Saturday, January 4, 2014

Final Entries in Five Star Tack's "What's Your Best Accomplishment This Year?" Contest!

With fifty entries it's going to be hard to choose the finalists as each story is so deserving. We are raising the number of finalists from three to five because of so many to choose from. The final five will be posted tomorrow (Sunday) and voting will take place for the next three days on facebook with the most votes winning a Five Star Tack Signature Halter!

Emily



My name is Emily and my horse is Prax. His show name is Practical Legacy. He's a 10 year old Appaloosa Hanoverian cross. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  To begin he started out doing hunters. I event, and his old owners sold him because he didn't place in anything and wouldn't jump any higher than 3 feet.  We have over come a lot in the past year, even jumping 4'3"! However we still remained the under dogs at shows because he was an appy and I don't come from a rich family or have the top of the line equipment.  We qualified for AECs! A lot of people kept telling me to not get my hopes up and AECs are something you go to for the experience because unless you have a 50k horse you are not going to do well.  Well needless to say we proved them wrong when we came in 4th in the toughest division, junior novice.  I haven't had that much show experience and I was so proud of my horse. When we came out of the ring from stadium almost everyone from my barn was teary eyed. We finished on our dressage score of a 26.5.  

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Lexie



Hi I'm Lexie and I lease a horse named B.J. He is a 21 year old thoroughbred and the farm I ride at got him from a farm that starved him and didn't take care of him at all. He didn't know how to jump much but with a lot of work he slowly progressed. Over the year we went to both his and my first mini event and we ended up getting seventh out of eleven people! He was so good at dressage and he was listening to me and everything. Stadium jumping he was not the best because he got too excited and ended up refusing once. Lastly he loves x country so he was so good at that and didn't refuse at all but when I crossed the finish line I was just so happy with him it almost made me cry to see how far he has come. I love him so much. Thanks BJ for being there for me and helping me learn a lot throughout the year.

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Caitlin


This is Forest (or show name Deschutes (Day Shu Tay)). Forest is a 9 year old recycled race horse, that only raced 10 times winning $96,000. She was then sold to be a mommy, but due to complications having babies wasn't in her cards. Her owners thought she was too nice to get rid of so they decided to keep her, but never gave her a job. She sat in a huge field for 3 years before her owners decided she was wasting her potential. They sent Forest to New Vocations where I found her a few months later. I never saw, met, or rode Forest before she drove 9 hours to me. When I saw her profile online I knew this horse was meant to be mine. New Vocations did a great job teaching Forest the basics but as an older horse knowing just the minimal I had my work cut out for me. 

We had many highs and lows, many accomplishments and a few steps backwards. For the first two months all we did was walk and trot until we could bend and steer. Then just as we were getting into the groove Forest sliced her eye lid down the center. Getting 11 hot pink stitches, Forest was off for about 3 weeks. Thankfully she didn't damage her eye. I spent the time working on ground work. After she was cleared to go back to work Forest and I went to our very first horse show and placed 4th in a trot pole class out of 30. Over the summer we went to our third show where we received champion in the Green as Grass division, only our third show and already taking home the champion ribbons! In the fall we went to our first two hunter trails. They were such a blast, and Forest had such a great time. My sister and I even placed 3rd out of 15 pairs. We have overcome many other huge milestones that have made all the hard work and dedication worth every second in the saddle.

 In the past 9 months that I have owned Forest, of all the things we have accomplished I think the greatest thing is the relationship, bond and friendship that we have built. At first she was grumpy and standoffish towards me when I would show her affection. But after a month of consistent loving, and ground work she started to open up. I noticed her looking for attention more, wanting to follow me and be with me instead of standing alone on the other side of the ring. When I pull up to the farm I yell her name and she nickers back greeting me. I have never felt such a strong bond with a horse that I felt from the very beginning. She is my best friend, my partner in crime and my forever horse. She is that special horse that will forever have my heart. 

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Jackie


This past august my search for a new horse began after trying several, we finally decided on one. I thought this horse would be perfect for me. A few days later he was shipped to the barn I board at and our journey began. We began to work and he unfortunately got injured. After 2 months I was finally able to begin rehabbing him. This period of time provided me with several devastating moments. The once perfect horse seemed like he forgot everything he had learned in the past. One of my major issues was mounting him. Now after one month of working hours on end with him I can get on in just a few minutes. This has been the greatest accomplishment so far with him since he got hurt. This may not seem like an accomplishment because every horse should be trained to stand at a mounting block, however we have learned this horse was fairly green and had severe training gaps. I have learned so much in just 2 months from this horse than I ever imagined. I cannot wait to see how far he takes me in the future. 


Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday's Entries in Five Star Tack's "What's Your Best Accomplishment This Year?" Contest

I am continually amazed at the stories that have been coming in! There are a few more to post which will occur Saturday. Then the hard task will begin to choose the three best. It's not going to be easy!

Lydia


This past year has been an incredible,  painful and emotional year, but by far the best year of my life as an equestrian and a high schooler. I moved from a somewhat abusive and decrepit hunter barn to a state-of-the-art eventing and dressage facility 45 minutes away, with no horse in tow. I had only been leasing old school horses at my previous barn, and now went to look at a young Irish Sport Horse named Quincy, an eventing prospect with the potential to take someone all the way up the levels to Rolex (my dream despite having only done intro before.) However, a green event rider on a green horse, while hilarious to watch, did not work and I feared I would never get to leave my first horrible barn. However, my now-trainer/coach, Terry, had the foresight to put me on another horse that she said "had a personality like me." Because I didn't know Terry at all yet, I was curious to see. When I saw the 17.5 big, hairy, young Percheron Hackney cross standing in the cross ties, I was mildly offended until I looked into her soft brown eyes. In them, I saw so much mischief and life and even laughter. I could have sworn this giant horse was laughing at me, and could not help but smile. This horse had strength, confidence, and a little bit of an attitude, and I began to realize that  Terry was dead on about our personalities. 

