(Archive: August 23, 1999 - December 27, 1999)
Notes from Phyllis

Invest in the journey, not the destination.

December 27, 1999
     I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas season. We have had a very nice Christmas here at Windchase, although it has gotten quite cold, so we are battling frozen water troughs and frozen fingers! I am looking forward to the start of the new millennium - although I don't usually get too excited about New Year's, this one is certainly special. Hopefully the world won't end! Don't forget, if you trim the bottom of your horse's tail on New Year's morning, it will bring you good luck for the New Year!
     The new Irish horses have still not arrived, it seems like they never will! They were supposed to ship on Dec. 15, but something was wrong with the plane, and the charter flight was canceled. They have not been able to reschedule yet, they are saying after the first of the year, but I'm not sure when.
     All of my Event horses are back in work now, which makes me happy. Even when they are enjoying a well deserved vacation, it makes me kind of twitchy when they are not in work. Of course, they are already pretty fit again, so we have a long and somewhat boring winter of work ahead of us if we get limited to the indoor arena because of weather for too long.

     I am really excited about my upcoming trip to Africa. I am going to Tanzania on a photo safari with my mother and my sister and her husband. We leave on Jan 5 and are gone for two weeks. Mom and I went once before, back in 1994, and it was just the most unbelievably wonderful trip. We have been eager to get back ever since. I can hardly wait! I'll tell you about it when I get back.

     Everyone have a Happy New Year!

Hunting in Ireland.

December 6, 1999
     Ireland is one of my very favorite places to visit, and I just returned from a wonderful trip there. I spent a week there looking at young horses and having a fun vacation with my friend and trainer/manager Jineen Reed, Joerg Eichmann and John David Smith from Brandenburg Farm, our Veterinarian Sean Bowman and his wife Jean, and our friend Steve Brawerman. We had a great time, and bought some really promising young horses.
     We arrived at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday Nov 27, a bit bleary eyed from no sleep and spending all night on the plane. We were met by my friend and Irish horse contact Clare Ryan, and spent the first three days looking at horses all over County Tipperary. The first two days it was pouring rain and gale force winds, but the weather was nice after that. Clare showed us over 30 horses in three days, mostly three to five years old, 3/4 TB 1/4 Irish Draught crosses. We were amazed at the number of really nice horses we saw.

The Cashel Palace

     We stayed in the Cashel Palace, a lovely hotel in the town of Cashel in County Tipperary. This is one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, with lovely rolling hills and views of the Galtee mountains. The town is overlooked by 'The Rock of Cashel', a fabulous huge old castle that sits on the top of a hill. It is absolutely breathtaking, like something out of Camelot. The Cashel Palace itself is quite lovely, a grand building built in 1730. It has excellent food, and we spent many evenings in the Guinness Bar downstairs (in the dungeon), being entertained by the bartender Dennis telling stories of Cashel ghosts and Irish history, Steve playing Irish jigs and 'Danny Boy' on the tin whistle, and Jineen playing the piano (we sang rather badly).
     We went to a 'Team Chase' on Sunday, sponsored by the Tipperary Hunt. Teams of four horses and riders went around a course of about three miles and 33 fences, consisting of amazing banks, ditches, slides into water and drop fences. It was very wet and muddy, with rain and high winds, and the going became very treacherous. The Irish riders tend to be quite fearless, and provided great entertainment.
     Joerg, David, Steve and I went foxhunting with the Tipperary Hounds on Thursday. It was great fun, with nice weather, beautiful scenery and a good day's hunting. Sean went with the terrier man by truck, and he got to see all the foxes, he even got a picture of one following the Huntsman! We had arranged for hireling horses to hunt, and were all mounted on heavy cob-type Irish hunters who were good jumpers and very safe mounts. After about an hour however, the man who had rented us the horses asked me to switch with another of his clients, who was riding a tall chestnut 3/4 TB and was apparently terrified of him. After I switched, I really had a marvelous time, as this horse, 'Riley', was extremely bold and fast, and a terrific jumper, alot more fun than my first mount. The only thing I had to be careful of was to not pass the Field Master, as Riley was definitely one of the fastest horses in the field. We hunted for over five hours, and at the end of the day we met up with Jineen and Jean in the pub where the Hunt had met for Hot Whiskeys, and then went on to Hannigan's pub for dinner, still in our muddy hunting clothes.
     I bought two horses that I like very much. One is a four year old bay mare named Tara, who has hunted a bit, and jumps the best. I fell in love with her right away. I bought her from Shane Breen, who is a show jumper. He holds the world record for bareback high jumping, we saw a picture of him having jumped a 7 foot 2 inch wall without a saddle. Pretty amazing! I also purchased (pending vetting) a four year old bay gelding that is just in the process of being started under saddle. A really lovely mover and jumper.
     David and Joerg bought five really nice horses for Brandenburg, and the really exciting thing was that Jineen also got a horse, a lovely three year old chestnut gelding. He is not yet started under tack, but a wonderful mover, and a great personality. Jineen had not planned to buy a horse, but she just fell in love with him, and couldn't leave him in Ireland, so she is now the proud owner of an Irish Sport Horse as well. I know she won't be sorry! Sean was very busy the last couple of days doing prepurchase exams on all the horses, and we are looking forward to their arrival in the USA, hopefully on the December 15 charter flight.
     It was a great holiday and a really fun trip, but now it is good to be home again, and I am excited to be getting all of the competition horses back into serious work, as they have been enjoying a little holiday since the end of the event season. Now it is time for everyone to get back to work to prepare for the spring season. I guess I better start thinking about getting ready for Christmas, too!

