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Adriana Nannini

Achievements

About Adriana Nannini

Adriana Nannini is an adult amateur event rider, high school teacher and organic farmer. She is an advocate for the American Thoroughbred, having brought along several Thoroughbreds over the years, most notably her long-time partner, Tall Tale aka "Fable", who she started herself as a two year old and brought up through Intermediate level. Adriana trains with Kiki Osbourne at Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Eventing Background

USEA Rider Profile Click to view profile
Area 2
Highest Level Competed Intermediate
Farm Name Dappir Ridge Eventing
Trainer Kiki Osbourne

Latest Articles Written

Dappir Ridge Road to the Makeover: Springtime ‘Firsts’

For trainers accepted to the hybrid 2020/2021 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, the work continues after a weird last year. The 2021 event will take place Oct. 12-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, this team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

In 2020, we met the team of trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they continue trucking toward this year’s event. Here’s the latest Dappir Ridge Eventing update!

Alex Austin and Crafty Oak’s Run at the Kentucky Horse Park. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin.

All of the Dappir Ridge Thoroughbred Makeover horses have had a great spring full of “firsts.” While some of the babies are farther along than others, they are all coming along nicely, and everyone has been on a few “field trips” to various venues to gain exposure. 

Kelly Giunta’s mount, Robbie Jones, is for sure the star of the show, moving up to Novice and winning a big division at the Kentucky Horse Park! This pair is pretty unbeatable these days. Crafty Oak’s Run and Wicked Soprano have each been to a couple of schooling shows, as well as outings to Dappir Ridge’s other facility and one little cross-country school apiece. Kiki’s mount, the 3-year-old Shake and Spin, is taking things nice and slow due to his age, but has been on a few field trips as well. We are all looking forward to a summer full of horse showing and bringing along this nice group of babies!

Adriana Nannini

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my journey to The Makeover these past two years, both with Sevennotrump last year, and Wicked Soprano this year, it’s that some horses just take a little more time than others. In some ways, my lovely filly Wicked Soprano (“Raven”) is really precocious, and in some ways she is a complete infant. 

Take, for example, our first time schooling cross-country. I began by working with her on the ground in the rope halter, lunging over logs, up and down little banks, over the ditch and even through the water complex. She really enjoys rope halter work; she seems to understand it really well, and it puts her nervous mind at ease. Once I got on, Raven surprised both myself and Kiki by being extremely brave to everything I pointed her at. She just wanted to get to the other side, while being very rideable at the same time. It was a very pleasant experience and I couldn’t peel the smile off of my face. Kiki said, “You might have yourself a cross-country horse!” and I really hope she’s right. Knock on wood! 

On the flat, Raven is rather precocious as well. She stretches nicely over her topline, and picks up both leads. When she’s relaxed through her back, she feels like butter; just so soft and springy, supple and balanced. And SO in-tune to her rider. As a “mare person”, this is the main reason why I prefer them. In my experience, I can connect with mares on a deeper level because they are so in-tune to what you are thinking at all times. I’m really enjoying developing a bond with my sweet little Raven.

Now to discuss the ways in which she’s an infant. The first time I attempted to take Raven on a field trip off property, I discovered, much to my horror, that Raven is extremely claustrophobic. She walked right onto my little 2-horse bumper pull trailer confidently, but as soon as we started closing up the doors to the trailer she absolutely panicked. Like panic as in complete terror- thrashing, eyes rolling back in her head, trying to fling herself onto the floor. I eventually aborted the mission, and went back to the drawing board. The solution that we came up with was removing the divider from my trailer altogether, so that Raven would feel like she had more space in there, combined with practicing trailering every other day for several weeks. We went on a LOT of field trips to our other facility down the road! Eventually, Raven’s claustrophobia attacks diminished, but it is still a work in progress. She still gets nervous when I close up the trailer doors, and bangs around a bit in there, so I just have to start driving away immediately, because she settles as soon as we start moving. 

At new places, Raven gets very nervous as well, so Kiki instructed me to start with the rope halter work immediately upon arriving at a new place, before getting on. This has helped immensely. Raven isn’t the kind of horse that can just stand around and eat grass; she needs to be put to work so that she has something to focus on instead of worrying about all of the horse-eating monsters out there. 

The other day, Raven competed in her very first horse show (and a hunter show at that!). We schooled the courses the day before, and, while Raven was extremely nervous on arrival, she did settle once I got on and put her to work. On the actual show day, Raven put in 3 lovely, rhythmic trips around the 2’6 green hunters. She is brave to the jumps, and is so rideable and rhythmic.

We have a few outings coming up, including War Horse June at the Carolina Horse Park, which will be Raven’s first “big” event. I am very excited about this, as we have a huge Dappir Ridge contingent going, and the people at CHP always put on real class events. As for Raven, my goals for that outing will be to 1.Survive, 2. Not jump out of the dressage ring, 3. Jump everything in the jumping phases in a remotely civilized manner without scaring the spectators. Any three of those things might be a tall order, but I like to aim high! 😉 Wish us luck.

Wicked Soprano’s first cross-country school! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Adriana Nannini and Wicked Soprano. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini.

Kelly Giunta, VMD

Robbie Jones  and I are back in action, and I am so proud of him. He has been really fun this year! We moved up to Novice, and have completed 2 recognized horse trials so far this spring. Our Novice move-up was at Loudoun Hunt Spring Horse Trials back in April, where Robbie finished in 4th place! 

Next, we took a road trip with Dappir Ridge Eventing to “the other Lexington”, aka Lexington, Kentucky. We typically spend a lot of time at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia, and thought the group needed a change of scenery. The week before the show, there were a few setbacks. The hard ground combined with a slight hoof imbalance required X-rays and an emergency farrier appointment. Also, Robbie’s pasture buddy got annoyed with him and gave him a slight kick in the hock. So we had a sore foot and a swollen hock to deal with and hardly any time to practice leading up to the event. 

We ended up having a great trip despite the injuries and unseasonable weather (80 degrees to 40 degrees and raining). We finished on our dressage score of 27.9 and won our Novice Rider division, as well as the Novice TIP award. We made improvements in the dressage and had a brave trip around cross country, even using studs for the first time!  Showjumping was hard work, but we managed to keep all the rails up. There was even a victory gallop, and by the time it was over Robbie was certain he had just won the Kentucky Derby. He pranced all the way back to the stables. Next up is the War Horse June event at the Carolina Horse Park!

Kelly Giunta and Robbie Jones won first place in the Novice at the May Daze Horse Trials! Photo courtesy of Kelly Giunta.

Robbie Jones is a winner! Photo courtesy of Kelly Giunta.

Alex Austin

Crafty Oak’s Run (“Rōnin”) has had a productive past few weeks full of firsts! He went to Dappir Ridge’s other facility for his first jump school away from home and was very brave. He is learning how to navigate his large body and long legs over fences and thinks it’s very exciting and very hard. 

Rōnin also went on his first cross country school and jumped everything he was pointed at with gusto (he thinks xc might be his favorite), again exhibiting a good deal of bravery. He loves water, so it was no surprise that he went through it like he’d been doing it his whole life! 

Shortly thereafter, Rōnin went to his first combined test, which was at one of the Loch Moy Twilight Events on a Wednesday night. He put his big boy pants on, putting in a nice dressage test (with both correct canter leads!) and jumping bravely around the scary showjumping.

A few weeks ago, a group from the Dappir Ridge team went to compete at May Daze at the Kentucky Horse Park, and Rōnin tagged along as a non-compete. Besides some nervousness on the first evening, he handled a very busy environment with more maturity than expected, got right down to business when put to work, and hacked like a pro through the expansive fields and around the park. He thinks he went to Rolex! 

