Andy Surratt: A Dad’s Reflection on Red Hills

Andy Surratt wrote this heartwarming piece about how much it meant to watch his son, Briggs, compete in his first CIC* at Red Hills this past weekend. Briggs, who rides with Rick Wallace, also competes this horse in USEF Maclay and Medal equitation classes and wants to qualify for Medal Finals, as well as the NAJYRC. Go Briggs!

Briggs Surratt and Hat Trick at Rocking Horse. Photo by Patricia Dileo.

Briggs Surratt and Hat Trick at Rocking Horse. Photo by Theresa Bender.

From Andy:

Just two years ago, my son, Briggs Surratt, started his eventing career under trainer and mentor Rick Wallace. Briggs met Rick at Cavallo Farms in Lloyd, Fla., where he rode Rick’s former eventing horse, McIntosh, in the jumper ring. Now, two years later, his mother and I watched him compete in the CIC* at Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Fla. Briggs, a Tallahassee native, grew up playing soccer just down the road where Red Hills takes place. We never thought he would be competing at Red Hills Horse Trials, let alone at the international level.

In anticipation of Red Hills, our family’s excitement accelerated each passing day. To add to this excitement, the local media interviewed the hometown boy several times. This caused plenty of excitement, not only for his proud parents and brother, but for the local horse community. For me personally, the year 2014 started out with a bang.  As a member of the FSU Football Radio Network, I witnessed the Seminoles win the College Football National Championship. However, watching my son compete at Red Hills did not compare.

The feelings were surreal. There was so much nervous energy running through me, I thought my heart was going to burst. On the day of cross country, Briggs explained his intent to go clear with no jump penalties so he could qualify for the CCI* at Ocala Horse Properties. His mother and I have always wanted him to do well, but we also urge him to achieve the goals he sets for himself. It all sounds good until you hear the announcer say, “Number 52 Briggs Surratt and Hat Trick are on course.”

His mother was stationed at the water jumps to take pictures. I positioned myself near a jump judge so I could hear her radio. It was important to me to hear each jump judge declare “52 clear” each jump throughout the course. There is nothing more exciting than watching your child thunder by with confidence conquering every jump with ease. Once we heard he finished with no jump penalties, a sense of pride hit us. The overwhelming pride made it very hard to button our jackets. As Briggs made his way over to the sponsor tent, shaking hands as family, friends and colleagues congratulated him, I realized I watched my little boy turn into a young man overnight.

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