A Clinic with Jeremy

Lucky for me, and not lucky for my checkbook, several very good dressage clinicians come to CM’s barn. Tanya Vik comes almost every 3 weeks, Axel Steiner comes probably 1-2x a year, and Jeremy Steinberg comes about every other month. CM has been taking lessons with Jeremy for probably close to 15 years and she thinks of him as another son.

Just a bit of back story to set this post up right:

Several years ago, CM brought Muze to a clinic with Jeremy and he promptly fell in love with Muze. Jeremy loved him so much that CW let him take Muze home to train and show for several years. Sadly, Muze developed ringbone in his right hind later on and he came home to “retire”. Luckily, the pastern fusion surgery that was just supposed to make him pasture sound worked WAYY better than they expected and he was able to come back to being sound enough to be ridden.

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Back in his prime

I’ve audited several of Jeremy’s clinics, and have really liked his training methodology and teaching style, but didn’t think that Spot and I were at a place yet for a lesson with him. When I started to ride Muze, Trainer and CM immediately started to hustle me to take a lesson on him with Jeremy. I was pretty hesitant and not really down at first, as:

  1. JEREMY FREAKING TRAINED THIS HORSE FOR YEARS. He knows all of Muze’s idiosyncrasies, ticks, bad habits, tricks, and abilities. While I know that’s a really good thing since I’m learning on him, it scares the bejeezus out of me because then he would know when it was just me riding like a pile of poo.

2. I had only been riding Muze for like 2.5 months and just felt like I hadn’t had enough time to get comfortable with riding him. Oh, and you know…not being able to get the canter sometimes, no biggie.

3. That lesson is freaking expensive. Like, would I get a lot out of it? Would a lesson with him even be beneficial to me at my level of riding?

Anyways, after several weeks of hemming, hawing, and debating about it I gave in and signed up for a lesson during his next visit. I realized that nothing was ever going to be perfect, and if it was perfect what was the point of taking a lesson? If I want to become a better rider and learn more then going sooner would benefit me more than going later when I thought I had everything down.

The clinic came up quick and before I knew it the clinic weekend was here. Megan had come up the night before to hang out and have dinner with Nicole and I so we got a little blogger meet up.  Yay for horsie friends!

We got to the clinic pretty early so we could watch a few other people first. My friend was riding her new horse and in that lesson was where “Screw Up With Confidence” was brought up. I have taken that saying to heart and right then and there I decided that I was just going to go out there and ride my little heart out.

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Lovely photos from Megan!!!

When I got into the ring I really did feel like throwing up in my mouth a little. I was nervous but once Jeremy cracked a few jokes about himself and Muze I definitely relaxed and started to smile. I think Jeremy could tell I was a bit on edge so I’m thankful he tried to lighten things up.

We started with some simple exercises like shallow serpentines, 20m circles, and some shoulder fore to get Muze and I loosened up and so he could watch my riding for a bit before diving in. With Muze, his big thing is to get too low which of course then plops him on the forehand and makes him super heavy in the hand.  It’s a bit tricky with Muze as I have to constantly keep him supple and not let him get too low and bracey while maintaining the quality of the gaits, not letting him throw his right shoulder out, oh and not lean on my inside leg while making sure my position is strong. Whew!! Like juggling and spinning plates, you let one thing go and everything else goes to shit. Jeremy talked about making sure to keep him higher up in the balance and to not be lulled into a false sense of him being soft and so round.You’ll hear him mention that in beginning this video:

Muze is even more tricky in the canter! Due to his pastern fusion on the right hind, he can get rushy and 4-beaty in the canter going right so I have to sit really far on the left to keep him balanced and straight while keeping his right shoulder up. Going left isn’t as tricky, but still takes work to get him going correctly.  Getting the jump in the canter and really concentrating on the quality and balance of the canter was really emphasized.

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After Jeremy got a good feel for my riding, we worked on the Canter-Walk and Walk- Canter and my position in those transitions. My timing in the canter transitions isn’t quite sharp enough yet, so he gave me some tips on how to think about and emphasize the aids. For the inside leg, he wanted me to think about a string tied to Muze’s inside hind and my leg so when I asked for the up transition to think about kicking that leg forward to bring Muze’s leg up and under him. Also, I needed to keep him more active in the hind during the walk so he would be more attentive when I asked for the transition. Position wise, Jeremy wanted me to scoot my foot back and keep just my toes on the stirrup to help allow my heel come down and knee to relax. Also, this would help my toes point more forward and allow for my body to sit back more and be strong in the saddle. He thought my position was good otherwise and if he was going to nit-pick that I could sit a bit straighter with shoulders back and down, with the chest up. Then again, he said that probably everyone could sit a bit straighter, ha!  We ended up having several transitions that were really good! In fact, he said that our Canter-Walks were better than the average rider! WUT?! Better than average? I’ll take it! That comment is caught on video too!

