In so many ways it’s hard to believe that here I am, yet again, writing about the conclusion of yet another year. Like usual as I find myself reflecting on the year the main thing that stays in the forefront of my mind is while we had some amazing highs and some major lows throughout the year the constant thing with all of it was that we did it all together as a group. We cheered each other on, celebrated each others victories, wiped each others tears, helped each other out, and supported each other day after day no mater how high or low we were. As with anything in life nothing stays the same forever, especially with horses. People get hurt, horses get hurt, life, family and job circumstances change and pull some people away from the show world while others jump in even deeper. But I am continually amazed by how close and supportive we all are as a group even as some have moved farther away, some have sold their horse and other various changes throughout the group everyone is still the definition of a village if ever there was one. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to call mine.

12607295_10207194039187784_1950721104_n (1)

A fresh new look for 2016


From March through October we attended 11 USDF/USEF recognized shows with 15 horses and 10 riders competing at every level from Intro through Intermediare 1 with the exception of fourth level. Atwell Dressage went down the centerline a total of 105 times in the 2015 show season.

Year totals include:

First Place: 50, Second Place: 24, Third Place: 12, Fourth Place: 10, Fifth Place: 5, Sixth Place: 5

High Score Awards: 6

Scores over 70%- 15

Series Champions: 1

State Champions: 1, State Reserve Champions: 1, 3rd place State Champions- 3

NCDCTA Horse of the year awards: 3 champions, 1 reserve champion, and 1 3rd place winner

4 NCDCTA 70% Club members, 1 AA division reserve champion

1 Bronze Medal Earned

1 top 50 nationally ranked FEI/I1 horse

1 recipient of a USEF 4* High School Athlete Award

1 recipient of the first annual Centerline Scores’ young rider scholarship

2015 Rider Average Scores:

Briana Atwell: 66+% riding 24 tests on 4 horses at 1st, 3rd, PSG, and I1.

Jordyn Dunson: 64% riding 14 tests on 4 horses at training and 3rd level.

Natalie Horton: 60% riding 28 tests on 1 horse at 2nd level.

Jennifer Fales: 70% riding 16 tests on 3 horses at intro level.

Josiah Bryant: 64% riding 2 tests on 1 horse at training level.

Lysa Hodgson: 63% riding 3 tests on 1 horse at 1st level.

Leslie Slabaugh: 64% riding 3 tests on 1 horses at 1st and 2nd level.

Michelle Martin: 60+% riding 5 tests on 1 horse at 1st level.

Hailey Atwell: 62+% riding 1 test on 1 pony at intro level.

Ellen Bradford:58% riding 4 tests on 1 horse at training level.

Average of all 2015 rides: 63+%


Briana and Popstarr’s awards from the NCDCTA HOY GALA

While I am certainly incredibly proud of all the super high scores earned this year and the top successes of both my horses and my students I think the thing that makes me the most proud is that my entire program has frequently and consistently gone down the centerline and proven that this program is a correct and successful one. My students range from age 6 to early 60’s with everything in between. We had horses that have never shown before, riders that have never shown before, many horses and riders moving up to levels they have never competed and several combinations doing it together. We have both horses and riders that were able to conquer their show anxiety and fears, and horses who were able to grow beyond negative training and showing experiences of their pasts. And the range of horses all of this was accomplished on included a shetland, a morgan, a PMU rescue draft cross, a half arab, an OTTB, an unraced TB, a rescued saddlebred, a US bred holsteiner, 2 US bred oldenburgs, a trakhener/welsh pony , a TB/Belgian, an imported hanoverian, and 2 imported KWPNs. There were 7 mares, 7 geldings and 1 stallion. If that doesn’t confirm the diversity of this program to prove successful for all breeds and types of riders and horses then I’m not sure what does. It’s safe to say there is no breed or sex bias in horse and rider at Atwell Dressage.


My HOY winners- Jordyn Dunson, Natalie Horton, and Jennifer Fales

I am more proud of everyone than I even know how to accurately put into words and I am looking forward to helping all of my students, both newcomers and long lasting alike achieve all of their goals in 2016. I am so blessed and thankful that so many of you continue to put your confidence and trust in me with your riding education and the training and showing of your ever so special horses.


Atwell Dressage celebrating a wonderful year with some of our friends and family at the NCDCTA HOY GALA

I would also be hugely remiss if I failed to give thanks to the many people who make an operation of this size a possibility. None of this would be possible without my incredible sponsors, individual supporters, horse owners, the team of professionals who keep the horses feeling their best at all times and of course my family. I’m sure I will leave someone off because I have a horrible memory but my eternal gratitude goes out to: Aiken Equine Vet Practice/Dr. Celeste Barker, Black Country Saddles, Dynamic Saddle Fitting/Brita Rizzi, Stacey Hastings- my trainer, mentor and inspiration, Three Wishes Freestyles/Collier Wimmer- designer of my winning freestyle, Claudia Cokis Design Studio- logo designer and promotional branding expert, Sarah Ludwig-Azbill/Royale Farm- farrier and owner of Brandon RF, Ginger Parker/Flower Farm Sporthorses- owner of Veronica and Joyride FF, Marion Roger and Barbara Betro- co-owners of Popstarr, Madeline and Tom Barry- long time supporters, Kevin and Hailey Atwell- my husband and Daughter, Linn Owen- my endlessly supportive mom, Brianna Spence who I can always count on to bail us out in a pinch if we are in a truck or trailer jam and everyone else who has been there to cheer us on and lend a hand or support us at shows and at home.


Briana and the best horse show mom ever.


We have some really exciting new developments and additions in the works for 2016 and I am so excited to share those with everyone as they get are completed. It’s the start of a great year already even thought the weather has not been on our side! Cheers and love! xoxoBri