Friday, October 31, 2014

All Eyes on Normandy | 10/31/2014

Getting Ready for the World Equestrian Games

By Pam Gleason

The Alltech World Equestrian Games are coming to Normandy, France on August 23. The "WEG" are the world championships for the eight equestrian disciplines that are governed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). They have been held every four years since 1990, alternating with the equestrian sports at the Summer Olympic Games every two years. Like the Olympics, the WEG travel to different locations around the world: this is the first time they will be held in France. The last games were in 2010, when they were at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The next games, in 2018, will be back on this side of the Atlantic at the Olympic Equestrian Park in Bromont, Quebec, a venue that was built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

This year's WEG will run for two weeks, from August 23 until September 7. Championships will be decided in these disciplines: showjumping, dressage, eventing, combined driving (four-in-hand only), endurance, reining, vaulting and para-dressage. In addition, there will be two demonstration sports. One is a polo match, the other a horse-ball tournament.

The majority of the competitions will take place in the city of Caen, the region’s capital, where there are four competition sites: D’Ornano Stadium (opening and closing ceremonies, jumping, dressage and the stadium phase of eventing); Prairie racecourse (combined driving), the Exhibition Center (reining) and the Zenith indoor arena (vaulting.) The dressage and cross country phases of eventing will play out at Le Haras National du Pins, an equestrian and breeding center built under Louis XIV in the 17th century. Le Haras du Pins is about an hour’s drive from Caen’s city center, and is famous for (among other things) being the birthplace of the Percheron breed. It has a new cross-country course designed for the games by Pierre Michelet, who will also create the course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The endurance competition will be run in the countryside to the west of Caen, with a loop along the beach on the Bay of Mont Saint Michel. Mont St. Michel, a spectacular island fortress and monastery, will be visible in the background.

The exhibition polo match is scheduled for September 6 in Deauville, which is one of France’s top polo destinations. Deauville is on the Normandy coast, about 60 kilometers east of Caen. The 18-goal polo match will pit a French team against a mixed team of one player from Europe, one from North America, one from South America and one from Australia/New Zealand. The actual teams have not yet been announced, although presumably the rosters will be drawn from players already in Europe for the season. This is the first time that polo has been included as an official exhibition at the World Equestrian Games, and some polo enthusiasts hope that its acceptance might lead to its becoming an official WEG competition in the future. Polo was once, after all, integral to the equestrian events at the Olympics. Its last Olympic appearance was in Berlin in 1936, where an Argentine team defeated a British one by the devastating score of 11-0 in the finals.

The horse-ball tournament takes place from August 27-31 at the equestrian center of Saint-Lo, about a 45-minute drive from Caen. Horse-ball is a highly popular sport in France. Derived from the Argentine game pato, it came to the country in the 1930s and was standardized in the 1970s. Variously compared to rugby, basketball and even quiddich (the imaginary flying game from the Harry Potter book series), horse-ball calls for two mounted teams of four players each. The teams attempt to score goals by throwing a ball equipped with leather handles through a vertical net. Like polocrosse (another polo cousin) it emphasizes teamwork and prohibits ball-hogging. You must pass the ball three times to three different teammates before scoring a goal, and you are not allowed to carry the ball for more than 10 seconds.

There are actually two horse-ball tournaments, one for women and one for mixed teams. Four nations are sending teams (France, Spain, Belgium and Italy) and the matches will be held in the evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. Organizers are promising a good show, including a pregame exhibition on Shetland ponies and professional cheerleaders. France, which is essentially undefeated in international competition, is favored to win. Horse-ball has not yet caught on outside of Europe, and is almost unheard-of in the States, although there have been occasional demonstrations at equestrian trade shows.

As for the official events, the WEG promises fierce competition. According to the Alltech WEG website, 74 nations have been nominated to compete, which represents an increase of about 25% over 2010, as well as an all-time high. Twelve countries will be making their WEG debut, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Romania, Thailand, Peru and Kazakhstan. Nine countries, including the U.S., expect to compete in all eight disciplines.

