Red Hills 2019 Wrapup

I’m slowly building up the upper-level horses for their spring goals: some of the horses are heading to Kentucky, Jersey Fresh and on to Bromont, and we used Red Hills in Tallahassee, Florida as one of their preparation events to get them humming along.


Christine Turner’s feisty, redheaded mare was absolutely brilliant this weekend; she’s had a busy schedule with Bruce’s Field last weekend and to come out and blitz the competition this weekend was a satisfying victory. She hasn’t been the easiest horse to get the hang of, but I feel like we’ve firmly clicked as a combination. I’ve been working a bit with Peter Gray and he’s really helped with the warm-up for the  dressage phase. Peter is not only a phenomenal dressage trainer, he’s also an FEI judge and I’ve gotten a lot out of our sessions working horses and considering the judge’s eye. Peter was there for all of warm-up rides this weekend, making comments, which really helped while I was in the ring.


Ludwig, owned by the Long Island T Syndicate, felt like an absolute champion this weekend. He felt awesome in all three phases and is bursting with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s really come out this year feeling like a seasoned professional and is turning into one of my more reliable upper-level horses. I’ve been working closely with our team coach Erik Duvander and he’s got me riding Ludwig in a slightly different style, with slightly shorter reins, trying to slow him down and stay with him so I’m not strangling him when he gets keen to the fences.


The greener of the three Advanced horses, On Cue, owned by Christine Turner, still gave me a fantastic performance this weekend. She’s an absolutely phenomenal moving horse and even though she was green in the dressage test she had some really spectacular movements. I took it a little slow with her cross country to make sure she understood the questions. She came out beautifully in the show jumping but unfortunately toed one oxer late in the course.


Denise Lahey and Pierre Colin’s Contestor was a good boy this weekend. The first horse to do dressage at 8am on Friday and he put in a really polished test. We’ve had him since he was a 3-year-0ld and he’s very seasoned and well schooled on the flat, and seems to be doing well in front of the judges this year. Cortez put in a great round cross country yesterday, I chose not to scrub him around too fast over the twisty-turny course and I wanted him to have a confident run. We had a heart-stopping moment at the water where I misjudged the fence in, and I had to use some gymnastic moves to stay in the tack – to his credit he jumped the B element well. Today he put in a nice show jumping round which in the past has been our trickier phase.


This was Ray Price’s first start this year; I’ve delayed taking him out as his focus will  be Bromont in June. I was pleased with his dressage test and then I decided to give him a nice easy slow run around the Intermediate cross country, as I feel where he is in his training, he’ll benefit from a couple easy runs even though he’s competed at the Advanced level. Ray was phenomenal in the show jumping today, with good balance, jumping with a good shape the whole way around the track. I feel like he’s gotten stronger this year and will be a magnificent horse for the future.

To be honest I don’t do much teaching in my day to day life, as my focus is riding, but I was really pleased with Bradley Champagne and Therese Evans, who had good rides around the Intermediate with green horses. It is pleasing to see some of the riders I work with having success, especially at these more difficult, challenging events.

Sophie Middlebrook and Stephanie Simpson did a sensational job grooming and looking after the horses this weekend. There wasn’t a best turned-out award, but if there was our horses would have easily won the contest. All of them are looking very healthy and beautifully turned out, which is a reflection of our staff’s hard work.

Thanks to Cindy Lawler for sharing these photos from the event.



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