At the very end of our lesson, Jeremy said the two most dreaded words: Sit Trot

I’ve been dreading the sit trot and haven’t really worked on it at all, but he wanted me to feel the motion and start practice working on it. Muze is such a darling and totally just let me bounce around on him for the last 10 minutes. The pointers Jeremy gave me on the sit trot:

  • Embrace the Bounce! You’re gonna bounce, but once you relax into it and try not to sit still the more still you will look. The more you relax, the more you’ll start to feel how the motion of the trot pushes your seat forward.
  • Don’t clamp your thighs down. Keep your thighs loose move along with the motion
  • Practice sitting the trot starting from the walk. When going from the walk to trot, your body is more relaxed so the first few steps of sitting the trot are always the best. When you feel like everything is falling apart, transition back down to walk and start again. Then when you’re sitting the trot you can think about how your body relaxes in the walk and just thinking it can help get the balance back.
  • Keep your lower body loose, but upper body strong. Let your ankles relax and move with the motion. I noticed as I did more sit trot, my ankles relaxed a bit and I felt more at ease with the motion

If you care to watch, here’s a long 10 minute video of me on the sit trot struggle bus:

I came out of that lesson with a huge smile on my face. It was probably one of the best lessons I’ve ever had and I learned a ton while having fun. I am so glad I decided to take a lesson with him on Muze, he had a ton of insights on how to ride him properly while working with my riding abilities. In my rides and lessons since my lesson I’ve been working a ton more on sit trot and working on my leg position while making sure Muze is balanced and working correctly.  I really enjoyed Jeremy’s teaching and I look forward to taking another lesson with him again the next time he is back. I would highly recommend anyone to go at least audit his clinics.

Huge thanks to Megan for taking awesome photos and Andy for getting video for me!

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Catching Up

So, what’s been going on with Peony and Spot?

Well, not much.

Spot was diagnosed with a right hind suspensory strain probably in late October, and while it wasn’t a tear, the ligament was definitely enlarged with some micro-tearing. I decided that I would pretty much rehab her like it was a tear so I’ve been taking my sweet ass time.

The first month was just hand walking for 25 minutes, and after that we started tack walking for 25 minutes, increasing 5 minutes a week until we were doing 45 minutes. We started trotting sometime in December, starting with 2 minutes, and increasing 2 minutes every 4 days until we were at 25 minutes of trot total. It was a little dicey in the beginning with our hand walking…we upgraded to a rope halter and I started to hand walk wearing a helmet and gloves. The Flying Potato at times decided she wanted to be a horse kite and gave me her best Black Stallion impression. We finally we started cantering about 2 weeks ago! Once we get up to 25 minutes of trot and about 20 minutes of canter we will be fully rehabbed!

While Spot’s rehab has been going on, I happened to pick up a new ride.

Introducing Muze!

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His hair game is strong

I was fortunate enough to meet Muze’s owner CM through my trainer and she was looking for someone to ride Muze a few days a week as his bouncy-ness and round-ness makes her two artificial knees hurt. I guess fake knees don’t oscillate the way real knees do.

Muze is a 16.1, 18 year old, Swedish Warmblood. He’s been trained and shown PSG/I1 but with an old pastern injury he just can’t do the pirouettes. Not like pirouettes are anywhere in my near future, LOL. So, he’s been packing me around and teaching me how to dance and be a good dance partner.  He’s pretty much the best schoolmaster ever and has AMAZING hair. He’s kind and so cute, but he absolutely does not give things up easily and really makes me work for it.

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Insert cookies, plz

My riding education has grown tremendously and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to ride him.

So there you have it. A quick update on what I and Spot have been up to along with an introduction to Muze!

 

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Euro-Trip!

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I’m headed off to London for a bit of a vacation and family reunion of sorts this week. The last of the cousins on my dad’s side is getting married so we’ll be jetting over to celebrate with 2 whole days of wedding.  Oh, and of course, revel in the awesomeness which is a Chinese wedding banquet which has about 12 courses.

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This is but a taste of all the noms I will eat

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Awww Yissss

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Can guarantee something to this affect will occur

But, we’ll also do some sightseeing since I haven’t been to London in 10 years and Andy has never been.  So we’ll go to the Tower of London to see all the sparklies, Hampton Court to see where King Henry the VIII had all his shenanigans, and lots of other fun things.

