If you’re reading this you are likely an equestrian or in some way tied closely to one! Us equestrian’s tend to have a lot to learn; in fact if you enjoy riding I hope you LOVE to learn as there’s a reason this is a life long sport 🙂
I love learning and love teaching. I feel like I learn by teaching and have things to teach by continuing to learn in my own riding/training and by learning in other environments that I’ll explain below.
I have had the fortune to learn from some of the best in the sport of dressage, show jumping and eventing. To be honest I have also gotten to be around some of the worlds best farriers, vets, and race horse trainers; so much of my learning has not always been in a proper lesson.
So the first thing Im going to make mention of is to take notice of your environment and make the most of it. IS the farrier at the barn, does he need someone to hold horses? Great, ask questions. Is there an event near by and your horse has an abscess, great GO VOLUNTEER… and while you do that, pay attention. Watch and notice how people warm up, how the prepare for certain cross country combinations, what styles of riding make the rounds look fun and effortless and what makes it look hard (and potentially not fun). Are you fortunate enough to be riding in a clinic – STAY and audit before and after your ride. There is so much to learn just by being present.
How can you “save” all of this information that you just took in? Whether that was by riding in a lesson, asking the farrier questions or by noticing what your favorite competitor does to prepare for the coffin. I can assure you I have MANY many times had the BEST lesson and really came out feeling like a million bucks, and thought for sure I would never forget that one thing that my instructor suggested that made all of the difference. Sometimes it was just a “feel” and often that feel is a learned reaction that requires practice and repetition. Sometimes there was a word or phrase used to help you get that feel, other times a certain pattern or exercise. Other times its the flow of which the horse was warmed up that lead to the brilliant medium trot. Regardless as to what it is that you learned or why it was important you want to find a way (hopefully multiple methods) to “Save the experience”.
VIDEOs. This is an obvious one. Think about the NFL, they have a game and then they meet and have a video replay of the game to analyze how they could’ve done better or what worked on that day. If you are lucky enough to have a helper- get video. Then watch it! and then watch it again.
NOTEs. As soon as you can after your “experience” write down notes. Don’t worry about it being presentable to your AP english teacher- just get words onto paper (or your note section on your phone). You may later want to go back and touch up these notes so they make a bit more sense but if you have something written it will keep the memory fresh.
So now you have notes and you have video – use them. Watch the video after reading your notes and see if what your instructor was talking about makes sense to you (assuming it was your lesson but this general idea works for many things).
If you have a regular instructor or if you’re going back to a second day with a clinician you’ll then likely have questions that you can ask to get clarification. As an instructor I love it when my students give me feedback on what works for them in our lessons, or if there are things that don’t make sense. One of my favorite ways to assess what my students took away from a lesson is to ask them to share their post lesson notes with me. If you have a regular instructor try watching videos with them or sending them videos and asking for feedback.
There are so many ways to get a LOT out of each experience. It’s up to you to find a system that suits you.
Goal setting was a meeting I attended during my time on the NCAA Equestrian team at California State University, Fresno. Our coach Megan McGee was over seeing somewhere around 80 of us girls and I believe she understood that we were each there with the common thread of the love for the horse, however, we would each lead a very different path in life. Each of us deep down had our own dreams and goals. Goal setting can be daunting but I feel like it’s easy to feel yourself wander about without direction until you take some time to ask yourself to really be honest about your goals/dreams.
So Im putting this blog out there as a reminder to myself and my students about how important this process is. Im sure there are hundreds of ways to go about this, let this be your own path and get it done in whatever way feels the most natural to you.
For myself I plan to write out my goals for my current horse by starting with a BIG dream, a BIG long term goal. From that I’ll then be able to back track from the “destination” as to what I’ll need to have accomplished leading up to it. Im going to back track here and remind everyone that the journey needs to be enjoyed and you should allow yourself to be present in the moment. I feel like I’ve fallen prey to both sides of this- I’ve had big BIG goals in the past and I was so one sighted and focused on getting there that the present never felt good enough. Then on the flip side I steered so far off of goals, because I wanted to “feel” present, that I started feeling like I didnt have a “purpose” to work towards. So my current plan will be to allow myself the BIG dream/goal and then back track that to the current time. BIG GOAL- qualifications needed to get there – what do I do NOW to work on the first step. THEN enjoy the process.
