Sunday, May 1, 2016

WIT 2016: Final Week

Koa enjoying some well deserved turnout
The last week of the 2016 Winter Intensive Training Program was filled with wonderful lectures, insightful lessons from Lendon, and an exciting field trip. We traveled to watch Mikala Gundersen school two young horses. She and Janne Rumbough had wonderful commentary that made it a great learning experience.  They both emphasized not going too fast with a young horses training. Mikala worked very well with both horses playing to their individual needs. The First horse had a naturally expressive trot. Instead of pushing the horse more forward focusing more on the expression of the front, she focused more on engaging the hind legs creating better balanced gaits. The second horse was owned by Janne, he was older and had a better balance over his hind legs. Mikala was working on starting to tap into more expression without compromising the engagement. Janne also explained what she did in earlier stages of training to help prepare the flying change. Janne worked on lots of quick transitions, specifically the canter-walk and walk-canter transitions. She eventually reached the point where she could get prompt, supple, transitions between all gaits. Once they introduced the flying change he understood it immediately. Mikala really focused on developing the gaits gradually so the horses can peak in their Grand Prix career, and not get burnt out or injured in their younger years. She saw good future for both horses. It will be interesting to see what they are doing in a few years.

The Winter Intensive Training Program is a great learning experience. If you plan on traveling to Florida during the winters I suggest participating in this program your first year. It gives you good exposure to the area and some of the top trainers in the world. The program is Located at Hampton Green Farm, conveniently located near to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. You can easily walk or bike to the show grounds and watch some of the top in the world compete. By being responsible for your horse, and keeping the barn clean you learn a lot about horse care and barn management. I was fortunately able to work with my trainer on our “day off” as well. It takes a lot of hard work, time management, and dedication to get the most out of this program. Here are some helpful tips for future participants:

  •          Pack like you are going to a horse show; buckets, broom, pitchfork, etc.
    ·         Make sure to plan with your school well ahead of time. I suggest taking summer classes, geting a reduced scheduled or semester off if possible, and seeing if you can get PE credit. The program schedule can be busy at times, with a lighter school work load it takes off a lot of stress.
    ·         If your horse is very messy in his stall and goes through a large amount of shavings, I suggest setting money aside to supplement what is provided by the program.
    ·         Beware of the skin issues. Many people had trouble with scratches and hives during the program. I would get an antifungal shampoo and scratches cream from your veterinarian before you come down so you are prepared.
    ·         I strongly suggest arriving at HGF a week or few days before the program starts. The day before the program can be very hectic because a majority of the participants come in that day. It is nice to have your horse settle in a quiet environment.
    ·         Bring clothes and blankest for all types of weather, it can get cold!
    ·         Also when packing plan to come home with more than you came with.
    ·         Try and make it so everything minus tack can fit in a trunk/drawers. If loose items are out of place and left out they are subject to be stolen by Lendon. :)
    ·         Always get on fifteen minutes before your lesson and be five minutes early for all lectures and field trips.
    ·         Bring extra money for going out to dinner. We made many group trips out to eat. I also suggest making at least one visit to the Thursday Food Truck Invasion, City place, American Equestrians Got Talent, Saturday night Grand Prix jumping, and of course the Friday night Grand Prix Freestyles.
    ·         Have your vet do a thorough examination of your horse before you head down to Florida, and start a maintenance plan if needed.
    ·         Get in contact with past participants that you know for more advice. 
     I would like to thank Lendon Gray, Dressage4kids, Karen Clark, Alexa Perkins, and Kim Boyer. Lendon Gray gave us lessons almost every day, including multiple lectures. Dressage4Kids gave many of the participants, including me, scholarships to help pay for the WIT Program. Karen Clark was our wonderful barn manager that helped keep the barn and our horses in tip top shape. Alexa Perkins was Lendon assistant and helped plan many of the lectures and field trips, she also leads fitness every morning. Kim Boyer Owns the beautiful Hampton Green Farm where the program was located. Thank you Hampton Green staff for doing all the maintenance at the facility. Also, a huge thank you to Koa's owner for allowing me to ride him during program. It was a truly amazing learning experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity! Thank you to all the lecturers, guest instructors, and everyone who helped make this amazing program possible.

