Gold Star Clinic Questionnaire

As promised, here are the questions from the application I had to fill out for the Gold Star Clinic! I didn’t include my answers, but I did include some thoughts on the questions, format, etc. in italics below. Let me know your thoughts!

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  • At what age did you start riding?
  • At what age did you start jumping?
  • Is your family involved in the horse industry?
  • Have you participated in any other disciplines? Check as follows: Hunter, Jumper, Equitation
  • How many years did you compete in the Hunters?
  • Do you feel your Hunter experience helped you develop as a Jumper rider? Please explain.
  • How many years did you compete in Equitation?
  • Do you feel your Equitation experience helped you develop as a Jumper rider? Please explain.

Pretty basic stuff so far. 

  • Did you compete in the Talent Search competitions?
  • Have you competed in any Equitation Finals? If so, in which did you compete and at what age(s) and year(s)? Did you place?
  • At what age did you start riding in Jumper competitions?
  • Have you competed in the National Junior Jumper Championship and Prix de States competition? If so, at what age(s) and what year(s)? Did you place?
  • Have you competed in the North American Children’s, Junior or Young Rider Championships? If so, at what age(s), level, and in what year(s)? Did you place?
  • It is important to know how you felt about the experience of competing at the Junior Jumper Championship/Prix de States and the NAChJYRC. Please write about that experience and how it did or did not impact your riding career.
  • It is important to know how you felt about the experience of competing at the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships. Please write about that experience and how it did or did not impact your riding career.

Clearly this above section was aimed at people who had a fairly prolific career as a junior or are currently juniors. I had to put N/A for pretty much all of these except the last question about Team Finals.

  • When you started your riding career, did your parents feel that they had enough information about the sport to make informed decisions on competitions, trainers and horse selection? Please explain.

Again, this is clearly aimed at junior riders. Also I competed mostly locally and at small rated shows at the 2’6″ level as a kid, so my parents didn’t really need any info. 

  • Have you ever taken dressage lessons? If so, did you find it beneficial and why?
  • Do you have a young horse between the ages of 3 and 7 that you are working with?
  • Do you know and follow top breeding bloodlines?
  • Do you have an interest in your horse breeding and development? If so, please explain how it is important for your future and the future of the industry.
  • Have you had any education on conformation, lameness, feeds and nutrition, shoeing, health and welfare of the horse? If so, was it helpful information and do you use the education you received? Please explain.

I found this section interesting- looking for diverse knowledge bases. I thought some of the yes/no type questions should have prompted more explanation (which I provided unprompted because I like to say stuff).

  • Physical fitness is a key component to top athlete performances, please describe your personal fitness program. Well that’s kinda a leading question, dontcha think? 
  • Have you ever participated in a clinic or the USHJA Emerging Athlete Program? If so, who was the clinician, did you feel it was beneficial and why? This was a tough question to answer- no I did not do the EAP, but yes I have clinicked. It wasn’t a USHJA registered clinic though, so does that count? I ended up mentioning it, but I think this should (1) be separated into two questions and (2) clarified.
  • Have you ever been a working student or have you been an apprentice for anyone other than your current trainer? If so, who did you work for and at what age? What did you learn from the experience? Well yeah, as a kid. Which wasn’t THAT long ago, so I think it should count.
  • Do you use visualization techniques when competing? This was just a checkbox yes or no, but I would’ve loved a chance to write more about this.

 

  • What do you feel are your riding weakness and strengths? Please explain.
  • What are your immediate goals? Please be specific.
  • What are your long term goals? Please be specific and explain how you intend to reach those goals.
  • In what way do you think that the USHJA/USEF can help you to reach your goals? Lemme suck up to you real quick.
  • Do you intend to become a professional or are you already a professional? This application was for a junior/amateur program, so not sure why there was an option to say that you are currently a professional.
  • Please list your goals for the current competition year. Be sure to include your tentative schedule for both yourself and your horse(s) (i.e. Zone Jumper Team Championships, NAJYRC, Prix des States, Equitation Finals, Nations Cups, and international competitions, as well as any preparation for these targets). This was another section that felt tough for me to answer as a working amateur, because the honest response is “it depends on whether or not I get a good year-end bonus and how much time off my boss approves before she gets fed up with me missing meetings to go compete.” I have plenty of goals, but my budget requires me to be flexible on those and pass up on things I’d otherwise like to do. Most of these big shows listed are specifically for junior riders (which I am not) or for those competing at very high heights (which I am also not). Team Finals is pretty much the only nationally recognized program for ammies at the 1.15m level.

