Man, I really have got to be better about updating this thing, I’m not sure once every 5 months really cuts it. I’ve got so much to update. This might take a while. Gonna try to stick to the main points.

Our first show of the season was Dressage At The Lake in Lake Waccamaw, NC. I brought Popstarr out for his I1 debut and his first show back since August 2014 after his minor injury. Jordyn Dunson brought Zidane for her 3rd level debut, Lysa and Bogie were in search of their last first level qualifying score for GAIG’s and Jennifer Fales was hoping to have a solid start to her show season with Party after a rough 2014. Well, we ended up renaming this show to Dressage IN the lake because it was a total monsoon the entire weekend. Thankfully the show was held in the covered arena so for our tests we were good to go, but there was no warm up indoors available so we ended up having to do some pretty creative scheduling and interesting warm ups between rides around the outside of the ring. Whoever said DQ’s aren’t tough, hardcore and creative clearly never spent a weekend with the competitors at this show because everyone there toughed it out with smiles, laughter and an awesome attitude. Popstarr was the epitome of a wild dragon in his first test on Saturday. Not that I would have expected anything less from him, silly wild boy. Thankfully he knocked the cobwebs off enough to give me a MUCH more rideable test on Sunday for a 67 in the I1. Jordyn had a bit of a handful for a couple of movements in her 3rd level debut with her gorgeous KWPN gelding, Zidane, but man she handled him like a rockstar and still easily earned 2 scores over 60% at 3rd level, unfortunately it wasn’t going to complete her bronze medal since they were from the same judge. Lysa had a solid weekend with Bogie at 1st level. It was his first show back since GAIG’s last fall and she finished her last qualifier she needed without any trouble. The weather created warmup issues were particularly tough for him because he really does his best with lots of circles and bending and suppling in the warm up and that isn’t really an option when you are circling the outside of the arena only. But it was still good enough to get her the scores and another positive outing in the ring. Jen didn’t have the weekend we had hoped she would with Party who had been going quite well at home and we were rather optimistic that we had sorted out the issues surrounding her troubles. However, it became glaringly apparent to both of us at this show that Party really just didn’t want to be a show horse. She loves the partnership with Jen and loves the attention but at this point in her life the pressure of a show ring, no matter how laid back it is just isn’t her cup of tea. At 21 the beauty of it for her is that it doesn’t have to be. She is now living the high life in a giant field of grass with her friends and all the love and attention she could ever want. Lucky girl.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This brings me to the next scheduled big news. Having just retired Party and finding ourselves at a crossroads with what Jen’s next step would be we found ourselves brainstorming and trying to come up with what the next best move would be in Jen’s dressage adventure. Enter, Eliza. Eliza is owned by my other student Natalie Horton and they have had quite an impressive career together before Natalie moved onto her current mount, Cameron. Eliza was here in town at a sales barn to be sold which was proving to be very difficult for them to actually do. They were totally torn between not really wanting to sell her and not being in a position to keep 2 horses going. All of the sudden it smacked me in the face. It was one of those very few times I get a super brilliant idea that I know is going to be just perfect and awesome for everyone and I get so excited I can hardly contain myself. In general I am not one of those trainers who pushes their students to do whatever they say based on blind faith. I am probably one of the least pushy trainers out there and like to generally give my students a variety of options and let them choose the right path for them. This was not one of those cases. I knew Eliza would be perfect for Jen but I knew she would also be very intimidating at first because not only is she totally different from Party, she isn’t exactly a little bitty thing either and well, Jen is. I knew if I gave Jen too much time to let her brain run away with her she would totally freak herself out. Therefore, I told her she just had to trust me and we promptly arranged for her to march her behind over to the other barn and ride her the very next day. While she was a bit apprehensive of her size at first she was immediately head over heels in love with her. Just like I knew she would be. This worked out even better because before the Lake Waccamaw show Jen had already entered March Magic with Party so we were able to make a swift horse change and with 2 rides on her before the show off we went.

