December 31, 2020
Well, 2020 is finally coming to an end; it has been
a year that most of us will not forget. I have been
eagerly looking forward to the year being over, though
there is no guarantee that 2021 will be better. The
covid-19 pandemic is raging out of control, the country is
more divided than ever, and many have lost their jobs and
businesses. The situation is likely to get worse before it
Still, those of us here at
Windchase count our blessings. Despite everything that is
going on with the pandemic, our lifestyle has not changed
all that much. We are lucky to spend our days with the
horses, working mainly outside and keeping our distance
from others. The disappointments of cancelled competitions
and trips we did not get to go on are trivial, a mere
inconvenience compared to the hardships many others have
So looking forward to the New
Year: the rollout of the covid vaccine is underway, we
have a new President, and I am taking the optimistic view
that the world is going to be back on track soon. 2021
December 21, 2020
If you have gazed at the Southern sky this December
just after sunset, you have probably seen a bright starry
light, and wondered perhaps if this was the Christmas Star
that led the Magi to Bethlehem. However it is not a star,
but the convergence of two planets, Saturn and Jupiter, as
they traverse the sky from east to west.
by Vincent Van Gogh
the season their paths have moved closer and closer, so
close now that they almost appear to be one, the closest
they have been since the time of Galileo, with their
nearest encounter being tonight, on the Winter
seems fitting somehow that such a celestial display should
culminate on this, the darkest day of the year, in a year
that is as dark as most of us can remember. We welcome the
2020 has been a difficult
year in many ways for most of us. We have faced (and are
continuing to face) such challenges as the covid-19
pandemic, economic collapse, civil unrest caused by racial
injustice, historic storms and wildfires resulting from
climate change, a nation politically divided and an
administration unwilling to commit to a peaceful transfer
of power. But despite all this, I find much to be thankful
I am grateful that Windchase has such an amazing
staff and a great group of working students. Much thanks
to all of them for everything that they do. I am very
lucky to have a circle of good friends that I can always
depend on. And
I am blessed to have a wonderful extended family; we are
very close to each other, despite geographical distance.
am thankful for our beautiful horses, the loyal and loving
dogs, and the slightly arrogant cats. Our companions, our
and training the horses is my passion and my life’s
work, and I think this is true of most of the Windchase
staff. Horses are great partners and also great humblers,
and we never stop learning. This is why it is something we
spend a lifetime doing. I am ever thankful to be able to
have my work be what I love doing.
I am also grateful for the diverse wildlife that
makes Windchase its home, or at least a stopping over
place as they pass through. Deer, geese, turkeys,
raccoons, ground hogs and rabbits are some of the more
common residents, along with a huge host of birds. Hawks
soar overhead, and the ravens in the woods behind the
riding arena keep up a raucous clamor. We are treated to a
chorus of calls by the owls each evening, and the coyotes,
seldom seen in the daytime, can often be heard howling in
Wild mallards or wood
ducks sometimes join the ubiquitous Canadian geese on the
lake, and the great blue heron comes by several times a
week. During migration season a variety of other waterfowl
stops by for a few hours or a few days. Bald eagles are
visiting more and more frequently. Once in a while we see
the rare red-headed woodpecker, and more common types are
Foxes often put in an
appearance, though less often with the increase in the
coyote population. On several occasions I have seen a
fisher, one of the larger members of the weasel family.
The occasional black bear wanders through the farm, or
perhaps raids someone’s garbage. And there are many,
many more. From the tiniest mouse to the bats that fly
over the lake in the evenings. Fish, snakes, frogs and
lizards. Hundreds of birds, from the tiny ruby-throated
hummingbirds to the raptors soaring on the wind.
In addition to the
wildlife, there is the land itself. The rolling green
fields, the majestic trees, the stream flowing through.
The autumn leaves turning from green, to red and gold, to
subtle shades of rust and brown before quietly drifting to
the ground. The mountains surrounding our little valley,
glowing pink in the warm light of the setting sun.
There is a strong sense of peacefulness and
belonging at Windchase, and a special connection to the
land. Whether riding around the farm on a horse or sitting
on the patio in the evening, one is struck by the feeling
of peace and joy on this special place on the earth.