I tried riding Emma and was amazed at her beautiful gaits, balance, and jumping ability, something her size and scruffiness did not give away from the ground. That same month, April, we signed a one year lease contract and Emma became my event horse and I became Terry's protégée. Over the next few months, we worked tirelessly at dressage (neither of our favorites), surprised ourselves with ability at stadium jumping, and happily galloped cross country over previously unthinkable Novice and Training level fences. We had a great summer of hard work and progress, until August when I developed an almost career ending injury after a seemingly simple fall in dressage. The impact of the fall caused a bone contusion in my left knee, meaning that everything was bruised including my bones. This injury, abruptly halted my riding with my having to wear a brace and use crutches for a few weeks along with physical therapy. Because of my already horrible knee conformation, the muscles tightened beyond what I could bear in physical therapy and my knee did not get better, and actually worsened. My doctor and mother were slow to progress to the idea of surgery, and I had another few weeks of physical therapy. By then, horse and rider were growing weak and upset from the lack of work, and I longed to be able to just go for even a trail ride. 

Finally, in October, after I threw a large fit in my surgeon's office and finally got through to him how much pain I was actually in, he scheduled my surgery to release muscles, shave down, and cut scar tissue in my knee on Halloween. My surgery went fantastically, and with renewed determination, I was trying to walk the next day and was sitting on my horse the next week (not advised by my doctor, but I am only 16 so I can't be responsible all the time) I went back to physical therapy and was cleared in November to ride and in December to jump again and ride as we had before my injury. Overjoyed, I went back to the barn only to find that I was not the only one who hadn't been exercising, and that we would both need a lot of conditioning. But the next few weeks were far from productive, and Emma and I grew sour with each other and with our tasks as horse and rider. This bitterness about our lost show season and being weak got so bad that I dreaded going to the barn and that Emma dreaded being ridden by me. We completely resented each other and were mean to all those around us. However, one night at the beginning of December, it was like a light switch in both our brains had flipped. I got on Emma and rode without attempting to do dressage or have any expectations, and had one of the happiest rides of my life. When we cantered, I giggled like a child learning to canter for the first time and Emma was visibly happy. For the first time, I had hope that we would not only get back to where we were, but that we would improve. 

Since then we've been jumping and working slowly on dressage, and are always happy to see each other. On Christmas day, I realized just how much Emma meant to me when my parents surprised me with her and I sobbed uncontrollably. This horse and I had been through so much, and I knew at that moment that I loved her in the deepest and purest way that girls love their horses. I knew this horse and I, regardless of whether we won or not, would be an inseparable team. So I would not trade any of our experiences in 2013, including all of the bad ones and my fall, because they strengthened our relationship as horse and rider beyond what I previously thought possible. Bad experiences are essential to becoming a team that is more than just ribbons and superficial beauty. Love is the most essential of all, and with it, you can overcome anything.

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Courtney



I would like to share my story of my best accomplishment of 2013 with my 7 year old Hanoverian gelding Tigger.  We did not win any ribbons this year or even attend a show.  Our accomplishment was just getting back in the tack.  The story starts on November 10, 2012. I was long trotting Tigger in a field that I have done numerous other times with no problem at all when suddenly Tigger fell into a very large hole.  He completely flipped over, front ways landing on top of me.  I suffered a concussion and a broken neck (I was wearing a helmet).  Honestly the only thing going through my mind when I hit the ground was "Oh my god, my horse just broke his leg".  I got up after collecting myself to look for my horse, who was no where to be found.  After a few steps I instantly saw stars and I laid back down.  After an ambulance ride to the local hospital and then a Care Flight ride to a major hospital an hour and half away it was confirmed I had broken my C7 vertebra.  I was put in a body cast for 3 and a half months.  I had learned while in the hospital that my father went out to the ranch where I kept my horse and found Tigger  in his stall put away unharmed from the fall.  My father loaded up my horses and dogs and brought them back to their farm at my childhood home, knowing I would not be able to finish out college that semester, as well as not being able to care for my animals.  

My family was very supportive during this time and helped me put my horse in training with my trainer while I was unable to ride to keep Tigger in shape and keep him sane.   My trainer lived a good 3 1/2 hours away from me so once every few weeks my father would drive me out to go see him and watch her ride him.  He looked so beautiful to me and I was getting the itch to get back on my horse, not knowing really when I was going to be able to do so.  My cast came off the first week in March and I slowly had to wean my self out of a smaller one.  Once given the clear to get back on a horse, my older dressage horse (who was my first horse and much more calmer then my Event horse Tigger) was tacked up and I was hoisted up on his back and lead around.  There was not a dry eye around when I got back on.  After I built up enough strength, that month I got to take back the ride of Tigger in mid-April.  I took the first few weeks slow of just walking, then a few more of just trotting and again a few more for canter.  By the end of the summer I was jumping small cross-rails and verticals with confidence.  

I finally mustered up the courage to take Tigger to an open cross country schooling late October thinking I was just going to trot around and maybe pick up a hand gallop and do a few gag fences.  My horse had another idea.  We jumped around the whole novice course and half the training level cross-country course that day.  No a hitch in our step.  Mind you, Tigger has never been the easiest cross-country horse.  I actually felt him hunt-down bigger and tougher questions. Once I felt this I knew everything was going to be okay and all my confidence was restored. I know it's not a huge accomplishment to many folks because we don't have a ribbon on the wall to prove our accomplishment but I got back on my horse after a devastating injury and not only did I just get back on, I started training hard again to hopefully compete in the spring 2014.

