There is always something to be said about a young rider with a thirst for education. Bailey Moran, a Texas native, is on a quest for knowledge this winter as she spends the off-season months training with Tamie Smith in Murietta, California.
Another big goal in spending the winter with Tamie is to take another cracking at stepping up to Advanced level with her 11-year-old Irish Sport horse gelding, Loughnatousa Caislean. Bailey and “Leo” last tried to complete an Advanced event at Rocking Horse last year, but things didn’t go according to plan.
“It was probably about the 15th fence on cross country — a skinny out of the water — and I just completely missed and ran him right into it,” Bailey said. “He jumped it anyway because he’s a good boy, but I was so out of the tack that I just popped off.”
Bailey had been working hard to prepare for her move up, working with her longtime trainer Donna Kinney as well as Joe Meyer. But the blip that she had at her first try at Advanced was enough to give her confidence a bit of a shake.
“It got to me enough that I got backed off with my riding,” Bailey said. After giving her goals some thought, Bailey reached out to Tamie Smith, whom she had met at the 2012 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention.
“We had immediately hit it off and clicked. (Tamie) was so gracious and friendly, and (my family and I) have gotten to know her,” Bailey said. Tamie was able to give Bailey a few lessons in Texas, and from there the idea was born to travel to California to spend more time under her eye.
Bailey made the decision to take Leo to California with her, intending to have another go at Advanced in 2016. “The plan is for me to run him Intermediate at Galway this weekend and then for Tamie to take him Advanced after that. We’re both so new to this — neither of us have done this before — so I think Tamie giving him the brave ride he needs will really give him confidence.”
Now that Bailey and Leo are preparing for their first California event this weekend, she says she’s feeling her mojo coming back. “I texted my parents the other day and told them how nice it was to be excited and feel prepared for an event,” she said. “Tamie has really worked on getting my base stronger — putting me in the position I need to be to ride effectively.”
Bailey is also fortunate to have a great mentor and coach back in Texas in Donna Kinney. “Donna has been amazing — she’s like a second mother to me,” she said. “She has been in consistent contact with Tamie to find out what she needs to work with me on when I go back. She’s a true student of the sport and is always looking to learn new things.”
Another advantage of competing in California is the array of events to choose from on the calendar, even early in the season. “It’s nice here because if you run and things don’t go as well as you’d like, it’s easy to re-route,” Bailey said. “It really gives us the ability to be flexible with Leo’s schedule and not push too hard.”
Now that she’s settled into her new routine at Next Level Eventing, Bailey feels right at home. “The minute you walk into the barn, you’re welcomed by family,” she said. “It’s very drama-free, and everyone just wants the best for you. It’s a great environment to be in, and I’d definitely love to come back sometime.”
We wish Bailey and Leo all the best with their plans for 2016 and are thrilled to hear that their trip to California is going so well!