 

  • Provide a written recommendation from a show jumping professional/trainer.
  • Write a short essay describing your equestrian goals and future plans. 1 page maximum. Let me tell you, it was HARD to get this down to 1 page. As evidenced by the posts on this blog, I can talk for days about my plans and goals and my path forward. Thousands and thousands of words.
  • Submit any additional information you wish to have considered by the selectors. Like…anything? Anything at all? 
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Slicez 4 Dayz

You already know it’s been pretty quiet on the lesson front lately due to travel and enough mucus buildup to last me three lifetimes, but Frankie and I got some good work in last week.

Our warmup was pretty standard, lots of lengthenings and shortenings to make sure we were speaking the same language. We threw in some really tight circles at the canter to test our ability to sit down and push out of the turns- I kept making moderately smallish sized ones and Trainer challenged me to ask harder for some tougher turns so that we aren’t just doing what we always do. It was a great reminder that we can and should up the ante with expectations around our flatwork! It ended up being really useful practice of helping each other balance and maintain the power even through tight turns- setting us up with some super useful jumpoff skillz.

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Unrelated he’s just really cute at posing in the snow

We started off with a few crossrails to start limbering up, then did an exercise where we trotted a crossrail across the diagonal, cantered through the end of the ring, cantered up a small vertical across the diagonal the other way, then halted in a straight line. We had to remember to ride the jump before the halt- when I started picking too much trying to get a small jump, we ended up having a messy chip and then the halt was harder because we were unbalanced. Once we got some RPMs going and jumped out of stride with more power, the halt came up much more easily because of how balanced he was between my leg and hand.

Then it was gymnastic time! Here’s the grid:

slant gymnastic

Yessirree, the jumps were set this way on purpose! The centers were all set a steady one stride apart- and by steady I mean short. Any attempt to give yourself some room by jumping one side would just screw you over in the next stride- there were definitely a few bounces thrown in there by some of the more exuberant jumpers.

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Straight shot down the middle

Despite a persistent left drift to singles, Francis knows that his job through grids is to go straight until explicitly told otherwise, and he rocked this grid like a pro. Our challenge was finding the right pace in- too much, and we made it harder to fit the smaller steps in. Too little, and we lurched over the first fence and became unbalanced.

Since the strides were so short, there was no time for jump-recover-jump-recover etc. They were all set quite low anyways, so the key was to have truly independent aids- a light seat, leg supporting straightness, and a following hand that still maintained a contact. You know, all really basic stuff that is super easy and I can do in my sleep. HAH.

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Also unrelated, my adopted snarky barn mom/bestie

The last time through was definitely the best, and earned a “that looked downright educated!” from Trainer. We had a balanced powerful stride in, and I was able to stay light in the tack and allow Frankie to figure his legs out without needing to interfere. I’m really proud of him for figuring out the game and using his little brain to make adjustments for himself. We all know that despite his infinite good qualities, he isn’t the fastest thinker, so I’m always very pleased when he uses that noggin for activities other than finding snacks.

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Don’t let his cute face fool you, he is constantly on the lookout for snacks. Despite my No Snack Rule, I caved and gave him an apple that day for being such an excellent goober. Shhh don’t tell anyone.

Random side note- Trainer has decided that she wants pretty much all her actively competing riders to qualify for the VHSA Adult (or Children, as the case may be) Equitation Final this year (to quote her: “I have a bunch of really correct lovely riders, we should absolutely be doing some equitation”), so looks like we’ll be adding some local shows to our calendar to get points for that. We will literally be bringing the classes- you need 3 to fill and we have 3 of each- and Trainer knows all the local show managers, so they’ll be sure to hold the classes for us. To keep costs down, I’m also going to share Frankie with my favorite barn rat for her to do the Children’s while she horse hunts for her next jumper. He can do the 3′ in his sleep and LOVES that kid, so it’ll be a great way for us both to get some local miles without a hefty pricetag. It’ll be a really cool season with the combo of rated jumpers and local eq! We’re definitely keeping Frankie on his toes by asking for lots of different things.

