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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching Down Under and Analysis of the year that was.

Teaching country Queensland style Down Under.
After a long, successful year of competing and teaching I headed back to Australia for Christmas with my family and a bit of R and R. Of course that means I still teach, who doesn't on their holidays! As you can see it's a little different than the East Coast of America!

This is the time of the year also that I analyse each horses performance from the year and plan the coming one. I'll run thru a few of them, please bear in mind that the goals for myself and these horses are very personal and by sharing them my intention is to give you an insight into the emotional and physical commitment I make to each horse.



McCuan Mario

Mario had an excellent start to the year with a 3rd in the Aiken Mini Prix, one of only two eventers in the class and the only one to jump clear. This was on top of his other numerous placings. In the eventing he has made leaps and bounds, literally! Last year he his dressage and cross country were very fragile but this year he was able to consistently score in the 20's in the dressage and has the cross country figured out. Unfortunately he suffered an injury at Plantation Field in April which had him out for the rest of the year. He's back and in full work and as fit as a fiddle! His 2011 plans will see him starting with showjumping in Aiken in January then eventing with a goal of a 1 star mid year followed by a 2 star toward the end of the year. His show jumping career will also continue.


Collection Pass

Cole has been the surprise star of the year! He's an unassuming little horse that you would trust with your grandkids! He's quickly moved up from training level in March to now competing successfully at the intermediate level. His weaknesses are the dressage and showjumping, both of which we've worked extremely hard on. The show jumping was all about getting him a bit bolder and not so backed off. I did this by taking him to a couple of big jumper shows to where I could use the arena to school this area. Now he's got that figured out and is confidently jumping around 1.25m classes.The challenge with the dressage was to get and keep his head down! As simple as that! This has taken the most time and with the introduction of a double bridle are well on our way. Next year he will start with show jumping then straight into the eventing. He'll do a 2 star at Bromont then a 3 star late in the year.

Lola and Ti

Unfortunately my photo collection here doesn't contain any of either of these horses..... These two young horses are seriously exciting horses for the future. Similar in their build, they have different ways of going. Lola works on trust and her own intuition whereas Ti (I think) sees the whole thing as a video game! He gallops around thinking he's a character in Avatar taking on the evil human race by using his awesome athletic talents to be able to jump anything! He had a late start to the year with me and will start next year show jumping then head for a 1 star at Bromont. Lola sadly had about 6 months off competing with a pesky abscess and an annoying splint. She had several good places in eventing and a win in some show jumping. She will come out at training level and move up from there.

Thanks again for all the positive feedback through out the year. And congratulations to my students on their many and varied successes! MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU TO MY OWNERS AND SUPPORTERS FOR ENABLING TO CONTINUE MY QUEST TO ACHIEVE MY GOALS, MY SUCCESSES ARE AS MUCH YOURS AS MY OWN!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Zealand

The final resting place of Champion of Champions, Sir Tristram, Cambridge Stud, Hamilton, NZ.


After making the long flight (25 hours all up) home to Brisbane, Australia, I took the time to have a quick shower, peek at the new arrival (who's tentatively called Sophie until we finalise her name) then it was straight back to Brisbane International airport for the 3 and a half hour flight to Australia's closest neighbour, and little brother, New Zealand. The trip was not a holiday, way more exciting, a shopping trip to find the next superstar to take on the US horses! And what a group we saw, all beautifully presented, talented and well performed at varying levels. It also served as a reminder of just how tough these Down Under horses are, they have a whole other set of lungs and reinforced tendons! I can tell you it would be very difficult to turn down some of these guys, all potential superstars. In particular a little black fellow by the name of Blackie that will turn up on an Australian, American or British team in the future. Without giving away too much, hopefully we'll have a Kiwi speaking horse on our team soon enough!

Whilst there I also had to great fortune of running into not one, not two but three legends of the horse world. One being Mark Todd, greatest eventer/horseman of all time. I tried out 5 horses on the same arena he was teaching. Having the great Toddy in such proximity was a massive motivation to keep my heels down and not miss into anything! Then I was fortunate enough to be a guest at the world famous Cambridge stud with my host who has a mare at the farm. There I saw the mighty Zabeel, sire of multiple group one winners incl Melbourne Cup). I also visited the grave (the farms centre piece) of the mighty Sir Tristram, sire of many, many group one winners, sires and champion producing fillies. As much as he meant to the racing community he also means to us jumpers. His bloodlines can be found in the many of the most successful jumping horses to come out of Australia and NZ. So obviously this was a huge privilege and honour for me!

I'm now back in Australia as of this morning visiting my family for Christmas and enjoying some warmer weather!!!! Whereever you are, try to keep either warm or cool, depending on the hemisphere!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NEW ADDITION!!!


Now that competition season has finished I am analysing the year past and planning for the next as well as trying to keep warm. Whilst all this is going on approx 15 242 k's away (as the crow flies), 2015 5 Year Old Young Event Horse champions of America are being born! This filly was foaled about 48 hours ago on my mum's farm in Australia. The foal is out of Jerry's (readers would remember he came over from Australia a couple of months ago) mother and carries the world famous Sandro, Pik Bube and Ramiro Z bloodlines on his father's side. She'll spend the next couple of years growing up in Australia before coming over here to be broken in and campaigned.
My mum takes care of the mares and raises the foals making sure they grow up into the performance horses they are bred to be!!
The filly is currently unnamed. We'll take your suggestions and will use the best name as her show name!!! She's Australia born to an Australian mother with all German bloodlines. And as you'll all agree (Australian or American) she's about as pretty as you could get!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Raleigh Show Jumping


Cole and I early (very early) one morning making a plan for how his last two shows of the year would be his best!!!

Mario, Cole, Ti and I escaped the chilly MD weather for a few days by competing at the RMI Benefit Show Jumping competition in Raleigh, NC. I compete in several jumper shows each year up to the level of Mini Prix and every time I relish the experience as I learn SO much. This is a lot due to the fact that I'm generally jumping at heights that are much bigger than eventing and it really tests my comfort zone. And at this show I was extremely lucky to have my jump trainer, Marilyn Meredith-Little, there to walk each course, warm us up and analyse every round. Firstly Ti learnt a huge amount by going into a big ring (it's all indoors) and jumping a big course. His results absolutely did not reflect his effort and the benefit he gained. I can't wait to be competing with him next year. He's come a long way in 2011.


