Beth Davidson
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Beth Davidson

Achievements

About Beth Davidson

Beth lives on a 25 acre breeding and boarding farm near Tampa, FL. Beth found eventing only four years ago, when she began competing her pony. Beth competed to training level on the super pony, Forrest Nymph, who she owns. Forrest Nymph is now with rider Sinead Halpin and the pair has competed to the CCI** level. The Black Dog Farm breeding program focuses on Connemara ponies and crosses with Thoroughbreds and Trakehners for eventers looking for talent in a smaller horse package. In addition to the farm, Beth works as a biologist for Cardno and is a USEF Dressage TD (r) and FEI Level 1 Steward for Eventing and Dressage.

Eventing Background

USEA Rider Profile Click to view profile
Area 3
Highest Level Competed Training
Farm Name Black Dog Farm
Trainer Ashley Johnson (Leith)

Latest Articles Written

American Connemara Pony Society Adds Sporthorse Registry

The ¼ Connemara filly, Brambleridge Truth or Dare, at a recognized USEA FEH event in Georgia. Trudy is by the Thoroughbred stallion, Salute the Truth and out of a Halfbred mare by Grange Finn Sparrow. The ¼ Connemara filly, Brambleridge Truth or Dare, at a recognized USEA FEH event in Georgia. Trudy is by the Thoroughbred stallion, Salute the Truth and out of a Halfbred mare by Grange Finn Sparrow.

There have been some recent changes at the American Connemara Pony Society. In addition to registering purebred Connemara ponies and half-bred Connemaras, the society has created a Connemara Sporthorse Registry.

For breeders concentrating on eventing and using Connemaras, half-bred Connemaras and part-bred Connemaras in their breeding programs, this development is fantastic news! Two years in the making, this registry was developed by the ACPS as a means to recognize the importance of the part bred or ¼ Connemara horses.

The number of both purebred and half-bred Connemaras registered in the U.S. has seen a steady decline in recent years. The economy impacted the breeders, as has the retirement of many of the U.S.’ early breeders. There are several Connemara breeders in the states that started to focus on purpose bred half-breds and ¼ bred Connemaras for the upper levels of eventing, dressage and show jumping. Unfortunately, these Connemara Sport Horses weren’t able to be registered, and were often off the record as ‘Connemaras’.

Megan Buchanan Harris, of Fade to Grey Farm and the Brambleridge prefix, saw an opportunity to enhance the ACPS registry by capturing these sport horses under the Connemara umbrella and bringing in new membership with their owners and breeders. She collaborated with other members of the society to come up with the new registration options.

The new registry will allow for the registration of half-bred stallions, the offspring of a half-bred bred to a half-bred, and the offspring of a half-bred to a non-Connemara. One of the Half-bred parents must be registered with the ACPS. Any ¼ Connemaras that are already on the ground may be registered with proof of parentage.

Just recently, European breeder William Micklem wrote an article for EN highlighting the importance of Connemara blood in eventing prospects. From William’s EN article: “The quality Connemara blood available in the U.S. can also play a big part in creating the winning recipe for an upper-level event horse. “The brain and ‘fifth leg’ of ponies should not be underestimated.  What puts people off is that it requires taking a longer term view, as it is the second or third cross that produces the performance horse.”

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The 1/2 Connemara mare, Black Dog’s Top of the Morning, at a recognized USEA event in Florida. Mia is by WH Topgun (Connemara stallion competing at Preliminary) and out of an Anglo Trakehner mare. Palmer Photos.

For breeders willing to wait for that second or third cross, we can now utilize this new registry within ACPS.  The Connemara Sporthorse Registry provides an excellent way to track the breeding and success of these part-breds in eventing. Many fellow breeders have discussed the importance of not losing the bloodlines of these ¼ bred sport horses to other registries (like Irish Sport Horse, RPSI, AWS or the like) and recognizing the Connemara breeding of these successful athletes.

