”

Wayne’s thoughts, “Your @$$ can only be in one saddle at a time, what is the point of more than one horse?”

2. “Ohhhhh, my new breeches came in the mail today!”

Wayne’s thoughts, “Uhhhh… what new breeches? And what are breeches?… Does she mean britches?”

1. But the worst is when she doesn’t even say anything. The worst of all is when she is looking at her phone and all I hear is ‘clip clop clip clop’ in the background because I know that is going to be followed with, “Ohhhh Wayne look at this horse Amy has for sale!”

Poor poor Wayne never grew up around horses so he didn’t know what he was getting into when he started dating me. But he has taken it like a champ and plays along with me no matter how annoying I can be. And to prove that I am not all that God-awful to be around, he left this little dandy of a note at the bottom of his list of scary things the horse wife says.

“Regardless of all the crazy things you do and say about everything horse related, I love you more than you will ever know. And while it gives me a headache to see money fly into the stall door of that horse with the perpetually dumb look on his face, I am willing to do anything to make you smile…except for cleaning his sheath. I agreed to that before you told me what that was.”

Go horse show husbands.

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A Horse of a Different Color: Repeat the Beat

"A Horse of a Different Color" features horses and ponies that have been successful in the sport of eventing while representing a unique breed. Do you have a horse that you think would be a great feature subject? If so, email [email protected]

Ashley Jones and Pete at FENCE Horse Trials. Photo by Liz Crawley Photography. Ashley Jones and Pete at FENCE Horse Trials. Photo by Liz Crawley Photography.

When Lisa Murray acquired Repeat the Beat, a double-registered Tennessee Walking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse, from a breeder in Michigan, she was at a loss about what to do with the hot-headed 2-year-old gelding. But as often happens, life rolled out a very unique plan for the pair, and “Pete” found his calling in a place you don’t find many Tennessee Walking Horses: the eventing and hunter/jumper arenas.

Now, at the ripe age of 17, Pete has broken down breed barriers and changed lives along the way — so much so that he is receiving one of the equestrian industry’s greatest honors. Pete, along with select other horses, will be celebrated at Breyerfest 2017 at the Kentucky Horse Park in July and will line the shelves of tack stores as a Breyer model.

Pete has broken the mold associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse, and Lisa aims to continue doing what makes him happy as long as his heart desires: jump.

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Lisa Murray and Pete. Photo by Lauren Duffy.

Different from Day One

Lisa grew up riding in field trials and competing in the show horse industry and has always loved the Tennessee Walking Horse. She heard about Pete through mutual friends, Dr. Harv and Brenda Carlon who bred him (by Pushers Repeat out of My Sophisticated Lady) with the intentions of having a winner in the breed show performance classes. However, the Carlons’ trainer informed them that the horse just wasn’t cut out it.

Pete’s final show ring performance was at the Spotted Saddle Horse World Championships late in the fall where he was crowned Two-Year-Old World Champion. Weeks later, he was on his way to a new life, leased to Lisa Murray and her daughter Jeren, who had plans to trail ride him.

Pete quickly gained the nickname of “Unpredictable Pete” at Lisa’s home. He hated being alone on the trail and was extremely tense. Though he trotted when at liberty, he paced when under saddle.

While some friends from Germany were visiting Lisa they decided to take a trail ride on her 20-acre property. Lisa stayed home to tidy up and when her friends returned a while later, she was happy to see they were all smiles and giggling.

“Pete, we like him! He jumps so nice,” one of her friends told her. Lisa was stunned and questioned which horse they were on, but they kept saying it was “the gray horse, Pete.” She was sure they mistook Pete for her gray Arabian in the field, who had been a former jumper, but they were insistent that it was Pete the Tennessee Walking Horse.

To prove to her their point, they set up a little course in her field and took Pete through in English tack and a plain snaffle bit (Pete had always been ridden in a curb bit). As soon as she saw how happy and relaxed he was going through the course, she knew what she needed to do.

Victoria Bennett-Gomez on Pete at Hunters Court. Photo by FlowingMane Photography.

Victoria Bennett-Gomez on Pete at Hunters Court. Photo by FlowingMane Photography.