 Rōnin’s first “real event”  is this weekend at the Carolina Horse Park’s June War Horse event.

Crafty Oak’s Run at his first combined test at Loch Moy. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Ronin’s first cross-country school! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Kiki Osbourne, Our Fearless Leader

Shake and Spin (“Ole”) continues to be one of the best minded youngsters I have ever had in my barn. He’s basically a big, respectful lap dog that just wants you to pay attention to him!  We have been mostly working at home, hacking, a little work in the ring, but still keeping in mind that he’s only three. I have asked him to trot a cross rail or two, but that has been completely uneventful. He really does enjoy hacking out the most.

With only one or two field trips to our other farm under his belt, Ole loaded up with three other friends (two of which were other RRP horses) and made the trip to the Kentucky Horse Park as a non-compete for the May Daze Horse Trials. Why not just go big or go home, right!? Since this was Ole’s first horse show experience and first overnight, he was a little overwhelmed, but was completely manageable and just got better each day.    

Day 1 involved a lot of leading around and grazing, just to chill and take in the sights and sounds. Day 2 started with the same activities but ended with Alex taking him for a spin around the arena and a quick hack. 

As for Day 3- well….it suddenly turned 45 degrees, rainy, windy, and cold! So, I opted to spend another day on the ground just leading/grazing him, but also added in a bit of walk/trot lunging. We even lunged by a very scary white, flapping tent. (This took a while!) Although my plan was to get on him, I think he learned a lot that day anyway. Not everything we do to teach the young horses has to be done under saddle. 

On Day 4, we finally woke up to nicer weather. So, this was finally my turn to ride! I waited until all of our group was finished competing for the day, so that I could spend as long as I wanted/needed with Ole. We hacked to a warm up ring to do a short flat session.  He was tighter and more nervous than usual, (to be expected!) but within five minutes of holding his breath, he took a deep breath and decided that all of this big kid stuff made him very tired. 

Alex and I finished our last ride in Kentucky with a long hack around the perimeter of the fields that play host to the cross country at our country’s only 5* event, Land Rover Kentucky. I told Ole that Alex (or someone else) will have to take him around that course someday. But for now, we will stick to our hacking and low-key work in order to continue to build his fitness as well as his education.  

Shake and Spin at his Kentucky field trip. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Shake and Spin dreaming of the future. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Until next time, Go Thoroughbreds and Go Eventing!

 

Dappir Ridge Road to the Makeover: It’s Not All Sunshine & Rainbows

For trainers accepted to the hybrid 2020/2021 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, the work continues after a weird last year. The 2021 event will take place at Oct. 12-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, this team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

In 2020, we met the team of trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and now their sights are set on 2021! Here’s the latest Dappir Ridge Eventing update.

Shake and Spin (“Ole”) and Crafty Oak’s Run (“Ronin”) in the miserable February sleet.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a pattern across-the-board on social media platforms as well as in equestrian articles in regards to how training horses is being portrayed. When scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and blog posts, one might come to the wrongful conclusion that bringing a horse along, especially a baby OTTB, is a glorious cakewalk that follows a linear path from racetrack to sporthorse glory, all in a timely manner! This is a complete delusion brought about by the fact that most people only write/post about their horse when things are going well. 

I think that it is important to illuminate the truth of the matter, which is twofold: Firstly, there is no one singular path or formula. Each horse is different, and each rider is different, therefore the timeline of bringing a horse along is undoubtedly going to be vastly different from one to the next. Secondly, baby horses (and horses in general!) are terribly self-destructive creatures that have a knack for taking our carefully formulated plans and aspirations and turning them upside down. This is normal, people — take it from us! 

I hope that our testimonials below regarding the cursed month of February will grant a smidgen of solace to our comrades across the country on their journey to the 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover. At the very least, it will validate the truth behind the old adage “misery loves company”!

Adriana Nannini

Since our last blog post in January, I must admit that I really haven’t made a ton of progress with Wicked Soprano (aka “Raven”). There are a couple of reasons for this; firstly, at the end of January, Raven came up very lame. Dr. Giunta determined that Raven had an infection in her frog, which required several weeks of treating with Thrush Buster, as well as endlessly soaking, packing and wrapping the foot. 

As soon as the frog infection finally cleared up, Raven banged the inside of her hind cannon bone while flailing around in turnout, which was enough to make her unsound yet again. The wound seemed pretty superficial at first, but as time went by, it didn’t seem to be healing — it kept scabbing over but wouldn’t heal underneath. I spent a few weeks scrubbing, dressing and wrapping the leg, plus treating her with SMZs, until the wound finally began to heal. 

On top of it all, the month of February was a miserable, rainy, icy mud pit here in central Virginia. It seemed to precipitate every single day for an entire month. Unfortunately, this resulted in very limited turnout time for Raven. In an effort to get her out of her stall to stretch her legs, I would attempt to hand walk her every day, which was more akin to flying a kite than actual walking. 

Now that the sunshine has returned and Raven has healed from her myriad of physical ailments, she is back to work. However, I must say, she can be rather tense and nervous under saddle at times. I try to combat this by maintaining a consistent routine for her, and keeping things simple. I also make a conscious effort to keep a “zen” attitude while in the saddle, and try to not react at all when she gets tense. 

It is easy to compare one horse to others in the past. For example, when I reflect on this time last year, it seems like my 2020 Makeover horse, Sevennotrump (“Tricks”), was already cantering around little courses. However, the reality is that Tricks had plenty of setbacks of his own, and we also had a perfect, dry, balmy winter last year. 

I am fully aware that some horses just take a little more time, and my number one goal with Raven is to be patient and let her dictate the timeline of our progress. There is absolutely no rush, and I have a feeling that if I take my time with her, it will pay off in the long run.

Wicked Soprano (“Raven”) battling a month-long frog infection. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini.

Adriana Nannini riding Wicked Soprano (“Raven”). Raven can be tense at times, but when she does relax, boy is she lovely! Photo courtesy of Ashley Balazs.

Raven makes me smile! Photo courtesy of Ashley Balazs.

Dr. Kelly Giunta, VMD

Not much training has happened since my last post. Robbie Jones had an abscess and we all thought he was dying for about two weeks! He had plenty of rest to heal his sore foot, given the terrible weather we had in February.   

I spent a lot of time over the winter studying for an exam and can now announce that I am a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation! Now it is time to get back in the saddle. Robbie is just starting back into a regular riding and fitness routine, which includes lunging in the Pessoa system, and long lining. Robbie has also perfected his trick of “smiling”, which increased his fan club of human carrot suppliers. 

Robbie Jones demonstrating his signature smile at War Horse last year. Photo courtesy of Kelly Giunta.

The things we do when we’re bored. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Alex Austin

This winter has been challenging for a variety of reasons, one of which being Virginia’s terrible weather. If it wasn’t raining it was sleeting, if it wasn’t sleeting it was snowing. So overall, riding was limited. 

In early February, Crafty Oak’s Run (“Rōnin”) came in with a knee the size of a football! Though fairly sound on it, we gave him some down time with wrapping and meds. Our best guess is that he and his young pasture mate got to rough housing, which is one of their favorite pastimes (much to their older, wiser, and more mature “babysitter”s chagrin)! 

Immediately on the heels of Rōnin’s injury was the onslaught of terrible weather that left everyone stabled for longer than usual and sheets of ice everywhere. However, we’ve hopefully made it through the worst of it, and the weather has been getting warmer and sunnier bit by bit. 

Rōnin took his first field trip this past Sunday to a local combined test just to hang out and see the sights. He was a perfect gentleman and even got to pop over a couple of cross rails while there. There is lots to work on and plenty of catching up to do with this big redhead!

