Monday, February 23, 2015

Just what I needed...

I feel like a 10,000 lb weight has lifted from my shoulders.  The past year of competing has been rough.  Bug just wasn't completely himself, and I just wasn't trusting that.  Up until last year, we probably had a handful of XC penalties in his entire career, so when we started having runouts, I knew something was amiss.

After a lot of time and energy and changes, my horse is back, and I can not wipe the grin off my face.  This past weekend, we rocked around our first Advanced of the season.  Bug was looking for the flags and there wasn't one thought in his head of anything other than going.  Having that feeling back gave me so much confidence.  I rode the XC boldly and went for it.  We came home with a respectable dressage, double clear SJ, and a clean XC with some time.  We finished midpack in a huge division of big time horses.  I don't think that's too shabby for our first Advanced of the year.

Of course, none of this is to say that I can take anything for granted in the future.  There is always homework to be done, and one can never top striving to be a better rider and horseman.  However, without that little nagging voice that causes a bit of a lump in the back of my throat, it's a lot easier to step up in confidence.

I am so glad that I know my horse well enough to know when something was amiss.  It took a bit to fix it and get him back on point, but I am glad that I stuck with it and didn't just accept it.

Yes, I am biased, but I think I have one of the best event horses out there.  Not only is he amazingly athletic, but his heart is bigger than his jump.

Sending out a HUGE thank you to everyone who has kept believing in us and pushing me to believe in it.  Knowing I have an amazing team backing me is such a comfort!

Bug gets a little break from traveling, so we can really focus on training instead of running crazy.  He will be back out competing at the CIC*** at Poplar Place Farm in mid-March.

Until then... we will be working hard and striving to always be better.  Kick on!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Ingredients for Success

Bug with his ribbons from Full Gallop in January.  All of the pieces are slowly coming together this year, but not without a lot of thought and listening to what he's been telling me!

As good horsemen, we are always looking for the keys to managing each horse's happiness and success.  Some seem to be pretty straightforward, while others are obviously more tricky.  Nutrition, fitness, tack, and how they like to be ridden are just a few things that go into the whole picture.  We spend hours riding and training, but we spend even more hours thinking and planning through the roadblocks we come across.

For years, I have been told that Bug is just a stiff horse, and I would just have to learn to accept that.  My gut told me that this horse of mine could be loose and cool and do quite well in the dressage, but my head couldn't seem to find the right answers.  Every time I thought I found it, I was wrong.  My head started to believe all of the things I was being told, even though my gut kept saying that I know him better than that.

After discovering that the start of our XC problems was coming from an ill fitting saddle (a professional saddle fitter told me it fit gloriously), I sat down with myself and decided that I wasn't going to ignore my gut anymore.  I know Bug inside and out, and I can tell when he is telling me there is something wrong.  It is my job to listen.

At this point, Hastilow Competition Saddles USA entered the picture as a sponsor.  I can not say enough good things about their tack.  We got together, and I rode Bug in every possible dressage and jump saddle.  We did pressure testing on all of the saddles to see which one fit him the best and caused the least amount of pressure points.  They spent hours with us planning the saddles that Bug liked most.  The difference in Bug on that first day was AMAZING.  Since then, Bug has only continued to improve in how he's using himself.  He is jumping even rounder and better with his front end.  His stride has suddenly grown and gotten more rhythmic.  He is just turning into the horse that I knew he could be.

On top of the new saddles, I also kept a running dialogue with my bodywork lady, Kathryn Scheiss of TPR Bodywork  on how Bug was going and the things that I was feeling.  Kathryn is very intuitive and not only does she make their bodies feel amazing, but she can recommend supplements and changes in shoeing, injections, etc that will help with body issues.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but the more I listened to her, the better and better Bug became.

Of course, none of this is helpful unless the rider is constantly improving.  I am very thankful for Bonnie Mosser  for all of her help with my horses.  She is constantly making me up the ante and do right by them.  Good coaching is imperative to good results and happy horses.

