Phyllis and Enniskerry Imp at
December 25, 2003
This is always a very special time of the year; I enjoy most the opportunity to get together with my family at Christmastime.
Of course, everyone likes the chance to be with their family during the Holidays, but the 70-some horses at Windchase need to be looked after 365 days a year.
So I am very appreciative of the fact that the working students and staff are willing to work over the Holidays and make sure the horses are all cared for!
At this time, I would like to give special thanks to the Windchase staff.
Currently, we are luck to have an exceptionally good group of working students; they are dedicated, hard-working, and lots of fun.
I would like to express my appreciation to Audrey Tomlin, Jenina Segale, Cyndi Boughen and Sara Zofchak, and to thank them for the great job they do.
I would also like to thank Kenny Popkins, who is charge of maintenance and general farm work; he is instrumental in the upkeep of the farm.
Melissa Hunsberger does a super job as Assistant Trainer, she is a very important part of Windchase.
And of course last but not least, I would like to give special thanks to Jineen Reed; manager, trainer and great friend, Windchase couldn't function without her!
The snow has finally melted, and we are under water, as has become the norm.
I think over the past 14 months Virginia has become a sub-aquatic environment!
But today we are enjoying a beautiful sunny day; this is good, because when you work in a barn, you soon realize that White Christmas's are overrated!
A recent highlight has been going to see the latest 'Lord of the Rings' movie, 'The Return of the King.'
It is awesome! I have been a fan of the books for decades, and the movies are every bit as good.
So go see it! Frodo Lives!
Until next time,
December 17, 2003
I went up to Boston this past weekend for the USEA (United States Eventing Association) Annual Convention.
It was a very informative and well-attended conference, but four days stuck inside a hotel convention center is not my idea of fun. But it was the travel that was a real challenge on this trip!
Normally, every morning I wake up to the sound of my clock radio.
I usually hear them give the Washington traffic reports, and I think to myself, "Oh, those poor shmucks who have to commute!"
Fortunately, the usual rush-hour traffic jams don't affect me, as my lengthy commute from the house to the barn, about 200 meters, is generally traffic-free.
But last Thursday morning, when I woke up at 5:15 a.m. to get ready to go to Dulles Airport for my early flight to Boston, the first thing I heard was, "Route 9 west of Hillsboro is closed due to flooding!"
I thought, 'Oh boy, I am so screwed.' The problem was, there is no way to avoid route 9 and get to the airport, without going about an hour out of the way; and that was an hour that I didn't have time for before my flight!
The flooding was caused by the fact that we had about 6 inches of snow on the ground, and then it rained all night on top of that.
But fortunately, they did manage to get half a lane open, and after sitting in traffic for 45 minutes to go two miles, I was able to ford the river that was now Route 9!
The USEA Convention itself was quite good. I had several meetings with the Instructor's Certification Program of the USEA, of which I am a new
committee member. It is really rewarding to be a part of the growth of this excellent program, and I do urge all current or hopeful instructors to participate in it!
I also was part of a panel discussion, along with Denny Emerson, on breeding the Event Horse.
All in all, Boston was fine, but by Sunday afternoon, I was really ready to come home.
But the weather had other ideas! The snow was supposed to move in around lunchtime on Sunday, but when I arrived at the airport at 2:30 and it hadn't started yet, and I thought I was home free.
But as I sat waiting for my flight and watching out the window, about 6 inches of snow fell in less than two hours.
But I still thought we would make it! Our plane was a bit late arriving, but as soon as it got there, they hurried us on board, trying to beat the weather out of Boston.
By now the snow was horizontal, and so thick you could barely see through it.
By the time they got the luggage loaded and the plane ready to take off, it was covered in ice, requiring de-icing.
By the time they had done that, and we were ready to take off, the auxiliary
power system of the plane froze up and ceased to function. Back to the gate, where they transferred us to a later flight.
The only problem was, that plane hadn't arrived to Boston yet!
It was circling over the airport, waiting it's turn to land on the lone runway that was still operating.
But it was kept circling so long that it ran out of fuel, and had to divert to Maine for refueling!
Of course, by the time that it did that, not only was the last runway closed down due to the winter storm, but the crew had run out of hours; so after almost ten hours sitting in Logan Airport, I got to spend another night in Boston!
Until next time,
December 7, 2003
Winter is here! It started snowing Friday night, and we woke up on Saturday to a magical morning.
The world was silent under eight inches of snow, and every branch and twig was covered with layer of pristine white.
