If smiles were money, Meg Kepferle would be a wealthy woman. Even as she described her nervousness to tackle her first CCI* at the Pedigree Bromont CCI Three Day Event, she grinned wide. “I’m very excited actually.”
Meg will be leaving the startbox this morning with Daphne Soares’ Anakin, an 8-year-old off-track Thoroughbred, for their FEI debut after spending the spring at Preliminary level.
“I’m on a really good cross country horse so, knocking on lots of wood, I feel pretty confident about tomorrow,” Meg said. “It’s a serious course, definitely the hardest cross country course I’ve ever seen and definitely the hardest thing the horse has ever seen, but he’s pretty brave, so it will be about me giving him a good ride. We should be OK.”
Meg got the ride on Anakin when his owner, Daphne, had an injury over the winter. He had been competed through Training and after getting to know one another on the lower level circuit in Florida, Meg moved him up to Preliminary.
“I kind of did the bare minimum qualification (for Bromont) which isn’t necessarily ideal, but the horse is just awesome. He’s such a good jumper and if I had any doubts at all about his confidence I would have never brought him,” Meg said.
“I’ve never had a horse that just jumps anything I point him at. I have to learn to trust that a little bit, which is hard for me. (Today) I’m going to try to trust him a little bit more because I think it will benefit him as well.”
It’s not yet clear if Meg will keep the ride longterm or if Daphne, who Meg describes as an “independent, very capable amateur rider,” will take him back, but for now Anakin is getting good mileage with Meg while his owner is out of commission. Likewise Meg is gaining valuable experience.
“She loves eventing but competing is not her primary goal,” Meg said of Daphne. “He could be a top horse and she knows that so she’s graciously given me this opportunity. She’s all about the journey and has put her trust in me and my program. I couldn’t ask for a better horse to do this on.”
Reaching the FEI level has long been a goal for Meg but she’s taking things one step at a time with Anakin. “We’re treading in uncharted territories a little bit,” she said. “If this goes well I’d like to try some Intermediates this fall, but I don’t think I’d be trying for a two-star for another year. The horse is awesome and brave, but he’s still green and he needs some more tools.”
Meg is well known as four-star eventer Sinead Halpin’s longtime groom. About two years ago she struck out on her own and started Kepferle Equestrian in New Jersey. Going pro wasn’t her original plan, but life unfolds in mysterious ways. For Meg, the tables turned when a young mare called Caherconree Cooley came into her life.
“That was the first horse I had ever owned, and I was 30 years old when I got her. With that it all started falling into place,” Meg said. “That horse was a great opportunity for me. She taught me a lot in a little bit of time about what I need and what I don’t need.
“My business is doing very well so now it’s more about trying to find the balance for myself to make sure I still can get help when I need it so I can ride better and be a better coach for my students.”
Meg and Anakin are currently sitting in 29th place with a 58.8 after dressage. We’ll update this post with more after their cross country run!
[UPDATE: 10:30 a.m. EST] Meg and Anakin rocked around their first CCI* course clear with 4.8 time penalties! Congratulations!