The riding and tack are only one part of the equation, of course.  One of my biggest changes has been my feeding regime.  Thanks to Strouse House Tackle and Outdoors, Blue Seal feeds have become my go to feed of choice.  All of my horses are on the Sentinel line of feed, and I can not tell you how impressed I am with the difference.  Bug looks amazing, and he is eating so much less feed than before.  The feed is highly digestible, and even those prone to ulcers are happier.  It's a truly awesome feeding program.

My point in all of this is that there is so much that goes into who a horse is and how they perform.  When horses are competing, it is imperative that we listen to what they're telling us.  Bug appears to be a relatively straight forward horse.  However, he is just very stoic.  His ways of talking to me are much quieter than a horse that is high strung and a wimp.  Bug loves his job and will try his best to keep plugging away, even if he's not feeling 100%.  I owe this horse so much, and it is my duty to constantly be on alert for small changes in how he's going.

To be a good horseman, we must analyze all aspects of our horses' lives.  Each tiny detail is important.

Be aware.  Be vigilant.  Be proactive.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Ball is Rolling...

Win the War rocking the Open Intermediate at Full Gallop in January.

It's amazing to me just how fast time flies by!  I have officially become that old person that complains constantly about the speed of time and retells stories over and over because I've forgotten that I have already told them.  Life has a way of spinning me in circles some days, and I have been known to forget my own name.  

Though time keeps flying, I must say that there have been some amazing things going on.  

With prompting from some important people in my life, I have had to sit myself down and really study how I want the business to proceed.  I have had my hand in many things, trying to figure out where my niche is.  When I first started RSS, I had no idea where my competition I life would take me, as Bug and I were only going Novice.  I wanted to have many options in case things didn't go as I dreamed with competing.  However, as we all know, Bug turned out to be THAT horse for me.  He has taken me places that I only dreamed I would go, and I am praying and dreaming that we keep going further.  That alone has pushed me more toward the competition side of my life.  Anyone that competes can tell you, it's not a cheap life to live.

In light of that, I made the decision to really cut down on the amount of horses that I own myself.  I have also decided to cut way back on the breeding side of the business.  As many of you know, Fuerst Rendition, my Hanoverian stallion, is off with dressage rider, Leslie Bean, being a big time Dressage King.  He is happy having a job, and I am excited to watch them move up the levels together.  I adore Renn's babies and have a hard time selling them.  With this decision, I will only be breeding one, maybe two babies per year with the hopes of them being my pipeline for the future, rather than breeding on a scale that forces me to sell them on.  This makes it possible for me to keep them until they're going and decide what I want to do with them at that point.  

After the herd reduction is finished, I will be down to the main horses that I want to keep either to compete or to be my pipeline for the future.  I owned quite a few horses myself, so I am hoping that this drastic herd reduction will really help my expenses to go down in order to have more for competing.  This has definitely been a very difficult decision, as I love all of my ponies, but it was one that had to be made for the future of Rocky Start.

I am also excited to announce that Kelly Lawson has joined the RSS crew, hopefully, for as long as she will put up with us.  She is my official assistant and not only does she help with chores and working horses, but she's going to be assisting with a lot of the marketing stuff.  I am just so busy that it's difficult for me to get to everything and still have a day that isn't 20 hours of work.  Kelly is a kind person with a patient approach to the horses, and I am thrilled to have her on board.  

Some other pretty amazing people have stepped up to help support my dream.  Desiree Lerro, Patrick Forestall, and Bonita Biegalke have become members of the Win the War Syndicate.  We have also decided to add Pine Island Girl, aka Ellie Mae, on to the syndicate as the second up and coming horse.  I am thrilled to have these people on my team!!  There are still 7 shares left, so if anyone is interested in joining the team, please let me know!

Another amazing person to step on the scene is Susan Massaro.  She is the owner of Donovan, an incredibly adorable and talented coming 5 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding.  Susan has entrusted me with Donovan's training and competition goals, and I am so excited to ride this guy.  He will make his eventing debut this spring, and I see a lot of big things in his future!  Susan and her daughter, Mia, have been a big asset to the team and some of my biggest cheerleaders.  

