It’s Been A Long Time!

So much has happened since I last blogged. I really can’t include everything that we have been up to or everything that’s been running through my mind (yes, Rolex did get me thinking about a lot of things). I do apologize for not being as resilient as I generally am, but I have really enjoyed the quiet time I have spent here at the beautiful Foxlease Farm (our home base in Upperville, Virginia) working with my horses. I really enjoy the day to day training of the horses and connection I feel to them. A good time to think.

First off, I cannot begin to find the right words to express my great sadness in hearing about the fire at TPF. A tragedy like that really puts everything into perspective. And in this time that I have spent thinking and training my horses, it really just made me feel that much more grateful for these wonderful animals that I get to spend everyday with. They are truly my best friends. All of my thoughts and prayers have been going out to the horses and people involved in that tragic night.

My horses have all been fantastic. Arthur has a grass belly and beautiful dapples. Burger is his fantabulous self. He is 13 now and has years of good upper level miles ahead of him. I have very painfully decided that it is now time for him to show someone else the ropes of upper level eventing (check out my sales page). I own him and at this time in my life it seems like the right thing to do — I am gutted by this decision and will probably cry for days when he leaves. Gus, my OTTB, continues to win the award for hardest trying horse of all time. He is rocking at the prelim level, thinking about a move up to Intermediate this year. Jack has been his wonderful self, although we have decided it is time for him to be someones prelim packer (check out the sales page). I have so enjoyed working with Sarah Hughes’s three lovely dutch horses. I felt from the first time that I sat on Murray (Alcatraz) that I was meant to find this horse. He is a bit of a “Cheekey Monkey” at times but I adore him and I feel like he has found a good connection with me. Zeizos, the stunning big Chestnut, has so much heart and try in him. I was so impressed by the effort he made at the Fairhill CIC 2* this spring; he went at the end of the division in the heavy mud and gave a phenomenal effort (Murray was at the beginning of the division, by the time Zeizos went the jumps felt 4 inches higher). Cobra, the 4 yr old, is extraordinary. I love love love producing young horses, especially when I have a blank pallet to work with. He is so athletic and smart — I am beyond excited to see where he ends up. We recently went to the Waredaca YEH competition where he bested the 4 year old class by 5 points! The ponies (Dusty, Ebony and Conor) continue to be the rock of our program. I get such joy from riding and competing these guys. It’s pretty awesome to gallop cross country on a 4 star horse like Arthur, it is equally as fun on a wonderful connemara!

Other exciting things… definitely the girls that work for me! They never allow for a dull moment. They are all fantastic riders and workers, and are great fun to be around. It’s so nice to have such good atmosphere in the barn. Grace Quinn is my head groom. I call her Gracie Lou. Kelly Pugh, my working student, is “California”. Collectively they are Grace Kelly. They are always up to something! My dog, Bodie, now has a Facebook page and seems to be channeling a lot of Grace Kally’s thoughts! They are also trying to complete their much anticipated Smartpak/Haygain rap… I think they are trying to work in more companies but got distracted by how they want the music video produced. Any day now girls! We also have Claire Kelley back for the summer — Claire Bear — another source of endless entertainment!

The biggest summer plans include Rebecca Farms (Arthur in the CIC 3*, Murray and Zeizos in the CCI 2*), GMHA Training & Novice Three Days with the Ponies, and I’m leaning towards Burghley with Arthur. Of Course there are a number of other competitions mixed in there.

Until the next time!!! xx Allison

Burger Doing His Favorite thing at Red Hills

These beautiful photos were just sent to me by Samantha Clark. Also…. thanks, Samantha, for the extra hand at the jog!!

Red Hills!

