Farewell, My Friend

I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile because the last few months have been so traumatic. After my last post Oh So got miraculously better, and we even had six rides together. The vet said to take him off the meds after six weeks, and maybe in hindsight that was a mistake. He relapsed within 10 days and just never got better, even after six weeks more on the same meds.

I’m copying the post on Facebook that I made on the day I said goodbye to him, May 4, which was ironically four years to the day that I broke my ankles.

“This is not the news I was hoping to share about Oh So, but sadly, I had to say goodbye to him today.

We’ve been dealing with suspected EPM since he became neurologic on January 29, and he made a seemingly miraculous recovery after six weeks. I was even able to hack him a few days before he relapsed again in March.

After trying more meds for six weeks, he wasn’t responding, so I took him to Morven Park on Friday to see their neurologist, Dr. Estell. Both she and their sports medicine expert Dr. Kelleher looked at him and determined that it could be a few things; severe arthritis impinging his spinal cord which can cause them to walk like he has been, EPM pending a spinal tap, which could come back negative at this point because he’s been on meds for it and it can skew the results, or sidewinder syndrome.

But before that, they wanted to look at his left hind hoof, which had developed a fever ring over the last month. He’s been getting progressively lame on it and also had a bruise on the sole .Unfortunately, it was the news I had dreaded—he’d foundered badly from leaning to the left. His coffin bone was very close to the sole, which was causing the bruise. If it was arthritis causing him to lean, he couldn’t be treated with corticosteroids because of the founder. If it was EPM, it was too late to try new meds. There was no hope.

They sent us home to keep him in “hospice care” with lots of pain meds until I decided it was time. As much as I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, it truly was the only option, so I decided to take him in today so I didn’t prolong his suffering. Coach Lisa Reid and his friend Meghan Schott Corbitt were by his side with me with plenty of peppermints to say goodbye.

This morning he was his usual self, rolling in the mud and then trying to trot in his small paddock. He was fussy while I groomed him and annoyed he couldn’t go out with his friends. As hard as it was for him to walk onto the trailer, he did it because I asked and because he knows whenever he gets on the trailer we’re going to have an adventure. Over the last few weeks, I could see it in his eyes. He was in pain, despite trying to be his usual wild self. He’s 21 going on 5, but his body wouldn’t let him be himself.

I wish I’d made the decision to take him to Morven sooner. Then maybe he would have had a chance. It still doesn’t feel real that he’s gone. Driving an empty trailer back to the barn was devastating.

Oh So has been my partner for the past 13 years, and it feels like a part of me is missing. It wasn’t his time. He deserved another 10 years in retirement after everything he’s done for me. He had that warhorse Thoroughbred spirit, racing until he was 7, taking me through preliminary and earning me my USDF bronze medal, and I expected he’d still be packing me around at 25. He’s never lost enthusiasm for his job, and before this, he’s never felt better in his body.

I’ll never be able to truly express in words what he’s meant to me. I’ve had him for most of my adulthood—he’s just always been there. He’s made me the rider I am today, and we were partners. We anticipated each other’s moves and were so in tune with each other. Almost everyone I hold dear in life I met through Oh So, and I know he has a huge fan club. I’ve appreciated everyone’s thoughts and prayers through the last few months.

After he had a suspensory injury in 2013, we gave him an easier job at novice and training, and he always had the same joy for his job that he did jumping the bigger fences. Our last two years of competition together in 2019 and 2020 were the best in my life. We rarely came home without a blue ribbon, but of course, it’s not just about that.He taught me to be brave and patient and to relax in the dressage and show jumping. With Oh So, there was never a fence too big or scary—if I didn’t want to go, he didn’t care and took me anyway.

Lisa always said he had that “look of eagles”—the thing that great cross-country horses have. Once he found a job he loved, he gave it everything he had, the same way he approached everything in life, and that’s a lesson I’ll keep in mind for the rest of mine.I’m not sure I’ll ever have another horse like him. He can never be replaced in my heart, and he’ll never be forgotten.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been four weeks since he’s been gone. I had him cremated and have some of his remains in a box they sent me. I think I’ll scatter his ashes at some of his favorite places. I have his tail hair and his front shoes and will find an appropriate way to honor him some day.

My friend Meghan took these photos on our last night together.

None of this feels real. This is not how I expected my 2021 to go. He was so full of life. After we took him to Morven, it was a very quick decision because we had to do it, and I think that’s what’s been so shocking. The worst part if we’ll never actually know what was causing the near symptoms, but what we do know is that it was the founder that was the end of it. There was nothing to be done.