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Cleo



My biggest accomplishment ever has been with my shetland, Roxanne. Roxy came from a slaughter auction and as soon as she arrived, we realized she had been severely abused. The vet and others mentioned putting her down because of her severe fear and tendency to become dangerous. She was petrified of everyone besides myself. I told everyone to just give me a few months. I knew I could change her, they shook their heads. I slowly gained Roxy's trust, and by summertime, she had shaped into a stunning pony. I entered Roxanne and her rescued mini pasture mate in a show that fall. We went on to win every class, and Roxanne was awarded the Tri-State Champion, an incredible accomplishment for both my rookie training skills and Roxy, the diamond in the rough.

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Paige



Molly came to my barn 6 years ago as sight unseen. She was skinny, scraggly and crazy. She broke three halters in one day just getting her out of the trailer. 6 months later she was sent to the feed yard for some training. Two weeks and 6 hospital visits later (three different riders) she was returned deemed a rogue, crazy and untamable. Yeah, that didn't stop me. I wanted her. After a week of ground work I was riding her with no problems. Two weeks later I took her to a ranch sorting and won my class. No one ever thought she would be rideable at all, much less safe to turn a small child loose on. So five years later everyone is completely amazed by what I am able to do with her. But out of all the trophies and ribbons, I am most proud of how safe she is for any child to be around. When other horses around her spook she just stops and stands still. 

This past summer, 2013, I worked at a girls summer camp as a wrangler. The last week of camp we were short on horses and I got to take my personal horse. Molly is a 10 year old AQHA mare that I have owned for five years. I knew she was going to be a great mount for me, but what I didn't know was she was going to change the way one little girl saw horses. 

The very first day of camp that week a girl came down with her group and refused to even go in the arena. She was terrified of the horses, breaking down in tears when one even came near her spot on the fence. This was a problem because the girl was signed up for the session that requires lots of riding. As the staff was discussing what to do I saw her staring at my Molly. I asked the girl is she thought Molly was pretty and she said yes, she looks sweet. I asked her if I could move Molly closer so she wouldn't be lonely while we took the other horses trail riding. She nodded and I moved Molly over. 

When we came back an hour later the little girl was petting Molly through the fence and talking to her. By the end of the day we had her riding Molly and by the end of the week she was even trotting on the trails with us. When I bought a scraggly, emotionally scarred, five year old, I would have never guessed that she would ever be what she is today, and that little girl will never forget the gift my little mare gave her that week. 
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Rob



My name is Rob Foley. I am a Navy SEAL with extreme Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD and I have had many operations over the years. The PTSD has always been the most difficult living with and then the more recent news regarding the entire left hemisphere of my brain being severely damaged. As one top Neurologist put it; "Robert, this is one of the worst I have ever seen. You should not be able to walk or talk". 

Well I do walk and talk and without explanation as to how I am able to do this I credit my Creator and give thanks to my Creator each and every day. My introduction to horses is what changed and saved my LIFE. I was taught with horses, "slow is the way to go". They also shared with me, "Not to bend a horse to my will, but rather reach an agreement with the horse" and the TRUST will grow quickly and it has with every horse I have stood with. I FEEL the horse and the horse FEELs me.

It was one day in early 2013 walking with a horse out of the pasture during a wintery snow storm that I heard a voice, a voice that would change my life. The "Voice" said to me on that blistery morning, "It's NOT about you!" and I stopped as did my horse and again I heard, "It's NOT about YOU!" Tears welled up in my eyes because ONLY then did I understand the WORDS! It was not about me. Yes, I need these horses. Yes, these horses have helped to heal my shredded heard when it comes to my PTSD. Yes, these beautiful creatures, horses, helped me decompress and bring me peace and calmness and each and every horse that I have touched is aware of what they give me. But NOW, I discovered that I must share this AMAZING Healing Power of the horse with my Veteran brothers and sisters suffering from PTSD, TBI and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). 

My purpose today, as it has been for the last year is to stand with horses and speak openly like the “point of the spear” on behalf of Veterans suffering with PTSD, TBI and MST. Twenty four Veterans kill themselves each day or 8765 Veterans kill themselves each year. 26,000 Veterans (predominantly Woman) are RAPED (MST) by fellow soldiers each year. I speak publicly on behalf of my brother and sister Veterans to reduce the number of suicides. I do it to give Veterans a new sense of TRUST and HOPE that they can once again have “Peace of Mind” (that MOST Americans who have not served have and take for granted) and finally a PURPOSE to live again. If I can prevent one suicide, I may be possibly saving a marriage, a family and the children that are affected and will be for generations as will their children from PTSD that originated from their father or mother or both. Horses are so POWERFUL in their healing abilities and this is the message I will continue to share with Veterans. I will also share this with the REAL Heroes and they are the folks that have the resources and abilities to assist our men and women suffering from these afflictions, for they (Veterans) only want what most non-veterans have and that is “Peace of Mind”.

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Angela





I am 16 years old and have had my horse for about 3 years now. When we purchased him he had been out of work for at least a good year and had previously been a hunter. Over the past few years we have developed an amazing bond that I have not had with another horse. I trained him in eventing along with my trainer and got to experience the thrill of watching him excel in this new discipline. We have had our many struggles, but overcame most of these. He is not an easy horse as many professionals had ridden him and could not get the job done easily. He has moved from beginner novice to training in a span of a year this year and absolutely loves his job. All in all my accomplishment for the year of 2013 was developing an amazing bond with an amazing horse and moving up the levels in eventing. I hope to move up to prelim for 2014! 

