Since returning to the East Coast over the winter season and starting a new business venture with Brian and Sara Kozumplik Murphy, Maya Black has also begun the daunting task of building her own string of horses with a goal to represent the U.S. on the world stage.
It is no secret that aspiring team riders need multiple horses to compete. For a young professional like Maya, the question of how to acquire and ultimately fund such a string is one without an easy answer.
Maya produced Doesn’t Play Fair from Novice to CCI4* level, which culminated in finishing third at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2016 and being named the alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro. An injury ultimately forced his withdrawal from Rio, and Doesn’t Play Fair returned to Washington state with his owners at the end of 2016.
Since then, Maya has worked diligently to produce another horse to the highest level of the sport. She has successfully brought her off-track Thoroughbred Mowgli from Novice to CCI2* level over the past three years, and he is stepping up to compete in his first Advanced at The Fork at Tryon this coming weekend in Mill Spring, North Carolina.
In looking for another horse to add to her program, Maya has found a perfect match in FE Black Ice. Now thanks to a creative fundraising strategy, Maya has the opportunity to call FE Black Ice her own and have two upper-level horses for the first time in her career.
Maya first met “Nigel,” an 8-year-old German Sporthorse (Stakkato’s Highlight X Co-Co, by Compliment), at the Murphys’ winter base, Mardanza Farms in Micanopy, Florida, where Caroline Merison had sent the horse to be sold.
“Part of my deal with Sara and Brian was to ride the sales horses, so I started riding Nigel in November,” Maya said. “I was riding him with the intention that he was for sale. I know not to let myself get very attached to the sales horses. I enjoyed riding him, but I never really thought he would be a horse for myself.”
Maya and Nigel’s partnership quickly blossomed. She took him to his first Intermediate at Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trials in January, where he added one rail to his dressage score to finish second. At Ocala Winter I Horse Trials in February, Maya and Nigel added only cross country time penalties to finish sixth in his second Intermediate.
After she then took him to his first CIC2* at Red Hills International Horse Trials, where Nigel again added only time penalties on cross country to finish 10th in a competitive field, Maya started to wonder if it might be possible to keep him for herself.
Caroline Merison has kindly agreed to give Maya the time to raise the funds required to purchase Nigel, who will officially stay in her program.
“Over the last month we’ve been thinking maybe we could make it work out. I’ve been getting more and more excited about it and the possibility of having another horse. Nigel is the same age as Mowgli and technically more green, but they could not be more different horses,” Maya said.
“Nigel is extremely laidback and very workmanlike over the fences. He’s probably the easiest horse I’ve ever jumped because he has a longer neck and I’m tall. It’s amazing how much easier I find him to jump than Mowgli, who is a bit more short-coupled and a spitfire. It’s exciting to think about having two horses to jump around top tracks.”
In addition to offering ownership shares through the Black Ice Group, Maya has also set up a PayPal link to allow anyone interested in helping her to make a donation directly towards the purchase of the horse.
“Trying to raise the money to buy this horse is really out of my comfort zone,” Maya said, “but Sara encouraged me that I just need to do it because I need another horse.”
Sara said Jonty Evans’ successful crowdfunding campaign to secure ownership of his Olympic mount Cooley Rorkes Drift inspired her to encourage Maya to do the same.
“Maya has built a well deserved reputation for herself. We’ve got to put a priority on having riders like her well mounted,” Sara said. “We don’t have to be millionaires to be owners of event horses. We can all come together and give to help each other out. All of us can give a little bit.”
While there are many characteristics that define the eventing family, our ability to band together in support of fellow riders is surely one of our strongest. Please consider donating through PayPal to help Maya raise the money she needs to purchase Nigel.
If you are interested in purchasing a larger ownership share in the Black Ice Group, please contact Maya at 360-320-9540 or m[email protected] for more information.
There is an exciting summer on offer to anyone who joins in the journey to help Maya raise the funds to purchase Nigel. She is aiming him for the CCI2* at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event in May, with an aim to move up to Advanced in the autumn.
Best of luck, Maya and Nigel!