The last several months I’ve been an emotional wreck, stressed and anxious and worried. I’ve had some other personal stuff going on too that’s just made me not want to get out of bed some days.

My spirits have been lifted by my friends and family though, and all of those who knew Oh So, either from real life or on Facebook. I didn’t realize how many fans he had!

But it’s still been so hard to feel like my normal self. I’m not there yet, for sure. He’s just always been there in my life, or at least for most of my adult life. I can hardly remember a time before him, and there’s a huge void. He changed my life and my riding in more ways than one. I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at photos or videos of him yet, but I’ll get there eventually. I just can’t believe that I might forget the feeling he gave me, from just hacking to flying over jumps, and all of his silly little things, like biting the cross ties and drinking from the hose.

He deserved a happy retirement, and I feel like I failed in some way by not taking him sooner.

The same day we said goodbye, my trainer Lisa happened to come across a young horse she’d seen a few times out schooling while she was up at Loch Moy. He impressed her again, and she kept him in mind. I spent the rest of the week grieving and in a bit of a trance, but she sent me a long email saying she thought I should get back out there sooner rather than later to have something to take my mind off my grief.

I went to watch the horse at his first Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy, and he was definitely quiet. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I went to try him anyways a few days later, and it went well, so we vetted him and brought him home on May 18.

I still feel like I’m stuck this sort of alternate reality or in some haze. I can’t believe I brought a baby horse home two weeks after Oh So passed. Maybe it was fate that Lisa saw him on the day we said goodbye to Oh So? I don’t know. I’m trying not to look too much into it. I’m not sure I’ve made the right decision, but if I didn’t make this one, I would have had nothing to ride really. My barn owner has been kind to lend me one of her fox hunters, but I’m not into trail riding. I like to have goals, and I like doing the work. But I still have some anxiety over my accident and didn’t want a super green OTTB. Luckily this one has been restarted well and seems to be sane and kind.

I’ll introduce the new guy in my next post.

A Shocking Development

I had kind of been putting off a Happy New Year update on the blog because honestly, not much has been happening since my last post. We’re just trying to make it through winter, and we had some really nice schoolings at Loch Moy over their arena cross-country course with friends and a few good jump schools at home.

My friends had started to ask if I was thinking about the next season, and I had a general plan in my head. We had a nice lesson at Morningside with Lisa on Jan. 24, then I decided to give Oh So two days off. We hacked on Wednesday, and I thought he felt maybe slightly weird in walk, tracking with his haunches a bit to the left, but he got better as we went. The weather was terribly cold that Thursday, so he had a day off and a nice groom in the stall. By Friday when I went to get him in the field, he was acting neurologic in walk, so I immediately called the vet.

His haunches were to the left in walk, and he had a tail tilt that way too. She diagnosed him with EPM based on visual symptoms and a neurologic test, so we immediately started him on the anti-protozoa medication Protazil and Vitamin E.

To say I was in shock was an understatement. Where the hell did this come from? He’s been perfectly healthy with no signs other than on Wednesday.

It felt like my life had come crashing down. I know he’ll be retired eventually, but he’s been going so well, and shows no signs of slowing down. If he retires, I’m left with nothing other than a mountain of debt and no savings to get my next horse. My life revolves around him and has for the last 13 years. I’m just not ready for it to be over.

I spent a week crying at home and every time I saw him. We put him in a small paddock because we’ve been having back to back winter storms, and we didn’t want him to slip. He didn’t seem to be getting any better 10 days in, and was starting to be in pain from shifting to the left all the time. It was hard to watch. I took him for hand walks to the nearest patch of grass, but he would trip while grazing and began to be lame from behind.

I finally decided to get a second opinion just to rule out anything else, which I learned from the first vet could be neck arthritis, although being on Banamine for a few days hadn’t helped, and he was using his head and neck fine, so that was unlikely. We do know he was arthritis in his neck based on X-rays from when he had strangles. His bloodwork came back about a week later and confirmed his numbers were 1:500 for exposure to EPM, which is not high, but the vet explained to me that the number doesn’t correspond to the severity of the disease.

The second vet took one look at him and was fairly certain it’s EPM. He recommended a compounded drug made of DMSO and toltrazuril, which is something a few friends had mentioned they’d also tried with success after he recommended it.

About two days after the second vet came, I started seeing improvement in his walk. It was less crooked, and he seemed slightly more comfortable. The new meds arrived on Friday, which was two weeks since his initial diagnosis, and I decided to try them. The second vet said he’s never had luck with Protazil and that it’s being trialled as an EPM preventative these days, so at least I could continue to use it after he’s better twice a week to use it up. $800 for that! The compounded medication was $180, and since he’ll likely be on something for a few months, that seemed like the better option.