Rōnin sporting a very comprehensive wrap job following his knee incident. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin.

Rōnin spent quite a bit of time hand-grazing in the month of February. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin.

The sun finally came out, and we got to play with our ponies! Adriana Nannini riding Wicked Soprano (“Raven”) and Alex Austin riding Crafty Oak’s Run (“Ronin”). Photo courtesy of Ashley Balazs.

Alex and Ronin make a very picturesque pair! Photo courtesy of Ashley Balazs.

Kiki Osbourne (Our Fearless Leader)

The month of February wasn’t at all what any of us caring for 35 horses wanted to deal with! Thanks to Mother Nature, we experienced nonstop rain, snow, and as a result, MUD. I kept hoping the mud would freeze, as even though that’s not ideal either — at least the horses won’t have their shoes sucked off, or strain a tendon sliding into a gate or fence in turnout. Not to mention, if my fields have any chance of growing grass this spring, they can’t be uprooted by sliding horse hooves.

All of this weather nonsense resulted in many horses spending way too much time inside their stalls. I was frustrated, the horses were frustrated and their owners were frustrated. Not only could they not go out much, there were very limited places to ride. Up and down the gravel road can only be so productive (and so entertaining) for almost three weeks straight. Our rings had quickly turned to lakes, and frozen lakes on the cold nights. 

Every once in a while the temps dipped down below freezing at night and we were able to get them out, but nothing consistent. If anyone knows me, I love the horses to be outside as much as possible! So it was a really difficult three weeks! Riding lessons were scarce. I typically teach 25-30 lessons a week. Instead, I was only able to teach two to three a week if we were lucky enough to find a dry place and moment in time. 

My sweet Makeover mount, Shake and Spin (“Ole”), got hacked down the road two times the entire month. The bright side of all of this is that it made me realize what a lovely mind this guy has. What 3 year old can you pull out of the stall after limited turnout, hop right on and walk down the road on a loopy rein? He had a buddy, just in case, but never put a foot wrong.  

About two weeks ago, we were able to start to get back to normal with turnout, riding and lessons, thankfully! Ole learned to long line, and not surprisingly, acted like he had done it all his life. He has had a few more hacks and rides, and is so willing and smart. Even though he won’t be able to do a lot at the Makeover because he is so young, I’m excited to slowly bring him along for October’s event! On to warmer, drier weather … I hope!

Our arena under snow cover. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Our arena under water! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Ole looking very picturesque in the snow. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Until next time … Go Thoroughbreds and Go Eventing!

 

Dappir Ridge Road to the Makeover: Meet the New OTTB Lineup

For trainers accepted to the hybrid 2020/2021 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, the work continues after a weird last year. The 2021 event will take place at Oct. 12-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, this team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

In 2020, we met the team of trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it sounds like they’ve had some hills and valleys since their last check in last summer. Here’s the latest Dappir Ridge Eventing update!

Kelly and Robbie Jones finished 6th at the 2020 War Horse Championships at the Carolina Horse Park. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma.

Quite a few changes have transpired since our last blog post in June. Of our four main 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover hopefuls, only one of them still remains with Dappir Ridge. Sevennotrump (“Tricks”) and Hunters Dream (“Fox”) found wonderful new homes, while Prince Attack (“Prince”) returned to Illinois to be enjoyed by his owner, Laurie. Only the infamous Robbie Jones remains with us- Kelly will fill you in on his recent adventures below.

Over the fall and winter, we have had a handful of OTTBs pass through the barn, which we have brought along as resale projects. A few have since been sold, and a few of them were just too nice to let go! Those in the latter category will stay with us this season to hopefully contest the 2021 “Mega Makeover”.

Of our collection of “keepers”, there is one common thread, which is fairly unusual: ALL of them came from Illinois! Go figure! Since Kiki, our fearless leader, hails from the great state of Illinois, it is only befitting that all of our horses would be from there as well.

Adriana Nannini

Last fall, my 2020 Makeover horse, Sevennotrump (“Tricks”), found his stride in the jumper ring. I took him to a couple of jumper shows at the Virginia Horse Center, where he earned himself champion in the 2’6 division, then easily moved up to the 2’9. In November, Tricks was sold to a 5* event rider, and is now in Aiken for the winter, living his best life! We can’t wait to see how Tricks (now called “Ted”), progresses with his new rider.

There’s a new face in the barn, and a cute one at that, whom I hope will be my 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover project. Her name is Wicked Soprano, aka “Raven”, a 2017 model 16hh black/dark bay filly, purchased sight unseen from CANTER Illinois. Raven had 7 starts on the track, without much success. She was described by her race trainer as a “Morning Glory”- a horse that performs well in their workouts, but doesn’t run well in the actual races. Lucky for me!

This fancy lady stole my heart from day one. She is gorgeous, feminine, and full of pizzaz. Alex says that her human doppelgänger is Posh Spice, if that gives you any idea of her diva personality and stunning looks. Under saddle, Raven has springy, expressive gaits with incredible natural balance, and seems to be a quick learner. She is sensitive to the leg and soft in the bridle- a real sportscar type.

Hacking out is a huge part of our program with the OTTB babies at Dappir Ridge, but some of them take to it more readily than others. Raven really seems to love it, so far! She has hacked alone and with company, through fields, wooded paths, and down our dirt road in a brave, quiet manner. Most recently, Raven has begun trotting over poles, cavaletti and small cross rails, and has taken to it all with confidence and nonchalance. Furthermore, she is sweet and polite to handle in the barn, and has a very persuasive cookie face!

I think my main challenge with Raven will be teaching her to slow everything down. She is a forward-thinking type- I probably say “whoa” about 1,000 times during each ride! She is respectful and wants to learn, but sometimes she still thinks she’s a racehorse. After all, her last race was in mid-December, not that long ago!

I am super excited to bring along this spunky, athletic mare and look forward to our journey to the Thoroughbred Makeover together this season.

Adriana Nannini and Sevennotrump at the Virginia Horse Center in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Wicked Soprano, aka “Raven”. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Raven and her human doppelgänger. See the resemblance?! Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Raven’s first post-track ride! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Dr. Kelly Giunta, VMD

Robbie Jones had a fantastic fall. His feet were finally doing great and we were able to attend most of the shows at the Carolina Horse Park War Horse Event Series. We ended up coming in 6th place in the series championships for Beginner Novice! We also practiced schooling the Novice course a few times and it was no problem at all for Robbie.

In October, we went to a hunter show at the Virginia Horse Center and won a ribbon in a big class against fancy warmbloods! Robbie even went fox hunting a few times with Farmington Hunt Club!

This winter we have been working on perfecting our dressage training with the help of Kiki. We were just figuring out counter canter (sort of) when we were sidelined by a foot abscess- the 2 week long drain out the heel bulb kind! So now, Robbie is nursing his foot back to health and mom is going skiing. We should be back in action soon.

Kelly Giunta and Robbie Jones at the War Horse Championships. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma

Kelly Giunta and Robbie Jones at the War Horse Championships. Photo courtesy of Brant Gamma

Alex Austin

Last summer, Hunters Dream (“Fox”), came into his own and really grew up, with each ride becoming a little more focused and a little more productive, and handling new environments gracefully. He was listed for sale in August and went to a lovely home with the first people who came to look at him! We keep our eyes out for him on the local show scene, as he didn’t go too far away! I feel very honored and grateful to have been a part of Fox’s training. 

