Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MLE's "Help"

So while I was busy moving jumps in preparation for the Stephen Bradley clinic, this is what my "help" was busy doing:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Check Out the NEW Playland Farm Web Site!

After a lot of hard work, the new Playland Farm website is up and running and looks great. Be sure to check it out and see all that Playland has to offer:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Need a holiday gift idea?? Why not a gift certificate to MLE!?

Need a holiday gift idea??  Why not a gift certificate to Mythic Landing Enterprises!?!

Gift certificates can be used for a variety of services, including clinics with Olympian Stephen Bradley or Grand Prix dressage rider/trainer Susan Graham White. This is a great gift for your friends and family members that ride and compete.  Stephen comes to A Bit Better Farm on a monthly basis (2014 dates can be found on the MLE calendar).  Susan comes on a quarterly basis and those dates will be posted as we schedule them.

Or if you're looking for a unique gift for your trainer, barn owner, farrier, or vet, why not get them a gift certificate that they can use to help promote and build their business!  We can do everything from ad design to e-blasts, from logos to web site design. For a full list of services for riders, click HERE.

If you have questions or would like to purchase a gift certificate, simply e-mail me at or call (301) 502 - 8929.  Cash, checks and credit cards accepted!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Attention PRO Members!

Did you know that if you're a member of the Professional Riders Organization that you get discounts with MLE!?  Click HERE for details!

Having been involved with the organization since shortly after its inception, MLE is a big supporter of PRO and is happy to offer the following discounts to their members:

Special PRO Pricing

Ad Campaign
  Regular price $375/month; PRO price $350/month w/ 6-month contract
  Click here to learn more about our Rider Services

Search Engine Marketing (incl. social media and blog management)
  Regular price $240/month; PRO price $220/month w/ 6-month contract
  Click here to learn more about SEM

  Regular price $60/hour; PRO price $55/hour
  Click here to learn more about our bookkeeping services

Ad Design
  Regular price $90; PRO price $60
  Click here to view sample Ads

  Regular price $250; PRO price $200
  Click here to view sample E-blasts

Monthly E-Newsletters
  Regular price $250/month; PRO price $175/month w/ 6-month contract
  Click here to view sample E-Newletters

And of course all consultations are free!

Monday, December 2, 2013

MLE'rs in The Equiery!

Have you picked up your newest copy of The Equiery?  Be sure to keep a look out for a few MLE staffers, clients and friends!

Playland Farm's Glenda Player with her homebred mare PL Irish Pearl

MLE's financial advisor Mel Litter with her daughter Jordan (top)
Full Moon Farm's Steve Fulton (bottom)

MLE's own Tara with her horse Shotgun!

CONGRATS to these MLE'rs!

As a lot of people are prepping for the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention, I wanted to recognize these MLE clients and friends that found themselves on the Official USEA 2013 Leaderboard sponsored by Nutrena.  What a great year for everyone! CONGRATS TO ALL!

Courtney Cooper with R Star
Andromaque (owned by Jennifer Mosing, ridden by Will Faudree): #6 2013 SmartPak Horse of the Year; #4 Mare of the Year; #6 Advanced Horse

Courtney Cooper: #23 Overall 2013 World Equestrian Brands Rider of the Year; #7 Preliminary Master Rider

Maggie Deatrick (student of Stephen Bradley): #7 Advanced Adult Amateur Rider

Will Faudree: #4 Overall 2013 World Equestrian Brands Rider of the Year; #4 Advanced Adult Rider; #4 Intermediate Adult Rider

Savannah Fulton (of Full Moon Farm): #6 Intermediate Young Rider

Brynn Hamel (working student for Stephen Bradley): #9 Intermediate Adult Amateur Rider

Lil' Albert (owned by Kristen Turner, sold by Courtney Cooper): #4 Novice Horse; #2 Wise Equestrian Novice Thoroughbred Horse

Will Faudree with Jennifer Mosing's Pawlow
Pawlow (owned by Jennifer Mosing, ridden by Will Faudree): #10 Advanced Horse

R Star (owned/bred by Courtney Cooper & Neal Camens, ridden by Courtney Cooper): #6 Preliminary Horse

Kim Russell (student of Courtney Cooper): #3 Training Adult Amateur Rider

Matthew Ulmer (student of Stephen Bradley): #8 Training Young Adult Rider

Julia Wendell (student of Stephen Bradley): #2 Advanced Master Amateur Rider; #2 Intermediate Master Amateur Rider

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MLE's clients team-up for a fun, educational clinic!!

