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Tracy Porter

Tracy Porter
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Eventer, now focusing in Dressage. By day I am a veterinary technician and in my free time I am working on growing my equine and automotive photography business.

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Last year at Rolex I was determined to find “the dressage saddle”.  I had a dressage saddle that fit my horse like a glove but was doing me no favors position wise and made me constantly struggle to sit upright.  With this in mind I made it my mission to sit in every dressage saddle, at every price point, to find the one that fit me.  Over the course of the weekend I must have sat in 20 saddles.  I felt like the Goldilocks of saddle fit…one was a chair seat, one tipped me forward, the blocks were all wrong for me on one, and another was just too firm.  I was about to give up when I sat in the Southern Stars and found my saddle.

My new saddle, in Australian Nut

My new saddle, in Australian Nut

I was immediately drawn in by the look of the saddle and the feel of the leather.  I know it sounds superficial, but who doesn’t love the look and feel of a high end saddle? After discussing saddle fitting and pricing, I went home with a tough decision and some budgeting to do.  The dressage saddle comes in a lovely rich black but is also available in a luxe two tone brown, called Australian Nut.  Already having a black dressage bridle, girth, and leathers I was a bit hesitant to make the leap into brown and start over again, but the brown really spoke to me.  In the end they were able to set me up with a matching bridle, reins, leathers, and girth and I couldn’t be happier.  Since I live in the Chicago area, an in-person saddle fitting for Festin wasn’t going to be easy, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t have a custom fit.  Southern Stars sent me instructions for measuring (where, how, when, etc..) and asked for a specific set of pictures to help ensure the correct fit.

When my new tack arrived I was pleased to see that it was carefully packaged and just as nice as I remembered and it certainly didn’t hurt that the nice leather smell wafted out of the box to greet me.  I have had my tack for roughly three months now and really cannot get over how amazing it is.  The leather is soft and grippy and I am extremely pleased with the leather choice on the flap, as it has a bit of substance and is showing no wear signs from my leathers and boots.   I love the close feel that the monoflap gives my lower leg and the fact that my calf can truly have the “heartbeat” my trainer is always referencing.

Festin models his new bridle.

Festin models his new bridle.

I was a bit nervous about the fit since Festin is very narrow, with a high wither and a big shoulder, but they were able to fit it perfectly to him and I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. The girth that I purchased is a great fit for my girthy, OTTB since it is a bit wider and ergonomically shaped with thick, layered elastic at the buckles.  The monocrown bridle is well thought out with it’s slight cutback at the ears and soft padding.  Each bridle has buckle ends that allow for interchangeable Southern Stars nosebands (you can buckle in a figure 8/grackle, drop, flash, or standard noseband to the same bridle).  I chose the rubber reins and was super  impressed with the quality, weight, thickness, and flexibility.

Overall, I just can’t say enough good things about my Southern Stars tack…If you get the chance, I highly suggest checking them out.  You never know, you might just find your perfect saddle! Find them at store.southernstarssaddlery.com.

 Tracy

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Sunday at the second horse inspection left us with two less horses continuing to stadium.  Phillip Dutton did not present Mr. Medicott and after a trip to the hold box, Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz withdrew.  37 horses move forward with the top 11 being separated by 8.7 points.

Large crowds gathered at the second horse inspection.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Large crowds gathered at the second horse inspection. Photo By: Tracy Porter

It was a brisk morning, but temperatures are expected to reach 84 degrees today with sun soaked skies.

Here is a look at some of the horse and rider combinations we loved (and one cute pup).

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar looked prepared Photo By: Tracy Porter

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar looked prepared Photo By: Tracy Porter

Kim Severson and Fernhill Flutter rocked an orange trench Photo By: Tracy Porter

Kim Severson and Fernhill Flutter rocked an orange trench Photo By: Tracy Porter

Daniel Clasing and Houston Photo By: Tracy Porter

Daniel Clasing and Houston Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces Photo By: Tracy Porter

Ruy Fonesca and Tom Bombardill Too Photo By: Tracy Porter

Ruy Fonesca and Tom Bombardill Too Photo By: Tracy Porter

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter Photo By; Tracy Porter

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter Photo By; Tracy Porter

Valerie Ashker keeps her pup warm as she watches the jog. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Valerie Ashker keeps her pup warm as she watches the jog. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Jan Byyny and Inmidair Photo By: Tracy Porter

Jan Byyny and Inmidair Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lillian Heard and Share Option looked stylish Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lillian Heard and Share Option looked stylish Photo By: Tracy Porter

Julie Norman and Consensus Photo By: Tracy Porter

Julie Norman and Consensus Photo By: Tracy Porter

Katie Frei and Houdini Photo By: Tracy Porter

Katie Frei and Houdini Photo By: Tracy Porter

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm

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Derek Di Grazia’s revamped cross country course proved to be a test of both horse and rider. Skies were clear and the temperatures were warm all throughout the day and the footing seemed to be ideal with the downpours that we experienced the day before.