This sport just isn't possible without a good team.

I have had quite a few new students come on board to join those that have been tried and true.  I love teaching those that show up to learn, and I have quite a great group of riders right now.  I'm so proud of each and every one of them for working hard and pushing toward their goals.  No goal is ever too small as long as you aren't afraid to keep pushing!  

Sales were great in 2014, and I hope things continue down that path in 2015.  We sold 9 horses in 2014!  That's pretty impressive, I think.  

So far, this year has started off with a BANG on the competition scene.  Bug and I competed in the Open Intermediate at both Full Gallop Farm the last weekend in January and Pine Top Farm this past weekend.  We brought home 2nd place and highest placed OTTB at Full Gallop, and we brought home 7th place from a big division at Pine Top.  Bug put in a 35 in the dressage at both shows, so I am very excited about the progress we have made in the dressage and hope we can continue to take that number down!  I am very excited about this season with Bug, and I am hoping for big things.  I am also super excited for Ellie Mae and Donovan to really burst onto the Eventing scene.  I also have a 5 year old OTTB gelding, Better Terms aka Willis, that I think will be quite special.  We are taking things slowly with him, but I have a feeling he will come into his own this year as well.

If anyone is interested in becoming a new student, sending a horse for training or consignment, or scheduling a clinic, please, don't hesitate to contact me!!

Heels down, eyes up, KICK ON!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Resolutions

Life seems to just keep flying by faster than I can keep up.  I always mean to sit down and write, but there just doesn't ever seem to be time.  As Thanksgiving has arrived, I find myself reflecting on all of the things for which I am thankful, and it leads me down roads that end with a giant reflection of myself.  I am not happy with everything that I see.

Horses have always been my passion, where there is passion, there is great emotion.  I have always been a competitive person who worked very hard to obtain my goals, where there is competitive drive, there is great emotion.  Passionate competitive drive can mean a blend of emotion that can drive a person to victory, and it can also mean driving a person to insanity.

2014 has been a year of almosts.  I spent most of the year tasting what big things Bug and I are capable of, and the full experience being just out of my grasp.  Competing at the Advanced/*** is no joke.  Reaction time has to be so quick.  There is no room for error.  Due to a lot of factors, I have been having some reaction time errors, and being the person that I am, I became very passionate about getting better.

Unfortunately, when a lot of emotion is involved in life, we can sometimes become our own worst enemy.  I started letting what everyone else is doing get into my head.  I kept striving to be everyone else.  I allowed these things to turn me into someone that I don't want to be.

After Fair Hill, I started to really analyze who I have become, as both a rider and as a person.  There have been a lot of things coming up in my life in the past few months that have really showed me that I want to get away from who I am becoming.

Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to reflect on what we have.  I used to participate in the Facebook frenzy of listing the things for which I am thankful.  However, this year, I realized that I was allowing all of the white noise in my life to distract me from what I need to be focusing on.


Why am I running my brain ragged focusing on what went wrong, when I need to focus on what went right and continue to strive to make that a constant?  Why am I allowing the white noise of what everyone else is doing and saying to block out all of the meaningful words and actions?  Why am I allowing all of the bad to outweigh the good?  I have allowed myself to get distracted from why I started doing all of this in the first place.

You can't please everyone all of the time.  I try.  I fail.  As I have found this year, no matter how much good you do for people, they will still stab you in the back.  It's human nature.  Finding a way to let that go is something that I find difficult.  However, it's something that is going to happen regularly, and I need to rise above it.  People will say nasty things about me.  I have to know and believe that they aren't true.  Rising above the noise is so difficult, but it's something that I have to learn.  God made me who I am, and it's my job to keep striving to be the better person.  I have allowed others to drag me down.