I’ve already found a few tack stores I want to visit while I’m there, so I’m sure I’ll be posting pics of my tack-hoing on Instagram (if you don’t follow me you should 😉 )in full force.  Meanwhile, at home, Spot will have a nice 10 day vacation while Andy and I traipse the London town. Thank goodness for WIFI so during our down time I’ll have time to keep up on everyone’s posts

I’ll be back to posting in the beginning of July, and it’s going to be a good month as I’ve got 2!! 2 AWESOME contest/review giveaways! So stay tuned! 🙂

 

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Trading Places: Horse Wife Edition

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A few weeks ago, I found myself in uncharted territory as a 1st time Horse Show Wife.

My husband Andy and his lease horse went to their first HJ show EVAR and I found myself in the role of groom, photographer/videographer, and holder of things. But first, some background on Andy and his pony….

As some of you might have caught in Horse Expo/Megan and L visit post,  Andy is leasing a horse named Upgreydd.

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2 D’s for a Double Dose of Pimpin

 

Upgreydd, which is pronounced just like “Upgrade” is a grey 2006 TB (barn name Fallon) that’s missing the “OT” in OTTB because he wouldn’t leave the starting gate. Fallon is a bit of a stubborn horse but is honest, pretty unflappable, and likes to jump. He and Andy are a really good match both in temperament and size so I’m glad it has worked out!

Andy picked up riding a bit after we started dating and with a long history of almost pro level mountain biking under his belt, riding came pretty natural to him so he kept taking lessons and started to lease. He became pretty intrigued with Eventing so he started riding with Nicole’s trainer, who then introduced us to Fallon.

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Anyways, back to my story of being Horse Show Wife…

We’re lucky to have several very close shows that the local HJ association puts on, so Andy was excited when Trainer said she would be taking several horses and had room for Fallon. That night before the show,  we cleaned and conditioned his tack (I’m slightly neurotic about clean tack) and boots and then I picked out his outfit for the show because I gotta make sure my man looks fly AF.

Andy planned on doing the X-rails, 2 ft, and maybe the 2’3 class if the first 2  went well and since those were scheduled to start at 8:30 we were at the show grounds pretty early. While Andy was dealing with registration, I went ahead and started to groom and tacked up Fallon so he would be ready to roll. Before we made our way to the warm up ring I made sure I had snacks, water, sunblock, treats for Fallon, fly spray, and the camera on hand so I would be prepared for anything! Now I realize why those groom backpacks are so useful! I might have to get one for us to use for shows.

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This was pretty much me

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I took a ton of pictures while Andy and his fellow barnmates warmed up so I could practice taking good action shots for the actual round. Here are some of my attempts above.

The 1st class up with the X-rail class which had about 7-8 people including Andy, who went in the middle of the pack, so we were able to watch a few people go first. Quite a few of the horses were being spooky with the fillers and flowers so it made for quite an exciting x-rail class. I don’t know if Andy was nervous, but damn I was a bit anxious when he went in for his ride, but he was cool as a cucumber and had a nice clean round! So clean and so close to the optimum time that he took 1st place!! I started laughing hysterically as I was so proud and impressed! #proudhorseshowwife

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But somehow,  between the x-rail and 2ft class I managed to lose Andy’s ribbon and horse cookie prize #fail. I had put it in the bed of a golf cart and when I went back to get it the golf cart was gone. I managed to track down the golf cart and retrieved the prize , but the ribbon must have blown out. Andy was peeved and laughed  at me when I told him what happened, but I managed to get a replacement ribbon for him. Thanks Show Managers!

His 2ft class was bigger with about 12 people and also included a jump off course if you jumped the round clean. He had a clean round and a clean jump off, and was leading the pack until a firecracker of a pony came in and smoked him and took about 6 seconds off his time. In the end though,. Andy and Fallon ended up taking 2nd overall!

Since the first 2 classes went so well, he decided to do the 2’3 class at the last minute so there was a bit of downtime  since he was towards the end of a pretty big class.  I gave Andy some gatorade, shoved him a granola bar, and had him hang out in the shade while I walked Fallon around to get some water. We were glad to see Fallon suck down water because it was a pretty warm day and he was glad to get a break at the trailer with his hay net. After a quick break, Andy was back out again and I remember that I should get some video! Here’s his 2’3 class and jump off for your viewing pleasure!

A solid clean round ended up as a 6th place for Andy and Fallon out of a decently sized class. He was super pleased with how his first show went and now has caught the “show bug” as he was already thinking about the next show! Ha!

