Wintering In Wellington

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Bridget Hay
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It seems as if I was just packing like crazy, getting ready to go to Florida...and now all of sudden, we're back home already.

It went so fast! Florida was a blast, and I am so unbelievably proud of how awesome my two young horses did while we were down there. Even so, all I could think of when I was getting ready to go, and while I was there, is how fortunate I am to have such awesome friends to be with down there.

We all have the same drive, passion, and love for this sport. We all understand each other and what we're doing in this crazy horse world. It is so comforting just to know that we're all there to support and help each other.

When I was getting ready to go to Florida in January, it occurred to me how lucky I am to have friends already there who were waiting for me. I can't imagine going down there at all if they weren't there.

I even stayed at my good friend Kim Herslow's house, and I kept Faolan at her barn in Wellington. I saw my very good friends, Lauren Chumley and Alice Tarjan, often as well. We all support and help each other at shows, and of course we go out to dinner all the time.

Bridget with Kim Herslow in Florida | Photo copyright 2016 by Nancy Jaffer

Bridget with Kim Herslow in Florida | Photo copyright 2016 by Nancy Jaffer

I also love to go out with and catch up with friends who I don't get to see very often because they aren't from New Jersey.

This season, I even made new friends who work in the industry. They happen to be local to me here in New Jersey, but for some reason, our paths had never crossed before.

So there's always something to do and someone to go to dinner with in Wellington. Time in Florida just seemed to fly by, with the fast-paced showing and training schedule, and all the socializing, there was never a moment to stop. I do so wish that I could have stayed longer.

While we were there, I trained with the U.S. Equestrian Federation young horse coach, Christine Traurig, focusing mostly on Faolan. However, Fauna, my coming 5-year-old Oldenburg mare, was invited to participate in the USEF Young Horse Training Sessions with Christine earlier in February. It was great that she was able to help me both horses.

Fauna far exceeded my expectations, and also went on to compete in her first shows while we were down there. I showed her twice at First Level Test 3, scoring just under 72 percent and in the process earning both of her qualifying scores for the regional championships. She also showed in the FEI 5- year-old test for her first time, scoring 75.4 percent.

My main reason for going to Florida was Faolan, my coming 7-year-old Oldenburg stallion. I worked with Christine at least twice a week in lessons with him. We showed the last three weeks in a row that we were there, in the Prix St. Georges the first week, and in the Developing Prix St. Georges, the next two weeks, scoring up to 69 percent.

Faolan and Bridget share a moment in Wellington | Photo copyright 2016 by Nancy Jaffer

Faolan and Bridget share a moment in Wellington | Photo copyright 2016 by Nancy Jaffer

He feels so much stronger, softer and mature now in his body. He's like a completely different horse, and I'm so grateful to Christine for all of help and time that she put into us. Faolan has an unbelievable work ethic, and he impressed both Christine and myself with it every day. I can't wait to see where the road leads with this horse. He has accomplished so much even before he has reached his seventh birthday, and I feel so fortunate to have such a special young stallion.

Coming home now this week, of course, I felt a little lost because my friends are all still there for another few weeks. I'm slowly getting unpacked, and back in to the daily work here in New Jersey. I just showed a week ago, and I'm already itching to get back in the ring. I'm planning my show schedule now for all of my horses for the rest of the year, while simultaneously also harassing my friends in Florida to hurry up and get home.

Florida was great; the training was incredible. My horses have grown up so much. I'm just so grateful for the time that I spent there with some awesome friends. Can't wait until I head back there next year.