This year, my Makeover hopeful is nearly the exact opposite of little Fox. Crafty Oak’s Run, “Rōnin”, is a 2016 17hh (!) liver chestnut, who came to us from Robbie Jones’s trainer in Illinois. Rōnin had very little (read: zero) success as a racehorse with only three starts. Also, just like Robbie Jones, Rōnin has a lovely sensible brain and affectionate and engaged personality. Not to mention three gaits that are balanced and have a surprising amount of suspension. My face was plastered with a huge smile during the entirety of my first ride on him. 

Rōnin reminds me a bit of a Great Dane puppy at the moment, head and feet a little too big for the body and a similar disposition. He is ready and willing to please and has been a joy to work with so far, hacking out alone or with others, and learning to handle his large body in the smaller space of our arena than previously used to on the track. The right lead is frequently elusive for him at this stage, and bending left is most difficult…my left side will be very strong one day.

I am very excited to see what this big guy wants to do in his second career!

Alex Austin and Hunters Dream in Summer of 2020. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Alex Austin and Crafty Oak’s Run. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin

Crafty Oak’s Run, aka “Rōnin”. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Alex Austin and “Rōnin”. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Kiki Osbourne (Our Fearless Leader)

It’s been a short while since we all checked in! Thanks to our ongoing pandemic, not surprisingly, the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover was canceled. Because of this, my 2020 Makeover hopeful, Prince Attack, didn’t have to stay with us until November anymore. Onto “Plan B”. Laurie, Prince’s owner, was anxiously awaiting his return to Illinois so she could get to know her “little carrot”, as she fondly calls him. Shortly after one of the War Horse events, Prince loaded on a fancy horse van with one other horse, an American Pharoah filly- I told him he really had to behave in that company! Laurie met the van in Kentucky and shipped him back to his old/new home state of Illinois. Prince originally came from the CANTER Illinois crew, so I think he’s a Midwest boy at heart!

Laurie took Prince to meet “Cowboy Tim” so that he could continue his education. Laurie was just getting back into riding after a long hiatus, so Prince needed to keep improving his skills to be a suitable mount for her. It was really nice that Laurie understood this, and didn’t try and take on the 4 (now 5) year old solo.

Prince has been thriving in his new home. I get pictures and videos frequently. He even has an Instagram account (@princeattack_ottb)! Prince has learned about western tack and being a versatile citizen. He actually looks pretty fancy in that western saddle! At this point, since it seems like so much is still not a sure thing, we are unsure if Prince will make it back to Virginia in the spring to continue moving toward the 2021 Makeover, or if he will remain with his mom in Illinois instead. Either way is fine with me, I’m just happy Laurie is enjoying the journey with her horse! If Prince doesn’t make it back East, I may have one more option…

In November, I saw another horse on the CANTER Illinois site named Shake and Spin. He was a 2018 model, jet black, leggy gelding and a grandson of Vindication (sire of my beloved OTTB “Galvani”).  I hesitated to call because he was only 2, but kept going back to his picture/video, and a few days later decided to call the trainer. Not surprisingly, she told me that he had been sold- to someone in Virginia. I had a hunch who had bought him. Sure enough, about 3 days after my call, a picture and post about him showed up on Liz Millikin’s Facebook page. Of course I had to comment on the post that she beat me to him, and that he looked lovely. Thanks to Liz, after a phone call and a text or two, I was driving up to Middleburg to pick him up. Hmmmm. There’s now a stunning 3 year old in my barn, now named “Frijole”, or “Ole” for short.

“Ole” had 4 recorded workouts but zero starts, so he is much different than most racehorses. He is a soft, rangy mover and is exceedingly quiet. We have only been on him 5-6 times since the first of the year. He is technically not even quite 3 yet, and clearly has some growing to do, so we plan to mostly just hack him for the next few months, then slowly start some work. If he’s moving along ok, and seems mentally ready for a big atmosphere like the Thoroughbred Makeover, he could maybe go and do some dressage tests, or something low-key. He won’t be forced to go out and do a ton this year if he’s not ready. As usual with horses, time will tell!

Prince Attack with his owner, Laurie, in Illinois. Photo courtesy of Laurie Baker McNeil

Shake and Spin, aka “Ole”. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Kiki Osbourne enjoying her new mount, Shake and Spin. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Kiki Osbourne enjoying her new mount, Shake and Spin. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

We hope you enjoy following our continued journey to the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover. Go Eventing and Go Thoroughbreds!

RRP Highs and Lows: Plan B and First Events

While the 2020 Retired Racehorse Thoroughbred Makeover has been postponed to 2021, there are still dedicated trainers working with the horses they’d selected to be their projects for this year. Three trainers plus one team of four trainers have been blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

Earlier this year we met a team of four trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and there have definitely been some changes for the team in the wake of the Makeover’s postponement. Here’s an update Adriana Nannini’s update — be sure to check out her website here. You can read the last Dappir Ridge blog here.

The Dappir Ridge Baby OTTB Contingent at the Carolina Horse Park! From left to right: Kelly Giunta with Robbie Jones, Alex Austin with Hunter’s Dream, Kiki Osbourne with Prince Attack and Adriana Nannini with Sevennotrump. Photo courtesy of Ruth Cruz.

I think it’s safe to say we were all very disappointed when we learned of the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover being postponed to 2021. A few of our Dappir Ridge horses are resale projects, and the plan for those guys was to keep them until after the Makeover, then sell them thereafter. Now, everything is up in the air, and we have to reshuffle our plans. But we horse people are pretty accustomed to throwing our best laid plans out the window, because we all know that with horses, nothing ever goes according to plan! So the “Plan B” tentatively involves a couple of our horses remaining with us to contest the 2021 Makeover, while a couple of the others will be sold, as originally intended, and replaced with new Makeover prospects for 2021. 

Nonetheless, RRP aside, four of our baby OTTBs contested their very first event a couple of weekends ago at the War Horse Event Series at the Carolina Horse Park! It was a wonderful learning experience for all. Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox” as well as Robbie Jones contested the Beginner Novice division, while the greener Sevennotrump aka “Tricks” and Prince Attack aka “Prince” competed in the Maiden division. The great thing about the War Horse Event Series is the opportunity to school the day before. We hauled down on Friday, and rode the horses around the horse park, allowing them to acclimate to their surroundings and settle in a bit. Saturday was schooling day, so the babies all got to school both stadium and cross country. By the time competition day rolled around on Sunday, our four OTTBs were pretty much cool as cucumbers. I think we can all agree that each of them came away from the weekend far more mature than when they arrived!

A big thanks to High Time Photography for generously providing many of the action photos below of our baby OTTBs from the weekend!

The Dappir Ridge RRP Team! From left to right: Kiki Osbourne with Prince Attack, Alex Austin with Hunter’s Dream, Adriana Nannini with Sevennotrump and Kelly Giunta with Robbie Jones. Photo courtesy of Andrea Cushing.

Adriana Nannini

Sevennotrump aka “Tricks” (and affectionately nicknamed “Schnitzel”) had a great lead up to his first event. He had several sessions with Kiki’s cowgirl friend, Allie Farley, who was able to get through to his little brain by way of ground work. We also went cross-country schooling a few times, and took a field trip to a local hunter/jumper farm to practice jumping around courses in their big ring. As time goes by, it is becoming apparent what a ridiculously natural athlete Tricks is. At just 4 years old, he is able to canter around courses in a totally relaxed, rhythmic manner. His jump is effortless and scopey, and his canter is like sitting on a cloud. He is really going to be something. 

When we first arrived at the Carolina Horse Park, Tricks seemed wide-eyed and overwhelmed, as were his fellow Dappir Ridge OTTB comrades. But after hacking him around the horse park a bit and flatting for a while in the dressage ring (the first one he had ever seen), he did settle. The judge’s box was VERY SCARY(!!!) so we spent a little while walking around it and sniffing it. There were so many new sights and sounds, and his little heart was hammering at a mile a minute, but he held it together like a good boy, for which I was very proud of him. 