Yes, the car is great! I’m really excited about that, but what I’m most excited about is how I felt throughout the competition. It was very interesting to read through the USOC sports psychologist’s article on Achieving Execution Mode (which I read after Red Hills) and know that what he describes was exactly how I felt throughout the competition. It is so wonderful to have the partnership that I have with Arthur, to know our strengths and weaknesses, to truly know what I need to do to prepare for our best performance and then go out and do it. I think where I fell short and continually seem to fall short in my performance, I think this might be surprising to most people, is in the dressage. I have the ability with Arthur to blow everyone out of the water in the dressage phase and this is something that I have not done yet. Yes, I do very well in Dressage on this horse, but I haven’t been entering the ring with the same confidence and clarity of thought that I have been in the show jumping on him. He is still probably not as good a show jumper as he is a dressage horse, but I have complete confidence in my system and preparation with him to achieve my best performance in the show jump ring. This is something Katie Prudent has helped me to achieve and I cannot thank her enough for that. I do remember a time when I felt totally lost in the show jump warm up and relied on someone else to guide me through this important stage, I also remember praying on hopefully getting lucky in the ring. Now I know what I need to to to get my best possible performance, and that is all I need to do. I felt no pressure when Boyd jumped clean ahead of me, not because I was certain I was going to jump clean but I was certain that I knew what I needed to do to achieve my best performance. I have only achieved this same feeling in dressage a few times…. these times were EVERYTIME that I have worked with Bettina Hoy at a competition. She is amazing at competitions in recognizing what you have and then getting you to Execution Mode. What I haven’t found with Capt. Mark and I definitely need to work on is that key stage of recognizing “the point where an athlete may have to admit their limits,… but still find a way to get the best possible result.” I have a nervous horse, yes I must continue to make him listen to my half halt better and use my half halt more often, but I need to feel totally ready to nail the test and look my very best when I enter the ring. I feel very confident about what I need to do with Arthur in the jumping phases and now have to accomplish this in the dressage phase as well. I also have to get there in all the phases on Burger and the rest of my horses; it sort of happened through my years of hard work with Arthur, I now need to put more effort into thinking about the system I need for my other horses and getting to that execution mode every time.

My Sweet Rides!

Syndicating Arthur!

2011 will be a very important year for Arthur. And the best part is that this amazingly talented horse is just coming into his own. We have been named to the 2011 USEF High Performance list and are here in Florida preparing for this incredibly important pre-Olympic year. I own Arthur and pay for his expenses with the money I earn training and selling horses, teaching lessons and clinics, and with the fundraisers my friends and family hold for me. The USEF foreign travel grants have been very helpful also. I am so thankful for all of this help. But the expense is simply too great at this level of competition as I learned the hard way during the run up to WEG. Therefore I must syndicate the ownership of Arthur. The syndicate will be divided into 8 shares representing 40% ownership of Arthur. There is no “buy-in” price as my concern is to ensure his costs going forward are covered. His expenses will be shared by the syndicate shareholders and can also be made as a tax-deductible donation. It could also be possible for someone to form a group that would purchase a share together.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Arthur’s team, please reply to this by emailing me at and I will get back to you with the details of syndication! It would be great to have you as part of this special horse’s future.

Kind Words From Three Days Three Ways!

Greetings from Florida!!

Hello from sunny Florida! I cannot tell you how good it is to be down here…. well, I guess I can… it’s AMAZING!! All the horses traveled well, have all been body clipped and are now into their training routine. I am at a new barn this winter in Deer Run Equestrian Community. We are very close to Lion Country Safari which is a trip because we can hear the lions roaring at feeding time. This definitely raised a few eyebrows amongst my horses. We also hear what I think might be monkeys and a goat which sounds like a drunk man saying “Lorn.” Between all that, the gators sunbathing on the canal banks, and the Florida foliage and birds we feel like we are in a different world. That being said my horses are all happy to be here in the warm weather and are behaving remarkably well. The barn that I am at is wonderful –  huge ring with good footing, big open barn with all the necessary amenities, plenty of hacking and the landlords are a really cute family. I had my first lessons yesterday with Katie Prudent on Gus, Jack and Burger. It was good fun having fellow eventers Jennie Brannigan and Marcia Kulak in my lessons. My horses were all great, Burger was especially wonderful. He is so happy to be back in action. If a horse could have a cheshire cat grin on it’s face, Burger would have had one on yesterday. My working student, Galina, pointed out yesterday that Burger always looks ridiculously happy… he never pins his ears or makes an ugly face. Arthur always looks very happy too, but he is no fan of my dog going into his stall — I taught Bodie how to kiss the horses and Arthur never minded Bodie up until his first dog kiss, I think he found the whole idea foul and disgusting… Burger seems to like it… go figure. This afternoon I have a couple of dressage lessons with JJ Tate. She is such a wonderful teacher, I am really looking forward to reconnecting with her!

Heading South!!

I am listening to the cold wind outside and cannot wait to get to Florida!!! We head out tomorrow. Please send us good thoughts for safe travels!

Great Deals on Haygain!!

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! We all have so much to be thankful for especially those of us that are blessed with horses in our lives. I am so grateful for my wonderful family, friends and animals. They remind me everyday how much we all owe to the many men and women that have fought hard (and continue to) for our freedom so that we can all live the happy lives that we do. Thank you!