The $1 Horse Club: Forrest Nymph

The $1 Horse Club is EN’s newest series. Do you know of a horse that was sold for $1 and went on to achieve greatness in eventing? From serious upper-level horses to first-time eventing horses and young rider dream-makers to perfectly behaved lower-level packers, we want to tell their stories. Tip me at [email protected].

Sinead Halpin and Forrest Nymph at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sinead Halpin and Forrest Nymph at Plantation Field. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Theodore O’Connor introduced the idea of red headed pony eventing superstar, but Forrest Nymph has cemented this idea firmly in the minds of the three-day eventing community, inspiring riders all over the country to realize that size can be deceiving when it comes to power. While the feisty New Forest pony has taken the eventing world by storm with Sinead Halpin in the irons over the past two years, the mare came from much more humble beginnings than her current superstar status belies.

Farrah, as she is known around the barn, was purchased in-utero from Trevelyan Farm by Lynn Simpson, with the hopes that she would be a winning dressage mount. In 2004, she was the overall high scoring weanling of the year for ISR Oldenburg Sport Pony, and her future looked bright. However, when the mare was sent to be started under saddle at the age of three, it became crystal clear that the life of a dressage horse was not in the cards.

Farrah was unruly, badly behaved on the ground, and notorious for dumping any and all riders who attempted to tame her. Lynn called her friend Beth Davidson, and asked if she might be interested in taking the young pony on some hunter paces and expanding her world outside of the sandbox. Beth breeds Connemara ponies, and was good friends with Lynn, and so she took the chance.

“I am not a professional, so I don’t normally take on project horses,” says Beth, “And within two weeks of having her at my farm, I wanted Lynn to come take her home. Farrah kept jumping out of my pastures, and was constantly getting out of her halter while in the cross ties. Basically she drove me insane the first six months.”

Beth chanced a hunter pace despite the badly behaved youngster’s escapades at home, and of course Farrah broke her halter and ran amok in the parking area, refusing to be caught. To this day, Beth is unsure of how she agreed to keep the mare, but Lynn offered her full registration papers and total ownership for the price of $1.

Sinead Halpin and Forrest Nymph. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sinead Halpin and Forrest Nymph. Photo by Jenni Autry.

In 2011, with no prior eventing experience, Beth entered Farrah in a few competitions, culminating in a move up to Training level within the season. The two of them were green, and ultimately the mare proved to be a little too much like a sportscar with a lot of power and even more intellect. Lauren DeNeve took over the ride through 2013, successfully competing the mare through Preliminary, and Farrah finished her first CCI* at the Ocala Horse Properties spring three-day.

In 2014, Farrah met Sinead. Beth knew that for the mare to progress to her full potential, she would need a sophisticated and, most of all, tactful rider. “Farrah has to be asked nicely to do anything, but especially when it comes to dressage.” Sinead was having great international success with Manoir de Carneville, and it only seemed right for her to add another feisty chestnut to her string.

The pair completed four Preliminary competitions that spring, finishing in the top ten for each one, before making the big move up to Intermediate in the summer of 2014. Farrah was unfazed, and the pair finished 18th at the Plantation CIC2* on their way to Fair Hill CCI2* that fall, where they added only time and one rail to their dressage score to end in 41st place out of 111 starters.
Sinead and Farrah have continued to compete at the Intermediate level for 2015, with a few of Farrah’s feisty chestnut mare moments coming out on cross country while they worked through some over enthusiasm issues. Now that has been ironed out, they are back to clear cross country rounds, and good finishes amongst much bigger and faster horses, but Farrah doesn’t seem to notice.

Sinead and Farrah at Millbrook this month. Photo by Mallory Haigh.

The plan is to see exactly how far Farrah can go, as it is clear that she loves eventing very much and has scope beyond her size. In order for her to continue her competition schedule, Sinead and Beth are working on a syndication for the “pocket rocket”, and hope to be able to find a way for that to come to fruition soon.
Beth also has plans to breed Farrah in the years to come, and hopes to find a way to harness her amazing qualities for future generations. “As a purebred pony, she doesn’t have the blood that is needed to be super competitive in the CCI format, so I’d love to add some blood to her babies,” says Beth. “She has jumping skills galore and is a great mover, but she is also super sensitive, so I would like to tone that down a little. However, that’s probably what makes her good at eventing and also why I got her for $1, so I shouldn’t complain!”