Start of 2017 and a big announcement!

2017 has started off wonderfully for Atwell Dressage. With the exception of the last few days we have had a very mild winter which has allowed us to make great progress with all of the horses. Everyone is working very hard and stepping everything up to the next level in anticipation of show season starting. Jennifer Fales has gotten a jump start on her showing with Poetry and has made the jump into training level at 2 shows already this year scoring a 65+% in her first attempt at Antares Dressage and pushing it up to a 69% a couple of weeks later at Fellowship Farm.

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Poetry In Motion ridden by Jennifer Fales

All of the other horses are working so well and we have been very busy with all of them but especially with Brandon, Constantine, Laira, Bobbi, and Trooper as we are gearing up for our first big show of the season next month.

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Now, for a really exciting announcement:

I am so incredibly excited to announce that Tyler Hornbeck has officially made the big jump from being my working student to assistant trainer. Tyler has worked so hard over the last year and immediately proved herself to be an invaluable asset to our team. Not only is she an absolute blast to be with in the barn every day but she is an incredibly hard worker and has so much passion and drive to succeed in this world. She has grown up around horses and is a natural rider with instincts seldom seen both in the saddle and on the ground with horses. Her horse management skills are bar none and it has been such a blessing not having to worry about any of the horses since they’ve been in her care. She has extensive experience showing in a number of different disciplines from western pleasure, hunter under saddle, saddle seat (friesians), halter, and of course dressage. She is an exceptional young rider and trainer with a huge future ahead of her and I am so excited to be a part of it with her.

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She has already been very busy building up her clientele both in students and training horses, and she has room to accept a few more students and training horses as well. She is also very interested in partnering up with select businesses in the equine industry as an ambassador or sponsored rider and has a lot to offer these businesses as a sponsored rider. To learn more about Tyler and what she has to offer you as a trainer/instructor check out her page About Tyler. You can also find her on Facebook under “Tyler Hornbeck” and on instagram @_xhaltsalute_ and stay tuned to follow all of her successes in the sandbox this year! xoBri

 

 

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Fall 2016

Things have continued to keep moving forward for all of us through the Fall, though it has been a quieter season for Tyler and I in regards to showing but we’ve been staying super busy at home training and bringing our guys to the next level in their fitness and confidence in hopes of a big 2017.

 

On 9/3 Jen Shattuck had another confidence builder at PSG with HRH Popstarr at Cool Down Dressage. I continue to be so impressed with her hard work and dedication to learning as much as possible from this amazing but tricky horse.

Two weeks later Kerry Lammerding and Debutante headed back to Williamston to compete in her first GAIG Championships. She continued to have the same consistent success all weekend with her scores at 1st level and ended the weekend with her 2nd level debut and easily getting her first score at 2nd level towards her bronze medal. She’s now half way completed with her bronze, yay!! The same weekend Jen and Poetry went to Antares Dressage and yet again continued their winning and 70+% streak with scores over 72%.

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Two weeks after GAIG’s Jen Shattuck was back at the harness track with Popstarr for another successful weekend at PSG to finish out her year with him. I am just so proud of Jen for how far she has come in the last year with Pop. As much I miss cantering down the centerline on my favorite dragon it makes me so happy to see him teaching other riders and having so much fun doing it.

Jen and Kerry were both at Antares putting the finishing touches on their tests for the NCDCTA championships next weekend. Jen cleaned up winning both of her classes with scores over 75% and Kerry was 2nd and 3rd in hers with scores over 69%. I think it’s safe to say both of them are ready for next weekend!

Our last big show of the year was Harvest Moon Dressage/NCDCTA Championships at CHP over Halloween weekend. Jennifer Fales and Poetry In Motion competed in the intro championships and Kerry competed in the open 1st level championships with Debutante. Both teams had successful tests, great scores and wins across the board. Yet another proud trainer moment. And we had a blast all weekend too, like always.

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November 9th Jen/Poetry and Kerry/Tilly showed at Antares and were both 1st and 2nd in their divisions and our final show of 2016 was  back at Antares Dressage Schooling Show. Jen Fales and Poetry finished their year at intro with a bang placing 1st and 2nd in the intro division scoring over a 72% and Kerry and Tilly won their 2nd level division scoring over a 66% as well.

