Hello everyone! I want to thank you all for your continued support and patience in my absence of blogging. My New Year's resolution will once again be to force myself to sit at this computer and type out the good/bad/and ugly that is emerging as a young professional in the horse industry. So i must confess that I have not done my due diligence because it has been a most trying year. Just when things start to turn upward and progress is made, POOF! Something happens that sends me back the 5 steps of progress I had just achieved. I have been told "that's life", but boy oh boy does it still stink! OK without further ado, here we go...
The year started off great! The boys were fabulous in Aiken, I had found some wonderful instruction from the great Kim Severson, and came back to Maryland ready to take the year by storm! That didn't last very long as right before my first show back, I broke my hand... luckily though Sally Cousins was on hand to sit in the saddle for me! The boys still competed at the top of their game, with Deacon winning the open preliminary combined test and Willy finishing 5th or so in the open intermediate. Then onto MCTA/Seneca which yet again the boys performed quite well! We definitely had some things to work on, but progress was certainly being made!
The number of lessons I was teaching was getting off the charts... almost tripling our number of students! I made the decision to take it easy on the competitions and instead focus on taking lessons on the big horses, developing the babies, and helping my students achieve their own personal goals. Many of my pony club students qualified for Nationals and kicked some major bootay!!! Several other students achieved personal bests in their events and/or jumper and/or dressage shows and even in a hunter show!!
So all seemed hunky dory right? Well then we get down to business. Gearing up for the fall season. I ran Deacon at Loudoun Hunt PC which just so happened to occur the same day as a hurricane! Awesome! I made the decision to run anyway since I had such a fabulous show jumping round that morning, but Deacon and I came out of the box a bit rusty. He normally comes out of the ready to attack the course, but that rainy/windy/sleeting day I had to really kick him forward. I had to ride him quite strong, and got through several tough combinations, but wasn't quite ready for the sunken road... a silly glance off, fine the second time but oh so frustrating! After a couple of wacks after that combination Deacon woke up!! (That would have been nice to know!). The rest of the course was quite nice and I sped home in a desperate attempt to make it back to the barn before the storm hit in full force.
The next event we headed to Seneca... where I had 5 horses entered. One intermediate (Willy), one preliminary (Deacon), one training (Woody), one novice (Smokey), and one in starter (Aaron). The day started off fabulously with Willy putting in a great test landing him in the top five in a very competitive division. I was on Deacon circling the dressage arena and WHAM thunder storms and there ended up being an hour delay of the competition. Deacon is a smart cookie and knows that after dressage comes the fun part, so he in no way wanted to play the dressage game again. Oh well... time for Willy show jumping. Oh wait. They were calling me over the loud speakers because I was the last rider to go! YIKES! Well I somehow made it, albeit with just about no warm-up and it showed. Willy had two very uncharacteristic rails down. I decided to give the cross country a go, since we needed a good solid run before sending in my CCI** entry for Fair Hill. Willy was foot perfect for the entire course, particularly through the water and really tough corner combinations. WOW what an incredible cross country horse! Three fences from home, one big table left.... galloping up to it... where did my distance go????? CRUD! Willy went to put in a last pat on the ground, and like a champ I leaned at the fence. The super pony was unable to get his left side up over the fence clearly, and he wacked the fence, started falling right... the impact made me start to fall underneath his right shoulder (so severely that i looked up and saw his knee coming right at me), then all i remember is seeing willy twist himself left to not fall on me, and then both of us hitting the ground face first. Willy quickly got up and started galloping towards the next fence, but I couldn't move. I most certainly had the wind knocked out of me, but there was a really tight pain in my chest, neck, and head. Once i could lift my head, i located willy and saw that the fence judge had captured him (poor thing, he was still jigging and leaping in the air, quite upset that we didn't finish our course). My breathing trouble came from my Air Vest going off (thank the lord I had this on to prevent snapping my neck backwards), but there was blood all over my face - later found out that as I fell I bit through my chin with my front teeth. Initially I thought i was no worse for wear, but by the time we made it to my trailer, I had horrible shooting pains in my neck and back... a pain that i remember all too well. I immediately panicked that I broke my back (again) and after making sure that Willy was comfortable ( I am a horrible patient, i refused to let them put me on the stretcher until I made sure that the vet was attending to Willy and he would make it safely home/recovered from the course), then on the back stretcher and into the ambulance i went.
It is at these awful moments that you realize what a fabulous support team stands behind me in both the good and bad times. An entire slew of people met my mom at the barn... making her stop in the driveway, and taking control over everything... including dealing with our own vet to check Willy again. Even now, two months later I can still feel the love and concern from all of these wonderful people. What would I do without them? How many people would stop what they are doing and wait at the barn for an hour for my pony? I have quite a few! Long story short Willy pulled/strained ligaments and muscles all along his body, from his neck/shoulder/back/hindquarters. The recovery process has been a long one, with massages, acupuncture, electric stimulus therapy, and many many vet visits. On November 17th, Willy jumped again for the first time... and so far so good! Fingers crossed we can get the pony back on track for Aiken, and a move up to Advanced (after running a preliminary and intermediate).
After that event, I concentrated on my sale horses - taking Rumor Has It (aka Aaron) to his first little event (finishing 3rd), and Above the Fold (Smokey) to his first novice event. Both horses finished on their dressage scores and made nothing of the courses! Aaron has since sold, as has Peaches (a racehorse we kept for resale), and one other big sale that will be mentioned later on! (full story to come in the new year!!). A horse I am really excited about, Woody, has been sidelined with an injury - but we are looking forward to a great Aiken with this special horse.
As the temperatures drop and we go into the season of very little sunshine, bone-chilling winds, getting stuck in the indoor, and all together COLD (can you tell I am not a winter fan) I am looking for some new sale projects, upper level prospects, and continuing to expand my teaching/training clientele. Things are busy as ever, and hopefully they stay that way! Now to plan for Aiken...
Until I lock myself inside again!
- Courtney and the DGE team