Many of these ¼ breds are purpose bred from a Thoroughbred or Warmblood stallion of high blood percentage to a Connemara/TB half-bred mare. Megan is an example of a breeder who has been breeding purebreds, half-breds and lately part-breds, with upper level eventing in mind.

I also breed half-bred Connemara sport horses at Black Dog Farm in Florida and plan to retain some of the half-bred mares I have produced to cross back to Thoroughbred stallions for ¼ breds, aiming the resulting progeny at eventing careers.

Some famous half-bred horses that are out competing at the very top levels of eventing include the halfbreds Sparrows Nio (Half Connemara by *Grange Finn Sparrow, entered at Rolex 2015 4*) and the half-bred Porter Size Just a Jiff, who competed at the WEG in Normandy in 2014 for Ireland.

Porter Size Just a Jiff (15.1 hands) is most often listed as an Irish Sporthorse, but his sire is the little known Connemara stallion Crosskeys Rebel. There are many other part-bred Connemara sport horses listed as Irish or “other”. It is the desire of the ACPS not to discourage breeding quality purebred Connemaras or half-breds, but rather to recognize the successes of the many ¼ bred Connemaras out there competing (and often very well!).

I am super excited that these part-breds will be able to remain under the umbrella of the ACPS. While I periodically breed purebred ponies (and hope for keeper fillies to replace my aging purebred pony mares), I have great demand from buyers for half-breds and ¼ breds from eventers looking for quality gaits, jump and gallop coupled with pony bravery, soundness and their excellent minds.

Ride a purebred, part-bred or half-bred Connemara across the cross country course and you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of these horses and ponies. For questions on this new registry, you can contact Megan Buchanan Harris directly at fadetogreyfarm@gmail.com.

For more information on registering a Connemara Sporthorse, click here.

Willem Micklem’s Full EN Article:  http://eventingnation.com/home/william-micklems-winning-formula-for-event-horse-breeding/

Beth Davidson’s EN Article on Breeding Connemara Crosses:  http://eventingnation.com/bloggers-row/breeding-event-horses-future-generations-and-a-twenty-year-plan/

Interesting Proposed Rule Changes for Eventing 2015

If you have been on Facebook or the Chronicle of the Horse (COTH) bulletin boards lately, you will know there is quite a bit of chatter regarding some proposed rule changes for Eventing for 2015. Of particular interest are the rule changes proposed for EV 140:  #291-14 and #292-14.  You can view both rule changes here.

The first rule change, 291-14, proposes increasing the optimum time speeds for BN, Novice and Training. The proposed times for the levels are BN (350 mpm), Novice (400-430 mpm) and Training (450-480 mpm). Where multiple divisions of training are offered, Open Training will be 480 mpm. I assume that the organizers would also default to Open Novice at 430, but that is not addressed in the rule change.

At least in the southeast, we most commonly have optimum times for BN set at 350 and Novice at 400, so those speeds aren’t a big change for those of us already competing at this speed. I don’t really have a problem with the proposed optimum times, as one does not have to ride for time, but here is where I forsee a problem:

Currently the speed fault time for BN is set at 420 (a fast novice speed), and for Novice the speed fault time is 450 (Training speed). The rule proposes to make the speed fault time now uniform from BN to Training and set at the Prelim speed of 520! I am not sure I understand the wisdom of allowing someone at BN to compete at a Prelim speed of 520 with no speed faults.  At 520, I would think the TD would possibly be trying to pull up a rider for dangerous riding (yellow card)!

While some riders at BN probably could safely negotiate 2’7″ at Prelim speeds, many riders arguably could not safely accomplish this feat. Don’t we want to teach our up and coming riders to jump safely and without excessive speed? What about the child on a pony who decides to run and gun at the jumps and now won’t have any speed fault worries to slow them down? I, for one, would like to see where safety implications this rule might create have been addressed.  I wonder if anyone has looked at the possibilities that it may create some big safety concerns!