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Willow



 Hello, my name is Willow. My achievement this year was with me and my barn horse Mercedes. It all started when I moved to Ridge Meadow Horse Farm with my pony Belle. The barn owner had just gotten an off the track thoroughbred and her name was Mercedes. He wanted her to be trained so I got on her. When I first sat on her it just felt right and I knew right then we had a special connection. She was now my favorite horse to ride and I rode her 3 times a week. I took her to schooling shows and got a lot of compliments on how well she looked and how well I looked on her. We did so good at every single show, winning champion at our 3rd show ever! After riding her for 6 months and jumping her, she was fantastic. I knew she would be my next horse and she was for sale.

Before we were going to buy her we got a vet check done. Mercedes had shown no signs of anything being wrong but the vet said otherwise. The vet took X-rays of her legs and it turned out that she had an old fracture in her splint bone and one of her tendons had been torn off the bone that anchored it. The vet was surprised that Mercedes had been jumping for me and had kept me so safe the whole time I was riding her. The vet told me that Mercedes should not be jumped anymore to lower the risk of her breaking her ankle. After this news I was so upset because the bond that Mercedes and I had made was unbreakable at this point. Even with what the vet said and lots of tears I am still going to buy her understanding that she can not jump or do a lot of things. I am going to do showmanship and trails with her now :) So I can say my accomplishment was the bond I have made with this horse and how well she has been to me. I love you Mercedes.

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Lauren



This year was a big year for my horse, Mango, and I. He is a 7 year old warmblood thoroughbred and this year we were not only able to move up in the jumpers from the .95 meter jumpers to the 1.10 jumpers, but we also accomplished something I have been working on for 3 years and hardly getting anywhere. We got our first flying lead changes! He started out the year hardly knowing where his hind feet even were and by the day after Christmas he gave me the best Christmas present he ever could have, he finally figured out how to do flying lead changes. 

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Hannah



I've ridden since I was a little girl, eight or nine. I started when we lived in England, and it was important that when I moved to Texas I find a barn ASAP. I found a great barn and trainer and the rest was history.
When I was 13 I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, and became too ill to ride, but I was determined to get back on a horse. And I did just that. But due to complications from my Crohn's, I would pass out a lot in the heat as my body was too weak to handle hot Texas summers. But I persevered and kept trying, and eventually was back to riding as much as I could. Next step? A horse of my own. I was lucky enough to get a "porse", not quite pony, not quite horse. With him I even competed in some local shows, something I thought I'd never do. 

Unfortunately I had to move barns due to some political stuff (you know the horse world), and was also outgrowing my beloved pony. So I leased a big warm blood when I was 18. I had graduated high school early and literally put all I had into riding. It was a big change and I went through some rough spells with Juaquin, hitting the dirt a lot, but I always got back on. 

My barn started traveling doing A shows, something I definitely thought I'd never do. It was a big adjustment for me, a big powerful jumper and technical courses. If I did something he let me know it by dumping me. I hit the dirt a lot. But my goal was always to just move up from low children's to the highs. I kept at it even though I wanted to quit many times because I couldn't seem to finish a course. But hard work started to pay off. I remember the first time I got champion with Juaquin, at an A show in Waco. And then it finally happened, the last day of the last show I was to do with Juaquin before my lease was up, my trainer put me in the highs, and not only that, but the classic too! I didn't finish my course, but I did get around the classic, with an unfortunate rail. I was just thankful I got to experience the high children's before I would be going to college and not riding as much again. 

And all in and out of this time I had to battle my Crohn's disease, in and out of hospital, tests and labs, sick days or weeks even. But riding also helped; animals are healing. I'll always be a rider even though I rarely compete now.  I was diagnosed with a much more serious pain disease and at the moment have difficulty walking. But I know I'll be back in the saddle, nothing can keep me away that long. 

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Leigh - Ana



On November 30, 2012 I signed the paperwork, which made me the proud owner of the most beautiful Hanoverian/Thoroughbred filly I had ever laid eyes on. She was spirited, intelligent, and full of raw talent just waiting to be developed. One year later, almost to the date, I sat on a chair peering through a small square window, at my perfect filly, lying on an operating table, fighting to save the vision in her left eye.

It was the last month of classes for the fall semester (how all college students organize their calendars), when I received a message from my barn manager that my filly, Harper, came in from the pasture with a foggy spot on her left eye. After consulting with my vet and putting her on medication without delay, the injury only worsened. Upon recommendation from my vet, I scheduled her for an immediate procedure, which would take place two hours away. Hauling my filly and her pasture mate as a trailer buddy, I had high hopes for a smooth surgery and almost guaranteed full recovery. To my horror, that was not the news I received upon her admission and pre-operation exam. I was told that the eye had deteriorated so greatly that there was only one layer left of her cornea and that it was on the verge of rupturing at any moment. I was recommended trailering her to New Bolton for an emergency cornea transplant, as the previously planned procedure no longer gave her a sizeable chance to save her eye and the vision tied to it. In that moment I saw my 18-month-old filly’s wonderfully broad future narrow to the walls that would confine her to limited vision. Due to the limited financial funds well known to students, the recommended trip to New Bolton was not an option. We went forward with the scheduled procedure as her only chance.  

Harper underwent a conjunctival pedical graft surgery with complete tarsorrhaphy. She came through the surgery and woke up from the anesthesia, however the surgeon was even less hopeful post surgery as she noted the rest of the cornea was bulging and lifting up off of the rest of her eye. We travelled home the next day with heavy hearts and instructions to dose her through the catheter every two hours, around the clock. With the help of the most dedicated barn manager, Nicole Malott, a couple of loving friends, and the organization of countless excel spread sheets, Harper received her medications every two hours, including midnight, 2am, and 4am everyday. For the next two weeks we would not know the outcome of all the hard work, as the eye may have ruptured without us being able to tell, due to her eye being sutured completely shut. In total, she was on seven different medications. At the end of the two-week period, and many needles, syringes, and lost hours of sleep later, the sutures were removed to reveal what was a fully intact eye, which, after a couple more weeks of medications, would be healed.

