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Riding With a Legend


By Southern States Customer Devanee Burton Devanee Burton riding with Phillip Dutton

It has always been a treat for me to go to big events and watch the professional riders compete. I never fail to be amazed by how easy they all make it look. I’m sure the bystanders that are just locals looking for something to do and have never even been on a horse think it’s some kind of wizardry, and I cannot say that I blame them. My boyfriend was so gracious enough to get me tickets to the 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event for Christmas in 2014. I guess he got tired of me talking about it all the time and wanted to experience it for himself. We spent a lot of time at the vendors filling out contest information cards. I have him to thank for pointing out the contest at the Southern States booth for a weekend of training with Phillip Dutton. Of course, I never would have imagined that I would have won.

Devanee Burton riding with Phillip Dutton

I got the call saying that I was the winner and at first I was in shock and then disbelief. As the conversation went on I finally realized that it was real. The biggest thing that worried me was that I had to trailer my horse from Georgia to Pennsylvania. My coach was probably more excited than I was and was kind enough to do that for me. She is one of the few people I would trust to trailer my horse down the street. As time went on, two of my friends that I ride with decided that they wanted to go. From that point on I knew that this trip was going to be amazing. My horse would have his best mate with him and I would get to experience training with Phillip with some of my favorite people. Nervousness crept up on me as the time to depart was getting closer, but I think I was more excited than anything. The day we had to leave, I stayed up all night preparing myself and making sure we had everything we needed. We had to leave at four o’clock Thursday morning to get there on time. It took us about twelve hours with a few pit stops to get there. Everyone was safe and happy so that was all that mattered to me. It didn’t take long for the horses to settle into their temporary home, but it might have been because they were exhausted from such a long trip.

Devanee Burton riding with Phillip Dutton

On the morning of the first day we learned pacing and the correct galloping position with Waylon Roberts. It was tough, but my horse and I were communicating well. That afternoon we had our first jumping lesson with Phillip, and he really pushed us to do things I didn’t think were possible. I never thought I would get my horse to be so adjustable between fences. The morning of the second day was dressage. It is the one thing that really sets me back when it comes to eventing, so I was looking forward to learning new things. Waylon got me pushing my forward horse even more forward, which I never thought was possible. My horse and I were not communicating the best at this point, but he was using himself more than I have ever gotten him to. We moved on to cross country that afternoon, and I loved every second of it. My stirrup leather busted coming out of a turn out of the water complex, and I ended up crashing into a jump. I was fine, but I gave everyone quite a scare. You live and you learn right? The last day was a day were Phillip put together groups of people that needed to work on certain things. I was in one of the cross country groups, and I thought it went even better than the day before. I was able to introduce my horse to some new things, but I saved the keyhole for a different day. My stirrup leathers didn’t break, so that was a bonus. I was so pleased with how the weekend turned out, and I was sad to head home. I have been trying to incorporate the things I learned at the camp, and I cannot wait to see how much my horse and I progress by implementing these new techniques.

I learned such an incredible amount over those few days and I owe credit to so many people for making this trip possible. I would like to thank the following:

  • Southern States Feed and Triple Crown Nutrition for sponsoring the weekend
  • Phillip Dutton and Waylon Roberts for spending their valuable time with us
  • The Dutton family and their staff for holding this camp and inviting us to their farm
  • Royal, my horse, for carrying me and putting up with all of my mistakes and requests
  • Cindy, my coach, for trailering my horse and helping me in any way she is able
  • Cassidy and Kaitlyn, my riding buddies, for joining me in this amazing experience
  • Jordan, my boyfriend, for getting me to Rolex and filling out that contest card
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