How many of you have heard that catchy song, “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves? You know, the one that declares to “follow your arrow wherever it points, yeah, follow your arrow wherever it points…” You get the idea.
Over the past few months, that song has become my living aphorism. Perhaps I have dubbed it my theme song, too. Or maybe that’s just because I’ve blared it on my Bluetooth speaker for the past handful of mornings while getting ready for work. Who knows…? What I’m trying to say, really, is that the simple tune that miss Kacey sings holds so much truth for me and my new move to CEC Elite Training.
Ever since Leah became apart of my family in 2013, I have had big goals with her. It comes to no surprise to anyone that she is an incredibly talented animal. She’s got the brain, the heart, the determination, the quality, the temperament, and the movement; all tied into one package… a package that loves peppermint twists and hates cows. I have spent the last almost three years immersing myself in her presence, learning every quality about her so well that I can recite her traits and quirks without any hesitation.
With a step-dad who is battling Parkinson’s disease and a talented horse with her loyal human needing guidance and a serious life change, my family and I made the decision to join Chloe’s barn located in Flour Bluff, Texas.
Here is the fun thing: Chloe and I have been great friends since 2004. We met through our trainer and competed along side each other for years. I kept up with Chloe after she graduated high school and attended Johnson & Wales University based in Rhode Island. Here, she rode for the school’s intercollegiate dressage team all four years of school. After an uber successful college dressage career (and college career in general!), Chloe was offered a job in Germany to ride. She was telling me the story over nachos at Scenic Loop Café – Chloe had absolutely no idea what barn she would be going to or where in Germany she would end up. However, the experience changed her life forever.
Chloe, Leah, and myself on our first day of training!
Chloe became a working student at Dolf-Dietram Keller’s training facility in Luhmühlen, Germany. Dolf Keller broke DeNiro, one of the most famous and recognizable Hanoverian stallions in the world, and trained/competed the horse to the Grand Prix level. Together, the pair won the Hamburg Derby eight times. Chloe learned alongside Dolf while working with his daughter, international dressage competitor, Kathleen Keller.
Dolf Keller riding DeNiro
You can imagine my excitement once I found this information out. I promptly opened up the YouTube application on my iPhone and found several videos of Kathleen Keller riding her gorgeous, chestnut gelding, Desperados. Like Chloe, Kathleen is a beautiful rider and I am sure, an incredible mentor, which is evident in Chloe’s training and teaching philosophy. All of Chloe’s horses are going quite lovely, so much so that she just scored a hefty 75.9%, earning a 10 on a specific movement, with the 19-hand Hanoverian gelding, Lando, in Training Level Test 3. Did I mention that Chloe is 5’2”? Needless to say, she is a powerhouse and I am so thrilled to be apart of the team.
Chloe mentioned Kathleen is coming back to the farm in June for a clinic. I am so looking forward to riding with Kathleen when she returns!
Check out the video of Kathleen Keller aboard her gelding, Desperados!
As I’ve mentioned before, Leah and I have big goals. What kind of goals? Well, for starters, I am three scores shy of my USDF Silver Medal, so earning the remaining 60%+’s is at the very top of my list. I am a U25 Grand Prix Brentina Cup National Championship hopeful, as I have two years to work towards that deadline. It would be a dream to finish Leah’s Grand Prix training and earn our USDF Gold Medal and finally, I would love to ride down the centerline in a CDI arena.
Most importantly, I want to continue to grow as a partnership and soak up every ounce of dressage-y knowledge I can with Leah as my teammate.
It’s funny, though… I sometimes feel as if I attempt to convince myself that competing isn’t a priority in my life anymore. But in reality, I love showing. Granted I haven’t been in the show ring since 2012, but the break was healthy for me, for my mental health. I want to achieve my goals and bring that sense of fulfillment to my soul. I want to be fair to my horse. I owe it to her, to her talent, to develop her skill to the best of her ability. I owe it to myself, to my happiness, to do something that brings out my upmost joy. I owe it to my parents – the two people in my life that have never once doubted my ability to do great things… It would be cliché to say that they are my biggest supporters. But, alas, they are.
Back the whole showing thing… We’re loading Leah up next week and adventuring over to the Shoofly Farm CDI & Houston Dressage Society Spring Classic held at the beautiful Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy! While we are listed as a non-compete, I am really looking forward to using this experience as a major confidence builder. It is my first time at a competition with my horse in tow since 2012 and I cannot wait to be surrounded by the sport I oh so dearly love. It will be a nice way to dip our toe back into the scene, since Leah hasn’t competed in a few years, either.
The queen bean, enjoying some grass after her workout. Muscles are already starting to develop even more!
Following my happiness arrow is going to require a few sacrifices, sacrifices that will be worth every seemingly difficult decision. Leah and I are separated right now; I am commuting on the weekends to train with Chloe. However, at the end of May, I will be moving down to Corpus Christi full time. I will be working two jobs while throwing every ounce of energy into my magnificent horse. It may seem intimidating right now, but I have upmost faith in God, which is carrying me through each day.
So, here we go! This life change is one that I have needed for a while. A brand new chapter in our lives is in the works. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to share it with you all.