How will the U.S. teams fare? A lot is riding on that question, especially in the Olympic disciplines (showjumping, dressage and eventing) where the country has had some disappointing results in recent major world competitions. At the 2012 Olympics, for instance, U.S. riders were unable to take home a single medal, either in team or in individual competition, their worst performance in over half a century. At the 2010 WEG, held on their own home turf in Kentucky, American eventers and showjumpers also came up empty, leaving Steffan Peters on Ravel, who won the individual bronze in dressage, the lone medalist in the Olympic sports. Americans did better in other arenas, winning the gold in team vaulting, as well as in team reining, along with the gold and silver in individual reining.

This year, Americans are once again favored to dominate reining, which is, after all, a quintessentially American horse sport. Other disciplines are less certain. The U.S. dressage team hopes to finish at least fourth, which will ensure that the team will be qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. A team medal, bronze or even a brighter, is not out of the question: Robert Dover, who took over as chef d’equipe of the dressage team after the London Olympics is said to be optimistic. The best hope for an individual dressage medal is generally acknowledged to be Steffan Peters and Legolas, the two time National Grand Prix Champions. The pair have been earning top placings and high scores in Europe. Other team members (especially Lisa Wilcox on Denzello) have also stepped up this summer and may be ready to shine. The U.S. does not have a terrific history in dressage: a third place team finish has often been regarded as “winning” since some of the European nations (Germany, The Netherlands) have been seen as unbeatable. But national dominance can change. After all, Great Britain won the team gold and the individual gold and bronze at the 2012 Olympics. Those three medals were the first Olympic dressage medals ever for the country, which is now seen as a favorite.

In showjumping, the American team shows signs of regaining the world-class form that propelled it to the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In early August, for instance, Beezie Madden, riding Abigail Wexner’s Cortes C, became the first woman ever to win the Longines King George V Gold Cup at CSIO5* Hickstead, England. U.S. teams also won the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup both at Hickstead and at Gijon (Spain.) Hopes are certainly high, although there are no guarantees that the rails will stay up when the competition begins.

Hopes are also high for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing squad, which has some extremely impressive members, including Buck Davidson, who is currently ranked third worldwide by the FEI. Aiken will be represented in Normandy by three members of the squad. These are Phillip Dutton on Trading Aces (owned by the Trading Aces Syndicate LLC), Boyd Martin on Shamwari 4 (owned by the Shamwari Syndicate LLC) and Kim Severson on her own horse, Fernhill Fearless. All three of these riders make Aiken their winter training base, and are frequent participants in the area’s many events and horse trials from January through March. Phillip and Boyd are also listed as alternates on Mighty Nice and Trading Aces, respectively. Jan Byyny, another rider who trains in Aiken, was named as an alternate on her family’s Inmidair, but she recently withdrew him after he sustained a minor injury.

The Alltech World Equestrian Games website says that over 80,000 tickets are still available for many sessions. Ticket prices are more reasonable than they were in Kentucky in 2010: for instance, tickets to watch the dressage start at 12 Euros (about $16), while showjumping tickets start at 30 Euros ($40) and you can watch reining for 20 Euros (about $26.) In Kentucky, the least expensive tickets were $25 and went up to $45 for some other, lower profile events such as vaulting. Tickets to reining started at $90, and most of the showjumping and dressage sessions were $100 or more. Organizers in France say they have sold over 300,000 tickets to the 2014 games so far and are expecting over half a million spectators.

Spectators and competitors alike are looking forward to the WEG experience, which will include a trade fair, equestrian demonstrations and shows. There will be exceptional food and drink (think oysters and Champagne), spectacular scenery and historic architecture. (For instance, you can tour the Chateau de Caen, built in 1060 by William the Conqueror.) All of this is in addition to what will be one of the largest gatherings of equestrian competitors in history. 

Can't make it to France? You can still watch the action if you have a computer and a good Internet connection. FEI TV ( will be offering live streaming on their website, and you can find highlights on the FEI TV YouTube channel. You can also download the Alltech WEG app on your iPhone or Android device (available August 10) for schedules, live scores, results, news photos and videos. You might not be there, but you can be virtually there. Let the games begin.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ask the Judge | 10/24/2014

Questions About Dressage

With Amy McElroy

Amy McElroy is a USEF R judge, qualified to officiate at any USEF recognized show at all national dressage levels. She rides, trains and teaches at Fairlane Farm in Aiken and judges about a dozen dressage shows and events each year. In her popular Ask the Judge column, she answers readers' questions about dressage.

