Inside Starbound

Finding Our Way

It’s not often that one is grateful to have a nightmare, but that Sunday morning, my nightmare saved me.  I don’t remember exactly what it was about; all I know is I awoke mid-wail.  My crying startled me awake so abruptly that I sat up just like out of a scene in a movie.  It took me about 2 seconds to switch my focus from the context of my dream to the fact that I needed to be at the horse show to show in the final day of my very first CDI.

Turns out, I had passed out without plugging in my phone the night before, which meant the battery died, which meant, NO ALARM.

For those of you who have known me for a while, this story will likely not come as a shock.  Sleeping in, being tardy, and general lack of “having it together” have been common staples in my life that I have worked very hard in the past 2 years to dissolve.  At 41 years of age, I am very proud of the fact that I finally have peers who do not expect me to be late.

I had no idea what time it was.  No idea how late I was.  It was still dark out, but not quite dark enough.  I wanted to be at the show by 7am to be on Belle by 7:30 and ready to be first in the Stadium by 8am.  It was our 5th day at the show, so we had planned a quick warm up, making sure to save as much energy as possible for our second half of the Small Tour.

I managed to make it to the show by 7:20a and still have my foot in the saddle by 7:30a, but I don’t think I had quite forgiven myself for my relapse and my warm-up reflected that.  I couldn’t think straight.  I couldn’t focus on my coach’s instruction because I was lost inside my head.  Thinking back instead of thinking forward.  While I had had a successful test in the Prix St. George on Friday, the old Melissa was back to convince me that I was incapable of holding it together.  That ugly voice inside my head was determined to remind me that all my progress up to that point was sheer luck.  In the warm-up, I did not ride a single line of clean changes, Belle kept breaking from the canter, and when given a direction as simple as “track right” I went left. Lets just say wandered around the warm-up like a lost puppy dog.

The next thing I know, I am being called into the ring.  “What time is it?”  “Do I ACTUALLY have to go NOW?”  I even managed to get my earpiece wrapped around my chin strap as I was attempting to remove it.

But it was my turn.

I had my heart set on this moment for years.  I spent over $2000 in entry fees and passport registration fees.  In the past, this would have been the makings of the perfect storm, ending with me falling flat on my face right after tripping over continuous mistakes.

Not this time.

This time I was truly prepared.  This time I had done the real work.  This time I had the confidence. 

So, I left Old Melissa in the schooling ring and I walked into that Stadium knowing that in spite of my warm-up not going as planned, I WAS ready.  And through the cold and the wind, we rode a clean test with comments like “harmonious ride,” “focused riding” and “controlled test” and while I didn’t place high in the rankings, I received a competitive score just 0.40% below 4th place.

Today, I went back and watched the video of OUR FIRST PRIX ST. GEORGE and I smiled.  I smiled at our complete lack of impulsion, balance, and collection and I forgave myself for not knowing any better.  I smiled remembering how frustrating it was struggling to find a solid connection, because now I know exactly where it is and where to find it when it is lacking.  I smiled as I watched Belle’s hind legs trailing in the half passes, swinging back and forth through the tempis and I giggled as she stole changes.  I smiled because even though she was behind my leg, struggling to find her balance like a drunk in a field sobriety test, she never stopped trying. 

Most of all, I smiled because now I know.  I spent years beating my head against a wall, trying to get over this hump.  There were multiple times I almost gave up on her.  I loved this horse.  I bred her, I started her, I nursed her through colics.  But there was a time when I actually dreaded riding her.  Every time I put my foot in the saddle, I had to prepare to be humbled, because no matter how hard I tried, she was going to remind me that it wasn’t working and that would prove all those voices inside (and outside) my head, that I wasn’t good enough.

So I made drastic changes. I immersed myself in a program where I focused on basics and I realized that when I perfected my basics, everything else fell into place.  I also realized that I had skipped over SO MANY tiny details that build the foundation of an FEI horse.  I had no connection. Not just in my hands, but in my seat and my leg. Belle and I were never truly plugged in.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that we don’t still become unplugged, but in a place where I used to fill with a fog of anxiety, panic and frustration, I now have the confidence and ability to process and make effective corrections.

