Friday, May 25, 2012

The Start of New Adventures

Needless to say, I have been kind of bad about updating my "personal" blog. I get so caught up with school, riding, and writing for Horse Nation that it's hard for me to get on over here and write a new post! If you are ever wondering what's going on in my life, I write a weekly column that airs every Thursday over at HN. If you want to catch up with old ones, go to HN and search "McKenna" and it should all pop up.

I'll try and keep this short and sweet, because, well, I love talking about Brickland Eventing!

Last weekend I had the oppurtunity to go down for a few days and it was AWESOME. Basically, I'm in love with my job. I learned the gist of things and got to ride lots of ponies (thank you Jaclyn Burke!). I had a few lessons from Jaclyn who was a lovely teacher and then I had my first ever lesson with Emily on Sunday. AMAZING!! Emily reallly had me focusing on loosening my upper body, making it work as all seperate pieces and not just one part, especially with my hips. I did a lot of "standing" but lowering myself and switching it up between standing and posting, ect. By the end of the lesson I felt a HUGE difference.

Dorito and I are doing well at home. Our jumping is coming along and I'm still having some awesome jump rides on him. I'm incorporating bigger fences into our regular jump rides to get us both a bit more used to them and I'm really trying to focus on letting him do his job. Within the next week I should be setting up a few grids to jump through and really focus on myself and add to let him figure it out. Our flat work is really coming along nicely. He is responding SO much better to my aides and he's being quite consistent. I'm beginning to work more on our extensions and trying to make him bring his head up and make his neck longer. Fitness is also starting to become a huge thing for him, within the next two weeks I'm hoping to bump him up to 35-40 minutes of trotting and in 3-4 weeks to 50 minutes. He needs more trot than canter so I will probably get him on a schedule where he does his full trot once a week, with a bit of cantering and his full canter (6-9 minutes) and trot work every 2 weeks. With him being a pony, I need every advantage I can get and one is fitness. Luckily for me he gets fit pretty easily it's just a matter of getting him there.

The plan for me is to head to Seneca Valley at training level and then assuming all goes well I will do training level at Surefire the weekend after. After that my schedule is still a bit undecided but I will probably riding at both Maryland HT and Millbrook (NEW YORK BABY!!) and of course some other events weaved in there. I will also be out and about every weekend with the Brickland Team helping Emily and others out.

I have 16 more days in Maryland and A LOT to do by then!!

The climb is almost over....

Kick On!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The not-so-succesful Move Up

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the type of post I was hoping to be writing, but alas I am. Here is a look at my first unsuccessful training level event.

Let’s start with the best part of the weekend: Dressage! I had a pretty good warm up, Dorito was really responsive and just all around very good. Throughout my test he was quite excited, but he managed to keep it contained for the most part, except for a few moments during my canter and stretchy circle. I’ve been working very, very hard on my dressage and it is really starting to come together. I scored a very respectable 43.2, which is 3 points better than what I performed at my fix-a-test back a few months ago and 4 points better than my last Novice test at Morven. I am EXTREMELY happy with that score, and had I remembered how to ride a circle and the size of a 15m circle, I believe I may have been able to even strike into the 30s. I think one of my favorite comments on the test was “super pony”…A dressage judge that actually likes a pony… this one is going in the record books!!

Onto the not so best part… jumping.
Going into MCTA, I was really quite excited and confident. I was feeling really good, and I had a fantastic jump school that added to my confidence and Dorito’s, but on show day, I just kept getting progressively more and more nervous. My show jump warm up wasn’t stellar but it wasn’t anything to complain about. Into the ring I go…First jump, good. Land, realize I need to whoa him, whoa him for too long, get to the base of the fence and have no power so no jump there. Re-approach, up and over we go. Up and over 3 and 4 with just okay jumps, an extremely bad ride to 5 from me so a stop there, 6ab also not the best, 7 okay, 8 was awful on my part, and then at 9 crap finally hit the fan.
Throughout the course, I just wasn’t riding the way I normally do; it was like I wasn’t %100 there or something. Also, Dorito wasn’t his normal self. He wasn’t backed off by the fences but something was different… it’s just one of those things you can’t really explain so hopefully you all understand what I mean.