As of today, he’s walking almost normally. It’s kind of miraculous. He’s able to walk over poles and is very eager to go on hand walks down the driveway. He’s not tripping while grazing, and I can now pick up all four of his feet without a problem. A week ago I was considering what would happen if he got down and couldn’t get up. Where would I bury him? Would I cremate him? How would I be able to go on without him in my life?

I’m thrilled that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. This is something I have no experience with and never would have expected in a million years. I have no idea where we go from here, other than finishing up a month’s worth of Toltrazuril. When will he be safe to ride? Will he ever be? With the progress so far I feel like there’s hope. I don’t think he deserves to be forced into retirement because of this terrible disease, and I believe he’s strong. I’ve never been an optimist, but I’m learning to be strong through this horrible situation. The second vet believes there’s a chance he can be ridden again because he didn’t start out with any muscle atrophy. That can be harder to come back from.

This horse is keeping me connected to the sport I love well past his peak because he loves it. I’m not sure what my future will be, and to think about not being able to ride and compete is devastating. It’s in my blood. It’s a part of me. I’m so thankful I’m able to ride a nice mare at the barn, and we’re hoping to get to some dressage shows this spring, but running and jumping is my real passion. It’s a privilege to get to ride Oh So, and I’ve learned to never take one day for granted at his age and after all we’ve been through. His enthusiasm for life is infectious, and he’s given me more confidence over the last 13 years than I think any horse ever could.

This still feels like some nightmare I can’t wake up from, but to go to the barn everyday and see him acting more like himself and happier makes me hopeful I’ll be able to look between his ears again.

The worst of it. Leaning against the wall to take pressure off the left hind leg.
Not too happy about being in a small paddock away from his friends.

Fancy Prancing

Oh So and I have spent the last month working on our Third Level tests at three dressage shows. We started off at By Chance Farm in July. It was pretty hot, but we got up before dawn to get there and ride before 9am! At least we were done early.

We rode Third 1 and 2. Last year we only ended up getting to one dressage show, and we scored in the low 60s in both tests, so I was hoping to see some improvement this year.

Heidi and I know he’ll never have a clean right to left change at this point, so we accept it will be a 3 or 4, but there’s so many other things he does well.

At By Chance Farm. InFocus By Bruce photo

I struggle to sit his medium/extended trots, so those are always a weak point, but I was surprised how well we scored on our canter half passes and our good change. We got 8s!

He has a pretty good rein back, but he kind of resisted in the test, so that ended up with a 6. He got a 7 on his gaits, but 6.5s on the other collectives. His poll can get low in trot, so the judge commented on that. It’s not that I’m forcing him down that way, it’s just that he naturally wants to leave his head there, so I constantly have to remind myself to lift him up.

The second test we got a few more 8s, including on our entry and our shoulder-in right and renvers right. We ended up with a 63.81 on test 2 and a 64.45 on test 1! Our highest scores yet. We won one class and were second in the other.

The next weekend we went to Loch Moy and ended up with a 63.78 on test 1 and a 64.07 on test 2. So, consistent! Heidi was able to be there to warm us up, which was nice.

We turned a few 5s into 6s and 6s into 7s, and got another 8 on our left to right change from one judge. Similar comments though–keep him more up and more engaged. I got a 7 on my position and one judge commented that I had good hands. We ended up second in both of our amateur classes and won the TIP award for our level!

Yesterday we did our last show of the summer at Beverly Equestrian. I rode in the indoor for both tests, and he did feel slightly tighter for the first test. We weren’t able to trot around the outside, so we started in the ring. I saw our reflection in the mirror and thought he looked more up in his frame.

We ended up with a 62.36 on test 2 and rode test 3 for the first time and got a 60.87. I was disappointed with the marks because he felt pretty much the same as the last two shows. Unfortunately I didn’t have a video to compare. Maybe the first test felt slightly less polished in the transitions. The judge dinged us for the extended/medium gaits and the transitions. Fair enough when he doesn’t have huge extended gaits to start with. It makes it harder to show a clear transition. She saw some irregular steps in the trot half pass right, which Heidi had actually noticed too during our lesson this week. Not sure what that’s about.

She said his haunches were leading in the canter half passes and while I felt the rein back was smoother in test 3, she said he wasn’t square behind. In test 2, she wanted more flexion and bend in the renvers and more bend but less angle in the shoulder-ins.

We were first and fifth in our classes and won the TIP award for our level. One rider walked by before our test and asked who Oh So’s sire was! That was quite the compliment.