As everyone knows I'm extremely excited to have Mario back in the competition arena and he definitely proved why I love him so much! Last year, at this same show, I competed Mario in the same classes and must admit that I was about out of my depth in the biggest class. This year (and with Mario off most of it and only back in work for 4 weeks) I was completely comfortable and was actually hoping they would have been 2 or 3 holes higher! Mario and my partnership continues to build with each outing like this and I'm very proud of what we've been able to achieve in what was a very short year for him.


Cole. He surprised us a little last weekend at the dressage by posting some great scores. This week he was the surprise again in the show jumping! He is one of my favourite horses to ever work with due entirely to his massive heart and desire to please his rider. Being athletic and having a decent jump doesn't hurt either... But in a big ring with big fences he's often intimidated and gets really backed off. He doesn't do this at home so it's hard to practice correcting him. There was none of this in the ring this time in all 3 of his rounds and he jumped a lot bigger than he has to eventing. I was VERY proud of him and the work we've done to overcome his problems. We've been working with Marilyn specifically on his weaknesses and what we've been doing is working very well. I was so happy that she was able to give my horses and me as much time and help as she did.


That was my last competition for the year, which is sad as I love competing, but is also very exciting as it gives me a chance to plan for next year, work very closely with my students (who are very patient with my absences) and take a short break in the warmth of Australia. My favourite part of this time of the year, aside from getting Christmas presents, is all the wonderful food. Especially this American turkey they go crazy for at the end of November. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mario returns to the competition arena!!


Sunny showing some of the our winnings for the day....



You can tell I'm happy to have my competition partner back by the fact I'm hugging him!


What would normally be an unexciting day competing dressage was made very exciting this weekend by Mario's return to the show ring! Regular readers will remember back in April he injured himself and required some rehab and time away from jumping and the competition circuit. Whilst this is always disappointing with any horse it was even more so with him as he had had a great winter and was on fire to continue. I had big goals for him this year that we weren't able to get to unfortunately. As you may also remember this was pretty upsetting for me as I love all of my horses and invest a lot of personal time and effort into them, it's not just a job for me. Therefore you can imagine my excitement being able to compete him again finally. I was so excited I was even EARLY! I can honestly say, and my students can attest to it, have NEVER been early in my life! Anyhow he won a third and was very happy to be back out as a show horse. Add to this I unexpectedly ran into a friend I haven't seen for a long time (Mary-Beth) and I had a great start to the show.

The best part of the day however was the performance of Cole. He typically finds the dressage very tough and we've been working extremely hard on it. Finally it's paying off with a 3rd at second level and a good score and a 1st in the CIC 2 Star test. For this I must thank EEM event management having the foresight to offer eventing tests of choice. It is SO useful to be able to get the eventers out to dressage to work on that phase alone. On that same page I also think it's important to compete in pure jumping as well which is exactly what I'm doing this week. Cole, Ti, Mario and I are heading to Raleigh SJ in NC. I went to this show last year and found it extremely useful as the courses are BIG and technical. And competing against showjumpers adds a whole new perspective that I love. An added bonus is that my showjump trainer, Marilyn Meredith-Little, will be there and will be able to offer invaluable feedback about my actual competition rounds.

Next week I'll have the round up from that show and hopefully some photos so please keep checking back in.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finishing the year as we started, in the winners circle!


Myself, Alex and Lisa in front of the novice 'brush of death', where despite her misgivings, Lisa survived. The boots are part of the team uniform.....
Rubicon Farm Horse Trials in VA was the venue for our last event of year and it was a great way to finish the year. My only ride, Queen of Pheoba, scored a winning 24 in the dressage finishing on that. She's a super mare and I hope that next year brings more success and ribbons for her. Alex MacLeod walked away win another win on the Ryan Wood trained, Railroad Man Jim. Actually walked away is an understatement, she ran away with the blue by 9.5 points. After posting a convincing lead after the dressage, 23, she added only xc time faults to her final score.


Lisa Kurr and Amy Gaynor also had successful starts with Lisa finishing a very close third on Cannyonleigh Sirecho and Amy coming from behind to finish 6th on her own Cindy Lou Who. Lisa did a fantastic job with Rocco, piloting him around for two double clears. Amy and Cindy looked like cross country pro's and are well and truly ready for the next level.


So that's eventing finished for the year and I'm already missing it!


All I have left is dressage with Mario and Cole then I'm heading to Raleigh, NC, for some showjumping in what will hopefully be warmer weather!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Weekend


Halloween is a great time to dress up and be creative, which is what some of the more ambitious competitors at Loch Moy did. For Amanda Cross the fear they generated had more to do with Atlantis' perception of the Bumble Bee eating the grey horse it was sitting on than theoretical Zombies knocking on the door at midnight! That hurdle passed tho, she competed with great style (including the unscheduled gymnastics to begin the showjumping) finishing second. This event did include a first for me, I'd never heard a starter start a horse with 'Hi Ho Silver and AWAY'! I think this should be the norm... Gibby Booth entered the dressage with a great looking Laney completing the trot work in great fashion and even a seamless transition to canter. Unfortunately the transitions were too early and the penalties cost her dearly. Her cross country was great considering it's their first competition in a while. Kirsten Chicca and Cadet did very well winning after the dressage and show jumping, unfortunately Cadet stopped at one fence cross country, so she has something to work on there.


Beth Sokohl headed to the prestigious Area II championships this weekend on Bucky. After a sizzling cross country round and in a tough division they finished 7th overall. A great job and a good indication they may move up soon.


Next weekend is our last event of the year at Rubicon then it's dressage and show jumping for the rest of the year.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alex and Jimmie win Waredaca!