I’m really super proud of how he did as was so glad I got to be there to help and see him and Fallon go around. Being the help/horse show spouse this time around also made me appreciate that much more how Andy helps me at my shows and clinics, and I’m glad I was able to return the favor. Great job, Andy and Fallon! You both dolled out a double dose of pimpin!

Do any of your significant others show? Or compete in events where you’ve been their helper and vice versa? Would love to hear your stories too! 🙂

 

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A Very Pony Weekend: Western States Horse Expo and Pony Sleepover

Every year in June, the Western States Horse Expo comes to town, and I think I’ve gone almost every year to do some shopping, but this time  it was 50x better because I got to go with L and Megan!  I had known that Megan was coming up to look for a saddle for Rico and her mom, but when L said she could come up too it quickly turned into another pony sleepover.

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I had told them that Andy needed to ride his lease horse on Friday, so when they arrived we headed out to watch Andy ride and have L meet the infamous Flying Potato. Spot and her roommates got treats from all of us and Spot got a bonus cuddle session from L and Megan.

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After a quick visit, we headed to Andy’s barn where Nicole’s Murray is boarded also! Sadly, Nicole was in Australia or she would have definitely been a part in our weekend shenanigans, but we did say hello to the Murray Monster. He was highly suspicious at first but with a bit of bribing he decided to cooperate for a photo op or two.

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Bribery works

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Such a cute Murray

We finished the night with some thai food, froyo, and stayed up wayyy too late talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! L and Megan are two pretty cool people and I’m so glad I’ve become friends with them.

The next day after pancakes, eggs and ham, coffee, and more coffee, we made our way to the expo for a day of shopping and all things horse. The Western States Expo is much more western discipline focused, but there were lots of vendors that catered to english and western people. I drooled over all the fancy trailers for sale, with this trailer being my favorite with its unique tack area:

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Where do I sign?

I ended up buying a US Rider membership ($20 off for signing up at the Expo), ice wraps, supplements, No Thrush, and a muscle soreness rub. Oh, we also all went nuts and entered every single giveaway/raffle we could find, because who doesn’t like free Platinum Performance, free grain for a year, or a $300 SmartPak gift certificate? We checked out Megan’s mom’s new saddle which was crazy light and hilariously we found show photos of L and Carlos at the CSHA booth.

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The soon to be Rico Saddle! 

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We were having an awesome day so far, but it wasn’t over just yet! We ended up going to a local B show to watch a little and check out the normally well stocked tack vendors there. The show is a Beach Party theme so everyone has their stalls decorated with beach/tropic themes, people are showing in Hawaiian shirts, horses have leis on, and the arenas are given tropical names. We checked out all the goods, though I restrained myself from buying anything since I spent a good bit at the expo, and just watched some of the jumpers go before we head back to my house.

Our chosen food group of the day was Tacos, so before L and Megan left we had another round of tacos at a really good local taqueria down the street to close our the weekend. The tacos we had at the Expo were pretty sad, so we obviously needed better ones.

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I had such a fun, horse filled weekend with L and Megan but damn I was exhausted! It was a whirlwind of a weekend. There’s a big NorCal blogger meet up happening in a few weeks but I’ll actually be in England for vacation, sad but not sad? Either way, I can foresee more epic visits in the future, but this time Nicole will be able to join in on the fun too!

 

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Dance Lesson with A Enter Spooking

A few weeks ago I got the chance to take a lesson with Megan from A Enter Spooking! I’ve read her blog for a while now and since I’ve gotten to meet her in real life, I jumped at the chance to clinic with her.

Nicole and I both got to lesson with Megan, and it was super fun being able to watch each other and get lots of video and photos. Yay for Blog Buddy Lesson Adventures! Anyways, on to my lesson!

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If only Spot knew what was in store for her that day…

Megan watched me warm up and I told her that we started to work on more lateral work (LY/SI) but we had issues with being on the bit consistently and Spot getting tense and braced. With that being said, we started off on everybody’s favorite 20m circle with the main focus for me was to get Spot’s neck and head down as low as possible. With the way Spot is built,  it’s real easy for her to be on the vertical but not actually be on the bit and using her bod, and since she holds  tension in her underneck, having her as low as possible would help her let go of that tension and free up her back.

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Girl’s got a big beefy neck

At first, Spot wasn’t too sure she wanted to play, but she settled in and was nice and forward. However, when I thought she was on the bit, Megan told me that she was barely on the bit and I needed to work getting her lower as she was still holding out on me. To get there, I needed to connect the outside rein more and really think about driving Spot’s inside hind leg up and into my outside rein while imagining her rib cage being on the bend of the circle. This was a common theme with others as well…that damn pesky outside rein!