This past weekend, two of Mythic Landing's clients, Sterling Silver Stables owned by Jennifer Mosing, and Will Faudree, teamed up to do a two-day clinic in Louisiana at the farm. The first part of the clinic was on Sterling Silver's cross-country schooling course and the second half focused on show jumping. Judging by the look of these photos, we'd like to bet that everyone had a great time and learned a lot!

Monday, November 18, 2013

LAST CALL for this Sunday, November 24th's Katie Wherley Clinic at Woodstock Equestrian Park

Katie & Mr. Indiscretion at Richland Park CIC3*
I just wanted to send out a LAST call for this Sunday, November 24th's Katie Wherley Clinic at Woodstock Equestrian Park.  PLUS you can still sign up for the December 7th Clinic at Bennett's Creek Farm.

Take a look at the details below and e-mail me back if you'd like a slot (or two!).  Remember that active pony clubbers get a $5 discount per lesson!

We hope to see you soon!

Sunday, November 24th @ Woodstock Equestrian Park (Beallsville, MD)
Come out and work on your cross-country skills with Katie at the beautiful Woodstock Equestrian Park! 

Lesson fees: 
$70 per 45-minute private lesson 
$55 per small group lesson (no more than 3 riders)

***If bad weather, the clinic will be held at Katie's farm in Middletown, MD***

Saturday, December 7th @ Bennett's Creek Farm (Frederick, MD)
Come out and work on your 
stadium and dressage
 skills with Katie at the 
awesome Bennett's Creek Farm

Lesson fees: 
$80 per 45-minute private lesson 
$65 per small group lesson (no more than 3 riders)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Morning Shout-out to Full Moon Farm

A very special shout-out this morning goes to MLE'r Full Moon Farm!  They are hosting their first USEA Recognized Horse Trials and we wish them the best of luck!  Sue will be there today volunteering, so we'll get a full report later, but I know that they will put on a great show.  Kudos to Karen, Stephen, Grace, Woodge and the FMF crew for all of their hard work!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Upcoming Future Event Horse Educational Seminars

I just wanted to share an upcoming USEA event put together by longtime MLE clinician Susan Graham White for the Future Event Horse program.  Click HERE for details ... or keep reading!

The USEA is delighted to announce two upcoming Future Event Horse Educational Seminars. The seminars are open to the public and will take place at High Point Hanoverians in Chestertown, Maryland on November 16-17, 2013 and at DGBar Ranch in Hanford, California on December 14-15, 2013.
Both seminars will include lectures and presentations by experienced breeders and judges Susan Graham-White, Faith Fessenden, and Robin Walker as well as biometrics specialist Dr. Deb Bennett. The focus of the sessions is to introduce both judges and interested parties to the Future Event Horse program. It is appropriate for anyone who is a breeder, exhibitor, judge, or just passionate about young horses.
In addition to the lectures, the seminar will include free jumping and under saddle demonstrations. In the coming years, the FEH committee hopes to add free jumping and three-year-old Materiale classes to the FEH Championships and these previews will help introduce both the judges and potential competitors to the additions.
These seminars are open to USEA members as well as non-members and will be of interest to anyone interested in promoting U.S. bred event horses and in learning more about the IDHSNA USEA Future Event Horse program. There is no cost for USEA members and the fee for non-members is $50.00 for the weekend.
In addition to two full days of FEH content, both locations will also be hosting a two-hour presentation on the Young Event Horse (YEH) Program the Friday prior to the weekend FEH presentations. In Maryland, the YEH session will take place on Friday, November 15 from 5 – 7 pm at a local hotel to be announced, and In California, the YEH session will be held Friday, December 13th – from 5 – 7 pm – at Visalia Holiday Inn & Conference Center. The FEH presentations are open to all and are free to attend; registration is required.
For current judges, attendance at either of the FEH weekend seminars will fulfill the educational requirements to become a FEH Judge. Interested applicants must already be a USEF Eventing Judge, Dressage Judge, or Sport Horse Breeding Judge. Current FEH judges are expected to attend one of these seminars to remain on the approved judges list in 2014.