Overnight leader Allison Springer and Arthur looked lovely coming through the head of the lake but unfortunately had a run out at one of the next elements adding twenty jumping penalties and knocking her down the leaderboard. One of my favorite rides through the Head of the Lake came from first time Rolex competitor Libby Head riding Sir Rockstar who elected to take the short route and looked like season veterans.

Allison Springer and Arthur looked great through the Head of the Lake. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Allison Springer and Arthur looked great through the Head of the Lake. Photo By: Tracy Porter

The Land Rover Hollows featured a new addition of the keyhole which was expected to be influential, as horses got a late look at the fence. Robert Meyerhoff had a lovely ride through the keyhole with Dunlanvin’s Token and the remaining elements of the Hollows.

Before elimination, Robert Meyerhoff and Dunlanvin's Token looked keane through the keyhole. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Before elimination, Robert Meyerhoff and Dunlanvin’s Token looked keane through the keyhole. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica looked lovely on course and were faced with an unfortunate hold just before fence 17, but both Lauren and Veronica stayed loose and composed and continued on to bring home a fast, clean ride. Lauren is currently sitting in second on a 46.7.

Watch Lauren Kieffer and Veronica’s ride, courtesy of the USEF Network

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica patiently waited through the hold. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica patiently waited through the hold. Photo By: Tracy Porter

William Fox-Pitt came through the Head of the Lake in a scrappy manner with Bay My Hero but made it work with a double clear to move him to first place on a score of 44.0.

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero had a scrappy ride through the Head of the Lake. Photo By: Tracy Porter

William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero had a scrappy ride through the Head of the Lake. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Watch William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero’s XC ride, courtesy of the USEF Network

Today was also a good day for first time Rolex competitor, amateur rider and DVM, Kevin Keane who added only one jumping penalty and 10 time penalties to their dressage score. It is always a pleasure for me to watch Kevin ride because he is such a quiet rider who truly works with his horse.

Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter looked great galloping past me. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter looked great galloping past me. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton rode Boyd Martin’s usual ride, Trading Aces, clear and exactly on the time to win the keys to a Range Rover Evoke. He also piloted Mr. Medicott into third place on a score of 49.5.

Trading Aces and Phillip Dutton won a Range Rover Evoke! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Trading Aces and Phillip Dutton won a Range Rover Evoke! Photo By: Tracy Porter

As close as the standings are, stadium jumping should be exciting tomorrow! I just can’t wait!

Full results here.

Tracy

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Thunderstorms rolled in overnight on Thursday and brought cooler weather, cloudy skies, brisk winds, and intermittent downpours to Friday’s dressage.  I am willing to bet that rain jackets, Dubarry’s, and umbrellas were popular sales in the trade fair this year.

Shopping in the sponsor village Photo By: Tracy Porter

Shopping in the sponsor village Photo By: Tracy Porter

Typically on Rolex weekend, I plant myself ringside and make it a point to watch and photograph every ride but this year I took a different approach.  I left the dressage photos to HJU photographer Cindy and spent the early afternoon taking in the other things that Rolex has to offer.  I started out in the trade fair checking out the new trends and searching out all things mint green and aqua.  Before the start of dressage, I stopped at the Charles Owen tent and had some adjustments made to my current show helmet.  It’s great to know how much they stand behind their product and make are willing to take the time to make your helmet fit just right.

After the trade fair, I headed out to the warm up arena and was able to catch the first rider, Lilian Heard, warm up Share Option under the watchful eye of Boyd Martin. It is always fun to take in the warm ups and coaching and see the differences in warm up style. The rain and wind picked up after the first morning break, leaving  Kaitlin Spurlock and several others to a rain soaked test. As the rain intensified, I headed back to the trade fair to catch the HJU Cupcakes and Celebs meet up in the ECOGOLD booth.  Lots of fun was had by all and everyone who came had the chance to snap a photo with Doug Payne, Jessica Payne, Sinead Halpin, Jessica Phoenix, Boyd Martin, and the HJU bloggers.  Those who came early were treated to cupcakes and souvenir magnets with their favorite riders photo.

