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Adriana Nannini


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

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!