After retiring Arrow Alex MacLeod has kept up her incredibly successful with a win on her new horse Railroad Man Jim. As she has been doing all year she beat the professionals in an open division with a clear sj and a couple of time faults xc. Darcy Swain has also kept up her winning form taking home a blue ribbon at the BLM dressage championships.

While these guys were competing I had the pleasure of taking the weekend off to attend the wedding of my good friend, and fellow rider, Dom Schramm. His new wife, Jimmie Holotik, is also a rider and their wedding made a fair dent on the entries at Waredaca Horse Trials with Boyd Martin, Ryan Wood, Jennie Brannigan and myself prefering the wedding festivities to cantering around a field in Laytonsville! Also attending was Nicholas Fyffe who is currently living in Germany. Boyd, Nick, Ryan, Dom and myself spent years competing and training together in Australia and it's been a while since we've all been in the same place at the same time so we took the opportunity to have some down time and a couple of quiet beers.

Next up is for my horses is Rubicon although I do have some students going to VA HT next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another winning weekend!

This weekends winner was Darcy Swain with her wonderful coloured WB, Mozely. Finishing on her dressage score of 26 she convincingly won her class. The only person who could get close to her was Amy Gaynor and Cindy Lou Who with a 30 in the dressage. Clear xc and looking very careful show jumping, a minor pilot error (bypassing fence number 6) kept her out of the placings. However it's great to see Amys hard work paying off with Cindy, she's certainly been patient waiting for her success.

No competitions for me last weekend, I spent the time teaching and planning our winter move. Please express your interest to compete and train in Aiken, SC to Amy by email, amygaynor1@comcast.net.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WEGs and Loch Moy.

World Equestrian Games! The biggest sporting event in the USA in 2010. And what an event it was! I only made it out for cross country day on the Saturday, driving overnight Friday to get there. Well worth the event to watch Boyd, Jock and Paul go around. I honestly think the Boyd and Jock rode the best rounds of the entire day, but I may be biased...... They other round I loved was Peter Atkins riding for Australia. What a great story, called up at the last minute to represent his country when Jester fell sick on the flight from Australia. Obviously the dressage is a work in progress but his cross country was inspirational to say the least!

This weekend I had Loch Moy Horse Trials in MD with Cole in the Intermediate, Ti and Phoebe in the training. All were great in the cross country but need work in the dressage. And with only one event left, dressage is what we'll be practising for the rest of the year. We are also going to be doing a fair amount of show jumping, competing in some of the shows in NC. This is exciting as it means Mario is back jumping and almost ready to start show jumping.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Horses, horsepower and more horses!


Rege Dvorsky, Car and Steve Park, NASCAR driver.

Steve Park and I.

Now that the bigger shows of the year are winding up I have a little more free time, which I mostly fill with teaching, but I am also in a position to take advantage of some fantastic opportunities that come my one. One of which was this Friday, I attended my very first NASCAR race! Although to say I attended was a bit of an understatement. Rege Dvorsky (who owns Cole along with Jeanne Leonne) arranged for us (working student, Kaden Weaver, included) to have the whole experience including a tour of the pits and car trailers. I thought riding an event horse was costly and involved a big team, these guys make us look like nothing! Their trailers are semis, they have a crew of 5 working on the car in the pits, then there are the guys who build the engine, put it together, make repairs, marketing the list goes on! Although the tour was fun, the most exciting thing for me was to meet the driver, Steve Park. I love meeting other sports people, I always come away with the knowledge that, although the tools (horses, cars, bikes, swimming pool) are different , the attitude must be the same. And that is focus, attention to detail, focus, accurate input, focus, trustable support crew and FOCUS! So I loved the experience in more ways than one, thank you Rege and Jeanne for the whole experience.






To top off a great couple of days yesterday I attended the Columbia Classic Showjumping at the invitation of Patrick and Jill McCuan. Again another top level sport that isn't my own that was a huge amount of fun to watch. It was also great to have Heather Petit (my barn manager) and Paula Bollinger (Sunset Hill farms manager) joining us at the table, certainly made for an educational and enjoyable afternoon. Thank you Pat and Jill.






In the last two weekends we had three shows. Beth Sokohl won the training division at Marlborough in great style, Cole was 15th at Plantation at the international, improving on his Bromont performance and this weekend Lisa Kurr won the Greystone Combined Test on Rocco. There are more results to come so keep posted!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Jerry showing the American horses how Australian horses buck!
After a mammoth journey taking in the length of Australia, the breadth of America and THREE countries, Jerry has arrived! Some unfortunate truck related issues cut short my trip to the AEC's (somewhere around Virginia) where I was to pick him up. Luckily Courtney Cooper (of C Square Farm) was able to transport him back to her farm where I picked him up. Let me recap his journey from the middle of nowhere in Australia to the horse hub of America, Maryland.


Brisbane to Melbourne via road - 22 hours

Melbourne to LA via air - 15 hours

LA to Georgia via road - 42 hours

Georgia to Pennsylvania via road - 14 hours

Pennsylvania to Maryland via road - 2 hours


So it's understandable that when I turned him out he wasn't quite sure if this is in fact his new home! The only reason I think he trusted me is because I have a familiar accent.. He'll have a few days off while I'm at Plantation CIC then it'll be on with the training and who knows what lies ahead for him!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Cole and I in full flight.

It was a case of do as I say, not as I do this weekend at Loudoun Horse Trials. Fortunately my students are good listeners and Alex MacLeod went on to win her second Intermediate this year aboard Arrow. She was also second in the Training with her new horse, Jimmy. Kelsey Schmidbeaur had a gratifying weekend on Marrakesh. Kesh has been giving her all sorts of problems from being anything but submissive in the dressage to stop half way around the cross country and refusing to move in any direction except for up. Not only did she get him around but she won the dressage on a score of 27 and clear showjumping and cross country. Titanium went well for me coming 5th finishing on his dressage score. Unfortunately I made a mistake at one combination in the cross country on Cole which cost us 20 penalties. Completely rider error. I chose at that point it was better for his confidence to head home and leave it for another day.