Monday, November 4, 2013

MLE'rs rocking out this weekend!

Wow!  What a weekend for MLE'rs!

Full Moon Farm's Grace Fulton & Leo the Lionhearted
There was a big group at Virginia CCI1*, CIC2* & Horse Trials in Lexington, Virginia:
Full Moon Farm's Grace Fulton finished 11th in the Virginia CCI1* Jr/Yr division with Leo the Lionhearted.  Sterling Silver Stables' Kaitlynn Mosing and Madeline Mosing also completed the Virginia CCI1* with their horses Powerhound and Prowler. 

Kilfinnan Stables' Sean McQuillan finished 3rd in the Open Preliminary-B division with Casalino.  And Sean also finished 4th with Flambeau in the Open Novice-A division.

Playland Farm's Glenda Player finished 3rd in the Novice Horse-E division with homebred PL Irish Pearl.

Full Moon Farm's Stephen Fulton finished 4th with FMF King's Shilling in the Beginner Novice Horse-A division.

And Will Faudree placed 4th in the Preliminary Horse-A division with Pfun.

Playland Farm's Glenda Player & PL Irish Pearl
Further north in Unionville, Pennsylvania, the C Square Farm crew was competing at Plantation Field Start Horse Trials:

Courtney Cooper and Dare to Dream's Sport WON their Training Horse-B division!  Courtney and sale horse Jackson WON their Novice Horse-B division.  AND her husband Neal Camens placed 2nd in his first horse trials with Courtney's former horse Vegas Run in the Beginner Novice Rider division.

At the CBLM Championships in North Carolina, former MLE employee and long-time friend and fan Nicki Carson (of Elevation Dressage) was staying busy with three horses!  What makes this even more impressive is that all three horses were bred by her mother's Flying Chesterfield Farm and started and trained by Nicki.

Elevation Dressage's Nicki Carson & DeLiza
Whisper to Heaven (out of my sister's former horse Heaven Forbid) earned a 66% in her Second Level 2 class for 2nd place.  Seven 'n' Seven scored a 71% in his warm up class for 3rd place, and then a 70.08% for 4th place in his BLM Final class.  DeLiza scored a 66% in her Second Level 2 class to finish 2nd, and then a 67% in her Second Level 3 class to finish 3rd.  And to top is off, DeLiza then WON her Second Level Championship class with the only 70%  And Whisper to Heaven placed a respectable 4th with a 64.2%.

More local to us, my sister Katherine (of KOR Studio) finished 5th in the Beginner Novice Horse division with her young horse Rocking Valay (aka "Sprocket") at the Waredaca Starter Horse Trials.  And Southwind Farm's Sheri Thornley finished 8th in the same division aboard Stormy.

And last but not least, our very own Tara Shegogue also rode at Waredaca with her horse Ridin' Shotgun.  And ... she WON her Elementary Rider division on the impressive dressage score of a 25!

MLE's Tara Shegogue & Ridin' Shotgun

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Entries Are Open For The Full Moon Farm Recognized Horse Trials!

What's Coming Up At Full Moon Farm: 
Sunday, November 17th 
Entries are now open for our inaugural
(closes October 29th)
Please join us Sunday, November 17th as we kick off our first USEA-recognized horse trials, sponsored by Frankel Automotive Group

We will be offering the following levels:
Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice (Recognized)
Starter (2'3") and Intro (18") (Un-Recognized)
All phases of all divisions will be run on Sunday, November 17th.
Cross-Country will be available to walk on Saturday, November 16th at 3:00pm.
Please see the Omnibus listing (HERE), or visit our website for all of the information. 
We've made it easy to enter:

You may also enter on!
Note: You must be a USEA member to enter the Novice and Training divisions. Non-members are welcome to enter Beginner Novice, but a $25 non-member fee applies. You do not have to be a USEA member to ride in the Intro or Starter division.
All entries, including Intro and Starter divisions, must use the USEA Entry Forms. If you are entering the Intro or Starter divisions please see HERE for special instructions! 
Intro and Starter divisions do not have to pay the USEA fees.