All of these things
together make up what we call ‘Windchase Magic.’
still, I am pretty sure that I will also be really
thankful when 2020 is finally behind us.)
Have a great Thanksgiving,
November 1, 2020
Well, it been a strange year, and one that has
brought many difficulties and heartbreak for most. We are
all holding our breath for the election on Tuesday. Save
our Democracy; please be sure to get out and Vote!
Cindy and Windchase Phoenix Star in the Advanced
at Morven Park
Windchase horses and riders have been going well
throughout the autumn Event season. I have been a bit lax
on keeping the reports current, though you can keep up to
date on the Windchase Eventing Facebook page.
Highlights of the season ranged
from Cindy Anderson-Blank placing 7th in the
Advanced division at Morven Park with our homebred
Windchase Phoenix Star to 11 year old Savannah Brunkow
winning the Elementary at Loch Moy three times in a row on
her pony Starlight.
Savannah and Starlight
We were very proud of long-time Windchase working
student Morgan McGrath for successfully moving up to
Preliminary with both of her horses, placing numerous
times with Windchase Alcor and Mizz Indycat. And it has
been fun to watch Amy Faison as she develops a great
partnership with her new Thoroughbred, Northern Trust.
Working student Peytie Klein has been sailing around the
Training courses with Archimedes, and we have also had
wins from Devon Sutherland and Christi Whitehead. We have
a great group of working students at the moment, but have
an opening coming up the first of the year if anyone is
Morgan McGrath and Windchase Alcor
In an exciting new venture, I imported four young
Warmblood 2- and 3-year-olds from Alberta, Canada. They
had quite a trip to get here; I vacationed once in the
Canadian Rockies, going up from Banff to Jasper. Well,
these horses came from a farm another five hours north
from Jasper! Anyway, they are lovely, with terrific
movement and jump. We are in the process of starting the
3-year-olds now. They are being offered for sale at a
bargain price, but prices will go up as they progress.
We said goodbye to an old friend on October 22. We
had a service for our long-time farrier and friend Steve
Mayer (expertly arranged by Debbie Brink) on what would
have been his 70th birthday. His ashes were
laid to rest under a tree in the Galloping Field at
Windchase, marked by a beautiful bench, handmade by
several of his friends. As per his wishes, a convoy of
farriers in their shoeing trucks drove slowly around,
circling the service. I don’t think there was a dry eye
among us as the Loudoun/Fairfax huntsman played Gone Away
on the hunting horn.
We will miss you, Steve.
October 22, 2020
Memorial Service for Stephen E. Mayer
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Noon (12:00 P.M.)
Hillsboro, VA 20132
Please join us for a memorial and a celebration of
Steve’s life. This
service will be held outdoors in the galloping field at
distancing and MANDATORY masks will be strictly adhered
dress accordingly for the weather and to walk from the
parking field to the galloping field.
Please arrive by noon to allow time to park and walk to
the field as we will start the service promptly at 12:30
P.M. We will
have a microphone and encourage anyone that wishes to
share your funny “Steve” stories and memories.
We all know, there’s
nothing Steve liked more than to share a funny story.
Let’s honor him and celebrate his life on this day, his
70th birthday with our happy and heartfelt
Any questions can be directed to:
forward this message and information to all friends that
knew Steve that possibly may not be on social media.
Time to catch up on our summer activities. The Windchase
XC Derby was held on the last weekend of August,
and was a big success. Over 60 horses ran around the
cross-country course, which was just under two miles in
length, and great fun was had by all. If you didn’t make
it this time, hope to have you come ride the course next
Windchase course is also open for XC
schooling, so contact me if you want to come
autumn Event season is in full swing, with careful social
distancing protocols in place. After missing the spring
season due to Covid, we are really happy to be out
competing again. The Windchase horses have been going
has had good runs at Great Meadows in the CCI3* with
Windchase Phoenix Star and Seneca Valley at Intermediate
with MHS Cooley Vegas, preparing them for upcoming FEI
competitions. Cindy also rode my homebred Windchase
Lionstar in his first recognized Event at Seneca, winning
the Novice, and was well placed on Windchase Starfire in
the Training. It is really rewarding to see the homebred
horses doing so well. And Morgan McGrath placed 6th
in the Preliminary at Seneca on Mizz Indy Cat, proving
that they can be consistently competitive at this level.