So, not the improvement I’d hoped to see after three shows, but I know what we need to work on. More power in the extended/medium gaits, show more change in the transitions between gaits, and watch the hindquarters and bend/angle on lateral work.

My goal had been to reach 65 percent, and we got close! I think he could get maybe 67 percent if everything went perfectly, but isn’t that what dressage is about? Trying to put everything together on the day. We’ll keep working, but for now, back to running and jumping!

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Back On Course

It’s been a really bizarre last few months since the world has been on lockdown. What I assumed might be two months at most is now stretching into July with no end in sight. For me, it’s been lonely and stressful at times, but I’m so thankful I was able to continue visiting my horses and riding.

We’ve been able to regularly cross-country school, and Oh So has been feeling really good. Now that things have started up again, we’re fit and ready to go, but it’s so hot! We did a mid-week combined test at Loch Moy back in June, and he felt pretty good in the jumping, but I let him get a bit low in the poll in the dressage, and I wasn’t happy with the test.

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The new normal.

We went to Morningside for a few jumper rounds 10 days later, and the first round was awesome, which is what I wanted since we only get one shot at the events. The second round I started to get a bit picky in places, but it was still good.

My parents came to town last week to visit, and we had a nice time wandering around Frederick, Maryland, and Harper’s Ferry and visiting in Annapolis with my aunt and uncle.

They groomed for me at our first event of the season at Loch Moy, which was still hot, but mercifully not as humid. We were third after dressage with a 28. The judge noticed his head tilt to the right going left, but really only commented on it and didn’t mark us down for every movement. He felt relaxed and steady though, so that’s what mattered to me.

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We’ve been cross-country schooling a lot.

I had a decent warm up for show jumping, but once I got in the ring I felt like I was a bit off and couldn’t see a distance! I started taking some long spots in an effort to not pick, which is my usual issue, and I had the most embarrassing miss at fence 7. I asked for a long one, he added, and crash!

We finished up OK, but I was kicking myself. I said I get one of those a year, so at least I got it out of the way!

I felt a little off on cross-country too. It was a pretty simple course, but had a big hanging log off a turn as the fourth fence, then directly to a half coffin. They reversed the course in a way I’d never been, and I felt it didn’t really flow as well.

With the rail we ended up fourth.

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Happy days schooling!

Now we have a dressage show next weekend and two more planned for August. I didn’t get to do much dressage last year, so I’m hoping to see where we stack up with our Third Level scores this year.

It’s been a real adjustment working from home. I do appreciate being able to workout a bit easier and just get up an do some exercises or stretches without being looked at strangely in the office! But it’s been a process to find a routine and stay motivated without being able to travel. I thrive on being busy and changing things up, and it’s dragging on me a bit. But I’m definitely thankful I’m gainfully employed during this time.

I really don’t know what the plan is for the rest of the year, like most of the world. It’s looking less and less likely that we’ll be traveling for work, which is a bummer. We’ll be lucky if shows are able to continue with the different COVID-10 spikes happening across the country now. I’m crossing my fingers I’ll be able to event more in the fall.

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Rocky celebrated his 21st in April!

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Cricket is settling in well.


Life On Pause

Wow, who would have thought I’d be writing this post? It’s April 1, and normally I’d be getting ready to start competing and be in the swing of a busy travel season for work, but instead I’m stuck at home, like the rest of the country and much of the world, on a lockdown from a global pandemic.

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been working from home full-time, which I’m very fortunate to be able to do in these crazy times, and it looks like we’ll all be stuck through at least April and likely May.

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We won this lovely cooler for being the CDCTA TB of the Year!

I’m not mourning being unable to compete my own horse so much as not being able to have a normal routine and schedule and to travel and earn overtime. That’s what’s truly hurting me. I feel like Oh So and I accomplished a lot last year, and since he’s 20 this year, I’m not putting my hopes and dreams into any lofty goals. It was just going to be trying to improve our third level tests at dressage shows and competing at novice when we can.

It’s also the social aspect of competing and traveling which I miss. Seeing my media friends, talking to the riders in person and going to fun places. I thrive on being busy, and maybe sometimes I’ve used that as an excuse to not try new things in the past. Now I have a ton of free time, but can’t try new things because everything is shut down and meeting new people isn’t possible!

Before all of this, I was able to have a lovely trip to Wellington where I covered all three disciplines, and a trip of a lifetime to Sweden to visit the MIPS offices and Swedish show jumper Peder Fredricson.

I also ended up getting a new trailer in March after we had one too many problems with our 19-year-old Bison. I found a lovely Adam two-horse which I’m now not sure when I’ll be able to get registered and inspected since the DMV is closed!