We will be using paper number pinnies for cross country. 
Riders must bring their own plastic pinny holders.
(Limited quantities will be available for purchase from the show office for $20.)
Many "Thanks!" to our sponsor:

Monday, September 30, 2013

MLE Welcomes New Client: Electronic Billing & Customer Support

Mythic Landing Enterprises is excited to welcome new client, Electronic Billing & Customer Support! Since 1986 EBCS has been helping companies manage their billing, collecting, cash flow, and customer satisfaction. Their commitment to excellence in customer care, efficiency, technology and professionalism serve as guiding principles to their success over the years. Although they serve a variety of industries, they have recently expanded into the veterinarian & equine business world.

Here are just a few of the services they offer:

• Start a payment plan system to collect your money

• Start your own Pet Savings Account (PSA).

• Develop a Wellness Plan

• Collect on your past due accounts

This is a well established company that we feel can truly help to make a difference for many equine businesses! Take some time to look at their website here:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exciting New Column for Southeast Equine Magazine!

I'm excited to announce that MLE is going to be the new eventing columnist for Southeast Equine Magazine!  The plan is to have our MLE professional riders tackle reader questions about the sport of eventing.  Even more exciting (at least for me!) is that the writing is going to be split up between Sue, Tara and myself (thanks ladies!).  We each have a different writing style, so combining that with our wide variety of clients should make for a fresh article each month.  Thanks to Southeast Equine's Rose Cushing asking us to be involved.  Our first article should be in the November 2013 issue!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stephen Bradley returns October 9th ... Space Still Available!

Join us for another day of lessons on Wednesday, October 9th with Stephen Bradley at the awesome A Bit Better Farm in Brookeville, Maryland.   

Stephen enjoys teaching all levels of riders from beginners to the advanced competitor. His enthusiasm, talent for communication, and ability to inspire confidence in the horse and rider make him a hit with riders of all levels. When training with Stephen, you can be confident that you will receive expert instruction for your level of riding. You can learn more about Stephen at

Jump lessons will be 75 minutes each, with 3 riders per group
Dressage lessons will be 45 minutes each, private (limited availability)

Costs: $115 for Jump lessons; $155 for Dressage lessons (cash, check and credit cards accepted)

Please contact Margaret Rizzo at or (301) 502-8929 to sign up for any (or all!) of the clinics.  Cash, checks and credit cards accepted.

A full list of activities for the year can be found on our WEB SITE or FACEBOOK PAGE. Be sure to check back often for updates.  Or just tell Margaret to add you to our e-mail list.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Support Your Local HTs ... Go to Iron Bridge!

Iron Bridge has always been one of my favorite schooling horse trials.  I remember going there often when I was younger, and then when I was older I would take my greener horses.  And just this past spring, I took Lissell there to dust off the cob webs after some time off.  I got the below e-mail this morning and wanted to pass the info along ... 

IBHPC's Fall Horse Trials will be held Saturday, October 5th, just two weeks from now!
    -- We currently have openings in all divisions, and just a few days left to enter (by September 25th!)
    -- All the information you need is available on the IBHPC Website
    -- Please find Entry forms here
    -- And starting Monday, September 30th, find Entry status here
    -- -- use your browser 'refresh' button to get the latest information!

As most of you know, IBHPC's Horse Trials are open to the public, for riders of all ages, and mounts from ponies to horses, with the occasional mule.  Our Horse Trials offers a great opportunity to compete at a well run event with professional dressage judges and inviting Stadium and Cross Country courses.  We offer four divisions, starting our day with Novice at 2'11", and completing with Walk-Trot at 18".

I am writing to everyone who has entered IBHPC's horse trials in the past.  For those of you who have already entered - Thank You!  And for everyone else, we would love to have you and your friends join us.

We look forward to seeing you in October!
Wendy Fleit
Secretary, IBHPC Horse Trials
240-353-9966 (feel free to call, and email works really well!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Susan Graham White Back on October 23rd!

Susan will be returning on Wednesday, October 23rd.  Lessons will be at the lovely A Bit Better Farm (Brookeville, MD).

Lessons are $130/each for a 45-minute private lesson.  If you sign up for multiple lessons, you'll receive $10 off each additional lesson.  Cash, check and credit cards are accepted.