So a simple way of looking at this would be
Long Term goal (Say this is potentially achievable in 5 years from now)
Goals that need to be obtained in the years proceeding that – short term goals
Goals that need to be attained in the more immediate future to get to the short term goals – immediate goals
Each of these segments can have multiple parts – and likely will! This blog is mainly based on an equestrian athletes plans and for many of us our long term goal might be a championship, venue, medal, rating etc. All of these items have various qualifications that you’ll need to acquire to move through the levels to get to the “destination” goal. Use those qualifications to help you make the short term goals and then use your gut instinct (and perhaps your trainers advice) on what you need to do in order to be prepared to check off the list of the qualifications.
Now, many of you, equestrians included, may have different goals than certain championships, etc. Perhaps it’s to enjoy feeling safe whilst riding out in the open on a group trail ride – there is a process to get there and you can absolutely break them down to achievable goals.
No dream is too big or too small.
Another thing to consider is you might currently not have the equine partner to take you all the way to the BIG dream/goal. IMO you should still write out the big dream and share that with your trainer/family/team. That will help you and them utilize this time with this current horse to help you be prepared when you have the opportunity for the next horse.
Roadblocks. These come in all shapes and sizes. As you start your goal setting process allow yourself to write out worries and concerns you have – this will help you understand yourself better and hopefully help you determine where to spend your time (finances) on helping yourself through these areas. Then of course LIFE WILL HAPPEN. There will be unforeseen circumstances and changes to the master plan. BE ok with it – REMEMBER enjoy the process. You will likely need to adapt to a version B, C, D, E, F and so on and that is totally OK.
It was, it is and it will be a happy haven for horses and horse people alike.
This farm has brought me so many wonderful memories and experiences that I’ll never forget. It’s bittersweet that I announce my move to the Eastern Shore.
The life of the farm at 350 Sproul Rd.
1988-2010- INSPO owned and operated by Bill and Belinda Wertman
2010-2020; Principia Stables owned by The Hulme family and operated by MK Equestrian
2020- and beyond; Coopers Run Stable owned by Dr John and Betsy Weaver and operated by Robyn Weaver and Colin Bell
Inspo was dedicated to quality breeding and importing of dressage and sport horses – Belinda is the horsewoman we all strive to be half of. Her understanding of a horse is like that of no other. INSPO was such a well known landmark because of the incredible community that Bill and Belinda had developed. Thus, the farm was nicknamed EXPO, as they left but their mark will be forever branded and never forgotten. Bill and Belinda cast a magic spell on me to assure me that I COULD take on the challenge of managing this whole operation. Im so thankful to them for that; as it was most definitely out of my comfort zone but provided me with life experiences that have made me who I am today.
When the Wertman’s decided to sell INSPO, the Hulme’s saw the facility and recognized the beauty within the land and the surrounding neighborhood. Having grown up in England they felt a similarity and just as I had; they felt very at home here. They took a huge leap of faith and became farm owners and trusted me to take care of their property as they continued to reside across the county – (with hopes of living at the farm in the near future.) Im forever grateful to have worked with the Hulme’s as we all whole-heartedly wanted to provide a facility that would be a home to happy/healthy horses; producing good fun eventing horses and riders with safety and good care a top of the line priority.