On Saturday, we began the day by schooling the showjumping. The course contained many [very scary] colorful poles, gates and oxers, which were at first rather overwhelming to The Schnitzel! I was able to eventually convince him that the jumps were not going to eat him, after which he took a deep breath and decided he could, in fact, jump them just fine. I also discovered, in the process, that Tricks is far more confident when cantering to jumps as opposed to trotting, so we spent the rest of the day cantering to our jumps which seemed to work better for us. We then proceeded to school the cross-country course. Baby Schnitzel really impressed me by putting on his big boy pants and jumping around all of those new jumps with ease, in a totally casual, relaxed manner as though he had done it all before. 

On Sunday, Tricks trotted down his very first centerline and completed a relaxed, pleasant dressage test without jumping out of the dressage ring, or picking up the wrong canter lead, or spooking at the judge’s box – a far cry from the horse that couldn’t steer in a circle just a couple of months ago! He was an absolute pleasure to ride in stadium, cantering confidently and rhythmically around the course, jumping all of the jumps with ease. Coming out of the start box on cross-country, he initially seemed slightly less brave without his buddies there watching him, but I put my leg on and he obliged, gaining confidence with each fence. He jumped bravely through the water, over coops, logs, rolltops and little brushy tables. Nearing the end of the course we had an accidental drive-by to a plain brown log, but circled back and jumped it fine on second attempt, as well as the remainder of the course. 

Tricks finished the weekend a much more grown-up horse, and I am incredibly proud of him. It is so rewarding to see the progress he has made in such a short period of time. I can’t wait to bring him back to the War Horse event in August!

Tricks jumping confidently at his very first event. Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Tricks’ first halt-salute! Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Tricks, affectionately nicknamed “Schnitzel” is a real character. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin.

Kelly Giunta, VMD

I was so proud of Robbie Jones at his first horse trial. We began our weekend with cross-country schooling. The warm up ring was definitely not Robbie’s favorite place.  He developed a new move that I later termed “the whirly bird”. The whirly bird involves a canter pirouette followed by a rein back and a turn on the forehand all in a row and performed at warp speed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fall off or lose my lunch. We quickly opted to exit the warm up area and just go jump the beginner novice course, which was no problem for Robbie.

By the next day, we were both exhausted from the travel and 95 degree heat! He bravely marched around the dressage ring and only had a slight spook when somebody slammed the door of the port-o-potty. Robbie cantered around the showjumping like an old pro, but unfortunately was too tired to pick his feet up and we had a couple of rails.  Cross-country went fine but I had to kick a bit to make the time (and we were on the steeplechase track!).  I think I understand why he retired from racing!

Robbie Jones acted like a seasoned pro at his first event! Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Robbie Jones and Kelly on course. Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Robbie is such a handsome Thoroughbred specimen! Photo courtesy of Kelly Giunta.

Alex Austin

Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox” went to his first real event two weeks ago with his other OTTB buddies at the Carolina Horse Park! The atmosphere was very busy and a bit overwhelming for Fox, but he eventually adjusted, and by Sunday seemed to be settled into his weekend accommodations. 

We schooled stadium and cross-country on Saturday and Fox took a little while to get down to business, but once he did he rocked around like he does at home. Fox has a very enthusiastic jump, and one thing we’ve been focusing on is utilizing the half halt. He’s learning to jump off his hind end and that the long distance isn’t always the best distance!

The day of the competition, we warmed up for dressage in a very crowded warm-up under the noonday sun, but Fox handled the chaos very well, providing really solid warm up work. However, once we went off on our own to go perform our test, he became a bit rattled and tense. The test didn’t end up demonstrating what he’s capable of, but was still a very good learning experience. 

Fox jumped around showjumping like a pro, and still had energy to jig his way to the cross-country start box. Galloping around cross country is always a blast, and he braved everything that came his way, including the water! 

While we had already achieved our goal of the weekend, which was to have a positive learning experience for all the boys, we received the happy surprise that Fox had finished fifth in his Beginner Novice division! I’m looking forward to learning and improving for next time!

Fox bravely jumped around cross-country at his first event. Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Alex and Fox sure do clean up nicely! Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini.

Fox and Alex sharing a quiet moment at the horse show. Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini.

Kiki Osbourne – Our Fearless Leader

Oh Prince! Just as I predicted last time, since Prince Attack celebrated his 4th birthday at the end of May, he’s decided to act more grown up. The highlight of this past month has been our trip to the War Horse July Event. Leading up to this three day long field trip, we prepared by going on many small trips to different places. This gave Prince the low-stress opportunity to be comfortable doing his job at unfamiliar places. He rose to the occasion, and even got to go to a lesson! We worked on schooling him like a 6-year-old, even though he’s only 4. Basically the theory is to expect more out of him, and he should give you more! That mentality helped me a lot during the event in North Carolina.

“Mr. P” grew up a lot over the big weekend. He learned how to stay in a dressage ring, and not even spook at the sides or the letters…or the judges stand!  He also learned how to jump solid fences from the trot, and land in a quiet, balanced canter. I think he liked the water the best, especially from the canter.

His (and my) biggest challenge was the show jumping. On schooling day, he wasn’t so sure of the colorful show jumps, and consequently, we had to skip a few. After schooling cross-country, he came back to the showjump ring with more confidence than he had earlier. This is why I like the schooling series so much! It is so important for the youngsters to have a good experience.  

On show day, we were able to put most things together- minus a few oxer rails in the showjump ring, and a random red roll top that apparently Prince forgot he had jumped the day before- but that’s all ok!  It’s all part of the journey with a young horse. Next time will be better!

Without the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover to aim for in October, we will try and do a handful more field trips, and one or 2 more events at the Carolina Horse Park, but then Prince will make his way back to his owner in the Midwest. We will definitely aim him at The Makeover for 2021.

Prince Attack schooling cross-country. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Prince Attack attacking the showjumping! Photo courtesy of High Time Photography.

Kiki and Prince. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Our furry weekend sidekicks enjoying a reprieve from the 100-degree Carolina heat in front of a fan in the stabling area! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Go Thoroughbreds and Go Eventing!

Road to the Makeover: The Dappir Ridge Eventing Team Forges Ahead

For 616 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, has begun! The 2020 event will take place at Oct. 7-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, three trainers plus one team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

Earlier this year we met a team of four trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it sounds like they’ve had some hills and valleys since their last check in late March. Any journey is more fun when you’ve got buddies by your side! Here’s an update Adriana Nannini’s update — be sure to check out her website here.

Our fearless leader, Kiki Osbourne, with Sevennotrump aka “Tricks.” Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of training a baby Thoroughbred! Over the past few months, all six of our RRP horses have experienced small setbacks of some sort or another, whether it be soundness related, training related, or a combination thereof. In addition, while we normally would have been taking the babies to horse shows, schoolings, clinics, etc. during this time, coronavirus has definitely put a damper on our #fieldtripfriday plans.

Nevertheless, forge ahead we must! Our team has managed to do the best we can given the circumstances, and I am pleased to report that all of the Dappir Ridge baby OTTBs are coming along quite nicely. Now that horse shows and events are starting to open back up, we are excited to get out and about so that we can expose our mounts to new places, sights and sounds, which will help prepare them for “the Big Event” in October!