Remember that Susan is a licensed judge, so if you want, you can bring your dressage tests and have a fix-a-test type lesson.  If you want to learn more about Susan, click here:

Let me know if you'd like a slot (or two!) and if you have any time constraints!  My e-mail is

Grid Pro Quo Gems

I'm in the middle of a writing frenzy currently, trying to get a bunch of Grid Pro Quo articles written before things get too crazy this fall.  While I was writing Sally Cousins' piece last night, I kept going back to this one paragraph we wrote about how she likes to warm her horses up.  That got me to thinking.  Would everyone find this piece of advice as useful as I do?  Or would others latch onto different tips? Of course this is assuming that anyone actually reads these articles!  In any case, I thought it would be fun to share some of the gems of information that riders have shared with me over the past 2 years of writing.

Sharon White's Article
"When teaching, I always tell my students to not bring the problems from their dressage work to the jump ring.  If I have a horse that have trouble doing a reinback, or has trouble staying connected through a right lead canter depart, I might just let that go for the day. I don't want to start my jump school with a negative attitude, so I will instead concentrate on the flatwork exercises that my horse does really well, and build from there." ~ Sally Cousins, Sally Cousins Eventing [stay tuned!] ~

 "The successful training of a horse comes from building on something that they understand. So taking a little time in the beginning will reward you in spades at the end." ~ Sharon White, Last Frontier Farm [Issue 7, 2013] ~
Robert Costello's Exercise

"We need to condition ourselves that riding into a combination really just requires us riding in good rhythm and balance on a straight line to a single jump. If we can achieve that we’ve done our job. The rest is up to the horse. Of course this easier said than done, so like anything thing else it demands practice (practice, practice)." ~ Robert Costello, ROC Equestrian [Issue #7, 2012] ~

"The big key is create a good canter and keep that canter through the turns.  The fences should really just come up as you canter your [exercise]." ~ Courtney Cooper, C Square Farm [Issue 6, 2012] ~

"When horses jump with the most confidence, they trust in their ability to let go in their bodies, which means they soften their jump. If a horse is tense, nervous, spooky, or not sure of something, they tend to be very tight in their bodies, not just their brains, which can manifest in a variety of ways." ~ Jenn Simmons, Jenn Simmons Eventing [stay tuned!]~

"Having your horse really straight is one of the hardest things to do because every horse (just like every person) has its own quirks or areas of soreness and will inevitably travel a little crooked to compensate.  But some horses also use crookedness as an evasion or disobedience.  And, depending on your horse, it depends on how adamant they will be about staying crooked, and for what reason--disobedience versus soreness.  But as you go through the lines, be aware of your straightness and you'll be surprised by how much it affects your horse's rhythm and regulation." ~ Jon Holling, Holling Eventing [Issue #3, 2013] ~

"So, you're probably wondering what you, the rider, are supposed to be doing through this exercise.  The answer is pretty simple … as little as possible.  This is the classic case of letting the exercise do all the work and staying out of your horse's way so they can do their job." ~ Katie Wherley, Rock Solid Training [Issue #3, 2012] ~

Laine Ashker's Article
"You’ll notice that some of the best riders in the country could be considered the least interesting to watch because they are doing the least. These are the riders that are interfering the least with their horses, and therefore their horses are able to keep a good rhythm throughout the course." ~ Laine Ashker, Laine Ashker Eventing [Issue #6, 2013] ~ 

"One of the best things you can do as a rider is watch as much as you can.  Think about it … watching riders warm up at shows is free! And most clinics have a nominal auditing fee. So the next time you have a spare weekend, find a local show or clinic and spend a day watching.  I bet you'll come away inspired to go home and practice what you saw." ~ Stephen Bradley, Stephen Bradley Eventing [Issue 1, 2012] ~ 

Skyeler Icke-Voss's Exercise
"[When warming up] The focus is on bending the horse through the ribcage and not just the neck. This helps make sure that your whole horse is between your aids." ~ Skyeler Icke Voss, Morningside Eventing [Issue 8, 2013] ~

"For the rider, I like to focus on keeping their leg on through the line to produce a straighter horse and a quality jump." ~ Kelley Williams, A Bit Better Farm [Issue 2, 2012] ~

