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Various voices check in about their Olympic experiences.

It didn’t fully hit me that I was actually leaving my life/job to go be a working student until about a week before our departure. I will turn 30 years old while I am up at Allison Spivey Dressage and am eight years into my career with my full-time job, so to say that I was anxious about this journey is a bit of an understatement!
I like the quiet moments at the shows. I like the mornings especially, when I come to feed Ella and clean her stall before heading out to the farm to work the rest of the horses. I like the stable compound before the masses descend, when it’s just quietly eating and breathing horses and a handful of riders or grooms going about their morning chores.
“You HAVE to ride Jimmie Echo—you will love him!” This was a line I heard over and over again from my best friend, Michelle Craig. She galloped Jimmie Echo for a steeplechase trainer in Middleburg, Va., and he was always her favorite ride of the day. I heard non-stop how awesome this horse was, what a professional he was, how easy he was to gallop… the list goes on and on.
There are lots of sayings about green horses and green riders. My favorite, because of its sheer simplicity, is “green plus green equals black and blue.” Without a doubt, I am a green rider. I grew up riding western, and, after a very long break, bought an english saddle and took up jumping about two years ago. Shortly thereafter, I purchased a green horse. If I could go back in time, what would I tell myself? Based on my goals, laid out succinctly in my author bio below, I would say: Run. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
It's been about a couple of weeks since the Amateurs Like Us profile article on me hit the Chronicle’s website. I never thought I would be sitting here, writing/blogging or pondering about myself and Finn.
A few years ago, I tried something totally new and it gave me an incredibly fresh perspective on the amount of bravery it takes for students to crawl up on the back of a 1,200-pound free-thinking mammal and learn about self-control and practice fundamentals as they prance around the dressage arena and over fences. My journey was sparked by some now-welcomed peer pressure and gave me an insane amount of insight on how fitness and the learning process translates to the student, both human and equestrian.  Learning The Dance
I was making my list of goals for 2017, and on the list (along with “eat like an adult,” “sleep past 4 a.m.” and “take a cooking class to improve my knife skills”) is to get a 7 or better on the canter half-pass zig-zag in a CDI Grand Prix. I understand the movement, I teach others how to ride the movement… and I myself, on Ella, can’t seem to ride the movement in the ring. I get the count right, I get 6 or 6.5, and it’s fine.It just can be so much better, and it really needs to be better, to get the scores I want.
Over the weekend I had this dream where I won some sort of drawing to spend a day in the life of Jennie Brannigan and her four-star horse Cambalda.It was amazing—Jennie was there and coached me and I was able to wear all of her signature equipment and experience what it is like to look through Ping’s ears at a cross-country jump. The craziest thing is this actually happened!!!
I suspect we’ve all got them. Places that bring on floods of memories. The old neighborhood. A school.  For me, a walk around the campus where I went to college triggers recollections of a time when my head was full of a youthful mix of confidence, confusion, and insecurity. And, of course, dreams. Some were foolish. Some came true. And some, to my occasional regret, I didn’t pursue. It’s a story that everyone can tell.
December 1: It’s official! Nine horses will be going to Florida, to a brand-new barn that we’ll have all to ourselves. Awesome. I’ll bring down one working student—conveniently also named Lauren—and hire someone local to do stalls for us. It’ll be a lot of work, but it’ll be OK.
I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning and refused to leave my bed, acknowledging this it was a bitter 8 degrees outside in what should have been a mild Lexington, Ky. I reached for my phone and turned on Facebook, scrolling through the updates alerting me to comments, likes, and shares.
For as long as I can remember, my riding lessons have been filled with the order to, “Look up!” It isn’t that I find my hands particularly fascinating, but it’s just that when I concentrate on something, I tend to stare fixedly at it. My surroundings disappear, and it’s just me examining my fingers and begging them to stop moving so much. And that’s a problem. There are obvious reasons this is an issue: I could run over someone or something, I could miss terribly at a jump, I could get off my line. But that’s not why I am writing this blog.

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