I’m so glad I was able to see my parents and Oliver before all of this went down because my next trip was supposed to be for the Land Rover Kentucky in April. Not happening. In fact, pretty much everything through May has been canceled. It seems that most people have kind of accepted what’s happening and are doing their best to practice social distancing, but it’s still so weird to go out to the grocery store and not be able to find what I need or to see another human completely avoid being near me while out on a walk.

I’m so thankful to be able to continue to go out to the barn during all of this and ride. It’s definitely keeping me sane and giving my days a sense of purpose. Even if I don’t ride, just sitting in the barn and listening to the birds and the sound of the horses eating dinner is so relaxing after dealing with all the noise of the news cycle throughout the day. I’ll continue to go on walks every day too and do some at-home workouts to work up a sweat.

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We won this quarter sheet for being the MD TB Series year-end champions!

Unfortunately, Morven Park canceled Oh So’s spring check up and put us on a wait list. I was hoping to have his neck injected and do a soundness exam to see if he needs any help in his back, hocks or SI. He didn’t last year, which was great for my wallet, and he feels pretty good right now, but I don’t want to miss something and have him be uncomfortable. I’m contemplating having Piedmont, who usually only does his shots, do the neck injection at least.

It feels so weird to have no plans for the future and not know when this is going to end. How much fitness do I keep him in? For now, I’m keeping it sort of the same as I’ve been doing over the winter. Lots of hacking, a couple days of flatwork, maybe a flat lesson every other week, and a jumping lesson once a week with two days off. We’ve thankfully been able to go to Morningside and Loch Moy to jump and do some easy gallops and hill work, which is about where we’d be at this time of year anyways. We tend to not compete until late April or May because the footing can be wet this time of year, but it’s actually not been too bad this year.

Because my roommate went back to her parents’ house with the cat, I’ve been left completely alone, which sucks. I had been hoping to try to meet some new people through dating apps, but that’s also been halted for now, and I can’t go to the gym either. I’m lucky to be able to have a couple people to talk to at the barn, but it’s still lonely in my little apartment, so I decided now was the time to get a cat. With Oliver retired in Kentucky with my parents, I haven’t had a cat to call my own since August, and I’ve honestly been debating it since I moved here almost five years ago. Since I travel so much, I’ve felt guilty about getting one and then being gone all the time, but I think this is the best time to do it so I can get to know it. As of now, I won’t be traveling at all until the fall most likely since I had nothing in June or July scheduled anyways yet.

So, here’s introducing my new friend, Precious (new name TBD!). She’s about a year and a half old and came from Middleburg Humane. She came home on March 27 and spent the first 24 hours under my bed, and still likes to sleep there, but really enjoys following me around and being pet. We’re still not on the same sleep cycle yet, so I’m getting woken up between 4 and 6 a.m., but we’ll find our rhythm soon!


Looking Back At 2019

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted! Not much has happened since our last event in October, which is a good thing!

I was honestly just a bit burned out at the end of the year with traveling and showing basically every weekend from May through early December, so it was a relief to make it to my final work trip to Boston for the USEA Convention and just be home for awhile (aside from a trip to Kentucky for Christmas).

Boston was a city I had never been to, and I really enjoyed it. I saw most of the historical sites and got a good gist of the layout. I think I’ve been inspired to do a New England road trip now to knock off a few states I’ve never been to like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Maybe a summer trip idea!

Since I’ve been back and had some free weekends, I’ve just been enjoying spending time with Oh So and Rocky and not having a schedule. I’ve been doing a little organizing and decluttering and working on making some life changes, but isn’t that what everyone does in the New Year?

I was really excited to go up to Pennsylvania last weekend for the Area 2 annual meeting and awards luncheon to receive our year-end awards. We were high point novice amateur, novice Thoroughbred, overall high score and second place with our team. We got a lovely halter, a glass bowl, four giant ribbons, a saddle pad and I got a Redingote winter bodysuit, t-shirt and hat. We definitely brought home a lot of loot!

We also ended up fifth in the country for USEA in the novice adult rider and novice adult amateur leaderboards and won the novice for CDCTA. Whew! It was a good year.

As far as work, I traveled to 11 states and Canada for a total of 17 assignments, including a few new ones like Pony Finals, Dressage Finals and the Washington International Horse Show.


I went to Burghley for the first time on vacation and spent more time in one of my favorite cities, London, and planned my own itinerary for the first time in a foreign country, and it mostly worked out! I drove on the wrong side of the road and made my way through England, which I was really proud of.

