Okay, it was more like a month (to the day) than a week since I promised a blog. Certain very exciting developments kept me waiting to post anything until the details were finalized, but now I'm able to let y'all in on some big news! 2014 was the Year of the Horse, and for me, it was a year of building and growth. I went solo at the barn at the end of May, and began preparing to take Diaz to his first recognized horse trials. We had a wonderful clinic with Eric Smiley (I cannot say enough good things about this guy. I will ride with him as often as possible for as long as he's willing to come teach!). Eric thought that I have "the makings of a really nice jumping horse" with Diaz and the trick with him would be to go slow enough since Diaz learns so fast and is such an athletic horse who is extremely clever with his feet. Then Diaz The Wonder Horse (aka, Mr. Fun) developed a small splint partying in the pasture while I was away at Pony Club Champs in Kentucky, and after some time off, he started back into work very nicely. Until he looked like he broke his shoulder. After I finished panicking, my vet and I decided that he had an abscess brewing. He developed a complete sub-solar abscess that took nearly two weeks to pop, and two months before he was sound on it again, since his entire frog peeled off and needed to regrow, and he had to regenerate his sole from the inside out (he basically had a detached sole that sounded hollow when the farrier tapped on it, so he lived with leather pads on his shoes until he healed). I am so grateful that Doug Anderson (my wonder farrier extraordinaire) and Ruth Stokes (my very talented lameness and performance vet) are such dedicated professionals who gave the uppermost care to my big baby horse. Our whole competition season flushed, I spent most of my "free" time while Diaz recuperated preparing for USEA ICP assessment. I completed the Teaching of Dressage and Teaching of Jumping workshops. Every week, I traveled to Windchase Farm to observe Phyllis Dawson, who graciously allowed me to hang out with her ringside (or ringcenter, as she has the BEST gazebo right in the middle of her ring! Or out in her xc fields, which are beautiful) while she taught her working students. Thanks to my wonderfully supportive family through all the craziness and time-consuming work required to complete the requirements for ICP assessment, I'm thrilled to say I am officially an ICP certified instructor!
I also met some wonderful people who helped me put into motion the makings of several partnerships for 2015. I'm thrilled to announce that I've signed on with County Saddlery. Their Maryland saddle rep, Roxanne Bowman, is wonderfully knowledgeable and a wealth of information and support. Her visits are always a lot of fun, and I immensely enjoy collaborating with her. I've been fortunate enough to product test some new prototypes for County, and I am really looking forward to having these products available-- they have some fantastic new things in the works! If you're thinking about a new saddle, THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT. Please tell Roxanne that I told you to talk to her about trying all the wonderful models available. Sit in them. You won't ever want to ride in another saddle. Your horse will feel like a different partner. Seriously, it's life changing to ride in a County. Once you experience it for yourself, you'll understand why the top riders in the industry call County their saddle.
The next partnership I've made is with Jenn Hogan and Deco Pony. Talk about some great accessories! Her quality of workmanship is second to none. I have a clutch purse she designed and made (yes, all her products are made in the USA!), and it goes with me EVERYWHERE. As in, school field trips with my kids, horse shows, the tack shop, nights out at the movies, trips to conventions, and even a banquet. And though it's able to be dressed up for an evening out, the craftsmanship and fabric is so tough that it could survive being trampled by fire-breathing dragons (also known as ponies). There's a tote with my name on it (literally-- she does custom printing on the stampeding fiend-proof fabric!), and I cannot wait to see how my new custom stall guards look in the barn and at shows! PLEASE, check out her website and pick out a few items that will dress up your barn, your trailer, your tack stall at shows, YOU, and be the envy of everyone who sees your fab Deco Pony gear.
Poulin Grains is also teaming up with me this year. I've been feeding Poulin feeds to my horses for YEARS in Maine, and now, they've expanded their territory to include Maryland. SO. HAPPY. And so are my horses. They are all easier keepers on this feed than anything else I've ever fed. And they LIKE the feed. It's high quality, fixed formula feed, and I feel confident that it's the best product I can give them. The particular type of "grain" I feed to the majority of the horses is Fibre Max, a high fiber, high fat, lower carbohydrate super feed designed for performance horses who may be sensitive to grain-rich diets or be prone to ulcers, but who need high caloric intake to keep up with their workload. Shelly Chase Facto is my feed rep and nutrition specialist, and I've found myself relying on her expertise for everything from hay testing to brainstorming diet changes for a picky difficult keeper. She's been amazing. With her years of experience in the feed industry, Shelly is a wonderful resource who is always just a phone call away. Anyone interested in trying a nutrient-packed, super high quality feed, please contact me so I can put you in touch with Shelly. It's amazing how diet affects our horses, and I want mine to have the very best.
With so much to look forward to this season, I'm very excited to get out there and proudly represent my team. The Year of the Horse has passed; welcome, Year of the Ram (or goat, or sheep... there seems to be some confusion about which to call it). This year will be built upon the foundation already put in place. With the goals accomplished last year, I will focus this year on bringing along my competition horses, the foremost being Diaz. I'm accepting additional students and horses for training, and volunteering both for Pony Club and USEA events. So usher in the nice weather, Mother Nature, because Team BB can't wait to be out and about. Bring it on, Ram, because we're ready!