Amy Faison had a good ride around the Training with
Devon Sutherland and Face at Loch Moy
Last weekend at the Loch Moy Starter Trial,
Windchase had five winners! We are very proud of our
working students; both Devon Sutherland and Christi
Whitehead had wins in BN. Cindy also won on Windchase
Hydra. And Savannah Brunkow was also a big winner on her
amazing pony Starlight.
thanks to all the Event Organizers, secretaries and
volunteers for putting on super competitions during these
Christi Whitehead and Leawood, winners at Loch Moy
I had a great opportunity to acquire some nice
event prospects recently; I bought four young warmbloods
from northern Alberta, Canada. Two 3-year-olds and a pair
of 2-year-olds shipped to Windchase in August, and they
are really quality horses with beautiful movement. We are
in the process of getting them ready to start under
saddle, and I am super excited about their future. These
youngsters will be offered for
sale soon, so watch this space.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing
of Steve Mayer, our long time farrier and friend. Steve
has been an integral part of Windchase for over 25 years.
He had a keen sense of humor and a love of horses and
nature. As well as being a loyal farrier, he was a keen
Foxhunter, a sportsman, and a friend.
Years ago I saw an epitaph for a
patron of horse sport and foxhunting, and it somehow
struck a chord with me, so that I have always remembered
it. I didn’t write these words, but I think they are
appropriate as a sendoff for Steve:
with his peers may we leave him
With all the good men and the true
Who have come to the last of the Gateways
And laughed, and gone galloping through.
We will miss you, Steve.
Windchase Eventing had a good competition at the
Virginia Horse Trials. Morgan McGrath placed 3rd
in the Young Rider Preliminary division with her OTTB Mizz
Indy Cat; this mare has been a partner on Morgan’s
journey for years, and it was great to see them move up to
rode Windchase Starfire in his first registered Training
event and posted a double clear to finish 6th.
This ISH homebred would have moved up at the beginning of
the year but for Covid, so he was happy to finally get his
chance. This talented top level prospect has a bright
future; see him on our Horses
for Sale page.
And again, much thanks to all of the Event
Organizers and Secretaries, as well as to all of the
volunteers, for putting on top quality competitions during
these difficult pandemic times.
have sold quite a few horses this spring, and are looking
for more to offer to our clients. If you have a horse you
want to sell contact me; we would be happy to take it in
program to sell for you.
had quite a lot of fun travel plans for this year. I was
supposed to go to the Badminton Horse Trials in May for
the Selection Committee, Jineen and I were going hiking in
Wales in August, and we had another trip to Botswana
planned for this winter. Of course, all those plans are
now cancelled or on hold do to Covid – I really don’t
feel safe getting on a plane at the moment. But feeling
the need to get away for a few days, Jineen and I will be
heading to the wilds of West Virginia next week. We have
rented a little cabin, and will be spending our time
hiking and enjoying the countryside.
July 13, 2020
flies as always, and once again I am behind on updating
this column. It takes a bit to keep up with all the social
media these days; for more up to date info on current
events, be sure to follow us on Facebook.
is good to be going to the Events again, and with all the
covid precautions the organizers and competitors are
taking, it feels quite safe. I would like to give a huge
shout-out to all the Event organizers for putting on the
competitions in these difficult times; certainly the
pandemic makes everything a lot harder, and we are so
lucky that these great Events keep on going.
Cindy Anderson-Blank rode
our homebred Windchase Phoenix Star in the Advanced at the
Horse Park of New Jersey the end of June; they jumped
around the XC course beautifully. This was Phoenix’s
first Advanced since missing some time with an injury, so
it was great to see them out going strong at that level
took MHS Cooley Vegas in the CCI3*-S at the Maryland Horse
Trials, and Windchase Faberge Star did her first FEI
competition there in the CCI2*-S. Both of these Irish
Sport Horses breezed around the course in great style.