November 22, 1999
     Congratulations are in order to Joerg Eichmann for placing second with his young horse Josh at CDCTA, and to Emily Curtis for winning the Dressage and placing fourth in her division at ?????? (insert name of event). A good way to wrap up the season!
Now that the Event season is over, I am enjoying a chance to relax a little and have some time off. I even got a chance to go see my niece Lindy play soccer!
     I enjoyed teaching a clinic down at Virginia Beach weekend before last, they are a fun and enthusiastic group to work with, and it is a lot of fun to go down and have the chance to teach them.
     Thanks to Nancy Mountz for loaning me her good leather boots for most of the Autumn event season. Due to the fall I had at Loudoun in September, my boots didn't fit just right, and hers were more comfortable. Hopefully my leg will be back to normal by the next time I need to put on dress boots, but Nancy's were a lifesaver!
     I am looking forwards to a trip to Ireland. Jineen and I are going for a week, leaving the day after Thanksgiving, with a group of friends to have a vacation, look at some horses and do a little foxhunting. Ireland is one of my favorite places to visit, the people are a lot of fun, and they have the most wonderful horses! I'll tell you all about it after I get back!



November 10, 1999
     A successful go at Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, VA last weekend marked the end of the Event season for me. This is always one of my favorite events; the facilities are fabulous, Brian and Penny Ross do a great job of running the event, and the scenery from the top of the hill is unequaled. Enniskerry Imp went marvelously in the Preliminary division to finish just one quarter of a time penalty out of first place. That is less than one second of time on cross-country, I would have won if I had been one second faster. Darn! I could have gone one second faster if I had known! I was thrilled with Imp, though, he is such a fun horse, only five years old, and really felt like a big time horse over the weekend. Sirius went well in the Prelim also, finishing 7th, and Windstar, the stallion, was absolutely perfect all weekend in his first overnight stay (he thought he was at a slumber party) to win his Training division. He was excellent in all three phases, and finished the season with an impressive record, winning all five of the events I have done with him. Working student Melissa Hunsberger had an excellent go in the Preliminary division as well, with a much improved show jumping round with her talented but not always easy mare Black Diamond. Sadly, the weekend was marred by my student Roberta D'Ascoli's horse developing pneumonia. She had to be transported to the hospital at Virginia Tech, and will not be able to return to Eventing.