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We discussed this during our weekly barn happy hour, which directly led to me saying SURE SIGN US UP FOR EVERYTHING jk we all know I don’t need alcohol to fuel my poor financial decisions

And just in case you thought you could make it through one dang post without me going all sappy on you, THINK AGAIN. I’ve been going through lots of old blog posts and pictures as I put together a year-end recap, and it  fills me with so much gratitude that I get to go on all these fun adventures with Frankie. It was two short years ago when I made it around the 2′ puddle jumpers at my first rated jumper show, and daydreamed about getting to compete more often. I’m really having to pinch myself about what I’ve gotten to do with Frankie, and what exciting adventures we have coming up in the next year. Love my barn family (4-legged and 2-legged alike!) for helping me achieve things I never could’ve dreamed of!

 

Thought Exercise: Turnout

As you all know, one of my favorite aspects of my barn is everyone’s willingness to talk through different aspects of the industry. Of course my trainer and I spend a ton of time talking about (1) how to ride more better and (2) how to schedule shows to meet my goals without going broke. But she also takes the time to talk to me about the overall industry and the moving parts that make up the equestrian competition world.

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OK real quick I know I’m supposed to be reviewing my jumpoff but what do you think of allowing nose nets in the hunters THIS IS IMPORTANT

One thing that we were talking about recently was turnout. All the horses in our barn get turned out for at least 12ish hours a day, with many staying out closer to 24 hours if the weather is nice (they’ll come in for meals and riding, and then go right back out). They all go out in groups unless they’re in the med paddock, and will only stay in if there is truly extreme weather.

I love this for Frankie. No matter how intense our training program gets, he gets guaranteed “horse time” every day to stretch, roll, interact with his buddies, and relax. Of course there’s always a risk that he could get injured, but for me the benefits of group turnout outweigh the risks. We’ve had several people bring their horses into the barn and warn, “she’s spooky, he’s hot, be careful, he needs a specific bit, etc.” Once they’re on the full turnout schedule, literally every single one of these horses has ended up being completely chill. Without exception.

But this isn’t a blog post about how I’m a big fan of turnout. That’s boring. What I found much more interesting was our discussion of how turnout time actually can have a cascading effect on an entire training program.

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Go play this is crucial to our success

For example: let’s say that Frankie only goes out for 1-2 hours every day. In order to not lose competition-level fitness, this means that he needs to be ridden every day at least once, maybe twice. As a working amateur I certainly don’t have the time to ride twice a day, so Frankie goes into a full training program.

Well, now my horse is being ridden 6 times a week by a professional. So now I have certain expectations for how he will perform. If we struggle with an exercise in my weekly lesson, I’m annoyed that the pro rider didn’t school this enough with him. If we have rails down at a show, that’s my trainer’s fault for not preparing him to go win. I’m paying the trainer big bucks to have Precious Pony in a rigorous program, why pay that money if we’re not going to go win? I have relinquished responsibility for my progress and my results, and put a whole lot of stress on my trainer to be responsible for how I do.

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Someone owes me an apology for having 12 faults on the clock by jump 8.

On the flip side, let’s say that Frankie is turned out every day for 12 hours in a hilly field (which is the real life scenario). He can easily stay fighting fit in a 6 day/week schedule, because he spends most of his day moving up and down hills. That’s a schedule his ammy owner can work with. He may get regular tune-ups from a professional, but the vast majority of his rides come me.

So now the expectations for performance lie within myself, because I’m the one who puts most of the miles on him. If we mess up, I know why- it’s because we need to work harder on XYZ skills. If we do well, I can be really proud of the work that’s gotten us to that point. My trainer is responsible for making sure we’re competing at an appropriate level and giving us the tools we need to succeed, but as the main rider I am responsible for actually following through and giving a good ride. It puts the ownership of the accomplishment (or slip-up) firmly with the rider.

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Holy crap trainer I am an embarrassment to you and your program.

So the attitude and perspectives that we have while exiting the ring can lead back all the way to how much time the horse spends outside.