Next we have Seneca followed by the AEC's in Georgia than Plantation CIC.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our new mirrors!!

Whilst the past two weeks of competitions haven't been memorable (horses just learning their jobs and a couple of minor rider errors) there has certainly been a lot of action! Most excitingly Jerry has made it to California where he'll spend the next three weeks with Dom Schramm being started. He had a long flight and all thanks to IRT for their professionalism and care of the horses. Cole is also finding another gear in his dressage so I'm hopeful that he'll do us proud at Loudoun in a couple of weeks. Other big news is that Mario has shown considerable improvement to his leg and is now in medium work! He's also now allowed to have turnout which makes my life easier, I'm not his only outlet for exercise, which means now hopefully he can leave his airs above the ground for out in the field!


As you know I have two bases, Taylormade Stables and Sunset Hill Farm. Taylormade has the best surface I've seen in any barn in MD or America for that matter! Sunset Hill has great arenas and awesome facilities but we've been working very hard on the footing to make it the best in America. We have pretty well succeeded with the upper ring after much work from the guys. Another improvement to Sunset has been the addition of gigantic mirrors to the indoor arena courtesy of Mr Micheal Matson. This is a great relief for me as I LOVE looking at myself in the mirror! And of course it helps with checking on my horses progress, frame, position etc....


Sadly for me Alex Curtiss is off to the University of Pennsylvania studying to become a vet so I'm looking for a replacement. Please contact me for further information.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Newest Australian member to our team.


Rocco and I on the plane when we arrived 2 years ago (next to him is one of Boyd Martin's horses, they travelled together from Sydney-Melbourne-Aukland-LA-Newark.).
In Australia I have some horses that I have bred using some of the best Australian and European bloodlines. The focus is producing jumping and dressage horses. Jerry (by Regardez Moi out of the 3/4 sister to Centaur) is the first to make the trip to the U S of A! And what a trip it is.


22 hours Brisbane to Melbourne by road.

2 days in sunny Melbourne.

20 hours Melbourne to LA by air.

3 days quarantine.

3 weeks with Dom Schramm being.

44 hours to GA via Texas.

14 hours to MD!


He's currently unbroken and let a very idyllic existence in country Queensland where his friends have been cows and kangaroos! By the time he gets to me he'll have seen 3 countries (Australia, New Zealand and USA), travelled the length of Australia and the width of America! He's flying with IRT (the same company Rocco came with) who are accustomed to transporting million dollar t/b's all over the world and take excellent care of their cargo. Obviously I'm super excited and can't wait, I've already planned the rest of his year. It's sad for my mum who raised him but it's time for him to have a job.


On the competition front we have Waredaca, Loudoun then we head to the American Eventing Championships in Georgia.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The hot humid weather doesn't slow us down but it does mean some early starts. In the best interests of the horses (and people) we've been starting at 5.30 to avoid working the horses in the hottest part of the day. The exceptions are of course competitions. Maryland HT I and II went very well for us with Cowboy, Phoebe, Key, Cole and Kesh all putting in good performances. Cole's dressage is definitely on the improve, posting a 37, he's really trying hard and the work is paying off. Finally! Olney farm held their annual horse trials this past weekend, I had 4 rides, Pheobe (4th), Cowboy, Cindy (3rd) and Key (7th).

The other competition this weekend was the National Young Riders Championships held in Lexington, KY. Alex MacLeod riding Arrow was selected to ride for Area II and and put in a fine performance. She was selected to be the first rider, trail blazer, and report back to aid the rest of the team. Her and Arrow made short work of the cross country, finding it well within their abilities and training. The only thing she had to report back to her team mates was to be aware of the placement of the roping. She unfortunately found herself on the WRONG side at one point and lost some time finding her way back. In the show jumping she showed everyone how it's done by posting one of only two clear rounds in the competition. Well done Alex, we're all proud of you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer riding.

Cole galloping cross country showing his super athleticism.

For me summer is a very busy time with a lot of riding and competing, mostly with young horses starting out. When it's so hot it is difficult for the horses to work effectively so start riding at 5.30 am so they can still have their regular work routines. Then I finish around 1pm and start back at about 5 or 6 teaching. I won't say what I do in the middle part of the day but the words 'tan', 'pool' and 'sleep' all spring to mind! Cole is back in work after Bromont and training VERY hard in the dressage arena. The deal is if he goes on the bit and moves like a warmblood I'll give him an entire bag of carrots! We're still in the negotiating stage at this point, I may have to up it to two bags of carrots.... In all seriousness he is definitely improving with both his submission and paces. He can be so frustrating being that he is so athletic and has such a great temperament, he just mentally needs to figure it out. It's fairly new to him so I believe he'll still work thru it. Jumping wise he's more than ready for the intermediate level, we just need the darn dressage!
Loch Moy I and II are the next couple of weekends with Dressage at Lexington next Friday as well. So we are busy busy.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mario's continued recouperation.

Mario's new BFF, Brenda. (temporary till he gets back to Paula!)

The roller is to keep his attention away from jumping the edge of the water. I will DEFINITELY take it off when we go cross country again, I love when he jumps the edge of the water...



Mario showing his love of the water. Especially now he's figured out how to go into it!


A couple of days before going to Canada Patrick McCuan (Mario's owner), Paula Bollinger (Mario's manager) and I travelled up to Nor Mar Farm, Freeland MD, to check on Mario's progress. As you can see from the pictures he's a pretty happy horse! Despite a couple hiccups in the beginning, (Mario showing everyone just how great a jumper he is by trying to jump the WHOLE pool!) he's settled in super and is hard at work. He's currently up to 12 minutes in the water on the treadmill which is enough to give him a solid workout where he's really puffed out by the end. The injury is healing just as Dr Cooper expected it to and we are now starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. He'll now be there for another 6 weeks and be rescanned, at which point hopefully he'll be ready to come back and start some work (trotting) under saddle. This will be very controlled exercise and will be timed down to the minute to optimise his recovery.

