Hi Everyone!!

Wow! I can’t believe that the holidays are already upon us. 2015 has just flown by. So much has happened over the past 12 months and it doesn’t seem possible that the year could be over already!!

The exams are all written, the presents are all bought, Rigo’s and Illy’s stockings have been hung and the trees have been decorated, and all of the festivities have gotten me thinking about the past year. In my last post before Christmas I’m going to give you all a little snapshot of what my 2015 has looked like and how the highs, lows and change brought forth in this year will apply to the exciting arrival of 2016!

In January I sent my Iliado down to Wellington, Florida to train and compete at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the FEI Junior level. At the back of my mind I knew that this would probably be my last year showing FEI Junior, and I set the goal to have an unforgettable end to my junior career. A highlight of January was riding my freestyle at the US PRE Gala! It was an absolutely incredible celebration of the beauty and talent of the PRE horses, and it was blast to dance with Illy under the lights to the flamenco. On top of this, Illy and I were named Horse and Rider of the Year by the US PRE Association! What an absolute honour! This made me realize how truly special Illy and all PRE horses are, and I know that my love for them runs so deep.

January was a month for celebrating the events of 2014 and making a meaningful start to the new year! I’m hoping to have an equally amazing start to 2016!

In February I celebrated Valentine’s Day with Illy, my one and only. I competed in my first competition at AGDF and was pleasantly surprised to receive 70% in my first test! I reconnected with old friends and had the privilege of watching some of the most incredible riders from all over the world compete!

February was a great month for fun and friendships! I’m so lucky to have such great riding friends and I can’t wait to see them in January. So excited!

Iliado and I

Iliado and I

In March I rode in two CDIs at AGDF, and the competition was definitely intense. At the Palm Beach Derby, I was the only North American in the Junior division, and I took on the challenge of competing against riders from all over Europe. It was definitely intimidating, and although we finished dead last in each class, I had an incredible time strutting my stuff in that stadium and getting to know the girls from Europe. I learned that although it may be stressful to be a small fish in a giant pond, it’s necessary for growth and it definitely made me a better rider and competitor. I was also happy to receive the PRE High Point Award in the international division! Illy never lets me down. I also competed in the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, and it was so incredible to experience the celebration of young riders from all over the world. What an honour!

March was a month for learning and growth, and it definitely helped me as a competitor. I’m hoping that what I learned from these CDIs will help me succeed at AGDF 2016.

In April, we said goodbye to Welly World and made the trip home to the cold. I spent my 17th birthday riding Illy in the freezing weather, but I loved every minute of it of course. The declaration papers for NAJYRC had to be filled out, there were school assignments to be completed and all of my Florida stuff had to be unpacked and dealt with.

April was a month for getting organized and ready for the spring/summer. It may have been a bit of a drag, but hey, you have to do it sometime right?

In May, the Ontario season commenced and I competed successfully in two CDIs. We had the highest overall averages at both the RCRA CDI and the Ottawa CDI. The highlight of May was definitely winning all three classes at the Ottawa CDI! First hat trick of the year! In may we got all of our qualifying scores for NAJYRC – we were ready for the championships!

Alexandra and Iliado at NAJYRC 2015

Alexandra and Iliado

May was a month for getting back into the normal routine and preparing for the intense summer to come!

In June, I wrapped up grade 11 with some pretty hard exams, but Illy was always the perfect antidote to that! At the end of the month we were officially named to the NAJYRC team, for the second year in a row!!! Illy makes me so proud! I spent the month at the barn every day, preparing for my last NAJYRC at the Junior level. I wanted to be as prepared as possible.

June was a month for focusing and setting goals. My main goals for NAJYRC was to learn as much as I could from the experience and have a blast with my friends, and hopefully pick up a medal along the way!

July was such a crazy and eventful month for me! Amidst the intense prep for NAJYRC, my coach and I went to Atlanta to look at a potential FEI Young Rider horse: Rigo. This stunning Hanoverian gelding definitely impressed me, and although it took a few tries to be able to get him to do anything but one-tempis, I fell in love with him and knew that we would make a great partnership!! But there was no time to enjoy the excitement of my new horse – NAJYRC was upon us!!!

TEAM GOLD at NAJYRC!

TEAM GOLD at NAJYRC!

I could write volumes about this experience as it was absolutely incredible, but all I will say in this post is that there were a lot of early mornings, late nights and tears, but the joy and excitement of winning a gold medal and just experiencing this incredible show will always make the challenges worth it! NAJYRC was the end of my FEI Junior Career. It was a bittersweet time for me of course, but I cant think of a better way to have finished the season

July was a month for celebration, triumph and closure.

In August, after a couple weeks of R&R in Europe, I started my journey with Rigo. We clicked really quickly and I was able to compete in my first Prix St. Georges at the end of the month! It was a challenge, but definitely a great experience. I’ll never forget my first time riding down centreline in tails.

August was a month for effort and change.

In September, the shows wound down and school wound up, and I was consumed by the excitement (and stress!!!) of being in grade 12! I still made the time to get a ride in 3-4 times a week of course!

September was a month for finality and new beginnings. Being in my last year in high school, it was the beginning of the end.

In October and November, I basically did nothing but homework, however whenever I was feeling too overwhelmed by university applications and assignments, riding Illy and Rigo was the perfect study break.

October and November were months for hard work and concentration

And finally, December! I leased out my beloved Illy to a lovely girl in the barn. I still get to see him every day, and even though I’m not riding him anymore, we still have an incredible friendship (first loves are forever, right?). All my university applications have been submitted, everything is planned for Florida 2016 – it seems as though all is organized for the upcoming year. My Young Rider career is about to commence and I have an incredible friend and partner in Rigo. I’m indescribably thankful for 2015 and excited for 2016.

December was a month for reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. See you all in 2016!!

Xo

-Alex

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