Breaking Barriers

Lisa started calling barn after barn after barn, but each time as soon as she told the trainers that she had a Tennessee Walking Horse that she wanted to start jumping, they shut her down. No one wanted to help her.

One day, while driving around, she came across a barn called Runaway Stables and thought to herself, “if anyone could help me, it had to be a barn with a name like this.” To her surprise, the barn owner told her of a young rider by the name of Sarah Mack Clark who “would ride anything” and could probably be of help to her.

Lisa and Sarah became quick friends as Pete progressed in his training. It was decided that Pete would venture into the jumper ring and begin a whole new training regime. Once the Carlons realized Pete had found his place and a lifetime home, they gifted the horse to Lisa.

Pete quickly became popular among young riders, and Lisa had several catch riders on a growing list to would help her show him. While at a horse show in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a young rider by the name of Mawghan McCabe decided to show him in the hunters, just for fun.

To everyone’s surprise, he won.

Lisa and Mawghan were ecstatic, until the judge made an announcement requesting Mawghan come to the judge’s stand. He requested that Mawghan demonstrate a running walk for the spectators to prove the versatility of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.

It was at that show that Lisa met Heidi Rockhold and her daughter Victoria Bennett (now Gomez). Heidi had also previously shown performance Tennessee Walking horses and wanted to compliment Lisa on Pete, while Victoria requested the opportunity to ride him.

Victoria had great success with Pete in both the hunter and jumper rings. They won the Hunter’s Court Circuit Grand Champion title and were consistent winners in the 3’3” Adult/Junior Equitation division. Pete and Victoria were also winners over fences and on a whim, Victoria decided to go back in for the flat class. Once again, the pair won.

As the team grew, so did Pete’s winnings. Lydia Whitlow Fisher showed Pete in 2005 at the Tennessee Walking Horse Versatility World Championships and won the Hunter Over Fences World Championship title.

In 2006, simultaneous to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration taking place in Shelbyville, Pete was being ridden by Rebecca “Becca” Hoos at a show at Brownland Farm. It was decided that Becca would enter the jumpers so all she would have to do was walk and canter to avoid any pacing.

Lisa recalled that the course was quite difficult for a .85-meter class and that several eventers were there to school the show jumping in preparation for an upcoming competition. As Pete went into the arena, Lisa overhead a conversation from a few women on the rail who were not aware that she was his owner.

“One woman said, ‘I don’t know what that horse is,’ and the other responded kind of catty, ‘I heard it was a Tennessee Walker,’” Lisa recalled with a sigh.

“I just looked at her and as calmly as I could I said, ‘Yes, he is a Tennessee Walker. I’m not here to prove anything; I just want to know that he can do this. I want him to be happy. There are horses at the National Celebration right now doing a high-stepping gait and I promised this horse that he would never have to live that life again.’”

The woman at the rail actually teared up and replied, “I never thought of it that way.” As if to prove Lisa’s point, Pete came in second place in his jumper class that day out of a hefty division of competitors.

Rachel Norton and Pete during his time with the UK Eventing Team, Photo provided by Rachel Norton.

Rachel Norton and Pete during his time with the UK Eventing Team. Photo provided by Rachel Norton.

It’s All About the Horse

Pete is also a familiar face in the Kentucky eventing scene, and Ashley Jones and Rachel Norton have both competed him for the University of Kentucky eventing team. He has competed regularly at both FENCE Horse Trials and Chattahoochee Hills and can often be spotted at local hunter paces.

In all his years of showing, Pete has gone clean at every licensed eventing or jumping competition he has entered. Despite original concerns that Pete wouldn’t be able to hold his own in eventing due to the gait requirements of the dressage tests, he makes it work — and makes up for what he lacks in cross country and stadium jumping.

“Just look at what these horses are capable of,” Lisa says, pride in her voice. “They don’t have to be padded. They don’t have to wear chains. They can do so much more. Everyone thinks they can’t, but they can.”

In Lisa’s estimation, jumping made Pete confident and erased his unpredictable behavior. Nothing phases him now, and he tries his heart out. When the the trailer pulls up to a trail, he is calm and peaceful, but the moment he sees jumps in the distance he is alert and pawing at the ground, ready to go.