In addition to basically eliminating speed faults at this level, this rule proposes at least one larger stadium jumping fence at each level. Basically, one vertical and one oxer each are allowed at larger height. For BN, the largest allowable height is 2’10”, for Novice is 3’1″, Training is 3’5″ and Prelim is 3’9″. Overall spreads may also be increased by approximately 2″ for each level (there is a typo for the Training spread, as 1.2 meters does not equal 3’3″, but that is another issue altogether!).

I am not sure why the powers that be introduced this aspect of the rule change, unless they are trying to add fences that might make the results based less on a dressage score? However, I don’t think it is fair to competors competent at 2’7″ to worry they might have a 2’10” fence with a spread of 3’3″ on a BN show jumping course. The seasoned competitor on a green horse may not have any issue at all, but the kid on a small or medium pony who is new to eventing? Why?

The next rule is even more exciting. Proposed Rule 292-14 redefines the levels of the Horse Trials. From reading the language, we are now introducing the BN to Training Olympics. Yay! Really? All I can think is oy vey! On cross country, BN may now place obstacles on bending lines. Water may have an obstacle before and after the water and a step down may be included. I don’t mind the addition of the step down, but obstacles before and after water at BN? Bending lines? Stadium jumping now allows a two stride line.

Novice changes add to the fun: 15 meter trot circle for dressage (ok, I can live with that). For cross country, offset obstacles set on a two stride line, obstacles after a step up (two strides), it goes on! Read the rule for the full effect, but now log drops into water at Novice are permissible. So are log trakehners and elephant traps, corners and double brush. I can’t wait for the cross country penalties I see racking up, especially when added to the 520 speed fault allowable time. Stadium adds a triple bar.

Training and Preliminary changes are less drastic to me as the changes to the lower levels of eventing. I won’t go into them here (you can read the links). Reading the rule changes in their entirety, I understand where there is a desire to bridge the gap between Training and Preliminary. For a lot of riders, the jump from training to prelim is formidable. However, did Novice and BN really have to put young and amateur riders and their horses at risk by adding elements that clearly require more precision in riding at the same time as removing penalties for excessive speed?

Yes, I realize speed faults will still exist, but I question how “safe” everyone can negiotate fences at only BN height at 520 mpm. (I am going to assume the pros will have little problem and probably not go excessively fast, and they can ride and steer well enough that the added technical difficulty isn’t as much of a concern for them.) I hope the USEA and USEF gives a bit more thought to these proposed rule changes, and the safety of newcomers to eventing, before enacting them.

Submitted as the mother of an 11 year old girl, on a 14.1 pony, who is entered in her first recognized Starter Trial in early November at Rocking Horse, Florida.

Breeding Event Horses: Future Generations and a Twenty Year Plan

You mean I shouldn't stand on mom? Photo Anneke Davidson. You mean I shouldn't stand on mom? Photo Anneke Davidson.

Most breeders of horses don’t breed for the event market, as OTTBs are often the mounts of choice for  eventers. However, lately more purpose-bred event horses are offered for sale in the U.S. Gone are the days when just about any athletic Thoroughbred from off the track can be made up into a competitive three or four-star horse.

Can they still be found, those diamonds in the rough, who will still stack up to the best in eventing?  Of course, but with the added emphasis of dressage in this sport, that OTTB had better be a super moving horse in addition to possessing a great gallop with a good jump.  The recent WEG results still indicate that a lot of Thoroughbred blood is desired (needed?) for a true four-star track, even though some breeders have gotten away from so much blood in their lines over the past ten years.

Not everyone breeding horses for eventing is breeding for an Olympic or WEG caliber horse.  And when you are breeding for that top tier horse, many won’t make it to the upper levels for a variety of reasons.  If that young horse has a four-star personality, selling it might be a lot more difficult if the whole package isn’t there.  I’m talking the quirky, sensitive type of horse that often excels at the top level of our sport.