Immediately following the meet up, I headed to the Walnut ring to watch the celebrity rounds of the Prince Phillip Cup.  Not only can those kids ride incredibly well, but they have a tenacity that I envy.  This year’s celebrities included Doug Payne, Jessica Payne, Kelly Sult, and Colleen Rutledge.  Everyone had fun and left the arena with smiles on their faces but it was quite surprising to see the games skill that Colleen brought to the table! All and all, not a bad way to spend a dressage day at Rolex.

Boyd Martin and Caitlin Silliman watching Lilian Heard Photo By: Tracy Porter

Boyd Martin and Caitlin Silliman watching Lilian Heard Photo By: Tracy Porter

Sir Mark Todd near the warm up

Sir Mark Todd near the warm up Photo By: Tracy Porter

Chelsea and Robert Meyerhoff after his dressage.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Chelsea and Robert Meyerhoff after his dressage. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton Instructing Kaitlin Spurlock, pre monsoon Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton instructing Kaitlin Spurlock, pre monsoon Photo By: Tracy Porter

Kaitlin Spurlock about to head into a rain soaked Rolex arena. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Kaitlin Spurlock about to head into a rain soaked Rolex arena. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Cupcakes for all at the HJU meet up!  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Cupcakes for all at the HJU meet up! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Sinead Halpin with the bloggers!

Sinead Halpin with the bloggers! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Doug Payne during the USPC Prince Phillip Cup Photo By: Tracy Porter

Doug Payne during the USPC Prince Phillip Cup Photo By: Tracy Porter

Jessica Hampf-Payne, having a great time at the USPC Prince Phillip Cup Photo By: Tracy Porter

Jessica Payne, having a great time at the USPC Prince Phillip Cup Photo By: Tracy Porter

Colleen Rutledge was all smiles after dominating the Prince Phillip Cup.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Colleen Rutledge was all smiles after dominating the Prince Phillip Cup. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lots of beautiful Ecogold pads today! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Lots of beautiful Ecogold pads! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott in the warm up. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott in the warm up. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Mint socks make me happy!  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Mint socks make me happy! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Looking ahead to cross country! Photo By: Tracy Porter

Looking ahead to cross country! Photo By: Tracy Porter

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Caroline Martin and Jessica Payne

Caroline Martin and Jessica Payne helped us judge the HJU Best Dressed List

As someone who loves fashion and horses, the Wednesday jog at Rolex has become a must-photograph event! Not only are the horses perfectly polished and the energy electric, but the riders are able to bring a bit of their personal style for a chance to make the best dressed lists. Stylish, upper level eventers spend the beginning of April doing all the usual preparations for a four star event and also searching for the perfect jog look.

Here at HJU, we like to reward personal style, use of color, and positive attitude. While everyone’s fashion sense varies, you can’t help but look good with a smile and some gorgeous arm candy. Check out our picks for best dressed riders and must-have jogway trends.

This year, in addition to our usual panel we enlisted the help of 2 guest judges: Caroline Martin and Jessica Payne (who recused herself when we judged Doug). All photos by Cindy Lawler.

10. Hawley Bennett-Awad

Hawley Bennett

Hawley Bennett and Gin & Juice

9. Jennifer McFall

Jennifer McFall and High Times

Jennifer McFall and High Times

8. Daniel Clasing

Daniel Clasing and Houston

Daniel Clasing and Houston

7. Sharon White

Sharon White and Rafferty's Rules

Sharon White and Rafferty’s Rules

6. Kristin Schmolze

Kristin Schmolze and Ballaffin Bracken

Kristin Schmolze and Ballaffin Bracken

5. Jessica Phoenix

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti

4. Allison Springer

Allison Springer and Arthur

Allison Springer and Arthur

3. Jan Byyny

Jan Bynny and Inmidair

Jan Bynny and Inmidair -

2. Kaitlin Spurlock

Kaitlin Spurlock and Expedience - photo by Cindy Lawler

Kaitlin Spurlock and Expedience

Kaitlin Spurlock's dress had a cute backcutout

Kaitlin Spurlock’s dress had a cute back cutout

1. Doug Payne

Doug Payne looking sharp with Crown Talisman

Doug Payne looking sharp with Crown Talisman

Caroline’s horse, Petite Flower

Petite Flower

Petite Flower, Cutest Mare (not biased at all…)

Caroline and Jessica explain our choices…Hollywood style!