“I have told everyone who has ridden him, ‘Don’t ride him if you’re ashamed of him,’” Lisa said. “They ride him because they love him and because he loves his job. My granddaughters both ride him and he is great for them. And then you can take him into the ring and he can perform.

“In his younger years, this horse was jumping up to 4 feet. He was doing everything he wasn’t supposed to do. And now in addition to jumping, I can take him into a Cowboy Challenge and walk across teeter totters and drag Christmas trees.”

The combination of Pete’s success and his unconventional breed for his chosen disciplines had several of his top supporters encouraging Lisa to reach out to Breyer about him. On a whim, she wrote to the company and told Pete’s story. Her expectations weren’t high, knowing countless deserving horses apply every year, but when she got the phone call that he was to be considered she was ecstatic.

Pete's Breyer model. Photo courtesy of Breyer.

Pete’s Breyer model. Photo courtesy of Breyer.

She contacted all of Pete’s former riders to let them know, and three of his former riders — Chelsea Kolman, Victoria Gomez and Ashley Jones — will be performing demonstrations on him during the 2017 Breyerfest. All of his former riders but one will be able to attend to support the horse that gave them so much and celebrate this monumental honor.

“If we can just change one person’s mind about this breed, we made a difference,” Lisa said. She always wanted to do whatever made Pete happy — the special recognition of the breed just came with the package.

It has been an exciting and life-changing ride with Pete, and Lisa wouldn’t want it any other way. From thinking, “can this horse actually do this?” to watching him bring home ribbon after ribbon, Lisa has always been Pete’s number-one fan. Congratulations to Lisa and Pete on this most deserved honor!

This story originally appeared on EN’s sister site, Horse Nation.

Best of JN: 8 Spots You Won’t Meet in Heaven

When sitting in the stands, jumping looks easy enough. Ride like you know what you’re doing, approach the fence, instill confidence in your horse (and yourself), and jump that sucker. It’s understandable why outsiders to the equestrian world can look at a wonderfully ridden round and say, “That isn’t hard, the horse is doing all the work!”

But we, as the ones on the backs of thousand-pound animals who are deathly afraid of a leaf blowing across the arena, know that the best riders make it look easy. One of the greatest challenges we face when approaching a fence is finding the appropriate distance. I am occasionally guilty of getting in a line that is a little worrisome, forgetting to breathe, and watching in slow-motion as my whole ride goes downhill — sometimes literally. We hear a lot of talk about ‘the perfect spot,’ but what about the other honorable mentions?

The Hail Mary spot:

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Photo by Kimberly Cornelius

Also known as the ‘oh crap’ distance. There is no scientific reason as to why this happens, but somehow you and/or your horse felt awfully brave and decided to shoot for the moon (literally). If your horse clears this jump, you better go buy all the carrots at the grocery store because they deserve it. And when you get home be sure to wash your breeches thoroughly because they probably need it.


The “OH GOD THERE IS A DRAGON UNDER THERE” spot:

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Photo courtesy of Kira Topeka, by Suz Cornue

You could say this is mostly experienced by green horses, when really you can thank the horses with a innate fear of anything and everything.  You as the rider must be prepared for a massive over-jump and then make lots of jokes as you exit the arena about how your horse just hates jumping small as your heart tries to slow down from its dangerous pace.


The “I Jump. You Jump. Remember?” Spot:

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Photo courtesy of Tess Fortune

An ode to one of the classic love tales of all time, only your horse doesn’t know that. Caused by a miscommunication somewhere along the line or a verrrryyy naughtyyyy pony. Either way, one of the two of you is jumping without the other, which can lead to some funny stories you can share later as you ice various parts of your body.


The “I Believe I Can Fly” spot:

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Photo by Katie Powell

Sometimes our horses decide to over jump. Most of the time we aren’t prepared for it. It is in these moments where we learn to grab mane and hold on as we attempt flight for hopefully the first and last time in our lives. Let’s leave the flying up to airplanes, ponies.


The “I Saved You and You Know It” spot:

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Photo courtesy of Natalie Klaver, courtesy of Spotted Vision Photography

This spot is often paired by a very grumpy look from your wonderful mount and your trainer yelling at you from the sidelines “YOU DIDN’T DESERVE THAT.” Your horse deserves all the cookies and love for this grand gesture. I am very guilty of this crime.