Try selling one of these quirky prospects that lacks a bit of scope and you find yourself with a not very marketable commodity! One that you may very well have to sell at OTTB prices and definitely at a loss. That is not very economical and certainly not a good business plan. What’s a breeder to do?

In developing a 20 year plan for breeding with eventing in mind, I decided my breeding goals would be for athletic and talented but amateur friendly horses (at least their breeding indicates ammie friendly).  Not as much blood as you might want in a four-star horse, initially, to see what this first and second generation actually go and do.

Then, the plan is to hold back a mare or two if the line seems to be a good mix of athletic and smart with the “hunting the next fence” attitude (and hopefully some spectacular dressage movement) and breed that progeny back to a proven eventing Thoroughbred. I’m ten years in, but I thought it might be a good time to look at the eventing progeny produced so far. Sharing this information with eventers and event horse breeders will hopefully also get them to weigh in on what they think of this plan and share what their plans and goals are.

I started with a Thoroughbred mare with Turn-To bloodlines (grandsire) who also had the conformation I desired and personality I adored (Turn-To appears in the blood lines of a number of excellent event horses.). I had known this mare from when she was nine, and at 16, I convinced her owner to part with her so I could try breeding her to a Connemara stallion.

The first stallion I used was *Gunsmoke, who at the time had performed to the Preliminary level in eventing and also performed very well at the Connemara Show at Clifden in Ireland.  Unfortunately for me, *Gunsmoke was exported back to Ireland shortly after I used him.  There is frozen semen available, but with an older mare who had trouble catching with fresh cooled, I only got one filly, who was foaled in 2004.

The resulting mare is currently in Texas and has been successful in eventing (her registered name hasn’t been used, unfortunately), but she shows as Fiona.  I should have kept her for the breeding program, but at the time I needed the funds, so off she went!  Fiona matured to 15.1, with fantastic jumping form and breath-taking dressage.  She won her YEH 4-year-old test in Texas with very high marks and comments from the judges that she should be successful nationally in eventing.  It seemed like the breeding program might be off to a good start.

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Pictured above and below, Black Dog’s Smokin’ Kate (now Fiona) with Carol Green (Jim Stoner Photo, below).

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At this point in breeding, I decided to try to improve on the Thoroughbred mare I had (as far as her movement for dressage) and I bred her twice to a Trakehner stallion who stood in California for a few years.  Never licensed by the ATA due to an injury, he nevertheless had three very good gaits and incredible rideability.

I used Feuertanzer twice on my getting up there in age Thoroughbred mare and scored fillies for both 2005 and 2006.  By now I was feeling pretty lucky that I kept getting fillies as well!  The 2005 filly managed to injure herself as a two year old, resulting in my opting to retain her for future breeding.  The 2006 model was sold to a Pennsylvania pony clubber who qualified her for Pony Club nationals, in less than six weeks of ownership, when the mare was only 5!

I did manage to show the 2005 filly in hand prior to injury at both USDF Dressage Sport Horse Breeding and USEF Hunter Breeding shows (no USEA YEH in Florida yet!) and Black Dog’s Fiorella scored in the mid to high 70’s in dressage and finished Zone 4 as the 5th placed HB Yearling.  With a wonderful personality and movement that is excellent, her one conformation flaw to me is that her neck is a bit short; I decided I could live with that.

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Black Dog’s Fiorella, age 6, pictures by Omar G Photography.

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I thought my TB mare (Pestycide for those interested in her Jockey Club name) had produced some lovely foals and it was time to go to the next generation (and she was 21, she died this past spring at 28).  In 2009, I bred her daughter “Ella” back to a Connemara stallion, this one a stallion son of the first stallion (*Gunsmoke).  My hope was to keep quality of gaits, while reducing size and ensuring an “ammie” friendly nature.  While Ella is the sweetest and most personable Anglo Trakehner I have ever met, Ella matured to 17 hands and for eventing, I prefer 16 hands for eventing and ammie owners.