Bromont Wrap Up




Cole was his normal brilliant self cross country, showing me that he is definate intermediate/advanced material, by understanding all the questions and jumping boldly and carefully. The only place I wanted to improve was the way he gallped up the hill. I wanted a slower pace but he was more interested in going fast. I knew the hill was long and he would run out of energy but at some point I had to make the decision whether to let him gallop freely or argue with him to go slower. Arguing can often take just as much away from the horse so I let him gallop on. He was right on his minute markers until the last 1 1/2 minutes wher he did tire.

The show jumping caused a lot of trouble so I was happy with his round even tho he had a couple of rails. The course was big and technical with a lot of changing direction. Add to this the atmosphere and it was easy to have a rail or two, esp on a horse that hasn't had exposure to this type of event. All in all I was very proud of my horse and the way he handled himself. He felt as tho he grew up a lot, in a way that they only can by going to the big competitions. We are no going to focus really hard on the dressage with him and then back out again at Loch Moy in July.

On a side note, there are still some things that remind me I live in America. Like the crossing of the border. EG, the only way I knew we left America and arrived in Canada (expect the guards who look at the papers) was that the roadsigns changed from English to French! On the way back, however, there was NO doubt we were heading back into America!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bromont CCI Day 2


Sometimes I have to remind myself that eventing is not a dressage competition, which is what I have to do today! Cole's not a dressage horse by any means and is getting stronger and stronger in that phase but he struggles quite a lot to maintain the quality of paces we're able to achieve schooling. His test was great in places and not so great in others. Let's just say that hopefully his great jumping abilities keep him on that score and he finishes there..

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bromont CCI Day 1


Cole, me and Alex and Charmer

A bit of background about Bromont three day event, it's in Canada. And it's where they held the 1976 Montreal Olympics. This much I did find out in my research of the event and venue. What my research failed to uncover, however, is that it is in the french province of Quebec and that they speak french. I do not. This is some cause for confusion when after 13 hours of driving we cross the border and all the road signs are in french! They only thing I could figure out from them is that the French/Canadian deer have bigger antlers judging by the pictures on the signs. It only got more interesting, when we hit the town of Bromont, trying to locate the venue and talk to the limited-english speaking guard to find our stalls at 1 o'clock in the morning, when the horses had been standing on the trailer for 14 hours, is not fun. Fortunately the all travelled well and we were able to settle them relatively quickly and head to the hotel for some much appreciated sleep.

With me I have Alex Curtiss, young rider champion, with her mare Charmer, and Leslie Chelmstrom with her mare Cecelia. Cole (Collection Pass, Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne) is in heaven with his two girlfriends and has been in a super mood ever since we got here. Today was the trot up which I find nerve wrecking having been spun in the past. Today Cole was fine and trotted on thru. The organisers have done a great job with putting together this event to make it run as smoothly as possible for the riders. A very rider friendly event. Tomorrow will be the dressage and I will update further then.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Waredaca eventing

What a great weekend! A super win by Meghan Avella riding her own Fantastik. Alex MacLeod posting the BEST rounds in the intermediate, finishing 5th in a class on a par with the Rolex, and Chaney beating most of the professionals in the Beginner Novice! Cole (Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne) had a perfect last run before Bromont CCI 1 star, 36 in the dressage, a showjumping round that needs some improvement and perfect xc!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Cindy and Amy in the rain...

Continuing my personal training is very important to me as it helps me become a better rider and trainer. Last week I took Cole and Lois to Boyd Martin for some jump training, this weekend I rode both of them with dressage trainer Brendan Curtis. Both horses are completely different rides and it was great to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Lois was great, she's very rewarding as she learns quickly. We worked on getting her softer laterally and developing under saddle the great paces she naturally has. Cole is a different story. We worked very hard on showing off the paces he has by encouraging him to use his back legs a LOT more than is natural for him. He's still figuring out if he likes the whole dressage thing, cross country is much more his style! I think he's growing to enjoy it tho, he doesn't try to spin around anymore so I figure that's progress! Amy Gaynor competed with Cindy in their first event (unrec) and went super with a clear cross country and just one rail in the sj. Now the pressure's on me with her at Waredaca on the weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fair Hill

Last weeks eventing was at Fair Hill in northern MD. I rode Cole (Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne), Cowboy (Amy Taggart) and Pheobe (Jane Gilbert)with all three posting confident, happy clear rounds. Phoebe and Cowboy both ended up on 3rd each in their respective divisions with both of them having a rail each. I do have to draw attention to their dressage scores with both of them acheiving a personal best, Cowboy on a 27! And Phoebe on a 29! I'm enjoying both of these horses progress as they move thru the levels. The highlight of my day tho was Cole having his first start back since injury his foot. While he was healing he was unable to leave the prepared surface of our ring (although he still was able to work) with the exception of just one cross country session (limited). Therefore it was a HUGE relief to me that find that he still remembers how to jump! He jumped a super clear show jumping round, one of few, and jumped beautifully around the cross country. The most exciting thing tho was that his foot held up and he was SO happy to be back. Next for us is Waredaca next weekend. This weekend I am holding a mini clinic for my students to practice their jumping rounds.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lois Lane Photo by Pixel Perfect Photography



MacKenzie and Inky

I have been a little slow on my posts recently due to a Laptop malfunction. The malfunction was caused by one of two things, either it was my downloading of songs with viruses (but I really really NEEDED the new Lady Gaga song NOW!), or my ADD and complete lack of patience (leading to too many windows open too often) confusing my poor computer leading ultimately to a mental breakdown (by both myself and the computer). I'm very good at riding, teaching and planning programs for people and horses, not so good with technological stuff so this took a little while to resolve. In the meantime we've continued to be very busy with myself and my students having varying degrees of success. Lois is now training level which she stepped up to nicely at MCTA, but she needs a lot of work to consolidate how she feels about it. Abby Gibbon did a great job by winning the Training at MCTA. Cowboy (Amy Taggart) won a 6th place at Plantation, Alex MacLeod rode a lovely double clear on West Side Story. I had a successful ride on Jane Gilbert's mare, Queen of Pheba. This was my first competition on Phoebe and she also stepped up a level. She was super in the dressage, great cross country. Unfortunately we had a little issue in the show jumping that is now resolved. This weekend I'm very excited to have Collection Pass (Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne) back in action at Fair Hill. I also have Cowboy and Phoebe going.