The “Emergency Brakes” spot:

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Photo by Linda Surmeier

Even worse than bailing out, here your horse demonstrates his ability to be a reiner rather than a jumper and slams on the brakes. Why jump when you can stop?


The “I Forgot How to Jump” spot:

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Photo courtesy of Leesa Blank

This could pertain to the horse or the rider and is literal reflection of a brainfart. It is hard to explain how or why these events happen and thanks to great photography, we can study them for many years to come and try to sort out how years of training can disappear in seconds.


Annnnnd my personal favorite,

The WTF spot:

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Photo courtesy of Victoria Anne Gomez, by Heidi Rockhold

There are no words. I cannot tell you what this is or why this is happening…..I think this horse forgot how to horse.

There are so many ways that things can go oh so terribly wrong while jumping. Sometimes all you can do is grab mane and hold on for dear life…..or if you aren’t in the ring grab a camera and take photo of the year!

And if you can’t even make it through the course walk:

coursewalk

Photo courtesy of Shannon Steldt-Schlitz by Alex Plat

…maybe it’s time to consider knitting.

Go Jumping.

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One Hunter Jumper’s Epic Cross Training Lesson with Meghan O’Donoghue

Photo by Wayne DeLisle

Photo by Wayne DeLisle

You can ask my family, I am probably the most unlucky person on the planet. I can’t even win a free ticket on a scratch-off, but despite the handful of lemons life throws my way, every once in a while I manage to land a big win. So when on a wild hair one morning I decided to message pro eventer Meghan O’Donoghue to see if she could squeeze me in for a lesson while she was home for the winter, I never expected her to message me back with an enthusiastic, ”Happy to help!” There I was two Saturdays later loading up my mount Joey into a trailer and making the trip to Le Cheval de Boskydell, Meghan’s home barn, for the lesson of a lifetime.

While in college, I rode for my University’s IHSA Equestrian Team and we would travel to compete against nearby colleges, which is how I met Meghan’s mom, Jill O’Donoghue (coach of the SIUC team). Jill is one of those coaches who always dons a smile, despite your placing, and supports all the riders in our region. With Le Cheval being just a short hour from our home base in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, we were regulars at the schooling shows they host. Even after coming back from my hiatus from riding, Jill spotted me in the crowd and made it a point to give me a big welcome and a hug.

It is easy to admire Jill and in my time getting to know her, I also learned of her family, including her two daughters Meghan and Kelty who were in the pursuits of establishing professional riding careers. It was my junior year in college when Meghan took her own Pirate to their first Rolex and several of us on the team would ooh and ahh when we saw him in the barn on our visits to Le Cheval. I was mesmerized by her success and small-town roots and challenged myself every day to work as hard as she had to make her dreams come true. So when I saw Meghan at one of the Le Cheval schooling shows shortly after my return to the saddle, I decided to get in touch with her in order to help take my big dreams to the next step of becoming reality.

Back to the Basics

My horse, Joey, is a green OTTB with just a year off the track. I am bringing him along in the hopes of moving towards the rated jumpers and he is still in that moldable stage where every ounce of education we can get is beneficial. I rode into that lesson with hopes that by cross training with an Eventer, I would not only gain some great experience in the jumper ring, but also in improving our flatwork skills. I am a firm believer that your horse is only as good over fences as he is responsive on the flat. Thankfully, Meghan shares that thought process!

We started with a good thirty minutes refining Joey’s trot and my canter seat. The first thing Meghan had us tackle was achieving a more aggressive trot. In a majority of the video captured during the lesson you can hear Meghan telling me, “Trot. Trot. More Trot. Make him take you somewhere. More. More.” Just as we adjusted to trotting with a purpose, it was time to perfect our transitions. Our main focus was to be able to slow into the walk without the use of my hands. I struggled with the concept at first, I have relied a lot on my hands in the past which has led to some frustrations, but Meghan continued to encourage me to place my trust in Joey and allow him to understand my body, not just my hands. The first time I loosened my reins and sat back, Joey slowed down. After that successful demonstration, it was time to canter.