Dressage is an extremely disciplined sport. How the hell someone who once quit a job because she didn’t feel like waking up that day got involved is beyond my comprehension. But for some reason, I love it enough to be converted into a Dressage Queen. 👑

Building a Foundation through Counter Canter

In my opinion, the Counter Canter is one of the most underestimated exercises in our sport. It seems to be something practiced only for the sake of a single moment in a test. The single loop in first level, the serpentine at 2nd, and the dreaded 10 meter half circle that used to be in the Prix St. George test but is now found in 4-3. You will find pieces of counter canter at the FEI levels, all appropriately placed, as a clear tell of how balanced (or unbalanced) a horse is.

But never mind the test. Counter Canter is an excellent exercise for improving strength, balance and straightness. So why aren’t we doing it more?

Let’s be honest, it’s because it is a clear tell to how unbalanced, weak and crooked your horse is! When your horse is first learning, they will likely fall on their forehand and begin to run. It is not unusual that your horse may suddenly feel like two separate horses. The back end can fall so far behind it has to run to keep up. And since the front end has lost the push from behind, it may feel as though you are digging a hole to china. Your horse may switch leads in front, leaving the back end a tangled mess, in which case, you may be able to wash your clothes in what’s left underneath you. Or, your horse may just tell you it has no idea what or why you are asking and just break to a trot and demand an explanation.

It can be a terrible feeling and understandable why you may want to avoid it. Who needs balance? Let’s work on tempis!

But when you and your horse have mastered the counter canter, you will have developed the foundation for a TRUE canter that is straight through your changes, supple and balanced in the half pass and capable of the collection required to begin pirouettes.

I’ve created a few videos of my favorite basic counter canter moves. These are the exercises that I use in my canter warm up on all of my horses with the exception of the greenies who can hardly steer. Master one and move on to the next. Or, move on to the next when you are close to mastering the first. Make it a little more challenging and then go back to the easier movements to help build your horses confidence.

The first video is a simple single loop. Start shallow leaving the rail to the 1/4 line and return. Next, make your way to X and return, as shown in the video below. The most difficult part of this exercise is not returning to the rail, but regaining your horses balance AFTER you return to the rail. When your horse can return to the rail and ride through the corner without breaking or running, make a 10 meter half circle after your loop and ride your loop backwards. Just watch the video…

Once the single loop is understood, the figure 8 should be fairly easy. Start with very shallow corners and then increase the difficulty by riding deeper into your corners. Careful not to let your horses hind end swing out, as that defeats the purpose of straightening. This is where you may feel the inside shoulder falling in. The tough part is bringing the shoulders in line with your horses hind end without asking for a change. Keep the bend to the outside, but don’t over flex to maintain the lead. When your horse is truly supple, you will be able to change the bend back and forth at any point.

You can also build your single loop into a serpentine by stretching the loop past X all the way to the opposite rail. I find this to be the most difficult of the 3 exercises because it requires the horse to be more handy. The balance is shifted almost immediately when you touch the rail and then return back. This is the place where I have felt the true presence of collected canter with my younger horses. You can increase the difficulty by adding more loops or by sharpening the loop into more of a triangle. Again, careful not to allow your horses hind end to swing (as my horse does in the second loop).

The goal is to maintain the same canter all the way through all of these exercises. Focus on keeping your position the same so you don’t encourage your horse to lose his balance. Don’t change the tempo, don’t lose the jump and don’t let your horse pull you through the corners. But keep in mind, if your horse has never done these exercises, he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to swing, or break, or run, or pull, or bulge. Be patient and allow him to figure it out. Allow him to build the strength. It may feel terrible for a while, but there will be an aha moment when everything comes together. And that feeling of accomplishment is why dressage queens deserve their crowns!



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Before You Judge

We all know dressage is not easy. If you think about it, as riders, we get on a 1200+ pound animal and expect to have control of all four feet at all times. I mean, a mere inch of the left hind in the wrong direction can mean the difference of a score of 8 or 6, maybe even more, depending on the judge. We work day in and day out to make sure our horses are in tune with our aids just so we can dress up and let everyone judge our work from a single ride lasting less than 10 minutes.

