This was truly a great group to travel with and I feel like we came home good friends.
I am so happy I got to know Lourie and see what tremendous progress she has made with Max (who she got from us). I knew he would be special! We also made new friends with Kelly and her mom. They are both so sweet and I am excited to watch Kelly and Miko as they develop their partnership. I think they will go far! Andrea and Jenny are always so helpful and enthusiastic. They took such terrific care of all our furbabies! I am so happy to see that Molson has made a full recovery and is possibly more excited than Jenny to be back to work. I think this week really brought them back up to speed and they will make a really successful reemergence to competition. This week was the first time I got to see Andrea with Syrah and they make quite a team! Fearlessly attacking each question with pizazz! Meghan and Miles take such good care of each other and both are so brave and bold! I love the stadium picture Jenny took of them showing Miles with his knees up to his throat! Wonderful, youthful Jeri never ceases to amaze me with her perfect seat. She is so utterly confident and in tune with her horses! This was my first time meeting Emily and wow can she ride! She could have a very successful career as a rodeo queen;-) I was so impressed when Koda calmly trotted through the last water at Full Gallop, ears pricked, neck stretched out and down for his intelligent eyes to size up the bank out. That moment was a huge breakthrough! All of us girls were impressed with Holly who was game to try any of the prelim XC and made it look SO easy! Trevor knows when to challenge her and when to take care of her and they are an amazing pair. And of course there is my mother, Nancy, who impressed even me by calmly taking on some of the largest XC fences she has ever jumped. I am so impressed by all these incredible horse-women!
I am now also in love with South Carolina; Aiken is so beautiful and it is so amazing to be in an entire town of horse people, many of which are Eventers! The fact that the majority of our Olympic riders train there in the winter is evidence enough to the idyllic setting. Megan did such a stellar job at planning each day, if she ever decides to retire from competition she could have a legitimate job as an equestrian vacation planner! Her perfect planning even extended to daily group meals where we got to bond over a cornucopia of different cuisine, all of which I was amazed to find were delicious, even the Indian, which I must admit I was a little skeptical about at first;-)
On a personal note, this week was huge for me and Oliver. I am not famous for being a very confident rider, something that really hinders me when it comes to training Oliver. He can be a bit difficult for me sometimes and it has pretty much only been because of Megan’s constant encouragement that I have stuck with him. This week was incredible for us; whether due to the total emergence in training, the multitude of XC schoolings, or the Olympic inspiration, Oliver and I really clicked. We jumped some fences that I never thought we could and shockingly jumped them pretty well. For the first time, Oliver actually worked WITH me, helping me out even when I didn’t ride particularly well. He made even the Intermediate questions feel so easy! This is the most optimistic I have ever been going into a season! The best part even came after we returned to KY when Jenny sent me a link from Boyd Martin’s blog showing that Boyd himself had jumped the same jump as Oliver and me on the same day!!
Somewhat over-shadowed by Oliver’s spectacular-ness is my new baby, Simon. I have had Simon for exactly three months with the number of rides on him this week equaling the number of times I rode him since I bought him until we left for Aiken:-) Simon’s week is hard to rate since we have nothing to base it on, but I feel we really got our feet wet on this trip (literally!). This was such a fantastic experience for all the babies; they really bloomed with the intensive training.
All-in-all this was a truly fabulous trip. I can not think of a single improvement it needed. To all who went, it was wonderful getting to know you both on and off your horses! To all who will make sure they go next year, get ready for a really excellent trip!
Thanks especially to Megan for planning the best trip ever!! I am already excited for next year;-)
Advanced level event rider and instructor at Team CEO Eventing in Lexington KY.