Where is all of this leading?  I'm glad you asked.  It's leading me to my Thanksgiving Resolution.  From now moving forward, I am going to stand up and be thankful.  I am going to focus on what is good and right in my life, and try my best to move on from the bad.  Instead of focusing on how to fix the bad, I will focus on how to make the good better.  This does not mean that I will work any less at being the best.  It means that I am changing the way I do it.

From this point on, I am going to make a stand for the positive and leave the negative behind.

What am I thankful for?

I have an amazing husband who, thank the Lord, is not into the horse scene.  He keeps me grounded and reminds me that this is supposed to be fun, and I am supposed to smile.  Without him, I never would have taken this hard look at myself, and I would have continued down the road of the negative focus.  When I am down in a hole, he reaches down with a smile and pulls me to my feet.  He isn't afraid to tell me when I'm out of bounds, and he brings me back to the real world.  He reminds me daily of what and who I want to be.

My parents have always supported me.  I haven't always been the best daughter, but they have kicked me in the butt when I needed it.  They support my crazy life and give me the emotional and mental pushes I need.  Without them, I would never have  made it this far with this crazy dream of mine.

Having a good coach makes all of the difference.  Bonnie Mosser has shown me what I am capable of, and no matter how much I mess up or drive her crazy, she is always there with an insightful word or the push that I need to keep moving forward.  She understands my amazing horse and is always quick to try something new if the old way isn't working.  Her strong competitive drive and amazing skill as a rider and teacher have taught me so much.  Her ability to see the root of a problem, no matter how minor, is amazing, and without her, I would not be where I am today.

Bug. Bug. Bug.  I would not be who I am as a rider without this amazing animal.  We are a team to be reckoned with, and our bond is so strong.  I KNOW this horse has what it takes to be a top horse, and we will prove it together in 2015.

My horses.  Besides Bug, I have a lot of really nice horses coming up.  Ellie Mae has made a little bit of an appearance this year, and I expect she will really be getting some of the spotlight next year.  There are quite a few others coming up, and I'm really excited about them all.  I am truly blessed with some lovely horses right now.

The RSS Team.  I have an incredible group of students, clients, and owners right now.  When I sit back and think about all of their smiling faces, my heart swells with pride.  They have all worked so hard and come so far.  Everyone supports me and gives me a word of encouragement when things aren't going as well as I hope.  They are truly amazing and I am grateful for their loyalty.

My farm.  There is nothing like owning your own place.  I know that it isn't fancy.  I know that we have a lot of work to do, but my horses love it here and are happy.

My sponsors.  Wow.  I have an incredible, supportive group of sponsors.  Hastilow Competition Saddles USA, Snider's Elevator, ThinLine, Omega Alpha Equine, KL Select with the USG Body Protector, From the Blindside Jewelry, Ultimate Side Reins, and Wilson College.  They all play a huge role in keeping myself and my horses looking and going great, and I'm so thrilled to have them all on board.

I could go on and on and on about everything in my life that I'm thankful for, but I will spare everyone.  The point of all of this is to remind myself that there is so much good in my life.  Focusing on the good is so much more beneficial to me than focusing on the bad.

There are many that would say that I shouldn't share too much of myself.  Well, anyone that knows me well, knows I struggle with that.  I tend to say what I'm thinking and try to be as tactful as I can be.  However, I am sharing this because:
1.  When I start to become negative, I want those surrounding me to remind me to ignore the white noise.
2.  I hope that this post will help others that may be struggling with the negative.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  Be blessed.  Be happy.  Be positive.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Where has the time gone??

Bug and I at the Fork this spring

Holy cow!  I can't believe we are halfway through June of 2014 already!  Time is flying by, and I'm having a hard time keeping up!!  I have been very remiss in my blogging duties.  It seems that the days are full and when I get in the house, all I want to do is eat dinner and go to bed.  Thus is the life of a horse person in the summer.

So many things have been going on here at RSS this year.  I'm not sure where to even begin!


