Thursday, Jul. 25, 2024

Florida 2019 Begins



We have arrived safely in Florida, and even more importantly, we have arrived in 2019, and I can’t even begin to tell you all how glad I am of both. While January 1 may be just another date on the calendar, with no magical properties of any kind, I’ve decided that 2018 was where all the yuck lived, and now my horses, my team and I can all leave the yuck in our collective rear view mirrors and move on.

IMG_0570The trip down was uneventful, and assistant trainer Lisa and I are all set up at two different barns in Deer Run with 13 horses. If that sounds like a lot for two people, you’d be correct. We’ve got stall cleaning help in the morning and help from a lovely young lady named Ali in the afternoons for a few hours, and then we spend the rest of the day running around like crazy people. It’s mayhem, but it’s our mayhem. Lisa is amazing; I’m so happy she’s here with me!

The horses settled beautifully, and while I give an annual award for Worst Behaved on Ride #1, and said award this year goes to Swagger (who wasn’t going to come and then did, because long story short, I can’t do math), I don’t really hold him accountable. He’ll turn 5 this year, and he’s never seen anything like Florida, and they all had basically a week off before coming down between Christmas and our departure, so a little insanity seemed called for.

Puck actually wins the award for Best Behaved of my group of horses, which is rather shocking. I then had a lesson with Carol Lavell, my amazing friend, where he proceeded to be relatively unrideable for the first few minutes, right after I’d finished telling Carol what a good boy he’d grown up into. Ha. Our lesson was nevertheless a productive one; one in which I learned that I am not asking nearly enough of my very talented big moose. Carol has this incredible multi-track mind, the likes of which we mere mortals cannot fathom, but I figure if I’m able to keep track of two out of every five things she says to me, I’m probably doing OK. We worked on turning at the canter, and wobble boy Puck likes to put his legs pretty much every direction except the one I’m looking for. By the end, he was basically making quarter canter pirouettes and being remarkably accepting of a tremendous amount of pressure and aid and information flow. I have a feeling he’s going to be a zombie today, but that’s OK. The fact that the FEI expectations are something I can visit at all is fantastic, even if I can’t live there yet.


Puckerman is all grown up (kind of) and won Best Behaved. Kimberly Loushin Photo

Elvis had a hard time with the trip—he’s been terribly mentally energetic since his arrival, but his hind legs seem to have disappeared, so I have a very enthusiastic hot mess on my hands. They probably fell off the van somewhere in the Carolinas and are making their way down to us. The best thing about him is how good at life he is. The birds, the canal, the construction noise as our wonderful landlord puts the finishing touches on a few odds and ends around the property… nothing fazes him. Can’t make the hind legs quick yet, but at least he’s not spooking at the laundry or the palm fronds, which is a start.


The rest of my clients’ horses all traveled beautifully—virtually all are Frequent Florida Fliers, so they’ve seen the drill—and we’re back to progressing towards competition goals. I have two students aiming towards their Grand Prix debuts this year, which is an awfully exciting thing to be a part of!

A student had to make a travel plan change last minute, and as such will not be coming down until mid February. If you think a few weeks in the sun sounds like your cup of tea, they’d like to sublet her stall and apartment, so let’s talk. Shoot me an email.

Our first show of the year is in about three weeks. Game on!
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