Dear Amy,

I will be moving up to the Novice Eventing Level this fall, and I am planning to show Novice Eventing Test B. Do you have any tips on how to ride this test successfully?

                                                                                       -New Novice Eventer

Dear Eventer,

I think Novice Eventing Test B is a great “move up” test because it rides smoothly and it is symmetrical. It goes by fast, with only 15 boxes for judges to score, and it takes approximately three minutes and 40 seconds. Although it is a step up from the Beginner Novice tests, it is still designed to be ridden in a small arena (20 meters by 40 meters), and a small arena is mandated at all USEF/USEA recognized events. Some schooling shows might run this test in a large arena, so be sure to check with the show organizer.

As in Beginner Novice, all trot work at the Novice Level may be ridden either rising or sitting, unless the test states otherwise. I would rise to the trot if your horse would go forward more freely when you are rising than when you are sitting. You will not automatically score higher if you are sitting. A “10” is possible sitting or rising because what counts the most is how well your horse is moving.

n this test, the medium walk is scored in two separate boxes. In box #12, “Transition to the Medium Walk,” the score includes the transition and the walk itself. Box #13, “Transition from Medium Walk to Free Walk to Medium Walk,” has a coefficient of two (meaning the points count double.) In this box you are being scored on the quality of the medium walk and on the transitions to and from the free walk. Remember to keep your medium walk marching and overtracking (your horse’s hind feet step over the hoof prints of his front feet) with a slightly open frame. For the free walk, allow the horse as much freedom in stride and frame as possible.

The most difficult movements in this test are Boxes #2 and #7. Box #2 reads: “B, turn right in working trot and E turn left in working trot;” Box #7, the mirror image, reads “E turn left at working trot; B turn right at working trot.” B and E are the letters opposite one another on the center of the long side, so these two movements call for the horse and rider to turn to the inside and cross the center of the ring to change direction.

Of utmost importance here is the geometry and accuracy of the turns. For Box #2, plan your turn so that you leave the track to curve onto the B-to-E line: this turn is similar to how you would turn onto the centerline. Ride directly over X: your horse should be totally straight at X. Then start planning your turn to curve off the B-to-E line to join the track again, in the same way as you turn off the centerline and onto the track. This movement can be difficult because the turns onto and off of the B-to-E line are tight. Many people receive disappointing scores because their geometry needs more accuracy: they don’t turn onto the B-to-E line, or they fail to ride over X. (The mirror image movement at Box #7 needs to be ridden in exactly the same way, just in the opposite direction.)

Transitions in the Novice test are similar to those in the Beginner Novice test because they give the rider freedom to make transitions between the letters rather than at an exact point. This gives you time to be prepared and keep your horse in as much balance as possible. As in Beginner Novice, you may include a walk step between the trot and the halt.

Trot work in this test is performed in the working trot. A correct working trot is when the horse is moving forward actively with a regular, unhurried stride. Canter work in this test is the working canter. A correct working canter should be clear three-beat, and not too quick. The horse should be in a fairly balanced position at all gaits. All bending on curves, turns and circles should be executed without any resistance while maintaining the gait.

Here are some final tips for this test:

  1. Ride your horse well forward in ground covering strides.
  2. Maintain a steady frame with some accetance of the bit.
  3. Prepare for all movements, curves and turns.
  4. Maintain bend where needed.
  5. Remember your geometry: it does matter.
  6. Keep your walk work eager and forward moving and be sure your horse is overtracking
  7. Have fun.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Secret Lives of Horses | Wazal the Dressage Master

Wazal the Dressage Master

By Mary Jane Howell, Photography By Gary Knoll

If Wazal ever had the inclination to brag about his life to his pasture-mates, he would start by saying that he was foreign born. Germany, of course, since he is a dressage horse. Then he would boast that he lived in several states before settling in Aiken. This Hanoverian gelding is 33 years old and has packed an incredible amount of travel and adventure into his long life.

These days he is the king of a small herd of mares (three) at Susan and Dave Bender's Sassy Hill Farm, which is located within the gently rolling hills of the Fox Hollow community.