I was super excited when I read that “The Riding Horse Repair Manual”, written by four-star US eventer Doug Payne and published by Trafalgar Square, was being released this month.  As someone with a horse that has obvious holes in his training (my fault and only mine) this book really spoke to me.  After reading the book I can truly say that it isn’t just for riders and trainers with unruly or unsuitable horses, but an important tool that can be added to any rider’s library and frequently referenced.  Doug offers his personal experiences and tips in an easy to understand, fun to read format that keeps you reading and discovering new things.  To give you an idea of Doug’s philosophies, one of my favorite tips was regarding “unruly outbursts”.  Doug states that when training horses you have to allow them to be themselves.  Training is an effort to guide them to be better, but not lose their personal flair.  This tip, while simple, told me that Doug didn’t want to force every horse into the same box and realized they are animals and not machines.

Doug's new book

Doug Payne’s new book

When the book initially arrived, I did a cursory flip through and was drawn in by the large color photo sequences and layout.  The book is arranged in three sections; Getting Started, Let the Games Begin, and How It Can Work For You, How It Has Worked For Me with each section including several chapters.  There are tips listed in each chapter as a side note and a lot of knowledge can be gleaned by spending a few minutes reading the tips.  While you can easily find the solutions to your issues by referencing the Index and jumping directly to the page you need, I highly suggest reading the book cover to cover.

Festin and I reading Doug's book

Now Festin, listen up.

By reading the book from start to finish I was able to address all of my known issues as well as a few issues that were hidden just beneath the surface, but equally deserving of my attention.   I was very impressed with the full range of topics covered and was eager to continue reading and put some of my new tools to the test.  The fact that Doug addressed numerous potential causes and solutions for each problem was very encouraging.  I liked the fact that Doug built your confidence by mentioning any potential dangers to horse or rider and a multitude of responses you may get when dealing with a behavior.

Working in the animal medicine field, there is nothing more frustrating than reading a how to book and wondering why they neglected to mention a valid medical reason that should be treated by a veterinarian before moving forward.  Thankfully, while reading Doug’s book this thought didn’t cross my mind once because he took the time to discuss the importance of proper veterinary care, dental work, nutrition, saddle fit, and bitting.  The last section of the book, when Doug details case studies of some of the horses that he has ridden, was a fun read for me.  Finishing the book, I felt like I had just had a one on one conversation about his favorite horses and their athletic abilities, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses.

Inside

Inside

Overall, I think that this book is a must-buy!  Whether you have a seasoned schoolmaster, a greenie who is just learning the ropes, or a problem child like my boy you will appreciate Doug’s honesty and vast knowledge in your pursuit of the perfect horse!  I would like to think that after reading “The Riding Horse Repair Manual” I am a more conscientious and prepared rider with a few more tricks up my sleeve.

You can get this awesome book: here.

Tracy

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The KnixWear boyshort in nude.  Photo from the Knixwear website.

The KnixWear boyshort in nude. Photo from the Knixwear website.

When we were initially contacted by Knixwear to try their new Sweat Resistant Underwear you can imagine the discussion that ensued in our blogger group.  Well, at the time it was hot and humid here in Illinois and I was willing to try anything to improve my comfort while riding.

As riders we would never expect our equine partners to perform with a saddle pad that put pressure on their withers or bunched up when they worked yet we continually ride in undergarments that impair our own abilities, or at the very least our comfort.  Is a pair of underwear going to change your riding and turn you into the next top eventer, hunter/jumper, or dressage rider?  No, but when you have one less thing to worry about and are more comfortable you may notice some improvement.

After a brief internet search, I found their website and discovered that Knixwear is creating an underwear revolution by designing underwear that are comfortable, stylish, and integrate technology to keep you dry and fresh all day.  Lots of the media information out there is geared towards people who experience light bladder leakage or urinary incontinence but also carries over to the active rider who may not suffer from this issue.  They offer several different styles and a few color options to fit your needs in and out of the saddle.