So, we’ve arrived at March Magic. I rode Popstarr in the PSG, Natalie made her 2nd level and recognized show debut on Cameron, and Jen brought her new love Eliza. In typical March Magic fashion and sure to not be upstaged by Dressage In The Lake it was another miserable weather show. Waccamaw was very very wet but it was at least warm. MM was soaking wet and freezing cold- I’m talking it was snowing during one of Jen’s tests. YUCK. But, it was a great weekend over all and everyone held it together fantastically esp considering how miserably cold it was. Popstarr was pretty darn good, and was 1st and 2nd. He was more rideable this weekend than he was the last show which is always the goal. I much prefer it when he lets me do the driving because he tends to be a tiny bit of a show off and overachiever. Natalie had a solid start with Cameron including scores over 69% at 2nd level. He held himself together really well considering and continued to improve in each test which is really all we can ask of him. He just needs miles at shows and he will be fantastic. Jen and Eliza were the super stars of the show, not that it was any shock to anyone except Jen. She rode her first test outside in the freezing rain/snow disgustingness and temps in the 30’s. It was beautiful and the start of an awesome partnership. She came out of the ring beaming from ear to ear and announced she will be so happy if it scores a 50 or above. We of course all knew her score would be much higher than that but she wasn’t convinced yet after all her struggles with Party. It scored a 71.875% and man what I would have given for someone to have recorded her reaction when she saw the score on the live scoring (YAY for modern technology btw). It was epic and awesome and the reason why I love what I do so much. She followed up on Sunday with a 69.688 in the coliseum and a 1st place!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The beginning of April Michelle and I went on a very exciting adventure to Pennsylvania to pick up the latest addition to the team and her very exciting new partner, Veronica. This trip was super exciting because not only did we get to bring home the gorgeous Diva V but Michelle and I got to hang out with Ginger Parker (Owner of Flower Farm) who is just so much fun and a couple of future super stars for us who have some pretty epic family members. Ginger bred Veronica who is by her incredibly special stallion Vinca (Metall x Idocus) out of Technique (Jazz). Veronica has shown successfully through 3rd level as well as being incredibly successful in the FEI 4 and 6 year old tests. She is incredibly sweet and fun to have around but she is seriously one of the most talented horses I’ve ever met. When I say this mare is an out of this world mover that is an understatement. She is a giant giant mover who literally just floats across the ground like she is on a cloud and everything is effortless for her. She also has an amazing brain (Her daddy has a talent for passing that attribute on) and is so sensible and trainable. We are all totally smitten with her and can’t wait to see what the future hold. This world class mare is also available for sale. For more information please inquire. Now, back to those babies I mentioned earlier- Ginger happens to own not one but 2 of Popstarr’s 1/2 sisters. They are all out of the same dam which is obviously much more rare than to be by the same stallion. Vanity is a full sister to Idocus, and Tess is by Burgraaf. Tess is quite literally the mare version of Popstarr. They look so much alike it is unreal. In 2014 the sisters both had foals by Vinca (making these foals also 1/2 siblings to Veronica). Vanity had a gorgeous filly, JeDore FF (Luvy) and Tess had an especially handsome colt, Joyride FF (Pop 2.0). Michelle called dibs on Luvy and I immediately gravitated to Joyride because he looks just like a baby Popstarr (practical reason no doubt). They are so precious and sweet. I can’t wait for them to grow up. It’s a good thing they are so well bred because they already have some impressive shoes to fill!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few weeks later we went to Prime Time Dressage at the Carolina Horse Park. I decided to do an I1 Freestyle this year with Popstarr. I had all these epic and awesome images in my mind about what it was going to be like and how much fun it would be. No where in my brain did I compute just how hard the dang thing would be. Wow. Having no clue what to expect going into it certainly didn’t help matters what so ever. Of course now, looking back on it and having ridden it a few times I feel much much better about it but at the time I was so dang stressed out about it. It was the first time in so long I can’t remember that I felt like a total fish out of water going down the centerline. The wild dragon came out with flames ablaze Saturday night for the freestyle. He also thought it would be really funny to flip his tongue over the bits in our first halt so I basically did the entire ride with him climbing over his head and me unable to touch his face. Wild wild wild pony. BUT- the good news was I did it. I got it out of the way and I got my first qualifying score for GAIG’s so over all it was productive on every front, he even ended up 2nd. Sunday he came out and was much much better in the I1 for a 66.8 from a rather tough judge. He is for sure a horse that does better showing multiple days in a row. His first trip down the centerline is always a bit wild and he does better on days 2 and 3 (when available). I also showed Brandon in his first go at first level and he was just a perfect wonderful superstar young man to earn over a 70% and another first place ribbon. (He loves first place ribbons). I also let Josiah show him in a couple of training level classes just for some experience for Josiah showing a stallion. He was in the high 60’s both days and won both of his tests. Natalie had another solid weekend with Cameron. There was some concern that he wouldn’t actually even get to show this weekend because he sprung a shoe the week before the show and stood on the toe clip and was pretty sore. Thankfully we were able to keep him comfortable enough to get through the weekend and get another positive experience under his belt showing. It was a great opportunity for him to just have to go forward and go to work in the ring and he really grew up from the experience. Yet again, the shining stars of the group were Jen and Eliza. They won all 4 of their classes and became the newest members of the NCDCTA 70% club! 