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Away We Go

G’Morning – it’s a beautiful 63 degrees here in Florida at 6 am. It should reach mid 80’s today, but low humidity so it’s still very rideable all day long. My days are packed with training and teaching, and now I have two weeks to get completely organized to fly to Amsterdam with Ayscha on May 11th. Whew.

I am going to fly with her from Miami on a Martinair Cargo plane – so that means I will go down to Miami one day next week and take a course to certify me to fly safely on the plane I will be on. I have done it before and it is always interesting to find out all the safety features on the plane and what I need to be doing in case of a problem. Not for the faint of heart! I will be with her in a “pre-quarantine” at a barn near the airport for about 8 hours and then we go to the airport and load into cargo containers for horses – they are like small horse trailers. Then we get carted around the runways to our gate, and we are lifted (the scariest part for me) by hydraulics and pushed into the cargo area of the plane. I have found that as soon as the horses are loaded in the plane they are fine, and they deal remarkably well with take-off and landing! But getting bumped and banged and lifted around during the loading process is the most stressful for a worried horse, and that’s when I am really glad to be there to help her deal with it all.

I am trying to remember just what to pack for her and I – it’s a fine line between absolutely necessary and just too much – it costs almost $3.00 per kg for equipment so I cannot afford to ship anything that is not indispensable. I am busy ordering my last minute stuff from SmartPak and taking complete advantage of their great shipping rates. And their customer service reps are always so helpful, even when I am stressed to the max.

It helps that I am having great rides on Ayscha – I just rode in a show just to get down the centerline again, and Gary Rockwell gave us a 68.9%. I was thrilled with her – she has very limited experience showing and she just gets more confident each time I take her in the ring. I rode a pretty bad zigzag – not her fault at all. But otherwise it was a great test and I am so happy that her tempis are getting very straight and bigger, and her piaffe is getting more on the spot. She is still very green and I do have a mental problem asking her to piaffe on the spot – but it is getting much better as both she and I get more confident.

I had a super ride today – I have paddocks out the front with good footing in between the fences, and I took her out there for a fun ride – in the snaffle and without spurs or whip. It is just so much fun to ride her there, and I am really getting confident in her training. I was able to do piaffe, passage, beautiful extended trots, and lots of super tempi changes that had to be straight (otherwise my knees would not be surviving)! If we can do this work in a snaffle and no spurs, I am pretty sure that we can do even better in the ring. It’s really cool how when I ride with no spurs my seat gets better………

Born in Austin, Texas, Shannon grew up outside of Vancouver, Canada. Her mother Jacqueline Oldham is a "S" judge in dressage in both Canada and the USA. Shannon was lucky enough to grow up with horses in her backyard, and evented up to the Intermediate level as a teenager, as well as show jumped and worked on the Thoroughbred racetrack, all this despite having a dressage enthusiast for a mother. She went through the Pony Club levels, to attain her "A" status at 18 years of age, and also got her Canadian Coaching Level2 status. After completing a Bachelors degree in Animal Science at the University of British Columbia and a Masters degree in Equine Nutrition and Physiology at Texas A & M University, Shannon went on to be faculty at Lakeland College and Olds College in Alberta, Canada, and then moved to Massachusetts with her husband Lorne to take up a faculty position at Johnson & Wales University. In 1994, Shannon spent many months in Holland as a working student for Bert Rutten- this was when she decided to get serious about dressage. She rode in her first international competition in 1995 in California, and was long-listed for the Canadian equestrian Team in 1996 with Madison. In 1995 she bought her first real star, Korona, as a 3 year old from Bert Rutten. Shannon trained Korona from the beginning. This partnership was very successful: beginning with an Individual Silver Medal at the Pan AM Games in 1997, they never looked back. Korona and Shannon represented Canada successfully at the Grand Prix level for many years. In 2002 at the World Championships in Spain they were the top Canadians, finishing 23rd in the Grand Prix and 25th in the Grand Prix Special. After winning the Canadian league World Cup Final in 2002, they represented Canada at the World Cup Final in Sweden in 2003. In 2003 they also were a part of the Canadian Team at the Open European Championships in England, which secured an Olympic berth for the Canadians for the following years Olympic Games. In 2004 they had a very successful training and competition tour at top International competitions in Holland, Germany, and Austria, but did not represent Canada at the Olympics- Korona was ill during the first of the Canadian Olympic Selection Trails.

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