As much as I hate to see winter come, I could not help but be struck by the
ethereal beauty of this early winter storm.
Hardly a day goes by when I don't look around Windchase and be totally struck by the beauty of this lovely spot on the earth.
This evening, when I went out to feed the ducks, the full moon had just risen above the mountain, and its reflection glistened in the lake.
The evening sky was clear, and the pinks and purples of the sunset were reflected on the surface of the water.
How lucky I am to live here!
I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new horses from Bulgaria.
Unfortunately, they won't come until early January, as the shipping company was unable to obtain quarantine space at Newburgh during December.
I am really looking forward to starting to work with the new horses; I think they are quite a special group.
So watch this space for more information on them!
Until next time,
November 29, 2003
Well, here it is at last, the full report on my
trip to Bulgaria!
Until next time,
November 16, 2003
As previously reported, our good friend Pedro Gutierrez, from Mexico City, successfully rode his mare Secret Notion in the Pan American Championships at the Fair Hill CCIO*** in October.
Secret is trained and prepared for competition here at Windchase, and we were all very proud of their performance.
Pedro kept a diary of his experiences at Fair Hill, and you can read it here.
Until next time,
November 15, 2003
Well, we made it back! I spent
the last week in Bulgaria with my friend Natalie Hollis from Water's
Edge Farm, shopping for horses. Many of our friends had
expressed doubts when we said we were going; they seemed to think we
would be kidnapped and never heard from again. But I had
been corresponding with Ilian, an Event Rider from Bulgaria who
encouraged me to come see the horses there, and I decided it was worth
the trip to go and check out what they were like.
Well, let me tell you, the high quality of the
Bulgarian Sport Horses must be the best kept secret in
Europe! We had a super trip, and the horses were fabulous,
as good as you find anywhere. We also had a great time
seeing a part of the world that neither of us had ever visited; it was
really interesting to learn about the post-communist economy and way of
life. We made new friends and new business contacts, and
found some lovely young horses. Windchase will shortly have
several new arrivals!
I will write up a much more detailed report of
our trip as soon as possible, and post it with photos.
Until next time,
November 5, 2003
I'm off tomorrow on vacation; I'm going to Bulgaria!
Exotic, don't you think? I'll tell you all about it when I get back!
Until next time,
November 4, 2003
The Eventing season is winding to a close, and we have had a satisfying autumn, with most of the horses progressing nicely and competing well.
This past weekend we took a group of young horses to the Menfelt Starter Trials, with excellent results.
My promising youngster Caution to the Wind moved up to Training level
successfully, finishing fourth. Our new arrival to Windchase, Highland Park, went beautifully as well in the Training division, piloted by Juan Marcos Lopez of Mexico, to finish third.
Both of these exciting horses have bright futures, for more information on them go to the
'horses for sale' page.
It's great to see old friends out Eventing again.
My wonderful former International horse Snowy River has really enjoyed coming out of retirement to compete again with our working student Audrey Tomlin.
He introduced Audrey to the joys of Eventing in fine style; they finished fourth in the Novice division.
Snowy has never been too keen on the dressage phase, but boy did he enjoy the cross-country!
I don't think he realizes that the fences were only Novice; instead he thought, "I must have really gotten good, the jumps seem so easy now!"
Audrey on Snowy River.
Emma with Guinness.
Other students who had good performances included Emma Kimm Dixon, who
finished fifth in her first Novice on Guinness, and Jenina Segale, who rode her new horse Southern Sage in their first Event.
Former Windchase horses also had great success this past weekend at the Virginia Horse Trials, down in Lexington, VA.
Enniskerry Imp won the Open Preliminary with Gina Fiore, it is really great to hear that they are forming such a great partnership already.
Sportz, one of Pedro Gutierrez's imports from New Zealand, also won a division of Open Preliminary with his new owner; this horse is a fine example of the excellent NZ Eventers that we are offering for sale.
Aric Bryant won a division of Training on is talented Irish mare Tenor Star, and Melissa Nice was third in the Novice with her young and exceptional Macarno, another recent Irish import.
Pedro Gutierrez successfully upgraded his two promising young horses to Intermediate, stopping in to compete at Lexington on his way home to Mexico City!
Additionally, Windchase had three representatives
at the Radnor CCI**. Emilee Libby had a great go with a clear cross-country on her Irish Sport Horse Cahir, finishing in the top placings.
And Jen Libby went well with the American-bred Draco, as did Amanda Judge on the fabulous NZ horse Saxony.
It is really fun to watch horses like these that we have sold having so much success!