As I mentioned in my last update I'm very focused on my students at the moment and am very excited particularly with the progress of Amy Gaynor's horse Cindy. Amy has worked very hard with her competing her at local show's to help the horse get used to competing in a low pressure environment. Now we're getting closer and closer to her first actual event which is looking super exciting! The other thing that's been very exciting is the selection of MacKenzie Taylor on the World Games squad for mounted games!!! Mack is not one of my students, she is the daughter who of Robert and Kathy who own (one of) my fantastic base Taylormade. Mack has been so focused and practiced extremely hard in order to make the squad (it's for under 17's and she's 14) so it's pleasing and inspirational to see how it's paid off. The other cool thing about this is that her pony, Inky, is a rescue and had been left basically to fend for herself and couple of years ago as a horse no one wanted. Now she's on the American games squad to compete at the World Games! Doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some days are better than others......


I have one of the most amazing jobs in the world for which I am truly grateful. Generally I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed excited by what the day has to offer, excited by my horses and my students. Generally I can't wait to see what the day has to offer, it's super usually. Generally I can go for months without a day off and not even miss it. Generally my days are filled with huge steps towards achieving my dreams and goals, thanks to my owners and hard work. Then there are the days when I shouldn't have gotten out of bed. These don't happen often but I had a couple this week with three of my best horses having injuries or issues. One more serious than the other but all cause for concern. Cole had a serious overreach in Aiken that possibly needed closer attention at the time. Fortunately with some new shoes and a week off he should still be all systems go for Bromont. Boo is off to a new life as a hunter. Even more upsetting than that is that Mario is on hiatus thru an unexpected and unavoidable injury to one of his front legs. As the saying goes tho 'as one door closes another one opens' or 'up shit creek without a paddle'. Luckily for me tho another door opened and I found a paddle!

Mario is getting great at the dressage, obviously amazing in show jumping and figured out the cross country but we not matter how fast we go we can't make time. This is a problem that can be addressed in a few ways. With his injury we have the opportunity to approach it laterally with aqua therapy. Mario is one of the loves of my life (along with Lois, Cole, Danny, Winny and Legs) but even I have to admit he's more pony in shape than horse which obviously makes fitness tough. Aqua therapy, as the name suggests, involves water exercise. Also included is an under water treadmill, all fascinating to the average observer but to me it's the perfect opportunity to improve Mario's fitness and streamline his profile. So basically this injury will offer us the chance to improve him further and add another piece to the puzzle that is the event horse. So for the next few months whilst Mario is recovering and Cole is improving his foot I will be waking up thinking about how to best improve my favourite horse's fitness after which it'll be back to waking up full steam ahead to our goals with this massive mountain in the road being a bump in the rear view mirror. Thankfully Lois is the star of the show by being a typical mare and showing the boys up! Go mare power!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Plantation Fields


Mario enjoying his 'show stabling'! I luckily was able to stable my horses overnight at one of the most beautiful farms in PA. This meant they were able to walk around a grass filled paddock all night rather than stuck in a 10 by 10.

I love many facets of my job and this weekend displayed yet another. I got to spend the entire weekend in Unionville, PA aka Horse Heaven! I challenge you to find a more ideal or beautiful area for our fantastic sport of eventing. I only had three horses from my barn at this event but they all did us proud. Very excitingly for me Mario charged around the cross country full of confidence and knowledge of his job. Just some time faults relegating us to 8th. All that's left now is to teach him to gallop. Cole did super with me being very conservative with him and going really slow. He still ended up 14th. The dressage is still a weakness for him but I feel as tho it's only another 2 shows before it clicks for him. And after a poor performance at Morven Park which included a fall, Alex MacLeod excelled herself by winning the prelim (Australian CNC 1 star). After winning Full Gallop intermediate then falling at Morven Park we made the decision to drop her down a level just to reinforce and strengthen the basics we train week in and week out. Obviously this proved to be the right thing to do and she's next headed to Loudoun in two weeks. Cole, Mario and Lois are all going to Loudoun with me. But next on the schedule is Redlands with a bunch of my students and then Culpepper showjumping with Cole and Mario. Perhaps we can we some real money!

Monday, April 5, 2010


As with all sports, perhaps even more so, eventing is a sport that requires a large team who are visible and not so visible. Even tho it's my name on the website I'm probably the most disposable in the equation! Ever heard the expression 'no foot, no horse'? That's right, without a farrier who knows what he's doing I don't have a sound horse to compete on. Luckily there's Joe Hubschmann. Without a vet to keep them healthy I don't have a horse to compete on. Luckily there's Damascus Equine and Dr Cooper Williams. Without a barn manager to feed the horses and keep things straight I don't have a horse to compete on. Luckily theres's Paula Bollinger, Kathy Taylor and Heather. Without a manager to organise me I wouldn't have the chance to ride the lovely horses I'm lucky enough to ride. Luckily there's Amy Gaynor! Without a working student the horses wouldn't have the attention they get. Luckily I have Kaden Weaver. And obviously, without the owners I have I wouldn't HAVE any horses to ride. Luckily there's Patrick McCuan, The MacLeod family, Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne, Nancy Dick, Judy Salmon, Amy Taggart and the list goes on. And obviously without my students I would have noone to tell me I'm good! I rather noone to bring me back down to my place! Luckily I have some of the best students in the world. Also the volunteers that make the events run are integral people in the sport. Without them we wouldn't have a sport. We compete most weeks in the year which involves different horses and riders all needing to be prepared to go to different shows in eventing/dressage and show jumping year round. Trailers need to be packed and unpacked. Stalls need to be mucked, horses need to come in and go out, they need to be fed, plaited, washed, groomed, have their manes pulled. Gear needs to be cleaned, aisles need to be swept. The list goes on! And on! Each horse and rider have a show schedule and creating my weekly schedule is a job all of it's own! So please take the time to appreciate all the stuff behind the scenes that goes into watching that one horse go around cross country. Or do a dressage test.