Looking ahead I’ve got a very exciting trip to Sweden planned for work and some play next week, then down to Florida, and the usual events in the spring leading up to Land Rover Kentucky. I’m not sure if I can afford a true European vacation on my own this year, but I’m keeping an eye on flights to Amsterdam as a possibility should I find a deal, or may Pau in France in the fall.

Oh So and I went up to school at Loch Moy on the derby course this weekend and had a lot of fun, so as long as he’s still excited about life, we’ll keep plugging away and think about plans for the spring. I’d love to be able to do some more third level shows this year and work on improving our scores.


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Winding Down The Season

And just like that, my fall season is done! I decided to wait to write until I had all three events done, so here we go (I’ll work on a Burghley blog when I get some more time)!

We started out with CDCTA in September. I had only been back from England for a few days, so not ideal, but I had a friend hack him a bit while I was gone to keep him moving.

It’s been a long, hot summer, and by September we were not getting much rain, so the ground was definitely firm. I hadn’t actually ever competed at the new CDCTA site, just schooled a few times. Everything is on grass, which can definitely be a challenge.

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I was a bit nervous because I ended up getting my old dressage trainer as my judge. She’s never judged me before, but we worked together from about age 12 until four years ago. I was able to put it out of my mind and put in a decent test for a 30.2.

Show jumping was on a bit of a hill and was in a tightly roped space. I wasn’t super pleased with our round, but we got the job done clear, which a lot of people didn’t.

Cross-country felt pretty good, and we ended up winning and taking home the reserve TIP award. We were also the highest-placed CDCTA member, so we won $600! We got to do a little victory gallop with our neck sash, which was fun. It was fun to see a lot of friends at that event, and I was able to catch up with my former trainer afterwards and we had a nice chat. She thought Oh So looked really well, which was nice to hear.

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He was not super into getting tacked up again for his ribbons!

We had a cross-country school at Surefire the week before Morven, and it was hot! The heat was just relentless, right up until two days before Morven when fall finally arrived.

I entered the Area 2 novice championship having never done any area championship at all. I was a little disappointed we didn’t have two dressage judges and that the cross-country was the same as the regular novice. So basically I paid $300 for the privilege of show jumping last.

Dressage was nice and steady, and we got a 29.8 to be fourth out of 48 people! Cross-country was one of the best rounds we’ve had in awhile; I didn’t mess with him, and everything came up nearly perfect. It was a bit odd to go straight to cross-country and have to do show jumping last, but I think he enjoyed himself.

We had about an hour to get ready for show jumping, and I didn’t get a chance to walk the course because the course walks never seem to happen when I cam actually make them!

We came around the turn to fence 4, and while it felt a little short, it didn’t feel bad, but he had the front rail down behind. That’s the first rail he’s had in probably two years. Lisa says I just lost some impulsion around the turn, and with him maybe being a bit flat and/or tired after cross-country, I needed to just squeeze him off the ground a tiny bit more.

It was a real bummer because we plummeted to 14th place when we had moved up to third after cross-country. In the end, we were the fourth-best amateur, so we got a few points out of it.

I had really wanted to do well at Morven, and I’m still really happy with everything, cross-country especially, but it’s just tough when we don’t ever get to practice show jumping last. I think we maybe did it once or twice a Virginia Horse Trials.

I was also bummed they didn’t at least give separate amateur or Area 2 Adult Rider ribbons to the top amateurs. They really should have split the class into amateur or rider and open. I know I didn’t earn a ribbon that weekend, but it would have been to nice to have been recognized considering that may be our one and only time doing a championship.

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We headed straight to Loch Moy last weekend for the Maryland Horse Trials 3 as our last event. Dressage was nice and steady, and I worked a bit on riding a more forward trot and canter after a lesson I had with Heidi earlier in the week. She asked me why I don’t try taking a risk in the ring, and I figured, why not if he’s relaxed? At home she has me riding a pretty big, almost medium trot in warmup to get him to use his body and open up his step more in trot. At Loch Moy I definitely didn’t ride that big, but a fraction more, and I think it showed. He tends to get comments that he is steady and beautiful, but needs to use his back more and sometimes that we need a bit more impulsion, which is funny considering how he used to around very tight and tense! We scored a 27.6 to lead.

Show jumping was fine, maybe not the smoothest I’ve ever had. I was adding in a few lines for some reason and got in my knee a bit, which is the habit I’m always fighting.

Unfortunately that carried over to cross-country, and I had a few fences where I really needed to support him with my leg better, and I didn’t. He’ll still jump the jumps, but sometimes I can tell after having a fence where I didn’t support him as much that he’ll be slightly backed off to the next one. It was also a huge contrast to Morven’s nice galloping course. At Loch Moy it’s very twisty and turny, and the fences come up really fast.