"As riders make their way through the exercise, I am looking for straightness above all things. It takes a certain level of concentration to keep looking ahead to the next jump." ~ Kerry Blackmer, Miles Ahead Farm [Issue 5, 2012] ~

"The rails are not there to try to trip them in up in effort to sharpen them. Rather, the rails are there to spell things out a bit and give them confidence." ~ Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch, SRB Equestrian [Issue 4, 2013] ~

Steuart Pittman's Article
"Learning to ride the canter well, be it sitting, two-point, or a half-seat, is a skill that we can all stand to practice." ~ Steuart Pittman, Dodon Farm Training Center [Issue #10, 2012] ~

"The reality of our lives as eventers is that we are jumping solid obstacles 50 percent of our competitive careers. So it is imperative that when things get tricky, your horse has the ability to think for itself and get you both to the other side safely, and you have the ability to stay balanced and out of his way. Good horses become great horses when they are able to take care of their riders while doing their job flawlessly at the same time. Good riders become great riders when they are able to allow their horses to do their job." ~ Will Faudree, Galivan Farm [Issue #2, 2013] ~

"When you are looking down this long line of fences, it can look imposing, but after you break the exercise down and take it one jump at a time, it is quite doable. Then, when you have successfully completed the exercise, you look back and feel good about what you have accomplished." ~Danny Warrington, Danny Warrington Equestrian [Issue 1, 2013] ~

Katie Ruppel's Exercise
"It is easy to stay straight over the skinny rail when it is the first part of the exercise, but it is easy to drift to one side when you have to jump first. This is when, as a rider, you have to hold your position and stay committed to the line." ~Katie Ruppel, Yellow Rose Eventing [Issue #9, 2012] ~

"As any trainer will tell you, adjustability is one of the best tools you can teach your horse when it comes to competing.  You'll find that just as you're teaching your horse adjustability, you as a rider will also learn to adjust more quickly and effectively to get through the exercise well." ~ Valerie Vizcarrando, Blue Clover Eventing [Issue #8, 2012]

Val Vizcarrando's Article
"[T]he regularity of this canter grid will help you develop your eye a bit.  This way when you're at a competition you can take a deep breathe and not worry about finding the perfect spot because you will have spent time schooling the right canter." ~ Molly Bull, Plain Dealing Farm [stay tuned!] ~

"The goal is for the rider to complete the exercise without a loss of rhythm or position.  I am also looking for the riders to "ride less," meaning that I don't want them working too hard." ~ Imtiaz Anees, Springtown Stables [stay tuned!] ~ 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Welcome Hunt Club Farms to the MLE Family!

As we start a new month we would like to welcome Hunt Club Farms, the newest member of the MLE family! 

Hunt Club Farms is owned by Tracy Zack and located in Berryville, VA. Boasting an ever-growing cross-country course designed by Tremaine Cooper, an extra-large outdoor with premier F.I.C.S. LIGHTFOOT footing, and a Florida-style indoor with the same excellent footing, Hunt Club Farms is dedicated to providing riders and horses with only the best. Tracy's passion for people and horses is present in everything she does at the farm, be it the friendly, comfortable environment enjoyed around the barn by her boarders or the details she puts into every event she host. There are still a couple of events scheduled for this year (make sure you check out her calendar HERE), and Tracy plans to continue to grow the cross-country course over the off-season.

Keep an eye on the area calendars for combined tests, unrecognized events, and great clinics coming up in 2014. So, welcome Tracy and Hunt Club Farms! MLE is excited to add you to the family!

Tracy Zack with Phillip Dutton and his daughter during a recent clinic at Hunt Club Farms.
MLE's Margaret and Sue will be making plans to jump the Viking Ship.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy 10 Years Lissell!

While talking with a friend this morning, I remembered that this summer is my and Lissell's 10-year anniversary.  Yup, 10 years ago my Pretty Princess Lissell got on a trailer in California and arrived in Maryland a week later.  It's really crazy to think about how it all happened and how it's all worked out.  I had only ridden her once, and while I remember liking her, I thought she was a bit of a nut job on the ground (ie she broke the cross ties that day ... something she still does today *sigh*).  But she was "free" (I just had to pay for shipping), sound and had a decent show record.