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Not quite there yet…

Getting Spot lower required me to really maintain my rein connection but to also keep my inside rein soft and soften the inside corner of Spot’s mouth/jaw so she wouldn’t be inclined to brace. Megan also had to remind me I needed to not stop riding when I got her where I wanted and to not freeze because once I froze Spot would pop back up and get tense again. Spot wasn’t strong enough to keep herself there and it was uncomfortable for her so I couldn’t trust her yet to maintain that position. But damn…when I was able to get Spot working correctly her trot felt HUGE, floaty, and almost too fast. But in reality, it was because she was taking bigger steps, opening up her back, and really swinging through the trot. Also, its funny how during my ride I felt Spot neck and head disappeared and was too low, but watching the video shows how it really wasn’t that low, ha!

 

I was really glad that Megan kept talking to me throughout my lesson, and it helped me connect what I was feeling to what exactly I was doing with my body. Sometimes I can get a little too much into my head and if I’m doing something precisely right, but with Megan inserting herself into my stream of consciousness I was able to focus on what she was saying and to try to execute it. I’m so glad I got tons of video so I can go back and watch and listen to all the good info I missed!

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Once I was able to get Spot a bit more consistently in a lower position, we started to work on figure 8s. I had to work at being less abrupt when changing the direction as I had a tendency to just fling myself over and not help keep Spot balanced through the turn. To keep the figure 8 smooth, Megan had me slightly counter flex Spot in the 1/4 of the circle before switching to the new direction to help prepare her to step into our new outside rein. It took a few times but we had one or two nice figure 8s where I was able to keep her nice and low throughout the whole rein change, but with the times where it wasn’t as smooth, I was able to get back our roundness more quickly. Because I had Nicole and Andy with me I got some sweet video and you can hear Megan coaching in both videos.


And did you hear Megan’s comment about how the Flying Potato is “so uphill” and “so connected through her body” ?! I almost couldn’t believe it when she commented that Spot has the conformation for dressage with her short back, uphill build, and big booty. It was pretty amazing for me to see video of how Spot’s gaits improved when I had her really working through her body, a pretty big night and day difference! Maybe I can get my fancy potato to dance!

I was so glad I had an opportunity to lesson with Megan! I learned a ton,  got some great results, and have a idea of where the path forward is now for Spot and I. Not to mention, I had an awesome time being able to hang out and lesson with Nicole! I’m super excited to work on getting Spot more through and off her under neck in the coming months so we can become more consistent and more comfortable working.

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The Epic Weekend: Pony Sleepover and the WSS 1 Day Event

Again, super late, but whatevs it was a pretty freaking awesome weekend.

With the WSS 1 Day Event approaching, Andy and I got lassoed into helping with the XC timing and stadium timing. Andy has run the timing systems for Cyclocross races and MTB races so it that was perfect, but I had never timed for stadium for so I was a touch worried I might F-up everything and angry eventers would hunt me down. Thankfully, no Peony Lynching occurred.

Since Megan also volunteered to help at the event and L was suppose to be in the area, we had plans for an amazing sleepover ala Saddle Club style, but sadly L couldn’t make it up. ~sad panda~ Megan fell in love with our dog Rio and Rio decided she was pretty cool too.

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How can anyone resist that face?!

Megan and I ended up staying up wayyy too late talking about ponies, why dressage is so hard, jobs, and how to get more ponies. We would decide we were going to bed but then we would go off on another tangent and end up staying up another 20-30 minutes. Such good conversation!

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So much awkward in this photo

We were up early the next day and off to WSS armed with snacks, coffee, and sunblock. I was in charge of setting up the whole stadium timing system which was a bit nerve wracking but I got that shit figured out and made it my bitch by the first couple of rounds. The head jump judge was pretty pleased with my skillz and told the organizers I needed to stay being the timer because she has never had a SJ timing go so well.  It went quite smoothly over in the SJ arena though I wish I could have caught some of the XC  and dressage, maybe next time!

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I GOT THE POWWA!!!

There were over 150 riders for the event so the last SJ round was the Intro Level which seems quite attainable for The Flying Potato and I. 2 ft max? Love it. Also, I heard that the XC portion was smaller than anything we had schooled at Camelot the month before, so totally doable! I planted a seed into Megan’s head that we should both do an Intro event. Dancing Hippo and Flying Potato at the same event?! Maybe one day soon!!!

Overall, it was a pretty epic and exciting weekend! It was so much fun hanging out with Megan and being able to help the even run smoothly while being able to watch some talented riders and horses jump sticks. I highly recommend volunteering if you get the chance!

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Blogger Photo!

 

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