IRL: Emma Takes On Florida- Week One

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Emma + Brumby = Dream Team! 

My name is Emma and Im 13 years old. I have been training and competing in dressage since I was ten. My horse, Brumbalina “Brumby” is a mustang/paint cross. Shes 13 years old and we are currently competing 2nd level dressage and schooling 3rd level. She is a very special mare because she has learned to do movements that she wasn’t built to do. Brumby is base narrow in the front and built like a quarter horse. She’s 15.2 hands high on a good day and we are slowly teaching her to take longer steps and shift her weight to her back legs, creating more uphill movement. We purchased Brumby when she and I were both 9 years old and we have learned together. We are a great team!

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Emma and part of the crew are loving the mild weather of Florida compared to the cold back north at home!

Preparation is Key

Our winter training adventure started when my trainer, Meghan Truppner, invited me to join her in Florida. That was nine months ago. There is a lot of preparation to going to Florida for 6 weeks with a horse and we needed all of that time to get ready. We needed a place to stay and a nice training facility for the horses. We even had to plan to take our own hay. Hay in Florida can cost up to $25 a bale! My mare, Brumbalina, needed updated shots and Coggins and a health certificate to travel. Theres an Ag Station as soon as you enter Florida and everyone traveling with livestock has to stop and have their paperwork validated.

The Long Trip Down

The ride down was long; we drove thirteen hours the first day and 6 hours the second day. Brumby handled it pretty well but we supported her with lots of Ulcerguard and hydration hay. Shes traveled for competition before but never that far.

We arrived in Florida on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We unloaded in the rain, settling in 6 horses, 3 dogs and 3 riders worth of equipment and enough hay for 6 weeks. It was cooler than normal for Florida and we kept the horses in medium weight blankets because they were all clipped for the warmer temperatures. Over the next couple days, we hand walked the horses and worked out stiff muscles from the long ride. We set up our tack area and feed room and worked out a system for the daily chores. I’m a working student which means I am working off the cost of my lessons. Mucking stalls, filling buckets, feeding and cleaning tack fill up my days along with riding and tacking and cooling out horses. Every horse gets worked 5 days a week with one day off for rest and one day for a relaxing hack.

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Organization is key!

Time to Ride

On the third day we started training. Brumby was amazing! She liked the mirrors in the dressage ring and we had some great moments. The footing was deeper than Brumby is used to which forced her to really pick up her legs. We focused on giving her trot more cadence, slowing her down and asking her to bring her hind legs further beneath her body. Working on cadence helps horses learn to lengthen and shorten stride without changing their speed. This helped her shift her weight to her hind end, which lifted her withers and gave me that feeling of riding uphill. I have to work hard too, holding my own body with a lot of core strength. I can tell you by the end of that day my abs and hips were killing me! But it was totally worth it. Brumby had her first few moments of true collection and we experienced a medium trot that had more reach without an increase in speed.

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Emma and Brumby rock it in a dressage lesson.

Weekend Adventures

Over the weekend we headed to Wellington to experience the Global Dressage Festival. Every weekend there is a special activity or competition. This weekend is the Eventing Showcase and I got to see the top riders in both the jumping ring and on cross country. There is a lot education to be gained over the next 6 weeks, both on and off the horse. I’m excited and can’t wait to experience everything that Florida has to offer!

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