Loch Moy did a super job on the XC footing, so though the
weather was hot, the ground was quite decent, and the
course was terrific. It is nice to have a course of this
caliber so close to home.
We are so proud of Morgan
McGrath and Windchase Alcor. Morgan did her first
Preliminary at Maryland HT, finishing 4th in
the YR division. Alcor is a Windchase homebred, and
Morgan, now 21, has trained at Windchase since she was
about 13. It was really fun to watch them smoke around the
cross country; Morgan and Alcor have formed a great
Morgan McGrath and Windchase Alcor
At the second Maryland HT, Cindy and Windchase
Starfire went great around the Novice, just missing out on
the win because of a few speeding penalties for going too
fast. Amy Faison had a great ride on her new horse,
Northern Trust, as well. Much thanks to Trusty’s former
owner, Mary Hooff, for making this partnership possible.
to Virginia Horse Trials next!
At least so far, 2020 has not turned out at all
like we planned. Who could have anticipated our world
being completely turned upside-down by a pandemic?
And now, the country is in turmoil after the brutal
murder of George Floyd. But from the darkest moments, some
good can come. I find it inspiring that people in so many
cities from coast to coast are coming together in protest
to demand justice for the death of George Floyd, and to
demand change in police practices going forward. This is
not just about George Floyd. Or about Ahmaud Arbery, or
Trayvon Martin. It is about 400 years of racial inequality
and abuse. It has been gratifying to see the diversity of
the marchers as men and women of all races and all ages
band together to express solidarity.
Cindy Anderson-Blank and MHS Cooley
Vegas (a.k.a. Greg)
After months of lockdown and barely leaving the
farm except for the occasional trip to the grocery store,
at last we got to go Eventing - Cindy rode the three greys
at Plantation Field on Friday. Windchase Phoenix Star and
MHS Cooley Vegas did the Open Intermediate, and Windchase
Faberge Star ran the Preliminary. All three horses went
great and jumped clear XC, and it was a great chance for
both horses and rider to knock the dust off and get back
in the competitive groove. It was fun to get off the farm
for a change, and after having all the spring Events
cancelled due to Covid, hopefully we can get some sort of
halfway normal competition schedule for the summer and
Getting by is enough right now.
saw that written as a quote somewhere the other day, and
it really rang true to me. The Pandemic, Stay at Home
orders, people out of work, all of the competitions shut
down; it feels like we are just spinning our wheels,
trying to get by. But that statement made me look at
everything a little bit differently. It’s true – just
getting by IS enough right now. So wash your hands,
don’t touch your face, wear a mask, stay six feet apart,
and lets all just get through this, together, the best we
I know a lot of people who are not able to work
have been finding themselves with tons of extra time on
their hands. They are doing things like cleaning out their
garage and binge-watching Netflix. But for us here at
Windchase, our days are not really that different form
normal times. We are still busy riding, training, and
taking care of the horses. But with no competitions on the
weekends, all the days do start to feel the same in a
Groundhog Day-ish sort of way, and it becomes hard to keep
track of what day of the week it is. We have been working
just as hard as ever, just not getting to do the things
that might actually earn some money, such as teaching
clinics and selling horses. Part of me sort of envies
those out-of-work people who are having an enforced
vacation, and thinks I could really stand to take a month
to clean out all my drawers and closets, and watch a few
movies. (But the rest of me knows I would really hate it.)
have all gotten much better at social distancing. We have
strict protocols in place at Windchase to limit numbers of
people and keep everyone safe. We are now carefully
starting up with Covid-safe clinics (with very small
groups and no contact), and we are now showing horses for
sale again. In fact, we have a really outstanding group of
Horses for Sale at the
moment; check them out!
In the meantime, we have been having a cool but beautiful
spring. I got the chance to fly my drone the other day and
take a few photos.
So everyone, be careful, stay safe, and remember,
getting by is enough right now.
long last, I have completed the Trip Journal from my photo
safari in Africa last year and posted it on this website,
with photos. Sorry it has taken so long to get done, but I
wanted to do a complete report which does take some time,
and well, you know, life sort of gets in the way. But it
is finally online, and you can follow this link to the Africa
2019 Trip Report. Let
me know what you think.