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See Francis, I told you playing with your friends would help us out

Is this a 100% direct exact correlation? No way! There are plenty of owners and horses that work hard and do well with less turnout, and there are plenty of kooks who turnout 20 hours a day. This is more of a thought exercise on how the pieces of how we care for our horses feed into the way we approach a training program, which feeds into the way we approach competitions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts- how does your approach to care affect how you train or compete?

The Fun Decisions

I don’t know if any of you caught it (why would you?), but for a hot second my sidebar for upcoming shows said:

“Lake Placid June/July 2018 OR Tryon June/July 2018”

I’ll explain.

In the email I received about the Gold Star clinic, they said that they hoped to see me next year at Team Finals, which would be held for my area from July 4-8 at Tryon.

See, my barn has already started making plans to be in Lake Placid at that time. So of course I immediately emailed my trainer to ask what I should do because she runs my life, and she gave me the most ANNOYING ANSWER EVER: “What are your goals for the year? We can make either work depending on what you’d like to do.”

UGH STOP BEING REASONABLE AND ACCOMMODATING AND TRUSTING ME TO MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS WE ALL KNOW THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

So suddenly, I had to make the choice between two incredibly amazing opportunities. A no-lose scenario. Either way, I’d be competing at a gorgeous venue and having a fantastic time. These are the fun decisions!

Considerations about Tryon: I would still be on the radar for USHJA programs and get the chance to try again to make it into a Gold Star clinic. Since Trainer and AT wouldn’t be able to join, they’d send me down with another trainer from the area that I HIGHLY respect, and there’s definite benefit to getting fresh eyes. I’ve heard Tryon is a gorgeous venue.

tryon
THINK OF THE PHOTO OPS

Considerations about Lake Placid: it’s high profile enough that I won’t be fading into obscurity there, especially if we manage to place well. I would have my own trainers to work with and my show family to have fun with. It’s been described as a total paradise, the barn doesn’t go every year, and my family is tentatively willing to come up for a week’s vacation since there’s so much to do in the area besides just show.

lakeplacid
HOLY CRAP STILL THINK OF THE PHOTO OPS

While a tough decision (because both sound so fun and I like to do All The Fun Things), I’ve decided to commit to Lake Placid! At the end of the day I compete because I have a blast doing it, and the idea of doing two weeks of vacation/showing with my barn family sounds like the most fun I could possibly have. Trainer has offered to take us down to Tryon another time since that’s more easily accessible, but I may not get another chance to go north for several years.

Another consideration is that I may simply not get enough points to qualify for Team Finals. Trainer and I have decided that while I’ll spend part of my time in the division where I’ll likely get some points, I’m also going to be dabbling in the 1.20m. I’ll be moving between two divisions enough that it would be difficult to get a lot of points in either. I’m a member of WIHS and NAL so if I get points for that I wouldn’t be mad, but I’m not going to chase those. This will be a very busy competition year of challenging ourselves and progressing- not necessarily qualifying for any big finals. I’m hopeful that this year of some big shows and big tracks will be the set up I need for 2019 to be absolutely killer.

I’m officially no longer sick and SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED about our upcoming show season!!! I’m pinching myself a little that I get to do so many cool things with the best horse on the planet. Can’t wait to take y’all along for the ride!

Lemme know if you’ll be at any of the shows in my sidebar! Frankie and I would LOVE to meet you in person!

Unintentional Hiatus

It’s been a quiet month around here, folks. Coming off of Zone Finals, I figured we would scale back to have a week or two of light work before ramping up for our new season.

Best laid plans, and all that.

First, I went to Florida with the gang. Which was awesome.

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Aw Manfriend real cute

Then I went home to Rhody for 9 days with Manfriend. Which was also awesome.

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I baptized my sweet niece which means I get complete dibs on her as my minion for shenanigans at all future family gatherings.

Then I had my friend’s wedding up in Jersey. Which was gorgeous and awesome.

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College roomies UNITE 

Then Manfriend and I decided to head into NYC to visit friends while we were in the area. Which continued to be awesome.

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100% sure he was singing along to the guy playing the accordion by listing different types of pasta

Then the cold I had been battling for a few days turned into a full-on illness that laid me out for a while longer. Way less awesome. (No pictures of this because I am a marsh creature at the moment)

So for one reason or another, Frankie has jumped approximately 2 times in the last month, and I’ve only ridden him myself a handful of times. He is currently super duper fuzzy- WE LEGIT JUST CLIPPED YOU DUDE- and he’s got a definite Dad-bod going at the moment. My favorite barn rat has been keeping him working and happy and clean (tho he still smells like pee, not her fault, he’s just disgusting) while I’ve  been traveling, but it’s been one of the lightest workloads he’s had since I brought him home.