I treasure my years at this farm; memories made that will last a lifetime. When I started to manage Principia Stables I was winding down my competitive career with Havarah’s Charly; Charly had brought me to the east coast with ambitions of working towards a spot on the US eventing team. Charly was and is my heart horse; we jumped literal houses and gardens and he always took care of me- being a part of the USET developing riders list as we competed Advanced was just amazing – this ended all too early with an unfortunate injury that Charly sustained and we all felt best to let him retire to an easier lifestyle. In true eventer fashion I wanted to stay busy SO my focus turned to developing young horses for sale as well as to find “THE NEXT ONE”. I rode, trained and competed many types; Connemarra x’s for Kynynmont Connemarra’s, TB’s off the track, as well as a few WB crosses that found their way here (usually via the path of not finding happiness in the dressage world or H/J land- these horses really thrived on the cross training and variety in their new lives) So many great horses came through this barn and although I’d love to tell you about each and every one I don’t want to take that much of your time! I do have to make mention of a few that I had the pleasure to keep for many years and ride up through the FEI ranks. Sabrina, Riven-owned by Pamela Benfield, Bristol Indian, Puttin on the Ritz-owned by the Klavans, The Diesel Boy- owned by the DZL syndicate and MK’s Concord Dawn; each of these horses have a very special place in my heart and have wonderful homes now in either retirement or still happily taking their next rider around some really fun tracks. Each one was an individual full of character all their own- they helped me become a more aware, educated rider and trainer. Being in this area I was fortunate to have access to the best of the best to guide me as I trained these horses; Phillip Dutton, Silva Martin, Richard Pickens, Scott Hassler, Roddy Strang, Lauren Sammis and Anne Kursinksi – amazing riders, trainer, horsemen/women alike.
When not riding and competing I split my time between management of the farm and teaching. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to “wear all the hats” as I truly enjoy each facet of the business. It was exceptionally rewarding to work on the farm to see what little changes could be made to help create it into more of a true event horse training facility and also work within the realms of keeping it as natural as possible. I was able to start a relationship with the creek conservancy – Chesapeake Bay Alliance; Im over the moon to know that there is such a thing available – help the creeks natural habitat and find ways to get “more riding trails”. A win win for nature and us horse riders! Still to this day, I love walking the perimeter of this farm and seeing the various little changes that made it all start coming together.
I have had a passion for teaching since I was quite young and working out of this facility really enabled me to develop close relationships with quite a few riders. Consistency was key- quite a few students came through for months at a time and others many years. Whether they had goals of the NAYRC, getting to their first event or overcoming fears of riding outside; being able to help find a system that was “successful” for them and their mounts time and time again brought me great joy. These students were and are a huge part of my life, Im thrilled to have a spent a decade at a farm where we got to “ride out” and learn how to find your balance on terrain just by doing so instead of just talking about it. Looking forward to many more years of incorporating this work into my “clinics” here at this great place!
The neighborhood as a whole made MKE what it was. We are so thankful to all of our very kind and supportive neighbors and the atmosphere we were surrounded in daily. One of the amazing things about this area is the excellent resources for Equine care- having said that it is important to combine forces so that everyone works together in the best interest of the horse. I LOVED and still love my team. The horses rose above and beyond thanks to our farrier, vets, physio care, sponsors, trainers, and the people that helped on the ground to care for the horses/facility. The job of trainer/manager to a 40 acre facility with 26 stalls definitely required a supportive husband who understood the insane hours this required. Not many real days off and not usually far from my phone, just in case a horse needed something.
I am excited to watch the farm continue on with the Weavers who I know will continue forward to care for the natural land resources around the farm and add on to the facility. Most importantly the horses and cats will always be well looked after! Both Betsy and Robyn have been students of mine for the last 10 years; they have excellent skills as riders and have helped me run the farm as if it’s their own for many years. This transition is as natural as one could be – I fully envision that they’ll continue developing this into the premier equine training facility of their dreams and while potentially adding a few more cats! Robyn plans to bring in young horses to break and bring along as well as continue her journey as a competitive rider. They have already begun some fabulous additions/renovations and I am hearing about some very exciting things for the future. John, Betsy, Robyn and Colin make an excellent team coming together with expertise in all the right areas to develop, maintain and successfully run a top notch facility.