Picture by Allyssia Bryant

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

WIT 2016: The Adequan/USDF FEI Level Traners Conference

Jessica Jo Tate and Kynynmont Gunsmoke's Gideon
Displaying FullSizeRender.jpgDisplaying FullSizeRender.jpgDisplaying FullSizeRender.jpgEvery season, the WIT participants volunteer at the USDF FEI Level Trainer’s Conference. The FEI Level Trainer’s Conference takes place in Loxahatchee, Florida every January. A group of instructors from across the country congregate to train and watch lessons. This year, we had the privilege to watch this year’s group of riders. There were many good horses and riders. This year, the conference was run by Johann Hinnemann. Johann is a top German dressage trainer.

Johann Hinnemann had a common theme of stressing the importance of suppleness and thoroughness in every lesson. He also worked on the quality of the half pass with all of the riders. When referring to the half pass zig-zags, Johann said “the change of bend is what you really need to practice, you can’t have a good half-pass without good preparation.” In addition, he focused on the placement of the tempi changes.  For example, if you are doing a line of four tempis, your third change should be over X.

Ayden Uhlir and Sjapoer
Finally, it was interesting how Johann never referred to anything as a movement. He referred to it as an exercise. I liked his teaching style very much. Johann focused more on the training aspect rather than the test riding aspect. Each exercise had a purpose. For example, shoulder-in is a straightening and balancing exercise. He also worked more on improving the gate. He said “always prepare the basic gate before moving onto the more difficult exercises in that gate.”

Here are some other notes from the clinic:
  • A good extended trot should push more at the end then it did in the beginning.
  • The only way to fix a change that is late behind is to develop the canter with more engagement in the hind legs.
  • Do not pick a fight with a stallion.
  • The placement of the changes in a sequence is very important.
  • The horse must stay attentive and awake in the walk.
  • Suppleness is the key to success (physical and mental).
  • Suppleness plus obedience will equal submission.
  • A horse is straight if it is following the line it’s on.
  • To keep the haunches from leading in the half pass, start the half pass on a diagonal line for a step then add the haunches.
  • You should be able to do any downward or upward transition straight on the centerline.
  • You want to feel like you are doing your half pass in a medium trot. Keep the collection with the same amount the expression.
  • Try riding a half pass without bend to improve forward crossing. The next step is to slowly add the bend back.
  • Use forward and back transitions within the gate to increase responsiveness to the aids, activity in the hind legs, and expression in the front.
  • Ride without stirrups for  fifteen minutes a day. Include posting.
  • Dropping your stirrups can sometime naturally fix the rider's position.
  • Suppleness and relaxation bring the horse to a state of letting-go-ness.
  • Continuing to breath is essential in any discipline of our sport.
  • The number/sequence is not what is important in changes. It is the absolute control of the center in between the changes.
  • Use the whip on the shoulders to give the horse a forward desire, instead of more of a punishment on the hind end creating a rhythm mistake.   
Mica Mabragana and Tyara

WIT 2016: A Horse Box

Free show sheen keeps the horses extra shiny.
We had a lecture from the CEO of The Horse Box. The Horse Box is an equestrian subscription box service. Alex De Armas started this business a few years ago when subscription boxes were just taking off. She originally worked in public relations. This work has helped her promote her business on social media. Alex gets many requests for sponsorship on a daily basis. She talked to us about the do’s and don’t of sponsorship.

A Horse Box is an equine subscription program that sends you a monthly assortment of new products and some old favorites. The product caters to the horse and rider’s daily needs. This product is great for the busy everyday equestrian, because you can sample products and see how they work without having to buy a huge amount. A Horse Box also benefits businesses. The Horse Box supports new brands especially, by putting their products out there. This increases sales and brings in more long term customers. This is a great example of turning your passion for horses into a thriving successful business. I highly encourage you to make a subscription to help support the fellow equestrian community.