Bug and I have been plugging along this year with some very awesome ups and some disheartening downs.  Being so green at the upper levels, I am definitely learning just what it takes to be a contender in this sport.  Bonnie and I decided that I should forego a spring three day in order to keep plugging away at my training. I know that my boy and I have what it takes to be top competitors, but we have a long way to go to get things all together.  I'm just so thankful that I have Bonnie to guide me!

Here is our tentative schedule for summer/fall:
June: Surefire HT Intermediate
July: Chatt Hills HT Intermediate
August:  Millbrook Advanced, Richland Park CIC***
September:  Five Points Advanced, Plantation CIC***
October:  Morven Park Advanced, Fair Hill International CCI***

I have also made the difficult decision to sell Hotty.  I love this mare to death, so I want to do right by her.  I think she would do best with an adult ammie or young rider who wants to start at BN/N and take their time and  just have fun with her.  I also think she would be amazing in the jumper ring, as she's a powerful, scopey jumper.  I will keep riding and training her in the meantime so she will only be better for that lucky person that gets to snatch her up!

I had the privilege of competing Renn's son, Fuerst Love, a bit this spring while his amazing owner, Catherine Schumak, was studying abroad for school.  This 5 year old is AMAZING, and is learning the ropes of eventing quite quickly.  He and I have one more competition together this weekend at Surefire, and then I will be handing the reins back to Catherine.

I'm super excited about a new horse that I have acquired, Delta Emperator.  He's an 8 year old OTTB gelding.  He has some body issues that we are working through, so I am taking my time with him.  It will be awhile before he makes an appearance out and about, but I can't wait until he does!  He's gorgeous and athletic.  We are bonding pretty quickly, and I'm totally in love.

A not so new addition to my "string" is Pine Island Girl, aka Ellie Mae, Twiggy's mom.  Unfortunately, Twiggy was so large that she altered how Ellie's repro organs are sitting.  She now retains urine in her uterus which makes it very difficult to get her bred.  I'm very disappointed by this, as Twiggy is drop dead gorgeous, but that's horses for you.  In light of this, Ellie has gone to work to learn to be an event horse.  She is a blast to ride and is coming along nicely.  We shall see if she likes this new life.

Sales Horses:

This has been a good spring for sales horses here.  Talladega, Arthuron, Voo Doo Vicky, Mardi Gras Gold, Must Be Thunder, and Love Like Crazy have all found wonderful new homes!  I love finding horses perfect new homes.

Imma Rockstar Too made his eventing debut this spring and really seems to enjoy this new job.  He's quite lovely in the dressage and is a blast to take XC.  This guy will be an awesome low level eventer and all around kind of guy for someone.  He's such a dream to work with on the ground.  Not to mention, he's flashy and beautiful!!

We have quite a few new sales horses coming in, so stay tuned!


With Renn not competing anymore, I have decided to allow him to go back to nature and do some pasture breeding.  He loves it!!  His spring has been full of mares, and his summer appears like it will be as well.  He has also done a few collections to be shipped for outside mares.  If all goes well with every mare, there should be 10 new Renn babies on the ground next year!

I am so in love with the babies that Renn is putting on the ground, and I just know that when they hit the show circuit, no matter what discipline, they're going to be amazing.  In light of this, I have decided to increase my broodmare herd, so that I have some options for myself and to sell.

For next year, these are my mares that will be bred:

Miss Ten Oaks, aka Oakley.  2005 OTTB mare.  16.1 hands.  Beautiful mover.  Fappiano and Seattle Slew lines.  Dam to RSS Tenth Rendition.  This foal will be a full sibling.  (Foal will be for sale)

Abstract Encounter, aka Abbey.  Paint/TB mare.  15.2 hands.  Well built and a sweetheart.  Dam to Fuerst Encounter.  This foal will be a full sibling.  (Foal will be for sale)

Skedaddle Fast, aka Skid.  2001 OTTB mare.  16.1 hands.  Eventing background.  Buckpasser and Seattle Slew lines.  (Foal will be for sale)

Con Fuego, aka Fuego.  1996 Canadian Sporthorse mare.  16 hands.  Evented through CCI*.  Half sibling to 4* horse, The Alchemyst.