My perfect filly made a perfect recovery from what we were told would most likely leave her without her left eye; and that, is my best accomplishment from the 2013 year!





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our Newest Entries in Five Star Tack's "What's Your Best Accomplishment This Year?" Contest

Tonite's entries highlight how important the bond with your horse because when things don't go as planned you realize the importance of the journey and how great it is to have a horse to travel that journey with. 

Hi my name is Emily 


I own an 8 year old thoroughbred named Buck. I was lucky enough to get him from a woman who doesn't race her horses. So even though he never saw the track, he acts like he's the fastest horse ever. Every time I ride Buck I have to use all my energy to keep him calm and collected, which isn't as bad when we do jumper classes because I can let him run fast for those, but we are trained in balance seat so we do a lot of dressage shows. Living where I do it is hard to find shows in which I am trained. We normally end up doing hunter shows, me and my big dressage thoroughbred in the "A" hunter ring is not looked at nicely. This past September I decided to enter in the Keystone International Livestock Exposition also known as KILE horse show, which is a two day hunter show. We were entered in a jumper class and an equitation class. We arrived on a Friday and stayed the night in the Pennsylvania farm show building with all the unhappy horses. Buck and I got no sleep. So when Saturday finally came I had no energy to control Buck and that made me very nervous. I was scheduled to ride at noon. My first class didn't end up starting until 8PM. I had to scratch that class because no one told the dressage girl you had to memorize a test with western pleasure moves in it for an equitation class. 

We waited until 11PM for my jumper class. I was shocked Buck was actually moving slowly! We have never had a problem making the time before, but in this class we did. We were on our second to last jump; he jumped it sideways. I was sure I was going off. But I thought to myself, I am not going down in front of all these people and my family (It was mostly I didn't want to ruin my show coat). So as I was half way off I pulled my self back on my horse and kicked him forward. We just made the time limit and continued to the jump off. I placed 5th out of 32. Now we had to repeat it all the next day. We found the equitation class I was supposed to be in and I went out into the show ring with about 30 other horses and tried to get myself noticed, Buck was amazing. But like I said before he's dressage trained not hunter so we didn't place. But I didn't care because he was perfect. 

Then 11pm came and it was round 2 for jumpers. He was feeling like himself this time which is good because we only had 40 seconds to do the course in. I'm proud to say me and my crazy horse did it in 31 seconds. But that round only counts to get you into the jump off. It was jump off time and the time allowed was down to 30 seconds. Well people with those silly ponies that can cut turns we're flying while I was there with my 16'2hh thoroughbred trying to make all the sharp turns I could while still going fast. We competed the jump off in 26seconds... not too bad. But not good enough. I only got 6th place out of 27. All in all I was at a loss of words for my horse. Never in a million years did I think he would behave like a normal horse for a show with that many horses there (over 200) and to spend two nights in a strange building that he has never seen and a crazy indoor arena with a ton of cheering people? He was perfect. I even think I cried I was so happy with him. 


Getting my horse to behave and perform at the KILE horse show this past September was defiantly the biggest accomplishment I faced with my horse this past year.

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Sarah


Many things have happened in my past year regarding horses. Two years ago I got my first horse, Wyland. He was older than we thought, but he was the best boyfriend a teenage girl could ever ask for! This past spring, after our best show yet, Wyland fell ill. We took him to Michigan State multiple times and he was finally diagnosed in late May with EHV-5, which is rare and not exactly treatable. In June Wyland passed away due to complications from the disease. It was probably the hardest decision that I have ever made to put him down.That meant I was also left horseless at the beginning of show season. Luckily a wonderful woman at my barn, Maria, lent me her horse for the summer. Her horse Jaeger and I did multiple shows together including the High School Equestrian Team. Our team even made it all the way to regionals! 

My trainer also let me ride one of her ponies in a few shows to get her more acquainted to the whole show experience! Even after all our success I still couldn't help but thinking that it wasn't the same without Wyland. In late August at one of my last C-Circuit Shows there were multiple green horses for sale! I tried three horses that weekend and fell in love with one of them, Nellie! Lucky for me everything fell into place and I ended up getting Nellie! After only having her for a month I decided to go to our first C show together in October. I competed with her in the greens and some equitation classes. It was the best weekend ever! Who knew we could come out of the show with a Champion and Reserve Champion for the weekend! Nellie has been a great partner so far and I couldn't ask for a better second horse! I'm going to show her in the greens this coming year and I think I may see some jumper classes in our future too! I hope my 2014 is a little less eventful to say the least! 

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Kelsey



Hi there!
My name is Kelsey Furlong, and I live in Colorado. I have owned my horse Worth (show name is 'I'm Worth It') for a little over four years now. He was a surprise Christmas present when I was 13 years old, and has been my everything since the day he hopped off that trailer, and into my heart. This year was a little bit rough for us. Worth turned 17 this year, and we began to realize that we cannot compete at the High Children's Level anymore. He had become increasingly back sore, constantly stiff, and on and off lame. As time went on, and I watched other barn mates move up, show competitively, and spend all summer on the road, I began to realize something. As much as I missed being able to go out and show, I realized how special it was to get to spend time at home with my horse. Honestly, it brought in an amazing realization of how cool it is to just be graced with Worth's presence. I got to spend early mornings with him, watching the sun rise and listening to the sweet sound of his nicker as I walked into the barn, and the calming sound of his tail swishing back and forth in an attempt to keep the pesky flies away. I began to notice more little quirks about him that I had never seen before. I memorized the feeling of each of his legs, the sweet slope of his back, and his high withers.