The future for me will OF COURSE still include training event/sport horses and teaching – this is a passion for me that a change of address can’t take away 🙂 I am excited to have an amazing young horse (Mk’s Quality Mayhem) to spend my time with to develop; hopefully as my next upper level event horse. While I will no longer be managing a large farm I plan to have more time to focus on my teaching and developing young horses onto their path as educated sport horses. I will be traveling to MD/Pa to teach as well as adding in regular lessons at facilities on the Eastern Shore.
Stay tuned as I up-date the website with all of these exciting new adventures! Email will stay the same – firstname.lastname@example.org
I have soooo many memories here and photos that it was tough to just choose one, having said that there was no way to include them all. So below is just a snippet of some good times at the farm.
No need to introduce The Diesel Boy, he’s been a front and center part of the MKE program for 10 years! Bred by local breeder Bonnie LaMonte and sourced by Kirkwood horseman extroidanaire, Roddy Strang MKE has enjoyed every minute with this very special horse and making this decision to sell him was not an easy one.
The Diesel Boy and I took many adventures together; we danced in the sand boxes, we ran across a lot of great land jumping the BIG jumps, popped up over the colored sticks and then would come home to enjoy the peaceful countryside together. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder more eager to please horse and friend.
When Karli and Leto had their first few rides I knew it was the right next step for Leto. Then I heard that Leto was going to get to have his very own pony friend …. suddenly this really sounded like a great idea! Last week The Diesel Boy (Leto) traveled to his new home in GA with his new owner Karli Wright. I am so excited to hear about all of the fun adventures to come for the Wright family and Leto. Thank you Jill Henneberg for helping and making this such a great experience for everyone.
Lastly I want to thank all of the people and companies that were part of mine and Leto’s last 10 years. My husband was the one that encouraged me to purchase Leto and was our biggest fan and always so impressed with Leto’s excitement for xc. Then there were all of Leto’s “lady” friends that he convinced to feed him endless treats and give him lots of extra TLC. Our vet Dr. Anderson and farrier Steve Teichman were the backbone of the program – Leto ran around the Fair Hill FEI CCI ** (now ***) three years in a row clean and sound – thats impressive and has so much to do with these two very caring, educated and astute individuals. Leto and I were lucky to have some great sponsorship from CWD, Ecogold, Charles Owen, Triple Crown, Omega Alpha and Meadow Woods Magna Wave. They all helped us stay on our game keeping him healthy from the inside out, comfortable in his tack and safe in our equipment.
I am happy/sad to announce that Katie is heading off to spread her wings and continue on her life path. Im happy to share this as Im thrilled for her to go off and have some new adventures, Im sad to share this as we will all miss Katie very much. Everyone here at MKE has a long list of memories with Katie – we were blessed to have her on our team for 5 and a half years. Katie fully dedicated herself to caring for the horses and helping them be the happiest versions of themselves.
I have so many fond memories of Katie, its very challenging to pick just a few. Katie started with us as a working student and developed into a great assistant barn manager and head groom. Katie was involved in MKE as a FEI groom, helped with the sales horses and made sure the barn ran as smoothly as possible. She developed very close relationships with ALL the animals (other than dogs if they werent Corgis) – there was even a pony that she slept with at night to medicate it while it healed from a very needy eye issue.
From the beginning her main goal was to learn all the ins and outs of running a high level eventing program. She stayed true to that goal til the last day here but it was hard to deny her natural riding talent along the way. We were lucky enough to have a few really great mounts for her to compete and train with. Cassidy, The Queen Bee, Puttin on the Ritz and Fergus were her main projects- even though she didnt own any of them she treated them with endless care and attention.
Katie and I had a lot of trips together to big shows, clinics, winters down south and lots of time “at the farm” in amish country. Not much ever rattled Katie, so I know she’ll take on all that comes her way with the same dedication that she showed here. If you ever run into Katie say hi, she may be a little quiet at first but just offer her a pepsi and all will be ok 🙂