So I took a chance and Lissell became my first horse.  On her trip across the country she became a favorite of the shippers and they asked about buying her from me, but of course I said no (I think that this was actually the first and last time someone tried to buy her from me ... I guess the market for big, bay mares with attitude is limited!). Our first couple of years together were a bit rocky and not always pretty. Ten years ago I was a young professional with dreams of Rolex, and Lissell was not like my other horses.  She had a clear opinion and there was no telling her what to do.  There is much truth to the saying, "Tell a gelding, ask a mare," and I admittedly learned this lesson the hard, and slow, way.  Looking back, I'm not sure why Lissell never bucked me off and told me to get a life.  But it wasn't all bad, and I gradually got my act together and we competed a bunch, moving from Beginner Novice to Novice with our eye on Training.  Unfortunately, things were not to be and Lissell tweaked her back requiring a lot of time off.

The early years ... 
And so we entered the next phase of our relationship: The Leasing Years.  For whatever reason, I just couldn't bring myself to give her away.  She was such a quirky creature that I just knew that she would eventually fall into the wrong hands.  So I figured I would lease her out as a broodmare and that would be that.  I had a lot of interest in her due to her Buckpasser lines and performance record, and eventually decided on a small private farm in Pennsylvania.  She got to live out 24/7 with her buds, and got a lot of one-on-one attention.  Unfortunately, the lessee's situation changed and she had to come back to me.  I kept her for a summer and spent most of it trail riding, but I had another horse by that point and he was showing some promise, so I decided to find a new lessee for her.  Of course this was the farm in Virginia, and we all know how that turned out.

Another shot from the early years ... 
I've had Lissell back for almost 4 years now and I'm not sure that I've fully forgiven myself for putting her into a situation where she was eventually starved and neglected.  I remember crying every day for a week when I got her home. I would just sit and watch her eat, checking on her multiple times a day. I would go over every inch of her body, applying various ointments and medications, apologizing to her for every cut, scrape and sore.  And so the next 6 months were spent putting my horse back together.  I remember the look on her face every time she saw me, it was this, "Oh thank goodness, you're back."  I know she's a horse, but I truly believe she had abandonment issues for a year or so. Thankfully this has subsided in the past few years.

And now, 10 years later, you could say that Lissell has become the horse that I always wanted.  We've competed a lot over the past few years, and I've schooled jumps so big that my eyes have bugged out of my head. We can successfully school on the flat without wanting to kill each other, and dressage has become *gasp* enjoyable.  Ten years is a long time to learn how to ride a horse, but in this case, it's the reality.  And while I would like to think that I've become a technically more proficient rider in the last 10 years, I know that our recent success has nothing to do with technical skills.  Simply put, I have learned to appreciate Lissell for who she is and what she has to offer.  She is a horse that will try her heart out for you, but you have to be willing to hear what she has to say about it. But when you have her on your side, the possibilities are endless and she has gone from strength to strength over the past year or so.

At our first Training-level event together ... she was 20.
She is one of the special horses in this world that views it as their sole job to take care of their person. I have fallen off Lissell twice in our 10 years together.  Yes, only twice.  The first time she was stung by a some evil bug that resulted in me landing in the middle of a sod field and Lissell looking at me with this "Ooops!" expression on her face.  The second time was when she stumbled in the water while schooling and I just couldn't save it and tumbled off over her shoulder somehow landing underneath her. I remember seeing a hoof above my head and thinking "Oh shit!" and then next thing I know my horse is picking herself up out of the water while I'm sitting there wondering what the hell just happened.  Kelley said she turned herself inside out not to step on me, resulting in her falling herself.  I probably should have fallen off her countless times over the years, but she somehow knows how to shift her weight in just the right way to keep me on board.

So while my lovely Lissell may not set the world on fire at shows, she is part of an elite group of horses. My special mare has served as inspiration for so much of my life and for that I will forever be thankful.  I've learned to be more patient, that good things truly to come to those that wait. I've learned to keep on keeping on, that there's no use in second guessing the past, and to just keep on movin'. I've learned to laugh in the bad times, and to be incredibly grateful for the good times.  Happy Anniversary Momma Mare!  Thankyouthankyouthankyou!