I bonded closer with my horse than I had ever felt before. His growing old, and loosing a little steam wasn't a curse at all, it was a blessing. I don't need to go out and show and win every weekend. I don't need to jump huge fences to feel like an accomplished rider. I realized what an incredible opportunity it was to even have something as special as Worth in my life. So to many it may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but for me, it was. We are all blessed to be able to surround ourselves with these brilliant animals, and this summer was my realization as to how much he really means to me. We may not have won a big classic, or jumped the moon, but we grew as a team, and are closer than ever before. He is my heart, my whole world, and I'm the luckiest girl alive to have something as fantastic as he is in my life! 

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Amanda



I had knee surgery april of 2012. I was off of riding for many months. When I came back it was almost too painful to ride English and show hunters and equitation. Well, starting January of 2013, I made the choice to change to dressage. This has been a year full of accomplishments and many set backs. Having shown hunters for many years and being very successful,  asking my mare to come into a frame was very difficult at times. However, we both worked together to almost completely relearn everything on our own. No trainers. The reward was amazing- an even stronger bond with my mare.

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Arden



For as long as I can remember I've begged for a pony or horse or even a donkey. Finally being 18 years old I decided to take matters into my own hands. I rescued a 10 year old OTTB named Karma. She had been saved from an abuse case where she and another horse were eating the bark off the trees in their pasture because they had no food and no water. Upon being brought to the rescue stable, she gained 50 pounds just drinking water. I went to visit karma and it was love at first sight. I got out of my car and she whinnied at me and came to say hi. Karma came home with me the next day. Being so underweight caused any muscle she had built up to deteriorate. I knew adopting a rescue horse could be a challenge but I really was not prepared for the emotional ride I was about to be taken on. I just started college and the change for me was really hard to go through. I eventually brought Karma to school with me and we got each other through so much. There are days when we would be working and I would have to stop my ride because she would reduce me to tears. How could a mare who had been through so much still give 110% to someone she had only known for a few weeks? Karma and I have been each other heroes in more ways than one. She gets treated like a princess and I get through college a little bit easier. Karma is nothing like your run of the mill OTTB. She is constantly looking for love and attention, and striving every day to please me. Getting the opportunity to rescue a horse is something everyone should have. I have made so many accomplishments with my horse this year, but most of all we saved each other. 

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Megan



I'm not sure if there is a limit on how much we can write, but I would like to share with you what I felt was my biggest accomplishment with my best friend in 2013.  On March 9th, 2013, I adopted my first horse, Art.  He is an off the track thoroughbred and is 10 years old.  He raced for 7 years winning over $160,000 dollars and had over 70 starts.  His retiring and retraining process began with me and we became attached at the hip very quickly.  I have owned him for 10 months and have only taken 5 lessons on him.  I have retrained him completely by myself which I take great pride in.  Through everything Art and I have been through together, I believe that our greatest achievement was establishing the bond that him and I have together.  We have created this bond by not only listening to one another but by using trust as our way to communicate.  

Today, I am able to ride him completely tackless at liberty and jump bitless which are accomplishments made through time and trust.  I also keep Art barefoot and naturally trimmed by a AANHCP practitioner which has been a journey in itself for his well-being and integrity of his hooves.  Many of my closest friends doubted that Art would be able to be barefoot and naturally trimmed because he had stereotypical 'thoroughbred feet'.  This was very discouraging to me, however, I stuck to what I believed in.  Today, Art has very strong barefoot hooves and can tackle almost all terrain as they are still strengthening every day.  Art has given me many opportunities that I will always be grateful for and will appreciate for the rest of my life.  This year, Art and I hope to compete in the Very Green hunters at some shows, and the one I hope to debut at is on our one year anniversary.  I am very proud of him and the achievements that he has made in his second career.  I cannot wait to see what the years coming have in store for us.

I hope Art and I's journey so far will inspire the hearts and minds of others that when you put your mind to something and are determined to fulfill your dreams, you should never give up on it and always stick to what you believe in.

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Hannah



Every single new year I like to write out a list of goals that I wish to achieve before the year is up. When the year changed to 2013 I wrote that I wanted to show at a 2'6 hight over fences with my horse. I got my mare, Sara, March of 2011, she is an OTTB and I had trouble with how hot she could get. At our second show ever she bucked me off and I broke my collar bone, but that didn't scare me away from her, it made me want to do better and prevent that from ever happening again. I put in the work and got results. I learned how to handle her in scary situations and I believe she learned that I was someone she could trust. We started showing again at a hight of 2' and progressed onward. I was schooling her over 2'6-2'9 courses and my instructor gave me the okay to start showing her over bigger fences. I signed up for the 2'6 mini prix at a local horse show series we attend and we ended up winning the class! I knew that we had done exceptional in the class but I was so happy to hear that we won. Since then my mare Sara and I have gone on competing this year at bigger heights. We've accomplished our goals and had some ups and downs but nothing ever stops me from feeling pride every time I look back and see just how far we've come. Sara has shown me what I can do if I am willing to put in the hard work and determination. 

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Lizzi



Every New Years Eve I make myself a "horse show goal." This year my goal was to win a medal (last year it was to test and this next year its going to be to win a classic or a derby). This year I achieved my goal. The show before the one that I won my medal was super rocky with refusals all around and lots of chocolate chip cookies (chipping in). That show that I won my first medal I took a deep breathe and I started to enjoy showing again. It wasn't all pressure to do well and if I didn't I would beat myself up about it. I went into the ring and preformed my best and just didn't care about what the outcome would be (if it was first place then awesome, if not then oh well). The show that I won my first medal was probably the best show yet because my horse became a happier animal as well because he wasn't feeding off of my nerves. In a sense scratch my previous comment about winning my medal. My biggest accomplishment this year was having fun and enjoying the sport for what it is, refusals and all.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Entries in Five Star Tack's "What's Your Best Accomplishment This Year?"