Although his "girls" are all younger than he is, Wazal is definitely still in control, explained Susan. The horses almost always move as a unit, and if Wazal has found a particularly tasty patch of grass he may not head to the barn when Susan calls for them. In such a case, the mares will never leave him – they may move off for a few steps until they catch his attention, but they don’t go galloping in to be fed without him.

"I do think he might be losing his hearing a bit, but not too much else is wrong with him," said Susan. "He was recently diagnosed with Cushing's, but it’s very mild. He still has his teeth and his weight is good."

Like many senior horses, Wazal is graying around his muzzle and eyes, which lends an air of wisdom to his handsome face. The mares fall for the "old gentleman" routine on a regular basis. He has them all trained to scratch him wherever he has an annoying itch.

Wazal wasn't always such a laid-back sort of horse; in fact, the first six years of his life were definitely not the stuff of storybooks.

"I don't know every detail of his life before I bought him, but I do know the basic facts," Susan explained. "He came to this country at age 4 – completely untouched – and was sold to a teenaged girl who tried to do saddle seat with him. That didn't work out and he ended up being turned out in a field with a herd of cows and the man that owned him trained him with whips. It was not a good situation."

Susan purchased Wazal in 1987 when he was 6. She recalls that it was Halloween, perhaps an auspicious day to begin a long-term relationship!

Susan was living in Connecticut at the time and she says that she and Wazal made a huge impact at the stable where she rode.

"I began to notice that people would schedule their lessons before and after we would be in the ring. Wazal could be unpredictable so I thought they just wanted to stay clear and protect their horses. As it turned out – I later learned – they wanted to be free to watch us. He was like a stick of dynamite."

After the trauma of his early life, it's no wonder that Wazal was less than cooperative under tack. "He taught me so many things," Susan said, "but the most important was patience."

Susan's husband Dave was a colonel in the U.S. Army, and the couple moved with some frequency. After Connecticut, they were stationed at West Point, a place that holds fond memories for Susan.

"West Point has quite an equestrian tradition, so Wazal and I felt right at home," Susan said. "The cadets loved to groom him and it made me laugh because of course they did an incredible job. He was spit-polished!"

After three years at West Point, the Benders were sent to Turkey. The decision was made to leave Wazal in the United States, and he went to Florida to continue his dressage training.

"We were in Turkey for two years and during that time I rode show jumpers, but I flew to the states several times so that I could continue my training on Wazal," Susan recalled.

After Turkey, the Benders were sent to Montgomery, Alabama, and then to Fort Stewart near Savannah, Georgia (the largest military installation east of the Mississippi River). There were several elementary schools at the base and Wazal was popular with the youngsters, who occasionally got to feed him carrots.

"Wazal was more than just my dressage horse. He really helped build relationships within the military community. As fiery as he was in the ring, he was an absolute ham with people," Susan said.

By the late 1990s, Susan and Wazal were seasoned competitors, showing up and down the East Coast. They advanced from Training level to Prix St. Georges, but there would still be the occasional fireworks.

"He would often have one big explosion as we started our test, then go on to be brilliant. One judge (Dr. Max Gatewiller) said to me, 'This is a very opinionated horse.'"

Wazal finally began to settle down when he was 16, and the pair made huge strides. In 2000 Susan was awarded the prestigious silver medal by the United States Dressage Federation, a goal that was met after years of hard work and dedication.

"Wazal really loved dressage and his passage and piaffe were incredible, so very powerful. I think he could have done those movements all day long if I had asked him."

In March of 2001, Colonel Bender was in command of the 284th Base Support Battalion in Giessen, Germany. Susan had plans to ship Wazal to Germany to train with Conrad Schumacher, one of the world’s foremost dressage trainers. "It was to be Wazal's homecoming of sorts," said Susan. And then came September 11, and the world changed.

Wazal still came to Germany, but it was on a delayed schedule, and training sessions with Conrad Schumacher were now out of the question.

With army bases around the world on high alert, the time in Germany was difficult in many respects. Instead of her dreamt-of training and competing, Susan used Wazal in other ways.

"We lived in Butzback, which was very close to Giessen, and home to a large segment of the military. Our barn was in front of the army base and Wazal became a source of much interest for the German and American children who lived there."