Basically, we put in all our time, effort, and money, just to be judged. We signed up for this right?

Well, technically, we asked to be judged by a certified professional.

Not the peanut gallery standing on the sidelines who wasn’t brave enough to enter themselves, but came to watch and criticize all the horses and riders because it makes them feel like they actually know something.

Not the professionals who think they could ride the horse better because they have no idea what your horse was like when you started working with it, and don’t know that your horse probably wouldn’t move a hoof if they stepped foot in the stirrups.

Not the armchair equestrians who have never even sat on a real dressage horse, watching a YouTube video from home – made by some narcassistic sociopath with a facebook page and a vendetta against any rider who decided they weren’t going to put up with her immature delusions.

And worst of all, not the experienced rider making jokes about the beginner amatuer, who maybe harbors a little more fear than the average horseman, who is just trying their best to get a little better.

Dressage is a sport to be judged. And I’ll be honest, I’m guilty of blindly criticizing, but I will usually catch myself and try my best to put myself in the riders boots. Because I know what it feels like to work so hard, and feel like you’re ready, only to show up and have everything fall apart at the seams underneath you. And at that point, all you can do is try your best to hold it together, pat yourself on the back for trying, and hope to learn something from your experience.

I think the time that you spend criticizing others says something about your own ego and insecurities, but I also think it’s a learned behavior. Amateurs may hear their own trainers judging someone else. One rider may make a comment, which can turn into a 30 minute slam session between peers about the current rider in the ring. And these days, we have social media adding fuel to the fire with people who’s only claim to fame comes from spreading negativity across the globe with the click of a POST button. And if no one ever steps up and says “Hey! We all have our bad days, lets focus on our own flaws”, then the cycle will continue.

Life is hard enough. Dressage is even harder. And no matter what you think, YOU DON’T KNOW THE WHOLE STORY.

The thing about goals in the horse world…

“A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines”. -Wikipedia

The equestrian version of a goal: an idea of the future or desired result that a person envisions and commits to achieve in which said person’s horse plots to challenge.  Equestrians endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines their horse stretches to the absolute limits.

When I first realized my goal of Prix St. George with my homebred mare, Petite Belle, it was fall of 2016.  My goal was to ride our first FEI test by the end of winter that season.  I overshot my landing by almost a year.  Aside from being stuck in 4th level purgatory for almost a year, being patient this time wasn’t that hard.  I was excited to wear my tails for the first time on a horse that I brought up myself from the day she was born, but I was willing to be as patient as possible, because it was worth it, and I wanted to do it right.

I could not have asked for a better first try.  Our test was harmonious and respectable, but it lacked the pizzazz and correctness to compete with the big dogs in my class.  I was fine with that.  Room for improvement.

So I continued to enter more shows, expecting to improve upon each previous test, with my eyes already set upon Intermediare 1.  But no matter how hard I worked, I was stuck.  Instead of improving upon my scores, they actually lowered.  And I became frustrated with myself and frustrated with my horse – as perfect as she is.

The problem was lack of patience.  While I know better than anyone that slow and steady wins the race, I was determined to prove myself amongst the sharks in the sea called Wellington, Florida.  The pressure to prove my skills not only to my peers, but to myself was causing me to place unreachable expectations on both myself and my horse.

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave when we are waiting.” -Joyce Meyer

I could sense that my 11 year partnership with my sweet mare was being compromised.  My horse who once placed 100% trust in me no matter what, was suddenly nervous and questioning my guidance.

After our last show, frustrated with my performance, I remembered something my trainer, Susan Jaccoma always says: “You aren’t going to the olympics tomorrow.”  (Relax, she’s not implying that I can’t go to the olympics, just that there is no reason to place so much pressure)  So I had to swallow my pride and take a few steps back.  I had to access where the root of my problems were and work from there.

I don’t know how long it will take before I get back in the ring with Belle, but I am in no rush.  Where I am right now, I am learning so much more than I have going down centerline.  I am making an FEI horse, and that is no easy task (as I repeat this in my head over and over).

