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March 8, 2012

A Whirlwind Trip And A Return To Blogging

Lauren Billys tried 40 horses before finding Jitter Bug in Ocala, Fla., with Kyle and Jennifer Carter.

This is a far overdue update. During the last few months some dramatic changes have taken place, all of which were welcomed, and it’s only now that things have finally started to settle out and become part of my normal life.

The most busy time of the past three months were wrapped up in December and January, so I am going to jump right in.

Six states, one commonwealth, 14 planes, 37 horses, 27 Puerto Rican relatives and six trips across the country have made up 25 of the 40 days busiest days of my life from December to January. To say that I could not wait to be home would be an understatement although I have thoroughly enjoyed my time away. I was ready for the normality of life at home.

My circuit around the country started with a hunt for my next horse. Yes, I have found her. I spent a week traveling all over the East Coast to see roughly 25 horses and another few days in Ocala, Fla., seeing another 15. I had an incredible journey meeting more fun eventing people from all over the country. I saw a great diversity of horses and enjoyed getting the chance to ride so many talented animals.

The last horse I rode was the one I chose. Kyle and Jennifer Carter were a huge help in Ocala by giving me such a talented group of horses to try. I’d met Kyle at the Pan American Games, and he seemed to really pinpoint my riding style because he showed me horses that fit me.  The horse I finally chose is named Jitter Bug, a 6-year-old, Selle Francis cross, with a super jump and great movement. Her spicy personality tied with her confidence and athletic ability made her a standout candidate. She was originally owned by Josh Barnacle. It’s been fun to develop a young horse with Ginger over the past few years, and I am excited to kick on with another.

The last week of my trip I had the very fortunate opportunity to be invited as a rider in the XIII Copa de Reyes Jumper Invitational in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The past month I had been expanding my comfort zone within riding quite a bit, but this invitational certainly took me outside of it all together. The competition was composed of riders from countries all over the world including: Venezuela, the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Puerto Rico (obviously), Panama, and the list goes on. Each visiting rider was given a horse at random to ride. And this horse was ridden twice for each day of the competition: once by its local rider and once by the international rider.

It was a format that really invited riders to mingle and mix with one another. The classes started at 60 centimeters and grew all the way up to 1.20 meters.  I was fortunate enough to get the chance to compete in the 1.20-meter class, which was pushing my comfort zone. I had an educational and important time shaking hands with the people of my Puerto Rican Federation and getting to put names to all the email addresses and phone numbers I have accumulated over the past two years. I was so thankful for this journey where I learned more about my federation and myself.

Upon my arrival home, I decided to move back to Fresno, Calif., to continue in school and work on getting this double major knocked out. I moved back to my barn in Fresno and started training again from home with regular visits to my home away from home with my coaches in Carmel Valley. Getting back to the routine for me with multiple horses to work every day and being a student at Fresno State again has brought back the feeling of normal life and the training that we all are so used to.

As for Ginger, she is doing well, finally. She had some time off after going to the Pan Ams and came down with a pretty bad case of pneumonia with an allergic reaction to her medication and an infection in her lungs. Because of her illness and listening to my horse’s needs, Ginger had an extended period of time off to recover from her illness. She is now back in work and pushing for a debut at the end of the spring.

This spring will be dedicated to working with Ginger and Jitter Bug to get them prepared for my debut with the spicy mares in the show world. I cannot wait to get back to the start box, but in the meantime I am so thankful for my newest addition and having healthy, sound horses.

Until next time,
Lauren and Ginger…and Jitter Bug!

LaurenBillys.com

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