True Class, aka Kate.  2008 Oldenburg/TB mare.  16.2 hands.  Sire is Saltue the Truth, Advanced eventer.  Dam is half sibling to Slate River, 4* horse.

The babies from last year are growing like weeds!  RSS Island Rendition, aka Twiggy, is almost 15 hands at just barely a year old!  I must say, she's drop dead gorgeous right now.  Heaven knows, she'll probably hit another awkward stage soon.  RSS Tenth Rendition, aka Duet, has finally hit an awkward stage!  She was perfectly proportioned for so long, it's hard to even recognize her.  Her big sister makes her look little, but she's a good size for her age.  She won't be a year old until October.


I have a decent amount of students, and I am loving them all.  Everyone comes to their lessons receptive and ready to learn!  I have a few that have been competing and more that will start this summer!


I'm super excited to announce the addition of Hastilow Competition Saddles USA to my list of sponsors.  Bug and my other horses are thrilled to have these saddles on their backs.  They immensely improve the way my horses go.  Check out their site, as they carry used saddles as well, and they can probably find the perfect saddle in your price range!

I'm so blessed to have such amazing sponsors!

There's a lot more things in the works, and I will update as soon as I can go public!!  I will try very hard to keep up with my blog in a more timely fashion.  :)

Until then.....  Eye on the prize!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Great Way to Start the Year!

The 2014 show season is officially under way for RSS!  This past Sunday, Hotty and I took a trip to Full Gallop Farm in Aiken, SC to run the Novice.  With Bonnie's help, I have been working very hard to get Hotty more through and into the connection.  It showed in our dressage test.  Though our score wasn't as good as it needs to be, there was definitely improvement in the way that Hotty went and how relaxed she was.  In both SJ and XC, she started out a bit rusty, but she improved as the courses went on.  By the end of each course, I felt like I had the Hotty I am used to.  She is a lot like Bug in that she's a random mix of bold and careful, though I don't think she has nearly as much cockiness as Bug does!  She wants to do what's right and truly loves her job.  She ended up being 7th in a big division of 19.

In order to make sure she is 100% confident, I will do two more Novices at Sporting Days and Paradise Farm with her in the next few weeks before trying to move up to Training in March.  Of course, all is dependent on what she tells me.  

Bug is feeling great as well!  We have been working hard on the connection to improve both our dressage and jumping.  He is getting cheekier as time passes, so I know his fitness is definitely on the upswing.  His first outing will be Pine Top in the Open Intermediate in a week and a half!

The sales and training horses are all coming along nicely as well, and I hope to get some of them out and about as the season really starts to swing into action.

I am saying a lot of prayers that this year is a great one!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Moving and Shaking

I have been doing a lot of grinning lately.  I love that feeling.  

Lately, the horses have just been going really well.  There have been a few setbacks, but overall, they are all moving forward well.  Bug and Hotty are really changing the way they go, and I'm super happy about that.  I'm trying as hard as I can to improve my riding daily.  I am shooting to be world class! 

Due to the crummy winter weather, I have decided to move the two redhead superstars to Chesterfield Equestrian in Salisbury, NC.  It's a lovely farm owned by Bob and Katherine Thornton.  Bonnie teaches out of there, so it will make winter boot camp that much better.  We have started with a bang!  Besides working the redheads on great footing daily, I have started in on my own gym routine.  I am pretty excited about it all.

In other news, my 2010 TB mare, Voo Doo Vicky, just sold today to a lovely woman, KC Sc
ott.  KC and Vicky will be sweeping the lower level eventing world by storm soon.  Vicky is also going to be sporting a new name, "Stormin' in Style."

The first event of the season for us is coming up quickly.  Hotty will be competing in her first Training level event the last Sunday in January at Full Gallop Farm.  This will begin a very full season.  I am excited to be back at it again.

I just love when there are many things to grin about!!

Chin up and kick on!