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Kira Topeka


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Loch Moy’s Donation Derby Raises $1,000 for Therapeutic Program

Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse in full holiday attire tackle the Novice Coop. Photo via Event Clinics. Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse in full holiday attire tackle the Novice Coop. Photo via Event Clinics.

Elves on ponies and snowflake-covered horses brought holiday spirit to the Highlands at Loch Moy Farm for the annual Donation Derby on December 3rd.

This year’s Donation Derby raised over $1,000 for the Frederick County 4H Therapeutic Riding Program. This non-profit organization aims to provide positive horseback riding experiences for members of the community with disabilities.

The holiday themed Derby took advantage of Loch Moy Farm’s all-weather schooling complex with an extensive array of portable cross-country fences and five acres of all-weather footing rings.

Feistily decorated riders and horses across the levels (Prelim-Elementary) began the course with several show-jumps before continuing onto the cross-country portion. The course included a ditch option for most levels and double banks for Preliminary and Training. Riders were given an opportunity to school before their division.

The idea to create an all-weather cross-country schooling complex was launched by Carolyn Mackintosh, the owner of Loch Moy Farm, who saw a similar venue at Aston-le-Walls during a trip to England.

Each fall, at the conclusion of the competition season, Loch Moy Farm staff moves a range of portable cross-country fences onto the all-weather footing rings, where the jumps remain until the spring. Riders can then use the jumps to school or compete throughout the winter. Smaller single banks are currently under construction with plans for a water feature in the future.

“Riders and coaches throughout Area II are thrilled to have this course open for schooling through the winter,” commented Natalie Hollis, an Advanced level eventer and coach. Natalie was placed in the top three of Loch Moy Farm’s Instructor Incentive Program for 2016.

“It allows riders to keep their horses fit and prepare for the spring season without heading south. It’s amazing!”

The next Cross Derby at Loch Moy Farm will be held on Jan. 7, 2017. Sign-up early, as this event fills quickly! For more information and easy online entry, head to Event Clinics.

Patricia McCaffery and "Winter is Coming"

Patricia McCaffery and Winter Is Coming. Photo via Event Clinics.

Zuzana Benicka and "Sesame Street"

Zuzana Benicka and Sesame Street. Photo via Event Clinics.

Debbie Smith and "Everlasting Light"

Debbie Smith and Everlasting Light. Photo via Event Clinics.

Cierra Miller and "Well Done Son" and Olivia Ziegler and "Mighty Mouse"

Cierra Miller and Well Done Son with Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse. Photo via Event Clinics.

Santa over the coops

Santa over the coops. Photo via Event Clinics.

On Horse and Rider Development with Phyllis Dawson

Photo courtesy of Phyllis Dawson Photo courtesy of Phyllis Dawson

A wise student of Phyllis Dawson’s once said, “There’s a carved rock at the base of the Windchase driveway. If you choose upon arrival to leave your brain on top of that rock, Phyllis will have no patience for you. But if you’re focused and trying, she will do all she can to help you.”

Phyllis’s dedication to horse and rider advancement includes key roles in various programs such as the USEF Eventing Selection Committee, the USEA Instructor Certification Program and the USEA Future Event Horse program.

As a veteran of the U.S. Eventing Team, her list of accomplishments includes top placings at four-star events all over the globe, as well as the highest-placed U.S. rider at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, where she finished 10th. Today she runs an extensive training and boarding operation at Windchase, her farm in Purcellville, Virginia.

For Phyllis, riders who stand out are those who truly want to build and enhance their skills. She says, “I like most teaching those students who are really enthusiastic about learning, whatever their level.”

Not all training techniques work for all horses. Having developed hundreds of horses and riders, Phyllis knows every trick in the book. She notes, “I love the process of figuring out what approach is best for each individual horse in order to help the horse and rider form a great partnership.”

To accommodate busy schedules, horse and rider levels are often mixed at Windchase clinics. But don’t be intimidated by your groups! The goal at Phyllis’ clinics is always fun and education. She explains, “It’s important to watch the other horses and riders as well, because you can learn a lot that way.”

As a Beginner Novice rider, you might pick up techniques watching an upper level rider on a green horse tackle the same questions. “I adjust my teaching style somewhat depending on the student,” she says. “With the serious students who want to go to the upper levels I am more demanding, and for the less experienced or nervous rider I gear the lesson toward confidence building. My goal is to have the rider go away from the lesson realizing they could do more than they thought they could!”

Want to learn more? Sign-ups for clinics at Windchase are available exclusively on Event Clinics. Phyllis’s winter clinic series focuses on developing skills through an evolving set of jump exercises. Lessons evolve from grids and cavalettis to coursework through the winter. Heading into spring, clinics turn to cross-country questions in the indoor in preparation for competition season. If the weather cooperates, the final clinics are held on the Windchase cross-country course.