Some more contributing factors to me being unsuccessful I think may have been…
1. I was in Kentucky the week before so he had a bit of time off
2. My mental game just wasn’t up to par
3. Dorito tried extremely, extremely hard for me but unfortunately it was channeled a bit wrong. He was jumping everything by at least a foot plus so I think as we made our way around the course he lost some confidence because he felt as if he couldn’t try harder.
4. Both Dorito and I were just missing a piece of our puzzle that we normally have.

So it was not one of my better weekends. Looking back and going over, I have come to realize it was not as bad as it felt but it still was not good by any means. I’m still working on debriefing from the event and coming up with some more theories and analyzing my performance but what I do know is I will be increasing my jumping per week and consistently incorporating some bigger fences into my regular rides. I will be in search of some more exercises to perhaps help Dorito out with his jumping style over bigger fences and I sense that I will be jumping a few grids. I think it’s good that I have a nice long break before my next event to really focus on fixing the issues and improving our skills. So although I would love to go back in time, or crawl in a hole and forget about last weekend, I can’t. That’s not how it works and unfortunately, it’s how our sport works and how life works. You learn from your mistakes, which really sucks, but it’s reality. The best I can do is look back, analyze my performance, pick apart the good and the bad, and then fix it and work hard at improving so that next time I go out, we will be that much better.

In the words of Karen O’Connor,”In our sport we have some really high highs and some really low lows but we always stick together no matter what because that’s what gets us through.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preps, Cross Country Schools, Shows--Oh My!

It's offical..I am a bad blogger! I know, I promised I would update after the Fix-A-Test and XC schooling and such but between school and riding, well you know how it goes!! So here it is...

I was SUPER happy with how it went! I had some really great moments in the test, of course lots of improvements could be made but it was the first time I had ridden a Dressage test and it was the first time we had both ridden the training level test. Betty had a lot of feedback for us and some of it was super positive and rewarding! She said he looked the best he has ever looked and that she couldn't believe how far he had come!! And wait for's offical...Dorito is too round!!! Yes, you read right. He goes behind the bit, and although his head is down, it's a bit too much! We ended up scoring a 46, again super pleased with the score! Our time with Betty was spent on trying to make his neck longer and working on his right side which he forever believe will kill him if he doesnt move off of it!

First XC School of the Year
It was great! Super confidence boosting! We played a lot with banks and water closely followed by the ditch and then of course we did some single fences! I got my "oh crap" moments out of me and ended super confidently over some nice sized logs!

The Derby Cross
Wow. That's all I can say. Our first ever DerbyX went SUPER well!I had a great warm up and that continued onto the course! Everything just flowed very, very well and I believe I only had one scrappy fence where I took back. Dorito also handled it really well, I thought he might be a little questionable as to why after 3 show jumps in a ring we all of sudden were jumping cross country fences but he didn't question it till a few jumps later! :) I was a little over the time (And I also believe they got my time wrong as my watch did not match) and I also almost forgot a fence but I realized after getting halfway towards the next fence that I forgot one! Apparently it counts as 4 faults becuase it's a "deviation of course", however it was not stated in the rules..but what are you going to do? I ended up with a pretty purple ribbon and lots of confidence!

The First Event of the Season..MORVEN PARK!
Where to begin, where to begin? I guess Dressage huh? Dressage went well..I was happy with my test, of course still lots to improve on however I still felt there were lots of improvements that we made! I also have to give myself a break because before I went in, Ashley noticed that I had looked over the wrong test so I quickly learned the right test! My test was much better than it scored...I ended up with a 46 which was a HUGE bummer as I was really hoping for a lower score but watcha going to do? Onto jumping!! one word: FABULOUS! I couldn't be happier with how it went!! We had a super warm up and it just transferred on over to the ring where we jumped probably our best round to date! And about a blur! Dorito dragged me around the course!! He was very excited to finally be out and about..guess the two XC warm up fences didn't need to be jumped huh?