Jennifer finished the year as the AA reserve champion of the Antares Dressage show series with Kerry right behind her as the open reserve champion. They also finished the year with Jen and Poetry being the intro AA NCDCTA HOY Champions (the 2nd year in a row Jen has won this award with 2 very different horses) and Kerry/Tilly winning the Open 1st level Reserve Champion NCDCTA Horse of the Year award. Like always I am so proud of all of my students hard work and dedication to this crazy and often times frustrating sport of dressage we all love so much.

We are all crossing our fingers and hoping for a mild winter so we can continue training and bringing everyone to the next level for 2017. xoxoBri

 

Summer 2016

In typical NC fashion this summer has proven to be hotter and more humid than ever. But like always we’ve managed to keep moving forward thanks to some really early mornings and the always amazing team at Atwell Dressage that keeps everything running so smoothly.

Kerry and Tilly spent the first weekend in June at the Capital Dressage Classic in Raleigh yet again cleaning up at first level scoring in the 70’s all weekend and joining the NCDCTA 70% club.

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Kerry and Tilly after 3 awesome days of showing at the CDC

Next up to dominate the show arena was Jennifer Shattuck and HRH Popstarr at the Summertime Blues show in Pinehurst scoring in the high 60’s at 3rd and 4th level again. They are really becoming an impressive partnership and I am having so much fun watching her having as much fun cantering down the centerline on Pop as I did.

Jennifer Fales and Poetry knocked it out of the park at Antares Dressage on June 26 at intro scoring a 71+ and 74+% 

Successful show for Poetry and Jen

Unfortunately we lost one of Atwell Dressage’s brightest stars, Zidane, very suddenly and unexpectedly  on June 26th to colic. This was of course heartbreaking for all of us but most of all for his owner, Jordyn who had worked so hard with him and come so far in her partnership with him and was supposed to have so many more years left with him with the best yet to come. Not only was he one of the most talented horses I’ve ever had the honor of riding but he was also a barn favorite with his sweet and silly personality and the barn and our hearts have a giant hole left in them.

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The weekend of July 16 had us showing in 2 places at once. We were back in Pinehurst for the Rise ‘N Shine show where yet again Kerry/Tilly and Jennifer/Popstarr cleaned up. Kerry was in the mid 60’s at 1st level again and Jennifer was in the mid 60’s at 4th level. Next up for Jen is her first trip down the centerline in her tails next month! 🙂 Then we were also showing at the Carolina Horse Park. Tyler Hornbeck got back into the show ring with her wonderful gelding, Constantine, who was laid up for the first half of the year with an injury. She dusted off the cobwebs and gave him a nice confidence booster at 1st level and did such a wonderful job she beat me in the class. We ended up 1st and 2nd with me riding Melodramatic for Leslie Slabaugh again. He was so much improved from the show in May and was truly a blast to show even though it was over 100 degrees outside.

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July 21st 2kGrey published an article with some little known facts about me (to most people anyways) that can be viewed here: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Briana Atwell

July 30-31 Kerry, Jennifer Fales and I headed to Raleigh for Raleigh Summer Dressage 1&2. Kerry proved yet again that she is a force to be reckoned with as she dominated in the high 60’s all weekend again at first level. Jennifer and Poetry did their first recognized show together and made huge progress in their partnership over the weekend putting in 4 solid tests with her scores in the 60’s and steadily climbing all weekend reaching 69.375% and ending her show with a win. This show always falls either right on my birthday or right around it, and these amazing ladies made sure I celebrated turning 30 with a bang. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather spend my 30th birthday than at a show with my amazing village.

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Kerry and Jen F showing at RSD

In August we were yet again back in Pinehurst, this time for the NCDCTA Labor of Love show. Jennifer Shattuck blew me away in her PSG debut with Popstarr scoring a 63.421 easily earning her 3rd score towards her silver medal. Pop is incredible to show and clearly proven he is capable of getting some huge scores through I1 but don’t let him fool you, he is far from easy to ride because he is so powerful, sensitive, and a typical firecracker KWPN which makes Jen’s score that much more impressive, especially to me because I know all too well how much horse you have in the FEI arena with him. Major proud trainer status for that one. Kerry and Tilly had yet another successful weekend at 1st level scoring in the mid to high 60’s yet again. These 2 have been so consistent in the show ring all year. It’s been such a pleasure to watch them grow as a partnership this season. Jennifer Fales and Poetry showed everyone how it’s done this weekend cleaning up in their classes and winning the AA intro championship as well by throwing down some huge scores well into the 70’s. They all made me so proud this weekend, like they always do!