The Barn Witch strikes
We had an interesting time on Halloween.
I showed up at the barn in the morning to find Erin dressed as a cuddly bear, and Jineen in costume as the Barn Witch!
Until next time,
October 31, 2003
What a great week at Fair Hill! Windchase was proud to be associated with Pedro Gutierrez and his lovely mare Secret Notion as they represented Mexico in the Pan American Championships last week, at the CCI*** at Fair Hill, MD.
Pedro lives in Mexico City, but he keeps his top
competition horse, Secret Notion, here with us at Windchase.
We keep her in training and take care of her conditioning work, and Pedro flies up for the
competitions. Although this long-distance relationship makes competing at the top levels even more challenging, it is the only practical alternative for Pedro, since Mexico does not have an established Advanced level competition circuit, and Pedro's family and business obligations prevent him from spending too much of his time here.
Secret Notion is one of the many talented Event horses that Pedro has imported from New Zealand.
Pedro's success in competition with Secret over the
last year qualified him to represent Mexico at the Pan-Ams. In fact, he was the only Mexican qualified to ride in this difficult Championship competition!
He left last Tuesday for Fair Hill, and Melissa went with him to groom.
I joined them in Maryland on Thursday, to give any assistance I could as trainer or coach.
What fun it was to be a part of Pedro's Pan Am experience!
Pedro and Secret did their dressage on Friday afternoon.
Melissa had turned Secret out beautifully, and with the Mexican flag on the saddle pads and on Pedro's coat lapel, they really looked the part of International competitors!
Secret warmed up beautifully, but got a little over-enthusiastic in the competition arena.
The good news was, Secret performed two perfect flying changes during her test.
The bad news was, both were when she was supposed to be counter-cantering . . .
but despite her being a little over the top in the arena, they put in a solid performance.
Secret and Pedro at the
Pan American Championships.
Saturday dawned clear and cool. The weather and footing were perfect, the competition was stiff, and the cross-country was very difficult.
You couldn't ask for anything more! The course had a number of very big and imposing fences, and it was very
technical, with numerous corners, narrow fences and complicated combinations; a true Championship test!
It was by far the most difficult course that Pedro and Secret had ever faced.
But they proved up to the challenge! Pedro rode beautifully, and he and Secret Notion flew around the daunting course in excellent form.
They had one glance off at a very narrow fence in a combination late in the course but otherwise jumped perfectly.
A number of Pedro's friends and relatives had come up for the Event, and all of us that made up the 'Mexican delegation' celebrated that night!
Secret and Pedro on
The Show Jumping course was big and imposing, but Pedro piloted Secret around it nicely, to finish off an excellent performance to complete their first Three-star CCI.
What an accomplishment for Pedro, and what a great way for him to finish off the season!
I was very proud of Pedro and Secret's performance, and happy to be a involved in helping them represent Mexico in such a successful manner!
Part of Team Mexico!
For information about other talented horses that Pedro has imported from New Zealand, visit Windchase's
'Horses for Sale' page.
Last night, we saw a really amazing thing.
The Northern Lights! Melissa called me up about 7:00 and said, "have you looked at the sky tonight?"
I went out to see, and the whole northern sky was an incredible display of
color! The clear sky and brilliant star field was enhanced by a great expanse of red color, divided by shimmering bars of white.
Apparently, due to a solar storm, the Northern Lights were especially brilliant, and able to be viewed from areas that normally don't see the this
phenomena. I have never before seen them from Virginia.
But they were incredible! To stand there and see such an awesome display of nature really kind of puts things in a different perspective.
It certainly makes you realize that your small petty problems aren't really that important in the overall scheme of things!
Until next time,
October 21, 2003
The autumn leaves are at their peak, the sky has been blue, and we have had
glorious Indian Summer weather all week. We have been having a great time hacking, joy riding and schooling the young horses cross-country!
Waredaca was this past weekend, and the conditions couldn't have been better.
The weather was superb and the going was perfect. My nice Irish youngster 'Caution to the Wind' did his final Novice competition like a pro, finishing in fourth place on his dressage score, following up his second place last week at Elysian Hills.
He went beautifully and I was wishing he was in the Training division; he will move up for his next outing.
He has really become a fabulous horse to ride in all three phases!
Erin Sayer successfully moved her talented horse 'Fire Up
Fenian' to Training level, and Melissa had a good go in the Novice on Emma Kimm
Pedro Gutierrez rode his two classy Preliminary horses, Ebro de la Galerna and Iona
they were excellent and finished 5th and 6th. They are quite a talented pair; Iona Grey is one of Pedro's New Zealand imports, and Ebro is a product his top-class Sport Horse breeding operation in Mexico.