Let me tell you, at this point I thought I might be dying. Two days prior to this lesson I read a post by Denny Emerson about the importance of the warm-up and how too many people call a 5-10 minute ride on the flat a warm-up to fences and thought to myself, ‘do people really do thirty minute warm-ups?’ I can now answer that — yes they do, only I don’t so I was pretty darn out of shape.

We talked a lot about my seat and my posture. I can be a bit of a leaner, and Meghan explained how my position on the flat and over fences inhibits Joey from getting into the correct frame. Since purchasing Joey, I have ridden in a half seat because he has always seemed to go forward better. Meghan opted to have me sit, and I truly mean sit, the canter. “Think like dressage,” she said as I considered seat belting my butt to the saddle to make it stay there. At first, Joey and I were both a bit bewildered by the new amount of contact, but then I began to notice how his head was coming up into place without me having to pull him there.

Finding My Seat

Then it was jumping time! Thankfully, after our great warm-up on the flat Joey was not his typically chargy self to the fences. We jumped around a few singles and then Meghan made up some fun courses for us. Reminder- my horse has been jumping hunter courses. So when Meghan assigned us this really cool, but slightly intimidating five-stride bending line in a somewhat S shape, I was sure I was going to die. Joey is game for anything, though, and took each question in stride, even when I struggled to find the right distance the first few times around.

Meghan’s personality made working with her an uplifting experience. As we topped the last fence in the line with the correct striding to each fence, Meghan called out loudly, “Good for you!” Even though my back was to her, I could hear the sincerity in her voice. She was truly happy that I had succeeded at this challenging task. I have seen so many trainers/ professionals use negative reinforcement to ‘teach’ their riders, but this environment was nothing like that.

As we continued to jump courses with new challenges for us to puzzle out, Meghan stressed the importance of me being able to find my seat at the canter, especially before the fence. As Joey grew strung out over a particular line and kept charging out of the first one and barreling into the second, Meghan sent us back out on the rail to work on our canter again. As we came to the corners, Meghan had me picture myself picking up Joey’s ears in preparation for a fence. I did so by pushing my seat down and into my saddle, allowing my body to scoop with the movement, and giving a gentle lift with my hands. Instantly, Joey had his head up and would lock onto the straight-away in front of us.

Photo by Wayne DeLisle

Photo by Wayne DeLisle

 

Then it hit me- up until this point I had been riding Joey comfortably in a half-seat but to compensate for my slight lean (which I am still working on, it’s totally a posture issue on my part), Joey was ducking his head down and becoming too heavy on the forehand. By rocking back and engaging his back, he began to rely on his hind end more and was able to keep his head up in preparation for what was ahead of him. We took the next few fences with this thought in mind and I felt it all click together.

One Step Closer to the Dream

Joey and I had a lot of firsts in this lesson, but we also improved a ton on our basics. From jumping our first skinny (I knew I was going to knock a standard over but, darn, my horse is a perfect saint and didn’t blink at it), to adjusting my posture over the fence, I learned so much in that one hour that will continue to impact my future riding goals with Joey.

The best part of the whole day was that while I was afraid I was going to be nervous, I wasn’t. Meghan made this lesson such a positive experience and never made me feel like I am just some wanna-be jumping 2-foot fences with unobtainable dreams of the Grand Prix ring. My legs were wobbly when I dismounted, but I couldn’t stop beaming. What an exhilarating and enlightening experience! My husband and my coach attended the lesson with me (Wayne was the designated videographer, Cassie was excited to watch and learn from another professional) and even they were excited about mine and Joey’s future after seeing him adapt to these new challenges with ease.

Being a small town girl, it was so inspirational to ride with another small-town girl who made her dreams come true. Meghan was so welcoming to work with and riding with another trainer gave me a lot of positive things to work on and a new perspective on my partnership with Joey. I am so very thankful for the opportunity to get to ride with Meghan and hope to ride with her again one day.

Until then, you will see me sitting on a cushion because nothing will break in your tailbone more than cantering like a Dressage rider. You win, Dressage … You win.


Meagan DeLisle is a regular contributor at our sister site, Jumper Nation. To see more of her adventures and interviews, be sure to swing by and check out JumperNation.com!