On a different note some of my students attended a couple of shows over the weekend. Amy Gaynor won on her new mare, Cindy. This was a fantastic job as she has only had her a short period of time. Kelsy Schmidbuear won Champion 3' 6" jumper and Meghan Avella was Reserve Champion. Kaden was reserve champion on Amy Taggarts horse Cowboy. Abby Gibbon did well on her mare as well. Glenda Player and her students also had a good weekend. And MOST excitingly of all Lisa Kurr had her first start back on the fabulous Rocco after a series of unfortunate injuries last year. She came 3RD!!!!! This was a huge step back into the ring and I was super psyched for her!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Back to MD

Most of the last ten days involved moving my team from Aiken, SC, back to Damascus, MD. Not an easy task by any means. Mostly it means I sit in my truck dodging drivers on the 95 north and south. This is between using my ipod as entertainment and arguing with Kaden as to what colour the sky is! I still managed to compete at Southern Pines, NC, and Morven Park, MD, with great results. Morven Park is the first event back up in this area and can mean variable weather conditions. Fortunately for Cole and Lois, the horses I was riding, the footing and weather were absolutely perfect! Lo was 3rd in a tightly contested class, Cole 8th after a super cross country round. This horse is a super jumping horse and is aimed at Bromont three day event in June. Alex MacLeod had her young horse in the novice finishing fifth, a good result. In the intermediate she unfortunately lost a bet with me as to who would be the first to inflate the air vest. She took a tumble which resulted in no injury to her or Arrow, just a little bruised pride and a look back at the drawing board. Tricia Tripp had a super weekend winning the Beg Novice in fine style. I actually think she shouldn't have been allowed in that class due to the competitiveness of her and her horse!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last weekend in Aiken


The last weekend finished with a couple of highs and lows, the highs being Lois Lane finishing on her dressage score which kept her in 3rd. I just love this mare, she just tries so hard and showed a lot of improvement by scoring a 31 this weekend. Her class cross countried before they showjumped which works great for me, I always know she's going to jump clear. Alex MacLeod competed in her first intermediate on Arrow and did her best which turned out to be better than anyone else. 1st in her first intermediate is an awesome effort! Particularly as she has just about the busiest schedule of anyone I've ever met by juggling competitive hockey and her last year of school. Not to mention her young horse that she trains and having to travel down to SC from MD each weekend in order to compete. That takes a lot of focus and dedication. Chaney Taggart completed her first event on Titanium with a great result by finishing on her dressage score which meant she ended up second. She's another who's juggling school and riding and has been very diligent with the limited rides she was able to get on Ty due to the fact he was in Aiken. Brittany Meyer has also been going well ending up 2nd today on her own Parker.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back to Pine Top

So after a snowy Pine Top we were happy to go back there and find the sun shining and NO snow! Pine Top Advanced Horse Trials is widely considered to be a very tough and prestigious event with only only classes offered being preliminary (CNC 1 star, Australia), intermediate (CNC 2 star, Australia) and advanced (CNC3 star, Australia). The entry list reads like a who's who of Olympic and World Championship riders and horses who are using this as the beginning of their World Equestrian Games preparation. Accordingly the courses are built to height and quite complicated. I had three horses competing, Mario (Patrick McCuan), Collection Pass (Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leonne) and Canyonleigh Sirecho (Lisa Kurr). In the past six months I've been working very hard on my showjumping and it shows, three clear rounds. Indeed this year I've had just 3 rails in about 20 or more rounds. Alex MacLeod, student, also jumped clear. Onto to the reason we event, the cross country!

Walking the course kind of made me a little sick, not just because I had to walk so far and I'm not good at physical exercise, because each jump was BIG and WIDE! This doesn't bother me normally but my three horses where green (Cole) or competing at that level for the first time in a long time, Rocco (1 year) and Mario (6 months), I get a bit scared! After the big jumps then it got quite technical with a bounce up a bank to an apex, one stride into the water followed by a one stride out of the water. As I was walking the course with Alex we made the worrying observation that at least half of the course was in the intermediate course from two weeks earlier. Luckily for me my horses are great jumpers therefore I had three clear rounds that were practically perfect and left me feeling on top of the world! This was topped only by Alex's ride which was also clear, a great feeling for her as that was her last prelim before going intermediate next weekend. I can honestly say I love the four horses we had at Pine Top, each one of them has a huge heart and tried their absolute best.

Unfortunately our experiences were not shared by everyone with 16 falls, a few of them being very bad. We wish Jan Byyny and Rebecca Howard the best in their road to recovery. I also want to thank Jan for some extremely useful advice on the best riding technique for Mario in the week before Pine Top. Jan imported Mario from Ireland and fortunately sold him to his current owners and has some tactics pretty specific to him that make him even more of a dream ride than normal.

Today I rode Mario and Lois at a AA rated show with Mario jumping super finishing 3rd and 4th. We had the fastest round in the biggest class but had a couple of rails that relegated us to fourth. This makes a difference from us having the clear jump off with the third fastest time. I enjoy show jumping competitions a lot and a grateful to be riding a horse that makes me competitive in that field. Alex rode Alex and did amazing in the biggest class to end up third. Lois (Carla MacLeod)jumped in the 1.05m class with just one rail, she showed a tonne of heart and I had a huge smile on my face when we finished, I just love her!

Photos will come up soon. Take care of yourselves and your horses.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I have to stop talking about the weather I think because I seem to jinx each competition I go to! I've ridden in all types of conditions from extreme heat and humidity in Australia, drought, torrential downpours, thunderstorms, cold, winds and since I've been in America I've even ridden dressage on ice. About the only thing left was snow and now, at Pine Top GA, it seems I've checked that one off the list! After a hectic morning competing at Highfields Showjumping (were Lois won) I headed off to Pine Top with Alex MacLeod (young rider) to walk the cross country course for the weekend. It started snowing on the drive over and didn't let up until we'd had about 6 inches. The competition was delayed for a few hours and the organisers did an amazing job to keep the event running. By Sunday (for the cross country) most of the snow had melted but there was still some to gallop through and snow on the jumps. So despite the challenging conditions we still did very well with all three of my horses winning ribbons, Cole 2nd in the Prelim/Training and Mario 3rd. Mario's placing was contriversial given that he was first after the dressage and cross country and show jumped clear. There was an error on behalf on the jumping judge which rendered him third. I'm still proud of his efforts however, despite the fact he didn't bring home the blue ribbon.

