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Keeping Up with the SmartPakers: Susan’s Adventures at Redgate Farm

I spent the day on Saturday with my friends Liz Maloney, DVM, and Jocelyn Souliere as we trailered Liz’s three high-level jumpers to Redgate Farm in Newtown, CT (the home of Olympian Leslie Burr Howard) for some lessons. Leslie shares Redgate Farm with 3 other well-known H/J Trainers: Tim Keyes, Molly Ashe and Chris Cawley. Liz’s 2 black horses, “Q” (affectionately known as Lil’ Blackie) and “Irie” (a.k.a. Big Blackie) have been part of her family for a few years, so Liz’s Trainer, Leslie, knows them well. Wally, the grey horse, was recently imported from Europe, so this was Liz’s first lesson with Wally and Leslie.

Leslie started each lesson with flatwork in the indoor. She first rode Wally herself, chatted with Liz about the bit she chose, and played around with one and two reins. Leslie is an amazing rider—her leg never moves! Next we moved to the glorious outdoor ring where Liz practiced over a challenging course. I was so excited to watch Liz and Wally that I forgot to start the video camera! Wally was excellent, so he only had to jump around once. Good boy, Wally!

Irie was next. On the first course he thought the 5 stride line was a 4 line, but with his huge step that is certainly understandable. Then the fences were raised to over 4’ and he jumped around flawlessly.

Q was the last one to go, but Liz knows this horse the best. Q goes around like an equitation horse but has a step as big as Irie’s. It was so much fun to watch the 3 different rides and listen to Leslie’s various comments. Liz rose to the occasion, and as well she should have as she and Jocelyn leave for International Bromont this week, a large Hunter/Jumper show in southwestern Quebec where she’ll meet up with Leslie at the ring.

I felt honored to be in the company of Leslie Burr Howard (as well as Tim, Molly and Chris) who couldn’t have been nicer. At one point Leslie asked me to help her raise the jumps, and I was so nervous I was going to drop the rail, set it crookedly or not do it fast enough!

Punkin, the 12-week-old American Bulldog, graced us with her presence ringside and was getting loads of attention. Not a single bark at the horses—good girl, Punkin!

Back at Liz’s barn, I met Liz’s sheep, Eli and Belle, who are 100% responsible for a sweater and a pair of mittens Liz made for herself. A successful equine vet, a high level Amateur jumper, a knitter and a fabulous friend—what more can you ask for? Thanks Liz and Jocelyn!

Susan Tuller

Susan as a rider: I've grown up riding hunter/jumpers since the age of 9, but have ridden a bit of dressage and polo as well. I find learning and practicing classic equitation to be continuously challenging but truly fulfilling. Proper flatwork has allowed me to progress in my jumping abilities on different horses. I feel so fortunate to truly enjoy flatting since it has grown the foundation of being able to ride just about any horse I'm fortunate enough to sit on. Susan as a SmartPaker: I can honestly say that work doesn't usually feel like work. I head up the Barn Team so I get to talk to Barn Professionals all over the country, and their clients, about customized supplement programs to make their horses look and feel better. I travel to trade shows where I get to meet our Barn Pros as well as our customers, new and existing customers, with the face-to-face interactions rounding out what I love about my "job." All about Excel: I have had my horse Excel for 14 years. He is a 16-3 hand bay Oldenburg gelding and is the light of my life. I grew up riding, but never had a "show" horse until I bought him. I had little idea what I was in for, but I have so enjoyed the ride. We started in the Schooling Hunters when he was 6, moved up to the Adult Amateurs and Adult Equitation. Excel then ribboned in the First Year Division at the Marshall and Sterling Finals at age 10 and from then we moved to the Lo Adult Jumpers competing from New England to New York and Ocala. We ended our career in the Hi Adult Jumpers and I couldn't have been more pleased. We stopped showing last year as he told me he was happy to continue jumping but at home. I enjoy riding in the Indoor ring, but not nearly as much as when we are able to ride in our outdoor ring or our big field, jumping, flatting and sometimes just during really long walks. He had taught me so much about setting and achieving my riding goals, hard work, and mostly about patience. I just love it when he hears my voice and nickers, even before I walk over to his stall. Brings a smile to my face every single time.

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