C4 sponsored rider Jennie Brannigan is hot off of her first official CCI4* completion at Rolex, and she graciously took a few minutes to answer some of our questions for this month’s Q&A. Well-known in the eventing community as a girl with a need for speed and a big love for her horses, Jennie has quickly become a fan favorite with her current upper-level partner, Cambalda. Many thanks to Jennie for her time, and to C4 for this month’s promo code, which you can find at the bottom of this post!
EN: How does it feel to have your first official Rolex completion?
Jennie: It wasn’t the result I was looking for, but I’m thrilled to have a sound horse and to have finished the event.
EN: Who was your riding idol growing up?
Jennie: Allison Springer was my first real mentor, and I definitely wanted to be her. I was her first working student, so I’ve known her for a long time now.
EN: Did you always know you’d be an eventer?
Jennie: I didn’t even know what eventing was, but I heard about it and I knew right away that I wanted to do it. The first time I held an omnibus in my hands, I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I was probably 11 when I realized this.
EN: Would you call yourself an adrenaline junkie?
Jennie: I definitely have a need for speed, that’s for sure.
EN:Tell us about your first ever ride on Cambalda.
Jennie: I tried him a year before I bought him. I knew I needed another horse besides Cooper, and I looked at (Ping) at Kelli Temple’s farm and liked him. I was not in love with him, to be honest; I liked him a lot but I just wasn’t completely ready for him yet.
I saw him a year later when he was going Prelim at Poplar, and I watched him show jump and thought he looked really good. I ended up trying him again and then it all fell into place. I was young, 21, and I had Cooper, who was on top at the time.
I knew I would struggle to find a horse that I loved as much as Cooper. I was told that if I ever liked a horse even half as much as Cooper, then I should probably buy it. I will say it wasn’t a partnership that was easy. I don’t like horses that you have to kick, and I struggled with him.
Phillip (Dutton) definitely helped me — it was not one to click perfectly into place, and I actually considered selling him as a Prelim horse myself. I think I was a little jaded by Cooper because we had clicked so well. It was maybe when we won the AECs at Intermediate and we had started to click when I thought he could be the real deal.
Then I lost Cooper, and you tend to do the best with whatever you have. Suddenly that pedestal of a horse is gone, and then I thought, “Well, I need to prove that I’m not a one horse wonder, so let’s crack on.”
EN: What is the biggest thing Cooper taught you?
Jennie: I’d never won anything before. I have a friend named Lane Clark who is a show jumper, and he said I had to learn how to win, and Cooper taught me how to go in the ring and win.
I know that sounds silly — it’s not something you learn, but he taught me to ride a test like I want to win, and I got my competitive streak from him. I never cared much about winning, I just wanted to be a good rider, but he brought that competitive streak out in me.
EN: What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Jennie: Winning Galway Downs (in 2010) in my home town was pretty special. My grandfather was there, and that was the last time he saw me ride before he passed away. I won (the Cooper Memorial Award) there for the first time as well, which meant a lot to me.
Winning Fair Hill was a big high — I lost Cooper in that arena, so it was very emotional. I don’t think that pain is ever going to go away. I was looking at that arena last year thinking how the last time I left that arena I was in a horse ambulance. Leaving it a winner is just like putting some demons to rest. I’ve had some incredible highs and lows in that arena.
EN: What event is on your competition bucket list?
Jennie: I really want to jump around Adelaide. I have to figure out if the Dutta Corp flight I won at Fair Hill is truly anywhere in the world. I was talking to the New Zealand coach at Rolex, and he said, “You know, if you have a free flight that track would suit your horse.”
I think it’s from growing up around so many Australians — I think it would be fun to say I did it. With Ping, I have to be pretty careful where I run him, but I think that would suit him well.
EN: What is the best part of your relationship with (owner) Nina Gardner?
Jennie: I can be 100 percent honest with her. She knows everything about me. I talk to her about personal things as well; I seek her advice, not just with the horses, but with everything. She’s very involved with the horses, and I think our communication is what makes everything work so well.
EN: Do you have any big goals with horse racing?
Jennie: I would very much like to ride in the Maryland Hunt Cup one day; it’s on my bucket list. Everyone always says eventers don’t make the best jump jockeys because they spend too much time setting up the horses, but I’m just intrigued to see if it’s something I could do.
I wouldn’t stop eventing, and I know it’s dangerous, but I don’t have kids and don’t have a family so now would be a good time to try. As eventers, we’re used to being so in control, and with the races you have to be comfortable with being a little out of control, even if the distance isn’t right or something else comes up. I’m curious to see how I would handle that.
EN: What horse, past or present, would you like to take a spin on?
Jennie: I think I would love to ride Susie Hutchinson’s Samsung Woodstock.
EN: What is your favorite thing about C4?
Jennie: I like C4 because of their interest in the environment, as well as their innovation. They’re durable belts, and anyone can afford them — I think that’s great.
If you need to stock up on C4 this month, you can use the promo code “JennieC4” at checkout to receive 10% off your order, a free bonus buckle and free shipping. Click the banner below to start shopping!