That’s the thing about goals in the horse world:  You have to be able to dial them down when they aren’t in line with your partner.  The relationship is like a marriage.  You can’t decide to move to China when your partner is happy in Minnesota.

NOW HIRING: On Site Working Student

We are currently seeking a hard working, motivated young rider to join the Starbound Equine team.  This is a live in position for a dedicated dressage rider who would like to further his or her riding education while caring for our horses.

Starbound Equine specializes in the development of young sporthorses for dressage and jumping.  Our primary discipline is dressage, but we use jumping and gridwork to help our young athletes develop faster and occasionally we start young horses for the jump field.

We have recently purchased a farm in Loxahatchee, Florida where we will be expanding our operation to accommodate more horses and riders.  As a result, we will require an on site groom/working student to help us with the daily operations.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn and ride Top Quality Young Sporthorses bred for dressage and jumping.  Jumping is not required, but dressage basics will be taught. If you are an aspiring rider who wants to learn more about developing young horses, this is a perfect opportunity with option to show for the right individual.  Ride quality horses, attend shows at Global Dressage, White Fences and Palm Beach Equine and brush elbows with the worlds top equestrians.  This could be an excellent stepping stone for more opportunities!

We need someone who is hard working and a self starter to work 6 days a week 7am-4pm.  Responsibilities will increase as we develop further.  Compensation starts at $250/wk plus lessons and living accommodations and will increase within your first quarter as the farm develops and commitment is proven.


  • Feeding and turnout in the AM and PM
  • Mucking Stalls twice daily
  • Grooming, Bathing and Tacking up 5-8 horses/day
  • Cleaning Tack
  • Riding and Lunging
  • Taking pictures and video for social media


  • Basic knowledge of Dressage and the desire to learn as much as possible
  • Basic knowledge of horse handling and care of SHOW HORSES
  • Must be reliable with references
  • Basic knowledge of social media networking – excelling in this area is a huge plus!  I am looking to seriously expand my reach on social sites.

I am looking for someone who’s desire to learn and excel supersedes their desire to socialize or nap.  Unfortunately, I do not have patience for lazy and I don’t like excuses.  If you are looking to work hard to get to the top, this is the position for you.  When you are ready to move on, I will do everything in my power to help you.  I am looking to help riders who don’t have the money for fancy horses get more experience.  You scratch my back, I scratch yours!  Paid clinics/lessons with top riders is an option for motivated workers.

If you are interested, SEND AN EMAIL to  I will accept traditional resumes, videos or just a general description of why you would love to be a part of my team.  I’m a sucker for creativity!  However, if you are incapable of following directions, or have obviously not read this post completely, you will be overlooked.  Attention to detail is the number one quality I am looking for.  You must be able to live on site.


Our Journey to Prix St. George

I didn’t know it at the time, but April 27, 2007 would mark one of the most important days of my life.  It was the day that one of the greatest horses I have and will ever know was born.  Meet Petite Belle!

Belle and Mommy
Petite Belle and her beautiful mother, Farer Belle Nurse, an ex racehorse.

My first time down centerline was in 2007, the year Belle was born. Our first time down centerline together was in 2010, Dressage at Waterloo. We competed in Intro A and received a 62%. That year, I struggled to get above a 65% at training level with belle, even though i was winning all her classes on her 2 half sisters, but I knew she was special. She was athletic with a heart of gold to match.

The following year, I decided to go for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships. I’m sure the experienced people around me thought I was nuts and some couldn’t wait to watch me fall flat on my face, but we qualified to compete at Lamplight Equestrian Center against the top 15 four year olds in the nation. I was stoked to qualify, and even more excited when I placed 4th in the warm up against some of the countries top riders.

In the championship class, I was told by the judges that I had not properly developed my horse. If I’m being honest, I flew by the seat of my pants, on Belle’s coattail to get there. I REALLY didn’t know what I was doing. These classes are meant for horses with FEI potential.  I had never ridden above third level, and I didn’t have even 2 year’s worth experience showing dressage, but I was still crushed. While I should have been thankful for the opportunity, I was embarrassed to have tried.  (Imagine that… embarrassed for trying.)