While definitely not intentional, I think this may be a blessing in disguise. While we will certainly have to work a little harder to get in shape before our show season kicks off in January, a little physical and mental break for both of us is something we rarely do. I’m hoping it’ll help us attack our training program with renewed freshness and energy.

There’s at least one more disruption in our schedule for Christmas, but I’m excited to get back into a program with the Smelly Beast and get ready for 2018!

2017 Show Season Recap

Now that the 2017 USEF show season is officially over, let’s take a look back on the past year of competition to see how we did and how we progressed.

McDonogh Winter Classic

Our first outing of the year in January, and our first time competing in the Highs! This was ostensibly our first time doing the 1.10m classes, but I’ll eat my socks if these jumps were actually 1.10m. They looked maaaaybe 1.0m. So a soft entry into the Highs, which was probably a good thing.

I had zero connection due to constantly slipping reins, but we were able to make it around quickly enough to place well. I was still learning about finding my track and Frankie was still learning about how do turnz, but he was a good sport and we learned a lot. We ran into trouble at the triple combo in the classic which was likely due to that being the third class of a long cold day, and both of us losing energy. Overall, this was a positive first outing of the season despite the bobbles.

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HITS Commonwealth National

Our first real outing at a true 1.10m, but I felt much more confident than I had in January. We were able to go back and do a triple combo really strongly, and he handled the sloppy footing like a champ all weekend. Francis did his first 1.15m round with my trainer and won it. My main areas that needed improvement were letting him get fast and flat and not really doing much of anything about it. We weren’t to the point of doing the inside turns quite yet, but we had noticeable improvement and both of us started knowing what we were doing in the ring.

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Upperville

Oh Upperville. This was probably our best show of the year. I could’ve done a better job of keeping him between my leg and hand, and I didn’t ask hard enough to get the turns I wanted in places, but we went around some big tracks and it went much more smoothly than it had in the past. It was only 2 classes and we didn’t place, but I consider these two of our best rounds to date. For my own record of improvement, I was happy with our ability to go out cold and warm up concisely and correctly both days.

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Zone Jumper Finals: Part 1 and Part 2

By far the biggest and most intense competition experience I’ve ever had. It was so much more involved than any other show- there was a jog, there were rider’s meetings, there was the team aspect. And the courses were definitely bigger and harder than we’ve done before. I could tell that we were some of the less-schooled competitors there in terms of miles and experience, but we held our own and had a couple of strong rounds. We were able to make the inside turns everywhere we wanted to, we opened up our stride, and it was a great stretch of our abilities.

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HITS Culpeper Finals

Our foray out of the jumper ring and into the equitation! This was a great test of our ability to reel it in and do something a bit more polished. Was it expert-level? Absolutely not. Did we have to think very hard about what we were doing and change our ride accordingly? Absolutely. But I’m so pleased with how well Frankie was able to relax and give me a good effort in a new ring, over very different types of jumps. Despite the small class sizes, I’m proud of those ribbons.

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Zone Finals

Our last show of the season was a strangely appropriate mishmash of the entire season. We ran into trouble at a combo, just like in our first show- but we went back and fixed it strongly. I let him get fast and flast like our second show- but he has learned enough self-carriage to bounce up to the jumps. We used our warmup to school some skills, like Upperville. We used our inside-turn skills and eye to the bigger fences, like Team Finals. It felt like we were really able to apply what we had learned- not necessarily in having the best rides, but in being able to go out there and make stronger corrections more quickly. There were highs and lows, but I walked away proud of my horse and feeling like both of us have improved immensely since the beginning of our season. Getting a high ribbon in a competitive class was big icing on the cake.

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What’s next?