Today's stories demonstrate incredible fortitude whether it's a rider healing from a serious injury or a horse recovering from one. Each needed the other to get them back to health. Wow!

Victoria



Early in the year my horse Tass broke his splint bone while already trying to heal from some torn tendons he got while he was out on a lease. In the late summer I began to trot him for five minutes everyday. As the months went on he began to get stronger and stronger. 

In October he colicked. After staying in his stall with him all night he pulled through. He was my eventer before he got hurt and before I out grew him. But after his injuries he has taken a liking to something called Polo Cross. He enjoys the sudden changes in how the game goes much like when he was an eventer, because he gets board easily (typical thoroughbred). After the colic I've been having trouble keeping the proper weight on him. But once again he is back on the road to recovery, happy and eager to work and we even jumped for the first time yesterday. 


This story probably isn't the most triumphant  you will read but it's been quite a long, hard year for my little man and he is a resilient one and always bounces back. I just though he deserved  something nice for the new year. 

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Sarah



This year has been full of ups and downs for my 7 year old Appendix Thoroughbred and I. 

In the very beginning of the year on a Thursday afternoon, he sustained a serious leg injury to his left hind cannon bone. The vet said he would most likely never be able to compete again and we would be lucky if he would ever be sound again. 

We had been a team since I purchased him as a 3 year old. We did everything from competing in futurities to competing regionally, and then being recruited for my college's intercollegiate team. This was going to be our first year competing in the intercollegiate level. 

So of course this was a major shock and heartbreak for us. I was worried about his health and well being so much that first night that I got no sleep. The next morning I stayed out of school and watched over him the entire next few days all day. It was during that time that I made a promise to myself and to my loving man that I would do everything in my power to get him back to normal the best we could. 

The next few months were rough, but my wonderful vet was supporting us and watching over us the entire time. The therapy went throughout the summer. It started out as baby steps, such as hand walking once around the barn, to eventually getting to the end of the driveway and back. Some days were better than others. But I could not be more proud of my sweet angel because he always pushed himself as far as he could. 

Seven months went by, and finally, the day had come; it was time for me to get on his back for the first time in what seemed like forever. I was nervous and he was more nervous than I was. But it happened fairly smoothly and tears came flowing from everyone's eyes as they saw us doing what was thought to be impossible. 

Four more months have gone by, and we just competed in our first local dressage show and finished in 1st place in our division. Before the injury we were doing 2nd level and this show we only did intro, but we are taking it very slow. Every day is a new day to make progress and we are both enjoying proving everyone wrong who had doubts. His x- rays are clean and we are cleared to compete in the 2014 intercollegiate year! I love my sweet boy so much! I'm crying now just reliving this amazing journey :). Thank you for allowing me to share our story.

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Madison



This year my best accomplishment with my quarter horse Skip was winning the dressage high point trophy at the Vermont 4H State Horse Show. It was especially important to me because two weeks earlier, Skip was injured by barbed wire in our large pasture, after a tree took the fence down during a storm. His back legs were shredded and I was crushed. The poor guy spent the next two weeks in a stall on heavy pain killers and antibiotics, and when the vet cleared him to travel in a trailer, I decided to take him down to the show just so I could continue to have him with me to care for while I was there with my family. The show lasted for four days... And for the first three, he wasn't trotting sound, so I scratched every class. He was so sore and stiff. It was the most disappointing show I've ever been to; I walked and hosed and stayed with my horse with the torn up legs while everyone else won ribbons and looked sharp and had a great time. On the last day of the show was the dressage tests, what was supposed to be the highlight of our show, and we had been working on our tests all summer. No dressage for us. Or so I thought. Skip trotted sound that morning, and a spark of hope flared. We scratched our higher level tests and entered in one lower test, without much cantering because he was still stiff. We had never ridden that test before. I memorized it as I got dressed and tacked up... And I can tell you, I was NERVOUS. 

Somehow, my amazing horse managed to ride one of the best tests we've ever done: we scored a 72. At 4H shows, it's not uncommon for the judge to speak to you after a class or test about your strengths and weaknesses. The dressage judge was an old horse woman.. A tough judge. She gave me the best compliment possible. She said, "that is precisely how that test is supposed to be ridden." She also noted Skips legs and asked me about his injury, telling me, "your horse must love and trust you a lot to give you that kind of performance with an injury like that."

There was no way to beat that. I did a single class at that show, and it was the best one I could've ridden. I know Skip gave me his all despite not being healed or ridden for weeks. We won the trophy for dressage high point, and it's a reminder to me that throwing up your hands and quitting when times get tough is not the way to achieve great things. 

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Courtney



My special achievement with my horse isn't anything fantastic to most people, but it took me over two years to get there. On June 9th, 2011 as I was leaving the house for a riding lesson on my OTTB gelding, Rocky, my dog tripped me and I broke the 5th metatarsal of my left foot. While the initial prognosis was six weeks of no riding plus physical therapy, the break didn't heal the way it should have. I also didn't receive the best of care from my doctors resulting in two surgeries, more physical therapy and living with severe, constant pain. I was able to find a new and better doctor, who removed a too large screw and replaced it with a plate and pins. Unfortunately during this surgery it was discovered that there was damage to some tendons and ligaments from the fall. The doctor was worried I might not be able to walk again, much less ride. 

After many weeks, I was able to very slowly walk down the barn aisle. I was able to do this without a knee walker and used just one crutch. 

Unfortunately I lost my job during all of this, and had to go from full board down to rough. It now meant I had to go twice daily, feed, turn in/out, and do my horses stalls myself. 