Still, I was determined to learn.  We spent the following winter in Wellington, Florida competing at first level with scores ranging from 68-70%.  However, my dreams were crushed once again.  This time, by a vet, who told me she had changes in one of her hocks that were probably too severe for her to continue.

“You can try resting her for a year, but I’ve worked on some of the top horses in her sport, and she’s just not strong enough.”  He told me.

Something told me he was off his rocker, but we gave her a year off anyway.  That fall, I moved to Florida while she stayed in Michigan and I prayed for a recovery.  When the year was over, I sent a different vet to diagnose her.  By this time, we had met many experienced Dressage trainers during various clinics and such, and every one of them absolutely loved her.  I wasn’t giving up because some vet decided it would be a waste of time and money to recover her.  My new vet gave her a clean diagnoses and told my mother we could send her to Florida!

That night she colicked and was sent to Michigan State for surgery.

Her recovery was full of ups and downs and we were not sure she would make it.  For SEVEN MONTHS we struggled to keep hope.  She finally bounced back and I personally drove up to Michigan to bring her down to Florida in October of 2013.  We decided that the changes in temperature and rich grass in Michigan was too much for her to handle and she would be easier to maintain in Florida.

We returned to the show ring that winter for one show at First Level before I was shot down again.  This time, a torn collateral ligament in the hock.  She spent the winter resting, and rehabbing with injections and shock therapy and by spring made another full recovery.

With the help of Sue Jaccoma’s lovely riding and out of the box thinking, we strengthened her hind end and Sue taught her her changes and filled in the cracks of my inexperience.  She taught me how to REALLY engage her hind end, how to properly ride the half pass and most importantly, how to ride my sensitive horse with harmony.  Season of 2015 was upon us and we were ready for Third Level.

Just as season was about to start, I received a call from Kim Jackson, the owner of May Faire Oaks, where Belle lives that she had been pawing in her stall and was very uncomfortable.    I rushed to the farm, but by the time I arrived, she didn’t even want to stand.  I didn’t want to waste time waiting for a vet, so we loaded her in Kim’s trailer and rushed her to Palm Beach Equine.

She practically took the trailer down on the 25 minute drive there where they had a stall already set up for her.  All I could do was hope that we wouldn’t be faced with the decision of surgery or worse.

My mother and I had talked about if this had happened again and after such a difficult recovery the first time around, we didn’t want to put her through that again.

But it was clear when she immediately laid down in the stall with her head pressed against the wall, too weak to move into a more comfortable position, groaning with every breath that we had to decide if we were going to say goodbye, or take a risk and spend thousands of dollars to save our sweet beauty.

If you’ve ever met Belle, you can understand why goodbye was not an option.  She is playful in the field, yet serious and focused under saddle.  I have never sat on a horse that will do nothing but try, no matter what the situation, the way she does.  Snuggles are her favorite thing.  I could put a baby on her and she would make sure it’s safe and then take her galloping full force around the loop of White Fences.  She is athletic and talented and if you touch her, you fall in love.  We have all been blessed to have a little bit of ‘Miss Priss’ in our lives.

That night, I waited for the surgeon to arrive.  I waited while they prepared her table.  I watched as they lifted her, belly up and sliced open the already drawn line on her belly from her first surgery.  I watched them remove all her intestines, purple from lack of oxygen and untwisted her colon.  I stayed while they carefully pieced her together and placed her in the padded recovery room to wake up.  I waited until she woke and helped them take her to her stall.  At 3:30am, I kissed her nose and said “See you in the morning.”

I came everyday, 4 times a day to check on her.  When I snuggled her, she rested her head in my chest and took deep breaths, just as she always had.  We walked and she grazed and sometimes, she got a little bit of carrot, because, well, those are her favorite.

Her recovery was smooth and the only worry she gave us was the hernia that developed on her belly from the incision.  Two years later, she still has that hernia.  It’s our everyday reminder of what we’ve been through, and what we’ve overcome.  I’ve grown to like it.