March 29, 2020
to covid-19, we are all going through difficult times
these days. Our focus at Windchase is on continuing to
take the very best of care of the horses while keeping
staff and clients safe through careful and diligent social
distancing and sanitizing measures.
the meantime, we are going on with training the horses. It
is quite ironic that with the mild winter, we were been
able to get outside schooling a lot and have the horses
the best prepared for the spring Event season they could
possibly be. Cindy took four horses down to Aiken for a
month to get an early jump on the season. And now of
course, everything is (rightly) shut down.
the end, this will all pass. Perhaps it will serve as a
reminder to us that though for most Eventers our horses
and competition tend to be our all-consuming focus, there
are some things in this world that are more important.
We have had to temporarily suspend our clinics and
group activities, but we will keep training the horses,
clients, boarders and working students, and plan to be
ready for competition whenever it resumes again after this
crisis is over. And we are currently accepting new horses
in for boarding and training. Although non-essential
businesses are shut down in Virginia at the moment, the
care and exercise of horses and other animals are
classified as essential.
have new horses coming in for sale, and are bringing along
the youngsters. When this is all over and people are out
shopping again, we will have an exciting group of both
young prospects and Eventers with some experience to offer
the meantime, stay safe!
As you know, the Covid-19 pandemic and the
resulting necessary public health measures have created
significant challenges for all of us. Windchase is, as
always, totally committed to providing the best of care
for the horses as well as excellent riding experiences for
the owners and clients.
are equally committed to avoiding exposure of our staff to
Covid-19, so at Windchase we have strict Social Distancing
protocols in place for everyone’s protection.
now the logistics of life are difficult, and it seems like
we spend most of our time washing our hands and spraying
disinfectant on anything anybody touches. Our lives, our
work and our sport are interrupted, and the worst still
seems to be ahead of us. It is hard not to feel down at
I drove over the mountain yesterday on Route 9, and
up at the top there was a pickup truck with three kids
standing in the back of it, smiling and waving at the
passing motorists, and each holding a sign that together
read: THIS IS
was uplifting, and I would like to thank those children,
whoever they were, for brightening up the day of everyone
who passed by.
We will get through this. We will all get through
this by sticking together (well, together in spirit, but
staying at least six feet apart). So take precautions, be
diligent, and keep your chin up. Ride your horse, walk
your dog, be glad that Spring is here, and hang in there. Remember,
This Is Temporary.
February 22, 2020
Wow, 2020! Can’t believe
how quickly the time passes. Which is no excuse for how
behind I am in updating this page. A lot to cover now.
We have been enjoying a mild
winter so far here in Virginia; the groundhog saw his
shadow so an early spring is forecast. The ground has
hardly frozen all winter, and we have been able to school
outside quite a bit more than usual for this time of year.
Exciting stuff, because Event Season is just around the
Eventing is represented down south this winter; Cindy has
just taken four horses down to Aiken, where she will be
based until late March. While we miss having her here at
Windchase, this is a great chance for Cindy to get in some
early competitions and train with some of the top coaches
in the country, so we are very excited about this
opportunity for her. We
want to make sure Cindy is safe when out training and
competing, so we had a little send-off for her and gave
her a bubblewrap suit.
meantime, Amy Faison is doing a great job riding the young
horses, along with Jineen and our great group of working
students, Peytie, Rachael, Sarah, Claire, Christi and
Grace. Our friend Mordacai is a great contributor
schooling the youngsters as well. Much Thanks to them all!
would also like to give a shout out to all of our sponsors
and companies who give us assistance. Hylofit and Equine
Tech Collaborative, along with the generous help of Event
Clinics, awarded Cindy a Hylofit system. This is much more
than just a heart monitor, and it is already helping Cindy
evaluate her horses’ fitness and plan an optimal
conditioning schedule for them. We are all quite comfy
riding in Voltaire saddles, and the horses love them too!
