Aiken Week In Review–Nikki’s Blog

ImageHere’s Nikki’s recap of the Client Excursion Week Trip last week. Nikki brought two horses, her Preliminary horse Master Oliver on whom she won the Area Championships at Training last year, and her young BN horse.   While I admit that this blog post makes me blush, I agreed previously to publish everyone’s thoughts verbatim, so here goes… –Megan

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“Last year was my first trip to Aiken; before it was even over I was already looking forward to the next trip! That is how fabulous the entire experience was. Megan is different than many professional riders; most coach solely for the income to support their own endeavors. Megan however, pours herself into her teaching and earnestly does everything in her power to help her students succeed. I have never met a more dedicated trainer who puts her students’ needs before her own. It is this devotion that inspires her to spend countless hours each year planning the most incredible horse vacation any of us has ever been on. She carefully plans the itinerary fromaccommodations for both horses and riders, to the training schedule, to what fabulous places we will dine in the evenings, even including a fantastic day of tack shops and a frozen yogurt bar (SO GOOD).

ImageAs if such a terrific schedule were not enough, she also magically transforms our horses over the week so that the horses we return home with are so vastly improved they are nearly unrecognizable from the creatures we left with! I personally took two of my horses, Oliver and Heavenly, for this year’s trip. Oliver had some successes (and failures!) at prelim last season, and frankly, I truly believed we had peaked in our training. I did not expect any further improvements in our partnership as I really felt we had reached the limit of our abilities. How I love when Megan proves me wrong! Oliver has become the consummate professional. He became so unfazed about visiting new places he actually became easy and – dare I say – FUN to ride! The week culminated for us with him boldly schooling some massive intermediate questions as if it was nothing new and I realized my horse has more scope than I ever imagined.

Heavenly’s experience is even more impressive. I started riding her mid August and quickly fell in love with the spunky mare. She did two beginner novice horse trials last fall, but not much since. Megan had suggested over the winter that she could debut this spring with her first novice at Spring Bay. I thought this was a bit over-zealous, but I have learned not to doubt Megan;-) Our first day in Aiken was not terrific for me as I was not happy with the way she was using herself to jump. I decided (totally prematurely) that no, she was not ready for novice. The aforementioned magic Megan worked on her all week ended with the best jumping the mare has ever done at Sporting Days Farm where she jumped the majority of the Training course Oliver had just done two weeks prior. She essentially went from BN to schooling Training in a week and did so with confidence and panache.

Indeed, the most remarkable part of the trip for all of the horses who went was not that they improved so markedly, it was that they did so without even seeming to notice! Megan carefully built them up bit-by-bit so that each time one of us asked our horse to do something new they did not even question it. By the end of the week Kelly and Miko were dropping down the biggest banks they have ever done; Emily and Koda were sailing over training fences in the mostrhythmic, balanced canter; Carlene and Forrest were jumping things I’m sure they never imagined they would! Marian with Chris and Christina with Tort became the epitomes of fearlessness, while Kathryn and Holly’s babies Sammy and Jester showed us how amazing they are going to be! Micki’s elation at having a breakthrough with her boy was infectious and made us all so proud of them. Holly with Trevor and Ali with Alex were so impressive, diving right back into jumping the Big Stuff as perfectly as ever (as we all know, jumping horses is NOT like riding a bicycle, you DO get rusty). Everyone made such incredible advances with their horses and ended the week SO excited for the start of the show season.

ImageI think I speak for everyone that this trip is a fabulous experience and well-worth whatever it takes you to get to go. Thanks SO much to Megan and Andrea for everything they do to make this trip so great (including bringing horses in in the middle of the night during thunderstorms and killing spiders for wussy ladies).

Sign me up for the Aiken Excursion 2013!”

Nikki Burgio

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About widespreadpanic

Advanced level event rider and instructor at Team CEO Eventing in Lexington KY.
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