After checking out the site I decided that I wanted to try the Knix Boyshort in nude.  Less than a week later my sample arrived and I was eager to try them out.  Each undergarment comes packed with a mesh lingerie bag to make washing that much easier and prevent damage to the product.  While I generally wash my “good” panties and bras in a lingerie bag the rest just get thrown into the mix so I was somewhat skeptical on how they would hold up to routine use and washing since they were being sent with their own bag.  The material has a nice feel to it and there is no seam, tag, or discernible waistband. The crotch felt a little thicker than I was expecting, but not bulky or rigid.

After a quick wash and dry following all of the included instructions, I was ready to take them for a test ride.  I tried them on with my thinnest light colored pair of breeches to check for VPL (if you watch Fashion Police on E! as often as I do you know that no woman should ever leave the house with a Visible Panty Line).  No VPL here!

Ok, so we were ready to go and I was quite pleased with the fit and rise.  They didn’t end up halfway up my back but when my low rise breeches got a little low picking feet I didn’t expose myself to everyone else at the barn.  I think that the biggest compliment that I can pay to these underwear is that I really didn’t know that they were there.  Usually when I ride I have to make some adjustments to combat ride up but with these I was just able to ride.  In spite of the weather, grooming, tacking, riding, grooming, hand grazing, and stall mucking I was comfortable and dry the entire time.  I have been wearing these underwear exclusively when I ride for just over a month now and in spite of lots of washing (sometimes in the provided bag but most times just tossed in with my breeches and shirts) they show no signs of wear,excess stretch, or loss of effectiveness.

Overall, I can definitely say that I will be purchasing more Knixwear for riding, working out, and maybe even some for daily wear under my scrubs!  I have tried lots of different undergarments marketed for riders and I can truly say that these are the most comfortable and provide the most value for your money.

Tracy
Read all of my blog posts here.

This is entry #2 in our “My Horse Life in 5 Photos” Contest, presented by Charles Owen. Click here for contest details.

Trying to sum up my life with horses in five photos is next to impossible.  The last 27 years of my life have been blissfully filled with horses and I don’t think I would have had  it any other way.

1) When I was six I took my first riding lesson on a schoolmaster Appaloosa named Carpenter.  My first horse show was a year later at our local 4H field on Brassy, a  Saddlebred I met a few minutes before my Walk-Trot class.  We were surrounded by ponies and I had a great time!

1987-my first horse show! That is me riding western on a Saddlebred in a ring full of ponies!

1987-my first horse show! That is me riding western on a Saddlebred in a ring full of ponies!

2) About a year later I was riding in a new barn because my previous instructor moved and I wanted to ride English.  This was a snapshot of me after my first English show, proudly showing off my fifth place ribbon!

1988-My first English horse show!

1988-My first English horse show!

3 & 4) In 1989 I got my very own horse.  Total Reflection, or TR as we called him, was truly my heart horse.  I grew up with him and he taught me so much more than any instructor ever could.  He taught me patience, kindness, the value of hard work, and that if you stick to it all dreams are possible.  He packed me around on trails, over fences, western,  bareback, and sidesaddle.  He was 16 back in 1989 and when he was 22 he took me to our first “big overnight show” and performed like a champion. What I wouldn’t give to have just one more day with him.

This was TR and I schooling back in the day of IOU sweatshirts, Miller's Heels Down Riding Shoes, and neon colored nylon schooling tack. Those are the original SMB boots on his front legs too! Probably circa 1993 or 1994!

This was TR and I schooling back in the day of IOU sweatshirts, Miller’s Heels Down Riding Shoes, and neon colored nylon schooling tack. Those are the original SMB boots on his front legs too! Probably circa 1993 or 1994!

Our first away show in 1995.  I was 15, he was 22.

Our first away show in 1995. I was 15, he was 22.

5) The November after I said goodbye to my TR, this big red OTTB came into my life.  We’ve had a tumultous relationship, but he is my rock right now.  He has really blossomed in the past few years and found his own groove.  There’s lots to our story, but this is one of my favorite pics.

I think you can see our bond here.  Festin and I last summer at our first away from home show.

I think you can see our bond here. Festin and I last summer at our first away from home show.

Tracy
Read all of my blog posts here.

Charles Owen

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What is it they say?  The best laid plans of mice and men… Yep, that’s it.  Back in April I started planning my horse show schedule.  We’re still working our way up the training pyramid and I was hoping to keep this a pretty easy, inexpensive, and successful year.  Looking at the local schooling show schedule, I was so excited to see that the equestrian center we had our first “away from home” show at last year is hosting a series of three this year.  Just like that, plans were made and Facebook statuses were updated.  I immediately decided that we would attend all 3 shows and laid out the goals for each of them.