I’m excited for our 2018 season! It looks like it’ll be a year of quality over quantity on the show front- with some big hitters like WEC and Lake Placid on the agenda, I likely won’t have the budget or vacation time to do much else. I’m hoping to fit in some smaller one-days nearby to get points, make a showing at Upperville again, and see if I can try some new venues. It’ll depend a lot on the money situation (as usual!). We may also try to fit in a clinic or two, depending on who comes to town. I’m not going to commit to a division quite yet- I suspect we’ll want to spend most of our time in the Highs at 1.10-1.15m, but I do want to test our limits a bit in a 1.20m class if possible. We’ll see how Frankie and I are feeling as we get more into show season. I very very much want to continue growing and progressing up the levels, and I can’t wait to get to work!

Shining Stars

I got a really cool email a few weeks ago. As a team medalist at Zone Jumper Finals back in August, I was eligible to apply for a “wildcard” spot at a Gold Star Clinic as part of the Emerging Jumper Rider program through USHJA. From what I understand, all individual medalists automatically earn an invite, and then they open up the wildcard spots to the team medalists for consideration.

I haven’t worked this hard on an application since college, y’all. It was a long and hefty questionnaire, an essay on my goals for the future, and then I needed a letter of recommendation from a show jumping professional (thank you Trainer!). They also allowed me to include “any other materials I’d like the selectors to consider.”

I immediately started making plans for a professionally shot and cut video, testimonials from everyone I’ve ever met as to my dedication, a music video about me and Frankie. You know. Normal stuff like that. I ended up going with a link to this blog and some of my favorite posts to be like I THINK SO HARD ABOUT RIDING ALL THE TIME and a cute pic of me and Francis.

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Because how can you resist these happy faces?!

All materials assembled (and after I dried my tears from seeing the nice things Trainer said about me in her LoR), I sent off my packet for consideration.

I’ll be honest, just being on the list of names invited to apply for a spot was enough to get me shaking and giggly. We’re fairly new to this still and don’t have the same mileage as a lot of the other riders yet, so making that short list is an absolute dream come true.

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I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite

I just heard back: they had an unexpectedly high response of individual medalists, which meant that they weren’t able to accept any wildcard applicants- but I was invited to audit.

I forgot to mention: this clinic is down in Wellington. Florida. 15 hours away. Santa had told me that if I got a spot, my presents wouldn’t be under the tree but would be a commercial shipper for Francis. While I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go audit and get the chance to pick Richard Spooner’s brain and watch Anne Kursinski ride, I can’t really justify the expense of changing flights/hotel/etc without also getting the chance to ride.

I have a couple feelings about this:

  1. Really glad that there’s so much interest in the program. I think these types of “pipeline” programs that they’re promoting more in recent years are exactly what we need to get good talent to the top levels, and clearly competitors are responding that these are programs they like.
  2. Bummed I didn’t get a spot. I’m only human! Of course I wanted to go ride and learn!
  3. Relieved that if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I wasn’t outmatched, they liked my application, they simply did not have room. That’s entirely out of my control.
  4. At the same time, a little annoyed that they didn’t end up taking ANY wildcards. Though at least they’re rewarding the wildcards with the auditing invite plus a Q&A with Richard, so they clearly are trying to still give something to us. This is the first year they’re implementing this program so growing pains are to be expected, and they have already committed to expanding it next year.
  5. Thoughtful about my application. It asked some questions that I hadn’t really taken the time to consider before. I definitely don’t see the time spent on my application as a waste- it was a great exercise in considering where I want my future in this sport to go, and gave me a space to crystallize some thoughts I have on different aspects of the industry.
  6. Wishful that I had more funds so that I could go and audit without affecting my show fund for the rest of the season.
  7. Excited to set aside some money to clinic next year with a big name- not sure who or when yet, but now I’ve got the clinic bug and would definitely like to find one that fits my needs.
  8. Motivated to earn an individual spot on the podium so they have no excuse not to let me in next year.

OK, so that’s more than a couple feelings! I’m a complicated person, clearly.

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This guy will be the first to tell you that I’m a dang enigma sometimes

Frankie and I will be working hard to stay on their radar screen in 2018, and we’ll keep participating in as many programs as we can! If positivity and persistence count for anything (and I’m convinced they do), we’re gonna do some real cool stuff.

New Rule, Who Dis?

I’m a rule person. I like structure, I like clear expectations, I like when people DON’T SIT IN THE LEFT LANE FOR NO REASON OR TALK IN THE MOVIE THEATER LIKE HEATHENS. I like rules. I like when other people follow rules.

rules

So naturally, I have the USEF Rulebook app on my phone, have read my pertinent sections back to front several times, and avidly follow rule changes or new rule proposals.

