Life in the Dream Barn: We Hit the Ground Running!

Dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares an update on life in her newly finished dressage facility, which included a whirlwind trip to a show and hosting a clinic with Scott Hassler!

As I write this, there is a cool breeze blowing and the sun is not blazing hot. It seemed like this day would never come! We’ve had one of the most hot and humid summers in as long as I can remember. I love summer and warm weather but even I am looking forward to cooler temps.

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In my last blog entry, we had just moved into the barn. It was a wonderful day and it went smoothly. We have been in the barn for a few weeks, have settled into a routine and worked out a few kinks. We definitely hit the ground running! We moved in on a Saturday and the following Friday we left for a show at Morven Park in Virginia. We loaded all the horses and equipment—which seemed like we had just unpacked it—and hit the road with three rigs. We got about 30 minutes into our drive when we hit traffic at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It was either at a standstill or creeping along. We sat there for four hours when we decided to turn around and head back. We left the trailers loaded and made a plan to leave early the next morning. 

We had a busy weekend at the show! So proud of how everyone rode!

DT Editor’s Note: Heading to a show? Don’t forget your test booklet and braiding kit

It was definitely a whirlwind show! I think we can all agree that the schooling we do at shows the Friday before we compete is definitely helpful for some horses. A couple of the greener ones were a bit overwhelmed with having to get off the trailer and head right into a crowded warm-up ring. I rode the Prix St. Georges again on my student Ashley’s horse, Ren. Our first ride on Saturday was in a downpour with thunder. As soon as I got down to the warm-up ring, the rain started. I made the best of it but had some mistakes in the changes. Ren was a good boy and held it together even though he was nervous and I was having trouble holding the slippery reins! We did well, getting a 65 percent and 66 percent with some mistakes. We can definitely clean up the mistakes for higher scores. I was pleased that we were in the ribbons both days in big, competitive classes. 

Overall, it was a great show and I was proud of how well all of my students rode! There were lots of great scores and ribbons and one of my students got her last score needed for her USDF bronze medal, so we had a little celebration! Our group always has a good time at shows and I’m always so happy with how supportive we are of each other. This is what it’s all about! 

Congratulations to Kate on her bronze medal!

Once we got home from the show, I felt like I could finally take a deep breath and really focus on my new farm. At this point, I only had seven horses in the barn. I have more planning to come, but having fewer horses in the very beginning was my plan so that I could make sure I had everything that I needed in terms of help and organization. I had to tweak the turnout a little bit and figure out the schedule, but overall, it has been pretty smooth. 

Now that the barn is in my backyard, I can go out early before it gets hot to feed and turn out and I can bring them in if the bugs get too bad. I am very much enjoying the convenience of having the horses right here.

Freshly dragged ring on the eve of our first clinic!

Another exciting thing that happened since my last blog was that we had our first clinic! For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of hosting clinics and educational events at my own farm. So in my typical fashion, I decided to plan one right away! I sent a text to Scott Hassler and asked him if he would be interested in coming to teach a clinic. I thought he might give me some dates in October but he said he could do September 11. That date only gave me a couple of weeks to get it together but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so I said “Let’s do it.” 

My mom manned the welcome table to check in riders and auditors.
Our first clinic was a success. A day I will always remember! 
It was wonderful day of learning and inspiration. This is the reason I worked so hard for this barn: to be able share our passion for the sport and our love of horses with each other.

So on Friday, September 11, we hosted our first clinic! It went very well and ran smoothly for our first one! We had a limited number of auditors due to COVID-19 and we all wore masks and didn’t sit too close. It was a wonderful day full of great teaching and inspiration. I have to say that it felt pretty great to have my friend and mentor teaching in my very own indoor ring! We are looking forward to having many more clinics and educational, fun events for years to come! I hope you all have great rides!

Click here to read more blogs from Kelly McGinn!

Tippy was very interested in learning more about dressage

Kelly McGinn is an FEI rider, trainer and coach. She has brought many horses and riders up through the levels and has enjoyed success in regional and national championships as well as year end awards. Kelly was also chosen to ride the Friesian stallion Lolke 372 in the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in the famed 10 horse Friesian train. Kelly has trained with Scott Hassler since 1991 and she credits Scott for her teaching and training style as he has been a big influence in her education. Kelly has also had the opportunity to ride with many well known clinicians including Steffen Peters, Michael Klimke and Debbie McDonald. Kelly also participated in the Young Dressage Trainers Symposium for 9 years where she developed a love for the process of training young horses. She runs a small teaching and training business in Easton, Maryland, where she has a variety of different horses in training and believes that every horse can benefit from good dressage training regardless of the breed.






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