So, of course in typical me fashion things have been going at a million miles an hour and I have done a less than stellar job of keeping everything updated. Therefore I need to backtrack a little bit!
The last weekend in April we went to Carolina Horse Park for Budget Friendly Dressage. It was a super laid back show for us and we had a blast. I only rode Brandon, as I didn’t think Pop needed to get out again until DIS. Lysa showed Bogey, Michelle took Mimi to her very first show ever and Kelly Farmer came down from VA with Diaz. Everyone had a great weekend over all. I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday so I didn’t give B quite the ride he deserved but he still scored in the mid 60’s and was 2nd in his class. I rode him much better on Sunday where he scored several points higher and won the class. Lysa had a great weekend full of overall growth and solid mid 60’s scoring and she really pushed her comfort zone in terms of riding her tests. Michelle and Mimi had a great weekend. She won all 3 of her classes and acted like she had been off the farm a million times before and never set a foot wrong. I could not love this precious little mare anymore than I do. She has such a great brain and a heart of gold. I can’t wait to see her and Hailey out cleaning up together in a few years! And Kelly and Diaz had a great weekend back in the ring for the first time since last fall. She had scores in the 60’s, at least 1 blue ribbon and even walked away with a “10” on her last centerline!!! I am so glad there are shows back at CHP again, I love showing out there!

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(Michelle Martin and Remember Me looking so gorgeous together and Kelly and Diaz’s 10!)

Then, 2 weeks later on Mother’s Day Weekend we all headed to the harness track in Pinehurst for the big Dressage In The Sandhills show. This was a super busy, but successful weekend for everyone and I was very proud! Stacey was there with her crew which was great because I was able to have some eyes in the warm up! Michelle showed Pop 4th level on Friday and got one of her scores towards her silver medal, and Josiah showed Pyper at 2nd level on Friday as well. He was 4th and 1st in his classes and got one of his scores for his bronze too! He would have gotten both except he rode in front of the same judge for both tests but so proud of him. He is 1/2 way there :-)! Lysa and Bogey had a fantastic weekend. She was riding bolder and with more confidence than I have ever seen. I’m not sure where that person came from but I’m certainly not complaining!! Bogey and the judges weren’t either. She put in 6 super solid and consistent tests over 3 days and broke 70% on Sunday!!! Ellen and Monty had a great weekend too. These 2 are learning more and more about each other with each outing and their rides are getting better and better! I am so proud of them! My boys both put in solid shows. I wasn’t super thrilled with my test on Pop on Saturday. He still scored a 62+% and 5th in a large class but I didn’t feel like we were working together like we normally do. The whole thing felt disjointed and tough to me, not the usual cohesive feeling I get from him. I was able to bring him out again that evening for a brief school with Stacey and I think that helped a ton! We were able to get back on the same page and I felt much better going into our test on Sunday. I left a ton of points on the table with silly inaccuracies riding the actual test but my main goal was to get both of our confidences back up in the ring after the day before and that we did. Even with my bobbles we scored over a 65 and 3rd place. I was super excited that the quality of the work was that much better because I know I can ride an accurate test. Now I’m determined to break 70% with him this season! 🙂 Brandon was great all weekend. His test on Saturday seemed to be the ride of the mares. Poor boy was sandwiched in the warmup around over 20 mares (yes, I counted). He was fantastic about it all though and really held himself together very well but was understandably a touch distracted in his test. He finished up 4th in the class and while I felt the scoring was quite harsh it was consistent across the board considering where he finished. Sunday he came out ready for redemption. He went in the ring (at 7:30 no less, ouch!!!!!) and aside from one moment on his entrance he threw down the best test I had ridden on him to date. It was still good enough for a 68+% and first place. It also qualified him for BLM’s too. He went in the ring a few hours later and put in a gorgeous, relaxed, focused and confident test to score over a 72% and another win. That was the horse I knew was in there and was waiting for him to figure out. He marched down the centerline with so much confidence, it was a blast. He is really starting to put it all together and man is he something special.

Briana and Brandon RF 20140525-210605-75965279.jpg

Michelle Martin showing HRH Popstarr at 4th level 20140525-211426-76466764.jpg

Briana and HRH Popstarr showing PSG 20140525-211427-76467171.jpg

Ellen Bradford showing King’s Mount at training level 20140525-211617-76577665.jpg

Josiah Bryant showing Pyper 2nd level 20140525-211732-76652951.jpg

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect at 1st level 20140525-211753-76673803.jpg
Everyone went home for a few days of well deserved rest before the much anticipated Axel Steiner clinic the following Wednesday and Thursday. I was of course incredibly excited to work with him again after my experience with him last fall. He certainly did not disappoint. The transformation in both horses was amazing but Brandon impressed me the most. (I Know what I have in Popstarr but with Brandon there is still a lot to discover!) He really stepped up to the plate and owned the work and pressure so much better than I ever could have expected. By the end of our ride we were working on the start of some half steps and working canter pirouettes. Even Axel was very impressed, especially with how he handled the pressure as a young stallion. That was a lot to ask any horse but it’s a whole different ball game with the young boys. B proved he had what it takes to hang with the big boys in a big way and I can’t wait to see where we go! The difference in him from when he got here the end of Feb to now, 3 months later is incredible! I can’t wait to see the powerhouse I’m gonna have underneath me by the end of the year!! Pop was of course exceptional as always and Axel really liked him. He pushed us in a fantastic way and we were schooling some super fun stuff (piaffe/passage, stepping the pirouettes up, half pass zig-zags etc) and in record breaking news I managed to not ride the tempi’s like a moron and we actually schooled them really well! (Yay for not totally embarrassing myself!!) the quality of the work we were getting was phenomenal and it was so fun to really feel things stepping up and us owning the upper level work! I can’t speak for everyone else who rode but I know for myself it was a great experience not only as a ride but a trainer as well. It was awesome to get the positive affirmation that my students were on the right tracks and also great to get advice on how to help them through their problem areas more. We already have plans in the works to try to bring him in again this fall before regionals and nationals for another tune up. Hopefully Cosmo will be feeling better by then and will get to ride too. Axel was so instrumental with him last fall that I really want the chance to ride the big man with him again.

We were planning on heading to the CDC in Raleigh next weekend but we all felt a bit run down after the 2 shows and clinic all so close together so we decided to sit this one out and head back up to Raleigh in July for Summer Dressage I&II. Until next time…..B 🙂

Photos from the Axel Steiner Clinic:

Rhonda Dretel riding Demaskus 20140525-214911-78551284.jpg

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect 20140525-215236-78756270.jpg

Potluck dinner and q&a with Axel Steiner 20140525-215300-78780196.jpg

Natalie Horton riding Cameron 20140525-215320-78800901.jpg

Clinic auditors 20140525-215421-78861193.jpg

Briana Atwell riding HRH Popstarr 20140525-215538-78938531.jpg

Mr. Axel Steiner teaching 20140525-215610-78970738.jpg

Briana Atwell riding Brandon RF 20140525-215610-78970457.jpg

Liz Bromberg riding Magda during a torrential downpour! Who said DQ’s weren’t tough? I know this one sure is!!! 20140525-220800-79680107.jpg