This sire, WH Topgun, was not currently competing much when I first used him, but I so liked the ‘nick’ with the TB mare and *Gunsmoke that I went for using the daughter of the TB and the son of the Connemara. Topgun now has a competitive career in eventing, winning often at training level on scores of 25 and he will be competing at Preliminary in fall 2014.

Three offspring have been produced with this cross, with one competing in eventing, one aimed at an upper level dressage career (Canada) and the 2014 colt I anticipate selling to an event home.  I sold the first foal, a filly, this spring as a 5 year old, after deciding I just shouldn’t keep her since I personally don’t want to even past training level.

If I want to get people excited about eventing quality horses that are so ammie friendly a child can ride them, I needed to sell them to those homes. Black Dog’s Top of the Morning went to Woodside, Ca where she is just starting to compete with her 12 year old rider.  Her trainer anticipates “Mia” and her new owner will compete in Young Riders in a few years (I sure hope he is correct).

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Black Dog’s Top of the Morning photo courtesy of Palmer Photos.

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Photo courtesy of Adriana Dail.

The next offspring was not as “bold”, but a great moving guy who was very steady in his personality.  I apologize for not having a great moving picture of him, but he was sold to an upper level amateur dressage rider in Canada.  I have no doubt he could event, but personality wise, he may not have been as suited.

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Black Dog’s Gold Luck, photo credit Jody Harwood.

This year’s colt is three months old now and I think he will be an excellent event horse.  Amicable with great movement and conformation, I think he will mature to be quite competitive.  Personality wise, he reminds me of Mia in his boldness and presence, while maintaining a friendly disposition.

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Black Dog’s Top Dun, photo courtesy Anneke Davidson.

I’d like to think the ten year plan is working, at least in providing good moving, sound, conformationally correct horses who are forward and light but not ridiculously sensitive for most amateur riders.  So far, they appear to jump in good form, have a good gallop and movement necessary to be competitive on the flat.

The second ten years, the plan is to retain a filly from this crossing.  By blood, that filly would be half-Connemara, ¼ Thoroughbred and ¼ Trakehner.  I would then breed that filly to a proven Thoroughbred or high percentage Thoroughbred sire so that the resulting foal is at least 65% Thoroughbred by blood.

As long as that sire is a good “nick” with my mare and a rideable type stallion, then the resulting foals should appeal to the amateurs who purchase most of our stock, while still having the potential to be successful at the upper levels.  That isn’t to say that the progeny bred so far couldn’t be competitive at the upper levels, but at the three and four-star level, they may not have enough blood to be competitive.

I would love to hear from other breeders who are breeding for the largest market out there (amateurs) with the hope that maybe an offspring at some point ends up with a professional who takes them to their full potential.  And if not, boy those ammies will have some fun, myself included.

Lower Levels at Events: Incompatible with a Prestigious Event?

A disappearing sight at an event?  Photo courtesy of Palmer Photography A disappearing sight at an event? Photo courtesy of Palmer Photography

I am going to pose a question to you, and then proceed to answer that question from my perspective.  I realize that we all approach the answers to any question from our own life experiences, so I don’t expect that my position will be shared by everyone.

I can easily see other sides, however, when I feel strongly about something, my friends know I am vocal about my concerns.  (I do hope I come across as fair and open minded and even-keeled when addressing a disagreement, but then you also know how passionate we eventers are, so that might not always be the case!)

Should a recognized event offer Beginner Novice? At what point are the number of entries “too low” to offer a division?

I recently inquired about an event organizer’s omnibus listing for an upcoming recognized event where there was no Beginner Novice division offered.  The event had previously offered this level, so I looked up last year’s entries for the division and it was really light (ten entries).

