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!