Chaney Taggart made the trip down for the weekend worthwhile by doing a couple of good rounds and the PSJ show and by winning the Progressive Jumper class.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sporting Days One Day Event was on Sunday, our third in five events within two weeks, and it was a successful one. Brittany, one of my working pupils, was second in the novice and Boo jumped clear around his first prelim (Australian CNC 1 star). When I say he jumped clear I mean he jumped AMAZING! I love him as a cross country horse, I doubt there are any better than him! Dressage is his area for improvement... Mario did great in the dressage again scoring a 28, a new high for him. I didn't run him cross country as he is going again this weekend and I don't need him to be injured. Onto Full Gallop II and Lois was second in the novice, Ty sixth as well. Both horses improved greatly ont their scores from last week, respectively scoring 32 and 33 in the dressage phases. Both then finished on those scores. Brittany went above and beyond duty by winning! Such a super job in the dressage and show jumping followed by an almost perfect round cross country.

To say this event was cold is a GROSS understatement! I was wearing two jumpers, a long sleeve shirt and a big jacket and was STILL cold! Somehow Aiken hasn't turned on it's best for us.....

I want to give a huge thank you to my owners and students who stay dedicated throughout the year and give me a tremendous amount of joy! Basically what I' saying is, thanks for letting me hang out down south. Enjoy the MD snow!

Whatever the weather, where ever you are in this big wide world, enjoy yourself and your horses! Kate.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Full Gallop Farm.

Lois and Titanium had their first eventing starts of the year mid week at Full Gallop Farm. In fact it was Ty's first eventing start ever and he excelled finishing on his dressage score in 5th place! Lois came 7th and Rocco was 8th in the training. Brittany did great as well coming 3rd in the novice with Jess Jones' Forbidden Colours. Rocco's next start will be Pine Top prelim next weekend. This weekend we're off to Sporting Days with Boo and Mario in the prelim. Brittany is taking her own horse, Parker in the novice.

This is a super busy couple of weeks for us and we're run off our feet!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eventing off to a great start.

Not sure what it is with me and the rain but almost EVERY competition I've done in the last year has involved rain... This weekend was no disappointment with sub freezing conditions for the dressage and show jumping. I had four horses Collection Pass, McCuan Mario, Rhythm and Blues and Canyonleigh Sirecho. Mario scored a very satisfying 29 in the dressage, Cole 34 and Rocco 35. All four show jumped clear in their own styles and techniques. Sunday was better weather, and by better weather I mean the sun came out.. There was however still ice in the water jump, not very inviting! All cross countried clear with Mario taking it very slow due to the wet conditions and the fact I wanted to school his brakes! Cole ended up 3rd, Mario 8th, Rocco 4th and Boo 10th.

Then it was a quick trip back to the barn to ride Ti and Lois who are competing on Wednesday then a dash (there may have been some speeding laws broken) to the airport so I could get back to Maryland to teach on Monday. A team can only be as effective as the team members. Brittany Meyer's organisational skills and motivational force make the day to day operations run exceptionally smoothly. This Wednesday Ti and Lois are competing at Full Gallop with me and Brittany is riding Forbidden Colours. Please check back for photos and possibly video in a couple of days. Enjoy the cold! Or heat if you're in Australia!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Show season starts with a super weekend!

What a great start to the year! On Friday and Sunday I took advantage of the 'AA' rated show jumping competition held in Aiken to test our horses to see where we stand at the beginning of the year. These show can be invaluable guides for the horses schooling, fitness and also for the rider to get back into the swing of things. I rode Cole, Titanium, Mario and Lois on Friday while Brittany Meyer rode Parker and Keifer. Despite the fact that this is the first show for these horses in a while they all jumped very well, particularly the babies Lois and Titanium. I was very proud of Brittany who had an outstanding performance winning a class on Parker. The mini prix was on Sunday and the weather deteriorated quite badly until we were competing in fairly sloppy conditions, in spite of the best efforts of the organisers to improve. Luckily for me Mario was as happy as a duck in water with the conditions and jumped two fantastic clear rounds! There were few clear rounds so even with a conservative jump off (we need to school those) we ended up third. So like I said, I great start to the year! We know the areas we need to improve and had some very positive rounds. I'm back in Maryland teaching early this week so Brittany is holding the fort and keeping everything running smoothly in SC. Please take the time to check out the video from Mario's Mini Prix.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunny South!


For me as soon as the snow starts to fall it's time to leave beautiful Maryland and head to the warmer climate of Aiken, South Carolina. So after Christmas in Australia with my family and a stay with my mum we packed up the horses, dogs and people and hit Interstate 95. After doing the trip twice in one week we are now happily settled with the horses enjoying the sun and sand, the dogs enjoying the change of scenery and the humans enjoying seeing the thermometer find it's way past the teens. Pine Ridge (where we're staying) is a fantastic facility with a big jumping arena, super dressage arena with full length mirrors, sandy trotting track and great hacking. This is also Kadi Eykamps winter base with her team. Mario (Patrick McCuan), Cole(Rege Dvorsky), Boo(Robin Doser) and Lois(Joe and Krista Hubschman) along with Rocco (Lisa Kurr) and Titanium (Chaney Taggart) are all starting their competition season here. Brittany Meyer is with me working for three months and has two horses, her own Parker and Jess Jones' cute paint Keifer.

My first competition is this Friday with the PSJ jumping series held at Highfields followed by a Mini-Prix on Sunday. I'll post some pictures in the next couple of days so keep checking back for more updates.

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