First show: go, keep focused, and improve upon last year’s score.  Second show: improve on last show, add in training level tests. Third show: improve on all tests and add in one test sidesaddle.  Since they are doing a series, there is also a cumulative award for best average score at any level.  May as well shoot for that one too!

The spoils from our last show.  Hoping for a repeat performance!

The spoils from our last show. Hoping for a repeat performance!

Unfortunately, my time management skills have, well shall we say, sucked recently.   The list of things to do before our show is lengthy and time is fleeting.  I have waffled back and forth with my decision and decided to skip the July show and work steadily towards the next two.

Since skipping the July show, I have further revised my plans and spent time working on the things that held us back; namely, loading in the trailer in under an hour with no one getting assaulted by my horse.  We are now shooting for a mini event that is also offering combined training and dressage in August, the third show in the series we had hoped to compete in, our barn show in October, and a Will Faudree clinic our barn is hosting in November.  If Festin manages to stay level-headed, we may head back to the mini event in October and try our hand at the combined training too.  I am hoping to have my new Southern Stars dressage saddle by the September show, until then I will be riding dressage in my jumping saddle and a navy blue Ecogold WitherCare all purpose pad.  Good thing they are schooling shows!

The look we will be rocking at our next dressage show...can't wait for the new saddle to get here!

The look we will be rocking at our next dressage show…can’t wait for the new saddle to get here!

Ok, so there it is written on the internet…You can’t say things on the internet that aren’t true, right?? Guess it is time to get my butt in gear and be ready for our show season debut on August 25th!  On the plus side, my horse now walks on the trailer like it is his one and only job, so there is one less hurdle to overcome!

Comfy working sidesaddle at home...maybe we can do one test this year!

Comfy working sidesaddle at home…maybe we can do one test this year!

Here’s hoping that my next show post is one talking about new goals because our previous ones have been met!

Tracy
Read all of my blog posts here.

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Well, it has been two months since the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event drew to a close and between being busy, sick, and unmotivated, I have only just this last week found the time to go through my photos and think about a blog.  You would think after two months have passed, some of the memories would be less than fresh in my mind but simply looking at a photo can bring back all of the excitement, passion, adrenaline, and harmony of that  moment. While I may not be able to tell you exact scores or rankings without looking back in my notes or doing a google search, there are certainly a number of things I can give you a minute by minute play by play on.

Here’s what made Rolex 2013 a memorable one for me (I hope you don’t mind if I let the pictures do most of the talking):

Infectious smiles:

It doesn’t matter where they were or what they were doing, you could tell Meghan O’Donoghue and Buck Davidson were having a great time just by looking at them.  Both riders had genuine smiles that you couldn’t help but mirror back at them.

Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate were all smiles - photo by Tracy Porter

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate were all smiles – photo by Tracy Porter

Buck Davidson celebrates another clean cross country run.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Buck Davidson celebrates another clean cross country run. Photo by Tracy Porter

Watching Peter Atkins and Henry Jota Hampton in the dressage and stadium phase:

I remember watching their ride in dressage and thinking the score did not reflect what I saw.  Two months later, going through the photos the feeling is the same.  Henny and Peter had a beautiful dressage test and were fun to watch (and listen to) in the jumping phase.  Their relationship is about true trust and partnership and it is a beautiful thing!

Peter Atkins and Henry Jota Hampton had a lovely dressage test.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Peter Atkins and Henry Jota Hampton had a lovely dressage test. Photo by Tracy Porter

Peter Atkins talks Henny through the triple. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Peter Atkins talks Henny through the triple. Photo by Tracy Porter

Watching a great partnership come to an end and the start of a happy retirement:

There is nothing quite like the retirement ceremony of a four star horse to bring a tear to your eye.  Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing quite a few, but the retirement of one of my personal favorites this year was extra special to me.  Happy retirement to Joe Meyer’s lovely horse, Snip!

Joe Meyer and Snip take a final lap of the Rolex Arena. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Joe Meyer and Snip take a final lap of the Rolex Arena. Photo by Tracy Porter

The unexpected moments of excitement:

It’s nice to know that top riders appreciate a good ride as much as the rest of us.  It was great watching William Fox-Pitt exit the arena and give his groom two thumbs up after a lovely test on Chilli Morning.