Here are some main points from the lecture:

  • Writing blogs are a good selling point.
  • When asking a company for sponsorship, make sure that they make products you love.
  • When writing sponsorship requests or letters triple check spelling and grammar.
  • When requesting for sponsorship don’t put together a “Wish list”.
  • List your sponsors on your webpage or athlete/business Facebook page.
  • Try not to send sponsorship requests via social media.
  • Don’t copy and paste your pitches.
  • Sell yourself.
  • Tag the company, and hashtag the photos when representing the company.
Koa found a new favorite treat!
In addition to a wonderful lecture, Alex De Armas gave us all a free Horse Box! The box was filled with free samples of horse care products and many of horse treats. A few days later, Alex also gave us some of her left over stock. We received multiple bags of supplements, bottles of showsheen and Lasersheen products, more horse treats, shampoo, and much more. Some of the brand companies included in the box were Lasersheen, Absorbine, Silverquine, Vet Set, Cow Girl’s Kitchen, and Omega Fields. Each WITee had to do a write-up on a product that we received and especially liked. I wrote the following review on my assigned product, Charleigh’s Horse Cookies.

“My horse loves treats. He always likes to lick my hands after he has eaten one. One day, he was very good in training so I wanted to feed him an extra special treat. I leaned towards the Charleigh's Cookies because they are certified organic. I knew what all of the ingredients were. I fed the treats to my horse and he loved them! He was licking my hands nonstop for almost fifteen minutes after I gave him the treat. You could just tell that  he liked them more than the simple carrots that I normally feed him. Thank you to the Horse Box for giving me a sample to try out!! I will definitely be buying more from this source.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WIT 2016: First Month in Reveiw

Starting the day with 7 am fitness
It is crazy to think that the first month of the 2016 Winter Intensive Training Program is almost over! The Winter Intensive Training Program is a three-month intensive dressage training experience presented by Lendon Gray and Dressage4kids. The very generous, Hampton Green Farm, allows the program to take part at their beautiful facility. A normal day starts early with barn chores. Chores involve doing all the care on your horse, as well as helping keep the barn, arena, and paddocks clean and tidy by working together as a team. After chores, we have daily fitness, and then lessons start up.  We have a lesson with Lendon every day, with the exception of guest trainers coming in. We also have a lecture or field trip every day.
In the first month many wonderful lecturers came in share their knowledge. We had a lecture from Stephanie Beamer, about finding the correct position for your body when riding. Everybody has a different shape to their spine and way their natural s-curve aligns. When your s-curve aligns, it is where you are strongest when riding. Steph helped us all individually find our perfect balance and the small adjustments we needed to do to get there. She also comes most days to give lessons to many participants.
Afternoon lecture in the barn
We had another informative lecture from Annie Morris about the training scale. I had always wondered how you would work the USDF training scale into your everyday training. She explained to us each level of the training scale and how they build upon each other. When applying the pyramid to your riding, you think of what levels you need to complete a movement successfully. For example, when you go to do a shoulder-in, what basic components must you have in the gate to perform that exercise correctly?  Apply those requirements to the gate, and then do the movement.
One of our more recent lectures was about saddle fit for you and your horse. Frank Tobias explained how to tell if your saddle is a proper fit, and what problems can arise if it is not. Some basics you look for is the tree shape, panel shape & flocking, pinching, bridging, and rocking. He also said it is best to check your saddle fit at least once every six month or more, depending on your situation. He also had us sit on our saddles, and some saddles that he brought so we could see how to fit a saddle to a rider. He has also come back to do some individual saddle fitting with other riders in the program.

We have had many more lectures in the first month and more to come these next few months. Looking forward to more riding and informative lectures during the remainder of the program. Thank you to everyone who made donations and bought bran mash. Without this generous support I would never be able to participate in this wonderful experience. Also thank you to Dressage4Kids, Hampton Green Farm, and everyone who has made this program possible.
2016 WIT participants

Monday, November 2, 2015

2016 Winter Intensive Training Program Fund

     This summer I was accepted in to the 2016 Winter Intensive Training Program presented by Lendon Gray and Dressage4Kids. The WIT Program is held at Hampton Green Farm in Wellington, Florida January 3rd-March 28th. We will get daily lessons from Lendon Gray, daily lectures from various equine professional, and tour top training facilities in Wellington.