However, during the winter of 2014, this division was very well attended at both this event facility and another event venue located in very close proximity.  I went through the entries and added them up; the other two events at this venue had 19 and 34 entries across the Beginner Novice divisions.  The other venue fared a little better, with 36, 25, 49 and 21 entries for winter 2014.  Not too bad, some of the shows even had enough entries that the juniors got divided out into their own division!

I get that there is a certain number below which is not cost effective to hold a division: you have a dressage judge to pay and cross country jump judges to find and feed, not to mention the course designer has another level to measure and mark.

Clearly the ten riders at Beginner Novice in 2013 is a division riding that fine line of being offered or not.  However, the reply that I got from the organizer is that they are trying to keep the “standards of the sport high, period”.  By not offering Beginner Novice? Really? Offering Beginner Novice somehow lowers those standards? How? Because kids on their ponies get to experience recognized eventing at the same show where they can rub shoulders with current and former Olympians? Qualify for AECs? (Last I checked, Beginner Novice was the largest division that filled at the AECs).

I believe professionals and amateurs alike need recognized shows to offer the lower levels to competitors for a multitude of reasons. What about those over 50 amateurs who are lifers at Beginner Novice? No one says you HAVE to move up, right?

For me, personally, I like bringing the green beans out at Beginner Novice. I don’t think I am the only rider who likes to do that. I know some trainers bring their horses out at Novice or even at Training, but I am an amateur rider and I breed, so I like to get them going at Beginner Novice first. Have them gain confidence, then move them up.  I readily admit that most of mine do three or so Beginner Novice before they move up to Novice.

But there are Schooling Shows!

We do have excellent schooling shows, where anyone can gain great experience at Beginner Novice (and on up to Training), but the shows aren’t the same feel.  Often the courses are similar, with very good cross country courses, and certainly the schooling shows are well run in our area (Area III).

But if you are a breeder like me, showing young green beans, the first thing a prospective buyer does is look up their show record on the USEA website!  If the local events stop offering Beginner Novice at their recognized shows, a rider/trainer may bump their babies up to Novice too early, trying to establish that record.   The trainer or parent may push the child on the pony too quickly to move up to Novice to get them to a recognized competition.

The trainer/pro/coach may make less money!

The trainer may bring less clients to the shows they are competing at, because their students don’t have divisions in which to compete.  We left behind horses for three separate events in Area III this winter, simply because the shows did not offer Beginner Novice (and in one case, Novice). These were shows that would have been fun to attend, with a group of friends, with a trainer who was disappointed that they couldn’t join us but they chose that show because it offered Advanced (and a lot of venues don’t offer Advanced, at least not at every show).

We could split the divisions to show on different weekends!

I have heard the suggestion that the venues might offer the lower levels the weekend before the upper levels, but I don’t see that scenario playing out very well.  Now you have to find double the volunteers (or try using the same volunteers on back to back weekends).

You have another weekend where you have to have a TD, judges, course designers and stewards on the payroll.  Trainers get to attend the show two weekends in a row, once to show upper level horses and school their upper level students and again to show babies and coach their lower level amateur riders.  If the trainer is from out of state, how likely is that trainer going to attend both?

I have also heard they can offer the lower levels earlier in the week.  That works if you are the pro on your green bean, not so much if you are the amateur owner with limited vacation time or the kid still in school.

Eventing will miss out on a crucial ingredient: camaraderie.

There are other aspects of removing Beginner Novice or offering a split show scenario that come to mind and, for me, one of the things I like best about eventing is that if you are showing at Beginner Novice or any of the lower level divisions, you can watch the pros and higher level amateurs ride and compete.

I learn so much by volunteering to jump judge the upper levels and watch them warm their horses up for dressage.  The eventing community is so open and friendly and I think it greatly adds to the sport that we compete in: pros and amateurs alike are enjoying our horses together – on the same weekend, at the same venue and often times in the same divisions!

And we are inspired by watching the upper level horse and their rider getting the job done on course.  Eventing would lose greatly, I fear, by separating the minions from the pros, and I for one would not like to see that happen.