     In a way it is always sad when the Event season is over, and my grooms, Amanda Draper and Emily Curtis, who have had my horses impeccably turned out all season, are definitely complaining about how long it is until the next event. On the other hand, I look forward to having a little break and a few months that are less hectic, as competing every weekend during the season and preparing during the week makes for an extremely busy lifestyle. The offseason gives me a chance to relax a little, concentrate on schooling the young horses that often get a little neglected during the season, and do a lot of teaching and clinics to earn money to pay for the next Event season!

November 2, 1999   
It has been a frustrating autumn season. Star Bright was very fit and sound all through the lead up to the Fair Hill CCI***, and then he caught a virus and started coughing one week before the three-day. It was not serious, but terrible timing. We treated him with antibiotics and inhalers, but I was not sure until the Thursday morning when we left for the event if he would be able to go. Star Bright did a wonderful dressage test, and finished the dressage phase in the lead out of around 64 horses. It was quite exciting to win the dressage at such an important competition, I was Dressage Queen for a day! He did feel a little tired at the end of his test however, and although he seemed to be over his virus, I was worried about whether he would have recovered his full stamina. Unfortunately on cross-country day my fears proved well founded. Bright steeplechased well, and started out on the cross-country course going strong, but he seemed to tire about halfway around. He was not distressed or exhausted, but just seemed to run out of energy, and was not jumping in his usual brilliant style. I decided he must not have fully regained his stamina after his virus, so I pulled him up at the 24th fence and decided to call it a day. He cooled out quickly once I stopped, and came out of the event quite well, so I think I made the right decision, better safe than sorry! It was disappointing to not be able to complete after all the months of preparation, especially after having also missed Radnor due to a minor and ill-timed problem. Oh well, that is horses for you!

     This past weekend (Oct 30-31) went better. I rode four horses at Waredaca. I particularly enjoyed the way Waredaca was organized, with all three phases for each level taking place in a half a day. They very efficiently run a large number of horses that way without riders who are competing just one horse having to spend the entire weekend there. Enniskerry Imp went beautifully in the Preliminary division. He finished third, only a few cross-country time penalties out of winning it. This was a big improvement over his last outing, at Elysian Hills, where he ran off with me on cross-country and I had to stop in the middle of the course and make tack adjustments! He is really a joy to ride, I am very excited about his future.

     I rode No Tomorrow and Sirius in the Open Intermediate division, and they both went well. No Tomorrow has been a bit tense and over energetic since missing Radnor, so he was not as consistent as usual in the dressage and show jumping, but went brilliantly cross country, to finish 7th. Sirius was excellent, but I had a little mishap in the first water jump when she misjudged the footing and I misjudged the striding, and I ended up standing next to her in the water up to my knees, thinking how glad I was I had changed to my rubber boots!

     Brandenburg's Windstar was very well behaved, and added yet another win to his streak, finishing first in the Training division. This coming weekend we go down to the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, VA. I am looking forward to that, it is always one of my favorite competitions.


Snow Creek and her team at Radnor
(from left) Phyllis Dawson, Emily Curtis, Pedro Gutierrez (owner/rider), Amanda Draper, Melissa Hunsberger

October 12, 1999
It has been an exciting and busy three weeks. The Event season is in full swing, and everyone at Windchase has been going flat out.  I had a successful outing at Middleburg on September 25 and 26. No Tomorrow (Tommy) ran successfully in the Intermediate, and seemed to be very fit and prepared for Radnor, finishing 6th. Sirius did the dressage and show jumping in the Intermediate division as well, but I did not run her cross-country, as she was to compete the next weekend in her three-day event. She was somewhat tense in the dressage due to the Foxhunt going by during her test, but show jumped exceptionally well. Enniskerry Imp went very well in the Preliminary, and finished 6th despite the fact that we took our time  cross-country.

     The Morven Park Three Day Event took place the next weekend, October 1 through 3. Sirius did her first three-day event at the CCI* level. She was wonderful all weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed her experience there. She really liked all the attention, and thought it was a wonderful adventure.  She did a nice dressage test, was absolutely foot perfect on cross-country day, galloping and jumping with the greatest of ease. She thought the steeplechase was the most fun she had ever had, and loved the chance to go very fast on the cross-country, finishing seeming fresh enough to go around again! She show-jumped well on the final day, with just one unlucky rail down, to finish a credible 9th out of about 87 starters.  Star Bright also competed in the Advanced Horse Trials division. He did a great dressage test, tying for the lead. He jumped well, and was very good cross-country, but unfortunately had a glance off on a difficult corner fence, dropping him down to 8th place in the final standings. He seemed quite fit and in good form for the Fair Hill Three Day Event, so we just keep our fingers crossed from now until the end of October!