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Kerry and Tilly are all smiles after a great test

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Jen S and Popstarr in her first PSG

Jen and Poetry’s haul from the weekend


Hopefully it will start to cool down soon and we can start riding without roasting in the sauna that is NC summers, lol. We’ve got 2 more recognized shows of the season, GAIG championships and NCDCTA championships, and a couple of schooling shows tossed in there to close out yet another successful year. Looking forward to finishing things out with a bang like usual! xoBri

 

 

Spring 2016

Things have been moving and shaking for everyone at Atwell Dressage and everyone is looking forward to show season kicking off in full force.

The first show of the season was March Magic Dressage in Williamston, NC. I’m very proud of all the hard work my student Kerry Lammerding put in over the winter with her lovely mare Debutante. She placed in all of her classes over the weekend in open first level and ended the show with a bang winning her final class with a score of 69.4%.

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(Kerry Lammerding and Debutante winning at 1st level at March Magic and sporting an awesome clip job in honor of Kerry’s native South Africa)

On April 12th we took 3 horses to Antares Dressage Show, I was very excited to canter down the centerline on Jordyn Dunson’s incredible KWPN gelding Zidane in his first PSG. He has come so far over the last year and is really blossoming into a confident FEI horse. He did not disappoint, putting in a solid test for a 64.4+%. Kerry and Tilly (Debutante) had another wonderful show at 1st level scoring over 66%, and Jennifer Fales and her super mare, Poetry In Motion knocked it out of the park scoring over 70% in both of her tests and Jen tackled her canter anxiety with great success cantering in a test for the first time.

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(Briana riding Zidane in his first PSG, Kerry Lammerding and Debutante winning at 1st level and Jennifer Fales winning at intro with Poetry In Motion)

Probably the most exciting thing to happen this spring is that on April 20th Brandon RF became a daddy for the very first time. Jennifer Shattuck’s lovely thoroughbred mare delivered a gorgeous dark bay colt. Even from day one we can see so much of Brandon in little Boomerang, especially in his bold, inquisitive and sweet personality. He has his dad’s sense of humor for sure. I am so excited to watch my little grandson grow up.

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Kerry and Tilly had a successful day at Antares Dressage Schooling Show tackling 1st 3 for the first time in an ideal prep for Dressage In The Sandhills next weekend.

On May 10th in honor of World Lupus Day my wonderful sponsors, 2kGrey featured a lovely article about my journey as a dressage rider/trainer with this disease. It can be seen here:  Thriving With Lupus

Over Mother’s Day weekend Kerry and Tilly were back in the show ring at Dressage in the Sandhills. They had yet another successful weekend scoring in the mid to high 60’s all 3 days at first level. And Jennifer Shattuck had a super first show with the big man, HRH Popstarr. She easily got her final score needed at 3rd level for her bronze medal and her first one at 4th level towards her silver.

(Jennifer Shattuck earning her bronze medal and then all smiles after her first 4th level test with HRH Popstarr, and Kerry Lammerding and Debutante cleaning up at 1st level)

May 29th I showed Leslie Slabaugh’s super talented young gelding, Melodramatic at The Grove schooling show at 1st level to help him get some exposure and confidence in the show ring. It was a wonderful learning experience for him and even with some green moments he came out with a mid 60’s score and winning his class. Leslie also showed her adorable young mare in her first show and she held everything together wonderfully and won her intro division.

(Melodramatic and I showing first level at The Grove, staying comfortable and stylish in my favorite 2kGrey breeches)

It’s already getting hot and we are preparing to keep plugging away through the hot summer heat and getting the rest of the horses out and moving forward in their training. Onward and upward. xoBri

 

 

 

2kGrey

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I am so excited to announce my partnership with 2kGrey as one of their sponsored riders. These are the most awesome breeches and I am so proud to wear them. Check out some pictures of them in action and the blog post from 2kGrey. If anyone has any questions about them please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and also for a PROMO discount code as well! After all what could be better than pants that are fantastic in the saddle and around town as well. 🙂 <3Bri

http://www.intrepidintl.com/inside-track/briana-atwell-becoming-a-horseperson-first-2kgrey-ambassador/

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2015- It’s a Wrap!