EN Readers, weigh in!  Do you think offering Beginner Novice (or Novice) at an event in any way detracts from that event?  Makes it less prestigious?

Finding the Right Match

Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma Photography. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma Photography.

Six months ago, I posted a rather different type of sales ad on Sport Horse Nation.  You see, I really wanted to find “the right” rider for a pony I own.  The problem with selling this pony outright is that I worried she might not end up with the best match, the best match for her.  I was probably NOT the pony’s best match, much to my own chagrin.  While I love riding her, both of us are brand new to eventing and realistically her talent is wasted on me at Training.  I have been told repeatedly that this particular pony is special and I took that message to heart.

This pony has an interesting history, fairly well detailed in my blog, PonyEventer: And the Redhead Tackles Eventing, if you are interested in her backstory.  Suffice it to say that just because a person wanted to purchase the pony didn’t necessarily mean that they were the right fit for her.  I had visions of selling this pony to someone and then finding out a few weeks or months later that they hated her or that the partnership wasn’t working.  Farrah didn’t deserve that and it would be unfair to a new rider or owner as well.

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Farrah and Sinead Halpin. Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Forrest Nymph, or “Farrah” is not your typical 14.2 hand New Forest kid’s pony:  she is red and sassy and thinks she is a full sized horse and eats cross country courses for breakfast.  I did have some success with Farrah, even without an eventing background, winning our first Beginner Novice and within a year we tackled training level (finishing in 4th).

Trainer after trainer told me she had a freak of a jump and implied the pony was wasting her time with me in the saddle (an amateur with no prior eventing experience).  Debbie Stephens helped us with show jumping from time to time and continually compared her to Karen O’Connor’s former mount, Teddy.  And while Debbie never actually said, “what on Earth are you thinking, wasting this talent, I got the point,”  Farrah then spent six months or so with a local professional, who showed Farrah successfully at Preliminary (even winning one) and then at the CCI* level.  While they enjoyed success, Farrah got a bit testy and belligerent and that led to my Sport Horse Nation post, looking for ideas on placing the Redhead with a rider who might just be her match.

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Photo by Brant Gamma Photography.

Sinead rung and that began Farrah’s newest adventure with Team SHE.  They met in December of 2013, got acquainted, Sinead ran off to get married and then in January the pair started showing.  Sinead was conservative in how many times Farrah ran, and sometimes dressage was less than stellar for the opinionated RedHead, but the pair hasn’t finished lower than 10th place in any outing and have finished as high as 4th in very stiff competition.  They have run Preliminary at Southern Pines, Ocala, Carolina Horse Park and The Fork.  After heading to New Jersey, Farrah has run two Intermediates, MCTA and VHT.  Sinead and Farrah finished 7th at MCTA and at VHT the pair finished in tenth place and they ran the exact same track as the CIC**!

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Photo by Brant Gamma Photography

Sinead understands this pony like no one else; everything has to be presented to Farrah so that the pony thinks it is her idea.  Their partnership is still developing, but every month Sinead is able to coax Farrah to better performances in dressage.  (Farrah’s daddy, Forrest Flame, competed through Intermediare in dressage, so it isn’t like Farrah has no dressage skills!).  Farrah and Sinead plan to run a few more Intermediates this summer and then run the Fairhill CCI** in the fall.   I feel like we found that match Farrah needed in a rider with Sinead, a rider who brings empathy and tact with good humored determination.

All that remains to keep this match in place is for Sinead and I to find partners who are interested in joining the Redhead and Sinead.  I have the utmost respect for Sinead, pointing a 14.2 hand pony at fences this size could be daunting, but Farrah is completely at ease with Team SHE and I for one hope we can keep her there.

Team SHE is busy working on a completely new website, but you can follow Farrah and Sinead via Facebook or Farrah’s blog.  For information on partnering on Farrah, please email megkep@gmail.com.