Because rules control the fun.

I don’t know how closely y’all stay up to date on rule changes, but a new USEF rule for 2018 has literally changed my life. Like, I got shivers because I could see my future track of competitions changing. Here’s the rule:

JP117.2:  Amateur Jumper: A horse that is ridden by an Amateur. Classes are restricted to riders who are no longer eligible to compete as junior exhibitors.

  1. (For Amateur rules please see GR1306)
  2. Dividing Classes. Sections may be offered divided by either specific height or age of rider.
  3. Level of Difficulty:
    1. 1.40/1.45m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.40m (4’7”) or 1.45 m (4’9’). The maximum height for the first class of this section, and for any classes in which time is the deciding factor in the initial round, is 1.40 m (4’7”). Note: Only Amateur classes set at either 1.40m or 1.45m will be pointed toward HOTY awards in the 1.40/1.45m Amateur category.
    2. 1.30/1.35m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.30m (4’3”) or 1.35m (4’5”). All Amateur classes set at either 1.30m or 1.35m will be pointed towards HOTY awards in the 1.30/1.35m Amateur category.
    3. 1.20/1.25m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.20m (3’11”) or 1.25m (4’1”). All Amateur classesat either 1.20m or 1.25m will be pointed toward the 1.20m/1.25m Amateur category for purposes of HOTY awards.
    4. Local competitions – no minimum course requirements and no points towards National Horse of the Year awards. 

In case you haven’t fully grasped the significance of this yet, it means that USEF shows can now offer classes from 1.20m that are limited to amateurs who do not need to own the horse.

srsly

I’ll say that again: there are now classes for amateurs to compete against other amateurs without needing to buy an AO horse.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Does this have potential for abuse by shamateurs who will be basically professional and riding a string of horses like a pro? Yes. I’m not naive, there are always people who skate around the system like this.

But there are also people like me. Who can’t afford an AO horse and likely never will, who don’t want to take the time to find a talented baby or diamond in the rough to develop (more power to those of you who do, I just don’t want that). Who know that leasing a horse for that height is likely the only feasible way to do it with their time and money constraints, but also knew that meant competing in the Open classes against pros.

It may not be a perfect solution, but this is a real bridge to the upper levels for riders who might not otherwise be able to afford it. To my eyes, this is a fantastic way of creating greater access to higher levels by not restricting the pathway to those who can afford either the price tag of an established jumper or the time investment to bring one along.

I’m still in no rush- I’ll get there when I get there. It’s just extremely exciting to me that when I do get there, I have options to progress on my own terms.

Tell me your thoughts! I know the amateur rule is a very touchy one (with good reason) and I’d love to hear what you think- agree or disagree- about the new Amateur Jumper divisions.

 

Retreat from the Cold

Back in July Roomie and I had the foresight to book a trip to Florida for when the weather was turning- and yes, it was one of our smarter moments. Manfriend and Roomie and Roomie’s Manfriend and I just spent a few days in the sun and it was AWESOME. I’ll let the pics tell the story.

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When your first flight leaves at 6am, you start the morning drinks at 5:30am #livingmytruth
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We ate at this waterside restaurant literally 4 times. We are creatures of habit.
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It’s not a party ’til I break out the giraffe pants
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SO PRETTY EVERY DAY
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Every once in a while we score a cute pic
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Usually not tho
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We were the classy group with the cooler by the pool. We only left this spot to eat and sleep.
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Gorgeous beaches!
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And gorgeous sunsets
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And gorgeous people
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Favorites
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Legit I just took this with my phone. It’s actually that pretty.
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Live with me forever

Not pictured: the 200 lbs of shrimp we ate, the bloody Marys we demolished, the vodka tonics we housed, the one other restaurant we went to (literally we went to 2 the entire time). All we did was sun ourselves, eat, drink, sleep, and repeat and it was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.

I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back into a routine with Francis!

…oh wait that’s right, I’m headed north to Rhody for 9 days for Thanksgiving.

Someday I’ll ride again! Until then, I’m going to enjoy stuffing myself silly and holding on to the barest hint of a tan I managed ❤