     The Radnor Hunt CCI** was on October 7 through 10. No Tomorrow seemed all set to go, and then on the Sunday before Radnor, he developed an abscess in a hind hoof where he had twisted a shoe and stepped down on the clip about a month ago. We pulled the shoe and soaked the foot and did our best to have him ready, but on Tuesday (the day we needed to leave) when we put the shoe back on, he was still a little lame so he had to stay home, it is not worth the risk of trying to run a horse at that level if he is not 100 per cent. It was very frustrating to not get to compete at Radnor after so much preparation, but that is horses for you! And at least it was not anything serious. I traveled up to Radnor for the weekend anyway, to help and cheer for Pedro Gutierrez, who was representing Mexico riding Snow Creek (Pixie). She was doing her first two star competition, and was terrific. Emily and Amanda went along with Pedro to groom, and she was beautifully turned out, with perfect braids! Pedro and Pixie had a much improved dressage test, the best they have put in so far. Pixie considers herself quite the Dressage Princess now. The cross-country course was big, technical and quite difficult. Pedro rode beautifully, and Pixie jumped great, and they put in a wonderful and fast round, one of the best of the day, with only one technical penalty for crossing their tracks when overshooting a turn on the 5th fence. They had a very credible show jumping round in deep and slippery footing on the last day to finish in good style. We were very proud of them both! Pixie is more like her brother Snowy River every day! Pixie will be traveling to Mexico soon, but hopefully she will be back next year to compete at the Advanced level. Until then, we will miss both Pixie and Pedro!

     This coming weekend is Elysian Hills for Imp and Windstar, and then off to Fair Hill with Star Bright! The ground is good, the weather is beautiful, and this is my favorite time of year, with all the leaves just starting to turn. Let's travel!

September 20, 1999
     The drought is finally officially over. Having received the rains of both Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Floyd, the grass is growing again, everything is green now, and the footing is wonderful. What a relief after the dry summer!

     I competed three horses in the Open Intermediate at Loudoun Horse Trials on September 4th and 5th. They all went well in dressage and show jumping the first day. Cross-country day at Loudoun came in the middle of the rains of Hurricane Dennis, so the going was extremely wet and slippery, and it ended up not being the best of days for Team Windchase. Star Bright ran well around the Open Intermediate as a warm-up for the season, but No Tomorrow was a bit green and incurred penalties at the accuracy questions.

     I took a fall at the corner with Sirius when we got our angle wrong and she slipped on takeoff. I bruised my left leg pretty severely, and was hobbling around for days afterwards. Fortunately Sirius was unhurt, and she couldn't figure out why I didn't get back on so we could finish the course! The footing really deteriorated in the afternoon for the Preliminary division. Melissa Hunsberger and Katie Willis both had some problems with the footing and wisely decided to retire on course.

     On a better note, some of the Windchase students did well. Joerg Eichmann had a great run with Brandenburg's Legacy, and Kathleen Dingus had a super ride on her talented mare Red Shift. Pedro Gutierrez had an excellent clean round in the Open Intermediate with Snow Creek, who is now qualified to represent Mexico at the Radnor CCI**. Bruce Mountz and Makendra Palm competed the same weekend at Waredaca, where they placed 8th and 5th at the Novice level.

     The following weekend I was unable to ride at Seneca Valley due to my bruises from Loudoun. That was frustrating, as it was a lovely event and the weather was perfect. I was able to take my young horse, Enniskerry Imp, over to Seneca later in the week for a cross-country schooling day, however. Congratulations to Emily Curtis for completing her first event at Seneca with her Morgan mare Discovery! Katie Willis also did very well with her young horse Gold Strike, and Nicola Hasling had a successful outing with Hoagy Poagy.