It took me FOREVER every day, because every 5 - 10 minutes I had to sit for 10 - 15 minutes between weakness, pain, and just plain exhaustion. My horses were so good to me, far better behaved than I had any right to expect them to be. I certainly wouldn't have blamed them if they got fed up with me and just took off, but they could not have been more patient, and more perfect. My gelding would let me loop my arm around his neck and help me walk to and from the barn. My mare, who isn't very tolerating of PDA, would let me lean on her halter and scrunch up her huge 17hh stride into this tiny, slow little thing I could keep up with. 

Slowly it got better, and soon enough I was able to just take 1-2 sitting breaks during the hour it took to care for them each time. Soon after that, I could play with them in the round pen for a few minutes at a time. Things were really starting to get better. There was just one problem. 

I was getting, and still get now, the most horrendous and severe pains in my foot that have literally knocked me to the ground. On one particularly terrifying occasion, I ended up beneath Rocky in the round pen with no one in ear shot. He stood like a rock, pun intended, and let me use his legs, mane, and halter to get back up. I had to lean on him up a hill into the barn, and my wonderful Thoroughbred stayed with me every step of the way. That incident tore cartilage in my knee, also on the left. Yay. 

The pains have gotten no better. There have periods where they get worse. There is no warning, and it doesn't matter what I'm doing. Sitting, walking, swimming, sleeping etc. nothing makes it better when the pain comes. I have to grit my teeth and wait for it to pass. Sometimes it's one pain, sometimes it's thirty. It can last for a second or several minutes. The most frustrating thing is that I have gone an entire two weeks without pain, doing nothing different, and then it comes back. 

While I have yet to sit on either of my horses, or any horse for that matter, the one thing, the ONE thing that I was able to check off my 2013 resolutions was to take my horses on a walk. On one particularly amazing, I'm sick of this so I'm gonna grit my teeth through it day, Rocky and I went for a 1/4 mile walk. A 1/4 mile. We haven't been able to do it again, but I'm hopeful. Between Rocky and I both we're a bit of a sorry pain. He's sore, I hurt. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted by being in pain all the time, but we have each other. 

They told me I might not walk again. I took my horse on a 1/4 mile walk. They told me I would never ride again. That's next. 

I want to win this halter for Rocky because for one thing, he is and always will be my special horse. I've had him for over 8 years now and he has been the one constant in my life. He took such amazing care of me through the worst of it. He's been through some rough injuries as well and he's been quite sore lately, and I want this for him to remind him that he's something special, he deserves a leather halter as beautiful as he is. 

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Noelle


2013 has been a crazy year for me. I started the year feeling like I was finally figuring things out more, as I’d only started riding english in late summer 2011. I thought that I’d get to ride my horse Chester, an OTTB, in a few more dressage schooling shows and even have a shot at placing. I thought maybe I could even start jumping later in the year. None of that ended up happening. Chester died of colic on February 22nd; he was 8 years old, born in April 2004. I didn’t ride a lot this spring since I didn’t really have a horse to ride and was still getting over Chester dying.

In early May I started riding a horse named Whiskey. Whiskey is a palomino saddlebred/cross and he’s probably a year or two younger than Chester was. Whiskey hadn’t really been worked with a lot; in fact, this year is probably the first year he’s been ridden more than twice a year. When I started riding Whiskey I put a western saddle on him because we weren’t quite sure how he’d act at first. I started riding him english in late May, and had probably been back in the english saddle for 2 weeks when I broke my arm.

It was a cool morning in early June about 50-some degrees. I noticed while brushing Whiskey that I couldn’t get him to pick his feet up for me to pick them out. I didn’t think that was a big deal though. I led him to the arena and tried to get on, but he wouldn’t stand still at first. Again, I didn’t think it was a big deal, the weather was cooler. I made him stand still and he stood still long enough for me to try to get on. I had my left foot in the stirrup and my right leg halfway over his back when he took off for no apparent reason. I hung onto the reins for a split second trying to slow him down, then fell off. I just remember lying on the ground screaming about my arm, which turned out to be broken, I did try to stand up, but couldn’t. My riding instructor came out of the house; she saw a white tail go by the window fast and started heading out to see what was going on. I got up and then my mom pulls in totally by coincidence. I managed to walk to the barn and sat down on the brush box for a bit, then got back up and walked to my mom’s car. We went to the emergency room where it turned out I’d broken my left arm up high, near the shoulder. I had surgery on my arm, ended up with a plate and screws in my arm and didn’t ride for most of this summer.

I finally started riding again in about mid-August; I rode in a western saddle until late September. When I first started riding again, I was a bit nervous and it took me until October to get most of my confidence back. I rode a lesson horse for a few weeks and then one day my riding instructor told me I was riding Whiskey. I rode Whiskey in the round pen until sometime in October. I did fall off of Whiskey again in November. He startled at something and stepped sideways and I didn’t have my heels down far enough and landed flat on my back. I had the breath knocked out of me but I got back up, caught my breath, got back on, and went past the same spot again.

My biggest accomplishment this year is getting back on after breaking my arm and not just riding again but getting on the same horse so I could become a better rider. I think this year, I’ve learned a lot: first, before you get on; if you think the horse is going to do something stupid, make sure somebody is holding the horse while you’re getting on. Second, and this strikes me as ironic, so far this is the year where I’ve improved the most as a rider in really just the last 3 months or so.
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Alex

I got my OTTB straight from the track the day after her last race. I am an eventer and my goal was to do the haunted hunter pace in October with her. However, she's rather accident prone and we had quite a few obstacles. This included running through the fence, cutting her head, lameness and last but not least severing her artery (which alone put us back 3 months) Sad to say that we didn't compete in the haunted hunter pace. But she was back jumping 3'3" by early December. Biggest accomplishment we've had. So proud of my mama.