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.

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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+%

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Fall 2015

Well- I guess I did slightly better this time. I only waited 4 months to update instead of 5. Oops.

Picking up where we left off in July we headed back to Pinehurst for Rise ‘N Shine Dressage at the end of July. Michelle rode Veronica at 1st level and Jen rode Eliza at Intro. It was probably the quietest show we had all year which was nice. Both were great all weekend with Jen winning her classes again and Michelle placing 3rd.

In August we took a big group up to Raleigh for the NCDCTA Labor of Love I&II Show. I debuted a new freestyle with Popstarr at I1 and it was a huge success scoring over a 71%. Collier Wimmer of Three Wishes Freestyles has truly outdone herself again. I also showed Zidane at 3rd level on Sunday and he not only won his class but was 3rd level high score. So far Z and I are undefeated together. Jordyn showed him on Saturday at 3rd level and also won her class. She also showed Second Chance at Intro for Elena Freeman and put in 2 solid rides for 2nd and 4th place and more importantly gave Chance a solid confidence boosting first experience that he needed. Michelle Martin had another good weekend with Veronica placing 4th and 5th in large AA 1st level divisions. And rounding out the crew this weekend was Jen and Eliza who were 2nd both days in their intro classes. This was a huge improvement from last year at this show where I didn’t get to ride because I was injured and we spend all of Friday night hanging out in the ER when Michelle had an unplanned dismount in schooling.

September had us showing back to back weekends here in Pinehurst again. Finishing up the Swat and Sweat Series first where Jen was series Intro AA Champion, Intro High Score winner and first and second in her classes. Natalie knocked the cobwebs off after a couple months out of the show ring and starting her first semester of college placing 2nd, 3rd (x2) and 5th at second level with Cameron. I stepped in to show Lysa Hodgson’s The Usual Suspect at first level because Lysa is sidelined with a small injury. We won our 1st level class and we’re high score of the day at first level as well. Then the next weekend we were right back at Pinehurst Fall Dressage. Natalie and I had a clean sweep with Pop and I at I1 and her and Cameron at 2nd level winning all of our 7 combined classes. Popstarr was also Open FEI High Score and on Sunday scored a whopping 73.375% in our I1 MFS. Leslie Slabaugh and her Mellowdramatic also had another good weekend and checked off another score towards her bronze medal.

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October came in with rain and went out with even more rain. We were supposed to go to the NCDCTA Harvest Moon Championships early in the month but a little hurricane named Cailyn decided to change those plans and reschedule it for October 25-26. Luckily the new weekend greeted us with absolutely gorgeous weather. We brought 7 horses with 5 of them showing in their respective championships. Popstarr was yet again his wonderful and amazing self and we won both I1 Championship classes and the division. He has more heart and try in one hoof than most horses have in their entire bodies. There really aren’t enough words in the dictionary to cover what he means to me. Brandon came too and was also his usual awesome self. He hasn’t shown much this year (this is only his 2nd show all year) because we have been focusing more on training. I am very lucky with him that he is such a superstar at shows that I don’t feel like I need to keep him in the ring much while we are working behind the scenes at home. I also showed Lysa’s Bogey in the Open 1st level Championships. He consistently scored a 66 and change in all 3 of his classes, placing 3rd/4th/5th in huge open divisions and was 3rd in the championship. What a super star. Natalie and Cameron were rock stars again at 2nd level winning 2 of her classes, and placing 2nd and 3rd in the other 2 and finishing 3rd in the championships. I am so proud of these 2 and how far they have come in their first year showing together and at 2nd level. The confidence they have in the show ring now compared to the start of the year is incredible. Jordyn and Zidane were 2nd in both of her 3rd level classes as well as 2nd in her championships. It’s been a pretty impressive year at 3rd level for these 2 and I can’t wait to see what comes next year as they prepare to enter the FEI ring. She also showed Elena Freeman’s lovely new mare, Gevalia Bay at her first show easily winning both of her training level classes. And last but most certainly not least is Jen and Eliza. Jen finished her incredible year at Intro with Eliza winning one of her classes, placing 2nd in 2 and 3rd in one and a very close 3rd place in her championships.