It has been fun to watch them progress, and they will both go Intermediate next time out.
Now for the exciting stuff. The Pan American Championships are this weekend, at the Fair Hill, MD CCI***, and Pedro will be officially representing Mexico (as well as Windchase!) on his lovely New Zealand mare Secret Notion!
Pedro and Secret left this morning for the competition, with Melissa going along to groom.
I will be joining them at Fair Hill on Thursday. It should be an exciting weekend, and everyone here at Windchase wishes Pedro and Secret the best of luck!
Until next time,
October 8, 2003
Congratulations to Melissa Hunsberger for a great weekend at the Morven Park CCI*!
Melissa has worked really hard preparing for this Three-Day Event, her first with her two talented horses, Just Fun Stuff and Expedience.
It was really great to see all of her efforts pay off! Click
here to read more about Melissa's experiences at Morven Park!
Melissa did a terrific job with both horses.
They both did very nice dressage tests. The cross-country course was quite big and difficult, I really thought many of the questions on it were more appropriate for a two-star than a one-star!
But Melissa rode great, and both of her horses handled the course with confidence.
Just Fun Stuff had a superb cross-country round, marred only be a bobble on landing when he jumped boldly into the difficult second water jump and found the water deeper than he expected.
He struggled for his footing, resulting in him missing his line to the second element, and incurring a
technical 20 penalties; otherwise he was faultless. Expedience went like a pro, finishing with a clear round.
Both horses show jumped well, and completed the competition in great form.
Fun finished in 22nd place, out of a large division of about 50 starters, and Expedience ended up in 16th.
What a great weekend for Melissa!
Melissa and Expedience at
the water jump.
This autumn's competition marked the last Event for Nancy Mountz as Secretary of Morven Park.
Nancy has done a super job at this horse trials for the last seven years, and the competitors will all miss her expertise and efficiency.
Her husband Bruce has also been a very important part of making this excellent Event happen successfully.
Much thanks to both of them for all of their selfless contributions to the sport!
Nancy and Bruce Mountz
with the Organizers at the prize-giving.
The classic question: When a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?
Well, when a tree falls in the forest at Windchase, whether or not anyone is nearby to hear it fall, it is likely to be gloriously reborn as a cross-country jump.
After Hurricane Isabel, we have dozens of large trees down. And my mother, Grace, is hard at work getting them sawn into lengths and using them to construct new cross-country obstacles for schooling!
At age 83, Mom really hasn't slowed down much at all, and though she can no longer do all of the physical labor herself, she is hard at work directing some of our younger farm help in fence construction.
Along with Lin, our working student from Mexico, she has built dozens of new cross-country jumps in the last few weeks.
How great it is to be able to turn the storm damage into advantages and opportunities!
Until next time,
October 1, 2003
Autumn is here at last! After the humid sweltering summer weather, it is nice to have some cool crisp weather.
I always love this time of year, when the leaves are just starting to show a hint of their fall glory, the air is fresh, and it is cool enough for jackets in the morning.
(Of course, it is still raining, but we are used to that by now!)
We had a lovely weekend at Middleburg, with perfect conditions and incredible weather.
Actually, it did rain during the night, and the ground was somewhat muddy, but at this point we hardly notice more rain, as we have had little else for the last year or so!
Unfortunately, my Preliminary horse Given Wings was unable to compete because of a cut he sustained, but I had a blast riding my two Novices.
My new horse from Ireland, Macarno, handily won his division of Open Novice.
More importantly, he went like a dream, jumping everything in stride; he is really something special.
Caution to the Wind, my other Irish youngster, was foot perfect around the course, finishing fifth in his division.
Both of these promising horses will move up quickly, and they gave me an exceptional ride around the courses!
Windchase was also active on the International front this past weekend.
Pedro Gutierrez competed his talented mare Secret Notion in the Advanced division down in North Carolina at the Five Points Horse Trials in Southern Pines.
They had a good run in preparation for the Pan American Championships to be held at Fair Hill, MD in October, where they will represent Mexico!
Pedro Gutierrez and Secret
This coming weekend is the Morven Park CCI*, and Melissa Hunsberger will be competing there with her two talented horses, Just Fun Stuff and Expedience. It should be an exciting
competition, and everyone here at Windchase wishes her the best of luck!
Until next time,