Members of the Randolph-Macon College eventing team have packed a tremendous amount of riding and training into the past month. Immediately after New Years they headed south for an incredible month of riding, conditioning and education in Ocala. The team’s home base for the month was the gorgeous Oakmont Rehabilitation and Wellness, run by Christa Gandolfo Prack.
As head coach Ashley Adams wrote, “Four rigs, 10 horses, six riders, 30 bags of grain, 90 bales of hay … RMC eventing is heading to Ocala!” The college’s unique January term allowed riders to take the month to prepare their horses for the spring season. While every day was structured around the horses’ care (Oakmont offers a water treadmill along with many other equine therapies) and lessons with Ashley, every day also offered a new educational experience. With so many of the top event riders based in Ocala for the winter, opportunities abounded.
“I had the opportunity to participate in a clinic with British Olympian Gemma Tattersall, who was based at Justine Dutton’s farm for a couple of days,” commented Adams. “Not only was it fantastic for my young horse, but a really cool thing for the students to get to audit.” In addition, students also audited several lessons taught by Australian Clayton Fredericks and the team had Emily Beshear in for a day of lessons as well.
Every week the team and their equine partners also traveled to cross country school at different venues including the brand new BarnstapleSouth, Rocking Horse Farm, Horse Power Equestrian (Liz Halliday-Sharp’s facility), and Clayton Frederick’s farm. Weekday jumper shows at Justine Dutton’s place helped tune up the team’s show jumping.
“I am so grateful for this team and all that we experienced this past month,” said freshman Morgyn Johnson of Lawrence, NJ. “Ashley has been so instrumental in improving my riding and the support I get from both her and all of my team members is something I have never experienced before. It is something truly unique. I am just really looking forward to all that this team has in its future!”
The amazing calendar in Ocala allowed competition on all but one of the weekends the team was there. RMC eventing was represented at Grand Oaks, Rocking Horse and Three Lakes Horse Trials. At every show, each horse and rider pair finished in the top 10 in their respective divisions, including wins for coach Ashley Adams and Morgyn Johnson. Even our director dusted off her boots after a 30 year hiatus from recognized competition and finished on her dressage score for a third place at Three Lakes!
And since we all know all work and no play is no Bueno, there was a fun-filled day spent at Universal Studios!
With 16 active members, the RMC Eventing team continues to grow. The team took home second place at both the Jump Start Team Challenge and the Virginia Horse Trials Team Challenge this past fall. Around the corner the team will head south to Pine Top H.T. and then to Southern Pines H.T. the first weekend in March.