I am very, very excited with how everything has gone so far and I am getting pumped for our training level debut at MCTA! So until then we will be plugging away at getting fitter, fine tuning our jumping, and getting Mr.D to move off my right leg!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The First Outing

I would've had this post up last night nut my computer decided it was cool to delete the lengthy post I had just finished writing!! Anyways, last weekend I was finally able to venture off the farm and head "down the road" to Serra Valley for a jumper show! D was very excited to get off the farm...and so was I! We competed in 7 classes total and in two different divisions. The 2'9'' and 3ft classes. The first few classes of the 2'9'' division proved to be slightly interesting...let's just say my mind got the best of me but thankfully I got everything settled upstairs and pulled out a clear round and a clear jump off to win the class! We moved onto 3ft and that went much, much better! D and I were really in sync and it proved to be very beneficial to just keep the rounds coming. I was really trying to focus on looking at the top rail of the jump, hands up and reins short, and to kind of just keep coming to the fences. I had 2 clear rounds in 3ft and my last round I pulled a rail which was completely my fault!! All in all, it was a very very good day full of learning! It was an added bonus to come home with three 2nds, one 1st, one 3rd, and a reserve champion!!

March keeps on rolling with the first XC school of the year at Gordonsdale on Saturday and a fix-a-test with Dressage judge Betty Thorpe on Sunday. I'm getting pretty pumped for XC schooling...not to mention I'm very excited to wear my light blue point two for the second time! :) Sunday will be the first time I'll be riding a Training level test in front of a judge for the first time so we'll see how that goes..EEP! I'll be hoping for an overall good performance and hoping for a score under 55. Right now, I can't be focusing on my score and getting angry that it's not going to be that good because A) It's the first time I'm riding it and B) it has a lot of extensions involved and honestly, those have not been high on my list for working on, therefore D doesn't really have great ones...but let's all hope Dorito will have his fancy fancy pretty pony costume on!

My tenative schedule has been planned and here it is..!

March 18: Maryland HT @Loch Moy Derby Cross- Novice
March 30-31: Morven Park HT- Novice
**either Fair Hill or Waredaca**

so far that is all I have planned, the Brickland Eventing schedule is currently a work in progress, so stay tuned!

We're getting a visit from my amazing farrier Henry today and then suiting up for a flat lesson..getting ready for some hard work!!

I'll be back after the weekends events with a full re-cap.

Until then, live vicariously through my Horse Nation posts!

Wish me luck in my quest to not fail this weekend :)
Big Mack Attack

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Well kids, since my last post there has not been many new happenings.The barn is recovering from the fire, we had a big clean up day and got to play find the buried treasure. It was actually funny some sf the things we found...we found some paperclips (who'da thought?), horse shoes (Paul had a huge collection), some nails, a few books, lots of paper from books, an ornament, jingle bells, and a few other items. Now onto my trusty steed and I! Dorito has been working fairly well on the flat, he is still not responding off of my right leg as much as I would like him to be but we are slowly getting there! His consistency with his softness in his neck is getting much better, which makes me VERY happy! Last Monday I had a great jump lesson with Ashley! We focused mainly on keeping my hands up, reins short, and LEG DOWN! All of that helps with Dorito "maintaining his own canter", I tend to keep nudging him along with my leg causing my leg to not be down, so do all that stuff is a huge help! I've been working through some grids and they are extremely eye opening, it makes me really have to trust Dorito and sit up as I'm not quite sure when I'll get a horse stride or an extra chip. I will definitely be having some more grid schools before the season starts and convince Ashley to put some more up throughout the season as they really seem to help me. I will be hoping to get out to some jumper shows and maybe a Dressage show, I think getting out and about will help my nerves a lot in show jumping. The fact that I WILL be moving up to training level sometime in the Spring is really starting to set in, and frankly I'm a bit afraid. The jumps just look so big compared to novice!! But I still have a lot of time to build up even more confidence and to learn to trust the pony even more! I deep down know both of us will rock it *knock on wood* and that we will be ready and prepared and that we will have the time of our lives!