     Lendon Gray has represented the United States in two Olympics and Inducted in to the USDF Hall of Fame. Lendon is dedicated to developing aspiring youth in to top international dressage competitors. Lendon is the founder of Dressage4kids that put on many programs to further young rider’s education. Lendon has helped develop many international riders that compete today.
     This year I was one of the lucky fifteen riders accepted into the WIT Program. For those of you who do not know, The Village of Wellington is known for its equestrian community. It is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival, hosting hunter/jumper events, The Adequan Global Dressage Festival, hosting dressage events, and is home to the Palm Beach International Polo Club. Having the opportunity to spend a winter in Wellington, Florida is defiantly an amazing experience.

     In order to afford to participate in The WIT Program it requires a lot of fundraising and financial support. To help pay for this program I have been Braiding at shows, grooming for friends, teaching beginner lessons, selling fudge and bran mash at tack sales, and applying for scholarships. I also have created a GoFundMe page. GoFundMe is a company that allows you to create campaign pages to help you raise money for causes, Please make a contribution to my 2016 WIT Program Fund. The money raised will be used to pay for the program fee, shipping for the horse, horse care supplies, grain and supplements, emergency veterinary care, and rent and utilities. It does not matter the amount you donate every penny helps. Click on the banner below to donate now.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Courtney King Dye Horsemastership Clinic

Allyssia Bryant and Display
     I was invited to audit the Courtney King Dye Horsemastership Clinic presented by Dressage4Kids, hosted by Hassler Dressage at Rivergade. The Horsemastership clinic was an amazing experience filled with lots of learning. This experience had many "firsts", first plane ride by with no parents, first time attending a D4K horsemastership clinic, and first time being so many miles away from home without my parents. Lucky for me everything ran smoothly.

Emily Smith and Dublin
     The day would start out with and early morning and helping with chores at the barn. Every morning we had some sort of fitness, my favorite was yoga. Then once you finished you morning fitness the lessons would start. After the lessons were finished you would have one or two lectures during lunch. Then the day would finish with barn chores and a trip to the ice cream place in town. I really enjoyed the pizza dinner at the guest house. It was very fun having all the participants plus lendon together to talk. 

     We had lectures from many people. The lecture I really benefited from with my horse where from Susan Hassler, Scott Hassler, Lendon gray and Courtney king dye, and Robert Croteau. Susan gave a lecture about the position of you and your horse. My horse had been having some straightness issues so this lecture was very interesting for me. I am also involved in the Dressage Seat Equitation program so I enjoyed the lecture in that was as well. The Lecture from Scott was about how to be a good coach for your horse. Essentially when you are training you are your horses coach. This lecture was about how to get the best out of you and your horse. Me and my horse have trouble with our harmony and tend to clash. The information in the lecture was been helpful and has helped my horse and I improve. The lecture with Lendon and Courtney was about being a working student. This was very informational for me because one day I hope to be a working student for someone. Robert Croteau gave a lecture about equine nutrition. His was helpful because horses I had in the past did not have a very good top line. He gave us some suggestions on how to improve our horse’s top line. Finally we had a fun field trip to Fair Hill Therapy Center. It was cool to see all the therapy machines. We also got to go down by the track and see a couple of horses practice going out of the starting gate.

Nicole and Kristen Nowak
    Finally I would like to thank all the clinicians Charlotte Bredahl, Alison Brock, Lendon Gray, Scott Hassler, and Courtney King-Dye. Also, thank you to Courtney King-Dye, Susanne Hassler, Scott Hassler, Charlotte Bredahl, Robert Croteau, and Lendon Gray for the lectures. Thank You to Hassler Dressage for donating their gorgeous facility. Thank you to Fair Hill Therapy Center for donating their time. Finally, thank you to Dressage4kids and all their supporters for making this program possible.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

C4 Equestrian Ambassador

     I am exited to announce that I have been selected to be a C4 Equestrian Ambassador. C4 belt's mission is to promote individuality through quality fashion accessories that give back. C4 stands for Choose your Color, Choose your Cause. It is C4's goal to provide a unique shopping experience to individual thinkers who will leave looking cool on the outside, and feeling good on the inside. C4's belts are fun and easy to clean, plus the buckles/belts are interchangeable. C4 partners with four amazing charities each year who help the world in vastly different ways. With each online purchase, customers vote on how 10% of their purchase is given back. At the end of the year--all votes are tallied and donations are made based on the distribution of votes. Vist it their website to learn more at, also use the code KE3796 for 10% off your purchase!