We ended up winning and getting the TIP award and a bottle of wine! A great way to finish the season.

Now we’ll head into the off season working more on our Third Level movements, maybe riding without stirrups and going back to Loch Moy to school the derby course in the arena. My hope had been to do a few more dressage shows, but we did a lot this year, and I traveled a lot, so I think I’m good for now! I’m just tired; I’ve been at a horse show in some capacity pretty much every weekend since June.

It looks like we’ll end the season on the USEA national leaderboard somewhere, which is super cool, and we’ll win the CDCTA and Area 2 novice amateur year-end awards too!

I’m so grateful every time I get to ride Oh So, and to be able to have another winning season is just icing on the cake.

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Finishing Out The Summer Season And Saying Goodbye

It’s been a relatively busy summer for me with lots of changes, but I finally have a couple of minutes to sit down for an update!

After Seneca, Oh So and I had a decent cross-country schooling at Surefire and headed to Oatlands in Leesburg for the new Loudoun Hunt PC Horse Trial date at the end of June. I hadn’t competed there for years, since Sam was going prelim, so I was a bit nervous honestly!

The dressage rings were near the highway, and we had a pretty decent storm the day before I rode, so my test ended up being not-so-great. He was a bit spooky about the sound of the cars/trucks/motorcycles through the trees, then the footing in the grass ring was actually a bit sucky. We rode a different test than we’ve been doing, and I forgot the stretchy trot circle! Oops. We ended up with a 35, even though I thought the work wasn’t horrible. Definitely not our best test, but I don’t think it was 35-bad. Oh well!

Show jumping was on a grassy slope, and I don’t know why, but I was so nervous! It wasn’t the smoothest ride we’ve ever had, but after watching my video, it definitely didn’t look so bad.

Cross-country was also not so smooth. I just couldn’t really find my rhythm, but thankfully he doesn’t care and carried on! We ended up third.



After spending the weekend sweltering at the Maryland International to cover the Pan Am team final outing for COTH, I headed back to Loch Moy for MD HT 2. It was still horribly hot, but we ended up with a good second-place finish and the TIP award for novice!

We got a 27.4 in dressage, and had the excitement of jumping in the big ring over some new fences Loch Moy had used for the international classes the week before; think lots of fancy standards and fillers. I barely had time or energy in the heat to walk the course before I had to get on, but somehow it ended up being one of our nicest rounds in recent history. I didn’t touch his face, we kept the same rhythm and a decent pace, and he was jumping really well.

Cross-country felt pretty good, save for one fence were I missed my line and had to weave through some trees!



It also marked the last time my parents will likely see us compete together since they’ve now made the move to Kentucky. I’m never saying never, but at least for the rest of this season I’ll be on my own, which will definitely be strange.

I had one free weekend to hang out at my parents’ farm before I was off to Rebecca Farm for a week. We dropped Rocky off at his new boarding barn on that Sunday, which is about 15 minutes from where Oh So is, and he promptly had a colic episode by Thursday which required tubing.

So while I truly enjoyed my trip to Rebecca Farm, I was trying to deal with that, plus my parents’ uncertainty about actually moving by Aug. 1 due to some issues on the buyer’s end, and just endless days with lots of work to do.

I did get a chance to have a relaxing vacation day in Glacier National Park before this all went down though, and I stayed with a couple of good media friends, so in the end, it was a great trip.

Of course on my way home on Monday I was told Oh So sprung a shoe. No big deal I thought. The farrier put the shoe on on Tuesday, but when I rode on Wednesday he was very lame.

Me being me, I immediately thought the worst, but after hoof testing and pressing on his heel, I realized he was likely lame due to a heel grab. He gradually got better over the week, but unfortunately, we’d had a dressage show scheduled for Sunday, and that wasn’t going to happen.

Add in a ton of work to do in the office and the stress of my parents moving with only one cat, and last week was not fun. I honestly felt like I was headed towards a mental breakdown.



About three weeks ago one of our cats, Lucky, disappeared. It’s unfathomable to my parents and I, and unfortunately, they had to leave for Kentucky without him last week. He’s never been gone for more than a day or two, and we just don’t know. He was 15, but in good health.