Last year we started competition at Third Level and quickly moved to Fourth where we torchered each other at 5 shows.  (If you’ve competed fourth level, you know what I’m talking about.)  Every ride, I walked out of the show ring, unsure if I would receive a score above 60%, and sometimes I did not.  But I learned a lot.  Mostly, how to let go, both in the saddle And in my mind.  This was the struggle I had to face in order to ride an FEI test.  I can’t say I ever mastered a Fourth Level test, but my riding improved exponentially.

Finally, during a lesson last month, Sue says to me, “I’m almost tempted to say enter Prix St. George at Adam’s! (White Fences Equestrian Center)”


So this weekend, I did it.  I rode down centerline and completed my first FEI test.  Not on Belle’s coattails, but in someone else’s because the coat I ordered wouldn’t be finished before the show.  But that’s ok, because I earned those tails!

My class was filled with 18 of the top riders in Wellington, including Lars Peterson and Jaun Matute.  I received a 64.7% placing me 14th.  Years ago, I would not have been satisfied with this score, or this placing and there is no way I would share the video for fear of being judge by some armchair equestrians.  Through my struggle, I am no longer entitled to great scores and top placings.  I’m working my way through the seaweed like Nemo looking for Dora in a sea full of sharks.  I am grateful for the chance to have this experience and I appreciate my failures.

Needless to say, Belle gets the VIP treatment these days.  From special diets, to acupuncture, magnetic blankets and every Back On Track product made.  She will be with us for the rest of her life.

I’m almost afraid to publish this, so I’ll just knock on wood real loud before I hit the big blue button, and if you’re still reading this, maybe you should knock on wood too.

I almost choked on my own pride watching this video, so, without further ado….


Gridwork with Grady: Using a Swedish Oxer

Here we have a grid set with a vertical to a one stride, to a Swedish oxer, to a one stride, to a vertical.

A swedish oxer includes 4 standards and at least 2 poles.  The poles on the front set of standards are set with one side higher than the other.  The second set of standards also have one side set higher than the other on the opposite sides from the front.
The swedish oxer helps to improve straightness because the lowest part of the jump is in the middle. The higher points on the sides also encourage the horse to pick his legs up higher.
I did not do much height with this exercise since Grady has not been jumping much since hurricane Irma.  It took a while to drag all the jumps back out to the ring and it is still a work in progress.
If I were to add height, I would have left the verticals lower and used them more to place my horses stride away from the oxer and give him room. You could also replace the verticals with cross rails to create more of a chute and encourage even more straightness.


Try this exercise at home and let us know what you think!

Gridwork with Grady: Trot Poles

Trotting Poles is a very basic exercise and underestimated exercise that is very beneficial to young and older horses alike.  I felt the need to include it in our gridwork as it seems to get left in the dust even though it’s a great exercise used almost daily.

For one, it is a great tool for strengthening the horses hind end.  It requires the horse to bend it’s hocks and stifles more than a usual step.  For the jumping horse, it can be used to warm up the hind joints before jumping, and for dressage horses, it can supple the hind end, creating more ease for exercises from leg yield to Piaffe and Passage.

Many young horses can have issues with their stifles as they grow.  They can be as mild as just a stiffness that creates a toe drag or they can even lock, prohibiting the horse from moving forward when he has been standing.  Trotting over the poles is somewhat of a stretching exercise, encouraging the horse to lift his hind legs higher and bend the joint then straighten repeatedly through the poles.

The exercise also requires a bit of precision and attention which can be a great ‘half halt’ for a distracted or overly forward horse.

Grady has very straight hind legs, so this exercise is a must for him to encourage his joints to move in the proper manner to build muscle.

In this video, I use 4 cavaletti , placed 3 feet apart, starting at the lowest height.  If your horse is new to this exercise I recommend using 3 poles or cavaletti.  Four can be a bit overwhelming and if you only have 2, your horse may just decide it’s easier to jump them.

