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Natalie Johnson

Achievements

Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Natalie Johnson

I grew up a horse crazy girl and still am. I was a pony clubber, working student, and professional groom. Eventually I got a 4 year degree in marketing which I am not really using working in an Equine Vet Clinic. Eventing since I was 12, I’ve competed through prelim riding mainly Thoroughbreds. For some reason my husband has lovingly joined in my horse centered lifestyle and we are currently searching for a small farm in Minnesota. I am hoping to take 2 horses to this year’s Megamakeover, with both my 2020 entry and a recently purchased 2021 waitlist entry. This will be my first makeover competition and I am looking forward to the adventure and journey with my 2 grey OTTB mares!

Latest Articles Written

Road to the 2020/2021 Thoroughbred Makeover: A New Level of Crazy & Some Progress, Too

For over 1,000 accepted trainers in this year’s unique blend of 2020 and 2021 competitors, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2020/2021 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, is underway! The event, which combines entries from 2020 with 2021 due to the cancellation of the Makeover last year, will take place at Oct. 12-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, several eventing trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers. To read other blogs from this year’s Road to the Makeover, click here.

Natalie Johnson hails from Area VI and is entered in this year’s Makeover with two horses: Caliche Lane (2020) and Princess Anne (2021). Natalie is a former pony clubber, working student, and professional groom. She has been eventing since age 12 and has competed through Prelim riding mainly Thoroughbreds. She currently works for an equine veterinary clinic. To read Natalie’s other blogs, click here.

Caliche at Brookside Farm. Photo: Daniel Li

This year my life has reached a new level of crazy. My husband and I AGAIN find ourselves looking for our future farm, with the second property we had a purchase agreement on falling through. Fortunately our horses are now located at one farm and we have decided to rent a house five minutes away. Our temporary move has thankfully taken over three hours of driving out of my day, let us live together again full time, and somewhat lessened the craziness in my life.

My 2020 Makeover entry, Caliche Lane, has started her show season moving up to Novice with our best dressage test to date, an almost foot perfect double clear cross country, and only one pole in stadium. We ended up in sixth place out of 18 starters at Otter Creek Farms Spring Horse Trials. Princess Anne, my 2021 entry, has had some setbacks with weight loss and ultimately a Lymes diagnosis, but fortunately treatment is underway and things are looking up. My long time partner, Louie, also had a set-back but is getting back to work.

Caliche at Brookside Farm. Photo: Daniel Li

Last year I was easy on Caliche with the flat work as she is a little butt high, with a short and thick body. It wasn’t until last Fall that I started to ask her for more contact and to engage more consistently. After her initial “attitude” getting back to consistent work this Spring, she bounced right back to her old smart self and reminded me how amazing she is. She retains everything from her previous rides, continuing right from where we left off. I haven’t ever experienced this with a horse before to this extent. Our dressage is coming right along with her now strong enough to sit down and rock back when jumping big enough fences.

Otter Creek Farm. Photo: Daniel Li

With the Mega Makeover only about four months away I still have only ridden Anne five times. This was due to my limited amount of time and energy driving across the cities and her reluctance to gain weight. Instead of throwing myself on her back when she was so thin, we have done lots of lunging and getting to know each other. I really like what horses can learn on their own without someone being on their back. Anne has a lovely way of going and naturally carries herself pretty balanced. Like most of the off the track Thoroughbreds and green horses I have worked with, anytime she is uncertain or off balance she would go faster thinking speed will save her. With time, repetition, and poles she is learning to trust that I won’t put her in a bad situation, how to use her body, and that slowing down can make things easier.

As the days quickly heat up in Minnesota Caliche has several clinics and shows in her future. I hope to get on Anne more as she gains weight, then introduce small jumps under saddle and field trips off the property. If things go perfect, which they rarely do, I would like to bring Anne to a schooling show or two in July.

Road to the 2020/2021 Thoroughbred Makeover: Embracing the Unexpected (and the Gray Mares)

For over 1,000 accepted trainers in this year’s unique blend of 2020 and 2021 competitors, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2020/2021 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, is underway! The event, which combines entries from 2020 with 2021 due to the cancellation of the Makeover last year, will take place at Oct. 12-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, several eventing trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers. To read other blogs from this year’s Road to the Makeover, click here.

Our next RRP blogger is Natalie Johnson, who hails from Area VI and is entered in this year’s Makeover with two horses: Caliche Lane (2020) and Princess Anne (2021). Natalie is a former pony clubber, working student, and professional groom. She has been eventing since age 12 and has competed through Prelim riding mainly Thoroughbreds. She currently works for an equine veterinary clinic.

Caliche Lane at Heritage Park HT in 2020. Photo by Pat McIlvenna.

If anybody had ever told me ago that I’d be “homeless” and own three horses (all cribbers, two being Grey Mares) I would have never believed them. Yet here I am, a 32-year-old married women sitting at my mom’s dining room table with my laptop and my horses living on opposite sides of the cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN).

I don’t want to mislead anybody: my husband and I are “homeless” because we were buying property to build a farm on and sold our townhouse. When some unexpected complications in the selling and buying process came up, we decided it would be best to find something already built. So we are currently living with our parents, moving from house-to-house depending on our work schedules. Last weekend we found a small 10 acre hobby farm that hasn’t had horses for a long time but will be perfect with some help. We will close on it at the end of April and until it’s horse friendly we’ll move all the horses to a nearby hunter/jumper barn.

Caliche Lane is my 2020 Makeover entry, and she has been opposite of the stereotypical difficult mare. My husband and I bought her off a Canter Illinois Facebook ad in August of 2019. She got to rest and do ground work until that December. After the pandemic lockdown and activities slowly started back up we were able to participate in some clinics and shows. When the news of the postponing the Makeover until 2021 came I wasn’t surprised but it was a disappointment as it had been one thing to look forward to for 2020. I dedicated to take the option of competing Caliche in the MEGA makeover of 2021. Looking back at last year I took things slower then I needed to with Caliche but we finished the year confidently at Beginner Novice.

Princess Anne. Photo by Corey Scott Ramsden.

Princess Anne is my unexpected: third horse, second grey mare, and 2021 makeover entry. She was an online purchase after a tough day at work and then packing to the move when I got home. I got a notice of a new video post from Ballyclare Farm on YouTube and my jaw dropped when I saw the video. I immediately thought “Why not get a third horse, we’re going to have a farm soon anyway.” So I contacted Ballyclare right away and had Anne shipped to Minnesota. I have lucky that a friend has let her chill and gain weight at their small farm.

Louie competing at Heritage Park in 2017. Photo by Derith Vogt.

With showing season a little over a month away for Area IV and our house sold the horses have been getting back to more serious work. Caliche and my 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Louie, got several months of light work this winter with the move and the frigid Minnesota temperatures. Louie is feeling great and I hope to start him out with a Training level run since he hasn’t gone Prelim for two years due to injuries and the pandemic. This spring I’m putting a little more pressure on Caliche on the flat since last year I was pretty easy on her wanting to let her figure her body out. She is showing a little more spunk than ever before but I still find her adorable. I have only been getting to know Anne and do some ground work so far. The horses have kept me going through this crazy time and I look forward to the upcoming months.