 

Adriana Nannini

“Bag o’ Tricks Lives up to his Name”

Sevennotrump, aka “Tricks,” celebrated turning 4 by undergoing a tremendous growth spurt. He came looking rather shrimpy and upside-down, but now has really blossomed into quite a large, fit, athletic creature, partially due to several months worth of hacking up and down the rolling hills of Virginia. Tricks is now very confident and thinks he’s hot stuff. He sometimes gets ideas in his little 4-year-old brain, and we don’t like Tricks to have too many ideas! So, needless to say, I’ve been spending the past few months learning how to creatively manage Tricks’ exuberance in a way that is productive.

Tricks’ show name that I chose for him is “Bag o’ Tricks” and it couldn’t fit his personality more perfectly. He’s like a playful, mischievous little boy, and is always trying new tactics to test his boundaries. I spent a considerable amount of time convincing him to move forward off my leg, because he would sometimes decide that his feet were cemented to the ground and he simply could not move. Once we overcame that, we spent another several weeks figuring out how to track straight instead of bulging our inside shoulder and running sideways. Now, to my relief, it seems as though we have that figured out.

Tricks has demonstrated real athleticism over fences, and recently went cross-country schooling for the very first time. He bravely jumped over logs, through water, up and down a bank, and even over a ditch! Tricks trailers like a perfect gentleman, and really seems to be settling into his new life as an event horse. He and Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox” are field trip buddies and lesson buddies and hacking buddies, and they’re really a cute pair of dark bay buddies! A few of the babies, Tricks included, are entered in their first schooling horse trial in July. I can’t wait to see where our summer adventures take us!

Sevennotrump aka “Tricks” is maturing into a big, athletic beast! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Tricks and Fox are field trip buddies! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Sevennotrump aka “Tricks.” Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Kelly Giunta, VMD

“Robbie Jones’ Newfound Freedom and the Sore Foot Syndrome”

After spending many years at a racetrack it is very exciting for a young horse to experience the joys of turnout in a large field and playful new pasture mates. Robbie Jones aka “Robbie” had so much fun with it that he started pulling shoes off. With each lost shoe his hoof wall began to crumble and there was less foot to nail the shoe back on. Eventually this caught up with Robbie, his soles got very thin and bruised and the nails started causing discomfort. Robbie had to spend some time in jail (also known as stall rest). Balance films of his feet were taken with the farrier and I almost went crazy trying to figure out ways to keep those shoes on long enough for his feet to grow back out. We had about a two month setback in training but now we are finally back in action!

Robbie Jones aka “Robbie” enjoys his scratches! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Robbie and Kelly are glad to be back in action! Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden

Robbie Jones. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden

Alex Austin

“Tale of the Frankenfox”

Sweet little Fox (Hunter’s Dream) had a couple weeks off due to him doing some accidental cosmetic surgery. He opened up his forehead on something sharp and had to have many staples and a drainage tube put in. Our amazing vet Kelly patched him up so beautifully there is only the tiniest of scars, nearly indistinguishable.

Other than his “mini vacation,” Fox has been jumping a bit more and learning to bend. The bending he finds very hard, the jumping not quite as much. He recently encountered a BN ditch while out cross-country schooling and while he thought it was terrifying, ended up summoning his courage to make it over a few times.

He is still a rockstar to hack out, alone or in company, and makes trailering anywhere quite a pleasant experience as he climbs right on and seems to enjoy the ride!

“Frankenfox” after being patched up by Kelly. Photo courtesy of Alex Austin

Teamwork! Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Frankenfox healed up as good as new and is as handsome as ever! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Fox and Alex schooling cross-country. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Kiki Osbourne (Our Fearless Leader)

This has been a big month for Prince Attack who had a 4th birthday, finally! I’m pretty sure that now that he’s 4, he’s put his big boy pants on and going wow all of us. He really is about the sweetest horse in the barn (well, maybe a close second to Robbie Jones) and loves attention about as much as he loves going out in his big field with all of the oldies all day long. He hasn’t caught a ride to many new places yet, but that’s definitely in his immediate future.

My friend and former student, Ally Farley, came over for a much needed session of groundwork. Prince may have thought all of it was stupid, but it has made him a better horse! A big thank you to Alex and Emily for also putting in some valuable Prince time, while I’m busy teaching-this also makes him a better horse. While he really hasn’t had any major setbacks (maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud) we have been taking it pretty slow with him, so he ends up enjoying his working life! It’s very possible that there’s a trip to a North Carolina schooling show in his future.

Kiki riding Prince. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden.

Alex and Prince. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden..

Prince Attack! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Call Triple A aka “Buddy” continues to be one of the best brained horses on the planet, but he managed to steal a few weeks off after stepping on the clip of his shoe. But, as of last week we are back on track! He’s settled in well to his new digs at Dappir Ridge’s other facility, Chapel Springs!

Buddy and his owner, Ashley Holden. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden.

Call Triple A aka “Buddy”. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden.

Baltic Art aka “Thor” also has managed a short bit of time off from a kick (…..and a foot thing….) so he has returned to his regular home for 30-60 days. I’m looking forward to him being back in the barn soon!

Kiki and Baltic Art aka “Thor”. Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden.

Until next time — Go Eventing and Go Thoroughbreds!

Road to the Makeover: The Dappir Ridge Eventing Team Checks In

For 616 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, has begun! The 2020 event will take place at Oct. 7-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, three trainers plus one team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

Last month, we met a team of four trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia. Any journey is more fun when you’ve got buddies by your side! We’ll lead with Adriana Nannini’s update — be sure to check out her website here.

Dappir Ridge OTTBs have been coming along nicely! From left to right: Alex Austin on “Prince Attack”, Kiki Osbourne, Adriana Nannini on “Hunter’s Dream”. Photo courtesy of Dale Dealtrey.

Adriana Nannini

Amidst all of this Coronavirus craziness, both of my places of employment have closed their doors; the high school that I work at as well as the restaurant. Kiki, knowing that I would be needing some way to occupy my time, invited me to come ride sets with her and Alex in the mornings.

Bringing along this group of baby OTTBs really feels like a team effort, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I have very much enjoyed experiencing each of their unique personalities and figuring out how to adapt my riding to each one! Call Triple A aka “Buddy” and Baltic Art aka “Thor”, for example, are true steady eddies. They take a decent amount of leg, are willing to please, and are both nearly bombproof. Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox” is a dreamboat and I’m in love with him. He is super sensitive, but naturally balanced, athletic, and is going to be very fancy. It took me a hot minute to figure out how to ride him, because of how sensitive he is to the leg, but once I did, I fell in love with him. Alex has done such a nice job with that one.

And then there’s Sevennotrump, aka “Tricks” or “Trixie”. He is really living up to his name; he’s like a mischievous little boy! At first, his biggest struggle was steering. He would bulge his outside shoulder and run sideways with all 4 legs flailing in 4 different directions, mouth wide open and tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Really attractive, as you can imagine. Now, at long last, it appears we have overcome that unbecoming phase of life and have figured out how to steer and go [mostly] straight.

Tricks is actually quite soft and light in the bridle, and loves to stretch down, which is quite nice. The canter is simply divine. It is so rhythmic and naturally balanced, you could sit on it all day long. He is not your “typical” hyper-sensitive OTTB. Quite the contrary- he actually takes quite a bit of leg! While Tricks still occasionally has little baby temper tantrums, he is overall such a pleasure to ride; he is comfortable, willing, and has no shortage of personality!

When we first started Tricks over little jumps, he had no idea what to do with his long spidery legs, and was basically a hot mess. So Kiki and I decided to take him on his very first field trip, to a jump chute clinic with Martin Douzant. That clinic was a real lightbulb moment for his little brain.

Now, he trots around little courses of crossrails and small verticals happily and in a [mostly] coordinated fashion! Tricks has also been on two field trips down the road to Dappir Ridge’s other facility. He has been relaxed and well-behaved on his outings, where he has worked both in the ring and hacked out on the trails there. He even navigated his very first water crossing out on the trail!