He was always “my” cat and a bit of a weirdo/anti-social, so the only thing we can think of is that with the increased activity, like packing, around the house, maybe he was freaked out. Maybe it was his way of telling us he didn’t want to go. We’ve had him since he was left in a box on the steps of the Fredericksburg SPCA as a kitten. I was in high school! I know it would have been hard to transition him to being a mostly indoor cat with a small backyard, but to leave him behind, wherever he is, is truly heartbreaking, and the not knowing will haunt me. I haven’t been able to look at any photos of him because I know it will just hit me that he’s gone, and I’ve kind of been trying to avoid any other stress at the moment.

The silver lining to this is that our other 15-year-old cat Oliver did make the trip successfully and is currently hanging out in a swanky cat hotel until my parents move in next week from their temporary apartment. I hope having his family with him with help make the transition to a new house easier. I’m going to miss seeing him every weekend, but I’ll do my best to get down there as often as I can. I wish I could take him, but forcing him to live in a tiny apartment just didn’t seem fair.

We’ve been talking about this move for four years, and now that it’s finally happened, I feel a sense of relief, but just extreme sadness about Lucky. I’m really sad to be leaving behind my home of 17 years and officially closing the chapter of our lives together with horses. Walking through the empty barn and looking at the fields where Sam, Lad and Toppers are buried, I was sad to leave them, and most of my childhood and young adult life, behind.

I’m happy for my parents to get a fresh start closer to their grandchildren, but feel a little lonely without my family close by. I may follow them eventually, but for now it’s just me and Oh So and Rocky for awhile.

Luckily Rocky’s been having a good week after another mild colic last week that we managed with some Banamine. Oh So is sound, and we’re looking towards another dressage show to try to improve our third level scores next weekend. I’m actually headed to Lexington this weekend to help cover Pony Finals (there’s a first time for everything I guess!) so I’ll stop by to say hi to Oliver and see my parents and the house quickly.

Getting The Ball Rolling

Finally we’re into our eventing season! We’ve done three events since my last update, so here’s a recap:

We started off with the starter trial at Loch Moy on Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t too hot, but definitely humid, and we just dodged thunderstorms in the afternoon.

He was a little bit dry-mouthed in the warmup, which wasn’t a terrible thing, just not usual for him. He was perhaps slightly holding his neck, so I worked on some suppling exercises like leg yielding in trot and canter to get him a bit softer. He ended up with a 23.8, but I took that with a grain of salt considering it was a schooling show.

Continue reading “Getting The Ball Rolling”

Back On Track And Looking Ahead


Life is finally starting to feel a little more normal as the weather’s been getting warmer. Oh So and I are about six weeks behind in our competition season due to the strangles, but we were able to get out to a combined test and Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy, both of which we won!

The dressage test at the combined test felt a bit tight, although it scored well, but I was fine with it since it was the first show of the season. He was much better for Twilight–very relaxed and supple and loose in his body.

Novice CT at Loch Moy. GRC Photography Photos

My show jumping round at Twilight wasn’t the smoothest since I’d had two rides on him after being gone for a week at Kentucky, but we were there for the cross-country anyways!

It was a pretty simple course, but it was open and gallopy, which is what he needed for his first run of the year. Now we’re looking ahead to the starter trial and some recognized events in June and July.


Twilight Eventing!

He’s been looking really good lately and feeling even better. I decided to keep him on stall board through the summer to help put some weight back on after he lost about 50 pounds due to the winter and his illness. He’s happy to be inside eating all day and away from the bugs I think. I’ve changed up my routine so I go for a 20-minute hack before we work in case he’s a little stiff from being in. He’s also been extremely spooky, which is kind of funny!

I think his neck injection is really kicking in because he’s been very supple and working really well on the flat. We’ve had a few lessons with my dressage trainer Heidi, and we’ve been working towards improving his changes. He’s accepting leg yielding away from the wall and back for the most part, although this week every time I leg yielded off the wall on the left lead he gave me very lovely changes back right! It’s kind of funny because you could tell he thought he was doing the right thing. I just stayed calm and got the correct lead back and continued to leg yield until he listened to my aids. We also played with some canter/walk and walk/canter transitions and haunches in which will all help improve those changes.

We’ve been working on gymnastics with Lisa since he’s been getting pretty excited jumping lately, so we’re just dialing it back a bit to make him sit and wait.

Photographing at Kentucky.


I’ve been on a couple of work trips since my last update, including The Fork and Kentucky. The Fork was a bit underwhelming as far as entries go, but Boyd Martin won, and it was kind of a cute story.

Kentucky was a lot of fun, but a very long time to be gone. In the end, Oliver Townend won, which was a bit of a bummer since everyone was rooting for Boyd to be the first U.S. rider since 2008 to win it. Maybe next year!

Now I’m off to Jersey Fresh for the weekend. Looks like it might be a bit wet!