I start Grady at the walk, otherwise, he gets excited and tries to awkwardly jump through.  I give him a very loose rein and leave him be so he can figure out where to place his feet.  At the walk, your horse will need to take 2 steps in between each pole with both front and hind legs.  If you want to make it even more basic, you can set them 2 feet apart and then spread them out when you trot.

When I am ready to trot, I wait until Grady begins to step over the first pole before asking for trot.  This is due to his anxious demeanor that has him convinced he must jump everything underneath him.  You will see his first time through he jumps the last cavaletti, but the second time he has it figured out.  (He has done this exercise before, but we have to start from scratch every time.)

If your horse is lazy, you may need to approach the poles with more energy to keep the momentum through the exercise.

I included a few slow motion, close up clips to show exactly how your horse should place his feet and demonstrate the exaggerated bend of the joints.

When your horse has mastered this exercise, you can begin to raise the cavaletti to create even more bend and push.  This was Grady’s first time trotting raised cavaletti (I know, where have we been, right?) so I only raised 2 alternating cavaletti up one level (one turn of the cavaletti).  Like I said, eager beaver likes any excuse to jump, so I have to go slow with him as to not create any confusion, plus, I don’t want to strain his hind end.

When Grady saw the raised cavaletti, I felt him push harder as he was attempting to jump so I stopped him, backed him up and walked to the first  rail and asked for trot.  FOILED AGAIN! As you can see, his second attempt was marvelous!

I ended with another slow motion clip of Grady’s hind legs over the slightly raised rail.

What are you waiting for?  Grab your breeches and boots and get to trotting!  And don’t forget your helmet!  Safety first!  (Insert WaWaWaaaa… sound effect here.)




The Calm Before the Storm

There is an interesting Vibe going on here in South Florida as we are all faced with the unknown Devastation that hurricane Irma is about to bring us. As I look around I noticed hugs and kisses and well wishes from most. People I don’t really know that well are reaching out to make sure that I will be okay. We all know that we are about to be faced with something unreal. The way that a disaster of this magnitude is capable of bringing people together is impressive to say the least.

I won’t deny that there are still those who are selfish around us. That will always be true. People getting angry in stores and waiting in 30 minute lines for gas.  Bro, we are all stuck in this boat, you are not special.  There will always be the person who panics in the water and drowns the ones trying to save them. But the majority of us are aware to the fact that we are stronger working together than we are alone.

While I am scared to death of the unknown that faces me, I am at peace knowing that I am here with a community of like-minded individuals who are ready to do what is necessary for the community not just themselves.  I will be staying in an area that is filled with other refugees who have decided that the best choice is to stay here for their horses for themselves and for their community. I am confident that will we will be strong together and that we have the resources to make it through this.

My decision to stay was not just about myself and not just about my own horses. My decision also had to do with the community that I have built here. I cannot abandon my friends, my team, my family. We all have our reasons for staying, and believe it or not all of our reasons are valid.

I cannot say that my decision does not scare me to death. But I have never been the type to make a decision based on fear.

While there are a few trying to capitalize off of those trying to find safe shelter for their 4 legged friends, the majority of farm owners have others best interest at heart, offering up their empty stalls at no cost.  Many have kept us up to date through social media alerting everyone where to get gas, who still has water, what the best prep practices are and what routes are best for those evacuating. The unity has given me goosebumps.

I want everyone in the world to feel the love that our country displays in times of need and realize that through everything, we will be ok. It will never be sunshine and rainbows, but it’s important to recognize how much people really do care.

Those of us who are here are expecting the worst and hoping for the best. We have spent every hour of the past few days running every senario through our heads to ensure we are as prepared as possible.  Imagine what that feels like. Knowing what you may be facing and hoping you’re spared.

Please keep us in your thoughts. Thank you to everyone, everywhere who has offered up shelter. I have had contact as far as Michigan offering up their space. You may be too far to help, but know that you are appreciated just for taking the time to think about inconveniencing yourselves for anyone in need. I have friends from high school near you who haven’t even reached out to find out if I will be staying.

To those who are here, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We are a community here to work together. Reach out. Know your neighbors. We are in this together.

God speed and see you on the flip side! 😘