Sevennotrump (“Tricks”) with Adriana Nannini and Hunter’s Dream (“Fox”) with Alex Austin navigating a water crossing. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne

Kelly Giunta

Robbie Jones is a remarkable horse. He is sensible, smart and willing but like any young, green horse we have faced a few challenges these past couple months. The first and only “bad” thing Robbie did was bolt. He did this a few times when he was feeling fresh in the ring at Midway farm but since there was a fence around the ring I was able to stop him pretty quickly.

We moved him to Chapel Springs Farm (Dappir Ridge’s other facility) where the ring is in a large field with no fence around it. One day, I was riding Robbie there while Kiki was teaching a riding lesson. When the horse in the lesson trotted over a crossrail, we went from 0 to 60 in about three seconds and I had no steering or brakes and we were in the middle of a muddy field headed down a hill. Concerned that we were going to fall down I attempted a pulley rein and a one rein stop but Robbie locked his jaw and neck and did not want to stop or turn. Finally I took the left rein both hands and pulled with all my might and we came to a screeching halt!

After that day we spent a lot of time stopping, backing, turning and making sure I had tools to stop him if that happened again. He rarely does it now, but when I feel him start to take off I can now quickly turn him in a circle. The other issue we have sometimes is that I often come to ride after work when Robbie’s pasture buddies are turned out in the field next to the ring.

Robbie has told me several times that he really feels like he should be out playing with them and not working. Sometimes we have little tantrums which involve a lot of whinnying, prancing and generally ignoring everything I ask him to do. If he’s really not into it he will occasionally throw in a bolt or a little hop but thankfully he never rears or bucks! I try to think of this as a good training opportunity and not get frustrated with him. Most evenings I am able to work through the tantrums and get Robbie to focus and give me some good work. 

So far Robbie has only been on one field trip- to the Farmington Hunt Club Combined Test at Millington Stables. He was a total rockstar! He went in the dressage ring for the first time ever, cantered his first whole jump course and came home with a blue ribbon!

Robbie seems to enjoy jumping and appears to be quite talented! I am looking forward to the future with him.

“Robbie Jones” and Kelly Giunta showing stylish jumping form! Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Alex Austin

While I ride all of the baby OTTBs in the barn, my main project is Hunter’s Dream, aka “Fox”. Fox is sweet, willing, and very much an “old soul”. He is clever (like a fox!) over the little fences he’s starting to jump. He seems to really enjoy jumping as he bravely hops over most new obstacles he encounters. Fox is an absolute gem to hack out and trail ride, quietly handling all of the bikers and runners that share the road with him.

I took Fox on his first cross country school a week ago and was so pleased with his reaction to a large new environment. He encountered many scary jumps, including his first water complex! It took a long time to convince him the water was safe, and that there were no gators, but once he jumped in (literally) he splashed about in it the rest of the afternoon. 

As willing as Fox is, he has his struggles too. He can be very tense and nervous, making it difficult to create and maintain a steady connection with him, especially when distractions are present. So we have been planning many field trips for him in order to expose him to new environments and experiences, and encourage him to relax. 

Fox went to his first combined test this past weekend, and saw his first dressage ring! While we didn’t place, he did stay inside the dressage ring for his whole test!  He kept most of his wits about him even though he was very nervous, and jumped all of the jumps in his show jump round.  

I am thrilled to be a part of this special guy’s growth, and excited to see what else he can do!

Alex Austin schooling Baltic Art (“Thor”) over fences. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Kiki Osbourne

Since I have a hand in several of these OTTBs I’ll give a quick recap on a few of the others in our group!

Hands down, the most settled in his mind and self-confident is Baltic Art (“Thor”), but a close second is Call Triple A (“Buddy”). Both of these smart guys are not easily influenced by other horses’ behavior or attitude. I can easily hop on either one and go for a ride alongside a more excited, reactive friend, and they just stay their course and get down to business. Thor has been on a couple of field trips off the farm, and is always the same horse.

While he thinks it’s fun and interesting, he still demonstrates maturity and focus off the farm. His attitude makes it easier to teach him new things, like jumping! New gate? New plank? No problem! Although he still has a long way to go, his canter is beginning to get stronger in the sense that he is able to be somewhat more adjustable. Hills, Thor, hills….

Buddy also has a lovely brain, and I can’t stress enough how important that is! He too excels in his trot work, but struggles a bit in the canter. His left lead is much harder than the right, but slowly we are starting to even out the left and the right side. Because his canter still needs to develop more, we are holding off on starting him over fences for another month or so. He has done a bit of pole work, which I also hope will strengthen his back and hindquarters. But, like Thor- hills, hills and more hills!

Now to discuss Prince Attack (“Prince”), who is literally “the Prince”. He is the most juvenile of the bunch, (he won’t officially turn 4 until the end of May!) and is pretty much always out for a good time. He has recently started to show up for work more days than not, and he’s a pretty fancy boy with 3 lovely gaits and a good jump. Prince has gone on a field trip to the jump chute clinic, and definitely enjoyed himself.

He was a quick study on how to get himself out of the way of the rails. He also went on an adventure around the corner to a local farm. It took him quite a while to settle in with the excitement of several other horses being in the ring, but with the amazing Alex in the irons, he eventually took a breath and got to work. Our biggest challenge with Prince is channeling his mental energy, especially outside of the ring. I am so thankful to Alex and her patient and relaxed attitude with him. He gets better every day!

I’d say this crew is almost ready to go to a show and start to experience life with even more horse friends around. However, it looks like we are all going to spend our early spring practicing and traveling to local farms. This is never a bad thing to do with a group of youngsters!

Kiki Osbourne with Call Triple A (“Buddy”). Photo courtesy of Adriana Nannini

Road to the Makeover: Meet the Dappir Ridge Eventing Team

For 616 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, has begun! The 2020 event will take place at Oct. 7-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Between now and then, three trainers plus one team of four trainers will be blogging their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers.

Today, we’re meeting a team of four trainers from Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia. Any journey is more fun when you’ve got buddies by your side! We’ll let Adriana Nannini lead off — be sure to check out her website here.

Photo courtesy of Dappir Ridge Eventing.

My name is Adriana Nannini and I suppose you could say that I’m a Thoroughbred superfan. I ride with Kiki Osbourne at Dappir Ridge Eventing in Charlottesville, Virginia, and am one of four trainers from our Dappir Ridge team that was accepted to participate in the 2020 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.

The four of us make up an eclectic cast of characters including a veterinarian, a high school teacher, an equestrian professional and an assistant trainer that also gallops racehorses on the side! Despite our differing backgrounds, we share one major commonality: our passion for the Thoroughbred. Between the four of us, we have obtained six OTTB prospects for the Makeover. This is the first installment in our collective  journey.

Adriana Nannini

I’m Adriana, the aforementioned Thoroughbred Superfan. I’m a high school photography teacher by day and work a restaurant job at night to support my horse addiction. Additionally, I own and operate a small organic farm where we grow vegetables, raise free-range chickens and honeybees, board retired horses and sell a variety of homemade goods.

I have previously been employed in various horse-related positions  as a working student, exercise rider and lesson instructor, to name a few, but that was long ago. Now I run around like a sleep-deprived circus clown, attempting to juggle all of my jobs and hobbies like many of us adult amateurs tend to do. I have competed through Intermediate level eventing on my good old fashioned American Thoroughbred that I purchased as a rogue 2-year old more than a decade ago. When I decided to breed my partner-in-crime last year, I knew that somehow I’d have to fill the void during her “maternity leave.” That’s when I decided I may as well have a crack at the Makeover. 