 

Then, on halloween we shifted gears slightly and went to a schooling show. Jen debuted on her awesome new partner, Poetry In Motion in an intro B test scoring over 67% and 2nd place with only a handful of rides together and my daughter Hailey made her adorable dressage debut on her pony, Daisy Duke riding Intro A at a whopping 6 years old with no test reader or assistance in her test scoring a 62.81 and placing 2nd. Hailey is proving to be my child through and through and has already set her goals quite high for 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited to watch her go after them.

That wraps up our show season for 2015. We took a few weeks to let the horses rest some (and us too) and we are already back at it training hard and hoping for a kind winter so we can get lots of training in and come out yet again with a bang in 2016. xoxoBri

Summer 2015

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.

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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!!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Welcome To 2015

Well, in typical me fashion I am only about 6 + months behind on my updating. I seriously need a secretary for such things. I’m going to attempt to back track to where I left off last year. About a week after the clinic with Michael Barisonse (of course when I was on top of the world) Popstarr managed to tweak his right hind annular ligament. The great news is that there was no lasting damage and he would make a complete recovery. The bad news was it the worst possible timing (is there ever a good time for such things?). I probably could have pushed him to get him back in the ring in time for regionals and Nationals but in the process I could have potentially ruined him for good too. It was a no brainer, we through the book at him. Nothing but the best in vet care, compliments of Celeste Barker of Aiken Equine and took our time bringing him back. I’m thrilled to report he is 100% back and feeling better than ever! Almost 2 weeks after Pop got hurt I was involved in a freak, random horse spook/bolt/spin incident on a training horse where while I didn’t fall off he wrenched and yanked my neck and arms so bad I had pretty brutal whiplash, and muscle strains in my arms. I felt like a t-Rex. This of course came 2 days before I was due to show Brandon in his last Regional qualifier thus also knocking him out of the picture for championships. At the time it really sucked but of course like with most things this opened up some free time in my life to make some pretty big and amazing changes in my personal life that were much much needed and my family and business are so much better as a result. (Funny how these things work out) so here we are plugging along through the yucky winter weather training our little hearts out to get geared up for 2015. I have some amazing horses to show this year along with some incredible students as well. Popstarr is going to start the year out in the I1, and planning some of the I-A/I-B tests later in the year, Brandon is going to start the year out at 1st level and will jump to 3rd level over the summer or early fall if everything goes to plan. Traviotti is also really coming into his own and finding his groove. We’ve got plans for 1st and 2nd level shows starting this spring. I also have another Royale Farm (breeder/owner of Brandon RF) horse here for training and sale. She is quite special and will be doing some training and first level shows until she sells. Someone should seriously snatch her up now because once she cleans up in the show ring her price will skyrocket. We are also planning to Wrapped In Ribbons (Laira) back in the ring some this year between myself and Emily Grace which should be lots of fun and I’m also planning on showing Cosmic Confidant in the medium tour later this spring. Josiah is working really hard to master the incredibly tough Cosmo in an effort to get his last 2 scores (3rd level) for his bronze medal and move on to his silver. Jordyn Dunson is also planning to finish her bronze (3rd level scores as well) and move onto her silver with her sights on young riders next year on her incredibly talented Zidane. Ellen and Monty are making a comeback after a tough year struggling with Monty’s sudden onset breathing problems. They are working well with their sights on a successful training and first level year. Lysa and Bogey plan to improve their tests at 1st level and start working some second level in as well. And Jennifer Fales and Party are working exceptionally well together and are planning a fantastic year at intro and training level. Natalie Horton is starting to come down from northern NC one week a month (yay for homeschooling) each month with her tricky but super talented Holsteiner gelding, Cameron. They are planning to spend the year showing at 2nd and 3rd level with their sights ultimately set on young riders as well as Jordyn. And last but not least Leslie Slabaugh is planning to lightly show her incredibly talented young gelding in some 2nd and 3rd level work this year while eyeballing the developing horse PSG in the next year or so.
I think that’s mostly everyone right off the top of my head that have big plans for showing this year. I’m sorry if I’m forgetting anyone. Last weekend we attended the NCDCTA HOY awards gala. The Village always has a great time at this event and it’s awesome to watch everyone’s hard work pay off!
Village Show Results 2014:

March Magic Dressage Show

Briana Atwell riding HRH Popstarr- Open FEI PSG- 6th, 6th

Briana Atwell riding Brandon RF- Open Training 1- 1st

Josiah Bryant riding Pyper- JR/YR 1st level- 1st, 2nd and 3rd

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th

Jennifer Fales riding Party’s Miss Favor- AA Intro A- 1st, 1st and ASB High Score Award

Ellen Bradford riding King’s Mount- AA Training Level- 3rd, 4th and 5th

Budget Friendly Dressage Show

Briana Atwell riding Brandon RF: Open Training Level- 1st, 1st, 1st

Michelle Martin riding Remember Me!: AA Intro Level- 1st, 1st, 1st

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect: AA 1st level- 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd

Kelly Farmer riding Diaz HGF: AA 3rd level- 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd

Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane: JR/YR 1st and 2nd level- 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st

Dressage In The Sandhills

Briana Atwell riding HRH Popstarr: Open FEI PSG- 5th, 3rd

Briana Atwell riding Brandon RF: Open Training Level: 1st, 1st, 4th

Michelle Martin riding HRH Popstarr: AA 4th level- 2nd, 3rd

Josiah Bryant riding Pyper: JR/YR 2nd level- 1st, 4th

Ellen Bradford riding King’s Mount- AA Training Level- 3rd, 5th, 6th

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th

Rise ‘N Shine Dressage

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd

Raleigh Summer Dressage I & II

Briana Atwell riding HRH Popstarr- Open FEI PSG- 1st, 2nd

Briana Atwell riding Brandon RF- Open Training Level- 1st, 1st, 2nd, 4th

Josiah Bryant riding Pyper- JR/YR 2nd level- 1st, 2nd

Collette Zimmer riding Emerald Impressions- Open 2nd level- 1st, 4th

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 3rd

Jennifer Fales riding Party’s Miss Favor- AA Intro level- 4th

Early Morning Blues Dressage Show

Briana Atwell riding HRH Popstarr- Open 4th level 3- 1st

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 5th

Labor of Love Dressage Show

Ellen Bradford riding Pyper- AA Training Level- 2nd, 3rd

Kelly Farmer riding Diaz HFG- AA 3rd Level- 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 4th

Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane- JR/YR 1st and 2nd level- 1st, 1st

Cool Down Dressage Show

Ellen Bradford riding Pyper- AA Training Level- 2nd, 4th

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 2nd, 4th, 4th

Pinehurst Fall Dressage Show

Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect- AA 1st level- 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd

NCDCTA Harvest Moon Dressage Show

Ellen Bradford riding Pyper- AA 1st level- 4th

Swat ‘N Sweat series championship

Open 1st level reserve champion- Lysa Hodgson riding the Usual Suspect
AA 1st level champion- Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect

NCDCTA Championships

4th place AA 3rd level- Kelly Farmer riding Diaz HGF
3rd place JR/YR 1st level- Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane
1st place JR/YR 2nd level- Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane

NCDCTA HOY Awards

Champion AA 1st level: Lysa Hodgson riding The Usual Suspect
Reserve Champion AA 3rd level: Kelly Farmer riding Diaz HGF
3rd place- JR/YR 2nd level: Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane
4th place- JR/YR 2nd level: Josiah Bryant riding Pyper
6th place- JR/YR 1st level: Jordyn Dunson riding Zidane

Congratulations to everyone and thanks for your endless trust and support in me as your trainer and/or instructor. I truly can’t tell each and every one of you in our incredible village how important you are to me. I really am the luckiest trainer in the world. Not only do I have amazing horses to ride and train but equally incredible students, owners and most of all friends. Can’t wait to make 2015 our best year yet! Much love, Bri

Raleigh Summer Dressage I&II, Early Morning Blues Show and Michael Barisone Clinic

