SLO Dressage Barbi Breen-Gurley's Sea Horse Ranch



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Barbi Breen-Gurley

The decision to make a second trip to Kentucky for the National Dressage Finals came quickly again this year when I realized I qualified at the Regional Championships in Los Angeles in September. The excitement of attending with my horse Vindicator and my husband overtook all the logic of why I shouldn’t consider it. The expense of such a trip was well over $10,000, with travel, stabling, lodging, entries, meals, rental car, etc. There would be no income for the 10 days we would be gone and we would be spending and not earning! There was less than four weeks to make all the arrangements plus setting up all facets of our lives, and our boarding stable to work efficiently while we were away. Another reality check was the fact that this was Vin’s first season at the Grand Prix, the top level of dressage. Back in the 70’s a friend and mentor Hilda Gurney once said, “Once you get your horse to Grand Prix, which is only a small percentage of dressage horses, you are half way there!” Her comment addresses the fact that strength and balance must be acquired over time for a horse to really shine in this difficult level of training. On the other hand, Vin is presently going well, we are both healthy, and my husband Geof and I are firm believers of grasping fleeting opportunities life offers you! With his consistent encouraging support, the decision to go was made!

Because we made the trip last year for the Intermediare Freestyle, placing sixth nationally, we put into action out lessons learned. We knew which shipper to use and began planning immediately with the other ten Californians who were attending. I had a fundraiser at our Sea Horse Ranch less than a week before we left offering great music, food, a silent auction and a demonstration ride. Everyone had a great time and we were able to create some additional funding for the trip.

Before we knew it, the day arrived for Vindicator to begin his journey. A 78 foot rig waited at the bottom of our hill in the rain and we loaded him up at 12:30 AM. We flew two days later and arrived at Lexington ready to receive him. Unfortunately the Californians were not stabled together, but Vin calmly accepted being separated and going to an empty barn for 36 hours till other horses from other parts of the country arrived. After a rest day, I hacked him around the gorgeous facility and introduced him to the other arenas. On Thursday he rode his warm up Grand Prix with a clean go in really cold, non-central California weather! The next evening Friday, we were drawn to ride first out of 21 for the Grand Prix. He took the surroundings well but the ride wasn’t our best. I was disheartened when I was told I would again be the first to ride Saturday night for the Freestyle, but readjusted my attitude as fast as possible knowing I’d be of no help to him if I didn’t. I accepted I had no control over being first to go again, but we were going to get our one -time changes and our piaffe/passage was going to be more expressive. And we did just that! Our ride Saturday for the freestyle was clean and beautiful, and he was so with the music! I was really happy and we ended up fifth in the class. What an exciting conclusion to a dream to attend the finals at the Grand Prix with this fine horse and to present ourselves well.



Images of the Sea Horse Ranch

Sea Horse Ranch Overlooking The Beautiful Pacific Ocean

Sea Horse Ranch At Sunset

One of the Tack-Up Areas

Barbi & Friends At The Cottage

Jesse Lounging


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12-Noon Quadrille Lesson @ Sea Horse Ranch