The Secret Life of McKenna & Dorito: Work hard, play hard, ride well

Young McKenna heads to Brickland Eventing, home of four-star event rider Emily Beshear, where she’ll be a working student this summer.

From McKenna:

Two hundred days later, I finally got the experience I’ve been yearning for. That’s right, for 200 days I’ve known that I would be heading to Brickland Eventing for the summer. A day has not passed when I haven’t asked myself, “What will it be like?” or “When will I be there?!”. Because of a long weekend (wohoo, no school!) it was decided I would head on down to Brickland to try and get a feel for things, so Thursday afternoon off we went. Three hours later, I arrive at paradise… somehow I think the farm got prettier, because it is GORGEOUS!

Thursday evening was a chill day: met my roommates, went for a run (who decided that was a good idea?!), discovered that in fact there IS civilization close to the farm, and watched the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. And how could I forget our (and by “our” I mean, I watched the two other girls do it) yoga session with Jillian Michaels and assistant Besheara?! (Ironic, right?)

Friday, the real work began! I had several different tasks from mucking to grooming to sweeping to picking feet. By 10 a.m. I felt as if I had accomplished the world and the day had barely begun! Friday was kind of awesome. It was non-stop… I did not sit down from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and I’m not kidding! I even happened to forget that I should perhaps go eat some lunch… whoops! In between my duties, I was “assigned” to ride some lovely ponies. Emily was pretty busy that day so I had my lessons with the ever-fabulous Jaclyn Burke. Jaclyn was really having me focus on my jump/two point position, getting me lower over the horse. She had me running through a small grid and making me feel slightly ridiculous, but hey, every now and then we all have to act like beginners, right? Jaclyn was very nice in letting me ride two of her horses, both of which were fabulous to me! I can’t recommend Jaclyn enough; not only is she an amazing teacher, she is HILARIOUS. Head on over to her website, Burke Equestrian, to find out more about her. In case riding two wasn’t enough, one of my roommates and fellow working student, Lucy, kindly let me hack and flat her mare so I was able to hack out with her and Jaclyn later that day, too!

Onto Saturday… 5 a.m. wake up call!! Up nice and early to leave the farm by 6 as I was tagging along with Emily to Kelley’s Ford. We only had one horse that day, Mick, who is a superstar. Look for him and Emily soon, he is an amazing horse paired with an amazing rider!! After feeling pretty official walking around in my purple and Brickland gear with my Brickland horse attached at my hip, it was dressage time! Even though this was the two’s first event together, Mick totally knew it was time to perform. Even with lots of room to improve, Mick and Emily scored a 23… WITH an error (way to go Emily!). Needless to say, we were all thrilled with the score!! Mick and Emily warmed up great for jumping and had a stellar show jump round–a close rub but it stayed up! XC was great for them too, so we came home with a WINNING novice horse and a very happy Emily! Look out for these two at Virginia–they will be looking for another confidence boosting round before Mick bumps back up to Training level! After returning to the barn and doing more work and odd jobs, Emily and I decided we were both way too exhausted to ride or teach and settled for a lesson on Sunday instead. After a celebratory victory dinner, off to bed I went!

Sunday was early as well. I was off on another adventure, yet again, except this time with Lucy to groom for her at a local jumper show. The day was extremely successful, having her first show on BOTH of her new horses without a coach, she rocked around the 3-ft. classes with no problem and pulled out a clear round on both ponies. We were back at Brickland by 1, and that left us both feeling like a million dollars because we had already done so much! We both decided that if there weren’t already enough perks to being a working student, it sure makes you feel like you accomplish things! Insert some more little jobs and then I was able to get what I had been looking forward to the most, my first lesson with Emily!! I was able to ride one of Jaclyn’s horses again, and let me tell you: I think I have fallen in love. No not with the horse (although she was awesome too!) but with Emily. I’m not sure I have ever accomplished so much in ONE lesson. By the end, I could totally feel a difference. Emily had me working on unlocking my upper body, making all of it move freely and not just one piece, and emphasized trying to get my hips to loosen up. Needless to say I spent a fair amount of time “standing up,” trying to sink my heel and straighten my body up… oww. I have been threatened that if I don’t keep improving, I will be getting “the stick” (where you put a whip of sort behind you in your arms so it makes you sit up) when I arrive. EEP! I. Will. Improve. My. Body.

I hope you all realize it took every bone in my body not to give you a complete play-by-play of what happened… it’s also late at night and I still have some homework to finish, which is also helping me restrain, but in case you didn’t get it, I LOVE my job. Honestly, I am surprised I didn’t stow away somewhere on the farm because I did not want to leave! Whose bright idea was it to get me to come down and work? But it’s only a few more weeks until I’ll be back down there for a LONG time!!! I cannot wait, and if it’s even possible, I am even more excited!!!

Good luck to everyone competing this weekend, especially to everyone at Brickland who is off to Virginia Horse Trials!!!

Go Eventing, Go Brickland, and Go Purple.

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