And now for some exciting news!!

1. I won Eventing Nations's Nunn Finer Contest!! What does that mean?? I get $400 worth of their stuff! Dorito is going to be rocking some open front boots and a five point this season!!

2. I am an official writer for Horse Nation!!!! I have weekly articles every Thursday so check it out, comment on them, and spread the word!! I have already had 3 submissions and they will continue on coming!

Until Next Time,
Dorito will be looking at the sand and I'll be keeping my hands up, leg down, and be trusting the PONY POWERS!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome to 2012

Hello, and welcome to 2012!! The year of greatness...or at least it's supposed to. My 2012 started out with quite the bang. A barn fire. Nothing says welcome to the new year more. Fortunately the fire was not in our barn, which is home to Tara Equestrian, it was the bank barn which is the owner, Paul, barn. There were no horses or people in the fire so everyone is fine!! However, Paul drives carriages and around 8 of his carriages, all his tack, historic pictures, and several other things were in fire. Aside from the obvious sadness it's awful because that barn was built back in 1870, so we lost a piece of history. We are so so so lucky that we had great fireman helping us out and they did an AMAZING job containing the fire so it wouldn't spread to other buildings and that no one or horses were injured.

photo from lisbon fire dept.

Anyways, with a new year comes new goals and resolutions.

-Move up to training succesfully
-Compete in a T3DE
-Have a top 3 finish at a HT
-Score in the low 30's
-Be the best working student possible!
-Become more confident in myself and riding capabilities
-Get better form over fences
-Get my heels DOWN and leg forward
-Get FIT. and that means running 2-3 times minimum per week, crunches, sit ups, wall sits (I'm going to make KOC proud), and strengthen my arms/shoulders
-Do fitness rides in galloping position the whole time
-Sit a dressage test
-Make 2012 the best year yet!!!

One of the best things about the off season is you don't have the pressure of having to get that last flat ride done or get your jumping perfect. So right now I'm still enjoying the "casuality" of riding. The other day I got a chance to do some parelli with Dorito...we started having some fun with jumping and ended up getting up to 3'9''. He jumped it from a calm trot. Please show me another 13.2 pony that can do that and could've gone higher!! :) Dorito is starting back up from his nice little vacation and easy rides and is slowly going back into harder work. I had the most amazing flat ride on him the other day and I'm looking forward to some grid work and rider focusing jumping excerises!!

And in some exciting news! It looks like I will be feautured in the Riders4Helmets upcoming convention in Florida! I am in the process of making a video about my concussions that I've sustained while riding (and hitting the ground).

Until the next post, I'll be working like crazy on getting Dorito to look at the sand!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


With the recent events in the past few days I figured it would be nice to post a little remembrance. A few days ago our sport lost a great up and coming horse, Get Smart who was ridden by Lisa Marie Fergusson. Last night we also lost what seems to be a lovely lady, Lesley Long. While I did not know "Smartie" nor Lisa or even Lesley but the matter of the fact is we lost something that had an impact on all of us. Smartie was a phenomenal horse. He proved that by winning Jersey this year and then going on to finish 4th at his FIRST CCI3*. He seemed like he was an absolute fantastic, dream horse. I am so so sorry for Lisa...I can't imagine having to deal with this. Lisa seems like a very strong woman, so I have no doubt that she will push through this extremely tough time and go on and live her dream, just as Smartie would want her too. I did not know Lesley, but she also seemed like a wonderful wonderful lady. Hearing stories about her seems I can tell she was an amazing horsewoman. I send my thoughts and prayers to her family and may she live in remembrance. Please refer to if you would like additional information and stories on Smartie and Lesley.

When you think times are tough...just remember they could be worse.
Lesley Long unknown-2011
Smart Move 2004-2011