Because my mare, you see, she made me believe that Thoroughbreds can do anything. Her trot would knock your socks off, and she can jump the moon with knee-tucking, back-cracking style. I wouldn’t trade her for any warmblood on this planet. Because you know the one thing that money can’t buy? Heart.

Fable is a small, unimpressive bay mare that no one would look twice at standing in the field. But when it is time to compete, she gives 110%. In sticky situations on cross country, she is forgiving and is willing to bail me out if necessary. The amount of trust that she puts in me to navigate her around safely is matched by my trust in her to do the same. I truly believe that the bond we share has been the single most important factor in the success we have had in our competitive career together, and it is not something I take for granted.

Reflecting on this, I truly would not want to be mounted on anything other than a Thoroughbred! I’m proud to ride with a trainer and a team that share my sentiments of Thoroughbred Superfandom. I can’t wait to participate in this journey so that I can help show the world what Thoroughbreds can do.

My mount for this RRP journey is a 4 year old, 16.1+ hand, Kentucky-bred gelding named “Tricks” (JC name Sevennotrump). Tricks was sourced off the track by Clare Mansmann, fellow RRP participant and OTTB superfan! Tricks has a laid-back yet playful personality. He has spent the past month of his new life at Dappir Ridge learning to move off the leg, stretch through his topline, and steer. Steering is hard, we’ll just leave it at that. We have mastered trotting over three poles in a row in a vaguely straight line, and we hack out in a civilized manner.

Last week we attempted “jumping” little crossrails for the first time and it was not in the slightest bit graceful, but I am confident he will figure out what to do with his long spider legs at some point! I hope you will enjoy following along on our journey, and those of my fellow Dappir Ridge comrades.

 

Sevennotrump aka “Tricks.” Photo courtesy of Ashley Holden.

Dr. Kelly Giunta, VMD

I’m Kelly Giunta, an equine veterinarian and accomplished amateur equestrian with experience in eventing, hunters, jumpers and foxhunting. I work for Blue Ridge Equine in Earlysville, Virginia, and specialize in lameness and sports medicine. I’ve been riding with Kiki Osbourne/ Dappir Ridge Eventing for about eight years. Riding is a hobby and a stress relieving activity for me after putting in many long hours providing veterinary care for my equine patients. I have been riding Thoroughbred horses since I was a child in New Jersey and they are my favorite breed of horse due to their athleticism, intelligence and good work ethic.

As a veterinarian, I am often involved with unwanted horses and work closely with several equine rescues and retirement homes. RRP is a great initiative that helps transition racehorses into new careers and show the public the amazing things that these horses can accomplish. I have always wanted to participate in the RRP and this year I finally have an eligible horse and a great support group of friends and trainers at Dappir Ridge Eventing.

My mount is Robbie Jones, a 6 year old Kentucky-bred gelding that is about 16 hands tall. Robbie was found on the CANTER website in Illinois and purchased sight unseen, which is something I had never done before. I thought it was a crazy idea but when I first met this plain little bay horse I knew there was something special about him.

Robbie is a barn favorite with an in-your-pocket personality. He has excellent ground manners and on his first ride on a cold winter day he walked, trotted, and picked up both canter leads. Robbie could excel in many disciplines but I’m hoping he will take to eventing. At the current stage in his training, Robbie is learning to be soft and supple in the bridle. He has started jumping small fences and has taken to it very quickly. He is going out on the trails and soon he will be introduced to natural obstacles such as logs, water, banks and ditches.

Robbie Jones, aka “Robbie.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Kelly Giunta.

Alex Austin 

My name is Alex Austin — I am a lifelong equestrian who found working with horses as my vocation from a young age. I feel fortunate to have a broad range of experience in the horse world, including working as a groom for an FEI rider, guiding trail rides through the Great Smoky Mountains, apprenticing with a Spanish and Circensic Dressage trainer and more.

Thoroughbreds have long been my favorite breed since having the opportunity to own a big, quirky thoroughbred mare at the age of 12. “Zoë” took me through Preliminary level and showed me the intelligence, personality, power, and versatility the breed embodies.

Since working as an exercise rider for race trainer Patrick Nuesch, I have developed a deeper, more detailed appreciation of Thoroughbreds on the track and the benefits of bringing them up correctly with confidence and correct fitness as the focus.

Currently, I am employed as Assistant Trainer to Kiki Osbourne at Dappir Ridge Eventing and am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the Makeover. I will compete with one of Dappir Ridge’s eligible OTTBs at the Makeover in 2020 and help exhibit what an OTTB has to offer after their racing days are over.

Kiki Osbourne (Our Fearless Leader)

I am Kiki Osbourne, an eventing and hunter/jumper professional. I am originally from the Chicago area, but am now based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have been for almost 15 years. I run my own business, Dappir Ridge Eventing, out of two lovely facilities in Albemarle County. Mostly you will find me standing in the ring helping riders and their horses meet personal goals, like doing a first Beginner Novice event, an equitation class at a local show, an FEI 3-Day Event, or just learning how to make better transitions. I have competed through the Intermediate level of eventing (years ago), have ridden competitively in hunter divisions and derbies (so fun!) at “A” circuit shows, and am an “A” graduate of USPC.

I  have always had a keen interest in off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Growing up, we had a family friend who owned several racehorses and we would go to see them run at Arlington or Tampa Bay Downs. We would get to go back to the stalls after the races, and I was like a kid in a candy store — I wanted them all!

When these horses finished their racing career, they were offered to me to ride and re-home. Unfortunately, none of us really knew what we were doing. My mother probably shouldn’t have allowed her 13 year old to try her hand at this alone, but she did, and so did their owner. At this point, I was involved in Pony Club, so a little more guidance from local pros and older members helped me along the way. Somehow, rider, horse, old owner and new owner came out OK in the end. It was then that I realized what an amazing breed these horses were — tough, brave, smart, and something I could afford at the beginning stages.

I am excited about being able to participate in the Makeover in 2020, and more excited that so many people in my circle will be able to participate as well. While we have a general idea of which horses we will be taking, we are keeping options open. We have a fun and talented small group that we can choose from this summer. I’m very excited to see what these horses can learn and show us this spring and summer!

Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox.” Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Hunter’s Dream aka “Fox” is a 4-year-old, 16.1-hand, Florida-bred gelding. Fox was found through Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds in New York. He is a sweet-tempered, mild-mannered guy that flats happily in the ring as well as hacks out, and is starting to learn about jumping.

Baltic Art aka “Thor.” Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Baltic Art aka “Thor” is a 7-year-old, 15.3-hand, German-bred gelding that raced 19 times, earning nearly $100,000! He is known as a “dude” around the barn and has taken to jumping naturally, demonstrating very stylish form in his very first jump school!

Prince Attack aka “Prince.” Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Prince Attack aka “Prince” is a 4-year-old 16.1-hand Illinois-bred gelding that was purchased sight-unseen through CANTER Illinois. Prince is owned by Laurie Baker McNeil. He is sporty and athletic, but is also a stereotypical strong-willed redhead! Prince has been practicing his flatwork in the ring and has done lots and lots of hacking, as well as starting over small jumps.

Call Triple A aka “Buddy.” Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Call Triple A aka “Buddy” is a 6-year-old, 16-hand Pennsylvania-bred gelding adopted by Ashley Holden through Rerun in New York. Buddy is a super willing guy with a patient, easygoing disposition. He flats happily in the ring as well as hacks out, and might be the quietest horse of the whole bunch!

We hope you will enjoy following our collective journey on our road to the RRP Makeover! Go Eventing and Go Thoroughbreds!