🙂 Jordyn and Zidane moved up to 3rd 3 at this show and easily got her first qualifying score for GAIG’s as well as her final score for her bronze medal and won both of her classes. She is such a gorgeous test rider and can really go in the ring and present just the most elegant and enjoyable picture to watch. Over all we totally dominated the weekend with us placing 1st or 2nd in every class.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two weeks after Prime Time we were at Dressage in the Sandhills over Mother’s Day. This show was great for me because not only did I have Stacey there to warm up with and school with but Mike Barisone was there as well so I got to work with him again which was an awesome follow up after the clinic in March. I was super sick all weekend long and it was a huge testament to my team that they managed to get me into the ring all 3 days as well as keep everything running so smoothly while I staggered my way through the weekend. They literally all but propped me up on Pop each day. We did the PSG, I1 MFS, and I1. He was a bit wild (huge shock there) in the PSG but still placed 4th out of a huge group and got his final Q score. He was much better in the freestyle this time but still a bit of a wild man, though greatly improved over the last time and was 2nd again and got the last q he needed in that as well. On Sunday he put in a much more rideable test (amazing what day 3 showing in 90 degree heat will do for his behavior) in the I1 that was good enough to win the class. So, he is now totally qualified in all 3 divisions for GAIG’s which is a huge relief to have that pressure off! Natalie and Cameron had their best weekend yet and got their 1st qualifying score for GAIG’s and had 3 days of solid tests. This was the first show Cameron came out each day all business and ready to go into the ring. I knew this horse was in there, so awesome to see him coming out so well in only their 3rd show together. Their partnership is getting really impressive. Ellen made her return to the show ring on Monty after an incredibly tough 2014 that was plagued with one issue after another for Monty. It was so great to see them have a successful return to the ring and back in the right direction again. Michelle had her show debut with Veronica. The wind was blowing like crazy this weekend and the tents they had set up for the judges were flapping in it like no other. There were tons of horses that were completely freaked out by them, including some very seasoned Grand Prix CDI horses. Unfortunately Veronica was one of these horses. Bless her heart she was trying so hard to be good and really wasn’t doing anything wrong at all and was really working to hold it all together but we could tell it was really bothering her. Michelle being the exceptional horsewoman she is made the smart decision to scratch most of her classes and take the time to school her and let her have a positive experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our latest show was Summertime Blues, back at the Harness Track over Father’s Day. I showed Zidane for Jordyn in 3rd level and he was a superstar, scoring up to a 74% Easily winning both of his classes and landing me in the 70% club as well. Jordyn also showed him on Sunday and got her final score for GAIG’s. She also showed her adorable TB mare, Chloe in her first recognized show. She also won both of her classes and scored over a 70%. Natalie and Cameron had another amazing weekend and got their final score at 2nd level for GAIG’s as well. They finished up 1st in 2 of their classes and 4th in the other. She and I both made the decision to scratch our last tests because we felt like both of the boys were super and had nothing else to prove considering it was almost 100 degrees outside. Work smarter, not harder. Jen only showed Eliza on Sunday (Someone thought she was entitled to a family vacation the week before). Eliza spent the week here with me at camp and Jen got back in time Saturday night to get over to the show so she could march in the ring, win both of her tests, and add a couple more scores over 70 to her resume. Talk about being off to an impressive start in their show career together, they have competed in 8 tests together over 3 shows. 3 scores in the 60’s (67.9, 67.6, and 69.8) and the other 5 scores in the 70’s. She also has won 7 out of 8 classes and placed 3rd with almost a 72%. Talk about an impressive start. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our schedule for the rest of the year has us heading back to Pinehurst later this month for Rise ‘N Shine Dressage, then to Labor of Love in Raleigh the end of August, then back in Pinehurst for September, then we will round out the season at NCDCTA Championships the beginning of October in Williamston, then up to Lexington, VA for GAIG’s the end of October and fingers crossed we will be heading to Lexington, KY in November for Nationals.

I promise to try to not wait another 5 months to update this. Stay cool everyone! <3Bri