And we are excited about switching to Buckeye feeds; I
have heard so many good things about their products, and
our high performance horses are already thriving on it. We
also feed Grand Meadows supplements, Cindy is riding in
Tucci Time boots, and our horses look sharp wearing ear
bonnets from Snowden Creations. Thanks, all of you, for
The Windchase Winter jumping clinics are going
strong; we have been having 4 or 5 groups jumping every
Sunday. I will be announcing new Spring clinic dates
shortly. And mark your calendars; the next Windchase
Cross-country Derby will be on May 16.
December 31, 2019
Another year gone by - no wait, another decade - can you
believe it? How time flies. Each
day is a gift, and we should try to savor every moment.
We welcome 2020
with hopes of peace and harmony.
Happy New Year to all.
December 24, 2019
Merry Christmas, from Phyllis and
everyone at Windchase.
December 1, 2019
Windchase Winter Jumping Clinics are starting up this
coming weekend. Come jump with Olympian Phyllis Dawson.
Visit our Jump Clinic page
for more information. To sign up, go to our Event
am thankful every day to live and work at Windchase, and
for the wonderful horses, dogs, cats and wildlife that
live here. And the people, too! I know how lucky I am to
be able to ride nice horses across beautiful countryside,
and to get to spend most days working with horses and
animals and doing the things I love. I am thankful for
Windchase Magic, that special quality that makes Windchase
A wise person once told me that the key to business
is to surround yourself with the very best people
possible, and I have been lucky enough over the years to
be able to surround myself with an exceptional staff. I
want to thank each and every one of them for making
Windchase the special place that it is.
Reed, stable manager, trainer and life-long best friend,
has been a huge part in developing Windchase in to what it
Anderson-Blank does a terrific job in to the role of head
rider, competitor and trainer, and she is an integral part
of the farm and business going forward.
Faison is an invaluable part of the operation riding,
training, and overseeing the running of the daily
Bautista is farm manager extraordinaire; he keeps
Windchase looking the best it ever has, and is constantly
Brunkow, assisted by her daughter Savannah, keeps the
competition and sale horses ready for work and looking
the working students: Rachael Roae, Sarah Wyssen, Peytie
Klein, Claire Maksymetz, as well as part-timers Cristi
Whitehead and Grace Clark. They collectively do a superb
job taking top quality care of the horses.
also have a myriad of friends and boarders who chip in,
step up, and help out whenever needed. There help and
friendship are an invaluable asset.
thanks to each and every one of you for being an important
part of Team Windchase!
And as always, I am thankful or the brave
men and women in the military who keep us safe
and free, and for the first responders who are there for
us when need is the greatest. I wish them a safe and
Tracey McGrath and Mizz Indy Cat, winners of the
Training division at the Windchase XC Derby
The Windchase XC Derby was this past Saturday, and
it was a big success. Despite cold weather, the footing
was perfect and we had a good turnout. Judged on jumping
penalties and closest to Optimum Time for all three
levels, the course was almost two miles long. We all had a
lot of fun, and plan to include the Derby on our schedule
in the spring and the autumn next year.
Anna and Avon, flying around the BN at the
excellent XC course for schooling! Visit the XC
Schooling page for more info. We have three large
XC fields with excellent turf and over 250 fences, and
last year we added a new water jump complex, Irish banks,
mounds and a coffin complex. This gives us everything we
need to school horses from Elementary through Advanced. It
is so fabulous that we decided we needed to share it with
others, so this autumn we have opened up the course for
schooling by appointment (weather and footing permitting
of course). Contact Phyllis to arrange to come schooling.
Congratulations to Cindy Anderson-Blank and Windchase
Phoenix Star, for winning the Intermediate division at
Morven Park last weekend. Cindy and Phoenix have formed a
great partnership as they moved up through the levels
together, but an injury in the spring of 2018 sidelined
Phoenix from competition for a year. It was so great to
watch this pair gallop around the iconic XC course at
Morven, and the fact that they won was just icing on the
Phoenix at Morven Park
us for Windchase Wednesdays Jumping
Clinics through the autumn; your choice of Show
Jumping or Cross-country (weather permitting). Sign up at
our Event Clinics website link: http://bit.ly/Windchase