The Benders returned to the United States in the summer of 2003 and a few years later, Colonel Bender retired from active duty and they made the move to Aiken.

"I already knew many of the dressage gals in Aiken – Holly Spencer and Amy McElroy especially – and my husband had been offered a job at SRS [the Savannah River Site], so it seemed to be the logical choice."

The horses made the change from being boarded to having their own home with multiple large pastures. Wazal has been completely retired for two years, and doesn’t seem to mind it at all when the other horses are ridden.

"I've owned Wazal for 27 years and he doesn't owe me a thing," said Susan. "As long as he stays happy and healthy I cant ask for anything more. He is enjoying his life."

Perhaps life at Sassy Hill is a bit quiet for a horse who once made a habit of two-hour lessons (just to prove who was right) and performing explosive dressage tests; and who, perhaps, should have earned some insignia of his own for living on so many army bases. But perhaps he has found, thanks to his loving owner, that the grass really is greener on this side of the fence.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Aiken Real Estate | 10/10/2014

By Pam Gleason

The most successful equestrian development selling in Aiken today is Three Runs Plantation. Three Runs is unique in that lots there have been selling briskly, even through economic and real estate downturn. The first two phases of the development are sold out, and only a handful of lots and a few builder homes remain in phases three and four. Demand is so great, phase five will be available soon. The development's master plan encompasses 2,400 acres of land bordering Cedar Creek with many acres left in conservation.

Why do so many people want to live in Three Runs? One thing is certainly the equestrian amenities. These include a professional dressage arena as well as a jumping arena with show quality jumps and competition footing. There is also a six acre fenced schooling area with a cross country schooling complex desgined by Hugh Lochore, an FEI course designer. For trail riding or carriage driving, there are 30 miles of groomed trails, complete with maps and picnic shelters. When not enjoying their horses, residents of Three Runs can enjoy various "lifestyle amenities." These include a clubhouse, outdoor pavilion, pool and cabana. There is a strong community feeling at Three Runs, which has attracted an amazing assortment of horse lovers from across the United States and around the globe.

Equestrian real estate in Aiken can be divided into different areas, each one with its own unique flavor. Back before the real estate boom of the 2000s, most horse people wanted to live in town. They bought gracious old estates in the historic district, staying close to the Hitchcock Woods and to downtown's charming shops and restaurants. Some of those estates are on the market today, attracting horse lovers who can afford to reinvest their stock market earning in a $1 million plus property.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A New Venture in Aiken | 10/3/2014

Brain Gjetley, Trainer

By Pam Gleason, Photography By Gary Knoll

Freshly back from Germany, 25-year-old Brian Gjetley is starting his own horse training business at his family's stable in Hatchaway Farms in Aiken. Brian spent the past two years working with Helena Stormanns, an internationally known horsewoman, at her training and sales barn in Eschwetler. Now that he is home, Brian hopes to bring his knowledge, experience, and a bit of international flair to his own business, which centers around training and selling horses.

Brian came to Aiken with his family when he was a teenager. He is originally from Orange County, California, where he grew with horses in his back yard. His mother, Holly, is a horsewoman, and Brian says that he inherited his passion from her.

"From a young age I always loved horses," he says. "I love their different characters. Every horse you get on is different, and they all have different personalities. I like learning what they like, and having them learn what I like and creating a bond with them."

Brian was showing horses by the time he was 9. When he was 11, his parents bought him a smallish grey Oldenburg gelding. This horse, Pik's Pistelero, was just 4 years old, but he had a good mind and he and Brian seemed to click. Brian started out showing Pistel in short stirrup classes. As Brian matured and improved, so did his horse, and the two moved up the ranks together. With coaching help from Jim Hagman and Dan Silverstone of Elvenstar in Moorpark, Brian and Pistel progressed to the Level 4 jumpers and the equitation medal classes. After they moved to Aiken, Brian and Pistel competed in Junior/Amateur Owners jumpers, a few smaller Grand Prixes and the 6-bar class. It was a perfect case of a young rider and horse growing into one another.

After graduating from high school, Brian took some classes at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He knew he wanted to pursue an equestrian career, however, and so began working for Daniel Geitnet, one of Aiken's top jumper riders and trainers.