We went up to Raleigh for the Summer Dressage I&II shows hosted by Rosinburg Events. I always enjoy these shows even though it is generally quite hot (summer in NC and all!)
We took 6 horses up there and over all had a great weekend. I showed Brandon and Popstarr and I was beyond thrilled with both of them. Pop won on Saturday in the PSG with a 67.8+% which easily scored us our final qualifying score we needed for GAIG’s and was 2nd on Sunday by 0.1. I was actually much happier with my test on Sunday than I have been thus far. I felt like it was the best and cleanest PSG we’ve ridden to date and I was thrilled with him. Brandon thrilled me to pieces from start to finish. He is such a special young man and has continued to rise to the occasion every time I ask him to. He was so chill and relaxed both under saddle and on the ground. He was even taking a couple of naps a day in his stall. He showed 4 times over the 2 days in large divisions and finished up 1st, 1st, 2nd and 4th. Not too shabby for his 4th show. It’s kind of hard to complain when he has won at every show he’s been to so far.
Collette showed her horse Preston in 2/2 both days and had 2 fantastic tests. She easily qualified for CBLM Championships and had a great start back showing with Preston after a bit of a hiatus. They were 4th in the open division on Saturday and won on Sunday. Josiah and Pyper also did great in 2/2. He got his last score at 2nd level towards his bronze medal, qualified for the CBLM championships and was 2nd Saturday and 1st on Sunday. Not too shabby especially considering he has shown 3 times in his life, just started taking dressage lessons this year and also has won at each show. He achieved his 1st level scores in his first 2 tests ever, and his 2nd level scores in the same fashion (however his first 2 were in front of the same judge do he had to show 2nd level a 3rd time to complete the requirements). Lysa and Bogey also had another great weekend at first level adding another successful showing at their nemesis show grounds to their list of accomplishments. I can’t remember exact scores or placings but I know she was in the mid 60’s and ribbons in all 4 of her tests. These 2 have made such huge strides together in a relatively short time frame together. Makes a trainer proud :-)! And last but certainly not least was Jen and Party showing at the intro level. Jen is such a rockstar that she was showing all weekend with an injured wrist. She had a successful day on Saturday and rode her best test yet. Unfortunately we ended up scratching Party on Sunday. We’ve been treating her for ulcers for a while now and have seen a huge improvement in her but we still felt like things weren’t quite right. By Sunday with the stress of showing it was very clear that she still was not quite right so we didn’t feel the need to stress her anymore if she was clearly uncomfortable. We came home and immediately started her on succeed and I’m soooo pleased to report that she is a different horse on it. She is fat, shiny and covered in gorgeous dapples, and has turned into the biggest, cuddliest love bug ever. She truly is like a different horse. Jen had her surgery on her wrist the week after the show and is on the mend. I can’t wait for her to get back on her girl as soon as she has been cleared medically. Thanks to all of my awesome students hard work and great scores I won the trainers award on Sunday and got an awesome gift of new thin line reins (which are my favorites btw)! Thanks everyone!!

Two weeks after Raleigh I took Pop over to Pinehurst for the Early Morning Blues show. I decided kind of last minute to qualify for GAIG’s at 4th level as well. Thankfully we were able to sneak over get in the ring, get our score ( and win the class) and go home and not have to come back for another go on Sunday because it was rather gross outside. Luckily when we went in the ring it was “only” raining instead of the all out monsoon that started not long after my ride and continued throughout the weekend. Showing in downpours is not my most favorite thing to do!

This week we went up to Full Circle Farm (our home away from home where Stacey is based out of) in Statesville for a 2 day clinic with Michael Barisone. It was a fantastic clinic and well worth the time and trip. He was able to take everything we’ve been working so hard on and raise it to the next level. I walked away with some fantastic information and homework. I can’t wait to put every thing I learned into effect with all the horses and my students. Look out everyone 😉 There was another horses there that reminded me so much of Cosmo and he had some incredibly helpful ideas with her so I’m really excited to use them all with the little guy too!
Next up for us is the NCDCTA Labor of Love show back in Raleigh. Pop is in the open FEI small tour championship, Brandon is doing training level again and super exciting news is Ellen will be showing Pyper for at least the rest of the season (in addition to Josiah) while Monty is recovering from some allergy issues. Party will be tagging along non-compete for the experience while Jen is still recovering and the “Virginia Village chapter” will be down showing with us as well which is super exciting! We love hanging out with everyone!!!!

Stay cool! Summer is almost over!!! <3Bri

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Briana and HRH Popstarr winning the open PSG at Raleigh Summer Dressage I

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Briana and Brandon winning training level at Raleigh Summer Dressage II

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Brandon enjoying a nap in his stall in Raleigh ❤

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Jennifer and Party showing at RSD I

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Lysa and Bogey

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Briana and Brandon

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Collette and Preston

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Popstarr

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Josiah and Pyper

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Briana and Pop in the Michael Barisone clinic

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The only picture from Early Morning Blues thanks to the rain!