Hello! The past month has been full of activity so I will do my best to catch you up. Last month on Saturday, December 17, my mom, Magnes and I embarked on a journey of over 2,600 miles. We were to drive all the way from our home in California to Wellington, Florida for Lendon Gray’s Fourth Annual Winter Intensive Training Program where Magnes and I will be furthering our dressage education for the next 3 months.
On our first day of this journey we drove from California through Arizona and New Mexico. We let Magnes sleep in a paddock that we rented in New Mexico for the night and despite the 19°F temperature, I think that Magnes enjoyed his stay because of company provided by the donkeys, mini-donkeys, goats, horses, and a miniature horse in the neighboring paddock. In addition, we had the fortunate opportunity to stay in a super cozy guest cottage that was adjacent to where Magnes was stabled allowing us to be nearby overnight.
The next day, we finished driving through New Mexico and got a good ways into Texas. We drove right past the Mexico border and picked up some BBQ on the way because no trip to Texas is complete without BBQ! We then spent the night in a town outside of San Antonio at a very nice bed & breakfast that offered tasty blondies and chocolate covered blackberries!
Our third day had us going through the most states. These states were Texas, Louisiana (where we encountered a load of traffic, mainly in Baton Rouge), Mississippi, Alabama, and finally entering Florida. At the Florida-Alabama state-line on the I-10 east, there is an agricultural inspection station where we were required to pull over and Magnes’ medical papers were checked to make sure he was up to date on vaccines. We then dropped Magnes off at a barn where he had a nice box stall and my mom and I went and stayed in a hotel.
Finally, on the fourth day we set off to drive down to southern Florida, our final destination, Wellington. That evening we arrived at the beautiful Hampton Green Farm where Magnes settled into his stall and we settled into our home away from home where we will be living for the next few months.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I am now in my third week of the WIT program and so far, this has been such an amazing experience. We have had the opportunity to listen in on lectures, view clinics, and attend special events. These opportunities have included a lecture from veterinarian Dr. Kim Snyder on medical issues common in southern Florida, Stephanie Beamer on rider position, Dr. Hilary Clayton on horse stretches, Beth Baumert on horse theory, Katie Brennan & Shannon White on TWYDIL® products, and many other talks on topics such as Triple Crown grain and A Horse Box. In addition, we have been able to attend several special events and participate in activities such as Friday night Freestyles at Global, discussions with Debbie McDonald about connection, Anne Kursinski’s flatwork sessions at the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic, observing a show with R judge Lisa Schmidt, auditing a clinic given by Arthur Kottas, volunteering at the USDF Trainers Conference, and much more. In addition to daily lessons with Lendon we have had workout sessions and training with Anna Buffini as well as the opportunity to interview our equestrian idols!
At the WIT, riders are responsible for feeding, mucking, watering, turning out, and all of the other daily barn chores so as you can imagine the days are quite long. Each morning we start at 6:30AM and we often finish around 5pm. Keeping up with schoolwork is a bit of a challenge but I am doing my best to keep up with it all.
Although it took some time for Magnes to adjust to the humidity in Florida he seems to really be enjoying it here now. I think that if he knew how much rain he has been missing back home in California he would definitely appreciate the beautiful sunny Florida weather that much more. So far the WIT has exceeded my expectations and I am interested to see how the next three months play out. I will try to keep you updated however, I don’t expect that I will have much free time! Well, thats all for now!
-Alexa & Magnes