"Working for Daniel was a great experience," he says. "He taught me a lot about how to train young horses. He put me on everything, and that's really where I developed the knowledge and experience to get on any young horse and be able to train him how to do his job. Daniel has a way of teaching the horse how to do something rather than making him do it. The way he trains, the horse almost teaches itself."

After working for Daniel for about a year and a half, Brain decided that he wanted to go ride in Europe to get exposure to the highest levels of the jumper world. He had initially considered going to work at Paul Schockemohle's immense training and sales barn in Muhlen, Germany. But then he talked to a friend who was working at Helena Stormann's barn. She mentioned that she was planning to leave, and she knew they would be looking for someone to replace her. Brian interviewed at both places, and felt most comfortable with Helena. It was a smaller facility, with about 30 horses at a time, as compared to the Schockemohle facility where there are over 300. It seemed to offer a more personalized experience.

"It was a place where I thought I would be able to get a lot of riding and be able to get on all kinds of horses," says Brian. "I think I made the right decision. Helena is there and she's watching you when you ride and helping you. There were only three or four of us working there and everyone does everything. So we'd get up, feed the horses, clean the stalls and then we'd start to ride. I rode about six or seven horses each day."

Brian says one of the things he gained from his time in Germany is that he really cleaned up his riding. "The Germans are very big on having a clean ride and riders are very smooth. You don't see them making a lot of extra moves. They trained me and worked very hard with me to make my riding smooth and seamless."

It was an active sales barn, and turnover was fairly rapid. "In three months, you would have a completely different set of horses," Brian continues. "We had horses of all levels, from 4 year olds all the way up to Grand Prix horses to be sold for the five star level."

Brian also had a chance to show, taking some 4- and 5-year olds to their different rules. For instance, in order to enter a horse show, competitors need to have a showing license. You would normally get this by riding in a school and passing horsemanship tests. Brian got his by presenting his American horse show records. Back in Aiken, Brian has a few young horses he is bringing along, including a 3-year-old that he is taking to DiAnn Langer's youn horse training school in Johnston, and a 6-year-old he is hoping to show in the young horse classes later this year. His main business focus right now in sales.

"I really enjoy sales," he says. "I learned from some of the best in the business, so now I would like to get some new sales horses that I can work with for a bit and then sell. I'd also like to do some training, bring along horses that need work, or help people with horses they are having trouble with. I have had a lot of experience with young and difficult horses and I like horses that might need a little extra help."

In addition to a wealth fo knowledge and invaluable experience, Brian also brought back Zuzana Romanova, his girlfirend, who is an experienced international horse show groom. Zuzama, who is from Slovakia, was the groom for Denis Lynch, who has ridden for the Irish international team. Denis, who started his career working for Helena Stormanns, was back training at her facility, which is where Brian met Zuzana. 

Zuzana has traveled all over Europe on the international jumper circuit, and she has years of experience caring for and turning out showjumpers.

"She knows all the tricks to make a horse look and feel his best," says Brian. "So I think one thing we can offer this area is a sales barn and a training barn with a 5-star level of care."

Brian, like many horse people in the hunter jumper world, is excited to see Aiken becoming known for young horses. With several stables now focusing on hunter/jumper prospects, and with DiAnn Langer conducting young horse clinics here, Aiken is showing that it has the potential to become the premier place where green horses can become made horses. It could also become known as a place where riders of all levels can find good horses to buy.

"Now, when people are looking for made horses, a lot of times they go to Europe because they can find a lot of horses to try there. They work harder at training the young horses over there. In a young horse class here, you might find ten horses. In Europe in almost any show, you will find at least 100 horses in those classes. We have just as good horses here. What we don’t have is a place where you can find lots of horses to try in one area. I think Aiken could become a place like that. It’s centrally located, and there are so many places you can give horses experience at shows."

Looking to the future, Brian hopes to develop his business in training and sales. He is also planning to compete, and has lofty goals. His hero and his inspiration is Richard Spooner, an international showjumping rider who, like Brian, comes from Orange County and worked his way up the ranks.

"I enjoy bringing the horses along, working with the young horses" he says. "
But I also like showing. I definitely look forward to bringing along horses to the Grand Prix level. My long-term goal is to be international, to try to qualify for the World Cup, to jump the bigger jumps. I love to compete."

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.