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January 8, 2014

Organized And Ready For 2014

Doug Payne and Jessica Hampf will move to Thunder Valley Ranch in New Hill, N.C., after their wedding.

Our spring season feels like it's officially beginning! We've moved into our temporary, albeit palatial, location at Jess' parents place where her horses will remain in Bridle Creek (Aiken, S.C.). We have a 16-stall barn, plenty of turn out and riding space and a decent hill in the New Bridge Polo Club. Michelle, our manager, is losing sleep at the moment being that the barn is in disarray. Within the week she, Jax, Katie and Marrissa will have the barn in top shape. She doesn't do well with disorganization! 

I was shocked when I realized that my last post was just following Fair Hill last fall. It seems like it was a lot more recent than that!

Since that post, we moved our lives down from New Jersey to Aiken. This was particularly chaotic being that we are not returning. Jess, Michelle and I packed up our houses, barn, horses and equipment and caravaned south. It was the perfect time to embark on such a journey being that most of our horses were on vacation following their fall season.

We will be in Aiken through March and then we're making our permanent move to a great farm in New Hill, N.C., which is just southwest of Raleigh on the way towards Southern Pines. Following our wedding in mid-March, Jess and I can't wait to get our lives started together in North Carolina.

I've spent the past month or so organizing paperwork, drivers licenses, etc., as well as putting the finishing touches on my first book which will be out just prior to Rolex this spring. Titled The Riding Horse Repair Manual, the book has been in the works for nearly two years at this point. Since my educational background was in mechanical engineering, I hadn't written anything longer than 10 pages before—this is sitting at about 260 pages in Word!

It gives some background on starting horses and an overall philosophy in development leading into the meat of the text which covers just about any common behavioral problem you might encounter when working with horses. This is also meant to be discipline-independent; regardless of what sport you ride or compete in, good training is good training!

Meanwhile, our horses are back in work and all have jumped once at this point. I'm always amazed how well they come out of some down time. All are more motivated, and as strange as it sounds, they seem to absorb all of what we were working on this fall. They always come out better from a vacation that I could imagine.

The best of the bunch at the moment is Tali (Crown Talisman owned by Larry & Amelia Ross and myself). He finished a very strong fall following his move-up to advanced at Millbrook to running the Fair Hill CCI***. He's an athletic freak of nature, and although I'm certainly biased, he is another 20 percent better today than in October! His flat work is progressing by leaps and bounds; that's a scary thought seeing as how he was sitting in second following dressage at Fair Hill.

We've got a great group of horses and supporters along with Tali. Make sure to check out the first 2014 issue of U.S. Eventing Association's Eventing USA magazine for details on each because our team is profiled in the 'year in the life of' segment.

In the coming weeks all of our eventers will start jumping for real at home. Our competition season will begin with a few jumper shows, for the jumpers as well as eventers, and our first event in early February. In addition to the horses ramping up, I'll be judging a couple events in Florida. More details about our progression next month!

Doug Payne is a professional event rider operating out of his Doug Payne Equestrian in Pottersville, N.J. You can read all his blogs here

 
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