Southern Equine Expo 2018

Another Southern Equine Expo is in the books. It was hands down the best one yet. The lineup of speakers and clinicians was fabulous. Since I spent most of the weekend in the Miller Club helping speakers, I had the chance to hear all of the wonderful presentations throughout the weekend. I can’t share everything, but I’ve included some highlights and

The Trailmeister Robert Eversole is a Southern Equine Expo favorite. A retired Marine and PATH instructor, he’s a top notch speaker and a great guy. He’s passionate about trail safety and brings his knowledge and experience to life with that passion. His website has a plethora of information for trail riders, including trail guides and reviews of trail equipment. He gave four talks throughout the weekend: ABCs of Trail Riding, Horse Camping 101, When the Sh*i Hits the Fan, and GPS for Trail Riders. The real joy of having Robert Eversole as a speaker, though, is the gracious and humble way he interacts with everyone who has a question or wants to share a story.  I was very glad to see him back this year!

CPT Tim Finley‘s presentation of “In the Arena: 1,000 Click of Beautiful Hell” was a personal favorite. He’s an exceptional serviceman, leading by example. I heard his presentation three times throughout the weekend, and I still teared up at the end. His story of competing in the Mogul Derby is as touching as it is remarkable. I won’t share the details and spoil it for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet. CPT Finley is currently completing a book To Live with Honor, which I highly recommending grabbing as soon as it’s available. Like Robert Eversole, he is a gracious and humble man. He was accompanied by his lovely wife, who is also a joy to speak with. Continue reading

The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals

A few months ago, I was named the USA Representative for the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (AWSA), whose purpose is getting animals on the agenda of the Christian Church. Founded over 30 years ago, the organization is called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and in particular God’s creatures, and believes that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. Their activities include the following:

  • Encouraging churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers.
  • Encouraging and helping churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God’s creation.
  • Through education and lawful action, advancing the conservation and well-being of animals.
  • Co-operating with other organizations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
  • Production of Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests, and events and providing a means by which the members can share ideas, stories, and concerns.
  • Publishing a series of pamphlets about animal issues, ensuring that materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
  • Helping to arrange major services and events focusing on animal care.
  • Promoting awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.

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Palm Partners Western Dressage Clinic

I recently won an essay contest, for which I received a spot in the Western Dressage clinic with Palm Partnership Training on Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14. I’ve been a fan of Lynn Palm’s for many years. I was thrilled to watch her lectures and clinics at Southern Equine Expo a few year ago and was thoroughly impressed with the progress my horse and I made in a private clinic I was able to take with her over the summer.

Based on my experience with Lynn and what I heard about Cyril Pittion-Rossillon, I was beyond excited to be traveling to Florida for two days of riding at their farm. The trip far exceeded my very high expectations! I was half in tears as I drove away Saturday night, because I wanted one more opportunity to tell Lynn, Cyril, and Marie-Frances just how much I appreciated the experience. I sent a thank you note, but it feels woefully inadequate.

I arrived Thursday evening at Fox Grove Farm, where I was settled into a cozy room at the Fox Lodge near the covered arena by Marie-Frances Davis, but not before Lynn took the opportunity to say hello, show me the show barn, and ask about my progress with the mare I brought to the clinic over the summer. The house was ready to go for visitors with food in the fridge, fruit on the table, and more than enough clean towels for my housemate and me. Continue reading

Biomechanics and Western Dressage

Last month, my BFF and I took a Saturday and made a four and a half round trip to Chattanooga for a lesson with Amy Vanner at Training and Riding Academy of Chattanooga. Amy is a Level 1 Coach with the International Society of Rider Biomechanics. Amy and I had talked some following the inaugural Rally for the Rescues competition but officially met at Southern Equine Expo 2016 where she was assisting Colleen Kelley.

I was interested in riding with Amy for two reasons: her training philosophy and her training with Colleen Kelley.  One of the struggles I’ve had in regaining my confidence is that I’m not the athletic, balanced rider I used to be. Biomechanics can certainly help with that.

I’ve also had a lot of frustrations with young natural horsemanship trainers who don’t practice good horsemanship.  While Amy practices some natural horsemanship techniques, her training is also grounded in the best principles of classical horsemanship.  Her training focuses on progressing horse and rider at the correct pace for the team rather than any outside expectations.  She refuses to use tack to cover up training deficiencies and refuses to push horse and rider too far.  Many trainers will do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal within a preset deadline, which just isn’t good horsemanship. Continue reading

Lynn Palm Clinic

Photos by Kathy Zeigler Art & Photography.

170625-110Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a clinic with Lynn Palm at Clearview Horse Farm in Shelbyville, Tennessee.  I love attending events at Clearview.  It’s not only a great location, but it’s a quick 20 minute drive down mostly country roads for me.  Easy haul!  In this case, I’d been anxiously awaiting this weekend for months.

I first met Lynn at Southern Equine Expo in February of 2016.  Her lecture on Dressage geometry was tremendously helpful in explaining how to calculate the size of your circle in an arena.  What impressed me the most about Lynn was her focus on the rider.  So often, we forget that 99.9% of the time WE are the problem.  I also found that she had a way of telling you the truth without being mean or hurtful.  In teaching, that is a tremendous gift.  The truth is hard to hear but absolutely necessary if you want to grow.

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Meet Goose

Goose is the newest member of the family. He’s a three year old large standard donkey, who came to us from Volunteer Equine Advocates in Gallatin where he was known as Festus.  He was having trouble finding a home because most people wanted a donkey as a small livestock guardian, and poor Goose doesn’t play well with small animals.   We were looking for a donkey who would make a good companion for Comanche when Buttons and I started showing next year, so Goose was the perfect fit.

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Meet Buttons

Buttons (aka All Buttoned Up) is a 5 year old registered Pinto mare.  She’s been a part of the family since day one.  She is the one and only attempt we’ll ever make to breed a horse!  Way too much stress when there are so many good foals in need of a home.  That being said, I’ll never regret having her.  When she was 7 weeks old, we lost her dam Penny.  Buttons is all we have left of her.

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