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning celebrate great dressage.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning after dressage. Photo by Tracy Porter

An added bonus?  Chilli Morning gets a mint after dressage, before he even leaves the arena!  Photo By: Tracy Porter

An added bonus? Chilli Morning gets a mint after dressage, before he even leaves the arena! Photo by Tracy Porter

 Overcoming the odds:

Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star have been through so much together.  After injuries that could have been career ending, the two completed their first four star with style.

Caitlin Silliman and Catch a Star in the stadium phase. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Caitlin Silliman and Catch a Star in the stadium phase. Photo by Tracy Porter

A true horseman remembering a friend:

It was great to meet Bruce Davidson Sr. at the Eagle Lion statue near the Rolex Arena.  As soon as he arrived for our interview, you could see the love Bruce shared for such a special friend as he lovingly stroked his ear and kissed his forehead.  True friendships never end.

A true gentleman of the sport, Bruce Davidson Sr. remembers an old friend. Photo By: Tracy Porter

A true gentleman of the sport, Bruce Davidson Sr. remembers an old friend. Photo by Tracy Porter

The attention to detail:

From the beautiful Five Star Tack bridle, to the impeccable braids and coordinating nails Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken were one of the best turned out pairs at the jog.  Will Faudree also set the bar high at the Sunday jog.  What you may not have noticed immediately is that each button on the vest is a different butterfly.  I just love attention to detail and a man with the confidence to pull off this look.

Ballylaffin Bracken rocks his Five Star bridle.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Ballylaffin Bracken rocks a Five Star bridle. Photo by Tracy Porter

Will Faudree and Pawlow.  Go ahead zoom in and check out the detail in this vest. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Will Faudree and Pawlow. Go ahead zoom in and check out the detail in this vest. Photo by  Tracy Porter

Finding out that Mary King is awesome:

I’ve always known Mary King for her amazing riding abilities. This year I had the pleasure of meeting her and I discovered that not only is she a skilled and tenacious rider, but she is sweet and fun!  I’m an even bigger Mary King fan now!

Mary King and Fernhill Urco. Tenacious on the course...Photo By: Tracy Porter

Mary King and Fernhill Urco. Tenacious on the course…Photo by Tracy Porter

Mary King and Walter the Show Poneh.  Mary is soooo fun!  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Mary King and Walter the Show Poneh. Mary is soooo fun! Photo by Tracy Porter

 

Seeing what the coach sees and learning from their comments:

Want the best free lesson in the world?  Stand anywhere within ear shot of a coach warming up their rider, watching their test, and giving them feedback after a ride.  These two men are brilliant coaches and the North American teams are so lucky to have them:

David O'Connor (USA) watches closely.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

David O’Connor (USA) watches closely. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Clayton Fredericks (CAN) watches Kendal Lehari's ride. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Clayton Fredericks (CAN) watches Kendal Lehari. Photo By: Tracy Porter

The love and support of a partner:

After what could have been a bad fall, it was so great to see this rider get up, pat her horse on the neck, and tell him: “It’s ok, babe”.  She walked away with a smile and an arm resting on her partner.  Remember to hug your horse in good times and bad.

Above all, a team.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

Above all, a team. Photo by Tracy Porter

The friends, family, owners, sponsors, and coaches who become the best cheerleaders:

It takes a village to make it to Rolex.  Blood, sweat, tears, time, and money spent all become worth it when you see your team succeed on one of the biggest stages.

They were happy with Alexandra Knowles and Last Call's Dressage! Photo By: Tracy Porter

They were happy with Allie Knowles and Last Call’s Dressage! Photo by Tracy Porter

Congrats on a job well done.  Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo By: Tracy Porter

Congrats on a job well done! Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo by Tracy Porter

Celebrating with friends at the end of a long weekend:

You don’t have to win Rolex to have a great weekend.  It was nice to see that even in the upper level prize-giving ceremonies, friends can celebrate together.

Kristi Nunnink and R-Star celebrate with Mar de Amor and someone from Buck Davidson's team after a great weekend.  Photo By: Tracy Porter

 Kristi Nunnink and R-Star celebrate with Mar de Amor and his owner, Leigh Mesher,  after a great weekend.         Photo By: Tracy Porter     

Check out the HJU Facebook page for more photos from the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.

Tracy
Read all of my blog posts here.

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