     This past weekend, September 18th and 19th, I rode four horses at the 'Fair Hill at Menfelt' event near Fredrick, MD. The dressage was postponed one day, from Friday to Saturday, due to Hurricane Floyd, but the weather and footing were perfect by the weekend. It was a successful outing all around. Star Bright went beautifully in all three phases to finish 4th in the Advanced class. No Tomorrow went well in the Open Intermediate, finishing 10th with a conservative pace on cross-country, completing his qualifications for Radnor. Sirius was 5th in the Preliminary, with one of the best dressage tests she has done to date. Enniskerry Imp did his first Preliminary, and went well in all three phases. Despite a green stop at the water, I was very pleased with his performance, and have high hopes for him in the future. My grooming team for the weekend, Amanda Draper, Emily Curtis and Siobhain O'Connor, did a great job of keeping everything in order and having the horses beautifully turned out during a very hectic and busy two days.

     The next five weeks should be very exciting and busy. This coming weekend is Middleburg Horse Trials, where No Tomorrow and Snow Creek (with Pedro Gutierrez) will do their final preparatory event before Radnor. Imp will also run in the Preliminary there. The following week is the Morven Park Three Day Event, where Sirius will do the CCI* as her first three-day, and Star Bright should run in the Advanced horse trial as his final prep for Fair Hill. Then Radnor CCI** is the following weekend, a big step up for No Tomorrow and Snow Creek! The young horses will run at Elysian Hills next, then on October 21st - 23rd is the CCI*** at Fair Hill for Star Bright! I am looking forward to a wonderful month of competing!

     I'll let you know how it all goes, and drop me an e-mail and let me know how your riding is going!

August 23, 1999
     It has been a dry hot summer, and the drought in Virginia is taking it's toll on everyone, but nonetheless, I have enjoyed staying home this summer, after spending most of the past three summers in England competing. It has given me a chance to really concentrate on training the young horses during the break from competition with the experienced eventers. After several months of schooling and preparation, however, both horses and riders are somewhat bored, and ready to get on with the Event season!

     We are enjoying an excellent group of working students here at Windchase at the moment, the barn has never run more smoothly.  It is a delight to work with a group of such dedicated, efficient students and talented riders. Katie Willis is preparing to compete in her first Three Day Event with her horse Nick, having had a successful Preliminary season in the spring. Melissa Hunsberger has made enormous progress with her mare Diamond, and Siobhain O'Connor looks to be very competitive at the Preliminary level this autumn.  Makendra Palm has improved nicely over the summer, and hopes to get to some competitions on Nancy Mountz's wonderful horse Sneak.  I have been having fun working with my newest toy, my new horse Enniskerry Imp. I bought him in May from Peter Green, and I think he is going to be special.

     Windstar's foals are getting really big now, it is really exciting to see them develop. It is a great experience standing our own stallion at stud, and every one of his foals so far seem to be really special.  I can hardly wait until some of them are old enough to be under saddle!  The good news is that all six of my broodmares are now confirmed in foal to Windstar for next year.

     The 1999 Autumn Event season seems to be off to a good start.  Windstar started it off right by going to his first Training level event at Banbury Cross, MD, last week, where he won the Training Horse division, keeping his undefeated streak going. This past weekend No Tomorrow did his first Intermediate level event at Fair Hill, which he also won. He was absolutely superb on cross-country, I am extremely excited about his future. It is quite fun to have such success on a homebred! Emily Curtis and Amanda Draper did a great job grooming for me at both of these events, the horses looked beautiful, and they are taking full credit for the wins!  Melissa Hunsberger also had a good outing at Fair Hill with Black Diamond, who was much improved in all three phases.

     The bad news is that my truck is having to have the whole rear axle replaced, and I have had to bum rides or the loan of trucks to get to the events. I am hoping to have it back in time to go to my next Event.  Much thanks to Bruce and Nancy Mountz for the loan of their truck to get me to Fair Hill!

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Phyllis Dawson
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Address: 36502 Kidwell Road
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